Thursday, April 28, 2011


I am 8 or 9 years old. We are living in Germany in a small village of about 300 people. Mainly farmers. Today the class outing is ‘potato beetle picking’. We trott off to a farmer’s potato field. I don’t remember what those bugs look like nor their size but I do remember that they are easy to find sitting on the plants and chewing away at the leaves. The teacher assigned a potato row to each of us. We bend down, move forward, inspect each plant and pick the bugs off and throw them into a bucket that we are carrying. I love doing it. Beats sitting in a hot classroom. This was an early afternoon outing. The sun at its hottest and beating down on us and my most vivid memory of this event is ‘hot and very thirsty’. Oooof, finally the job is done and we find ourselves near the farm house. I don’t remember seeing the farmer but I do remember this bucket of water. We all push and shove around it to get a share of the cooling drink.

Sunday, April 17, 2011


 I don’t remember all that much about the war.

We arrived from Athens in Berlin sometime in June 1942. Just a few weeks before my grandfather, Opa, died.

What a culture shock - hot, sunny and bright in Greece and very dark in Germany. I can still see Tic-Tac Oma and Opa standing on the platform at the train station. Both dressed in black. They scared the schnook out of me.

I remember coming home from school and switching on the light in the stairway to brighten my climb to the third floor where Oma and Opa lived (we lived with them). The light was on a timer and stayed on just long enough for people to make it all the way up to the last floor. I still can feel the fear I had that the light might go off before I’d make it to the top. So, I was always running up and making noise and on the second floor the door would open and this old lady would stare at me without saying a word as I was flying by - I was so afraid of her. And then, we would be fast asleep at night, the sirens would go off and we would have to run down to the basement and huddle on benches that were set up. No smiling faces, only worried grown ups and cranky kids and all hoping that no bomb would fall on our building. 

Friday, April 15, 2011

Tom Cruise (the actor)

Watched biography of Tom Hanks on TV and remembered the following story of the other ‘Tom-actor’, Tom Cruise.

December 1971, J. and  I and of course baby girl T. where visiting my brother and family in Ottaw. It was Christmas season and brother T. and wife W. had been invited to an afternoon Open House at the home of the friend of my two nieces J. and I. (age 12 & 14 then)  and had been asked to bring us along. I don’t remember much about the event except that the hosts were a charming couple. 

Years later my niece J. told me that this was the house of Tom Cruise’s family - his real name is Tom Maypotter. My niece J. was best friend of Tom’s sister Liana who  would invite my two nieces over to the house. On one such occasion, J. says, the girls perched Tom on the bathroom counter, positioned themselves in front of him and each took  turns teaching him how to kiss (Tom was a bit younger than the girls).  My sister-in-law told me that the Maypotters were American and that they eventually moved back to the States and that when Liane got married she sent J. an invitation to the wedding. J. could not afford to go at that time. Sister-in-law also told me that she watched Tom on an Oprah show and that he told  about the occasions when his sister would invite her girlfriends over to teach him how to kiss. 

PS Almost as exiting as me meeting Anthony Quinn.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011


I see myself  in this small kitchen of the apartment we were renting from Mrs. Klump (in Germany, towards end of WWII). My grandmother and mother were there and mother had just returned from a shopping trip to one of the larger towns in the region. Of course I was curious to see what she had brought home. I looked through the bag. There was a small package, maybe 200 gr. of cold cuts and then there was another similar package. As I folded the paper open my eyes fell on a flat long worm lying there. Of course I questioned my mother about it and got scolded good for being so curious. She made me feel very guilty for having seen this worm. She never told me how the worm got there but I figured it out by myself. Someone in the family must have had worms (many people did because of the war food) and my mother must have taken it to a doctor in the town where she bought the cold cuts in order to find out what kind it was and what to do about the problem. I know that I had no worms nor did my brother T. Don’t understand why Mutti did not explain to me what it was all about. Sooooooo many subjects were off limits concerning us children. So many things not talked about. Hm.

Saturday, April 2, 2011


My brother reminded me of this famous remedy Mutti  used  for relieving us of a cold with fever. It’s name is  ‘Schweisswickel’ , something like a ‘Sweat bandage’. We had to strip our upper body and then the monster was applied —she wrapped this long  rough piece of terry cloth or an old bed sheet which she had wet with cold water around our body from the armpits to the navel. Here it comes - we hold our breath - oh, so cold and uncomfortable. And then we were put to bed, covered with lots of heavy blankets up to our chin and had to lay there very still and wait for the sweating to begin. Both, brother and I don’t remember how long this ordeal lasted, one hour maybe, but we do remember asking how much longer we had to endure this and never being told less then “another 10 minutes”. To us it seemed like an eternity but it worked. The next day cold and fever were gone.

Grandmother Tic-Tac Oma also had this other mysterious gizmo. Don’t ask what it was. It was housed in a leather case lined with velvet and consisted of a  glass tube about 20 cm long to which she attached a glass bulb at one end, all very thin and fragile,  and a handle at the other end. I don’t remember if it needed electricity or batteries but whatever she did to it produced blue flames shooting up that tube into the bulb. Now the bulb had become a heat emitting tool - a fire spewing dragon - which she gently caressed my back with. The entire apparatus intimidated me but I trusted our wise grandmother and submitted to the cold/fever killing treatment.

Whenever I was sick with a high fever I hallucinated - bad and scary dreams. And each time I opened my eyes I was so relieved to see my grandmother sitting in the room. Our eyes would meet and I fell securely
back to sleep.