Primary School

In 1957 I started at school. We still started at school in April and all the children, who was born from the 1st April the year before until 31st March the current year, were called to start school. We have been checked by a doctor and a psychologist if we were ready for school. Some of the children had to visit a pre-school class, because they were not, but not me. There were no usual pre-schools at that time, even no kindergartens in Germany. Kindergartens opened some years later, but there were only a few, mostly caring about children without father, because he missed his life by war or similar reasons. Soon it became more usual for women to go to work. All hands were needed to built the new Germany, though more Kindergartens opened.

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At School

The First Photo from School

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I remember that I have got two girlfriends when I started at school, still living at Kassel-Hasenhecke and prefered to be with them and not anymore with my brothers. At that time there were living a lot of refugees from the Eastern parts of Germany and Poland, maybe also the West of Russia, in our area. The kids were starting with us at school – in the same classes. A lot of them had problems with the German language. The teacher in Writing and Reading were taking a lot of time to help them. I started well with the alphabet, but when we started reading I did not very well from the beginning. Also we read of course only the letters we have learned and that did we slowly because the pupils from the East. In maths it was the other way around. We had to draw 0 + 0 = 00, but I wrote 1 + 1 = 2. I was not allowed to do that and it took a while for me to accept it. There were one more unusual thing with me. When we were outside for rest or had a kind of gymnastic lesson a teacher saw that I was still running and took the ladder like a four-year old – one foot behind the other and not the next foot further than the first one. From that moment I have got extra exercise to do it the right way.

I enjoyed this summer holiday with my new girlfriends and was very happy. Sometimes during that summer my parents were going with us by tram to another suburb of Kassel, to look how our new residence, a townhouse, was getting ready to move in. We could not really wait for it, but had to do it, of course. In September we were moving in. The special thing with these houses was, that they only could be bought by men who have been soldiers during WWII and got hurt. A lot of them were without one or two legs, they usually had artificial legs, but one was using a wheelchair. The houses were not very big – around 100 square meters for living. For a family of six we had to share bedrooms. It was usual at that time. Anyway it was like heaven compared to the situation before. We had own gardens, one in front of and one behind the house, although they were very small. There were also more families with four children. In 1957 there were only two rows of these houses, a year later there were two more rows. Me and my little brother had to share a room and in the first beginning my two oldest brothers shared the other little bedroom. Soon my grandmother Auguste was moving in and used one of the small bedrooms. Therefore my father built a room under the roof for two of my brothers. This grandmother was always living with one of her children. She had borne twelve or more, but some died very young (two, when they only were a few weeks old and another two when they were around one year old – both pairs were twins). One of my aunts died 1943 together with my grandfather, when they tried to help people out from a cellar of a bombed house on fire. An uncle did emigrate to Brazil during WWII and I have never seen him, but we have got coffee parcels every Christmas as long as he was doing well, that means until mitten av 1950s, when a heavy rain period occurred. Also my other grandfather died during WWII, but I do not know how, because my mother did not speak about him. Her mother was not living with him anymore when WWII started.

Because our family was moving 1st September 1957, we children started at new schools in autumn that year. My eldest brother started already in August in class five and had got a place in a new opened school with mixed classes – that was totally unusual at that time from class five. Only the first four classes you have had your lessons together, both girls and boys. The school my eldest brother were visiting was also of another special kind, because the pupils went there for the whole day. In the morning they had the usual lessons, but always two lessons of the same subject in a row – called a “block”, than a rest and the next. They had three such blocks everyday. Afterwards there were a long rest during which the children could eat a warm meal even the parents had to pay for it. In the afternoon the pupils had a “block” for homework. The teachers were in the classes and the pupils had the possibility to ask for help if they had some problems with the homework. By the way there were opportunities, too, for learning during the long rest – after the meal, e. g. to learn to play the flute and other courses. Pupils could get shuttlecock rackets and balls and play outside etc. The school were in a very nice new building, easy to find the rooms and there were only two times six classrooms (class five to ten). That was the only school of this kind in our city for all the years I lived there.

My two-year-older brother and I were starting at the nearest primary school. It was a hard time for us. My brother never fit in there. He did not feel well there and therefore he was flinging himself on the floor and screaming. Though my father was looking for another school for him and he found one after a while. My brother became very happy at the new place. It was very unusual at that time to visit a school not in your own area. It has been a hard work for my father to get the allowance to let my brother go to this other school.

For me it was a hell at the start, too. I really love to learn – I did at that time and I still do. So I kan say I loved to go to school, but some schools I loved more than others – and some teachers, of course, too. Our teacher was already 62, when I started. That was old at that time. She was friendly and the pupils loved her, but I had a hell in the beginning, because in that class all pupils already could write the whole alphabet. They wrote sentences and they did not use block letters anymore, like I was used to. We still were using slate pen tablets in my first school. Here I was allowed to do so in the first beginning, but soon I had to do like the others and use books and pencils. I was very unhappy every time when we had to write dictates, that means our teacher dictated (were reading) a text and we had to write it down. All mistakes we made were shown and counted. In my case my teacher draw a line across my tablet because I could not write other than in block letters, what she did not accept. As I told you before, I could not write all the letters either. I have got the worst mark there was for weeks and I was crying in the classroom. I do not really remember, when that stopped, but I think my father were going to school and told the teacher about the other school. I remember that my father were helping me a lot with my homework, especially when we had to memorize religious texts. Anyway there were some subjects I loved like music, needle work and learning about the suburb, sometimes by excursions. The last-named were the best times at primary school.

