At age 18, Tom Doeppner was smuggled out of Nazi Germany. He was 26 before he saw anyone in his family again.
Tom was my Grandfather, “Opa.” Cleaning out my Grandmother’s desk ten years ago, I found a small box where Opa had kept letters from his family, written as early as 1938.
When I opened that box, I found a story that I never knew.
This blog tells the story of what happened to Tom and his family in that decade of separation.
Tuesday, September 23, 2014
A Thank you Letter to Kansas
You know, in my haste to share my love of Kansas with you all- I was going to go day by day from my trip and tell you everything. I realized that if I share too much- I’ll jump too far ahead in our story, and I don’t want to get ahead of ourselves or spoil any twists and turns in the story. So- I am going to restrain myself and wait until the visit coincides with the story’s context.
However, we met amazing people on this trip and I would be remiss if I didn’t mention them and their incredible efforts to help us in this project and journey. Here is my thank you speech, and when the time comes for the stories- I will mention them again- and when we write the book- we’ll mention them a third time. That’s how wonderful and hospitable these folks were. Kansans- good folks.
We may be inundated with negative stories and news, and think that the world has just turned upside down with nothing good left. But the more I interact with people in this research project, either through letters or in my travels and emails, the more I see that this world is filled with good people. It’s inspiring. In that vein, to all the good people I met in Kansas, I extend my heartfelt thanks for your inspiration...
Thank you to:
Lynn Beier of Kansas State University who was the epitome of hospitality.
Evan Hamm, Senior at Kansas State University who gave a great tour.
Kansas State Archives:
Brittany Roberts, student intern who searched hard and found a missing link for us.
Cliff Hight, the librarian in the archives section who had a busy day, but was kind enough to chat with us and give us a hand in some researching.
Marion and Mary Ann, the women who graciously gave us an idea of what life was like in college in the early 1940s.
Jennie, an old friend of my Grandmother’s who refused to give us any dirt on my
Grandmother, but gave us a nice picture of their sweet friendship and interactions.
Neecy Sloan, my great aunt, who I met for the first time (in my memory) and invited us to her home to chat about the family and fun little stories.
Murray Sloan, my Dad’s cousin, who kindly loaned us his very nice trailer to stay in for our stay in Selden/Hoxie, Kansas.
Kevin Stephenson, who owns and lives on the land that my Grandmother grew up on. He was gracious to let us roam the land and look inside the house. His German Shepherd was also a gracious host.
I’m definitely leaving people out- but know this: Kansas is full of really amazing people. Hard working, proud, very cool people. Everywhere we went there was someone trying to help us or get us in touch with someone who could help us. It didn’t matter if a building was closed (we got into at least two buildings that were locked because of kind folks who noticed we were peeking around), it didn’t matter if they were perhaps doing some work- nearly everyone joined in and helped us in our research. And that corn on the cob was delicious.