Monday, September 26, 2016

March 9, 1941: Go Outside, Play Sports

Letter from Ella to Opa


Berlin-Charlottenburg 4
Droysenstrasse 14
March 9th,1941

My beloved boy,

After a long time, I finally received 2 letters from you on Thursday, one of January 28th and one of February 4th, and a few days before the "New year’s wish well mail.” I was happy to finally have news from you again. Hunschen, you already wrote to me about the examination, and I already begged you in my letter to be careful. Now I will repeat my plea. Even if the bacillus (germs) are not active, as the doctor said, they are present. You have to protect yourself from colds and strengthen yourself as much as possible. I wish I could be with you, take care of you and protect you. It is good that you do not smoke or drink. I assume you are still a teetotaler. Spend much time outside, in fresh air, do sports and eat a healthy diet. Don't exaggerate anything.  

Thanks, Hunschen for the promise that you will write to me about everything, and also let me know when you are not feeling well. Then I can calm down a bit. I have been without news from Spatzi for a terrible long time, which makes me very restless (worried). If only she is doing well. Do you hear from her? When was the last time? How is she?
What do you hear from Papa? Yesterday, on his birthday, I spent a short hour with Ann'chen, and naturally we spoke longingly of all of you. Ann'chen was so enthusiastic about the calendar, so I promised it to her, but with a "heavy heart" (which is the German for not really wanting to part with something). Perhaps you can send one more.  

Hunschen, how often do you actually have exams? I am glad that you passed everything so well, but it really is not in your field. I asked you to explain that to me some time ago, but did not receive an answer. You have not chosen any technical classes? Or do I misunderstand it? What do they mean by Mathematics of Finance? Since you paid for laboratory fees, I assume that you do some practical work, but I really cannot imagine your studies. U.S. history, French literature, differentials, chemistry (those 2 are in your field) astronomy and this (not clear to me again) mathematics of finance, all seems to be rather thrown together, kind of broken into pieces. Please Hunschen, write about this very clearly.

You write that you are trying to go to a special engineer school. I thought that at McPherson you also have the chance to prepare for your profession, otherwise the time there would be lost.

I trust you Hunschen, you will always do the right thing, but please write to me about it. Earlier I congratulated Kurt on his birthday. I also have not heard from him for a long time, and I am longing for that boy. Hopefully you have congratulated him also. He is so happy about every little sign from us. Last week I had a letter from Hanna. She wrote that she is in contact with you, and is happy about your very nice letters.

Say hello to the Shelleys for me, I will write to them soon. How are you, my boy?  Write more about that soon.

I kiss you very, very lovingly
Your Mama

Ella is feeling more herself in this letter. Hardly any mention of the visa or getting affidavits, and every other line is filled with motherly advice. Poor Opa. She wants him to write about when he doesn't feel well, but he knows for a fact that if he lets on even a little bit that something isn't quite right, she will become a nervous wreck until the next letter which is usually at least a month or so in traveling. I applaud Opa trying to be as honest as he is. 

I love Ella's confusion about Opa's school. You can tell her German logic is getting the better of her. Sure this school allowed her son to be in America, but what in the world are these classes he is taking? She wonders why he isn't studying in his field. Opa clearly left out a major detail when telling his mother about in his college search, and that was that McPherson is a liberal arts college and it was the first school to invite him over. He was smart enough to accept the offer and figure it out when he gets there. Ella is afraid he's wasting time and will have to start all over again if he has to go to another school to get the right classes. I wonder how different the American College/University system was from the German one. 

The other part of this anxiety on Ella's part might come from the fact that she is hoping that Opa can graduate and get a job sooner rather than later. That could create a better opportunity for her if Opa was to sponsor her immigration as an employed engineer. I don't think she dwelled on this, but I'm sure she thought of it.

My favorite part of this letter might be the laundry list of how Opa was to achieve optimum health. Apparently Opa had some run-in with tuberculosis. Ella's instructions: eat well, go outside, play sports, work hard but not too hard, sleep well, don't smoke or drink, and write your mother. Ha. She's right though- that'll keep most folks healthy. 

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