I made friends easily at primary school and even in our area. One of them I still was friend with, when going to the discotheques. We often had company during this time. Her name was Lia. She had two elder sisters and lived in a small house with a garden. An aunt had moved to America and she was the reason, that my girlfriend got the unusual first name. By the way, one of her sisters was named Angela. The name of the other sister I do not remember. In the garden they had rabbits in a cage – for food. Sometimes we were at her home, singing to the newest hits. We liked the Copacabana hit very much. The refrain ended with “Copacabana am Meer”.

We did not have a playground around, though I used the one further away, where also class mates were living. Our area was very diverse. Only around 100 m away there were some houses, still partly destroyed by the war. People were living on the first floor, the other floor was not for use, because of the roof. It still was not maintained. 100 m away from those houses one could find very nice bungalows. Our garden was very small like the others in the area. That was too small for me. I was mostly in the streets around skipping or similar. I walked a lot. Most times, the summers were really warm. Many children wore sandals. My parents could not buy sandals for us and I was not allowed to walk with bare feet, though my mother made sandals of cardboard. I could not use them for longer than a day, because the cardboard broke. In addition to that, I was ashamed about them.

When we had needlework at school, we had to go to another school house. On the way to that school house I saw a playground. I was going there after school from time to time. Once I did see Shetland ponies on a grassland close to this playground. The upcoming day I told my little brother, one of my girlfriends and the boyfriend of my brother. I think my brother and his friend did not attend school at that time. I have taken the other kids with me and we forgot date and time, when we were there. By the way almost my little brother was on his little tricycle. Our parents were looking for us, but could not find us in the surroundings. When we came back my parents were very angry at me. I think it was at this occasion my father beat me with a wooden stick. It still hurts today, when I am thinking about it. That day I swore to myself, if I ever should have children, I will never beat them.

Those years there was also snow during wintertime. At the point, where our subbarb endet to the North, there was a park for sledging. We only had the wooden ones and we were sometimes going two or three in a row. Unfortunately I never could be there for a longer while. The cold hurt my hands and feet much faster than the hands and feet of my brothers or friends. By the way, the tram was going to that place, but we had to walk. We did not have money for the tram. Depending on weather conditions one way took up to one hour, but usually we made it in half an hour.

You maybe have seen an old American movie from the 50s or 60s and someone had skates. Some children were happy to have such, other had just the wheels to fasten under shoes. My brothers and I had neither nor, but one of my girlfriends. I asked her for trying them on. She was afraid of, that her parents would not allow it, though she only let me try out one of them. That was not a good idea. I fell as soon as I lift my foot without skates. I tried to hold me somewhere, but did crash her glasses. Luckily it was only one of them and it was not broken. We had to tell her parents, they apologised. Guess, a whole quarry did fell from my shoulders!

Back to school. Because of my surgery as a baby girl, I was not allowed to jump. Therefore I only could participate partly in sports. I did hate that and was very happy, when we got a female teacher, who knew better. By the way I loved bollsports: Badminton, volleyball etc. I also was interested in playing soccer, but there was no opportunity, but for a few weeks. My two year older brother had no friends and was offered to go to a special group after school, where they once a week even were playing soccer. He was not interested in soccer, but other activities. Finally I was allowed to follow him to that group. I could not continue there from grade 5, but more about it later.

I became good at school. My difficulties at start did disappear and I was really good in spelling after a while, but I was even better in maths. We did get testimonies twice a year, but in first grade, we only did get one – at the end of first grade. Also this testimony was only in written, how we were at school, not how good we were in the subjects. My teacher wrote, that I did not really “open me”. I think, that should not have surprised her, the way I was treated, when I started there.

There is one more thing I should name from primary school. I had a neigbour boy, living next door and we usual were making the short way to school together. Unfortunately, he was often late and during weeks I was waiting for him every morning. At school I was punished like him, which made me stopping waiting for him, of course. The punishment was, that we had to be in a corner of the room for a part of the lesson and had to look at the wall. It did not help, that I explained for the teacher, that I only had been waiting for my neigbour classmate.

Our main teacher should have retired after our grade 3, but she was allowed to teach us also in grade 4, though we did not need to get used to a new teacher during the last year. We had to choose, which school we will continue with in grade 4. There were three options of secondary schools, depending on how good a child is in learning. It was up to the parents and the child, which school they will choose. Sometimes the teacher has to write a recommendation, depending on how many pupils are looking for a class. For some schools the pupils had to make an examination before starting there. It happens, that pupils were not allowed to start at schools for the result of their examination. The three types of school were: Volksschule (that is to continue at the same school, where the primary school is and is for the children, who do not learn easily), Realschule (that is a kind of school for children, who learns a little easier – often pupils to parents with no very well education was not coming further than to this kind of school) and Gymasium (for the children, who are very intelligent and learn very easily). The two last-named schools started with grade 5. The Gymansium for grade 11 and higher is the college.

