Sunday, October 4, 2009

Mrs. Bredemeier Goes to Europe

Reverend and his sister Imgard at her home in Minden, Germany.

Ed. note: This was originally published on Remembering Frances.

In 1971, Nana got remarried to Rev. CWA Bredemeier (see p. 4 of link). He was German, having emigrated to the United States during the 1920s. Reverend, as everyone including Nana called him, liked to return to Germany to visit his siblings, Imgard, Anna, Christy, and Ditmar and other family members who had remained in Germany. To my knowledge, Nana accompanied him twice. She very much enjoyed these trips and kept a diary of her adventures.

This post was originally written by Nana during her second trip to Europe in 1981. I discovered it during my trip to Florida in September and was surprised to learn of a side of Nana I'd never known. I have not altered Nana's diary in any way other than to correct misspellings.

My Second Trip to Europe, October 5 - 25, 1981
by Frances Paulk Bredemeier

Monday, October 5, 1981
My anticipation of the second trip to Reverend's homeland ran high. We were ready to leave for the airport when the phone rang and the voice told us our flight was delayed for three hours, would leave at 10:15 not 7:15. To keep us off to a good start we let the house as planned. Our good friends, Ruth Weyer and Carol Vassell, drove us to the airport but we stopped by our famous "McDonald's" for a nice hamburger and cup of tea. This made our departure perfect. Reverend failed to take his topcoat but this was not a concern as we knew there would be an extra coat on that lovely coat rack in the foyer of his German home. Bidding our friends a farewell, we boarded Pan Am flight for Frankfurt. After all passengers were comfortable we were served a delicious roast beef dinner with all the trimmings. We rested, read and relaxed knowing we had eight hours of flying time ahead. Lights were turned low and we stretched across the vacant seats for a few hours of sleep. Woke to a beautiful sunrise as we were flying over the United Kingdom. Time was announced U.S. 6:25am, German time 11:25am. A regular continental breakfast was served, temperature announced 16C, 61F.

Tuesday, October 6, 1981
Landed at the Frankfurt-Main Airport right on time, U.S. 7:25am, German 12:25pm. Looking out the plane window we could see plans from all parts of the world. We had the pleasure of waiting three hours for our flight to Hanover. We had dinner in the lovely dining room at the airport, was interesting watching people from all parts of the globe, many in their native wear. Had German sausage and potato salad for the meal. We could hear flights called to Palestine, Cairo, Tokyo, Peking, Saudi Arabia, Somali, even heard a Miami flight called, flights to Moscow, I had to think how small the world must be.

I stepped aboard my first foreign plane, Lufthansa B-737 for Hanover. Only took about 45 minutes for this flight, and stepping off plane we saw two smiling faces on other side of glass waiting for us, Siegfried and Ditmar. We were soon on our way to Minden, weather was cool and misty, a little rain. We were walking into their home with arms waiting for us, such a welcome with Imgard and Christy waiting. Once again being welcomed into their lovely home, with flowers in bloom in their yard, the flowers in every window. Red roses in bedroom to greet me. In Germany, you purchase roses in numbers of three, five, seven, or nine.

After relaxing and unpacking we went to dining room with a beautiful table waiting for us, and of course, a continental supper which we always enjoy, and a cup of tea with that special taste. We soon retired to our room and those cozy beds with the down comforters waiting for us.

Wednesday, October 7, 1981
Breakfast at eight, much pleasure to eat and talk with Imgard and Siegfried. Such a pleasure to look out at the German soil, so rich, with such blankets of flowers. Had to go into the vegetable garden, they had saved raspberries on the vine for me to pick. Much had been gathered and stored for winter use, but in the garden were also beautiful flowers, rose of colored dalhias. One would never tire of visiting just Minden. This city is in the heart of Westphalia on the Weser River. We enjoyed being home the first part of our visit and be with the family. A different world just to be in Germany and really live among the people.

