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Oh, Zee Little Von

It's been a few days without writing or posting here. It's not that my life is event-less, quite the contrary, we've been "internet-less" on and off and I've been busy and lazy (yes, concurrently).

The church near our house in Viernheim, Germany.

Anyway, I've had a couple of very interesting things happen in the last few days. The first was when we were walking through Viernheim (the village where we rented our house) looking for a place to eat dinner. As we walked along these quiet cobblestone streets, past this church, I looked to my left and I saw an older man sitting on some steps smoking a cigarette. He was in his 70s or maybe even 80s. He said something in German and so I started walking over toward him. I said, “Gutenabend (good evening), Wo ist ein gutes resturant? (Where is a good restaurant?)” He started telling me about a place called, “Alteus Brauhaus” and telling me how good the Schweinefleisch Schnitzel is there. We had already been there and had that (and he is right, it’s outstanding!!) so I asked him for another suggestion. He turned to my wife, Jean, and asked, in German, if I was Italian. I told him that she was my Frau and that Summer was my daughter. He asked, “Sind Sie amerikanisch? (are you American?) I said yes, we are. He got very excited and hugged me and then kissed Jean and Summer’s hand (acted as he did). Then, in very fast and broken German started talking about how big and strong I was and that I was Amerikana… that he loved Amerika! (Not so much George Bush though) and wanted to hug again. We said thanks and told him good night. I suspect that he was a kid during the war and is appreciative of what he perceives as “America the Great” saving Germany and Europe in WWII.

What I would have given to catch all of that on video! These are the experiences that are forming me right now.

Here’s another story from last night. Our internet connection has been going on and off in our room lately. They say it’s due to storms and wet equipment. I’m not sure what it is. Anyway, we can sit in the lobby of the hotel room and get a great connection. So every once in a while we drop in and sit and drink beers and do stuff online. Last night we had the night-shift lady working. She is a bit “off’ but very interesting. She would scare you if you didn’t know her. She is in her early 50s and very German. She says she speaks English (and does a little) but really understands very little. Last night, as we struggled through some light conversation, I brought up the history of Germany and Hitler. She immediately piped up and said, in a very scary voice, rolling her eyes left to right and putting two fingers (middle and index) to her upper lip, “Oh, zee little one?” I almost lost it, it was both funny and bizarre! She continued on and made sure we knew he was Austrian, not German. And then, in quite articulate English, reminded us of our own genocidal past; the Native Americans and the African slaves. I was quick to point out that it’s in ALL of us to do terrible things. It’s just that the German’s past is the most recent and haunts many people who are still alive today.

These are memories and events that I will NEVER forget! This is why I love where I am and what I am doing.

Reader Comments (2)

Your German (and spelling) seems to be coming along VERY well. Actual conversation, regardless how broken, are resulting in product conversations. It took a few months in Brazil for me to get to that point. Well done!

Last night I watched a KUED documentary about veterans from WWII (specifically those in Utah) and was VERY touched by their experiences and memories. Many were prisoners of war and were retelling the moment they heard the news that the war was over - their first real meal, a hot shower, the itchy British dudes issued them, recovery from illness, their emotions about seeing America again (in most cased New York harbor) … all was very touching and really stirred the emotions in me. Now THERE is a project for you...wetplate those involved in some way in WWII. Perhaps those widowed, or those who fought, or, or, or ... You've already expressed the interest of looking into your heritage (Jewish) and photographing holocaust related subjects, but it would be equally fascinating to photograph the German side of the story. What an incredibly rich experience you are having! I haven’t heard any stories of being an unwelcomed American (which are sure to come at some point) and which will further your experience. My experience in Brazil was mostly very favorable, but there was the occasional lashing out…like the time a guy let his German Sheppard nearly bite my head off. Literally! I felt the hot breath of the animal bark and snap at my ear.

Is Jean joining you and Summer is relating her perspective of your family’s adventures? I find it enriching to hear the many angles of an experience.

Um braco forte,

Mon, August 7, 2006 at 8:59 | Unregistered CommenterdavidUT

Thanks David. I like hearing about possible project ideas.

I just asked Jean why she doesn't have a blog??? Great question!!

Churs! My Friend..

Mon, August 7, 2006 at 12:17 | Unregistered CommenterQuinn Jacobson
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