Tuesday 10 January 2012

The Locket

She felt her anxiety level rising as she walked into the office. "Stand over in the corner!" she snapped at her young son, as they walked up to the counter. Instantly feeling guilty, it wasn't his fault that they were there. She had told him they were in a post office because she didn't want him reporting to anyone about this visit. He did as he was told but she kept her eye nervously on him, they weren't in the best part of town.

The office was bright and behind the thick glass wall, the staff were friendly."I want to pawn this locket and these earrings," she said in a low voice."Certainly, would you like them to be pawned together or separately?" the young foreign girl asked. She looked exotic probably from South Africa, guessing from her accent. The woman hesitated and the pretty girl continued, "If you pawn them separately, then you can collect them at different times but if you pawn them together you must come up with the full amount." The woman was grateful for that advice. Whatever about the earrings, she had to get the locket back, somehow.

The locket had been bought for her by her parents for her 21st birthday. Lockets were all the rage at that time but the young girl (as she was then) wanted something a little bit different. She didn't want a loveheart-shaped locket. She clapped her eyes on a rectangular book-shaped locket with beautiful engraving all around the edges. With her love of reading she thought it suited her perfectly. Then she had to choose a chain. Again she saw a chain that was slightly different, rounded links.It cost as much as the locket itself. But the girl had her heart set on the locket and chain. She knew her parents didn't have a lot of spare cash and were already throwing a party for her. However she reasoned with herself that since she got job a couple of years ago she never looked for a penny from them. The woman grimaced at this memory. The girl thinking little of taking money from her parents. She loved that locket though and wore it for years. In the past couple of years it had been replaced by a necklace from her husband but the locket had a special place in her heart.

She didn't know how thing's had come to this. Somehow she hadn't budgeted this month correctly and she didn't have enough money to cover her car payment. Her husband had enough worries at the moment and she didn't want to ask him for money, which would only be coming from the last of his savings. She had sold gold before but it didn't hold sentimental value, however this was the first time it ... hurt and caused her shame.

Two big rough-looking men came into the office. She completed her paperwork and nervously tried to hide where she hid the money in her bag in case they followed her. She called  her son to her side as she did this. The men were trying to sell mobile phones without ID and were becoming agitated. She hurried out of the office and to the car as quickly as she could.

A couple of weeks later an unexpected letter arrived for her. She recognised the writing immediately. The woman and her friend had exchanged letters for years, before facebook and email took over. Inside was a simple card. A short personal message and a gift cheque for a supermarket chain for one hundred Euro. The woman was astonished as she had spoken to no-one about her money worries. Yet her friend, who lived at the other end of the country, had heard that the woman's husband was out of work. Her first reaction was to post it back, her pride kicked in. She rang her friend but couldn't get through so she sent a text. 'Thank you, but it's too much, can't accept :)' Later the friend replied, 'Don't even think about sending it back, it's your birthday present and Christmas present rolled into one.'

The following day the woman left her son with a friend. Saying, "She'd a little business to do" and thinking 'I'm not bringing him to that part of town again!' A few hours later she was wearing that locket and she hasn't taken it off since. The only indicator that she had let the locket go was a mark on the back where the pawn shop had tested the gold. That couldn't be erased.

P.S. This is dedicated to my 'busking friend.'

Sunday 1 January 2012

Letters to Ireland from Germany after WW2

As you may have seen in my last blog, my beloved grandmother passed away recently.  My parents found an old letter when they were going through some of her paperwork.  We were aware of the existence of this letter and a photograph.  Since then we have discovered two more letters and the photograph of the German family.  I'll let the letters speak for themselves.  I've also decided not to publish the lady's first name or address as her children are possibly still alive.

I will faithfully copy the letters below, word for word.  To put the letter in context, I believe Gran was a member of The Red Cross and sent food parcels to a German family after World War 2.  A photo of the family is below.  The little girl mentioned at the end of the letter in 1949 is my mum.  The first letter is written by Frau Bohnet's mother and the final two were written in German, by Frau Bohnet, and translated by a neighbour.   The photo shows Mrs Bohnet with her two children.  Again I won't publish their names. 

Also, Gran probably did this as a mother and a good Christian and would not have liked a fuss made of her.  I have put these letters on my blog for historical interest purposes only.

29th May '48

My Dear Familie Fletcher
         Yesterday we received with great joy and thanks a parcel from you.  We thank you very sincerely.  You cannot realise the happiness it brought us especially coming from a stranger.  Yes, there are still good people in this world, who are ready to help us.  I regret that we cannot thank you personally but I know God will reward you and give you health.  My Daughter to whom you kindly sent the parcel, that is Frau Bohnet and for whom I am writing this letter is presently ill and begged me to write you and thank you.

My dear Familie Fletcher you cannot imagine the pleasure we got, especially the children.  The eyes pop out of their heads at the sight of such large bars of chocolate and the other good contents, such as we have not seen for years.

The children believe that God had inspired you with the knowledge that they were fatherless.  It is a pity we can buy nothing, and the scanty monthly ration we receive is nothing.  Everything is to be had, but only for the French in occupation.  Our son William does his utmost for us but I realise he too has a family to look for.  We really had a bad experience in the past years.  Having lost everything including home and all our belongings.  Also a daughter 39 years of age and my two daughters Husbands one of which was Mrs. Bohnet's husband.  Now again May God help and Protect you for your kindness again my sincere thanks.

Frau Bertha L

Freudenstadt, 12th Jan.1949
Bahnhofstrasse 95

Dear Mrs. Fletcher,

Many, many thanks for your gift, which you were kind enough to send to me. Also in the name of my children I say many thanks to you.  The good god may repay you for all the love and kindness you have showed to us.
Excuse me, not having answered your letter earlier, but not knowing the english language I had to wait until a friend of mine who lives in another town had translated it for me.
I very much regret not to be able to send you a photograph of my children and myself, but I hope to have one made one of those days and as soon as possible I shall send it to you.  For five years now I am waiting for my husband who is missed in Russia and had hoped to take us all on the picture.  But up to this date I am without any news.
It is wonderful that people like you still live in this world.  It is true, we have been suffering a great deal in the last four years and it just is like a gift of heaven to feel the love of people and even of people who do not even know me.
Once more many, many thanks to you dear Mrs. Fletcher.  Give our love to your little daughter.  God bless her and you.

Sincerely yours,
Frau B Bohnet

Freudenstadt, 10.2.49

Dear Mrs.

A few days ago I received your parcel, for which I thank you very much.  I hope you received in the meantime my letter I wrote to you last month in which I informed you of the receipt of your parcel of octobre last.
I join this letter a picture of myself and my children promised to you in my last letter. 
I passed Christmas very quietly with my mother and my two children and the contents of your parcel of october last made it possible to make Christmas more Christmas like as it would have been otherwise.

Once more many, many thanks for all love and kindness you showed towards us and with the best of wishes for you and your family
I remain

Sincerely yours
B Bohnet
u. kinder
(and children)