THIS IS THE STORY OF MY LIFE
By Karl Rudolf Mende
Rudy dictated the story of his life. Text written in normal script are Mr. Mende’s words. Text written in italics are the typists’ words. Anything written was taken from sources deemed to be reliable and factual. Thanks are given to the sources found on the Internet and family members. Apologies are offered for any errors or omission.
Chapter 1 - The Beginning
Carl Frieidich August Mende born December 18th, 1832 was a farmer in Falkenberg, located in Saxony, Germany. He operated a farm with his wife during the 1800’s. They had at least four children. Bernhard, Phillip, Paul (a widower) and Mina.
The first son, Louis Bernhard Mende born May 19th, 1872, married Frieda Bertha Beger born June 9th, 1878, from Conradsdorf. She was the daughter of Karl and Berta Beger. Bernhard and Frieda Mende lived on the farm and had five children there. Bernhard was a good provider. He worked in the mine and helped his wife run the farm at house #37 Falkenberg.
Their eldest child was Hans Bernhard, who married Hannah. She had a daughter before marrying Hans. Then they had three more children. Hannah’s daughter Liza was born circa 1909. Hans married Hannah right after returning from the army in after War I in 1918.
Their first daughter Charlette was born circ 1920 and sons Otfried and Egon were born the next two years. The family lived in Dresden where Hans first worked in a cigarette factory and then on the railroad. He eventually died and was buried in Dresden.
The second son Kurt Bernhard was born November 10th, 1899. He married Louise and they lived in the other half of the family home in Falkenberg. Louise also came from Conradsdorf and she and Kurt had four children. Herbert, Martin, Maryanne and Gertraude. Kurt worked in the smelter manufacturing items from precious metals like gold and silver. Gertraude, their daughter, was treated badly when the Russians took over the area after WWII. She suffered mentally and physically and died young. Kurt did not pass away until 1990.
The third child born was daughter, Johanna. Johanna met Paul Walter, and after they were married moved to Naundorf. Paul owned a bakery and they had one daughter Charlotte.
The fourth child was Veleska. The youngest daughter was happily married to Walter Kessler who was a carpenter. They moved to Mohorn north of Naundorf but were unable to have children.
Fifteen years later Bernhard and Frieda’s fifth child was born. Karl Rudolf Mende. This is his story.
Chapter 2 - I Was Born
I was born on a Saturday afternoon, at 2 pm, on February 20, 1914. I was born of Bernhard and Frieda Mende. My mother told me this when I was old enough to understand. I lived the lonesome life in the crib. My first year I was only drinking and sleeping, which was the only job I could do and making the diapers full. It was a whole year like that. I didn’t know anything until my mother told me.
The first year on my birthday, my mother make a cake so she invited all the family and my cousin to my birthday, I didn’t know it. I was eating it with my fingers. It was good and sweet. So that was my first year it was lonely.
The second year I was a little a little bit smarter, I could talk, I could say ‘Mama, Papa’, that was all. When I got older I spoke more. My sisters and brothers helped me. My brother Hans, my brother Kurt, my sister Hanna, and my sister Leska helped me talk. The second year I learn more from my brothers and sisters to talk
The third year I was much better, I asked my mother many questions. She always answered me so it was right that I asked. She always gave me the right answers. I started to paint, all colours. I was a good painter. When I was in the third year I spoke more and clearer, not the baby talk, it was understandable. When I wanted something I cried and she asked me what I wanted. I said, “That.” and she said, “That is for grown-ups.” I asked her one day, “When will I be grown up?” She said I had to wait a long, long time before I would grow up, and that I had to go to school first. So I asked her if I could go to school now. So… she said “No.” and that I had to wait until I was six. I was only four at that time. I had to wait two more years before I could go.
So… when I was five I started scribbling ABC’s and my brother and sisters helped me so it was easier for me when I went to school. I knew a little bit about it.
Rudy attended Volks Schüle in Falkenberg from 1920 to 1928.
When I was six years I went to school, proud. I can go to school now. Yah! The first day you had two hours school. The principle told us a story (kids stories). When the school was over we each had to come to the principle to get Sucatüte It was a paper cone filled with chocolates and candies and bunny on top. So when the next day came, I went to school and I wanted the same thing again. The Sucatüte. So… the principle asked me what am I in his office for, so I told him I am waiting for the Sucatüte. So… he said that there is no more. That is only once you get that, and there is no more. You have to go to school without it now. So, I went home disappointed.
I went home and when I came at my home I told my mother, “I don’t want to go to school anymore, I got no Sucatüte”. My mother said, “You have to go to school, you have to get smart.
So… I told her, “I don’t want to get smart”. So… she said, “Yes, you will. You will go to school tomorrow, and you will learn what the teacher says. You do what the teacher says so you can learn something,” Yah! The next year in school it went better. Yah! I was grown up a little bit more, and a little bit more smarter I was. I could write the ABC’s and I could write numbers. I could also write words. That’s what I learned in those two years. Yah!
Chapter 3 - Graduation
In 1928, at fourteen, Rudy was finished going to Volks Schüle. After eight years of attendance in lower school Rudy had to decide if he wanted to continue to upper school or go out to work.
Rudy‘s family attended the local village Evangelical Lutheran Church. All the children were expected to attend and be confirmed in this church and Rudy had to study for this event.
When I was fourteen I was going for confirmation. I was confirmed in the church, so I had to go once a week to Catechism so we learned from the bible and the priest that was in the church. We had to go once a week for one hour. There I learned quite a bit. Yah!
Then I was old enough I finished my schooling and went to work under the eye of the butcher in Klüche’s Hotel and Butcher Shop. I did something for him, clean the floor, sweep the whole shop and do little things.
Then when I was fifteen or sixteen, I had a girl friend. I was sixteen and she was twenty-four. We didn’t do anything wrong, we just were sitting in the grass and telling stories we laughed about them and then we went home. One night I went home very late, that was 12 o’clock. I will never forget that day, when I came home my father was waiting with the leather strap. He did what he had to do, Yah! He beat me up on the bum and my bum was sore. That’s how hard he beat me; but after I went in the bed I said to myself, I deserved it. I should not have got that late home.
Yah! I was not shy, I went the next day to the girl, we were sitting in the grass and telling jokes again Yah! We didn’t do anything wrong. I was young too, and she hinted for more. Before, I didn’t say yes or no, so one day I said, “Yes”, and we did the dirty thing. Yah! After then I knew the difference between boys and girls. When I was sixteen or seventeen we learned story of the difference between boys and girls.
Chapter 4 – Growing Up
In 1928, (Rudy was 14) year the time changed. I got older and I wanted more money. I had to look for a job. So I looked for a job. I went all over and nobody hired young kids. So I was disappointed. I was quite down. So I thought to myself, ‘how about going in the mine, working in the mine’? So I said to myself, ‘try it, you can only try’. So I went first to the Unemployment Office, I asked them if they looked for people, that I can have a job. They said, “No.” I said, “How about the mine?” “The mine is looking for people.” he said. “Here, I give you a piece of paper go and look in the mine, if you got a job let us know. You have to come and let us know.”
So I took that piece of paper and I walked from our house to the mine to the mine, in Freiberg. That was a two-hour walk I had to walk. Yah! That was two-hours.
So I went to the boss, the manager and I asked him, I said “Do you got a job for me please?” He said, “You look very young can you do the job? I said, “Yes, I try. I try hard. My father is working here.“ “What’s your name?” “Mende.” So he was thinking and thinking and finally he said, “Are you Bernhard Mende’s son?” I said, “Yes”. He said “Yah! We got a part-time job for you.”
So I told him “I need that piece of paper. I have to go back to the Unemployment Office and tell them that I got a job.”
So he signed the piece of paper and he give it back so I could walk all the miles home go to the Unemployment Office. It was nearly closing time when I came there so he told me, “Are you ever lucky that you got a job.” Yah! I was lucky. Because of my father (my father worked there) that’s why I got a job. The mine was Neuer Morgenstern Mine and I was a part-time miner with my father.
Chapter 5 – In The Mine
So that was the first job, real job I had, as a miner, as young as I was. It was a happy job. With pick and shovel we had to load the carriage. The electric train picked them up and brought them at daylight. That was when I had to work under ground.
Ah! Under ground, that first day underground, Yah! , That was the heaviest job I ever did so far in my life. I never worked that heavy. So...I worked in the mine. When I was sweating instead of gaining weight, I was loosing weight.
My mother said, “Boy! That is too heavy for you. You should not do that”. So my father came home from work, I was home, and my father came home from work and he said, “Son you got a heavy job. I don’t know if you can hold out, then that is heavy”.
Yah! So I took one day after the other one. I worked. I worked my butt out. Yah! So the days were going, I was getting older but not fatter. I got skinnier, until I gave up. So I had to eat more. So I told my mother, “Get me one more sandwich in my lunch”. So my father, he was talking about that I was supposed to work with him. I said, “Dad I don’t think that goes. I am supposed to work there.” So my father said, ”I see what I can do that you work with me.”
Then my father went to the office. He talked to the manager, what about it I don’t know. My father came out after a while, he came under the ground and he came to me.
He said “Boy you work with me. I got you. I look after you so you don’t work too hard.”
I said, “Dad don’t take anything away on me, I have to work. I’m getting older. Some day I want to get married. Some day I want to get married and have a family. That’s why I work. I could stay home like my cousins.” “Yah! So you work with me.”
So I worked with my father. He took the heaviest jobs on me so I only had the littlest jobs to do. We were drilling with the air drill. We couldn’t understand each other, what we said. That was how noisy it was. When you wanted to talk you had to shut the machine so we could talk. The more we talked, the less we could work. That didn’t work together. So we didn’t talk, and we worked.
Yah! So the time swiped by, and I got older. I got a year older on my birthday, but I got a year smarter. So I worked not too heavy. I worked day after day with him and we walked home together. I had my bicycle but I wouldn’t leave him alone.
So he said, “Sit on your bicycle and go give your mother a hand.” So I said, “Okay. I ride home and give Mom a hand”. So the time was gone and I was home. I said, “Mom I was supposed to give you a hand Dad said. What you want to do?” “I don’t know what I want to do. Feed the pig? No the time isn’t there yet. You cannot feed the pig out of time, you have to do it at meal time.” So I did nothing. I was home for nothing. In the mean time when I was home I saw my father. So I picked him up and walked home with him and he was happy. My mother asked me at supper how I liked to work with my father. I said, “I like it.” She said, “Does he give you a heavy job?” I answered, “No”. So my mother says “Your father looks after you. He knows what he can do with you and he will do it with you. Yah!
So we went the next morning to work again. We worked together on one shaft, did the same job together, pick and shovel like the day before. Then that went on for days, for weeks for months. Yah! The time in the mine is not a long one. The time in the mine goes because you are working steady. You have to drill holes to put the powder in and blast twice a shift. One shift is drilling the holes for the other one. So, when we came, we just put the powder in the holes. When we were finished, we went out and blasted.
So, we went back. We took our buggies along each one, so we had to load them with pick and shovel. So that is not very big, that hole what you have to drill or blast, just two meters by two meters. And you go a good meter ahead, and you have to go two meters a day. We made quite a bit money back then. We got paid by the meter.
My father was sorry that I was under ground in the mine. I said, “Dad I wanted to step in your foot steps.” He said, “Son, that is too heavy for you. Next year you quit.” I said, “Let’s see. Let’s see that year, how it makes out.”
Chapter 6 – A Young Man
So that year that I worked with my father got slowly to the end. I’m not a quitter. I was born to have a job and I will have a job. I was the only one out of my class to have a heavy job in the mine.
The other ones worked either with a farmer or in a factory. I had to work harder and faster but I got money for it. I had to work heavy and fast to get paid good. We made good money. My father found out that I got paid the same an hour money. My father did the most. Yah! My father did the most.
That year was gone the first year underground. I celebrated my first year, my first labour, with my parents and brothers and sisters. So I bought something to eat and some beer. That’s when I first started drinking beer, when I worked in the mine. I could pay my own, and that is when we celebrated my first year. Yah! , I will never forget how happy we were that I had one year down in that heavy job.
Then things went a wee bit different. I took a little bit more home than my father. I took my jacket off, and I was chest naked, Yah! I was chest naked. So that was how warm it was down there. And we had the air hose going and Yah! We had water running down there too, in the ditch. So our train went over the water, and we had to walk through the water. We had rubber boots and pants and jacket. So that was our job, not to catch a cold. After that year I felt a little bit better. I felt more mature. I knew what my body could do and what my body wouldn’t do. So I could and I would do it. So I left my father very little work because he was old enough to go nearly in pension. Yah!
I made that decision to work in the mine. It was a hard job with pick and shovel. You had to bring the muck out. Yah! We had the electric train down there and the train pulled the buggy away. So I thought ‘There must be another way to make money. Not the hard way the way I do’. So I was thinking and thinking what can I do.