Imgard had prepared a tasty dinner of meat loaf, rice and tomato and squash casserole, strawberries grown in their garden for dessert. Imgard has her own art for freezing them and also thawing, one could not tell they were not freshly picked. By now we were realizing the time difference so a nap was welcomed. We heard the East German bells calling us downstairs for coffee and dessert, strictly at four in the afternoon. The bells were in East Germany, Siegfried's home land.

Ditmar and Christy joined us. We spent the afternoon with the family, always a continental supper which we enjoy. Enjoyed German TV, the news and the end of another perfect day.

Thursday, October 8, 1981
Another interesting day, after breakfast, starting the day with a walk to the park. Weather was brisk. People of all ages, men and women, passing us riding their bicycles. Sidewalks are much wides than in the States, they were built for bicycles many years ago. Each person will carry a shopping bag as no sacks are given with purchases. Check-out clerks in grocery stores sit on a comfortable stool. Imgard served us friend chicken breast, potatoes, peas and pears for dessert. Christy and Ditmar again joined us for coffee and cake at four then for a ride to Hahlen and Hartum, small villages not too far from Minden where the family lived as children. Farmers live in the villages but their land is outside the village for farming. This is the day we seem to be over our jetlag.

Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, October 9, 10, and 11, 1981
Friday was the day we went to Bielefeld for Anna. Lovely drive over the mountain range, back by the Autobahn. Bielefeld is a beautiful city. Bethel, where Anna has lived and worked since a young girl, has enlarged even houses the city hospital now.

Saturday morning we watched [Anwar El] Sadat's funeral per German TV. This was interesting. I did get a glimpse of Nixon, but other ex-Presidents were not seen. Siegfried made yeast cake which we would enjoy int he afternoons. All stores close at 1pm on Saturday. Rudy and wife, Christine, daughter, Marguerti, and husband and baby Hanas from Bethel visited us Saturday afternoon. Was a pleasure to have Anna with us for the weekend. She brought gifts we will always treasure.

Sunday was the day August [Reverend] had looked forward to. Church in Hartum with Anna, Christy and Ditmar. This was the church they attended as children, pretty stained glass windows and lovely organ. Had not changed too much since his childhood, only the attendance. When they were young the pews were all filled. Today, many are empty, a Gideon speaker brought the message this Sunday.

We stopped by the old home place where a cousin now lives. Anna and August remembered many instances from childhood, passed by the old bake house. We then drove back to Minden where we knew Imgard and Siegfried would be waiting. Walked into dining room to find a beautiful table waiting for us filled with pork roast, carroli (turnips) potatoes. I still think they are the best potatoes I have ever tasted. At four, Imgard and Siegfried served us that delicious yeast cake with our coffee. I can see Ann's smile across the table now. She does not talk too much, but a real pleasure to have her with us. Sunday night we had supper with Christy and Ditmar in their attractive home. Anna rode over but the rest of us walked, was kinda raining and cold but was a wonderful walk, several blocks, we had to use umbrellas. Christy is very artistic so her table was most attractive. Ditmar's father joined us as his mother was still in hospital. She served platter of smoked pork chops, all kinds of cheeses, rice and spaghetti salad. Beautiful fruit bowl with real whipped cream for dessert. We then returned to living room where Ditmar showed slides of Crystal Beach and other points of Florida then slides of their trip by San Francisco, Grand Canyon and on to Lakewood, Colorado.

Monday, October 12, 1981
Waked to a beautiful misty rainy day. Lovely breakfast, as lovely as a queen has, and the fellowship with Anna, Imgard and Siegfried. We went downtown Minden by bus. So many sights to see in Minden, old churches, city halls and just watching the busy people. Lovely clothes in show windows, fur coats up to 10,000 Marks [approx. $4400]. We had lunch in a little street stand eating German sausage on a bun. Some of the foundations for the churches were laid 800 AD. Were home by four then watched Stalingrad picture on TV.

