A treasure trove of old letters has recently come into my possession from another family member’s storage space. The letters are mostly from my mother to her parents, ranging from 1946 to the 1980’s. My grandparents in Germany had kept all those letters and after they died many years ago, two boxes of letters were sent to our family along with other possessions, shipped by container. My mother had a very close relationship with her parents, and even though we children grew up a continent away we also had a close relationship with our “Ami und Api” as we called them.
Back then when long-distance phone calls were rare and emails non-existent, they wrote letters, many letters! I have just begun looking at some of these, pulling them out quite at random thus far, and am amazed at this rich correspondence. These letters are like a journal from my mother, and all the more moving as they show what a close relationship she had with her family.
Food descriptions figured prominently in the post-war letters, especially the early ones from 1946 and 47. No wonder, as they went through very hungry times after open hostilities ended in 1945.
The second letter that I happened to pull out of the box is the one my mother (Editha – aka Didi – Schmilinsky) wrote while sailing across the Atlantic on her voyage to Canada in 1952. This was momentous, as it was her emigration voyage leaving Germany to begin a new life in Canada, joining her fiancé – soon to be husband – Otto Schaefer. He had emigrated one year earlier in 1951.
Almost all of Didi’s letters start with the complete date including the year, but not this one. Also, most of the letters are still in their envelopes with a postmark, but again not this one. It took me a few minutes to figure out when and where this boat voyage was, and when it became clear to me – what a thrill it was to be holding this particular letter in my hands!
Unfortunately the mice had got ahold of it, and the last page is only half there, but I’ll do my best to translate a few bits and pieces.
Tuesday, April 2nd 7 pm
Dear Parents! Continue reading