This is the story of the young life of Claire Bubendey Cuni Bianco

 claire for story

TO: My Children. PERRY, ROBERT, AND ANGELA 

and also to My Grandsons: Jake and Aidan

Also to  My FAMILY and Friends Here in America and Germany

SO YOU CAN UNDERSTAND WHO I AM AND HOW I GOT HERE

WITH ALL MY LOVE -MOM

This writing is about what I remember of my adventurous life. My life has had many fazes, each one has moved my life in a new and different direction to bring me finally to what I am!

Faze-1: My family before I was born

Faze-2: Being born and living in Brooklyn till age 4

Faze-3: Going to Germany to meet my mother’s family

Faze-4: Growing up through WWII and beyond

Faze-5: Returning to America and making a new life at age 16

Faze- 6: Meeting my husband and getting married at age 21

Faze-7: Living with my in-laws at age 21 till 24

Faze-8: Finally in my own home with my children and a better life.

 

FAZE-I

I’m writing this trying to recall all the things my mother told me about her youth. It was the time near the end of the First World war. I’ve tried to match pictures my mom and I collected over the years and put them roughly where they belong in my story. My mother, Erna Wulf, was born in 1905 in a city, called Dusseldorf, Germany, but after a while her family moved to Hagenburg, Germany where  life  was a lot simpler, where they had a little farm that fed the family. At that time there were no stores as there are today as you ate what you grew., and from  the animals on the farm you collected your  milk, eggs, and meat. Since there were no refrigerators then, all food was either eaten at once, or stored into a root cellar just for that purpose. The root cellar was dark and cool. As for my Mom, I wasn’t told too much about how she grew up, but when she was age(12) she had to work. All children had to, because of the raging war.

My Mom, at age 17

Clairesmom

 

At that time, while living in Hagenburg, Germany with her parents, she was forced to work in a dangerous ammunition factory, that was far away, in another town called Wunstorf, which was about an hours walk. It  was 1917, and the war was raging with all German men, young or old, being forced into the army and sent to France to fight. Everyone else made weapons and ammunition because the war was not going well for Germany, so women of all ages were forced to work in these dangerous factories. Below is a picture of my Mom doing just that, making bombs. She lived at home with her Mother, Clara, and her sisters, Henny, Clara, and brother August, while her father was in the German army. Living next door to them was her father’s sister, Sophie, and husband Henry Hattop. 

My Mother at 12 years old working in a Bomb factory during WW1

 claires grandfather

My mother’s father, who was in the war at that time, eventually came home near the end. Here is a picture of him in 1919.

Photo of him, center, smoking the cigar, and playing the accordion with his fellow musicians, on their way home from France.

clairesgrandfatherinwar

By the way, who does the man on the extreme top left look like…could it be?  and he is even a Corporal, the right age? He played the piano but none were available. Wanna guess? His initials are A H???     

Faze 2

I’m not sure of the timing, but I think my Mom, who was 20 years old, came to America in 1925 with her younger sister Henny, and younger Brother August, . While experiencing new and exciting things in her new country, my mother met a very handsome young man named Günter. When I was older, she told me, that they where very much in love, but she never did tell me what happened to there relationship, as this could have been the man to  change her life and thereafter, ours as well.
  clairesfather

My Father, Herman Bubendey

It was a short while later, she met the man who became her husband, and my Father, Herman Bubendey. They were married in 1927 in Brooklyn, New York. I don’t know if their life afterwards was ever really happy, as my mother never told me too much about my father. He worked as a bar tender in the day time, and then continued on into working nights. He had roaming eyes for other women, which made life for my mother very difficult. They lived in Brooklyn N Y on 412 Grove Street, and at that time, things were very hard for everyone as it was the start of the depression, so both had to work.

My father who was a ladies man,  also liked his whisky and always drank too much. Thank God, my mom had her sister and brother who were always there for her, stood by her, and kept her company when he wasn’t home, which was often. My mother didn’t know at that time, that he was married to another women in Germany and had a daughter and a shoe repair shop. He told me and my mother about it much later, after he was married to another woman, Elsie, who he married while still married to my mother.

 clairesfathersstore

My father’s shoe repair shop in Germany with his wife and daughter, many years before he married my mother.

Tante Henny’s boyfriend, Karl, followed her to America and after a short while, they were married. She was a pretty girl and had a  beautiful singing voice and they really loved each other. They eventually had 2 children, who are my cousin “Fritzy”, born in 1936 or 1937, and cousin Hellene, born in 1943 or 1944.  My Uncle August went back to Germany after he experienced a sad relationship to forget his heartache. 

claireand her doggie

Me and my Little Doggie

 

My parents had to work hard and long hours through the depression and four years later they had their first child. My brother, Herman Rudolf August (Sonny) was born 11/28/1931 in Wyckoff Heights Hospital in Brooklyn, N.Y. and three years later I was born on 12/14/1934, as Klara Maria Henny Emma, in that same hospital                                              

 Faze 3

In 1938, when I was 4, and my brother 7, my mother received a very sad letter from Germany, saying that her father was very ill and dying. You can imagine how upset she was, not being near him, or her other immediate family members to help, all being so very far away. First of all, she did not have any extra money of her own to make the trip to Germany and my father wouldn’t even consider helping her, even knowing how she wished to see her father before he died. So her Tante (Aunt) Sophie, who was my Opa’s sister said she would be very happy to send money for her, my brother, and myself to sail to Germany, flying at that time was only for the very, very rich . My mother still did not know what to do, to leave her husband and travel into danger. She was torn between going into the thick of danger with her children cause rumors were flying all over, saying that World War II was starting; or deciding to go there even though, to be with her family to help in the care of her father. She finally decided to make the trip, and with this decision, she changed both mine and my brother lives forever.

claire and brother at three

              Me and my brother outside our home in Brooklyn before we left for Germany in the background Unkel Carl Tante Henny and Tante Emma.

 It was in May 1939, that we began the start of our journey to Germany, and WOW, did it change all four of our lives. My father was now free to do whatever he wanted, with no responsibility or concern for his wife, or more importantly, his children. At the time, my memory of Brooklyn was very limited, being only four, with only little bits and pieces of information that I could remember. Like when my Father took me into a Bar, then sneaking a bottle of booze into my stroller, or of Momma taking us to the corner of Myrtle and Palmetto streets to “Collettie’s” soda shop, to get delicious chocolate. At that time. it was already an old fashioned soda shop, with a big long counter. high stools that spun while to sat at the counter, and booths that held 4 to 6 people.

When I returned from Germany in 1951, Collette’s was still there and you could still get a Malted, ice cream soda, Ice cream Sunday, hamburgers, or cheeseburgers and sit there for hours. We would go out to a movie or dancing and stop at Collette’s afterwards, or, to a Diner where we would all meet and talk and laugh, it was so much fun.           

The boat trip over, was exciting, with parties for the adults and games for the children.  For whatever reason and I know it is strange, but I did not like the vanilla pudding they served. Being so little, this, of all the things was what I remember. Funny isn’t it? We had a great trip over, and this picture is of a group of us kids. I’m the child on the bottom left. While on the boat, all these strangers were looking at me and talking this strange language, and being just four years old, I couldn’t understand what all these people were talking about to me, as everyone was speaking German.  Knowing only English, I kept looking at they’re faces and wondering what are they talking about? After a while, I got over it and learned German. Germany, till one day, I now only knew German. Many years later I was again in the same situation, only this time going the other way heading for America. I was confused in exactly the same way, but this time only knowing German, and going to a place that only spoke English. Both times, I was definitely scared and excited as well.

claireon boat to germany

This picture is on the boat with my mom and us two kids, see me all the way on the bottom left. Sonny all the way on the top right

My mom, in the picture below, is holding a glass of dark beer and as you can see,  very sad because she was thinking about her father who was dying In Germany and in extreme pain.

sonny and me

  On the boat just leaving for Germany, yes, that’s me on the bottom and Sonny behind me.

                                              FAZE-4

We arrived in Germany in the nearby the port of Bremerhaven, and visited my  Aunt  on my father’s side, and her mother, who was my grandmother. When we were ready to leave, we somehow found some of our stuff missing, or stolen. The people living in Europe at that time thought all Americans had tons of money, with gold in the streets, so they felt they should try to get what they could, by hook or crook. We did not like them very much, they where not nice to us. We then continued on by bus and then by train to my mother parents hometown, called Hagenburg.

My Opa, (Grandfather), had stomach cancer and actually was in a very advanced stage, so he was constantly suffering. Please realize that at that time there were no drugs to help cure him, or even to relieve his pain. He lived in the main house, so when we arrived, we were put in a little cottage next door. we would spend all the daylight hours in the main house with my Grandfather. At the time, being just four years old, I could not believe that this grown man was crying. I remember very clearly that he was always screaming and in severe pain.  It took over a year of this pain for him to finally die, but by this time, I had grown to love him very much. What I do remember is being very upset, and not understanding why it was happening to him. My mother told me much later, that I wanted to jump into his open grave while we were looking at the coffin being lowered, crying and screaming the whole time. In order for the ceremony to continue they finally had to take me away from the grave and leave the cemetery.

clairesgrandommandgf

 

My Grandfather and  Grandmother Clara in their yard, notice her cat and her arthritic hands. My Oma (Grandmother) could not come to the cemetery because she, too, was very ill and paralyzed with Arthritis as well.  She had rheumatoid arthritis for many years, and as time passed, it kept getting worse.  She was not able to walk, or move her arms without tremendous pain. Even then, at my young age, I can clearly remember her, half sitting, and half laying on her chaise lounge, with her skin always so shiny. Even with all this, she was a very pretty women, with beautiful long grey hair combed into a long braid, and I’d like to think that I inherited her looks. She had a large grey cat that just loved to lie in her lap. I can still see in my minds eye, the cat lovingly rubbing my Oma’s face with her body, while purring softly.  It has become one of my fondest memories of my Oma!