Tuesday, October 13, 1981
Lovely morning as usual then to Hameln, Lemgo and Bad Pyrmont in afternoon. Drove across the mountain range where the leaves were beginning to change color. Lemgo is an interesting old town with square in center, cobblestone streets, no cars allowed in square, a real tourist attraction, buildings very old.

Bad Pyrmont is a very exclusive and expensive spa. We visited a couple whose mother lived in Tarpon Springs many years. Her son manages the hotel at this spa. There are many, many hotels at spa. They served us coffee and cake in the main dining room and wanted us to stay several days and nights, but time would not permit. They will be in USA in January 1982 and will visit with us. After the interesting drive back to Minden and supper we all watched "Dallas" on TV, I had never seen this program in the States, but is a favorite in Germany.

Wednesday, October 14, 1981
Spent the morning shopping, had fun trying on clothes but did not purchase. Their sizes are so different from ours, I found that I wore a size 40 blouse, I believe that would be about size 10 or 12 here. Material was all so nice, well made. After four o'clock we took Anna back to Bethel. Was so nice that she could be home for the few days. After bidding a farewell to Anna in Bethel, we strolled through the town of Bielefeld, very interesting town. I believe I did not mention the first few days we arrived in Minden, we visited the cemetery where Mr. and Mrs. Bredemeier are buried, took flowers and found the cemetery well kept with beautiful flowers everywhere. They do have much respect for their deceased loved ones and keep the graves with beautiful plants on them.

Thursday, Friday and Saturday, October 15, 16, & 17, 1981
These days were spent with the family with anticipation of our trip through Switzerland the next week. We did enjoy just being in Minden with the family. Ditmar showed his slides of their trip to Norway. we got a real education on Norway, pictures were interesting and comments on each were great. One afternoon Siegfried walked with us to the store and went through the big nursery department. There are so many pretty flowers in Germany, one wants to buy each, they grow so easily there, with some work and loving care. Late in afternoon we drove up to Kaiser Wilhelm's monument, could see "Little Switzerland" from the view. On way home we saw a shepherd with his sheep and his dog. We also visited with Alma and Tante Wilhelmine and fmily. Ulrich and Biggert arrived on their way to Denmark for their week's vacation. We called Peter Thoren in Hamburg, his aunt lives in Tarpon Springs.

Sunday, October 18, 1981
First two weeks we stayed close to Minden and the family. Now we are off for five days of touring by car. We will see more in these five days than most tourists see by a tour bus in three weeks. After breakfast this Sunday morning Ditmar, driving his lovely Mercedes, Christy, August and I were off to Southern Germany, first over the mountain range then through about 100 miles of flat land, then on to the Black Forest. We had our first sight of U.S. Army, they were on maneuvers this week. In this section farmers live out on their land. Leaves are turning a golden color, a picture any artist would prize to see and apture on canvas. Church steeples are noticeable in all the villages. We listened to Lutheran Church service while driving. All stores are closed on Sunday. Driving south toward Kassel [and here], bombed heavily during the war, scenery was especially pretty, little villages nestled between the mountains. Houses are white with red and the black roofs are beginning to be seen. The mountains are beginning to have many forest trees. There were very few transport trucks on the highway on Sunday, very few are allowed on Sunday.

Started noticing car license plates, CH for Switzerland, D for Germany, PL for Poland. Very few Polish cars, but the few we saw seemed to be refugees as cars were packed with belongings probably everything they owned.

Had lunch at a highway restaurant, outside under shelter with rain falling, Bockwurst and orange juice, then on to Frankfurt passing the U.S. Air Force base. Frankfurt was badly bombed, so most of the buildings are new and like new ones in America. Passed Castle Zwingenberg, then on to Darmouth, only a hello to Heildelberg as we passed, we had previously seen the castle and palace and places of interest. We are now entering the Black Forest near Baden-Baden, famous resort. All the rich sheiks from Saudi Arabia enjoy coming here, very expensive. Beautiful gambling casino here, most famous in all of Germany.