During the last year at the primary school I was a member of the “Mickey Mouse” club. We were some girls, who started that and it was just to have a name for our group. It was “Mickey Mouse”, because it was popular. We also made our own emblem and I made them in fabrics. We had lots of fabrics at home since my father was working in the factory. We were taking walks together etc. For a short while I also had a girlfriend, who and her parents were Catholics. I was raised as a Protestant. I did not mind, but her parents. Though we could not continue with our friendship.

My father had finished his evening classes and got a new and better paid job – at a Real Estate authority. While I at home had to help a lot, most with cleaning the house, but also to go shopping groceries, my mother did not help me with my exercises from school. I remember, that we soon should learn to knit at school. When I visited a classmate, her mother just tried to teach her a little, because the mother told me, it is so hard to do and it is good to know it, when we will start with that at school. She did fetch more knitting needles and tought me as well. Afterwards (or maybe it was another time) this classmate and I learned, how to dance Rock’n Roll. I liked it from the first moment. Later at the birthday party of that girl, we were dancing it again. By the way we were only girls at that party.

Another thing I remember from home happened the time, when I was seven to nine years old. My father was still talking a lot about WWII and also about, when our town was bombed at the end of 1944. With my phantasy and, maybe, also because of heartburn, I had nightmares. There were two dreams again and again and again. The first was about, that I was at school – in the hall and could not go further. I tried, but I could not – and bombs were falling. The other was, that I was in a burning house and could not get out of it. When I awoke of the nightmares I was going to my parents bedroom, but they only sent me back to my bed.

When we had to knit at school our items became all different, even they had to be made by the same numbers of meshs. We had different thick garn, though the size became very different. Some could use it as a hat, but I had a very thin garn (it had been cheap) and my bag became very small. I could use it for marbles only or my napkin, but for napkins we did another little bag in crochet.

When I was ten years old, I hade to help my father with the main meal on Sundays. First I had to peel the potatoes, but soon he taught me, how to cook. My father was excellent in a lot of disciplines. He also was a great cook. My mother did not like to cook at all. As soon as I could cook, I had to made it, when my father was not at home, especially at school holidays. My eldest brother was not bad in cooking either. He had learned it at school.

In the summer holidays of 1960 my parents and all of us children were going to a cure, but my children at a different place as well as my two elder brothers at a different place as my little brother and me. I did not have any problems to be from home for a while. I just was excited of the opportunity. Unfortunately the cure was not as good as I expected. Especially the breakfast was horrible. We got thin oat gruel and I hated it, but we had a lot of fun with our nurses. We were six weeks at the place and I have got a fever and a sore throat after two weeks. I had to visit the nursery for two weeks and missed a lot of fun. Anyway one day I was asked to comfort another girl, because it was homesick. I tried my best, even it is not easy in the age of ten.

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Bad Soden Allendorf

Nursery in Bad Soden Allendorf

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Secondary School

My parents had a hard time with me, when it was about finding a school for me from grade 5. They were happy, that the teacher had told them, that I should change to the Realschule. Even I had girlfriends, I did not like to be together with girls only, because they often are mean to other girls. Though I told my parents, I won’t start at the Realschule for girls, there is and not to the catholic one at all, of course, because I was raised protestant. I was allowed to visit a school for boys only and they would have made an exception, but finally I was welcomed at the same school, where my eldest brother was going. I think the problem was, that our mother was at home and even I already had a brother at that school, they first rejected. Anyway I was accepted without a test.

Almost at this time I asked my parents, why I could not have another first name. I thought Ursula is a horrible name. I could not take my second name either, I told them. It was Gisela and the same name like the sister of my godmother has. I hated both these names. There were a serie on TV, called Ulrich and Ulrike and I asked them, why I cannot have the name Ulrike or maybe Martina, which I also liked very much. My parents told me, that I cannot change name, but they did not explain to me, why. In Germany it is still very hard to be allowed to change name. There will only be made dispensations, when one has a name, of which one can get psychological problems. Even surnames like “Schweinebraten” (roast pork) are not changeable. In addition to that my mother often called me Eulalia and sometimes added “mit der Rindfleischbluse” (with a blouse of beef). She did that in particular, when she did not like things I said or did. What she did not think was correct or could not imagine, it was wrong. I became very unhappy about it and got very low self-confidence.

I was very happy at that school, even I was an outsider. I only got the girls as friends, who also were outsiders. The first girlfriend I had was not learning very well, though she had to go back to the Volksschule. There was another girl and boy twins, who had to do that after a while. One of the girls in my class was learning so easily, that she changed to a Gymnasium. After a while I had more girls to be with and got a girlfriend, with a complicated home situation. Her mother was working, but the money was just enough to feed the little family – no husband, but the grandmother, my girlfriend, a little half-brother to my girlfriend and herself. The apartment, their were living, were not very good as well as the furniture. The mother of my girlfriend was divorced and her half-brother many years younger than her. Often she had to pick him up at the kindergarten, when we had finished school. We were friends for many years, even when I moved to Sweden. Furthermore I still had Lia, a girlfriend from the primary school.