 In her living room (Stube), she had all of our pictures on the wall, so she could see them and think of her family. She also had this beautiful old wall clock that chimed ever so softly the hour and half hour. I always loved to listen to the chime’s counting the bell strokes. It’s now finally come to my home after so many years of it being stored away waiting for me to come get it. Tante Clara gave it to my Friend Hildegard to save it for me until I came back for it. Which I did in 2002. As events settled down, there became a time for my Mom to consider returning to the United States. She tried to book passage for the return voyage, but when she did, she was told that there was a possibility that she would be stopped at some point before the actual voyage. You see, she was a German Citizen and we were Americans, being born in New York.  The German authorities then in control, didn’t want any of it’s citizens leaving on the chance they would supply information to the enemy. As it had happened, many who did try, were never heard from again.

clock

The Clock we carried from Germany that was held for me by old family friends

So, here again, she was forced to make another big decision that would affect all our lives.  What was the safest thing to do?  Would we children be safe by ourselves, and to arrive back in America to live with our father and be without her to care for us? At that time, however, she had no idea that our father had no interest in us, and was already seeing another woman, and actually would not have been there for us even if she were to send us to him. She was very, very, worried that she could be taken off the boat before it left Germany and into a very uncertain future, possibly into the arms of people who she knew would not consider her plight. So, she finally decided to remain in Germany with us, as she realized that she could not bear to be without us. Now plans have to be made to find a permanent place for us to live. It was Tante Klara who took us in to stay with her, in her little cottage, where there was not very much room, but we all made do. 

In the picture below, Uncle Carl, Tante Clara’s husband is at the front door, which when opened you went into a hall.  On the right was a small bedroom, just enough for a bed and a stand.  On the stand was a beautiful wash basin and pitcher for washing. There was no plumbing, and we had to use a hand pump that was outside to get all our water. Back in the house, a little further down, on the right, were steps going down to a root cellar, which had apples, pears, potatoes, and other fruits and vegetables being stored for the winter. Straight down the small hall and to the back was the Stube(Living room). It had a tile stove(SEE picture below) that heated the whole house by burning coal, when we had it, or wood, or peat moss ( the dried up grass, or dried turds from cows or sheep). To the right of that was the kitchen, and that too was very small, but it did have a great big bright copper basin which was used for everything, and I mean everything!  We all took our baths in it, then used it to wash our clothes in it afterwards. . We also used it for making delicious sugar beets syrup, and believe it or not, some kind of whisky made of wheat, that had a very unpleasant aroma That my unkel Carl made, I did not like the smell.

  Not our stove but one like ittante clarashouse                  

Tante Clara’s house with Uncle in front

 

stove

Not our stove but one like it

Tante Klaras’ husband, Karl, loved making his own whisky, so he  designed a “still” with many copper pipes that twisted and turned like a distillery that allowed him to make his own whisky. It was against the law to do so, but in those days everybody did it, anyway.

Upstairs was another bedroom that had two big beds. It had a large vent hole into the floor that allowed the heat to rise from the living room and our wonderful big stove, into the upper floors and throughout the whole house. I remember one time when Tante Klara moved a big wooden trunk for some reason, behind it was a nest with tiny mice.  They were so cute, all pink, they looked like tiny little pigs. Of course I wanted to keep them, but alas, I could not. At night time, Tante Klara would heat bricks and wrap them in towels and put them on the foot of the bed to keep our feet warm. It was so cold we where fully dressed in night cloths and sometimes even a hat. So here we where in this tiny place, but my wonderful Aunt being so kind to let us stay with her, that we happily settled in.  A girl named Hildegard and her family lived next door to us in a big Farmhouse. Her family was large as she had four Sisters and one Brother. Her Grandmother and Aunt also lived with them.  I became very close to Hildegard and we did everything together.

sonny and me

Sonny at the arrow, me in second row 2nd from right Hildegard on the right corner

When My brother and I started school, he was put in the first grade and I in Kindergarten. At first, I cried a lot, as I did not speak German, and did not understand anyone, and on top of this, I was frightened. Little by little, I got acclimated to School life, as I learned games and words.

I graduated from Kindergarten as you can see in the picture above which was really cute. We all wore paper dresses and hats, some of us as butterflies, some as ladybugs, and some were bees or birds and we were  really excited being all together. We won prizes, where we each got a Tute, which was a  paper sack shaped like a cone with fruits, nuts, and little candies poured into it. If you look hard, you can  to see them in picture above.  

5thgirl on the right

                    I’m the 5th girl on the right with the pig tails

My mother then proceeded to look and finally found a job, now that we had settled in as best we could. It must have been very difficult for her, as the house was a crowded little place, with Oma, Tante Klara, Momma, Sonny, and Me, all in a very small place, however, we managed.Tante Klara was an excellent seamstress, so, she made all my dresses and aprons, coats and such. She never had children and felt like I was her daughter. I loved her very much and besides, She was my God Mother. Every day the girls would wear a different apron over the same dress that we wore for at least one week. My uncle August would come every weekend as he lived in the city called Celle.

cls granny 

                  My Smiling, wonderful Tante Klara in her late 70’s

He would bring all kinds of goodies, and take us on adventures into the forest. One time he came to visit while I was still very little, with a radio turned it on, and I asked how the people talked and sang, how the voices came out. He said that there were little people in this box, and that they lived in there. I kept looking at the radio in the back, front and underneath thinking that I would be able to see them. He thought that he was very funny! More about him later.

We started to make friends, and my first and best friend was Hildegard Rabe and we were the same age. She was one of six children, and lived on a very large farm, in a house next door to us. We always played together and had the same classes when we started school. Sonny also made friends but he was always in trouble.        

 The holidays where still a lot of fun at this time, even though the war had just begun. There was this great bakery in town that had a big stone oven where everyone would go to bake all the holiday cookies. No one had big ovens to bake in, so they would make the dough at home and then bring it to the oven at the town bakery where everyone had a set time when they could bring their baked goods to be baked.     mmm… hum, hum good.

 Things went along smoothly for a while. We did not anticipate what was to come! The house we lived in had a yard and beyond that was a field where my family grew crops of vegetables and such, and beyond that where orchids of fruit trees, apples, pears, plums, peaches and even grapes. I can still taste the scrumptious fruit and vegetables.  Nothing has ever tasted the same!  Even further on, a field of grass for harvesting hay, and straw for all the livestock our family had, such as ,horses, cows, pigs, sheep, goats, chickens, ducks, geese, also cats and dogs.  I loved riding the big Clydesdale horse(SEE picture). When ever I did, I felt as though I was climbing mountain. As you can see, it was a farm life with harvesting and slaughtering for our meals.  We had everything we needed, life was hard but oh so good. Everyone had a job to do, such as milking the cows and goats, gathering the eggs or picking the vegetables. When slaughtering, we also had a big meal for everyone that helped us. There was Sausage, Steak Tatar, potatoes, vegetables, Fruit and all kind of cakes, which ended shortly as the war got closer and closer to us. There was an area at the back of the house where my brother and I used to play.  It had a woodshed and another a little shed for the pigs.  

onahorse

 Not a clear picture but I’m on top of our Clysdale

meandmybro

         Me and My Brother at the shed

As we had no indoor plumbing, we of course had to use an outhouse, which was not so pleasant at night in the dark?  I can remember one night I had to use the facilities, always being afraid to go out by myself. On my way back to our safe house I thought I heard something.  It sounded like a hissing, and every time I stopped, it stopped, every time I moved, it moved.  I started to run into the house to my mother; she laughed and said it’s only a piece of straw that was stuck onto my shoe. But it sure sounded like I was being followed; I guess that’s what Imagination can do to a young girl!!!

Every now and then we would hear stories about the WAR getting more intense.  So far it has not affected us except for the young men all being called to serve.  It was very scary and we kept praying that it would be over soon. By this time, my mother had found an apartment in an old farm house.  There was another family living there.The owners lived in the city in the south. We had a living room kitchen combination and a bedroom, the outhouse was by the main entrance down a hall where the livestock was. The main hall was very big, above was the hay and straw loft, as were most houses. The more affluent farmers had private houses separate from their barns. We lived in a town named Hagenburg, Schaumburg Lippe, Deutschland.  By now we had to keep the house in the dark at night. Because of the air raids by the Allied armies every night, we had to cover every crack and hole to make certain that it was pitch black all over. The worse part was when you went out at night and there was no moon or stars you could not see were you were going, if you turned around, well you can forget about it, as you would totally lose your sense of direction. So you always made sure that you did not turn around. We had no idea why this was happening to our town and all around us. However, life went on, so my brother and I were settled into a school, Mamma had her job in a ammunition factory again, three towns away, and rides her bike there every day. I have made lots of friends, Sonny too! We would play in their yard, or ours, or by Tante Klara. As faith would have it, as we where playing by Tante Klara, I fell into the cesspool.  Luckily I did not fall head first, I only fell up to my waist. Pew, bad enough, maybe that’s why I grew nice and tall! Ha! Ha! My brother thought it was very funny, as he was always playing tricks on me. For instance, when he was trying to teach me how to ride a bike, (Someone should have warned me that disaster was about to happen) with a grin on his face, he says: “I won’t let go, trust me!” As I proceeded to ride in my uncertain and trusting way, HE LET GO!!!!*”:*”:*****I CRASHED into the woodshed! *******Aurgh. I did learn how to ride a bike eventually, and also, never to trust my brother again.

