Story so far: Grandma Cecile made on her way to visit her relatives back in her home village of Nieder-Mohrau, Czechoslavkia. She had crossed the United States 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, had carried her across the Atlantic Ocean.
Grandma Cecile had arrived at her sister's house in Nieder-Mohrau and had written a letter home. A couple of days later, she sat down and wrote a letter to Grandpa, this one written in German.
When I first started organizing these bits of memorabilia, I found the letters between Grandma and Grandpa, but they were written in German. Of course, that made me curious since I could only read English. This old couple - I barely knew them since I was so young when they died - they were typical for their time, stoic, quiet. What did they say to each other when separated by such a time and distance?
Here is Grandma's letter, translated by my friend Al:
|Envelope - with stamp removed|
|Top of first page|
*- Al wasn't sure of the name here, I think she was saying “Mina's”. Her brother Johann must have been staying at Mina's, so there was no room for her, she had to stay with Gustie.June 17, 1936Dear Alois,
Johann is at the Mims[name?]* and thus I am staying with Gustie. I think I am sleeping in my own bed, the remainder after the fire years ago. It is really as we pictured it, and with all that, I have not yet seen Joseph and Hermann, otherwise I would be ready to go, we discussed everything, and I have seen quite a lot, I went to the field with Gustie, we thinned the fodder beets that are growing there. Yesterday we went to the funeral of Schipke Alexander, this sound so strange to me ….
Page 2: …... that I would see him being lowered into the grave, he supposedly has often spoken about me and always asked questions. He was the neighbor of Bernts and he was a very prosperous farmer. The older Bernts are doing quite well, that is the general opinion around here. Yesterday I tried out the scythe at the old lady Berntin [name ?]** , it felt like a sickle. I am happy that so many people are inviting me to their houses but I am not all that much interested in that. Yesterday I also went to see the [name?]** Marie and our parent’s house. I think today that I would like to go to our meadow near the forest but the Mimi [name ??]*** cannot come along because of her asthma and the Gusti is working from 4 in the morning until late at night. I am feeling quite well and I hope to see you all again in good health and I am yours [name]****
** - Not sure who she was referring to here, Al could not make out the names.
*** - Again, I think she is talking about “Mina” or “Minni”, her sister. Grandma in her diary sometimes called her Minnie. Later I remember her being called Mina, all short for Hermina.
**** - A scribble, could be “Zilly” or "Ma" ED]
|Bottom of letter, including signature|
There are some interesting things to glean from this letter. We learn that first of all, Grandma Cecile obviously had saved some stationery from her train ride across the United States. The letterhead was clearly Northern Pacific. The envelope was matching paper, a gray color.
It must have taken about 3 weeks
|dates written on the front of the envelope|
Grandma's reference to sleeping in her old bed because of a fire might be referring to a bad housefire that occurred in the house that was Gustie and her first husband, Alois Schrott's home. (It is mentioned in Hermann Schiebel's memoirs. He said they lost everything that night. Perhaps Grandma's old bed was a replacement for a bed that was lost in that fire.)
Most of the people mentioned are her relatives, Mina, Gustie, Hermann, Joseph and Johann are her siblings. Grandma's mother was a Bernt, so the Bernts she mentions are probably cousins or aunts and uncles. A few others must simply have been friends or neighbors.
Alexander Schipke, seems like there could have been a story there. A wealthy farmer who often asked after Grandma, but had recently died. Hmmm, sounds like Grandma may have left a broken heart or two behind when she left for America! He came close to getting to see her one more time, but instead she arrived in time to attend his funeral.
Grandma mentions that if she had seen her two brothers already, she would be ready to leave. She's only been there a few days. She must still have been homesick and wanting to leave. It's a familiar feeling, to go off on a big trip and then after arriving, wonder why you went. Then after you are there for a while longer, it becomes a great adventure. Grandma is still in the early stages of that feeling and a long ways from her long-time home in Oregon.
Her mention of wanting to go see "our" meadow near the forest when she mentioned seeing her parents house is intriguing. It must have been important to her, but a fair walk. Her sisters had neither the stamina nor the time to go there with her. Grandma always liked working outside, perhaps this meadow was where she worked or wandered as a child and developed her love of the outdoors.
To see the photos closer, simply click on any of them and you will be able to scroll through them all.
Story to be continued......
To read Post "37 - Letter From Grandpa to Grandma - 18 June 1936 Click here