My brother worked in the meantime in the city, Hittenberg. That is where there is a factory where they made, nickel copper, silver and gold. Where they sorted everything out. My brother Kurt was working. My brother Hans worked in Dresden on the train. So they both had a job. My two sisters were home and I was working. I wasn’t home.
So, the days were going by very slowly but surely. So the next days were the same like the days before. I had to work with pick and shovel. And do the work what nobody else could do. Clean up the Yah! (At the mine.) We called that a Yah! Yah! I had to clean that up. Yah! In the buggy and the train took the buggy away and brought it to daylight. We had to do so many metres a day to get so much paid. It was a metre. Two hundred and some dollars is what we got for it. And we usually put two metres down. That way we went ahead two metres each day so that was four hundred dollars what we had. That goes by day by week by month. So, we had so much each time that we had enough money that we could say we’re getting rich if we didn’t spend the money.
Then we had miners working and they drank the whole money and we had mining men working who saved their money like myself. I saved my money. I could buy everything what I wanted. My father, he gave me a hand. Yah! He gave me a hand. That heavy work went on and on until I said. “I have to go someplace else and work somewhere.” Ah it never went. I went day after day as miner, to the mine.
I worked till I had enough money to buy some stuff what I wanted. I never figured I could use a motorbike but I know it now, that I could use it. Yah! I went to work with it. Yah! My father had to walk and I drove a BMW motorbike. It was not new it was a used one ah it was fast. We had a bicycle stand at the mine. We had many, many bicycles. The people came from all around the neighbourhood to work in the mine. That was the only job. To work underground in that town where I worked. So the rest had to work in the factories if they had a job. So I figured, ‘I don’t go too long to work with pick and shovel.’
Yah! I am still remembering how proud I was of that motorcycle. It was a 1923 BMW-Motorräder made at the Bavarian Motor Works factory. Proud that I bought my own transportation. So I went to work for quite a few days.
I was the only one who had a bicycle in the mean time. My cousin Kurt had nothing, he didn’t work, when we went for a dance when I was seventeen and eighteen, I took him with my bike. When we were out of town in Conradsdorf or Naundorf dancing, we both went on my bicycle.
Yah! My cousin, he was not a guy of very much dancing. He was more a guy of drinking, and I was the opposite way, I danced more and drank less. So that went on week after week. We went on dancing. I danced my life away doing polkas, waltzes and foxtrots.
So when we were at the dance hall my cousin always was drunk. I always had trouble with him, and I didn’t like that, so I told him. I said, “Next time you are drunk I don’t go home with you, you walk Yah! You walk, I ride with the bicycle.” So I did that one week and he didn’t like it, and he didn’t talk to me. I was not gentle enough with him. He had to walk home. He walked the railway home. Yah! That’s the short cut, Yah!
So after that he didn’t go out with me for quite a while, he didn’t want to walk home, and he didn’t want to leave drinking alone. Yah! I didn’t know that my cousin liked that much alcohol like he did. He was the opposite side from mine, I didn’t like, what he liked.
So, I went for dancing, every Saturday, we were at our hometown, then we were one time out of town. So, we had our funny. Our fun times. We joked around with the girls then we laughed about it.
We did everything so we had fun. After when I was older, in the twenty’s, I was looking for girlfriends. Then I had the appetite for the twenty-four year-old one. In time I found one, so we made date, we kept our date, we joked around. Nothing happened, I couldn’t get funny. No, nothing happened. So we went home. We went each into the bed and I was seeing her the next Wednesday. Wednesday was our time to meet together. So the Wednesday came, my mother ask me, “Are you going out tonight?” I said, “I don’t know Mother, I would like to but I wouldn’t, I don’ know which.” “Yah! ” She said, “Just watch yourself when you go out. Don’t do bad things. Watch yourself, then you cannot trust the girls. Yah! I know that. That the girls can get into something, and that something can be bad. Yah! When I was twenty-one I still went as a single guy every weekend dancing. I had my girlfriends, got finger licking, get girlfriend again, got finger licking again. That was in my twenty-first and twenty-second years.
Chapter 7 – Back To School
Finally I came to the idea go one more time to the school. I wanted to go to school. I had that in mind so many times. Yah! I went home, I told my mother and I said, “Mom, I think I go to school I don’t like that heavy work. You’re right that’s too heavy for me. I go to school and see what I can do. Yah! I hope I’m right with what I wanted to do.”
I wanted to go in bergman school, (mining school). Yah! Three years, that is three semesters. Yah! I have to see how I make out. Then my father he is working his butt off for me not to get too heavy work for me. Ah, he don’t know that he kills himself with it. Then he did more than he had to do. He worked for me plus himself. Yah! That doesn’t go on. No! I have to do something else. And I have to sleep and think about it. Yah! I think when I am sleeping. I am thinking more than I sleep that’s what I tried to do. Yah! I think I will quit mining and I go to the school.
So I went to the next big town where the mines can give you more school. I seen the principal and he looked at me when I said, “Hello.” So he answered, “What you want?” I said, “ I’m looking for a job. I want to go to school.” So what he said, “You got a job.” “Yah! I got a job but that job is too heavy for me. I’m too small. I want to go to school”. So he said, “Go home and get your report card and bring it to me and I will decide what to do with you.” So I went home. I told my mother what I did. My father was not home I couldn’t tell him. So my mother said, “Youngster you can not do that job in school.” I said, “Why not mother? I got eight years school and three more doesn’t do a thing. And then I know something.” She said, “Ok. Do what you want. That’s your own funeral.”
So I went with my report card. I went two days after, to the teacher and principal. The principal read my report card.
When he read it and he was finished with it he said, “Not bad. Why do you want to be a miner?” I told him “my father is a miner. I want to step in the same footsteps”.
So he gave me a piece of paper and my report card and told me go out in the hallway and go in the Room Three and see the teacher. So I went and looked for Room Three. The door was closed. I knock on the door. Who comes out but a huge guy. Tall like a pencil.
He said, “What you want?” And I said, “I’m suppose to give you that from the principal.” So he looked at it. After a while he told me, “Come on in. Sit down. I will study it.”
So he was sitting down looking at me once in while, while he studied my report card.
So he said, “You wanna be a mine inspector?” I said, “Just not a mine stricker (muck sweeper).” “Yah! You have to go in three semesters in school.” I told him, I said, “I went eight years in school and it doesn’t do any harm. It can only do better not worsen.” So he said, “In two weeks you come. Bring your books what you got and come in the class, and see me.”
So a few weeks later I went to school. Three semesters that was three years. Yah! I had to sleep there and eat there and I had to pay for it. My father paid for it. Yah! My father made lots of money and didn’t know what to do with it, so he paid my schooling. When the first year was gone I had a report card that was good. Yah! I was a good student. So we had a holiday.
Our second year had begun. There were new guys who wanted to do the same thing I had done so the teacher studied those two and told them to come to the class. Yah! In the meantime, I had my holiday for the school for two weeks and we had sports. I didn’t know about fencing, that is two swords. You fight the other guy. One guy fights the other guy with a sword. I lost, Yah! I lost. I was never that quick. So the second year school lessons began to get harder so I stuck it out. I had my second year too with sports and everything Yah! We had to play basketball and everything. Yah! I made it good again in my classes. The teacher was a fine man. Yah! They were cross but correct. So the second year was over. We had holidays for two weeks. Yah!
I went to the mine of my father and I talked to the manager there. That I’m in the second grade in the mine school, I have only one more grade to make. One semester. Yah!
So he said, “That’s nice. Maybe you could work here when you’re through with it.” I said, “Yah! That would be nice.”
So I came out to the third year. We went day after day to school and their lessons were unhappier and unhappier. Everyday you really had to learn what you wanted to be. I wanted to be a shift boss. That’s what I was for in the mine school. So the school was out and the school had two weeks after a reunion with all the students from all three grades and three semesters and we had a picnic. We had lemonade, milk, water, and beer for the elder ones. The old one that was me. I was an old one I was allowed to have a bottle beer. Yah! .
Then I was working in the mine at the Freiberg Silverbergwerk Ascension Mine as shift boss. My father was proud of me. He told me that so many times that he was proud of me. I had to tell the other ones, ‘make more money, make more metres by blasting.’ Instead of blasting once a shift, blast twice the beginning and the end of shift so you get more on the end of the week. Yah! So that was the school of mine.
Chapter 8 – Settling Down
I got a job in a factory, as a crate man in a porcelain factory (KristenBaüer a Porzellanfabrik Kahla) from 1930 until 1937. It was a porcelain factory and the work was in the painting shop. I think I was also painting fenders for bikes and cars, that’s what I had to do.
Yah! I was old enough to go dancing. All over in the neighbourhood. We danced, we had girlfriends and neither one married. All of a sudden one Saturday dance we were dancing in our hometown. And I seen a girl which I liked so I begged her if she wanted to dance with me.
She nicked the head and said, “Yes”. So we danced not only one dance; but many, many dances that night. Then I asked her by the last three dances if I could bring her home.
She said. “Yes, if you behave”. I knew what that meant so I said, “Yes”.
So her name was Ella I found out that she was born on April 26, 1919. Yah! We went out to some places for quite a while. We were together one year.
After having dated a variety of girls and partied most of youth Rudy decided to settled down and ask this special lady to marry him.
We went to the registers office for the ceremony on December 25, 1937 and we married.
In October 1938, the Germany army occupied Czechoslovakia‘s Sudetenland an area that was inhabited by over 3 million Sudeten Germans. That was the beginning of changing times in Germany.
They moved to 158 L Halsbürcke and lived there from 1937 to 1940, with Rudy working as a camp worker (Lehrhauer) in the mining industry (Bergbau) in Halsbruke.
Ella was together with me one year and we had one son and we named him Harald. He was a nice little boy he was born on November 7, 1938.
They lived in a nice home for several years and then Rudy moved to another area to work. In March 1939 the German army took the rest of Czechoslovakia.
In September 1939 Poland was invaded by Germany and the Soviets. That was the start of the war. German home front measures begin with food rationing.
From 1940 to 1942 Rudy worked as a Lagerarbeiter or warehouse worker for Kriümbiegel Freiberg Roh Prodükten a mining company. So he moved back to the family farm in Falkenberg with Ella and Harald to the upstairs rooms and they lived with Oma and Opa Mende.
Chapter 9 – Changing Times
Rudy was involved in the Freie Deutsche Jugend (FDJ) Free German Youth Club. Founded in 1936, to oppose Hitler's rule, as an underground Communist movement it was considered undesirable by those in authority from its inception. After Hitler's conquest of much of Europe, the FDJ was forced into exile. It reappeared after the war in 1946 and many young people from the Hitler Youth changed from brown shirts to blue under Lenin’s Communist’s rule. While the movement was intended to indoctrinate Marxism-Leninism, it did not concentrate on this to the exclusion of other activities. It arranged thousands of holidays for young people through its Jugend tourist agency, and even ran discos.
In April 1940 Germany invaded Denmark and Norway; in May, Holland was occupied while in June, the Germany army moved into France. In July 1940 the Battle of Britain began and was retaliated in August by the bombing of Berlin. In October Germany invaded Romania.
January of 1941 the Afrika Korps were sent to Libya to reinforce their Italian allies. In April 1941 Greece and Yugoslavia were invaded by German troops helping their Allies once again. Then in June 1941 German troops invade Soviet Russia and in September they invaded the Ukraine. Stretched thin on all fronts Germany was calling on their reserves for reinforcement.
Then came the police and my mother asked me, “You are in police trouble what did you do?” I said, “Mother I do nothing.” “Yah! The police is here.” So I went from my bedroom. Yah! I was asleep already, so I went from my bedroom downstairs and faced the police. So they said, “You get dressed and come with us”.
Just before Harald’s fourth birthday in October of 1942 Rudy was at home in Falkenberg. He was surprised with a knock on the door and was taken away by the police.
So I wondered ‘why do they say that?’ ‘Come with us.’ I didn’t do anything wrong. Yah! “You didn’t do anything wrong,” he answered, “ but we can’t tell you why you are suppose to come with us.”
I stole a bike. I didn’t tell anybody about it. So that was the trouble yah. I shouldn’t have took it. I had trouble. Yah. I went to court and the judge said I had to go to the jail. I stayed there for one year. That was a long time. Maybe I was in jail that long because I was a communist.
I was in the jail a long time. After that the police told me to go with them. Then we left the jail. So I went with the police in the station. Yah! When we are at the boarding platform by the train, they have us totally outfitted with pants, shoes, undershirt shirts, underpants, jacket, belt, and helmet. When the helmet came we are recognizing it and now we had a small idea of what was to come. Yah!
Chapter 10 – Going To War
Montgomery attacked Rommel’s men cutting deep into German African territory in November 1942. Rommel lost heavily and was to stay in El Alamein but he retreated losing Africa to the Allied Army.