We are hearing more and more about the WAR, but it’s still too far away for us to be affected. So we went about our daily lives, learning German which made life a little less complicated. I did not like school very much, especially in Kindergarten.  I was terrified of the teacher when ever he would come near me I would scream and run. I guess I got over it. After that it really became fun. At the end of the school year we put on a play, we where all dressed like flowers.  The costumes where  made of crepe paper, we all looked so cute.  We had songs to sing and lin.  It was a graduation from Kindergarten to first grade. By now the WAR was getting closer.  Needles to say Some German Troops where starting to fall back from the front lines trying to stay away from the Russian forwarding army.  By 1944, the fighting was really in Berlin, and we where in the northern part of Germany. So now, some of the German soldiers retreated to our small towns. My mother was very lonely, and met one of the officers, who was very charming, and so, she had an affair which later produced Aunt Renate. After a while, he moved in with us, but I did not like him, and he did not like me, and was very critical of me.  His name was Willy. Tante Klara, my God Mother, was my true guardian Angel, and always took my side and therefore protected me from him.  She was a Seamstress and always made beautiful Dresses and Coats for me.  Plus, whatever she sewed for me, she sewed for my dolls, Shirley Temple, and Ericka, a German made doll. Everyone was envious of me, as I had the best looking dolls! Believe it or not I still have them. My wonderful Onkel August Wulf would come and visit us on the weekend, and would take my brother and me on field trips into the Forest, and taught us about all the different species of birds, mushrooms, berries and trees.  We would walk for hours, as we walked he would whittle with his special pocket knife.  He would create Whistles shaped like birds and wooden plates with a hole in the middle so he could put a string and then put a bird, or squirrel that he had whittled in the middle, pull the string and they would peck. Looking back today, those are the greatest memories of my childhood. We always looked forward to his visits.  He got married to a beautiful lady, her name was Margo. Well, as life went on, in the spring we would seed and plant vegetables and flowers.  In the fall we would harvest the fruit of our labor.  It was also the time to slaughter pigs. I don’t understand how I could have even watched it.  That was part of life, and that’s why we raised them. We always had a big celebration in the fall, I guess you could call it a harvest fest. What we here call Thanksgiving.  Everyone would bring the best of there harvest to church, and lay it in front of the altar for blessing. It was a thank you to God for a beautiful bounty.  I remember it being a very touching ceremony. When the celebration in church ended everyone went home and we all feasted on Gods generous bounty. 

uncleaugust

                    Onkel August and Tante Margo

 Getting back to the pigs, what a job that was.  It was very hard work, to section, separate and sorts all the parts.  We made sausages and ate tartar, which very tasty with a lot of spices. I know today you would not think of eating raw pork.  But believe me it was scrumptious! To make sausage we took the intestine and sterilized it extremely well, and then we would put the flavored sausage meat inside.  At the time, we used every part of the pig. My favorite part was pig’s ears; I like the cartilage (knorpel) inside and still do today, and my children make fun of me. Thinking back, it was quite an experience. Chickens and ducks where also slaughtered, we also had sheep and goats. The goats where used mainly for they’re milk, and butter that was made from it.  I liked the butter but not the milk.  I learned to churn the butter from the goat’s and cow’s milk. The season was fall and all the fruit was ripe and ready to be picked. I can remember clearly how absolutely delicious the fruit tasted.  Have you ever had it right off the tree or the vines, there is nothing like it. A lot of the fruit and vegetables where kept in the cellar, where they were stored through the winter, for use later in the year.  It was a cool and dark place, and would keep all the fruit and potatoes and so on, good for the winter. By the end of the winter some of it would get kind of wrinkled, but it would still be good to eat. My great aunt would bake wonderful apple cakes (apfelkuchen) and dried fruit. THOSE ARE GREAT MEMORieS TO ME EVEN TODAY.

mygreataunt

My Great Aunt Sophie in 1949 in the middle

 I forgot about the nights that we had to make sure that there was absolutely no light showing any where, cause then the enemy planes could find our towns and bomb them. So we put heavy blankets over the windows and only used candles. When you walked outside at night you had to really focus, because you could loose your direction very easily. However, the first few minutes you came out, it was so shockingly beautiful, with all the stars so clear and bright. When I walked from my girlfriend Hildegard’s house back to mine, I would whistle, or sing, as it made me feel safe. We used to sit and play on the un-detonated bombs. Some of the children would swim in the bomb craters, but my mother did not allow us to do that and thank God. as who knows what could have happened. At that time, we would see our soldiers coming home, very ,very tired, with bandages on there heads, or arms, legs, or chest, looking really beat. Some even had lost legs or arms, it was so sad to see and scary.

I remember hearing that the war was getting closer and we where all getting scared. The stories that where being told where horrible. The Russian soldiers where raping all the woman and girls, and stabbing and killing everyone in their path. The sad part was, it was all true. Thank god they did not get to us. The British soldiers got to our area first. I was eleven years old, so it was a very frightening experience.  In the mean time, before the British soldiers arrived there was a lot of bombing and shooting from airplanes going on. But before all this happened we had to live through a lot of trauma. I remember, first all the young men    left, then, the older men were being recruited, and then finally the very, very young boys had to go. Many of their women got kind of like ghosts. Boy, was it scary! But, life had to go on, and we went to school and all grown-ups were sent to the munitions factories, far away from their homes.  The worst part was the air raids with bombs hitting our town, when we were either in school, or home, alone. Several times when there were bombings we did not know where momma was, as she worked in a village farther away. One time, momma went right from work in the bomb factory to her friend’s house because she saw smoke coming from the area her friend lived. A bomb did hit their house. Luckily her friend was fine but their home was destroyed. In the mean time, my brother and I thought our mother had been killed, as she did not come home when she was expected. Most of those time, we were by ourselves, either hiding, or running into shelters. Imagine just walking and a house close to you gets hit by a Bomb, and someone you know was in it, but did not make it out. We where always running and hiding.

As it turned out, in the town of Wunstorf, very near us,  was a German Air Force airport, where the Luftwaffe had hidden in a mountain close by, a gigantic cannon called “Big Bertha“. to shoot it, they had to roll it out from under the mountain. So whenever they shot the cannon off , we would have to throw ourselves to the ground as it made a high whistling sound, and if you did not, your lungs could burst from the shock waves, as it did to a few people who didn’t know to drop down. The bomb was so big and powerful that the missile would travel all the way to London, England.

bigbertha

This is Big Bertha

It was because of this cannon, that the British were constantly bombing in our area, which basically was just a farm area. There is actually a movie about this cannon and how the Allies finally figured out how to destroy it. The cannon being hidden inside a mountain, couldn’t be hit by any of the bombs that were being dropped every night, until one pilot figured out a way to hit it. Using his torpedo plane that was normally used to sink Submarines, He flew it very low, just above the lake that was in front of the mountain, and dropped  two torpedoes that skimmed and hopped over the surface of the water and finally went into the mountain opening, destroying all within.

Meanwhile, we spent more time on the ground than anywhere else. As the war got closer you could see in the distance, the city of Hannover burning, the whole sky would glow orange and red. If it was not so tragic, it would have been beautiful. As it turned out at the end of the war there were only two buildings left standing in the whole city of Hannover. So as the actual fighting was getting closer, and closer, my grandmother was very frightened, because she was an invalid, and not able to move her arms or her legs because of her rheumatoid arthritis. She had heard about the Russian killing and raping. So, as the war got even closer, she got all her children together and told them to promise, when the enemy soldiers came to our town, they would give her a lethal injection to put her to sleep. It must have been a very difficult decision to make for my mother, aunts and uncle. My grandmother had heard all those stories about the Russian soldiers. So they put her to sleep before the war got too close. As it turned out, the British were the army who invaded our area, and thank God, as you would not be reading this story of my life.

The Russians were giving payback to all Germans for what our army did to their country and people. A lot of our people from the South where trying desperately to get away from the War zone and the on coming Russians, so they kept fleeing north ahead of the Russians and the immediate war zone. Our locals were talking about these newly arrived families from the south and how different they were, with their different dialect and the different foods they ate. There was a lot of nasty gossip, as you would think during such a sad and scary time, people would come together making these others feel more comfortable and welcome. As for me, I was very interested and excited as it was all new to me. When I heard that the little girls and boys where having holy communion. I had no idea what that was and that they where getting dressed like brides and grooms, so I had to go see. They all looked so beautiful, I wanted to be just like them. Eventually I became friends with a few of the little catholic girls. During this whole time we were just trying to survive. Food was very difficult to get. Many days we had very little or nothing to eat. It had to be very difficult for my mother not to have enough food for her children. She even sent me to go to the local farmers to beg for bread or vegetables. Oh how I hated it, I was so ashamed, as I went to the same school and classes with these farmers children.  However, my mother would make these interesting meals of whatever she could find. Like in a one pot meal, she would put potatoes and fruit together to make it like a stew, or another was noodles with milk and sugar. After the farmers had harvested, we were allowed then to go into their potato fields and find what was missed, then dig for those few pieces of potatoes still there. It was a great time for us, as we would build a fire with all the dried fall leaves, put the potatoes in the fire to roast our wonderful potatoes. Hmm! Hmm! Good. When you’re hungry everything tasted like a gourmet meal.  