We approached Freudenstadt near evening, spent night at Hotel Lanhaus high up in the mountains in the little town of Lauterbad, just a few miles from Freudenstadt. Ditmar always found the right place to eat and spend the night. Had delicious pot roast, potatoes, cauliflower, wine and dessert in a lovely dining room, the hotel was in the square. All rooms have no closets, there is a big wardrobe for hanging clothes, big square pillows for beds and feather comforts for each mattress. All beds are king size with two separate mattresses. After our supper we walked around the square under the arcade which surrounds the city, this is the largest arcade in the world. The street lights were beautiful candelabras.

Monday, October 19, 1981
Walked down the marble stairs to the dining room, continental breakfast waiting for all the guests, red rose on each table. This is in the heart of the Black Forest. We were soon on our way to Triberg, home of the famous Coo Coo clock. We found the shop we wanted to see, owned and operated by Mr. Dohl, August had spoken to him by phone from the States. He had a big sign "UHREN Coo Coo Clocks," so this was the place we stopped. He had many, many clocks, he sold retail and wholesale. A merchant in Dunedin had been over and purchased many clocks to sell in his store in Dunedin, Florida. He had 55 employees, 33 were wood carvers. We watched some of the carving. The merchant from Dunedin had purchased two clocks in particular, price in Germany was 1480 Marks [approx. $655] and 2300 Marks [approx. $1018]. Many flowers in all the windows. People live on second and third floor of these buildings and shops on street floor. We had dinner in a quaint restaurant we found on the highway, served meat loaf, potatoes and salad, but such an interesting place. We left the Black Forest at Waldkirch and now on to Basel and enter Switerland near Nurenberg. Weather was clear and sun was perfect, such a day and new experience as I drove across the border and into Switzerland, a land I had only known from story books. We were now near the French border, no coats needed. Many vineyards in this section, the Black Forest protects the vineyards in winter and south winds brings good season for the grapes. We entered Switzerland at 2:30pm, custom officers were most friendly, sun was bright as I put my feet on Swiss ground, another thrill for me, with the Swiss Alps facing us. Switzerland has three languages, near Geneva, French is spoken, southern part, Italian and northern section, German. Their flag, a white cross with red surrounding the cross to the edge of the flag, these were flying in many places. We cross the Rhein River here, we are now about 800K (500 miles) from Minden. We left the vineyards to find apples and pears on mountain sides. Many tunnels through the maintains. Land has been turned over for winter planting or winter cover crop is up, will stay green all winter. Different forest on the Alps than the Black Forest. On to Bern. Many Swiss Army trucks on highway. Saw the big clock on the city hall in Bern as I remember in my geography book I studied in grammar school, never knowing some day I would view the clock with my own eyes. Swiss banks do not require a signature card, they only use numbers that are given to each customer. We drove along beautiful Lake Thun looking at the blue waters and little villages along the lake and on to Interlaken, nestled between the Swiss Alps. Out hotel in Interlaken was on a river, very cold glacier water and very blue. We had our stroll on the streets, passing the beautiful Hotel Victoria. We saw the horse drawn carriages leave hotel taking tourists for a tour of the city.

Many side walk cafes, heated from the ceiling, open all winter. Kursaal, which means "meeting place" was here. On the casino grounds was a clock with face made completely from flowers, big wooden hands even second hands. This clock has been here for many years, each year planting new flowers as needed. The stores were all filled with Omega and Rolex gold watches, and much fine jewelry. As we walked, we could see lights high up on the mountain side, dotting villages high in the mountains and villages we would see next day.