Rudy was called up on December 14, 1942 to the 500th Ersatz-Battalion, 1st Company, and Unit 584 of the Deutsche of the Reserve Army a probationary troop. Rudy was first considered unworthy to serve in the German Army. As more troops were needed to replace dead or wounded soldiers, undesirables were conscripted.
The “500’s” Probationary Units were commonly assigned to a soldier who broke a military law, disobeyed an order or otherwise was found guilty of a crime or criminal act. If he served well and survived he could be rehabilitated back to a regular unit after a set amount of time. They could also include Volksgrenadier ‘the home guard’ and enlisted soldiers, NCO‘s, or Officers who may have dishonoured themselves by minor infractions of the military code.
Besides the 500 series units the Heer (the Army) designated both the 300 series and 999 series as probationary units these soldiers were considered second-class. These units were composed of more hardened disciplinary cases than the 500 series. They could be prisoners, who by their criminal nature generally received harsher disciplinary conditioning. They were men who may have refused direct orders, assaulted superiors or were generally serving jail terms for non-military criminal or political offences, such as violations of laws, black-marketeering or active resistance to the National Sozialismus (N.S.) regime.
These soldiers were called “Himmelfahrt Kommandos”, which literally translated means, "Journey-to- heaven-mission soldiers" and described any operation with extremely high risk, although not necessarily suicidal.
Rudy was ordered to report to Skierniewicze on January 13,1943. Rudy arrived in Poland by train. He was assigned to Company infantry replacement battalion 500 1st company infantry battalion 561 (a probation troop). The unit was linked to the Army Group North.
Skierniewicze, is a town in Central Poland, about 60 km southwest of Warsaw, the capital of Poland near Lodz. Skierniewicze is surrounded by the major fruit and vegetables growing regions in Poland and is called, ‘the Capital City of the Polish Horticulture’.
We went to Russia. Yah. First to Poland. Yah. In Poland we were finished there in two weeks. The unit was then ordered to Lagoda, to continue invasion of the Soviet Union.
The Germans attack Leningrad lasted 900 days (1941-1944). The Germans were stopped south of the city. The winter was brutal and Rudy’s unit was attached to the 1st Infantry Division and entered the Soviet Union as part of the 18th Battalion with Army Group North, advancing on Leningrad. The bulk of Army Group North fought at Leningrad and Lake Ladoga but several units were sent to support the offensive against Stalingrad in the south of Russia. Rudy’s unit was one of them.
Then we went to Russia. Yah. So we went to Stalingrad. Russia took longer. Yah! We went to Stalingrad. When we went to Stalingrad I was a motorized messenger. Yah. I rode a motorbike and delivered messages.
Chapter 11 – In The Army
There was little training and amazing shortages of spare parts, inner tubes, etc. The German Army Divisions were scattered and under news blackouts. The motorcycle messengers played a vital role in keeping everyone connected. They were constantly challenged by traffic, bad or non-existent roads, mud, snow, ice, weather and finally combat conditions. Rudy learned many survival techniques that an enlisted man should know. For instance it is more convenient to have a minor breakdown near a tavern so a rider could rest his bones and quench his thirst. In combat, Rudy found out real breakdowns were often a matter of life and death. Dispatch riders often found themselves in desolate areas miles from friendly forces. Between missions he would do ordinary things like eating, playing cards and talking with other soldiers.
Yah, by doing my duty there was a barbwire fence I had to rip out. The fence was by a field and I almost fell when I came to the other side. There was a flag (a sign) ‘Attention Minefield’. I am thinking ‘you drove over a minefield already. How will you return? The same way you came. Can you drive in the same place?’ I brought my message. Yah! In the meantime I was thinking ‘If I go the next time will I make it again?’ Then I had the answer the straight way. I had to go and bring the reply. I must go the same way.
The Battle of Stalingrad was the most important turning point of World War II and is considered the bloodiest battle in human history. The battle includes the German siege of the Russian city of Stalingrad the battle inside the city, and the Soviet counter-offensive that eventually trapped and destroyed the German Sixth Army and German forces around the city. So great were Soviet losses that the life expectancy of a newly arrived soldier was less than a day. Total casualties for both sides are estimated to be over two million. German forces were eventually forced into a long retreat out of Eastern Europe.
During his tour of duty in Russia, Rudy was struck by shrapnel from an explosion and was sent back to hospital in Skierniewicze. Although his recovery would be complete doctors were unable to remove all of the metal and he still carries a souvenir from the battle in his chest. February 26, 1943 he was re-assignment to a new unit.
Rudy did receive special four-day leave to attend the funeral of his mother in 1944. It was a sad time and it turned to be the last time the entire family would be gathered together.
Rudy was then sent to another probationary Unit that was gathering at Truppenbungsplatz in Heuberg, Germany near Stuttgart, a cultural and economic centre. It faced 53 air raids during World War II and was totally flattened by the raid in April 1945. Rudy was then to the Unit 963 the Africa Schutzen Regiment.
Not long after the orders were issued Rudy was re-assigned to Unit 965 notified that the 963 was to be dissolved. With an idea that he was going to the Mediterranean, Rudy and his Unit were sent out to Italy.
Yah! I shipped a letter from the war to Harald’s mother. I had no money in the hand but I bought a bicycle for Harald.
I said “That the bicycle belongs to Harald. Yah! Only Harald, and that is from me Yah! Yah!” I got that bicycle when I was home for my Mother’s funeral. That was for Harald. He was only six.
I went there to Heuberg, opened my orders and I had the answer to go to Italy and not to go to Africa to Rommel. So when we went to Italy in the middle. The war was over in Africa. The war was finish there, so we went to Italy and Greece. We had to fight the Italians. The resistance. They went after the Greece woman then they complain to us. The women. That doesn’t go on, so we had to fight the Italians and the resistance.
Chapter 12 - Greece
Yah! In the mean time I had a letter from Germany that everything is okay at home but nobody mentioned anything about my wife. I didn’t know anything about my wife, I didn’t know if she was alive or dead I wrote a letter but there was no mention if she was alive or dead. There were airplanes over Germany too. The bombs were dropping on Germany too.
Rudy ended up being assigned to Lemnos, and Saloniki in Greece after Italy. Then his unit the 999 moved on to Kroatien. Rudolf had a chance to see the sights like the Coliseum in Athens. He found the weather hot and dry.
I was still a messenger delivery. I was required to drive to the country and the messages I had to deliver to the battle. Yah! That is a bad sickness malaria. I was sick. Yah! That’s horrible. I was still had answers to deliver. I had to go from one company to the other company. Yah!
One nice day I had a mosquito bite. Yah! I was sick that day. I was freezing. Morning sweats and soaking wet. For seven years. And I was still a motorcycle messenger, even with the sickness. That was a bad sickness. So bad. Yah! One day when I so sick I said, “If I must die, I must die. I am as meat is on bones. We have, even though we are sick, messages to bring, Yah!”
German casualties from disease, chiefly typhoid, dysentery, and malaria, were unusually high, as were losses from direct physical exhaustion in the long marches and movements over rough terrain. The majority of the German personnel throughout the operations were of the older age groups and, except for the mountain units, had had little or no experience or conditioning for the type of warfare in which they had to engage.
We brought messages to the Parthenon from the company, and from the Parthenon to the company. We finally had the hand over the Italians Yah! We had the hand over the Italians. Yah! They were all lonesome for home. They were longer from home than us. Yah! Then at the end we didn’t know that the war was finish there at that time that they moved back from Greece.
Thousands of Chetniks, Serb auxiliaries, Croatian soldiers, and individuals who had assisted the occupation forces in one way or another joined the columns of withdrawing German troops.
The few units still remaining in Greece, comprising mostly supply and other service troops, now found themselves in a position similar to that of the island garrisons. Lacking adequate transportation and the fire-power of combat units, these troops were ordered to destroy all stocks and equipment of any value to the guerrillas.
I was the last one over the bridge and soon I was over the demolition blasted the bridge over the canal so Greece couldn’t go from one end to the other. They couldn’t. There was no more chance. The railroad and the street were both demolished. Yah!
The rear guard of the German forces was approaching the Greek-Yugoslav frontier, leaving Greece in the hands of the British and their Allies. They moved on to Yugoslavia, where Chetniks and Partisans fought one another and the Germans at the same time. It can be said that 1 out of 7 soldiers in German uniform, whether German or not, became a casualty by the close of Operations.
Then did we return and went toward Serbia. I had gotten in battle with the Serbians and that was a cost. It cost seven of our men in total. Yah! Seven men in total by that time. Yah! We were attacked by the air force, the airplanes, and from the ground. We really were in the war on the way back. I never went that far in the war that close before as I was at that time. I feel that if they kill, you they kill you. Then my time is up and my time was not up.
Chapter 13 – The End Of War
The German Commanders were reluctant to separate the troops from the civilian population both for morale reasons and in conformance with the German policy of exploiting the conquered countries (even to the extent of having the troops buy up consumer goods for shipment home).
So we went from Serbia to Czechoslovakia. We were three weeks in Chetz and in 1945 we went to a town near Prauge once in the show (the movies) and when we were watching the show three men tapped us on the shoulder and said the war is over. You are a prisoner of war. The war ended in May 1945.
I said to my friend, “What! The war is over and now we’re prisoners of war?” Yah! That was so.
We were now prisoners of war. They arrested us. We were in the country. Yah. Surrounded by over a hundred soldiers we slept outside on the grass. In the beginning we had to build outhouses so we could go. Nothing to eat for three days. We ate grass and we all had the shittery. Not in the city. We were in the country and there we were in prison. Yah. That’s the way I thought it we came in the lockup. We were under the blue sky. No beds, a bundle of straw that was our mattress. We were lucky there was no rain. Yah. It was hard in the jail.
One day a man came into the lockup and talked to the Post (guard) if he could pick workmen for the farm. So he said, “How many you need?” He said, “Six or seven.” He said, “Six or seven? Take seven. I give you seven.” The guard asked “Who wants to work?” Not too many said yes ah I was one.
The first days in the lockup we had nothing to eat. We had to eat grass. So hungry we were and we had all diarrhoea, everyone. So finally came the kitchen and brought us soup. We had everyday soup. No full meal, just soup. That’s all what we had to eat. Then when we came to the farmer it was a different life.
So I was the number seven. We went to the farmer’s place near Prague and we went in the field. We took the potatoes out for the farmer, cut the grass for hay and that went on for eighteen months. I was eighteen months a prisoner which was no good. The farmer gave us clothes to wear we only had our uniform.
He let us sleep in the house alone. No postman, no watchman, no police, nobody was around there. We were with the farmer alone so we learned Czechoslovakian. I spoke it very good.
We had to make the cow stall ready for the cows. They were out in the grass in the summer time and at night they came in to milk and feed so they had hay and they milked. So a company guy from us milked the cows with a machine that was easy. Yah! He learned it really quick so we had a fine time.
We had good to eat. Saturday and Sunday we had off. We could do what we wanted in the house. We could go in the store and we could buy. He gave us pocket money so we could buy us a little bit so we did.
The Russians took over the eastern portion of Germany and the Allied Powers the western part of Germany. The dividing line was along the state lines however Berlin in the east was divided up by the four powers.
The Russians were ruthless, claiming retaliation for the treatment the Soviet people received from the German army during the war. Women and children suffered at the hand of the occupying Russian troops. Any thing of value, including their dignity was taken and many German citizens had hoped they would be occupied by any of the other Allied Powers. It was during this time of occupation that Rudy’s niece, Gertraude became debilitated. The Russian soldiers were also upset because they were stunned to find living conditions in Germany superior compared to their own at home.
Civilians and prisoners of war were used as forced labour. Troops went to German homes ordering ‘volunteers’ to come and work for them. Workers, dubbed Bergfrauen (mountain women) by the local population, laboured as hard as the men, digging, clearing trenches, building galleries, pushing trolleys. Average pay is 200-400 East marks ($8 to $16) weekly.
Eighteen month after I was there, eighteen month a prisoner, he said, “You can go home. I got the papers for you. You go by train.” So we went by train to Germany. From Erzgebirge that’s where the next station was. We came there and there we were seen. We saw Russian. Lots of Russians were there and we had no more uniforms. We had to give up the uniform at the farmer’s. He gave us new clothes so when we came to the Erzgebirge by the Russians that was a different tune. There was more command. Yah! They had commands. You had to do or you get killed. Yah! So we did what we had to do. So in the mean time the eighteen months took a long time before they were over. Yah! Finally we made it, that we could say thanks heaven we are free. Yah!
Chapter 14 – Working in East Germany
Then we came home like I said before there were lots of Russians. Lots of Russian and they were strict with us, so I went and wanted to find a job.
From when he was released in the Fall of 1946 until Spring of 1947 Rudy worked at home for a plastics factory (Muldenhutten Celluloidfabrik). This gave him some time to spend with his family. Rudy and Ella had found the time apart difficult to overcome. Harald was almost nine and become a fine boy.