mygrangmother

.                                         My Grandmother

 I remember our first “care” package that came from America, we were all drooling. When the war was ending and American families could get through to their families in Europe, they would send packages of things we needed , things we didn’t have and these packages were called “care” packages, saying “We Care” from America. Ours came from Aunt Helen and Uncle Carl and had coffee for my mother, she really loved coffee, because before she received it, she would use regular wheat from the fields, roast it in a frying pan on top of the stove, and then brew it like coffee afterwards. So she was really happy to get real coffee. Also  in the package was a can of Crisco. My mom decided to make Crisco sandwiches. You toasted the bread, then added the Crisco on it and sprinkled it with salt It really wasn’t bad when you were hungry. Getting back to the war! One day I was sitting outside on a little rocking chair playing with my dolls in front of the house, when I heard an airplane overhead, I was just looking at it as it flew by. Next thing I know, my mother comes running out of the house and pulls me off the chair. She no sooner gets me off and the pilot shoots, and the chair is in a million pieces. Boy that was close and one more time that GOD was with me. Another day, my mother was on the side of the house in the garden getting vegetables when they where dropping phosphorus bombs.  Phosphorus bombs where the kind of bombs that if they hit you anywhere, on your body or clothes, it kept burning and you could not put it out, no matter what you used, water, sand, nothing worked. Think that was very scary? Luckily they did not hit either one of us, cause, I RAN OUT TO WARN MY MOTHER. Then there was the time I was looking for my mother so I ran through the barn part of the house because bombs where being dropped and as I ran through the barn, it collapses after me.  I still remember, it seemed like slow motion. I turned around and it was collapsing. Luckily the animals where out in the field.  Again GOD was watching over me.  I would also see a few men who had gone out in the field to harvest, would be shot while they were coming home in their wagons, as their horses would eventually bring them home. They knew the routine.  The bombs left great big craters in the ground, so when the weather was warm the craters became a swimming holes, but Momma would not allow us to go into them. So basically, every day was a new experience, and adventure. Witnessing all this and being able to live with it, shows just how children will adapt to all kinds of situations. Even though we were scared, life went on, and it was better than the alternative, which many of our friends suffered.  So we went to school and Momma went to work. By now, the WAR was coming to an end and the enemy forces (Allies who were:, The Americans, The British, and the Russians) were getting closer, and a lot of things were happening. It was at this time,  that the Nazi Germans, the “SS”, were fleeing, trying to find places of safety out of Germany and into Argentina, and any other places that they had set up when they realized that the war was being lost, and they would have to pay for their crimes. The ordinary German Officers and their men were leaving the war front and moving back into the country side. So now they are moving into all farm areas to hide. One day some of them decided to stay in our farm house with all their guns and stuff, even though we did not like it, or want it, but there was nothing we could do about it, as they had the guns. Most of them still had their uniforms on, since they left all their other possessions behind. It was at this point, when one of the officers was idly walking around to the front of our house not realizing that  enemy tanks were approaching. When he finally saw them, they too saw him. Realizing his danger, he ran back into the house and closed the door. It turned out that they were British Soldiers who thought he went in the house to get his gun and other soldiers to fight. They were coming with tanks and many more soldiers. So as they surrounded our house which was on a corner; they then started shooting. We were all in the house at the time and on the left side of the house there was a walled in vegetable garden, so we were slightly protected. My mother, seeing this, brought all of us up into our bedroom which was on the left side of the house on the second floor and in the back. The British soldiers were only able to surround us on three sides, not the left. The shooting started with bullets flying everywhere. We were all very scared and thought we were all going to die. Me, My mother, brother, the people from the other apartments nearby, Willy, my mothers’ boyfriend, in his German uniform, were all crowded upstairs in that back bedroom. While all the shooting was going on, Willy changed into civilian cloths and proceeded to hide his uniform under the bed linens. I was so scared, that I had to go to the bathroom. My mother had a potty under the bed for when it was late and we had to GO, so she pulled it out and said “ OK! you got to, then Go!”. It was embarrassing for me, with everybody in the same room, but I had no choice and sat . The bullets were still flying making the whole room white with dusty smoke. One bullet hit the potty I was sitting on and went right through it. Luckily it did not hit me.

thisishouse

This is the house where I lived during the war,  in the barn in the back side of the house.Sal and I traveled to germany with Cousin Al and Fran in 2005

They must have been shooting at us for at least a half an hour, with bullets flying everywhere and how they did not hit any of us is a miracle. Finally it got quiet when they stopped shooting. The whole house was white with smoke from the Tanks shooting at it. Thank God, the one side of the house had a Garden with vegetables growing, as it would have been just as easy for the tank to knock the fence down and shoot from that side, but the soldiers saw the crops and didn‘t want to destroy food that they would be able to eat later. That saved us all from getting killed.

meand sonny

Sunny At 12 and me at 9

 The back of house…note garden and Rooster

We all went down to the living room and waited. Suddenly there was a lot of yelling, doors crashing down, and then they were in the room with us.  Guns pointing at us and shouting at us to put our hands up, boy it was very scary. My mother, knowing English, tried to talk to them in English and they told her to shut up. The British Soldiers were as scared as we were, with sweat  dripping off their faces. They looked so young. The British Soldiers searched all over, even under the bed, somehow, never found Willy’s uniform. 

They wanted to know where the German soldiers were. We told them we did not know. They said if we did not tell the truth they would kill us all. We knew the German Soldiers went up in the attic where all the hay and straw is kept and it was level to the field in the back. We were pretty scared and thought that they would be found and shot, but thank God, they never were. The British soldiers then got hunting dogs and searched everywhere. Later on, as we looked out the window, we saw some farmers go out into the field. Then we realized that it was the same German Soldiers that were up in the attic, they had found some farmers clothes and straw hats. We could not believe it! They were never caught, at least at that time. Many German soldiers, when they realized that others were being fed by the British, gave up gladly.

Well by now the British Soldier’s physically moved in and controlled everything and everybody. The first bunch was along and went into a ditch and tipped over. Well you should have seen us kids run. The truck was full of CANDY. The British Soldiers let us pick up as much as we could carry. We were all in heaven. One day I was walking and a soldier stopped me and asked me if I would like some chocolate and an orange, I said yes I would. I did not have anything like that to eat  since the war started. Oh my God it was wonderful, it was a HERSHEY CHOCOLATE BAR it lasted a whole week, as I nibbled a little at a time. very mean, because they were pretty scared themselves. They did not know what we would do, so we kind of stayed away from them. Eventually, as the next group that came and settled in, things changed nicely. They came with Trucks full of food and candy. We were all so hungry because we had not had real food for so long. We were all waiting to see if they would give us some, but at that time, I guess they could not spare it. One day a truck was driving

We still did not have food except for potatoes that the farmers would let us pick up in the fields after they had harvested. My Mother would send me to the farm houses to beg for milk and bread. I was so embarrassed and ashamed. But my Mother thought that they would give food to a child before an adult. It was awful, sometimes they would chase me away, other times they would send the dogs after me, or, they would slam the door closed, or not open it at all. It was not fun, but sometimes others would be generous and give me both milk and bread. That was our everyday life trying to get something to eat and trying to stay alive. I just remembered something! My mother sent me to a farm house to get tutored in English, as there was an American that lived there. My mother thought that it a good idea at the time, as she knew one day we would be going back to America. It turns out that he was a child molester. I was very lucky that I did not like him touching me, so, as soon as he came close to me, I ran home. My mother then reported him to the American Consulate but he disappeared. So I never got my English lessons. Well it could have been a lot worse, as there were a lot of creeps around even then. In 1949 on Palm Sunday, I made my Confirmation, along with 46 other kids. We all had to wear black stockings, shoes, dresses, and hair ribbons, the boys wore black ties and suites. We were all 14 years old. The girls wore crowns made of leaves from a special bush.

It was at this time a man in the British Army became our family friend. His name was Jock and his home was in Scotland where he had a wife and two children.

jockandm

Jock and my Mom and Jock in his sailboat

aletter

A letter from Jock. He sent many letters telling us news and asking how we were handling life now that the war was over. My Mother was very lonely, and finally met an German soldier , and she fell in love. Eventually, they had a baby girl, who I named Renate. Here, I remember a really funny story about before she was born; when my Mother was pregnant, and the Midwife would call, I would ask her what the baby was going to be. She would say kidding around “I only have a girl left and she has red hair“. Now, in Germany, for some reason people did not like red hair, but don’t ask me why. So when she was born on November 5th, 1945 she had red hair. By the way, while mamma was pregnant, some people in town called her names, and one woman actually kicked her in the stomach. Thank God nothing happened and she was alright. The war was just over, and the new officials in charge gave orders for everyone to go to the doctor to be checked on. We had to be inspected for TB, pneumonia, and malnutrition because of all the years we did not have the right food, or any food for that matter, to eat. So our bodies were pretty messed up. Also, always having to throw ourselves on the ground  and lay there until the bombing was over, did not do much for our health. So the doctor used these blue lights on us, I think it was for our lungs to clear them, but we really didn’t know.

Now we had a little Baby in the house. Mamma worked, so I had to take care of her. Our friends mother, who lived in our house as well, took care of Renate in the morning, while I went to School. So after School, I was the baby sitter. I was only 11 years old, but I loved every minute of it. She was like a doll to me and I dressed her up all the time, and braided her hair, when it finally grew in. I was so proud of her. So the years went by, with things getting a little easier. I had a paper route and delivered them with my bike, all over town. That was my first job. As I got older, I went to a school to learn how to cook, sew, and clean.  I never did go to High School because it was just too much money which we could not afford, and besides, the money I was earning was needed as well. When I was finished with school, I immediately went to work in a Restaurant.  At that time, guests would like to read the daily newspaper as they sat and ate, and all restaurants supplied them. These news Papers were kept on a rod that held them so people could easily read, and also to stop people from folding them and taking then away. Every morning I would have to change the Paper for the day by taking off the pieces of wood and replacing the new paper for that day. After that, I would go help in the kitchen. Sometimes I was allowed to bring out food for the guests, or had to make Ice cream from scratch, so all certainly was a learning process for me. My next job was in a small grocery store, actually, not in the store, but in the back in the owner’s private house. They were very nice people who had money and were very nice to me. They would go to the Opera or plays in Hanover. They also owned a car, wow, which nobody else in Town had, well maybe the Doctor, or the Mayor, but no-one else. It was my job to clean the house for them, and watch their Baby.  This left time for me to do fun things. Me and my friends went dancing together at these different halls and we also traveled to different towns that had all kind of events. We would meet boys, some of whom were cousins of some of the girls.  We would also ride our bikes all over. There is a beautiful lake 2 towns away called Steinhuder Meer.  It is a vacation place to go picnicking, sailing, swimming, and fishing.  Also there was a Kiosk all kinds of food.  OOOHHH fish on a roll, sausage, cold cuts. Then nearby was a Conditory that had ice-cream and pastries yummy!!!!! At this time after the war ended, we were able to have some sort of normalcy in our lives and a little bit of fun.  In 2004, Sal and I and his Cousin Al and his wife went to the lake, where nothing had changed and the food was great.