I remember in grade 5 or 6 we had a music teacher, who asked us girls, if we were interested in learning, how to put make-up on. All girls did lift their hands, but me and the teacher told me, that I was very brave, who did not. I think I was a little late in this area and actually I never really liked make-up, partly depending on my rhinitis (that I always have to dry my nose, even I do not have a cold). Make up disappears under my nose by that. Also eye make-up is difficult for me, because the oil to get it off again.

Our teachers changed from time to time. Our first teacher in German did mix me up with another girl. I was called Ursula at that time and the other girls name was Jutta. Our family names were the same: Schröder. We had both dark hair, but we looked different. I was getting her bad grades of the teacher until my father was talking with him. Jutta was one of them, who had to go back to Volksschule. All we pupils in our class loved our teacher in maths. He was looking much younger as he was and not only I was enthuastic at him. He was married and had a child at primary school. Sometimes the daugther was sitting in our classroom during the afternoon, making her homework, because the wife of the teacher also worked as a teacher and had things to do, the girl could not join her.

We made excursions every year, whereof one further away in our county and later to other parts of Germany. The first one, when we were in grade 5. We did hike to a youth hostel, but the teacher (our teacher for German) did not find the way. Though we were hiking for much more hours than planned. We arrived at 8pm! We were at the youth hostel for two weeks. We had school lessons there and also were going to a power generator industry close to it. The youth hostel was close to an artificial lake, a reservoir. I became ill of the smell in the power house and another pupil was asked to bring me home – he looked elder, because he was very tall. We had to hitch hike to the hostel! Furthermore the teacher for German did try to learn us sailing in the smallest sailing boats. Even the following year, we were to the same youth hostel.

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In 1963 we were to Mosenberg in the county of Hesse, but that time we were going by bus. Even this youth hostel had a lake not far away and it seemed, we used it as well. The building is still in use as a house for groups.

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Meanwhile we did not have a trip in 1964, was another excursion, I remember, to the river Mosel, a vine district. That was in 1965. The youth hostel was in an old castle. I remember the time together with our teacher in maths and our teacher for home duties like cooking and sewing. They were great, both of them. By the way, we did not drink wine, we were too young, but we made a trip on the river – by boat, of course. It seems the castle is still open for visiting, but no longer for overnight stays. On this trip we also visited Koblenz with the Deutsches Eck (German Corner). The postcard shown is from just Koblenz and a the text on it is the following (in English):

Where the Moselle and the Rhine are united at the Deutsches Eck
Where the castle Ehrenbreitstein trots up to the height
Where ruins, castles, palaces greet from past time
Noble German wines give heavenly bliss

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That is why it is so beautiful on the Rhine ….!

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In grade 7 we got another teacher for German and geography. She had been a teacher at a primary school before. The more diligent we were, the better grades we got. I was very eager to write a lot in geography and also add pictures. I really was interested in geography, but not in the mineral resources or similar of the countries. I do not remember, what I did in German, but my grades went higher than with the other teacher. Unfortunately the boys were very hard to her. They did disturb the lessons a lot and they did fire small things across the classroom. Once I was hurt by such one in my neck. In grade 7 I also was attending a class during the long rests to learn playing a flute. I was quite good in it, but when we had an evening for our parents and should demonstrate our knowledge, I forgot my flute at home.

Even in 1966 we made an excursion, but to the nearby towns Frankfurt/Main and Wiesbaden. This time we were visiting the Goethe-House, the airport etc in Frankfurt/Main and in Wiesbaden we visited the castle and the State government.

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In this grade we also had a play in English, which we were playing for our parents an evening. I always have had a lot of fantasy and made my role, being an old lady at the tram and telling the other passengers, that drags. I also had nice clothes for this role, but there was a pupil, who did not have a role and I gave her mine. At the end I was declaring the “Humpty Dumpty” before the play instead. My mother was angry at me for that. By the way, she also was angry, when I gave a souvenir from one of our few travels to a girlfriend as a birthday gift.

We also made a lot of hiking daytrips, I think twice a year. To do skiing and ice scating was not usual at my place. Though we never did it at these outdoor days. Once we were on an excursion with school and I was close to get a boyfriend, but I only liked to talk with him. I was not interested in him as a boyfriend.

Even my father did take us out for hiking often (already when we lived in Kassel-Hasenhecke, but much more when we were living in our little town house). Sometimes my mother followed us, but usually we were hiking and she did clean our home. Once we were by bike and our mother was with us. Unfortunately the hiking days stopped, because my brothers became other interests, but I remembered, that I was afraid of heights already in the age of twelve. We were hiking to an observation tower and entered it, of course. The balustrade at the top was low and I could not go close to it. One winter, my parents had bought used skis for us and my father as well, we were going skiing. My father did not really know how to do either, though it was very complicated for us to slow down or stop. We were sitting on our back to do so ;-). Unfortunately that winter was a warm one and no many days with snow, therefore we could not learn, how to do it right.