It was hard, a job to get. Yah! I went to the Work Centre to ask there if they got a job for me. So the girl asked me what my job was before I came to the army. I told them, “I am a miner. Yah! I am a miner.” So she said, “Yah! We got a job for you. You want one job”. I said, “Sure lets do it.” So we finally signed a piece of paper that I had a job in the mine. I went by the train to the mountains of Erzgebirge. To work in the mine in Erzbergbau.
The Soviet Union, was firmly committed to its own atomic weapons program, and faced a uranium shortage. At the end of the war Russian geologists investigated radioactivity in the Erzgebirge. Production demands increased rapidly, leading to a shortage of workers for the mines. The solution was forced labour, at first from German prisoners of war and later from domestic political prisoners.
So the Russian found out that I knew all about mining then they asked me if I want to be shift boss. I told them, “That’s what I was when I left Germany. I was a shift boss. Yah! “You are shift boss here. Yah!”
We worked. I did my duty. From 1948 to 1949 I filled up the days work in the books. What we did, how much we did, how many we did. Yah! We had to mark everything down.
Rudy moved to Cranzahl to work. He lived and worked there all week and on weekends he spent time with the family. Visiting at home became too difficult for the estranged couple. So once a month Ella would come up with Harald on the train. She came to pick up money and food stamps from me.
So there was a job opened in another mine in 1949 and the Russian came to me if I want to take that job. I said, “What is it?” “Shift boss“ I said, “Yah! I take it.”
Rudy now 35 years old was working in a new mine in Bärenstein. Ella came still on the train to get the groceries and her money. Yah. I still took care of her. So I took the shift boss job again in the other mine and there, when I came out, I seen lots of people including a girl. She was not too tall. Yah! When I seen that little girl I had in my mind to ask her what she was doing in her work, but before I had a chance to say that, I asked her something else. I asked her how old she was. She looked like fifteen. (Born in 1928 Ursula was actually 21). I said, “Do you work underground?” She said, “Yes.”
Rudy saw Ursula daily. Working together long hours and socializing at the company dances Saturday nights (and some Wednesday nights) the two became friends quickly. One Saturday night Rudy wanted to impress everyone with his driving skills so he borrowed a friends motorcycle and drove into the busy dance hall and spun around the room with great bravado before leaving. Ursula found the entire episode memorable.
One day I told her, I said, “When I get another job you get it. I told her, she will get a different kind of job from me.” I wanted her to have easier work. Underground that was hard.
Harald was eleven but Rudy did not know him well. They had been separated too long. Rudy was now totally estranged from the family and left Ella.
Chapter 15 – A New Love
Rudy and Ursula became a couple. Rudy felt she was the woman he wanted to make a life with. Knowing the consequences, Rudy committed to her. Ursula, fell for this handsome, powerful, exciting man and he vowed to keep her safe and provide for her. He never mentioned his first marriage or the life he had.
I asked her if ‘she’s willing to marry me?’ She said, “Yes.” And with open arms she came running and kissed me. So I said, “Okay.” That was it. On the 24 of December in 1949 when we went to Meißen (Meissen, located near Dresden) and got married. We told the woman that we want to get married. So she said, “I’m right there.” So when she came that was after 2 o’clock, she made her ceremony. After that she told us, “Now you are getting married, are you willing to share love and money with each other?” So we said, “Yes.” “Are you willing to live together?” So we both said. “Yes.” So after that she said. “Now you’re married. Man and wife.” So that was our wedding.
Now we lived in Lichtenstein. We went to work on the train. Yah. To the mine and at night we come back.
Couple of weeks after we went to work and couple weeks after that we had a train ticket that was the so-called ‘Samba Train’ we had our honeymoon.
We went to station and were on the Samba train. It went from Dresden to Coburg. We drove on the Samba Train, we danced on it, we ate good. That was an expensive trip but we had a honeymoon. There were more couples on the train. Young ones. Like us. There were some old ones too. We had beds to sleep and the trip was thee days. It was a good honeymoon. A good memory. Yah.
So when we were back home. We worked our butt out. She was hustler. I made her as hustler so that means she was bringing the people up and down in cages. One cage up, the other one down and so the opposite way too. When we were working she brought the minerals up in one cage. One at a time. One buggy one on the time. And so we had our jobs. Her hustling it was a nice job. It was a job for a woman. She had to bring two cages, one cage up one cage down that was her job to command them up or down.
Chapter 16 - Escape
Escape was a risk worth taking, for life in East Germany has become sheer misery. The crippled economy turned out precious little of the consumer goods that East Germans need so desperately. Soviets controlled the output of industries as mining and steel. East German food production had fallen sharply. Potatoes, once a staple, had to be imported from Communist Poland. Meat and sausage went on the ration list, to join butter and for complainers; there was the ever-present fear of a Communist jail cell or pistol.
Yah! We worked oh, for quite a few months. All summer we thought. Then we were sitting there one night and figuring how to get out of that trouble. We put our self in the trouble. We had to get out of trouble. So we thought about it and thought about it. Finally we had a solution. Go over the border from East Germany to West Germany.
So I thought this was not a good life. I was married to Mam (Ursula) and I wanted to make a good life with her. So I made a deal. Ah I thought no one would find out because the Russians knew I was communist. I had the FDJ on my workbook so they knew. Ah the Russian communist is not the same as a German communist. We were against the Russians even now. Yah I made a deal with a man to give some powder away. I didn’t ask what for. I didn’t ask where they use it. I just gave them powder and they would show me how to go out of East Germany. I got half the information, then the other half. Yah it was trouble ah it would get us out of the East. They (the Russians) started looking for it. I knew that was trouble. They would find out.
Yah we packed and told no one we were going. No one knew where we were going except the ticket seller. Yah he knew. Yah! We bought our train ticket in Lichtenstein. The train ticket to the border between East Germany to West Germany right on the border. We went as far as we could. Then we got off the train in Kebenick. Yah it was small. Only fifty houses. We were looking for the other half of our deal now. There was a woman who would tell us.
So we went there with our suitcase and backpack we went through town. One woman came and asked us, “Are you emigrants?” So we answered, “Yes.” And I told her that we want to go over the border. “Is somebody here that can help us?” “Yah! I know somebody”
She was the other half. So she brought us to the person who was suppose to bring us to the border. Over the border. That was 8 o’clock at night and it was cold. We were now February 1950. It was dark outside when we left the house and to cross the border that was half a mile. He didn’t take us very far. He was scared. He left us there.
Half a mile then we went over. So the half a mile took us to cross two hours and twenty minutes. We had to stop once in a while when the border patrol went by not to be seen or heard. We had to be awful careful. So when it was quiet then we went on all fours on the elbows and on the knees the packsack above the grass and then we went little by little it was two hours and twenty minute to go a half a mile. And when we were close there, we stood up. The voices went way down. We could hear them way down low and they spoke loud and we could hear them only low so they were far away from us. So I said. “Ursula come, we go and jump over. That’s the border there.”
So we went up and the railroad tracks were going there. We went over the railroad and I forgot about it that they had single wires. I flew over the single wires and made a hell of a noise. And the noise went right down to the Russian so they came running up. We were over the border already. We were lying on the other side, on the west side, when they came. We were quiet but they didn’t come over the border to look for us. We just were lying there until they were gone. That took too long. We wished they were gone sooner.
So we went farther in. There was a house that was border control from the west side, I ask them I said, “Are we in the West?” He said, “Yes. You are lucky you made it you.” I said, “Yes, I’m lucky.” They said, “Where do you come from?” “That’s a long story. Short story is we come from the East side. Yah! It took us two hours and twenty minutes.” “You’re lucky. It takes guys who come over a whole day. Your lucky it took only that long.”
Frightened at what awaited them there, Rudy and Ursula were determined to be successful. Arriving in American held West Germany, the couple were informed that they had to make their way to a town to get refuge status.
Chapter 17 – Into West Germany
So we went into West Germany. We had a rucksack, two suitcases and handbag. Yah! . That’s all that we had. We were lucky. The German on the border in the west side let us go where we wanted to go. I said, “We have no direction to go. We go to the next town or city, what ever it is town or city.” He said, “The next city is quite a while away. In half an hour you’re at a town in a small town. Yah!” You go and register there. So we went. We went in a half an hour in that town. We asked the official if he got a place or a job for us. He said, “No, but the next city got jobs for you.” I told him, I said, “We got no money.” So he said, “I can give you some. We got so much to spend. Yah!” So he paid us some money and we went in town and bought something to eat. We didn’t have anything to eat that day so we bought something to eat. We were hungry.
Newly arrived refugees had to be processed, assigned a place to sleep, given something to eat. The process involved a thorough screening with the Refugee Officer, located in the centre of town. Most refugees only wanted a place to stay, some food, medical attention if needed, and a job. Upon registration they received the recognition status of a political refugee. Rudy celebrated his 36th birthday in the West.
They traveled westward looking for work and eventually reached the city of Andernach. It was in the surrounding agricultural area they both got jobs working for a farmer. They worked the whole summer for the farmer in the potato field.
We lived in a building, a house. Yah there were others like us. We both got work on a farm. We worked for the potato farmer. It was hard work but we did it. Now was the summer coming and we needed work. So we listened and we heard there was work in Andernach. Yah we both got work there. We lived in a house an Agrippa Str #4. It was lucky we both worked. Ursula worked in the plywood factory. Yah she made doors. It was good times. We traveled around. We saw the country by train, Ursel and me.
Rudolf and Ursula settled in Andernach where Rudolf found work in a cigarette factory and Ursula took a job in a plywood factory. In the spring of 1950 Ursula found out she was expecting in the fall. The couple made friends and awaited the birth of their baby.
Enjoying long walks by the river was inexpensive and romantic. Rudolf felt he had found a companion that would stay with him until the end.
I picked Mam (Ursula) because she was young and strong. She would take care of me when I got old. She looked good on my arm.
Peter was born on the 15 of October 1950. Ursula’s sister Ingrid visited the couple several times with special travel passes. She was there after Ursula had Rudolf’s second son. Ingrid told them that after their escape, the Soviet authorities came to Ursulas’ family home in Lubbenau searching for the missing couple. The questions and threats caused great fear for the family. Harald confirmed later that the same happened at Rudy’s family home in Freiberg.
Peter was a handicapped. Yah! He was a handicapped we had trouble with him right from the birth on. They fed him ice-cold food. I had to raise hell in the hospital in Andernach. Yah! I had to raise hell so then they fed him Yah! He would have died he was on very low power.
Under the Nazis, German hospitals had practiced euthanasia by starvation on disabled children and adults and it worried Rudy that Peter may be lost. Later it was discovered that Peter’s disability was not Polio but Cerebral Palsy.
I worked in the cigarette factory. Altdorf Cigaretten Company. They were red and had gold writing on the pack. I got free cigarettes and we both smoked. I got lots for free Yah! It was cheap to smoke then.
Germany after the war was a harsh place to live. Heavy industry was being dismantled, unemployment was high, food shortages still existed and the cost of living was very poor. With the cold war growing and the fear of another war they decided to immigrate. They travelled to the North seaport of Bremerhafen.
Chapter 18 - Immigration to Canada
Rudolf and Ursula applied for immigration permits to move to a new country. Australia, United States and Canada all approved them. Rudolf contacted the International Nickel Company INCO and applied for a job as a miner. Badly needing experienced men INCO invited miners to come to Canada.
We got our travel documents, health papers and our temporary Canadian I.D. We got our transportation contract and loan agreement too. We got them from the documentation centre.
Rudy, Ursula and Peter were sponsored by the Government of Canada Department of Citizenship and Immigration. They received an assisted passage loan – undertaking to repay. The warrant was for $597.40 and went toward the payment of ocean and rail transportation from the Bremerhaven port in Germany to the hands of the Inspector in charge in Sudbury, Ontario, Canada.
The first glimpse Rudy and Ursula had of the "Anna Salén" as she was towed to berth by tugs in Bremerhafen, a North-sea port in Germany. She looked enormous. Her actual 11,500 gross tonnage would put her into a medium size category amongst ocean liners.
She was launched as a cargo ship in December 1939 as "Mormacland". She was requisitioned by the USA and converted into an auxiliary aircraft carrier complete with flight deck and aircraft handling facilities. She was renamed "HMS Archer" and transferred to the British Navy under lend-lease agreement. She survived the war and rebuilt as cargo ship named "Empire Lagan". In 1946 she returned to America, was mothballed then bought by Sven Salén a Swedish ship-owner at a surplus auction. As "Anna Salén" she took her first load of migrants from Naples, Italy, to Australia. On her third voyage she broke down in the Indian Ocean. After she was repaired she continued and also made several trips to Canada with refugees on board. In the mid fifties her route was from Saigon, China and Australia to Europe. Hellenic Mediterranean Line bought her and renamed her "Tasmania". Her next owners renamed her "Union Reliance" and used her as a cargo vessel sailing from Taipei to American ports. In 1961 an explosion and fire gutted her when she collided with a Norwegian tanker. During demolition by a US ship breaker, she caught fire again and was totally destroyed. A sad end.