Faze-5

By now, I am 15 years old and Mama is talking about sending me to America. She had sent my Brother when he turned 16. My father, living in America, who did not want to come with us to Germany when my Mother really had to go, never wrote us, even though my Mother was writing to him whenever she was able. So, he just remarried while we were in Germany, claiming that he had not heard from us and declared us dead. What a creep. So now my Brother is there with him and his new wife, but they did not like it. I don’t know what he did but they did not want him around.

hildagard

 Hildegart and me and a friend

My mother, while she was planning for us to go to America, found that she could not go until she got a Visa, being she a German Citizen and not American like I was. I did not want to go without Her, and pleaded with her not to send me alone, and that I could wait for her. But she felt that I would have a better life in America.

It was when I turned 16, in 1950, that she prepared everything ready for me to leave for America. Tante Clara, who was my God Mother, took me to Hannover to buy me new clothes, because I did not have anything nice to wear. She bought me a dress, shoes, a skirt, nylons, and a winter coat. She was very generous and treated me as though I was her daughter. She wanted me to look nice for my trip to my new home. The day of my departure was very sad, as I was leaving the only home I knew, and even sadder yet, all the people I knew and loved, my family and friends. I was scared, but excited at the same time.  This was in 1951 in the month of may . You have to understand I had not been anywhere except Hannover, and my little home Town of Hagenburg. Here I was going all by myself to the biggest City in the world, New York.  

ontheship

On the ship ready to leave for America

My Mother, my sister and I, left Hagenburg May 1951, I was 16 going on17. We took a train to Bremerhaven, the port where the ship would be leaving from. From the train station, we then took a bus,which took us to the Pier, where we got off. They where both able to come aboard to see where I was going to sleep and to meet all the people that where sailing with me. This was not a Luxury Liner it was a Freighter. When they were boarding the bus to return home, my little Sister, who was only 5 years old, started to cry a little at first, then started to scream and bang her fist on the bus window. My mother and the bus driver had to hold her back, as she tried to get off, but they closed the door and drove off. That  was a most heartbreaking thing to see. God, every time I think about it, even now, I start to cry. My mother told me later that the bus driver went out and bought my little sister a doll and a small stroller. How nice of him, as he felt so bad for my mother and my sister. Needless to say, I was devastated. Here I was all alone for the very first time in my life, scared to death, not knowing what was in store for me in the coming days, let alone the future. When I boarded the Ship, I found it was not a Luxury Liner, but a freighter. There where about 10 passengers, all the rest where crew members. My mother had spoken to a young German couple who were traveling on the same ship, and asked them to keep an eye on me. There was one younger man on the ship, and he and I kind of spent time together. All 10 of us ate together so we where never alone. We ate with the Captain and the crew, cause the ship was not that big. As for the overall trip, it was not bad at all, but some people got sea sick. I was Ok until on the last night, everybody was having a drink to  toast our arrival, so I had one too. It was called Goldwasser, and had little gold specks in it. I had no idea that it was powerful, so I got sick on the drink, which brought on being seasick later as well.  The trip itself, was uneventful except for the 2 days we had a heavy storm. It became rougher, and then very, very, rough, and again, everyone got sick, but not me. I was not scared, and enjoyed going up and down, until the sailors started putting oil into the Ocean to try to calm the sea. That’s when I started to worry a little. We made one stop in Antwerp and we were allowed to get off to see the sight’s. We were there for just one Day, but I was able to see for the first time beautiful buildings and large Churches. Then we left there to finish our voyage. While traveling again, we all began to look over the side of the ship and saw all kind’s of fish following us. They were all sizes; big ones, small ones, and even flying fish. After two weeks our ship arrived in New York harbor. We arrived at night, so the port was closed, and we had to wait until morning out in the bay near the Statue of Liberty.  I couldn’t sleep, I was so excited. Just to think “ I am here in America“, oh my God, “The Statue of Liberty“, “Home of the free”, “no shooting, no bombing, Yea! Yea!“. I was so happy but also sad, as my Mother and little Sister were not with me to see all this. We docked in the morning and everyone started leaving the ship and saying goodbye to everyone else before they left the Ship. Each of my fellow passengers had someone meeting them. I thought I did too. Everyone finally left, and there I was all alone. I did not know were to go. Should I get off the boat? Stay and wait!  What was I supposed to do next? Who to get in touch with and how to do it! My mother had told me that my Aunt Henny and Uncle Karl were supposed to pick me up. Actually, a tragedy had occurred  while I was traveling across and I had no way to know it. My Uncle Karl had a Heart attack, and died, so my Aunt was preoccupied and asked my father to pick me up . So here I am, waiting, and waiting, and no one is coming to get me. I have no idea what to do, after all, I am only 16 years old; coming from the smallest Town in Germany, to the biggest City in the world. Finally the Captain of the Ship realized that I was not being met and was really very nice. He said “Don’t worry, Clara, you will not have to get off until someone comes to pick you up“. Thank God for him. Well, after 4 hours, my Father finely showed up with his new wife, Elsie, . By then I was really panicking and as I didn’t actually know my father, the last time we were together I was four years old, now I was 16.They acted as if nothing was wrong, and decided to take me to a restaurant for steak dinner. I had no idea what steak was, as I never ever had anything like it before. Guess what? I did not like it, Yuck!    

tantehel

Tante Helen Uncle Carl, Fritzy and cousin Helen

Afterwards, they took me to my Aunt Henny’s home, where I met her for the first time, along with her son Cousin Fritzy, who was 15, and his sister, Helene, who was only 7 years old.  They both still were so sad, as it was their father who had just died. Tante Henny’s house was really very small, with only two very small bedrooms upstairs and a kind of  back porch that she fixed up for me to sleep in. It was generous of her. She had a beautiful Garden in the very small back yard, Lilacs and the most beautiful roses. Here I have letters that I wrote to my Mother from the ship as we were docked in (Antwerp) Belgium. I’ve just translated them for this story.

My dearest Mutti and little Renatchen. 28/5/1951

Aboard the ship Adolf Finnen

How are you? Did you get home OK?  We departed Bremerhaven at 1:10 AM. It was a very strange feeling to be on the SHIP WITHOUT BOTH OF YOU . It was scary, but also very exciting at the same time. Imagine being from a very small town in Germany to the biggest City in the World. I went straight to my Cabin which I shared with a very nice lady, her name was Frau Gotz, and it turned out that we were very compatible together.  She treated me like a Daughter, and was protective of me.  She gave me chocolate and made sure I ate it before we saw other members of the ship, such as the sailors, and the two young men that were our traveling companions. After all, I was 16 years old and one young man was really very handsome! She also let me borrow her bathrobe, as I did not have one and the bathroom was down the hall. Actually, the bathroom was not ready for us when we boarded, but then the Captain eventually told us that it was now ready for us to use. Well dearest Mutti that is all for today we are going to eat dinner now, we sit at the Captains table for every meal. I will continue tomorrow.

 So here I am and I will continue. Frau Gotz and I arose at 8;30 AM.  We washed ourselves got dressed and went to the mess hall to eat breakfast. It consisted of an Apple, cornflakes with cold milk( I had not eaten this before) so I called it cold soup, and Sunnyside up eggs, potatoes, rolls, bread with cold cuts, cheese, and marmalade. M- M- M good. It is now 11;00 o clock AM, and now we can read, or visit with the rest of the passengers. We arrived in Antwerbten Belgien last night at 9:15 PM. It is a very big Pier (Harbor), and we had a young man aboard that  was blind who was getting off in Antwerbten, poor guy.

Today’s date is  30/5/ 1951

I forgot to tell you, yesterday in the afternoon we went into the City to go sightseeing. I went with a gentleman called, Herr Hollweg, and we went to the post office so we could send our mail. In the morning of the next day, we went to a little town close to the pier. We saw a movie house and decided to see a movie. It was a western, and in English!  Ha Ha. But at least, I was able to understand the overall story. The people here in Belgien are very social. This afternoon we all decided to go back into Antwerbten. The weather has been beautiful and I am getting a little sunburn. Today I sent all my cards, one to Tante Clara, one to Hildegard, and one to Siegfried so they should receive them soon. OH OH OH! The chocolate man is here I want to buy some. Oh I can hardly wait.

We received 2.00 dollars in exchange for a 100 franks . I also rented a nice big lounge chair so I could enjoy the comfort and the sun with the rest of the passengers. Today is nice and warm I am happy to have the lounge chair.

I just found out that the people who are supposed to meet us in New York, at the dock, were not notified of our arrival time. Now we all have to send a letter by airmail, so I will send one to Tante Henny and Unkel Carl. Dearest Mutti I would like to close for now as we will be eating soon. Aufwiedershen, if God will it. I will help you as soon as I can and I hope and pray you and Renatchen will be here with me soon as I miss you all so much. As soon as I have a job, I will send you money. I will write again as soon as I arrive in New York, and I am by Tante Henny.

Please send my regards to Rabens, Krauses, Edelers, Siegfried, Hildegard, Rubovs, and Ziemers.

Auf Wiedersehn soon, hugs and kisses for you dearest Mutti, and my sweet little Renatchen and Tante Clara too!. 

Tuesday June 5th/ 1951

Dearest Mutti!

