I can’t believe a month has passed since my class reunion. This reunion was not a high school get together; it was an eighth grade graduation from our Catholic parochial school. Yes. You read it right. If I was vain, I wouldn’t tell you it was our 50th.
The idea to put on such a party started about four years ago when some of my classmates from high school partied together. Two guys thought it would be wonderful to get as many of the 34 students who graduated from Saint Sebastian’s together again.
So they went to work. David W. had a website created so once a week classmates could chat together. Then after he found a few of the students, he went on a merry search to find other people who scattered around the country.
Dyann, Debby, and I worked here at the base station of Sturtevant, Wisconsin putting the details of the party together . . . you know, the work. We figured out how to provide a tent, tables, chairs, and porta-potty. Then we turned our attention to the food. All three of us are good cooks, so consequently, we could have fed the whole village with the leftovers.
The day before the party, we decorated Dy’s backyard with a poster of the class from 1965; I volunteered an artifact — the hated beanie we girls had to wear to church everyday. Debby made a mobile with pictures of all the crazy dances we used to do, and she also put signs like “Nitty Gritty,” “Sock it to Me,” and other colloquial teenage words on colorful tag board and hung them around the tent.
I got together old pictures and created a “movie” which represented everybody in the class using background music from 1965. After dinner, we had a premiere showing on Dy’s big screen TV and gave each guest a DVD as a parting gift for everybody to take home.
How did it turn out? Pretty cool.
Even though we’re all 64 or close to it, nobody looked old. . . at least not to me. Nobody stood apart from the group; everyone mixed well–even the spouses who were brave enough to come along. Half the girls were teachers, the other half nurses. Most everybody had two kids, and were married going on 20 to 45 years. I joked I had been married 42 years–but I accomplished such a feat with two men. I also didn’t fall into the teacher/nurse occupation. I guess I’m still an odd ball. I had 20 years in corporate communications and website development, and then six years as a financial adviser. I also joked it took me until I was over fifty to finally grow up and admit I’m a died-in-the wool writer.
Only five classmates remain in the area; everyone else came from long distances. Two made the trip from California, one from Arizona, one from Connecticut, one from North Carolina, three from Florida, and one from Virginia. Three others live in Wisconsin, but had to drive four or more hours to get here. And finally, four classmates looked down from heaven. We all were glad we made the trip. There’s nothing like spending time with the kids who played “Red Rover Come Over,” jump rope, double dutch, and hopscotch on the playground.
Where did fifty years go?
APPLE PIE & STRUDEL GIRLS — Book 2
Warsaw, Poland – July, 1939—Heidi enjoyed her young cousins during her first weeks in Warsaw. She took them swimming, picnicking, and biking during the warm summer days while her uncle worked. Uncle Hans proved to be gentle and kind. After his wife died from pneumonia the year before, he went on raising his children alone. Right away, Heidi trusted her uncle and realized she could confide in him.
After the children went to bed, Heidi relaxed with Uncle Hans in the parlor.
She cleared her throat before she spoke. “Uncle?”
He put down his newspaper and gave Heidi his undivided attention. “Yes, Heidi?”
“Is now a good time to talk?”
“I will always make time for you, Heidi. What’s on your mind?”
She fidgeted trying to work up the courage to tell him about her desire to become a nanny in Warsaw. She decided to talk about the children before broaching the subject. “Gertruda loves her daily ballet lessons. She is so fun to teach.”
Uncle Hans chuckled. “Yes. When I tucked her in tonight, she said you and she are performing tomorrow evening in the parlor.”
“Yes. That is the plan.”
Hans smiled. “Shall we invite the neighbors?”
Heidi paused. “Not just yet. She still is a bit—uh, how do I say this delicately?” Heidi searched for the right word. “She still is a bit niezdarny—clumsy.”
Hans chuckled. Heidi went silent and sipped her cup of nighttime tea.
“Is something troubling you, Heidi?”
“When Papa and Mama wrote to you about my visit, did they tell you I might want to find a nanny position here in Warsaw?”
“I wondered when you would mention your intentions.”
“So they did say something.”
“Good.” She relaxed and took out the ad her mother received in a letter from her cousin.
“I would like to apply for this position with the Gessler family.”
Hans studied the ad. “Heidi, this ad is weeks old. Perhaps the position is filled already.” Heidi’s face fell. She remained silent. Hans read the ad aloud. “Wanted: A nanny for three young children – ages six, four, and thirteen months.” Hans paused. “This position comes with a lot of responsibility, Heidi. Do you think you are up to such a challenge on your first job?”
“I am qualified, Uncle. I brought my certificate from school, and I always cared for my brothers and sisters. I want to apply.”
“You do not need my permission, dear Heidi. If you can handle three little children, you must apply. The address is a very good part of Warsaw, and you are wonderful with your cousins. I will give you a good reference if you want one.”
“Thank you Uncle Hans. That is a generous offer I’ll accept.” She rose. “I’ll call the phone number right now!” She ran into the hallway and picked up the phone.
“If you get an interview, I will drive you there.” He shouted after her.
A few minutes later, Heidi returned with a broad smile. “Uncle Hans, I’m so excited!” Hans once again put the nightly newspaper down. “I can see that.”
“My interview is tomorrow at nine o’clock! I must get ready.” She bounced up the stairs to pick out an appropriate outfit for the occasion.
Berlin, Germany – July 1939—Leisel fell into a mild depression with both of her close friends so far away for the summer. She filled her time by helping her mother with the household chores and exploring new hairdo’s she found in fashion magazines. With the majority of her free time, she studied for the entrance exams to the university.
Since Marta encouraged her to pursue her dreams, Leisel began to believe she possessed what it took to be successful in college. She found housework and cooking tedious and wished for something more exciting to do. Her strict father forbade her to go out at night without a chaperon. When she asked to go out with one of the neighborhood boys, he said “no” and sent her to her room for the evening. He had bigger plans for her, He expected her to marry well and not fall in love with any neighborhood boy.
One balmy evening Leisel mustered enough courage to tell her father of her intentions to sit for the entrance exam, but in one sentence he quashed her dreams. “I forbid it!”
Leisel’s eyes filled with water, and she stomped her foot. “You are not being fair, Vater. I will be a good student and make you proud.”
He stood up and puffed out his chest. “I will hear no more of this nonsense. You are going to Schwanenwerder. No where else. I enrolled you. When you graduate from there, you will make me proud.” He strutted out of the room mumbling girls had no business at the university.
Leisel dropped to the floor and sobbed. Her father just told her he enrolled her into a premiere bride school. Instead of studying academics, this school stressed the social graces. Upon graduation Aryan-looking girls like Leisel became perfect mates for SS officers in order to perpetuate the Aryan race of blue-eyed blond children.