On November 5th, 1951 they sailed from Germany to Canada on the M. S. Anna Salén. Ursula and Peter traveled well but Rudolf was not a good sailor and spent the entire voyage seasick. The journey was seven days.
The waves were big! Yah. Each one was like a mountain. The ship would go up one side and down the other. Then I was sick. I started to get sick, and I went in the bed. Yah! I was sick the whole way.
When they entered Halifax harbour and saw a large crowd cheering. Princess Elizabeth of England was in Canada and the city was celebrating the royal visit. The Mendes felt like Canada was welcoming them.
When we were stopped we had to go to the big hall and line up at the table. Then it was my turn. They asked me "Where are you going, do you have any money, do you have a job, do you have any friends?" I said I was a miner and we go to Sudbury Canada to work for INCO. He gave us a ‘Landing Card’.
An American Express money wire valued at $47.85 was sent by Sgt .Eugene Zygowski for transportation and meal tickets for Ursula and Peter enroute from Halifax to Sudbury.
We came on 11 of November in Sudbury. Yah! On the 11 of November 1951.
After they arrived in Sudbury, INCO refused to hire Rudolf because he was not heavy enough. He tried but could not reach the hundred and fifty pound weight he needed to work in the mine. By working for the International Nickel Company Organization Rudy planned to make payments from his miner wages to repay the loan. Being turned down by INCO required Rudy to find work in an area other than his preferred occupation.
Chapter 19 – Coming to Sudbury
Rudolf got a job with the Canadian Pacific Railway CPR and was sent to Burwash in 1952 to work on the Burwash Section of the railway.
Yah! That was my first payday what I had on the railroad. I went to Ursula, to the German people, and give the money for living with them. He said, “We did it for nothing.” I said, “No, I don’t want anything for nothing. I wanna pay. I pay a little.” He said, “No don’t pay anything.” So I told Ursula, I said, “I got a fine job. It’s heavy. It’s a heavy job. Ah, it’s a fine job. I need clothes. I have to buy clothes you have to go with me so I can get clothes. So, What’s Peter doing?” She said, “Peter is sleeping.” So I said, “Okay. So we go and we buy clothes for me.” I bought an overall and a pair of shoes I know that so, I stood there the night.
The next morning that was Sunday morning I went with the train to Burwash and to my foreman. I was staying with him in the bunkhouse. He had a big bunkhouse five rooms so I had one room. So.
So, I started working again on Monday so it went on the whole week. I worked hard. At night when we came home, there was a bush fire and the railroad had to kill the fire. So, we went with the hand pushcart to Conistan. We killed the fire there. We came home late. We had overtime. So the ninety-one cents what I made an hour; that paid double time. Overtime. Paid; me double. I made more money by making overtime than by regular work.
We had trouble one time. A train came. Yah a circus train and they lost a snake. We found it. Yah! It was in the outhouse. It was a big snake a python. We called them to come back to pick it up. That was one time that happened.
So then when one day two men came. My foreman and my chief who’s the boss over the railroad, and the foreman from the shop, they came and visit me and talked to me. So my foreman said, “You don’t think you can work in the winter time here.” I said, “Why not?” So the other man said, “I got a job for you in the shop.” So I looked at my foreman and he said, “He means it.” And I said, “In the shop. Yah!” He said, “We talk about later on one more time. You make up your mind. I think you don’t know what that means ‘in the shop’. So they left. I had an offer for a job in the shop. So I talked to my foreman, to the train foreman in Burwash. I said, “Art what does that mean, ‘he got a job for me in the round house’?” He said, “You going in wintertime in the round house. You don’t work with us at the winter.” So I said, “Oh. That means that.”
So my foreman, who got me the job, shipped me a boxcar to put our furniture, in Sudbury, in the boxcar and to Burwash. So we had a little bit of furniture. A bed, a table, four chairs that’s all what we had. Yah! They shipped me a boxcar so they brought me my stuff to Burwash. Ursula and Peter stayed with me there. Yah! I moved out of the bunkhouse and into the section house.
Chapter 20 – Working in the Roundhouse
Six months later the foreman come again and said, “Did you make up your mind now if you wanna go back the shop or if you wanna work with me here?” I said, “I think I go in the shop Yah!” I said, “I can do the welding and everything too.” So he said, “Okay. I ship you the boxcar and you move to Sudbury. You get a job right tomorrow in the roundhouse so you don’t lose any time.”
So at Saturday I get my boxcar. At Sunday they drove us to Sudbury with the boxcar. I had an apartment in Minnow Lake with a single guy. So I was working and Ursula was home with Peter and she was scared of the guy. So she told me, she said, “Dad I’m scared of the man. I said, “Don’t be scared he don’t do anything to you.” She said, “Yah! That’s what you think, he tried already Yah!” I said, “Okay I look for another apartment.”
So I looked for an apartment on the Shawnesy Street a two-room apartment. So we had the kitchen and the bedroom. One window. The bedroom had no window, so we stood there for a little while and I told Ursula, I said, “I don’t like it here. We got money now we can choose where to move. So we moved on the Albertson Street. So we stood there on the Albertson Street quite the years, quite years.
Chapter 21 – A New Baby
When we stood on the Albertson Street, Ursula was pregnant the second time so we waited there until her time was over. Yah! I was working in the round house. I was the oiler on the locomotive. Yah! The CPR had the steam and diesel engines in there. Yah the diesel was new. I knew lots of men. It was a good job.
Ursula had to go to the hospital I had a friend Manfred he brought her to the hospital, I was working so. When we had a little girl we baptized her Jutta. Yah! I baptized her Jutta because I had a girl she played hard to catch. Yah! That’s what I meant to Jutta. Yah! Hard to catch, so.
Jutta was born. Ursula was in the hospital three days then she was home and looked after Jutta and Peter. So Peter in the meantime went in the handicap school. So Ursula had to bring him every day to the handicap school until they found out that we had no transportation then they shipped a taxi for Peter to go to school. We had no pay. We had the taxi for nothing for the handicap. So Jutta was born Ursula was happy that she had a pair a boy and a girl Yah! I was happy too. Yah!
January 11, 1954 Rudy finally finished paying off the assisted passage loan to the Department of Citizenship and Immigration. He had paid $15.00 a month until he didn’t owe anymore.
Then when we had the kids, older a year, a year older I moved out of there. That was too complicated we had to change. Use one bathroom. Two families, I didn’t like that. So we moved on the Mountain Street. We had a three-room apartment in the basement. We moved there by the Adams’. So, she had a boy, a old man. He was married. Had a family. He worked on the railroad too on the Canadian National CN. So I worked on the CPR and he worked on the CN. So we changed our words. We went quite good friends, Yah! We helped each other. So one day he said, “Rudolf, when you will have a chance to buy a house, I help you. Ah you have to pay me back.” I said, “Yes, I will. Every penny”. So we went there for four years and all on a sudden he said, “Rudolf, I know a house that is for back taxes.” “Is owing how much back taxes?” He said, “Thousand dollars.” So I said, “Okay. I have no money.” So he said, “I borrow you the money.”
Chapter 22 – Buying Our First House
So he borrowed me the money a thousand dollars. He went out with me to Val Caron; where the house was. We looked on the house. It was three rooms and an outhouse. Yah! It had an outhouse. So we stood. We bought it. We stood there for eight years.
About Peter, he had a brace he was supposed to keep the brace stiff but he loosened it up steady so he could bend his leg. Peter was not a smart kind of guy he didn’t do want he was suppose to do what he was told to do. He didn’t do what you would say, what you want he never did it. He was a head for himself. So he had trouble. He never did it he was a bad boy himself he went his eight years in school he went to the handicap school for a while that didn’t work out then in Val Caron he went for a while in Val Caron it the school for a while that worked out and he had his grade. But he was steady on his own. Yah!
I had German Shepherds. I raised them from pups. I sold them. Yah Vera was the best. No one but me could go into the dogs. I was the only one. I had a pond with goldfish. Yah it was nice. A big garden too. The Frenchman didn’t like it when we put the fertilizer on. He complained all the time. He was a troublemaker too. On the back was Robert Herto. He was just too high on the horse. He didn’t like the smell either. They complained. Lyle and Winnie lived on the back and didn’t complain. On the other side was Bernhard who played with Peter nobody complained there. Just those two. We had lots of parties in the rec room we built. It was lots of fun. Everybody liked it. I had a swimming pool made for the kids. They were swimming in there. Yah! So they didn’t have to go on the river. They went in the yard swimming.
Then I had the heart attach on the CPR. Nine days in oxygen. Yah. I quit smoking then. I took my pension all at the once. I quit the CPR.
One day it come to my mind that, that house I can sell. That I could sell the house. I put it in the newspaper. There came a guy with family and everything and looked on the house.
By that time we had built a chicken coop. We had chickens, two hundred and forty-some chickens. We sold the eggs for fifty cents a dozen. If they were big or small fifty cents a dozen. So, I did sell the eggs and I had not enough eggs for the people who wanted to buy eggs from us that’s how good were our eggs. Yellow yolks Yah.
So when that guy came and looked on the house I asked him, I said, “Do you think you want to buy it?” He said, “Maybe Yah!” “I leave you alone with your wife so you can talk it over.” “Can we go one more time on the rooms?” I said, “Yah!” We had everything clean so he went in one more time and he came out. Okay, I pay you eight thousand dollars. We talked it over.”
So I sold the house for eight thousand dollars. Paid only thousand dollars for it. I didn’t do anything. I had lots of wood to remodel it. I bought lots of wood. So that was settled. He bought the house and he moved in.
We had the camp on the Vermillion and we went there with our friends from Hanmer. They had a girl Metchie that played with Jutta. Ah the camp didn’t last.
Chapter 23 – Moving West
Rudy had the idea to move and invest in a business to make a living. He talked to a guy who said he had a business and was looking for a partner. He asked him “What kind of a business?” The guy said it was a gas station and restaurant. Rudy thought they could do that so that was what he was going to do. They had no house or apartment to go to yet.
So the day before he moved in, we moved out. We had a trailer I had my trailer full of furniture. I said I go two, three times if I have to. We move somewhere from town, somewhere west. So we stood outside on the driveway. There came a guy with a truck into our driveway he came out of the truck and talked to us. “Are you moving?” We said. “Yes” “Where to?” I said, “I don’t know. We have to find it.” He said, “You can move to me. I got room.” I said, “Where is that?” “In Webbwood.” I said, “Webbwood? Where is that?” “On Highway 17 West.” Highway 17 I know, Ah West, I didn’t know. So we loaded his truck up, loaded my trailer up and put the carriage on top of the furniture on the truck and away we went.
So we came into Webbwood. So when we came, he had a gas station, a restaurant and apartments upstairs. So I had a room and I moved in there. So he said, “Rudolf I got no money to put gas in the tank do you got money?” I said, “Yes, I got.” He said, “I leave it up to you how much you put in and your wife can run, with my mother, the restaurant.” So we had the freezer full of meat, hamburger, steaks, roasts, everything. Yah! We had everything.
So we went to his place. I called to the gas station to bring me gas for two thousand dollars. I got gas to put in. That was not very much; ah it was for a little while to open up. Yah! When the people seen that the gas station was opened, they came and put the gas in. So I was busy on the gas station. I had one car after the other one. My two thousand dollars of gasoline didn’t last too long. So, I called again. They had to come again and for four thousand dollars. For the first thousand dollars I had my money in my wallet. I had that money so the second time he came, John Klepich came and said we have to split. So when we split it said.
I said to him, “We have to make a paper.” He said, “No. No, no, no, no, no paper. No lawyer. I don’t want to go to the lawyer.” I said, “Then I want my money back.” “You can’t. I haven’t got money,” I said, “I want my money back by Monday or I come with the police.” He said, “No. No, no police.” He was scare for the police. So I told him, “The wife gets thousand dollars, I get two thousand dollars and we want that by Monday morning. If not then I get it with the police.” “No, no, no police. I see that I get the money.”
Chapter 24 – Buying Another Place
So the Monday came. We were still living in his apartment. The Monday came; I went downtown in the town office I asked the mayor (he was there) I asked him, “Do you have a house I can rent?” “That’s a question. I have a house for sale for back taxes.” I said, “How much back taxes?” He said “Thousand dollars”. I said, “Can I buy it?” He said, “Yes, ah you have to go to Sault Ste. Marie.” “Can I get a councillor with me who okay that I bought the house?” He said, “Yes, you take Borton, George Borton. So I call him.”