Tuesday, October 20, 1981
Woke to a beautiful sunshine day, looking out motel window to see the beautiful snow capped Alps and Mt. Matterhorn nestled between peaks part of the Jungfrau Region. When we first looked out window, day was clear could see the mountain very clearly but within fifteen minutes, one could no longer see mountains, mist come in so fast. After our continental breakfast we started our drive by winding roads and hairpin curves up the Swiss Alps. We drove to Grindelwold by car then took the electric train for the remaining part of the trip Scheidegg. To our desired expectations which many tourists fail to see, the sky was beautiful, not a cloud in sight, making visible the Eiger, Jungfrau and the Monch. No words can express this sight. Jungfrau unveiled her beauty and the Eiger stood in all his glory. We baked in the sun as if we were on the sandy shores of Florida. After taking in the beauty of these sights, we took the electric train back to Grindelwold for lunch. We met many Japanese ladies (teachers of tea) touring the Alps then on to Paris and London and back to Japan. Each wore their beautiful native silk kimonos. Back by Interlaken then up to Gimmelwald where we met an old man and family from Israel, many sheep on mountainsides. Then making all the curves up to Beatenberg where Reverend had relaxed a week in 1948. A small child was bringing the cows down from high meadows, the lead cow wearing the larger bell, the other cows with smaller bells, was a symphony of cow bells drifting throughout the open spaces of the mountains. The hotel was the same as in 1948. Went inside the church which was started in 1536 and restored in 1934 [ed. note: I think she's referring to the Protestant Church of Beatenberg]. Lady was working in the small cemetery on slope near church. The day closed with beautiful echoes of the cow bells and thinking, "they are led by a child, passed the church and up the town street to their proper place for the night." As the day comes to an end - my thoughts drift back to the great Alps standing before me - still wondering the strength behind those great mountains. "When I look down from the lofty mountains grandeur and tall water falls and feel the gentle breeze, I think dear God, how great Thou art. The world behind me - the cross before me - no turning back, I will follow Jesus." Another wonderful day had come to an end. I understand the dear [ed. note: I couldn't make out this word - it was handwritten] melody as I looked at the Alps.

Wednesday, October 21, 1981
On leaving Interlaken we had to stop in the middle of the town to wait on a man taking his cows to the mountains to graze, first cow wearing the larger Swiss bell, about a 2 gallon size, smaller bells on the cows. Saw a Swiss mailman wearing the traditional cape pulling a small cart. We drove along the north side of beautiful Lake Brienz to Luzern. Snowed in the mountains during the night, we could see the snow capped mountains along the drive, lovely chateaus all through the mountains, always flowers in gardens and windows. Saw much wood cut and stacked for winter use. All through this part of Switzerland the church steeples have clocks, then rooster for Reformed church and a cross for the Lutheran. Saw a mountain goat standing way up on a cliff. As we entered Luzern we heard on radio that the Hearst family from California had purchased a castle in Luzern and was going to move it stone by stone and relocate it near Miami, Florida. We saw many black ducks and sailboats on Lake Brienz. By now the lake was Lake Vierwaldstatter [ed. note: aka Lake Lucerne]. We drove through Stans built on the mountain side overlooking the lake. Buildings were old and very pretty in Luzern, covered walks, domes and much decorations on all buildings. Saw big American Express off here, many tour buses. Leaving beautiful Luzern on way to Zurich. Countryside beautiful, lake on one side, mountains on other side. Zurich is place where William Tell struggled for Swiss Independence, no traces of war destruction, economy is strong. On to Liechtenstein, country smaller than Clearwater or Minden, independent, has holding companies, no airports, no natural resources, everything must be imported.


The journal ends there. Although Nana's trip lasted another four days, there were no journal entries. Maybe they were lost. Reading and transcribing Nana's travel journal, I discovered a woman I'd never known. To me, Nana was always the woman who worked in the bank, who loved her children and grandchildren, who grew up on a farm, who loved her church and lived a very simple life. In this journal, I met Nana the world traveler. The woman who drank wine, socialized with and loved meeting people from all cultures, watched Dallas (even if only once), and called her husband August, not Reverend as I always heard her.

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