In grade 7 and further, we had needlework. I tried to be allowed to have woodwork instead, but there was no possibility. Girls had to have needlework and the boys woodwork, even if a boy would have liked to have needlework instead. My eldest brother actually had some needlework at school. I think it was only for half a year.

When I was twelve years old my father did tell me about sex by the bees ;-). He thought, I have to know it how it works, before it is to late and I will come home with an extramarital child. My mother did not explain to me. Nothing about menstruation or similar, though, when I had my first menstruation with 11 1/2 I was scared. At school we did not have had lessons about the “human being” either. When my father explained the mystery for me, he liked to have me in my parents bed. A while I was coming during the mornings at the weekends and join them there. My mother usually was still sleeping. Sometimes I was not sure, if she did sleep or only pretended to sleep. My father started petting me. I was not happy with that and after a while I did not join them in their bed anymore. My father asked me why!

At the 12th anniversary of my birthday I had some girlfriends at home to celebrate. At this time a street close to our, was maintained. My room was on the first floor of the house and from it, we could see the workers. There were all Italian as it looked like and I was in a very happy mood and waved to them. It was very usual with, especially, Italian roadman in Germany since the early 1960s. Later also workers from other countries of South Europe were recruited. I was actually interested in their culture and we were discussing that at home. My father told me, that in all the South European countries, the women has no equal rights, but I told him, that I had read, that in Italy the women have the rights – almost at home. It is called matriarchy. Unfortuately the so called “guest workers” did not get good apartments. Often they had only a bed in a room they shared with almost five or more people. Also the buildings were old and often wet. However the rents were high.

Around this time I was getting unhappy with my life. I think it was because of the biological change, but my situation at home did add, of course. From time to time I was thinking about suicide or also, what would have been better, to run away from home. I was thinking to do it like the singer “Freddy Quinn”, who left home in his 16s, but I am not a guy and I was not adventurous like him. Though I stayed with my parents for some more years. That I did not perform suicide depended on, that I am afraid of pain and did not really know either, where to get sleeping pills. If I remember right, once I was asking at a pharmacy, but there was a recipe from a GP needed.

My parents were not very religious, even they told me, we even are not Lutherans, but Calvinists. My father also explained, that people of this two parts of the Protestant church, when he was a boy, did not talk with each other, did not use the same churches, of course and some actually did fight each other. Anyway my parents let all of us baptize and confirm. The confirmation (of their baptizing) for the protestants was done at an age of 14. One had to go in clerical school for 1 1/2 year once a week for two hours. The priest hold the classes. We also had to join the service for children on Sundays. When I came home after the service I told, what we had heard at church and my parents became angry at me. They later did not allow me to attend the service. During the clerical classes I was very good in learning and the priest did say, that I am his “bestes Pferd im Stall” (the best horse in the stable). At our confirmation day we had to play a scetch. There were the white (clean) ones and the dark (fiendish) ones. Because of my dark hair I had to be one of the darks. We also had to dress after these colours. For confirmation it was usual to dress in a black dress for girls. Though that was no problem. It was worse for the people, who needed white dresses for the scetch and dark for the rest of the cerenomy. One of them only had a white dress – she looks very different among all of us in dark dresses and suits. During the rehearsals, I always had to smile at one point. It was so hard not to do. I do not remember, what it was about. Nevertheless I managed to be serious all the time, when we played the scetch in the church with all our parents around.

The party afterwards at home was held with all of our relatives. I have got a lot of gifts, as usual. Even the neighbors came with gifts. The gifts were nylons, books, handkerchiefs and similar things. From the parents, one always got a book of psalms with the own name printed on the cover in golden letters. This occasion was also the start of the real teenage life. By the way, because all my relatives were joining this day, it became complicated with my first name, because one of my aunts (who is the godmother to my cousin with the same name), my godmother (the just named cousin) and I were talked to and we had to ask, which of us the question was for. My aunt made it a little easier for herself and called me “Urselchen” (little Ursel and Ursel is a usual nickname of Ursula). I hated it so much. A lot of years later, my godmother explained to me, why she did ask for, that I also should have the name Ursula and I think it was a very weird reason. She told me, that she always was called “Ulla” at school, which she disliked. She decided to always call me Ursula and no nicknames. While talking about my name and nicknames, I can add, that I for some years prefered to be called Uschi, what would be a no-go in Sweden, but still I lived in Germany and it was not an unusual nickname in this country. There was an actress as well with that first name.

In the earlie 1960s, exactly summer 1961, my parents were going camping with us for the first time. My father was not allowed to drive usual cars by his former epilepsy, but there was a very small car with only 250 ccm, which he was allowed to drive. The car had a door in the front and one in the rear. It was called a Janus. All we six of our family were going with it. We were going to Hameln, the town of the fairytale “Der Rattenfänger zu Hameln” (The rat catcher of Hameln). We also were to Polle. I do not know, why my father chose that places and I cannot remember something special either, but the long ways on the camp grounds to the bathrooms, that it started raining and that my little brother had spilled his soup. We were sitting on the grass and it was not easy to handle soup. I hated it. I still do not like camping. The following year my father rented such a car again and we were going to Bad Pyrmont, Externsteine and the Hermansdenkmal (memorial of Hermans the Cherusci) in the forest called Teutoburger Wald.