George Borton came and I had my car. I said, ”I drive to Sault Ste. Marie. You come with me. I want to buy that house. I have to sign the woman off with the money. He said, “I don’t drive with you for nothing either.” I said, “I know.” He charged me fifty bucks to Sault Ste. Marie. By that time the gas was cheap.
So we went to Sault Ste. Marie to Mrs. Robinson. She had the keys from the house and she owed it. So Borton said, “Mrs. that man wants to buy that house from you.” She said, “Yes, he can if he pays me thousand dollars.” I told the woman, “Yah! I pay it right away if she gives me a piece of paper that I got the right for the house.” She said, “Yes, I do.” So I took my wallet, put that thousand dollars on the table. I said, “This is yours. I give you hundred dollars extra for the trouble we cost you.”
So I brought out the thousand one hundred dollar that cost the house. So she signed it over. We went from Sault Ste. Marie to Webbwood in the Town Hall, by the Reeve, by the Mayor. So I said, “George you talk to the Mayor. You can talk better than I do.” So he talked to him that we did bought the house, that we paid hundred dollars more. The Mayor said, “That’s nice. So you got the house. You have to pay the back taxes before you can move in.” I said, “Okay then let me go home to John Klepich and get me my money and pay you the thousand dollars. Yah!”
So I paid thousand dollars for the town, thousand dollars for the woman. I had a four-room house. Ah when we came in that house it was full of rats. That was not occupied for years so the rats had the real freedom. So they did what they wanted. We did nothing else but buy muskrats food for the rats. That what it was called muskrats. Yah! And they died one after the other one until we were finished with them. Then I told Ursula, I said, “Ursula we make the house nice.” So we planted trees outside we went in the bush and got trees and planted trees on the borderline all around. So they grew. We were lucky. Yah!
Chapter 25 – Ursula’s Restaurant
We stood in there for two years and we were figuring out how to get even with John Klepich and the rest of the restaurants. There were five restaurants in that town. I said to Ursula, “We build a restaurant.” She said, “We got five already.” I said, “The best food will live and the cheapest food.”
So we bought lumber little by little. One day we went with the car in the country and there we seen an old building. We went out of the car, went over to the building and looked inside. There was no door, no windows that was all scrap. Ah, there was a hardwood floor and lumber. We had enough lumber if we broke it down.
I said to Ursula, “We have to find out to whom that belongs.” So we went to the next house, next to the building. We didn’t know it was a school, the building. So I asked. I said, “To whom belongs that building.” He said, “That belongs to me.” I said, “Can I buy it?” He said, “You’re welcome.” I said, “Thank you. How much you want? You make the price.” He said, with his deep voice, “Twenty-five bucks.” I said, “What!” Yah! That’s what I said, “Twenty-five bucks.” I said, “Okay it’s sold.’ “I want it clean sweeping clean. I don’t want to see anything after that. You have to haul everything away.” I said, “Okay that’s a deal.”
So I paid him twenty-five bucks for that building and I found out in the meantime that was Birch Lake School. The first school in Birch Lake. There was a hardwood floor in. That made it a nice floor for our dining room in our restaurant. I told Ursula, “That makes a nice floor in the dining room.”
So the Sunday came, we were sitting at home, out on the highway, on the chairs in front of the house and saw the traffic go by and we were talking about it; that we wanted to build up the fifth restaurant. Yah! So the Monday came. Ursula was working in the hospital as cook. Yah! She had to cook and I was going on Monday morning with two kids and break down the school. By that time we knew it was a school. The first Birch Lake School. Yah! We broke it down little by little, day after day. It took us six months to break the school down and build a little bit onto the house for our restaurant which was suppose to be a restaurant.
Chapter 26 – Building A Dream
Yah! We started; I had two workers. One Negro and one white one. I paid them ten dollars an hour by that time and they worked like slaves. I didn’t have to tell them do something, they did. For ten dollars work and work they did. Yah! Ursula came home from work; we had broken down one wall from the house. What was the cold shed. Yah! We had broke down that one already. It looked funny. At least the house was rat free. We had no more rats.
So Ursula was working, I was working, so when we came home together at night we exchanged each achievement. What we achieved each. So I achieved the most.
Then I broke it down and I brought some back in on the car. Yah! I had a rag on top and I brought it by car. When I came to the floor on the school building, I took the floor really careful out. So I could use every hardwood piece again without splitting or cracking it. So I brought that floor home one night it was a big bundle and I had not enough room for the second bundle. So I brought home two bundles all together, hardwood floor.
Ursula looked on it that night and said, “Boy you were working.” I said, “Yes, the kids too. They carried it to the car. Yah! The kids helped me too, especially Jutta. Yah! She was good Yah!”
When we had the school nearly finished, I started building on the so-called restaurant, which we wanted to build up. I used the house, the living room of the house, as the restaurant part. And I wanted to open up the new part for the teenagers as dance hall; because, I seen the teenager, that they were hanging out on the street and doing bad things. I wanted the kids to have fun, clean fun. Yah! That’s what I wanted.
When we started building and building we came day after day closer to our finishing. Then one day we had the police and asking if I had a building permit. I said, “Yes I got a building permit you want to see it come with me.” So the policeman came with me I showed the building permit and he said, “Okay”. So, from there on he never bothered us again. So we built it slowly ah, surely a restaurant. It looked every day different than the day before.
And we said, I told Ursula, to each other we said, “Ursula, soon we will open up our fifth restaurant.” And she said, “I hope you’re right.” I told her, I said, “If it goes for me. We got luck to open up. I got hope Yah!”
Those two workers, that George, the white one, and Norm the Negro, they really helped us. They worked without telling them. They had to work. They got ten dollars an hour, where the hour was five dollars and something. I gave them ten dollars and they worked like slaves. Yah!
Then, when we were nearly finished, I said, “Norm you are my first waitress in the restaurant. You go on the table and ask the people what they want. You get dressed decent and go to that job.” “Oh”, he said, “I never did that before.” I said, “We all have to learn. I never ran a restaurant before we all have to learn. Yah!”
Chapter 27 – Opening Day
We worked our eight hours a day for seven months to build that restaurant. When the restaurant was finished we had an opening. On the 20 February in 1964. Yah! I will never forget that day. That was our opening day, and we had a hundred fifty teenagers dancing in the dancehall. They were crowed like herring. They were stepping one on top of the other’s toe. That’s how close they were together. And they had to dance. I had a band. That pulled.
We had dances every Saturday evening. And I had a band every Saturday. When we had the restaurant, we hired a waitress. We couldn’t do everything alone. We were busy. Yah! The other restaurant owners were looking over the railing of the other one. At the restaurant, that we were busy and they had nothing.
And that went on for a few months. Until the first one declared bankruptcy that was John Klepich; who wanted to break my neck. He told me that in front of people. ‘I break your neck.’ Yah! So he broke his own. Yah!
We didn‘t say anything else, “Ah the first one is gone. Yah! The first one is gone”. Ursula was happy. Yah! Ursula couldn’t work in the hospital anymore; I need her to cook in the restaurant. And we cooked and we baked, and we sold stuff. Then one day we were running out of waitress. I didn’t want to hire anyone else anymore because they sold cigarettes underneath the counter for nothing. That’s why I didn’t trust the waitress anymore.
To my daughter Jutta I said, “Jutta, you help us. You be the waitress. I pay you the same as I pay the grownup.” She was thirteen years of age. I told her, “I pay you the same as I pay the other ones”. So she said, “Do I?” Yah, she was. “You go with the teenagers. You serve the teenagers and I serve the grown ups.”
So Jutta served the teenagers. She was sitting with them on the table and talking; and, I was serving the grown up. Peter, he filled the pop cooler and mopped the floor.
He didn’t like to work in the restaurant. He only liked his music and his motorcycle. Mam said he was stubborn like me. Ah the kids liked him. He wasted away his money. He would buy everything for his friends.
So in the meantime by the dancehall the teenagers brought liquor and dope into the restaurant and they sold it, for money. So I had the police on my neck to do something about it. “The kids are selling liquor and dope”, I told the police. “I will do something.” The police went. I was talking to Ursula I said, “Ursula, we have to do something about it. The kids got dope and beer and liquor we have to do something about it”. So we were thinking and thinking and I said, “I got a solution. Maybe you don’t like it maybe you like it.” I said, “We close down the dancehall and make a dining room out of it.” “Again building?” I said, “There is no building. You got the dancehall floor finished, wall finished, ceiling finished. The only thing what you need is different kind of tables. Single tables, big ones so they can sit on it five people.” I said, “And one thing we need too, a high chair for the babies when the people come with the kids so they got a high chair. We forgot that by the opening. Yah!”
Chapter 28 – Dancing to Dining
So now we had the kids closed down with dancing. They were running around on the street again and doing bad things. So the police was busy and we were busy in the dining room.
One day a guy came in with a family so he said, “What kind of joint is that?” I said, “That’s not a joint that’s a restaurant sir.” So he said, “Can we eat here?” I said, “Yes you can eat here. Sit on the table, I bring you the menu.” So he was sitting on the table and getting the menu from me the first thing he asked, “What kind of potatoes. I said, “Mashed potatoes.” He said, “That kind of flaky ones?” I said, “No, instant mashed potatoes”. “No, I don’t like it.” I said, “Sir. You see if you like it or not. If you don’t like, you don’t have to pay the meal. You get if for nothing.” He said, “That’s a deal. Okay.”
So I went into the kitchen, I told her, “I had trouble with him about the mashed potatoes, make the mashed potatoes good.” So she made the meal. When it was finished, she put it on the wicket. I took it from the wicket and put it on the table. So I watched him from the wicket. He was eating with appetites. I seen it. He was wiping up with bread the plate, that’s how good it was. Then I was standing underneath the door not too far from the cash register. He came and he said, “Oh boy! That was good. I can advertise your meals. They are good.” I said, “Thank you”. He paid and he left.
One day we had trouble. I had the dining room full. I had five tables in there and they were all full. And one guy ordered liver and onions. They didn’t ask what kind of potatoes. They took what was coming. Then I had a hippy. He ordered the same liver and onions what the other kind ordered. He asked, “What kind of potatoes? Instant mashed?” I said, “Yes.” “I don’t like them.” I said, “You will like them. If you don’t like them you don’t have to pay the meal.” He said, “Okay that’s a deal.” So the two meals of liver and onions were finished I gave them out and they both ate. I watched the first one and they were eating with appetites I watched the second one, he was eating with appetite. He even wiped up the mashed potatoes with the bread so he could eat all the mashed potatoes. So when he was finished, I was standing on the door he walked out. I said, “Sir, you forgot to pay.” “The meal was no good,” he answered. I said, “You ate everything.” “Yah! The meal was no good”. And he left.
So the other man, who had liver and onions, said, “That liver and onions was perfect. Call the police.” I said, “No.” So he said, “I go.” So he called the police. He told the police how it happened, and what happened so the police radioed the highway up direction Blind River/Sault Ste. Marie. So the police came in to us and told me that they found the guy who didn’t pay the meal. They bring him down here and he pays. And I said, “Thank you”. I asked him if he wants a cup of coffee. He said, “That won’t be too bad. I have a cup of coffee.” “Okay,” I said, ”it’s on the house Yah!” Yah! The police and the guy just came in and paid the meal, which he tried to swipe from us. I said, “Thank you.” to the police and “Thank you.” to the guy.
Chapter 29 – The Restaurant Years
We had in the mean time, one restaurant closed down again. There were only three left, two other ones and us. So we were busy. We opened up six in the morning and we go one o’clock at night strong. After twelve o’clock the hotel came. The people from the hotel; drunk. Yah! So, two years after, we were the only one restaurant in Webbwood out of five. We were the only one who was still going.
So out of the two restaurant that were left, they closed down two and we were the only ones left in the whole neighbourhood. And we were busy like bees and the people loved it and we had fun. Yah! So the days gone by we opened up our restaurant early in the morning until late at night. That was going on for years.
And the wife said, “We never worked in our life so hard like we did in the restaurant.” “Yah!” I said, “Yes, you’re right. We are working long hours.” So we opened up day after day and we had and were busy from day to day, especially in the summer time with the tourist. We didn’t have to make any advertising in the radio or television. The people made our advertising for us. Yah! They liked our cooking. We had more business than anybody else. Yah!
So the years were gone we got older and wiser and happier in the restaurant. Yah! We both got weight. We didn’t get our meals regular. We had a cup of coffee in the morning and by noon I was still sipping on it. I had no time to drink my coffee. So we eat only what was left over from the deep fryer, from the French fries. We only ate those little wee ones. We had no time for the meals. We had to steal it away by standing up and working. We had to eat beside it. We did that for eleven years. Yah!
We had a horse, a Shetland pony. I went with him on the store in the cart. They took a picture on us. We saved that pony. He was going to the slaughter. Yah. King ate cheeseburgers from the window in the kitchen. Yah, everybody knew King.
When the eleven year came, and we were busy, we made in two months in July and August, we turned over nine thousand dollars, the wife and myself.