We are going to start to sail again today. We decided to go into Antwerbten one last time to take another look around, and again it was pretty interesting. I bought some postcards to remember the City. We all received 100 hundred franks. Everything here is very expensive. A simple coat costs 1530 franks, with shoes also the same price.

We decided to have afternoon tea and 2 pieces of cake that cost 25 franks and we left a tip 2 franks. By the way, the cake was delicious. As I look around at all the people, they are dressed very stylish and sporty, even the little children. I was invited by the sailors to go dancing, and Frau Gotz said it was OK, but she said she had to come along. We went to a Bar to dance and it was great,  it was almost like a dream, we had a very good time.

So off we sailed. The weather was beautiful, but as soon as we sailed it started to rain. The trip was very exciting at this point as we entered the north sea it became very calm. So, for a few days we were able to relax and eat in peace. After a few days of traveling, the sea became very rough and the winds very strong with the waves as high as houses. It was beautiful to look at, all foamy and like mountains and valley’s, and as the waves sprayed all over the deck, it looked more like snow. I HAD TO HOLD ON REAL TIGHT, or go over the side, it was scary, but also very exciting. Some days we saw different Luxury Liners pass by us going the opposed direction. Believe or not, one was the Queen Mary! All were a lot larger then our little Freighter. They were mostly Luxury Liners, but we did see some smaller Freighters too. At the end of our voyage, before we arrived in New York, we passed the “Europa” witch now belongs to France. A very beautiful ship. What we were disappointed about was we did not see a lot of fish but we did see some seagulls, sea swallows, flying fish and pigfish. As we passed by the English coast, and the White Cliff of Dover, they looked like mountains, very nice.

 The whole trip was  interesting now so I know what mother nature can do. The ocean was wild like a stallion, as it was being tossed, twisted, and ripped apart, boy was it scary. The ship was rocking back and forth like a toy, and there were times we could not go on deck. That’s when I got just a little sea sick.

We arrived in New York on Saturday before 9:00 PM. We were not able to dock because it was too late in the evening. I could not sleep, cause we could see the Statue of Liberty from our ship. I was to excited, can you imagine how I felt. I am here in  AMERICA! Wow!!! 

The next morning we had to rise at 6:00AM. I took a shower, got dressed, and waited for the doctor to examine us. When that was done, we were ready to depart. As I said my good bye’s, it was a little sad,cause I had spent 2 weeks with all these people, and all were very nice. All met there families as they arrived, then left the ship thereafter. I was standing on the deck but no one was here to meet me. Tante Henny and Uncle Carl were supposed to pick me up, but no one was here. By this time I was getting a little nervous. I am all by myself! I don’t know were to go. I don’t know what to do. Now I am starting to panic.  Our Captain sees me standing, and waiting, he knows something is wrong, so he comes over to me and says “What is wrong” ? I tell him that my family is not here to pick me up.  He says that I should not worry as they will be here, and you can stay on board until they arrive.  He was very kind to me. Well, finally my father and his wife Elsie came, almost 4 hours later. Needless to say, I was a wreck by then.  Sonny, could not, as he had to work cause he lost some time for Uncle Carl’s funeral. Cousins’,  Fritzy and Helene, were still at school.  Tante Henny did not want to tell me by the ship she wanted  to tell me at her home.  My father decided to tell me right away that uncle Carl died of a heart attack. What a shock,  I was on the ship for 2 weeks when he died and could not believe it. I was looking so forward to meeting him, as I had heard what a fun and wonderful man he was. My father took me directly to Tante Hennys house where we stayed until noon, then we all went to the cemetery to see the grave and bring some flowers. After that, we went to Elsie’s brothers Restaurant to have lunch, they invited everyone.  Then we all went back to Tante Henny’s house.  It is very small  but she made room for me. She is very generous and very good to me.

As we drove through  Manhattan my Papa took me to the neighborhood were we had lived. He showed me the park where  I  and Sonny played. Remember Mama?

Now I am staying by Tante Henny until I start my job. She found a job for me, and also for you, for when you arrive, and hopefully it will be soon. Tante Henny has really some nice friends. Dear Mama you don’t have to worry! You will be in America real soon. Everything will be all right. You just have to get your fingerprints done as fast as you can and everything will be in order.  Tante Henny will loan us the money, she knows she will get it back. So it will just be all the politics and regulations that will take time. Sonny put a package together with food and cloths. The cloths you should sell.  Tante Henny and I are also getting a package together to send to you as well. Papa want’s to take me cloths shopping and he should be arriving soon.  Oh, by the way, Sonny is being a real gentleman, he want’s to take me all over, to show me off to his friends. He is so handsome, tall and neat, and has changed a lot. He is also saving his money. Cousin Helene looks like uncle Carl and so does Fritzy. Sonny is working, so he will be here later in the afternoon.  Tante Henny is washing cloths in a machine, then all she has to do is hang it outside on the cloth line. Imagine that. It is now 10;00 AM in the morning Helene and Fritzy are in school So dear Mutti I will close now but will write again in a day or two. Send my best regards especially, my love to Tante Clara, Uncle Carl, Hildegard, Siegfried Reinhards, Stalhuts, Wulfs and all others. Sonny  sends his love to both of you.  With all my love to you and my little sweet Mausey Renate. Best regards from Tante Henny, Fritzy, and Helene. Also may Uncle Carl he rest in peace.                                                                          

 This ends the letters to my mom after I left her in Germany

I’m recalling this after I became independent. Now, here I am finally settled in at Tante Henny‘s, when after just a couple of days, I started my new job as a Nanny in a Jewish home. I am a live-in nanny, and sleep in the same room as the baby. The baby cries a lot at night as she is 2 years old and should not be crying that much.  It’s in Forest Hills, New York, in a large apartment building, and in a beautiful apartment. The husband has a garment business, while the wife stays at home taking care of their two children, a Boy who is ten, and a girl that just turned two. The parents are not very nice to me, as I  not only have to take care of the children, but  wash their cloths, do their dishes, and clean all their rooms. It was also my job to take the kids out to play at the playground. I have a half a day off on Thursdays. Many  times, she has even take that away from me. In the mean time, I started to make friends with other girls in the park who were also my age and Nannies. While we were talking, they told me that I wasn’t getting paid enough. They also  told me that I should get two full days off, not a half day on Thursday. I stayed until Christmas, then I quit. An you imagine I quit now I had no job.  They of course did not like that I quit. The wife had given me some things for Christmas, one was a beautiful suit, she took it all back and put my suitcase in the hallway. Needless to say she was not happy that I quit. So Tante  Henny said, you have to go to work, so she found me a job cleaning houses. It was what she did, but I do not like doing that because it’s boring and I want to find something that is new and interesting. So I am looking while working with  Aunty and now I finally have found a fun job. I start working in a Dinette, and always sent almost all my paycheck to my mother.

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Me taking a break while working at the Diner on Queens blvd in 1953.
I stayed with my Aunt Henny until my Mother came over, which was about a year and a half after I arrived. My aunt was kind.

When my mother and sister finally arrived, my Brother and I had to take a bus to pick them up at a Pier in the port of  Baltimore, Maryland. I was so happy to see them and we cried like crazy as I did not think that I would ever see them again. My mother looked tired but very happy to be back in the United States. Freedom and peace, no shooting, no bombing, and you could get a job! HEAVEN!!!!  My little sister was a little bigger and cute as a button. She would not let go of me, she was afraid that I would leave her again.  I was like her other Mother at that time.

We now all stayed together at Tante Henny’s house for a couple of weeks. It was very generous of her as she had a very small house, it was very difficult for her, but she happily  shared it with all of us. Then Momma went looking for a place for us to move to. You will not believe this, but she found the exact Apartment that we had lived in before we left for Germany, in May of 1939. Naturally I didn’t remember it, so Momma said for me come and look at it. I did, and I hated it, as it had cockroaches! Ugg! Ugg!! She said before we moved in, they are going to be gone because we would clean it all up. So, after we painted, and cleaned, it really wasn‘t that bad. When you paint all the Roaches decide to move out to the other not so clean apartments. Then we used bug spray constantly that took care to keep them out. Every once in a while we would see one, and God bless Momma, she took care of it. Don’t ask me how? Now we decided we needed furniture cause we had absolutely nothing. Different friends of Tante Henny gave us things, a kitchen set, or a bed, or a couch, I saved a chair from the kitchen set, Angela still has it and she has refinished it and looks great.