Unfortunately the law for drivers licences changed and my father was not longer allowed to drive a car. Though in the future we were going by bicycles. In 1963 my father had rented a hut. His employer owned that hut and did rent it out to employees for vacation. That year we were the happy ones, who could use it for a couple of weeks. This house was situated close to a dam, called Edertalsperre. Once we were going between the hut and the dam, we took a shortening at the hut and my father did walk in the front of me, because I had problems with uneven steeps and slipped very easily. He thought, he can hold me, but when I slipped, we both did!

It must has been in 1963, when we were going by bicycles to the North of Germany.  I remember so well, that my youngest brother had a 12″ bicycle and had to pedaling much faster as us.

It was a very rainy summer that year and, even we were visiting my cousin (godmother) at her home outside Hamburg, we later had to take into a guest house, because all our stuff was wet including the tents. A part of our trip was throughout a moor. I was afraid all the time, because I had learned, that one cannot walk on a moor and I did not trust the path. – I still have problems with that.

I think it was during summer 1964, when we were going by bicycles to Lake Lucern in Switzerland. We were well prepared and the whole trip was actually for six weeks. My father had build a box for the tents, which was carried by a hanger to my mother’s bicycle. Therefore my mother’s bicycle had an engine (like the e-bikes nowadays, but the engine was working with petroleum). Actually we were going to Weinheim with all our belongings by train. Though we did not need to force the high hills and low mountains. Than we continued beside the river Rhen. Our first stop was Heidelberg, the very well-known university city. I remember that we came to a famous church in this town and were so disappointed, that there were souvenir shops all around the church. The shop owners used the walls of the church and had their stalls in front of it. That year it was extremly hot in Germany. It was around 42°C at the most. It was the first time I have got a sunburn. I was cycling in short pants like my brothers. Too late I switched to my skirt. By the skirt it was not getting worse and soon I was off with the sunburn again. A funny thing I remembered from that trip: My father did drink a lot of sodawater and got hoarse of it.

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Heidelberg_4

By bicycles from Kassel, Germany to Lake Lucern, Switzerland

I am sorry for the bad quality of the photo, but it is more than 50 years old.

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Maybe we also came to the Black forest and the Titisee on this trip. I do not really remember that, but the Höllensprung (hell jump), where two rocks were very close to each other as well as a typical Black Forest Mill and the well-known Cuckoo clocks.

When we came to Basel in Switzerland, there was a thunderstorm. We did put our tents on a little place upside the camping space, because we were told so – the camping space was flooded. There were lots of trees around, but my mother was afraid, telling us, that we are on a hill and it is dangerous in the thunderstorm. The night went well, but the next day my eldest brother (already 17 years old) became angry with my father and throw a knife on him. Fortunately it was the only incident during this trip. In Basel was just the celebration of the founding of Switzerland (1st August) during the days, we were visiting. From Basel we continued via Bözberg (near Brugg) to Vitznau on Lake Lucerne, where we stayed for about two weeks and we did made trips from there. We were also at the beach of Lake Lucerne. We  even took the rack railway (cable car) and a funicular to the Rigi. We used the Axis road with many tunnels to Tellsplatte (on Lake Lucerne) and visited the Tell Chapel there with the murals of events of William Tell (Rütlischwur and Gessler’s death).

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The rack railway halfway to the Mountain Rigi

Another over 50 year old photo.

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Photos of our Visit in Strasbourgh, France

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The weather was very nice again and we were jumping and running barefoot on the green of the campground, when I was jumping on a bee, which I had not seen. She was eating an apple. My father has been a first-aid attendant during WWII and knew, how to help me. Anyway I had a very pain for some days, but was OK again, when we started on our way back home. On the return journey we drove over Kehl am Rhein and from there via the “Europa-Brücke” visiting Strasbourg in Franreich. Once upon a time, Strasbourg has been German, therefore my father was expecting, that people would speak German there. He did not know other languages. Unfortunately, nobody used German anymore in Strasbourgh and I think, it is natural, because of the ocupation by the troups of Hitler during WWII.

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Kehl_am_Rhein_1

Bridge called “Europabrücke” in Kehl/Rhen with the flags of the countries in the EU – at that time the EU had only a few members.

Even this photo is more than 50 years old.

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I do not remember, if we made a holiday trip in 1965, but during the Easter holidays I visited my godmother and her husband – who she had met in London, while she was working there in a hotel. They did marry a couple of years before and where since living close to Hamburg. It was the first time, when I was going by train by my own. My parents put me on the train in Kassel and my godmother picked me up at the train in Hamburg Central Station. It was a very great experience for me. Hamburg had a very good sound for me, because of the singer “Freddy Quinn”, which I already had been a fan of for some years. I really enjoyed, when my godmother was going to Hamburg city with me by the underground. She showed me around. She was also to the airport of Hamburg with me, as well as to the racecourse, we walked along the river Elbe, had a snack at a café at the lake Alster and had a dinner at the television tower. One day I remember, we were to a cinema, watching a movie about the coast guard in English. I was so happy, that my school English was enough to understand the meaning of the movie. In addition to that, one night my godmother and her husband did drive by car along the Reeperbahn. At that time the street still had cobblestones and the neon lights were much brighter and more than now. It was also more sinful, but that only depended on the kind of moral people had at that time. Since that trip I loved the city way more than before and wished, that I could get a work there.