Peter had a motorbike. Since he had the motorbike he was going steady and he was hanging out at Borton’s Fina . I made him work. He didn’t like work. He was stubborn. I never had to hit Jutta. Peter I did. He left then. Where we didn’t know. We had to hire a private investigator to find out where he is. Jutta shipped him money. Every week Jutta shipped him money with Elwood Patterson. We know that too we just didn’t say anything. So wherever Peter left, we had to pay rent. He didn’t pay rent. Yah! We had to pay it. Finally he moved to British Columbia. For himself he made it hard. He lived on an island with no hydro. He lived like that until 1977. Jutta asked him to come home for a visit. He came for a visit then. Then after that he moved back.
Chapter 30 – The Good Years
We had it good now. We took time off in the summer. We took the kids on a holiday. We took them to the States we took them to the French River and to Blind River in the camp. I had a good boat with the steering wheel. It went good. That didn’t last too long because summer was our busy time. We had to be open. Yah!
We closed one Saturday our restaurant and went to Sudbury shopping for a car for Jutta and for us. Which we wanted, we know already. We wanted a Corona sports car, two door. We had a good deal because we wanted to buy two cars and cash. We had a good deal on it. So we asked Jutta what kind of car she wants to buy she said she don’t know too many. We had our car we asked the mechanic how long it takes that car is finished for the road. So he said, “It takes about two to three hours then she is road finished.” Then in the meantime, Jutta makes up her mind that she wants to buy a Corolla, cash. She had a good deal on it too. The same like we did. We both had a good deal on. So we asked when is Jutta’s car finished? “Ah it takes about, Monday/Tuesday.” he said. “We deliver it.” “Yah!” I said, “That is good you deliver it. So we waited. Jutta drove our car home. She said, “Does that car ever drive good. Yah!” So we went home the next day, Sunday, we opened up the restaurant like regular. We did our duty, Jutta and us. Monday, the same thing. Jutta looked out of the door to see if her car is coming, ah nothing. So we said, “It comes tomorrow”. So the Tuesday came. She looked out of the door, stood outside on the stairway. No car coming. So we waited. Jutta waited. We said, “Wednesday the car is here for sure.” So it was Wednesday noon, when the car came. The guy came in and said, “I got Jutta’s car.”
So Jutta went out right away sitting in the car and thinking ‘That’s my car’. So the delivery guy and Jutta went in the car. He teached her how to shift, how easy she is driving. So, how long we didn’t know and how far they went we didn’t know ether, but they went quite a while. But, he teached her really good.
So that week she went at night with the car after the restaurant closed, drove it for a while came home went to bed got up the next morning did her duty. And so we had two new cars. We had a damn good deal on it a really good deal on it.
In the restaurant we knew lots of people. Even the salesmen were friends. Ken Jack the Cecutti Bread man, Garth from the Massey Wholesale, Dougy the Milkman, and John the Toastmaster Bread man. Even the police we were friends with. Everybody knew us. Yah. Everybody knew us.
We could close the restaurant on Mondays now to go to the National Grocers in Sudbury. When we didn’t go we went on the skidoo on Mondays with Calvin Pierce and the wife Rita. We went ski-dooing with Billy Brandon too. We had lots of friends and had skidoo parties all the time. We had good fun.
We had fun. We had Winter Carnival races and gave a trophy to the winner. Jutta was third. She used Mam’s machine. A Puma Yah! I had a Moto-ski long track. It was a good one. Hal Cummings wanted me to buy a Skidoo but I didn’t. Mine was better. Donald Dodge sold us the Moto-ski and Arctic Cat. We got a good deal.
Chapter 31 – Just The Two Of Us
So Sunday came in 1972. I told Jutta, no more Pat. She had to choose him or us. I made the rules. So she moved out. First Peter then Jutta. We didn’t know where. Jutta went first to Sudbury, then to Toronto. We found out, she didn’t told us that. We found out, she didn’t told us then.
They came back and got married. I told Mam we would not go. We didn’t go. She asked us and I said ‘No”. I did go. I drove by myself and saw her come out of the church. Mam was at home. I saw that Peter went there.
So they went, we lost her anyway. So they went one year, it was two years before they come home the first time. And Jutta came in; Pat was sitting outside in the car. So Jutta said, “Mom and Dad, you have to accept Pat, we’re married.” That was like a heavy stone who dropped Yah! It took a while before we heard the word ‘we do accept’. It took a while. We finally said it. It was not the way most people say they accept the son-in-law. It was not in ours. It was an unwanted one. Yah! They lived in Toronto a year.
Next year and Jutta said they have to go to Ottawa. I said, “ Ottawa!” I said, “Ottawa, what you want in Ottawa?” “A job” I said, “A job for you?” She said, “work at the Canadian Tire.” I said, “Go Yah! You go.”
And we had the restaurant for eleven years until we couldn’t do it anymore we were too tired. And that was the end. I said, “Ursula, we can’t do it anymore. We sell it.” When Jutta left us for to go to Ottawa we closed every Monday our restaurant until we sold it. We closed every Monday since she were gone to Ottawa. So we tried to sell it and one day, come the guy.
And he asked, “How much you want for the restaurant?” I said “To get rid of it”, to Ursula, “we don’t ask too much “. To get rid of it we asked thirty-three thousand dollars and I paid only two thousand dollars and twenty-five dollars for the school and we made thirty-three thousand in one night. We sold it in the evening. Yah!
Yah! We sold our restaurant to a single guy. He used right in the morning, a bad language. He had teenagers working with bad behaviour and he didn’t have the restaurant too long. He bankrupted himself by drinking and using the bad language to the people. And so that was our restaurant and is now no more there.
And the guy who bought it we didn’t know that he was an alcoholic. He got drunk right in the morning and used the bad language had teenagers working as waitress and behind the cash. We went there once it was not our restaurant anymore. That was a run down business, really run down.
Chapter 32 – Living in the Camp
So, we then we sold it and we got a summer camp on the lake as the down payment and he paid us by cash from the finance company and we had our cash, thirty-three thousand dollars in the bank. So we moved into that summer camp. And I said, “Honey, we have to do something about that. We want to stay in the winter and that is not insulated.”
We were in the camp on Birch Lake. Yah! The township of Shakespeare we had a summer camp we winterized it we had a mortgage on it we paid off the mortgage the house was totally ours
So we came to the conclusion to insulate that summer camp. So we did. When we were finished with it, we had a big gas tank, a two thousand gallon gas tank full of propane gas. We had propane stove in the living room. Yah! We made that camp a home we build it and build it until we were finished and enjoyed it.
It was a quiet life. We worked hard getting the wood getting the water making the garden. We had the CB radio then. Yah! We had the handle Papa Bear and Mama Bear. We made good friends on the CB. We went to Jamborees and had fun. That’s how we met Keith and Dorothy. Yah, and Tom and Nancy from the States. Yah! We were good friends. They gave us property in Michigan and we gave them property on the camp. They came to us and we went on them. Yah! We used the CB all the time. Like a telephone. It was good fun. We had lots of friends. When Keith and Dorothy didn’t come up anymore, Tom and Nancy said to sell the little camp. So we sold it to Blackbird. (Landry) Our CB friends from Espanola. We gave Jutta a CB too. She was the Baby Bear. Yah!
We were there when Julie was born in 1974. We babysat for Jutta. We like that. The kids came out on skidoo and had good fun. Yah! On the ice on the lake yah they had fun. We drove the snow machine into Webbwood every day to baby-sit. Yah! We did that for Jutta.
We had the bar-B-Q in the summertime. We ate on the patio. It was cool in the shade. We sat outside from morning to night.
So we enjoyed it. Then one day I told Ursula. I said, “We should sell that camp that’s too much trouble in the winter to go in and out. That was two miles off the road. We had to use snow machine. So we had snow machines. We drove in and out that way by snow machine. We had the car by our next-door neighbour, out on the road. From then on we took our car to Espanola and wherever we wanted to go by car.
So we sold the camp. We paid eighteen thousand dollars, we insulated it and we sold it for twenty-three thousand dollars. So we made it money on it too. We didn’t counted our hours which we put in for insulation we didn’t counted that so we made money. We made good again.
Chapter 33 – The Senior Place in Webbwood
So we moved to Webbwood, in the senior home where we stood for five years. We moved the new senior home but before we moved in we had to sign a piece of paper that said ‘I am the janitor’. We didn’t have anybody that took the janitor job. Yah! So I signed up for it and we moved in. So the time went over and more and more people moved in. So I told the manager, “There are more people in now. Can you find a janitor so we live in peace and quiet in that apartment?” So he said, “I can try.”
So he tried and he came a couple of months later and he said, “I got a new janitor. You are relieved.” So I said, “Thanks.” We were security for long enough. The buzzer and the alarms was too much trouble. Mam (Ursula) had trouble doing all the cleaning. So we let someone else do that.
Then I had a stroke in the garden. I was flat down in the dirt. I went by ambulance to the hospital. I couldn’t speak at the first. I had trouble with the whole side. The doctor said to work on it and I get better but maybe I don’t. So I worked on the physio and made myself better. Yah! I surprised everybody.
Jutta had a house in Webbwood too. She had Julie first then Randy. When we moved to town Mam (Ursula) was the babysitter. Jutta still worked ah in Espanola. Julie went in the school ah Randy was a baby. Yah!
I worked for the Recreation making the dances for the kids and at the end the town gave me a plaque. Yah, I got the dances going for the young people. When they needed someone for the Winter Carnival dance I played the music on the dance. Yah! I had good music top ten. I ordered new on Walley’s all the time. I thought I should make a business playing the music.
Chapter 34 – Peter Comes Home
Peter moved from B.C. He came back Yah! He was not the same ah he was still stubborn. He didn’t listen to us.
Peter was sick. Yah. He had polio when he was little and we took him to Toronto for that. To the Sick Kids Hospital. He went to Timmins for the camp with the Cripple Children. He flew from Sudbury. He was always with the brace. Peter wasn’t good in the school. He wasn’t smart.
Peter lived in Sudbury in the 1980’s. He worked for Jaworski in Sudbury and they didn’t keep him. He went to the court with them. Yah. He was in the court and in the paper. It was because he was a cripple. Yah he lost that. He had lots of trouble with the government. We told him to come home to Webbwood and live on the disability pension ah he didn’t listen. He was stubborn.
Peter got sick. Yah! He was very sick. He was living in McKerrow on the hotel there. He just listened to his music. All the time and sits in the hotel. We didn’t went to him to visit him. Yah.
Peter bought a trailer. Jutta put it on the farm. He lived there when he wanted to. He went to Jutta to baby-sit Julie and Randy. He played with them, he was like a big kid. Yah. They like that.
Then he was in hospital in Espanola. He had the leukemia Yah! and cerebral palsy and tuberculosis. When he died he had the pneumonia. After he died Mam and I went to the hospital. They took him to Webbwood. We buried him in Webbwood. We didn’t pay the funeral. The welfare paid. That was February 19, 1988 on my birthday.
Chapter 35 – Trouble in Webbwood
So I moved in another apartment where we were not security and we went happy. So one day the manager said he buys an electric lawnmower. So he bought an electric lawnmower so he had a gas mower for sale. So I put in to buy it. So I didn’t know that Myrtz had applied for it too.
So the manager said, “Myrtz got it Yah!” I said, “Yah!” “So I know more she said about you. So…” “So?” I said, “Yah! What?” She said I did something on the lawnmower. I said, “What? I didn’t know I could go in. The door was locked.” So, she said, “Rudy it’s better for you if you look for another apartment.” I said, “So, if that is the reason, I don’t know what I did.” “Yah! I don’t know either, ah, she said.” To make Myrtz happy they made me move me out. And then I had to move out somebody did a bad thing to us. What I was suppose to have done?
So we went to Massey first we asked if they had an apartment free. So they said, “Yah! We have two free.” He said, “I have to ask the manager”. He said, about a week or two.” So I said, “We come back and we see what the manager says.” The two weeks were over we went to Massy asked the janitor if we could move in. He said yes we could move in upstairs.
I was a DJ in Webbwood. Yah! I played the music at the dances for the kids and at the parties in the hall. I played at parties in Espanola too. Yah lots of people were calling me. I played all over in Massey too.
Chapter 36 – Move to Massey
We moved out. Yah! After eleven years in Webbwood, because we had to move, so we moved to Massey, had an upstairs apartment and lived very happy in there. We moved to Massey in the senior home too.
So we moved in on a Saturday and we moved in upstairs by that time I could still walk and had no accident no nothing. In the meantime when we were moved in, we lived our lives happily. Yah! When we moved to Massey we lived happy. We had everything that we wanted then.
