Story so far: Grandma Cecile was on her way to visit her relatives back in her home village of Nieder-Mohrau, Czechoslavkia. She had crossed the country by train, from Oregon on the Pacific coast to New York on the Atlantic coast. The Europa, a ship with the North German Lloyd ship line, was carrying her across the Atlantic. The last two posts have been showing the pages of the Passenger List booklet that Grandma Cecile had among her souvenirs.
In the middle of the booklet were nine blank pages for the convenience of the passengers to make notes about their trip. Grandma Cecile did use a few of those pages, but only one entry is in her own hand.
The first four pages are devoted to a talk given by Elfrieda Bernt's school principal on the day of her burial. We first learned of Elfrieda's death in the letter from Grandma's sister Minna/Mina in May 1936.
The very first entry on the Memoranda page must have been added later to define what followed. The handwriting appears to be that of Sr. Agnes Beitel, Grandma's oldest daughter, who possessed this document until her death in 2009. Sr. Agnes's entry is followed by about 3 pages of neatly written German script. This handwriting does not look like Grandma's, but was probably written by one of her siblings once she arrived.
This is what was written in English:
Talk given by the school principal on the funeral day of little Elfrieda Bernt - (Mom's niece, Mina's daughter, Hedi's sister.)
The translation of the German script, done by my friend, Al Haunold, follows:
Al was not quite certain of the spelling of the name "Johann Leonard", the writing was not quite clear, so that name might not be correct.
Remembrances of a very difficult day of great sorrows:
Dear children! 3rd Feb. 1936
Overcome with grief and with a suffering heart today we accompany on our last walk our dear friend and classmate. Filled with sorrows we find ourselves at her open grave in order to say good-bye, good-bye forever to our blond, blue-eyed
[Page 2:] Elfriede, who had to leave us unexpectedly and at such a young age, who was so full of life like you here, my dear children!
Never again will she be able to study and play with you, have fun and laugh. Her little innocent heart has quit beating, her bright eyes which always looked with amazement into the world are now broken and lifeless, her rose-colored mouth which happily would talk excitedly is now life-less and quiet as she herself wrote in her last home-work assignment put down on paper in her last sentence.
Dear children, when you come back to school again next Thursday, little Elfriede will be missing and her spot at the desk will be empty, but not so in your hearts. Think often about your dear school-friend and don’t forget her. And when – at some future date - you are older and grown up
|The first two pages|
Following these emotional remarks, another sentence follows in German. It was written in pencil and appears to have been written by a different person. This was translated as:
[Page 3:] ... and reminisce about your time at school then please remember also your fellow student who had to leave you at such a young age.
Dear Elfriede, you dear trusting little girl: On behalf of our school which you loved so much, your teachers and fellow students who also loved you so much, I offer our last greetings and I give you our last good-bye. We will never forget you until the day when our eyes are closed forever.
Always, when we go to church on Sundays or visit the cemetery we will try to visit your nice quiet little spot where we have placed you today for your eternal rest. For all of us you were such a dear fellow student and therefore we will keep cherished thoughts of you in our hearts and in parting we sing for you our song of true friendship:
[Last page:] Slumber softly, dear Elfriede - - in the soil of our beloved homeland, which is filled with sorrow and weeps for you!
“Words spoken at the open grave by her teacher Johann Leonhard”
Al was not quite certain of the spelling of the name "Johann Leonard", the writing was not quite clear to Al, so that name might not be correct.
|The next two pages - note the different handwriting of the last three lines|
Grandma Cecile did make an entry herself on the next page:
Lady, I was told, lost her purse, she complaint to me, she had $15 in it. If it only doesn't go like it went with my glasses and that envelope, that shows you can't trust anybody. No matter how honest people look. I left my coat on deck and better see, that it isn't taken.Apparently Grandma was still concerned about the "long fingers" aboard the ship!
As mentioned, Sr. Agnes had this Passenger List booklet. It was not in Grandma's collection. Grandma must have given it to Sr Agnes after she returned home.
Sr. Agnes showed it to me on a visit I made to the convent to see her. I had copied pages from it then so that I could add them to my collection of Grandma's souvenirs. After Sr. Agnes died, my Aunt Virginia Beitel received the booklet with other mementos of Sr Agnes. Aunt Virginia knew that I was working on the story of Grandma's trip, so she then gave the Passenger List to me and it is now back with all the rest.
 - Sr Agnes is identifying Elfrieda as Grandma's niece and Mina's daughter. She refers to her as Hedi's sister, because Hedi was the one of Elfrieda's siblings that she knew the best. Hedi (Bernt) Ramolla lives in Canada and made several trips out to Oregon for visits as well as taking Sr Agnes with her to Europe on other occasions.
Story to be continued......
To read Post "34 - Grandma's Letter Home 15 June 1936", Click Here