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Trabrennbahn Hamburg-Bahrenfeld

Arriving at the Racecourse in Hamburg-Bahrenfeld

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That year or during the year 1966 my mother as well as my both elder brothers did get a scooter respectively mopeds (all of them with a maximum speed of 45 km/h). I asked my eldest brother and he is still sorting it out. It was our first trip with them, when we were to the Diemelsee in Germany for holidays. I was sitting on the scooter, behind my mother and my little brother was sitting on the moped of my oldest brother. My father had a “Mofa“, that was a kind of moped, but with a maximum speed of 25 km/h.

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Scannen0001

Our family with our mopeds and the scooter.

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In autumn 1966 I have got my first moped as well, because the way to my school by public transport was steeling a lot of time. I was much faster with the moped. Even to bike there was faster. Anyway, when I was sixteen, there was a dance for youth at the town hall, arranged by the social authority of the municipality of Kassel. I asked my parents to go there and I was allowed, but only because my two year older brother also was going there and he was asked to have an eye on me. By the way his classmates did ask him, how old I am – if I am 12 years old, because I looked like that, but the youngest teenagers, who were allowed to attend were sixteen years old. I also remembered, that I on my way home from school at a warm day was buying an ice-cream in a café. There were some Italian roadman and one of them did talk with me. I liked him and he asked me for meeting me again, but I told him, my father would not allow. I was very unhappy about, that I had to tell him this.

Just in the age of 16 I also became a teetotaller, that means: I did not drink alcohol any more – fore some years anyway ;-). I had read in a youth journal, called BRAVO, that Freddy Quinn, was a teetotaller and I thought, I should be that as well. My parents and my elder brothers did laugh at me, but I continued for some years to be a teetotaller. My parents, brothers and also my godmother did not understand, that I liked the singer and the songs of him so much. The wanderlust, he was singing about, was also mine – even I could not yet follow it. I also was interested in the foreign countries, his songs told about. I became very interested in Canada and Mexico, even I had not seen any of his movies.

The last year at secondary school was also the year for my first dance class. Nearly all of the girls of my school class were going and finally, I did get the allowance (and the money) of my parents to do so as well. We learned the classic dances and latin american dances: Viennese waltz, Waltz, Foxtrot, Tango, Cha Cha, Samba and Rumba. I was always the last girl chosen, but I got a boyfriend. He was cross-eyed and I was mobbed at school for that. We were not together for a very long time. He broke up with me, but was not man enough, to tell me – not before I visited him together with my girlfriend Heidrun (who was my best friend from secondary school).

I also remember a day and night, when I had been at my godmothers home. She had been working abroad – I think it was in Ticino, Switzerland and was at home for holidays. My parents had told me, that I have to be at home at 8pm. My godmother accompanied me to the tram, but it was already 8pm at that time. Though I was late at home. For not getting beaten of my father, I told a lie and it was working. This was the start of using “white lies” for my parents.

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Commercial School

My father was proud of me, as I told you. He was very proud, because I was good at school. He always told me, that also a woman has to be independent, one never know, what happens. A husband is not a lifelong financial securtiy. Of those reasons he tried to make me continue school and he found out the way, how I could do it. Actually he would have loved if I directly from the Realschule would have continued to the Gymnasium (college), but there were two problems.

  1. In Germany the school year was changed to start in August or September, which meant two short school years for the pupils. The first of them was mine at the secondary school as well – even we had to learn the same things as before.
  2. I did not have any expectation to be able to get an examen at a gymnasium. I thought, I am not good enough in learning.

With my fathers pertinacity I started at the “Höhere Handelsschule”. That was a school for commercial subjects like typewriting, shorthand writing and languages. We also had maths as well and more subjects. Before I was accepted, I had to make a test – so had all pupils. One of my classmates also tried to become accepted, but did not. I was happy about that. At that time I was so tired of mobbing at secondary school, I wanted not to have anyone from there joining me in my new class, even this girl was not one of the pupils, who did make it hard for me.

From the first day at this commercial school I was accepted of my new classmates. They were all different and I soon found three other girls to make company with. I liked to learn and I liked to learn Spanish, which I had to choose, because I did not choose a second foreign language at secondary school (which I did not because the chaos in the classes for French). I liked school so much, that my father had an easy try to get me to ask for the Wirtschaftsgymnasium (a college specially for subjects for trading and economy). I was accepted there as well.

Erika, one of the three girls, I was with at this school, became one of my very best friends. We still are and I am going to Kassel once in a while to meet her, even it can be years in between.