So little by little, we where able to move in. We had a grocery store around the corner, who would let us buy food and pay when we got paid. At that time, people trusted  one another, so it made life a lot easier for us. I was looking for a better job and I found one at a really big Diner on “Queens Boulevard”. I worked from 7am to 4 pm and got a Paycheck of $29.00 a week, but made great tips of about one hundred dollars, or more, a week, and best of all, it was all mine. I did not have to share it with the boss, or the other waitresses. I was meeting nice people, and all the guys liked me because I did not speak much English.(Editor note: Not to mention she was gorgeous, so put a picture of what you looked like at this time) We wore uniforms a white button down dress and an apron and sneakers. I also learned how to balance four or five dinner plates on my left arm. So I just smiled a lot and basically just had to learn just what each item was on the Menu. I never knew what they where saying to me, so, I just smiled. The other girls did not like me because I was getting all the attention. One day while trying to talk to a nice young man eating at my section in the Diner, he eventually told me that his sister worked in Manhattan, at the J C Penney Offices on 36th St and Eight Ave. I always wanted to work in an Office, but could not, because I could not read, and now just barely speaking English properly. I did not think that I could get a Job in an Office, but He said to go for an interview, as it couldn’t hurt, and just maybe, I might get a job. So I did, with the aid of his sister, and  believe it, or not, I got a job as a File Clerk. Thank God, I knew my English Alphabet and that was mainly what was needed. Besides filing, they would also send me for Airline Tickets and many other errands.  I became the “go-fer“.  I really got to know the streets of Manhattan, at least around 34th Street. I learned how to ride the Elevated Train, and the subway. Once when I was going to work on the train, I missed my stop completely, because they  had torn down the building that was my landmark, so I had to kind of backtrack and finely found my way. You see! I used buildings for my guide, instead Street names, not being able to read, buildings as landmarks were easier to remember. At that time, we where living at 412 Grove Street in Brooklyn, NY. After a little while, Momma found a job in a knitting mill, so things where getting a little better, one step at a time. Renate, my little sister, was now in Kindergarten. My Brother was doing his own thing and was not helping us in any way.  We had to do everything on our own. He was being a spoiled brat, he thought he was a big shot. He was working at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel as a Banquet manager, a pretty impressive job  at the time. He lost that job I don’t know why, but soon afterward he wound up in the Army.  He was sent to Iceland! Brrr! cold. He was always writing to my mother asking for cigarettes  or money. So he was never any help to us, just more of a burden. One of the Soldiers he was with, wanted to write to me. So we did write a few letters back and forth, but nothing ever came of it. I would get pretty angry whenever my brother came home. He would always take my bedroom, so I always had to move into the front room.  The reason I got angry was, because he never helped us financially or physically.  If we needed help painting the rooms, or anything else, he was never available, or, he would promise and not show up. So my mom and I would do everything ourselves. He would come over, eat our food, and leave, but never contribute in any way. You must remember we were struggling to make ends meet at that time. We where very close with Tante Henny, and with my cousins we would do a lot of things together.  One glorious day, my cousin Fritzy took me to the movies to see “SINGING IN THE RAIN”. I loved it! That was when I first arrived. It was a dream to see them dancing and singing Gene Kelly and Debbie Reynolds. There was a beautiful park near my Aunt’s house called Forest Park, and it was only about a 100 feet away. We took walks through the park and there was a Carousel, a Horse riding academy,(A note here about this riding academy: the man who owned it was to become the husband of cousin Fritzy daughter Kathleen) food stands, ice-cream stand , tennis courts. It was really a beautiful place, and it was where I played tennis.  I loved the game.

Tante Henny was the singer in the family, with a beautiful voice, who also could sing opera. She belonged to a “German” singing club, called “Platdeusche“. She wanted us to join, so we did, and joined in for several concerts and had to wear white gowns.  I am not much of a singer, but I could sing easily in a group, it was so much fun, and afterwards we always had a great dinner. I made some new friends at the meetings and through them I found my next new job. I heard them talking about how much money they where making and my ears perked up. I definitely needed more money. My Mother and I where trying to make ends meet and it was very difficult for us. Paying rent, buying food, buying clothes and books for my little sister for school, it all added up.

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Me and a friend, Cousin Fritzy, Tante Henny, Uncle Carl, me again

So I went for an interview and got the job at a knitting mill. I quit my job with JC Penny’s and started at the knitting mill which was around our neighborhood. It was all “piece work“, which was great because the more pieces you sewed together, the more money you earned. We where making sweaters, and had to work on a machine that was round, and about waist high. When you sat at it, it came to about your bust line. There had to be about a 1000 little needles on it and you had to put all the loops from different peaces of the sweaters on the needles to make a finished sweater. First you started with the body and then attached the arms and then the collar. It was very tedious work, but I loved it, and best of all, I was making a lot of money. I would work right through my lunch hour. The other girls that worked there did not like what I was doing as it made them look bad.  Well, too bad! We needed the money.  My mother used to get upset with me, because I never got up on time. My friends and I would stay out late and dance and come home at 3:00 in the am, so I was tired. I was able to take a bus to work if I got up on time, but I would miss it most of the time. I would have to walk about 4 long city blocks. You think that I would wise up,  nooooo!!!

Momma would always make a lunch for me, sometimes scrambled egg on toasted rye bread,  or liverwurst, or whatever we had at the time. I still love scrambled eggs on rye. It’s still my favorite thing to have in the morning.

I, and three friends that I made, were watching The Arthur Murray Dance Show. It had a contest, which we joined, and won some free dance lessons. The four of us went on and took the lessons. After they finished, I loved it so much, that I signed up for more. I went some nights and Saturdays, as I was working at the Knitting mill at that time, and could only go some of the time when I was able to break free. I don’t remember now how much it cost, but it could not have been very much. I really enjoyed it, cause it was a lot of fun, but more importantly, I learned to dance the Tango, Mambo, Cha-Cha, Foxtrot, Marrange‘, which were all of the coming rage. The Waltz, I already knew. It was like a dream to dance with these handsome Guys. “Woo”! “Woo“! I went whenever I had time, and eventually, I too, became a teacher. 

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My Dancing Teacher stage and the friends from the knitting Mill

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At this time my life was just FUN… FUN … FUN !!!!
At that time, 1953, there where a lot of Clubs that had different big Band name’s featured. Some where in Jackson Heights Queens, NY., and it was great to see greats like “Pupy Campo“, “Xavier Cougat with his wife, “Coochi-coochi Sharra“. One place was called the “Orchid Room”, another, “The Blue Angel“.  We also went to the “Roseland” in Manhattan, where we had to go up very steep steps to get to this very large dance hall. It was fantastic, you could go as couples, or single, and you would always meet someone to dance with. We got to know most everybody there. It was very safe and you did not have to worry, cause at that time, anywhere you went was safe, cause everybody looked out for each other. Different Teachers would be in contest, and we all would perform on stage. The best dancers would win a Trophy and guess what? I won Ten of them. “Yeaa! Yeaa!” .  When we had big money, we would go to the “Copacabana”, and we’d see stars like Tony Bennett, Frank Sinatra, Al Martino, Peggy Lee, Sarah Vaughn, Harry Belafonte, and others who were just starting out. I had a great time dancing all the time and would meet with my good friends who were going together, Rita Aprahamian, and Tony Genovese,  at the “Blue Angel Night Club“. One time, they introduced me to a good looking guy called Tony Cuni. He was charming  he told funny joke’s and he would sing to me. We all went to the Copa Cabana to see Tony Bennett, since Tony went to school with him in Astoria Queens, we got to meet him that Night, it was very exciting. We would always meet with Rita and Tony at the different Clubs and dance away the night. We stay out late because the dancing did not start until 10:00 pm . We would leave at 2:00or 2:30 am, then we would all go to a diner and have a malted, burgers or eggs. After that we always “hung out” together.  It was a wonderful time.

In the mean time, someone suggested that I should make an appointment to interview at the Modeling School in the City, called “Barbizon Models“, who at that time were the best and largest modeling agency . So I went! They measured me, and looked me over, criticized, and said I needed to loose weight. I was 5 foot 7 inches tall and weighed 125 lbs. But I guess they wanted skinnier girls. In the mean time, they where going to work with me. I had to pay more money to continue, so that was that. It was fun for a while, and I went back just once, and never went back after that.

Faze 6

Things where getting serious with Rita Aprahamian, and Tony Genovese. They were engaged early in 1956, and were planning to get married on September 20th, with a beautiful reception afterwards. At about the same time, Tony Cuni asked me to marry him as well. We were engaged in April, and were married on the 21st of October, 1956. When planning our wedding we did not follow the way of all Italian wedding were held. At the time, if an Italian couple got married, and they had a reception, it was usually held in a big Dance hall. There was music, and for food served, they would have on each table, a tray of sandwiches filled with different assorted cold cuts. Along with the sandwiches, there was always a bottle of red wine and a bottle of white. Sometime it was homemade and sometimes store bought. There always was a lot of noise, music, children playing or yelling, and everybody having a great time with a few of the men, sometimes women getting drunk. Usually a few fist fights were a part of the noise and many people afterwards would never talk to each other. So, we decide to have a new reception, that was just beginning to be offered. Our wedding was held in an Italian restaurant, called the “Casa Seville” in Franklin Square. It was a beautiful wedding and we had invited 200 hundred Guests.

We where among one of the first couples to have a COCKTAIL HOUR, with a champagne fountain, and Hor D’Oeuvres, and afterwards they served a complete dinner with two choices for the main course. Finally, a beautiful cake was served, which we cut in a ceremony called “Cut the Cake”. Coffee was offered to all. The band was fantastic, so everyone danced the whole time.  I was not asked to dance because we where such good dancers, as traditionally every man would ask the bride to dance. However, I did get to dance with my father, as it was customary.

My father and his wife Elsie wanted us to have the Wedding at a German restaurant  and Tony did not  want that he wanted a big fancy Wedding like Rita and Tony Genovese he always wanted to show off. So my father would not pay anything toward it. For our honeymoon, we went first to Puerto Rico, then Jamaica and finally Haiti. We were having a great time, but we had to eventually wire for money, as everything cost a lot more than we expected.  Jamaica was great, as it was the  country where all married couples went and were treated royally, years later it became a very bad place to go, as there where many bandits and robberies.  The country was going through a revolution and the people who took over were not interested in people from the US coming there. They didn’t’t realize that their whole economy was based on married couples spending their honeymoon in Jamaica. While we were there, everything was still ok, and we saw Tony Martin, who was an up and coming star and a very good singer. At another night club we saw Sid Cherice, a great dancer, who had her own show and eventually became a dancing partner with Gene Kelly. The hotel itself was beautiful, warm, and on the Ocean, so we had a great time. There was an old Castle on a mountain at the waters edge, that you could visit with little villages close by that had  very touristy shops to visit and spend. Since it was all new to me, I enjoyed it very much.  On our next stop, we went to Haiti and  it was terrible. Everything and everywhere we went was filthy, except in the Hotel area, which had armed guards with  machine guns . The local people had very little and were very poor and lived in huts made of mud and grass. We had 10 days left, so we immediately left and from there we flew back to Jamaica, to then fly on to Montego Bay, where  here again the Hotel was beautiful, but look out the window and the rest of the country was as bad as Haiti. On the flight back to Jamaica we made a stop in Dominican Republic, and were told to get off the plane, for what reason I did’t know and would never find out. Soldiers with guns, everywhere and wherever you looked there were more and more soldiers. This is where memories of my life in Germany came flooding back to me. You would think that I’d be used to seeing this, but it was scary even for me and my experiences. I did not want to be there and the faster we left the better, no fun here, so home we went as fast as possible.

