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Down on the farm

Down on the farm
Out of the woods.

Friday, February 8, 2013

JOSE'S ALPENBLICK

Geoff was stationed in Germany near the Czech border and cousin Charles & his wife Laverne were living 'on the economy' in Hamburg where he was a purchasing agent attached to the Army. Dick and I had 3 whole weeks. It was a lovely trip. The dollar was strong, people were friendly and the scenery was amazing.
We found a lovely small resort hotel called Zum Turken on a mountain above Heidleburg. It had been run by the same family for 4 generations, barring the takeover by the Reich during the war.
Charles and Laverne were attending a Lutheran Conference at 'The General Walker', a large military hotel about a mile above Zum Turken. Charles had learned of a Mexican restaurant on the next mountain over, in Bishophof. You have no idea how good Mexican can sound until you have lived on the wonderful, thick, saucy cuisine of Bavaria for a couple of weeks with no respite.
The trek was on.
The tiny rental Ford was crammed with 3 large guys and 2 medium sized women. With Charles at shotgun we found Bishophof and eventually the restaurant. I vaguely recall a stone built single story ediface with a wishing well in the yard and an Irish setter lying in the sun across the entry. The dog did not stir as we stretched our legs over her and entered. The front was a dark alcove, the center room was bright with windows, small booths and tables. Few people were there...not surprising viewing the stony, narrow, winding and steep approach.
We found a roomy booth in the dark snug and began checking the menue. It was well and truly Spanish/Mexican. Ahhh! Heaven. The food was excellent, the beer delicious and eventually Laverne and I needed to make our way to the Ladies'. The setter now lay across the entry to our booth. We stretched our legs over her again.
Two men who were living the description of 'mountain guide' sat in a small booth by the windows drinking the local brew. Both nodded as we passed on the way to the restroom. On our return the guide facing us smiled at me beerily and slurred "My name is Mike. You haf be-u-tiful moun-tains!" The face of his boothmate turned an even brighter red than his healthy glow. He stuttered and stumbled over the appology for his friend's boozy statement.
"His name not Mike. He is Michel! He is too much drinking!"
I could hear the reactive laughter from the snug.
It wasn't the first time I had been complimented in a bar, and maybe not the last...but I freely admit it was the only time my mountains had been publically admired.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

LIKE THE GIFT OF THE MAGI

Grandma Campbell had a fierce and determined love of all learning, and she determined fiercely that each and every one of her children would finish high school. Today, this does not seem like an unusual ambition...it is generally expected that our kids will graduate from High School and go to college. But when Grandma was 13 her father decided that the high school was too far away, the neighbors might talk, it was not seemly for a young lady to ride all that distance, her mother needed her at home to care for the littler ones, and that was that. Even with the backing of her beloved teacher she could not change the mind of Matthew Nettle, "gentleman farmer", who, by the way, served on the school board! When they married, Grandpa Arthur loved her so dearly and supported just about anything she wanted, as long as he was not too much bothered with the details. All the children attended school. When they outgrew the little one room school house on the farm they were shipped off, usually two at a time, to friends or relatives in town for the school year. When it was time for Mom and Arby to go, they stayed with distant cousins. Arby had a job and Mom helped in the house and they paid their room and board in money and in service. That first year, although she loved school, Mom missed her mother, Hazel, and probably even Girly and Art desperately. Arby could hear her crying herself to sleep every night. There was no expectation of going home for holidays as we would do today. It would have been a wagon trip of the better part of a day each way, and the bus fare was beyond dreaming of. A few days before that first Christmas away from home, Arby presented his little sister with the most amazing gift, a round trip bus ticket home. He had shoveled coal for neighbors, toted feed bags for farmers and any other odd job he could find to save enough for the ticket that would mean that while he spent Christmas alone, she did not.