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College

At the end of August 1967 it was time to start at the Wirtschaftsgymnasium (see above). We were pupils in different ages. There were pupils, who had studiet at the “Handelsschule” (also a school like the “Höhere Handelsschule”, but for pupils directly after Volksschule). Not all children have the same start at schools and therefore it is very good, that there is another way to proceed after Volksschule as well as after Realschule. We had elder pupils as me, but most of them were younger.

Our facalty were mainly elder. The principal did also teach. His main subject was business administration, but also economics. We had an really old teacher for English and at times he also did teach Spanish. Even our teacher for maths was in that age. I actually do not remember our female teacher for German, even I have been told many times, that we had. There were free working groups as well. I attendet Russian, when it was possible. Unfortunately there were no pupils enough after one year of learning. Our teacher was in his fourties and came as a refugee from the former DDR (German Democratic Republic). That was the part of Germany, which was under Russian rules. He was very good in teaching, because he used the naturale method, e.g. to show a thing and tell us the Russian word for it. I still remember some words and two sentences even I never practised Russian.

Our principal was married, like the other teachers, but he and his wife were living in a modern marriage, was said. Both had other partners from time to time, but especially our principal was known for to like all women. I did not really believe in, what other pupils told us, but after a while he tried to come closer to me and during an excursion to Munich, he also was trying to pet my girlfriend. Luckily we were taking about it with each other. We were not strong enough to talk to him and tell him, we do not like it, but we were not sitting close to him in the future.

These years my interest for boys did grow. At the one hand side, I felt not loved of my parents and on the other hand side, I think it was the usual evolution in this age. I was interested in a guy, who was a son of a befriended married couple of my parents. It took time, before we came together. In between I also was interested in a male classmate. He was a little older. He was grown up on Ireland to German parents. Unfortunately his sister had drowned there, why his parents were moving back to Germany. Because of the different school systems of the countries, he had to join us, even he started in the grade above us. By the way our English teacher did not accept his English, even it was perfect, but not Oxford English. The guy became never interested in me, though I came together with the other guy I named before. His name was Harald.

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In 1968 we spend our holidays in the North of Germany again. The route was from Kassel to Syke, Bremen, Bremerhaven, Wremen and from Cuxhaven by boat to Helgoland. We took photos of the Town Musicians of Bremen, of course. I loved to be on the boat. The weather was a little windy, but I did not mind. Many passengers became seesick, but none of my family. I enjoyed eating sandwiches during the trip. The island “Helgoland“, which belongs to Germany, is a quite little island. The archipelago is red sedimentary rock.

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I was in a kind of crisis the two last years at school. I was not happy at home either. My mother had again and again told me, that it would be best she would gave me in a home for difficult to raise children. I do not know why, because I was very well behaved, comparing with my classmates and with my brothers. Anyway I was thinking about suicide or to run away from home. If I had been a boy, I had left my home much earlier. I had problems with maths and my teacher told me “you try, but you cannot”. I did understand, what the teacher explained, but I could not apply it. Even in Spanish I was becoming worse and worse. I always have had difficulties to learn right by heart. All those grammatic for the verbs etc I just could not get it in my head. Words for things and the primary form of words were not such a big problem. Our last excursion was to London and Cambridge, where we could pratice our English and actually I did well. We had to be almost three pupils in a group, when we were allowed to make London by our own. I had to ask for the directions, when we got lost. The other girls in the group did not dare. It worked well.

At the end of our studies, we had to write examens in five subjects: German, English, Spanish, Business Administration and Maths. In all the subjects I did a lower grade in examens, than I have had before. Then was there the oral examens as well. I did totally fail in maths. Though I left the college with bad grades in maths and Spanish, but had enough better grades to get my examen anyway. There were many of my classmates with two bad grades like me and we did all our final examen, because when so many pupils fail it must be something wrong with the education.

By the way, my boyfriend Harald did ask me for sex, when I was at home from school, because I was sick and in my bed. It was during autumn 1969. I told him, that I won’t have sex before I am married. He were pressing me with the words, that he know an elder girl than me and could have sex with her, but he want have sex with me instead. He did not stop and at the end we had sex this day – and it happened more often, sometimes in his car. At Christmas we got engaged.

We, that means him, my elder brothers and me were often out together. We were usually going to a pub. My brothers did smoke, so did Harald. Once I tried to smoke as well, but I did not like it, though I was never smoking during my entire life. Sometimes we were going to other places, e.g. to see relatives to him and his parents. Once we were there for New Years Eve and all the youngsters were sleeping on mattresses on the attic. You can imagine, what happened. My 2-year-older brother became married the following year. Harald and me were already engaged since Christmas.

During the summer month, while waiting for the start of my education I was working for some weeks with administration at a company, who were selling linen and towels. For ten days I was with Harald for holidays in Hamburg. We had found a private person renting out a room to us. That was not easy, because we were not married. During these days, when he was not interested in museums etc. we were driving through Hamburg and he was reading the street names. We did not have any other conversation and I just felt, that I won’t be married all my life with a person, who is not more intelligent. Though I broke up.

To read about the following years of my life, please follow the link for MY HIGHER EDUCATION

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