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I designed my wedding gown

Faze 7

It was when we returned that our real life began. We where suppose to have our own home in West Islip, at 495  Kime Ave. but as it always turns out, it was not ready. We had the land which cost $2,500 and the set of plans, and everything needed to begin, but we could not get the concrete poured, as the laborers were on strike. So, we had to move in with his parents who really did not like me. I was not Italian, not Catholic, and came from a broken family. As you can imagine not a good start.  It turned out that I could not do anything right. My new father in law, Frank, did not allow my family in his house because my mother had a baby out of wedlock. He was terrible in every way to me, and made my life miserable. While we were living with them I became pregnant, and had my first born while living in there Home. My son, Perry Anthony,  was born on September 8th 1957, nine months after we were married, at  10 minutes after midnight. He was a beautiful baby, 8 lbs 4 ounces, with a nice head of dark brown to almost black, hair.  However, I had a very hard time the two weeks before he was born. I had accumulated a poison, called Albumen,  in my system, causing my legs to be twice their normal size, and besides this, my whole body became even more swollen and sore. Our doctor was really worried, so he put me in the Hospital two weeks before Perry was born, rather than the normal day or two before. The hospital staff were trying to draw the fluid out of my body, so I was given some kind of drug that I think was actually a water pill. My doctor was talking about inducing labor to get the baby out early and relieve my suffering, but luckily, my baby decided to come out all by himself. At the time of delivery, I was put to sleep, which they did to all women during childbirth at that time. It being my first child and not having any experience, when I woke up,  I thought that I still had my baby inside of me.  It was only after  the nurse came into my room and told me that I had a little boy. I then felt my stomach, which was no longer big and clumsy. I had to stay in the hospital for a total 5 days, as it was a standard practice at that time for all women who had a successful childbirth to remain to make certain that all was well.

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My first Child who we named him Perry Anthony
My father in law, the boss,  said he wanted us to name our little boy, Frank. There already was a Frank in the family and I didn’t want to name him Frank. I had wanted the name to be Perry, so I was very surprised when Tony went along with my wishes, and we named him Perry. One for our side, but we paid for it.  Because we went against his wishes, my father in law, your grandfather, was extremely mad at what we did, and he made us pay by insults and nastiness, for a long time.

Faze 8

We finely moved into our new beautiful home on November 1959, two years later just before Thanks Giving.  At this time I was pregnant with Robert. It was absolutely wonderful to be in my own HOUSE, it was like a dream. I never had my own house before. The rooms where average, except for the master bedroom, living room, dining room, and kitchen. The living room and dining room were one big room with a beautiful hardwood floor and a big, floor to ceiling, bay window. The house was a ranch style, which were very popular at the  end of  1950 and the beginning of 1960. It was so wonderful to finely be all by ourselves, except my In-laws came almost every day, but did eventually go  home at the end of the day. It was a lot of fun buying new furniture, drapes, bedspreads, dishes and many other things. We finally celebrated the next Thanksgiving, my Birthday, and Christmas in our new home. We also gave our first New Years party and it was fun having everyone over. Some of my friends from Arthur Murray came, as well as our new neighbors, who were already living on Kime Ave before we arrived. There were also two new neighbors who had moved in at the same time, who also came. They turned out to be Phyllis and Vinny Procita, with their two little daughters Terryanne, who was Perry’s age, and Karen. Another family that came was Dianne and Raymond Cardinalle who also had two daughters, Judy, and Carol, who were a little bit older than ours two boys. We soon became good friends and till this day, still are. We lived there for 34 years, mostly happy, until Tony and I got divorced. I am still close with the Procitas’ and we see each other often, but the Cardinalles moved away much earlier than we did, so we eventually lost touch.  In 1960, Robert Frank was born at 10:00am on the 7th of April 7 pounds 6 ounces. Another beautiful boy and now I was so happy to have two wonderful boys. Perry was very excited to have a little brother.  I had a little problem in the hospital as they forgot and they left the after birth in me. I suddenly was in severe pain and did not know why. This big nurse comes in and puts all her weight on my stomach I thought I would die. She had to push that hard to get the after birth out, but thank God, on the first try she did it, and it came out, and I was sick for the rest of the day, but later, I began to feel much better. My Mother came from Brooklyn to baby sit Perry. She loved it, but as soon as we came home from the Hospital, Tony and his Parents wanted her to go home. She stayed for a few more days as I wanted her to.  Life went on with my little family. Perry was 2 ½ years old, when Robert was born,  and he loved to sing all of Frank Sinatra’s, Perry Como’s, and Nat King Cole’s songs, because we played their records all the time.  My in laws still came to our house every day, telling me what to do, and after a while it became very tiresome as they always wanted things their way. Time went by as it will do, and I accepted them, even though they didn’t accept me, or my family.

In 1965, on the 27th of December, Angela was born. She was a beautiful little girl and we were all so exited.She had beautiful blue eyes and black hair, a lot of hair. At the same time, the sad part was that my mother in law had just died in March of that year, . So, I thought, in memory of her, I would name my baby girl Angela, after her. Her name was actually, Angelina, but I named her Angela Maria, instead. In the Hospital I was so happy, but in the room with me was another girl who also had a baby, but something was wrong as she was talking crazy. The next day the nuns came to me when she was not in the room and said that they were moving me into another room. They put me in a room with a girl that had just lost her baby, can you believe it. I was so happy and I could not show it. The girl went home the next day, but here comes another girl into the room. I thought “Oh my God what could be wrong with her?” Thank God she had healthy Twins, Hurray! I could now show all the happiness I had inside me.

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Perry holding baby Robert
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My Sister, Renate, my new beautiful baby, Angela, and proud ME

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In the back yard of my in law’s home

My father in law came to live with us after my mother in law died, as he did not want to stay in his house alone. Before hand, when he asked his children he wanted to live with them, not one of his 4 children wanted him, as they knew he was a bossy, miserable man. When he asked one of my sister in laws, who lived in Italy, and who had bragged how she owned a big, beautiful villa, with a balcony all around it, that he wanted to move in with them, all of a sudden, they had no room for him . . . Too small! So, being who I am, I gave in, cause, after all, he was still a human being and my husband’s father, and even though, both he and my husband wouldn’t allow “my mother” to even visit our home. I put my foot down and had them come as often as they wanted to come. My problem was that my Father-in -law thought who he was, and expected everyone to do what he said, took over my house like it was his. He wanted us to wear black after my mother in law died, and sit in the living room and talk about her all the time. We put a stop to that. He would tell my sister in law, Josie, that I was trying to kill him. He said I was putting poison in his food, and that I was stealing his money, which I could not touch. He always had his nose up in the air, as though he talked to God and all the saints. But guess what? The day he died, he was found on a dirty floor at his “Girlfriend’s” (Gooma) house. Him, the big shot, who wouldn’t accept my mother, got his pay back, and for me, I said “Thank you God”. Not that I wished him dead,  as it just happened out of the blue, but it does show that there is always a time when things equal out. You must realize that it was he who was living in my house at that time, and I had accepted him into my home even though he still treated me like an outsider, a non- Italian. The reason I felt the way I did, was because while I was living in his home, after just being married,  he would not let my family come to his house just to visit. He called my mother names in Italian, because she had an affair, and had a baby out of wedlock,( Aunt Renate). He didn’t know what true torment she lived with throughout her life. She was a women alone, who made some wrong decisions, with the wrong men, at a time when she was part of two raging World Wars. Then having to accept charity from wherever she could find it, even though she had a husband, the father of her children, who should have provided for his family. Instead he declared her and her children dead, then went on to marry another women, without another thought for us. Guess where he is today? He is paying back forever in a place where you get back what you gave, and even more in an  lot of heat?

So my life went on

It was a very nice happy life, where I loved having my children and my home. I learned a lot about Italian cooking from my Mother in law when she was alive. I learned how to make Pizza , Raviolis, pasta, sausage, cookies and cannolies all from scratch. But as far as my Father in law was concerned, I could not do anything right, and there was no pleasing him. So, after a while, I did not even try. I had all the Holidays at our house. I loved to bake cookies and cakes. Tony’s sisters and brother always came to us. I did all the cooking, and baking which I enjoyed doing to prove a German could do it too!  The only complaint I had, was that no-one ever attempted to help to clean up, they just sat and visited with each other, while I made everything presentable again. Tony never complimented me, but rather, would always make remark like “Oh, it’s not hot enough, or, did you change the formula, cause it don‘t taste the same“? It was always me against his family, but I still loved my life, cause I had my Children. Well you all know the rest. I won’t go into any more. Hopefully, now you understand me and where I’ve been, just a little better.

 With all my love, Hugs and Kisses,

Your ever loving Mom and Oma!

PS:  Below are the reasons why It all paid off for me Look what we all have turned into at Angela‘s engagement party…

claireandkids

 

 

angela

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Published by

Sal Bianco Jr

Born in a fifth floor cold water apartment on Mulberry Street in Manhattan, NY, Have 3 very successful sons, Created a business called White Knight Ad Ventures LLC that had offices in Hong Kong, Manila, Seoul, Bangkok, Canton, China. Formed a Company called "Made in America" traveled 300,000 miles in a RV I made myself on a Peterbilt truck. Fly a powered parachute,and planning reaching 100. .

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