Roger and I have been in Arcata for almost year. We rented a small house thinking we would find a home to buy within a few short months of our arrival. We didn't unpack most of our boxes and none of our art. Everything is still neatly taped up in large cardboard containers in the garage. One of the very few boxes I did bring in from the garage was full of old photos. I had planned to look through this particular box for quite some time, but never got around to it.
the weather has been blustery, cool, and endlessly gray. Not good for
atmospheric optics, birdwatching at the marsh, or even walks around the
neighborhood. So, I started to make use of the time by going through the
old photos, scanning them and sending the .jpgs to the family. It has
been a delightful divergence from the doldrums.
that I have been reading written by a woman named Sabine who lives in
Germany. So, I left a comment on one of her posts and asked her if it
would be okay to send her this photo of the writing, if she would be
willing to translate it. Sabine emailed and said yes. My family and I
were thrilled. The thought of knowing what these words said more than 90
years after they were written was so exciting.
later we received a note from Sabine telling us what was written here.
She did more than translate the words, she also told us a bit of the
history of where my mother's relatives were vacationing at the time this
photo was taken. Here is what the card said:
dears! Sending you from here the most heartfelt wishes, Maly &
Dorchen have already been here for 5 weeks ; I visited for 5 days with
Rudi and Siegfried. Any news at your end? Here, all is as usual. Your
mother and Hack as well as Max are very well! Why don’t you write? How
is Adolf’s brother? Would you not think of coming here for a visit, it
will cost you next to nothing, with the Dollar rate so high und would
have been for nothing with the Dollar at 30 000 Marks. Now the Dollar is
at 140 - 150 000 Mark. We are going to leave today, best wishes your
Georg, Maly, Dorchen, Rudi and Siegfried.
wrote, "It appears the card was written by a Georg. The name Dorchen is a
pet name for Dora or Dorothee. The red stamp is a postal stamp from Bad
Kissingen, a spa town in northern Bavaria, not far from were I grew up.
My grandparents used to go there in late summer for the water spa
treatments and general gossip as well as being seen etc. You have to
imagine a pretty town with showy buildings, private clinics, parks and
open air concerts (small orchestras, tenors, the works), exhibitions,
tea dances and thermal springs for drinking (yuk) and/or bathing. I
believe it was quite the place to be in the 19th and early 20th century.
We would have never known the details of
any of this, not a word. This photo was probably taken in the early
1920s. My grandparents left Germany in 1921, and the photo was taken
after that. Sabine's translation and insights really helped us
understand the context.
Some time after my mother's
family received this photo, the eldest son, Rudi came to America. Then,
the younger son Siegfried followed and so did Maly (my grandmother's
sister). Georg never came to the US and died in Germany. Dorshen managed
to escape from Germany at a very difficult time for Jewish citizens. I
met Maly, Rudi, and Siegfried, but not Dorshen (who died at the age of
40 in 1948). I googled around to see what became of the family and was
blown away to learn that Rudi lived until he was 99 years old and died
in New Jersey in 2005.
Is it not amazing what the
internet can tell us these days? The best part of gray, blustery days is
the piecing together of small bits of family history. Thanks to the incredible
kindness of fellow blogger Sabine. The internet told me that this is how to say it in German: Meine Familie dankt Ihnen! Sure hope that's true.