Then my daughter moved to the farm. They had a farm in Birch Lake. Yah! The kids went to school in Massey. Rudy and Ursula called the Senior Complex they lived in, ‘The House’. The House was beside the school. Julie was the first to graduate. Yah! We gave her suitcases. Yah! That’s what we gave her. Then that’s what we gave Randy too. When he finished the school for the graduation he got suitcases. Yah. That was good.
Mam (Ursula) got a job at the school where Randy went. Randy was in the sports too. He was in the baseball and in the hockey. She watched the kids outside in the noon hour. So I went too. I did the same work. I didn’t like it. So Mam and I quit. I wanted her home with me.
I got another job. Yah! I was the Santa Claus. In the Mall for the kiddies. Julie came and was my helper. Yah, that was good. Everybody knew me. I would drive the car as Santa. The people laughed when they seen that
We had a big garden. Yah! Everyone in the House was jealous we had a nice one. Nobody had a garden as nice as ours. We had so much food we gave some to the people in the House. Every morning and every night we watered it. Mam picked the weeds and we put lots of food in the freezer from the garden. Yah! We had potatoes, beans, carrots, peas and cucumbers. Big ones, Yah! Everything was big in our garden. We put lots of fertilizer and we tilled it in spring and fall. The ground was black. Yah! We made a second little garden by the shed. We put tomatoes there. They were big ones. Yah! We got lots of tomatoes. We ate tomatoes everyday. Yah!
We had American friends, Tom and Nancy that came here. We seen the first time in the restaurant those were our friends we made friends in the restaurant with them. We talked to them on the CB from the camp. So we lived in Massey and they visit us. For nineteen years we lived in Massey.
Chapter 37 – My Time With Ursula
So we lived our life the normal decent way and all of a sudden the wife got sick. So she went to the doctor the doctor didn’t say anything he checked her out. He said, “Don’t walk anymore. You’re sick. You’re a sick woman. Yah! So we went home and Ursel couldn’t figure out what was wrong with her but she always told me ‘I die before you’. But I couldn’t believe it because I was older, fifteen years older than she was. So I would go first, but no, she always said ‘I die first before you’.
And one day the time came when she got really sick she got bedridden. She came to the doctor. She went to the doctor. And the doctor said, “You’re a very sick woman, you don’t know.” So she said, “I know that I die before my husband.” So the doctor said, “You might be right.” And then we went home and lived our daily life the normal easy way.
Ursula’s Doctor diagnosed her with severe pneumonia and gave her medication to improve her respiration and control her coughing up blood. He never took X-rays or ordered any testing to be done. Unfortunately this treatment missed discovering there was cancer in her left lung.
So one day my wife got sick so we were at home in Massey and I wanted her to go to the doctor. She said, “It’s not that bad. I go later.” So she waited a while and she went to the doctor and the doctor didn’t mention anything about cancer. He mentioned nothing. So she went to the doctor. He prescribed her medicine. She took the medicine and the pain went and she had no more pain.
Ursula did not seem to be getting better and was concerned enough to ask her daughter to take her to Sudbury to see another doctor. Doctor Toth was on call and when he saw her lung x-rays admitted her to hospital immediately and two days later surgeons removed half of her left lung hoping to contain the lung cancer. She felt quite positive that everything would turn out all right.
That went on for 2 years. So one day she was so sick that she couldn’t stand it anymore. So we went by the doctor. The doctor didn’t know. He shipped her by the hospital for X-rays. So she went for X-rays and waited.
Ursula had taken a fall in the apartment and thought she had bruised her hip. She took a few pain tablets to ease her discomfort but over the course of the weekend the pain was worse and eventually she couldn’t stand up anymore. It was necessary to get her to hospital for treatment and it was discovered that she had a broken hip. She had surgery that night and after the operation the doctor told her that there was cancer in the hip causing the weakness and ultimately the break.
She had a notice from the doctor that she had cancer. So he prescribed her medicine so she took the medicine the medicine helped for the pain but it didn’t stop the cancer the cancer grew.
Going to the Sudbury Cancer Centre for chemo treatments every three months was trying. Surrounded by cancer patients in various stages was both depressing and hopeful. Nights in the hostel sharing a room with her daughter, Ursula would share her worries, her memories and her hopes for a future.
So after that, a long time, after that, she couldn’t do it anymore. The pain. The medicine didn’t help anymore. One day the wife got too sick and got bedridden so she went to the hospital. So in the hospital she was there over a week, and the last three days of her life, my daughter Jutta, went with her and slept with her day and night and I was home.
So one day about a week after I had a telephone call at night, so I answered the phone and on the other side was my daughter. She told me, “Dad are you prepared?” I said, “What?” “Mom passed away.” I said, “No!” She said, “Yah! Just about an hour ago.” So I went up and got dressed and went to Espanola. Jutta waited and waited until she died. Yah! So she went in the hospital with my daughter and in August the 13 in 1998, she passed away on cancer in the whole body. That was our last we were together. Yah! Mam and I were married for 52 years. Yah!
August 13th, 1998 was the night Ursula passed away Jutta called to let the family know. Daughter Julie went with her dad to let Rudy know that Ursula was gone.
My daughter she was smart by that time. She made arrangements with the funeral home and my wife Ursula was laid out in the funeral home in Massey. The funeral home was full of people, that’s how many friends she had. Full of people. We didn’t wait for Randy to come. She was buried the same day that she died in Webbwood. So then we were all alone. It was lonesome.
Ursula’s funeral was held in Massey at the funeral home the day after she died and buried in the Webbwood Protestant Cemetery in the family plot beside her son Peter. The complex they lived in had a luncheon after the service allowing her friends to reflect on her generosity, her goodness and her strength of character. Her business was in order and she had left something precious that was her very own to each of the grandchildren.
Julie married Anthony in October that year and Rudy could not bring himself to attend the ceremony in Sudbury but he did come to the reception in Espanola for a while where he was very emotional.
So Julie she got married. Yah. To Anthony. He was a nice boy. He was from Sudbury and Julie met him in the school. He was clean and polite. They moved to Toronto because Julie went to the university. Yah. The good jobs were in Toronto.
Chapter 38 – The Accident
So, my daughter came often and visit me. In 1999 I went in the car to Espanola to make my driver’s license. I went to the drugstore and left with my medicine to go to my driver’s license test. A dump truck hit me from the broadside. Right on the right-hand side down on the car. My car was a total! Yah! I was in the hospital for one month and then I was sick for a whole year. I had home help, two home helps for a year. Yah! The insurance paid for it so when I was ready in Massey I went back to having one home help. I didn’t bought a car again. I was scared to drive.
The insurance company had to sue the driver of the truck who insisted that the accident was not his fault as it was too foggy to see the traffic light had changed from green to red. Rudy was fortunate that the accident had not cause more bodily damage or death as he sustained a broken collarbone, skull fracture, and numerous body contusions. Hospital staff was amazed at the rate of his recovery and sent him home after only two weeks.
Chapter 39 – Great-Grampa
In 2001 Rudy’s first great-grandchild was born in North Bay. Randy had a son Riley Craig Thaxter. He was born healthy and everyone was happy. Immediately
Randy was in the school in North Bay. Yah in the college. He had a baby with Laura. My first great great grandson. Randy had it hard in the school and with a baby. Yah. He made his bed the hard way. Ah, now he had his family.
Now the kids were far away. I was alone. Yah I was lonesome. Jutta said to go in the common room ah I don’t like it. I walked Sammy in the hall in the day. He was my only company.
Joan and Michael were my friends. Joan cooked my food and fed me. Michael did the hard work for me. It was hard because I was lonesome
Life continued quietly for Rudy in the Massey Senior Complex. He began calling BINGO on a regular basis. He joined his neighbours in the activities of the building such as giving out Halloween treats, potluck dinners, and pizza night. He donated his Christmas tree to the building enjoying it in the common room and toasted in the New Year there.
Chapter 40 – Great-Grampa Again
Jutta got a boyfriend. Yah! He’s nice. He talks to me. I ask her I said “Are you going to get married?” “ She told me “Yah! One day I will marry him”. Yah he’s English. An Englishman. He takes Jutta on the trips all over the world.
Julie and Anthony bought a house in Sudbury. Yah we went to see it in Sudbury. They do good the kids. The house is nice. Julie has it nice. She got Mam’s (Ursula’s) china cabinet and the clock. Yah she got them. Randy got Mam’s sewing machine. Yah, the old Singer. That was hers.
In March of 2003 Rudy’s granddaughter Julie had a baby girl. Jessica Lynne was born in Sudbury healthy and everyone was happy.
Julie and Anthony had a Christening party and Great Grampa was invited to come and celebrate.
Chapter 41 – Rudy Hears From His Son
In October 2003, while Jutta was away with Brian in England, Rudy got a call from a man. He asked if he was talking to Rudy Mende formerly of Falkenberg Germany. Rudy told him he was. The man asked him if he was married to a lady named Ella and had a son called Harald and Rudy said yes. Then the man told him “I am your son Harald.”
When Jutta came home she got a message on her answering machine stating, “Jutta, I talked with your brother. Yah, I talked to him. He is going to call again. Yah, call me when you get this message. Yah call me.”
Rudy was exhilarated. They exchanged addresses and telephone numbers. Rudy told Harald about Jutta and they too exchanged letters and information. Rudy was going to be 90 and Jutta felt an urgency to have Rudy and Harald reunite sooner than later. It had also been many years since she had seen family from Germany. Brian suggested that they go to Germany, visit family and invite Harald and his wife Anne Marie to return to Canada to join Rudy for his 90th birthday party. Rudy’s grand children were to pick him up and bring him to the restaurant in Espanola and Jutta, Brian Harald and Anne Marie would come in and join the celebration. A snowstorm cancelled the arrival of the plane so Brian rented a car to drive from Toronto to Sudbury. Then the foursome went to the birthday party.
When Jutta visit Germany with Brian she visits all our relations. And there she found my son. Yah! I will never forget the 90th birthday where Jutta and Brian came with a man and a woman. So she brought my son into Canada and when they came I didn’t recognize him because I didn’t had seen him since he was small.
I figured that was Indian. He was so tanned from skiing all winter Rudy was thinking “What does he want here? That is a private party there are no strangers”
So Jutta was talking to his wife, I was sitting quiet I didn’t talk to the guy. Jutta came and said, “Dad that is your son.”
I said, “What?” And then Harald said, “Yah!” “That is your son Harald.” I was shocked he is so big now and with a wife Yah! We haven’t seen each other for 56 years. Yah! 56 years we haven’t seen each other. Yah! That was a surprise for me a real surprise. That ninetieth year I will never forget. Yah!
So I learned Harald and I learned Anne Marie his wife. So we went the next day together. He brought me as birthday present, a regulator, a clock, a wall clock with a Westminster gong.
So the next day he came up to me with his wife and he said, “Dad I put the clock together so you know how it sounds. Yah!” So he put the clock together I gave him all the batteries he wanted. He needed six of them so I gave them to him he set the clock. I don’t know what time it was.
I said, “Is she going?” He said, “Yes, she gongs on the hour.” So we waited on the hour. The hour was full; the clock gonged. It was eleven times was eleven o’clock in the morning and from there on I got the clock going.
Chapter 42 – Grampa and Great Grampa Again
Harald had a son too. His son had two girls. Sophie and Yasmin. Their mother is Claudia.
André like his father and his grandfather before him was in the German army. André trained to work in the field of air traffic control at the Templehof Airport in Berlin. When he is done in his training he will leave the army and find work.
André is a good boy. He has two kiddies. They are the same like Riley and Jessica. The same age. Yah.
So Harald, he got two grandchildren already. I have three. Julie, Randy, and André. André he is quiet the same like the father. Harald will not wait too long when he will be Great Grampa like me. Yasmin and Sophie are Harald’s son Andre’s two girls Yah! Yasmin and Sophie the two girls. Yah! That’s a new name. Then too bad he doesn’t have a boy. Yah! I have four great grand children.
Harald and myself we talk to each once a week on the telephone once him and once me who pays. So they talk of coming back the following year. So they tried to get tickets. For the tickets they were out of luck. There was no such a thing for him anymore; they were all busy. So he called me and said, “Dad I am coming soon as I can.”
And I said, “Yes son.” We can talk on the phone. It is cheaper. Yah! So we talk each on the phone until now. I have seen him once and that minute in the moment that is enough what I seen him.
Yah! Jutta’s daughter, Julie she has only one girl, Jessica. And Randy he has a boy, Riley. So my daughter had two kids a boy and a girl I was four times Great Grampa. The time later was Grampa and when they had family I was Great Grampa again so I was five times no four times Great Grampa and three times Grampa.
Now Julie is married and working. She does good. Yah! Now Randy is working and he has the boy. Yah good he has him. He works in Sudbury. Ah he comes here to see me. He brings with him a new girlfriend with a little one. Yah that’s nice. He’s a man now and does a man’s job. His house is in Sudbury ah far from here. I don’t go out it’s too far.
The kids are busy with the work and the house. Ah when they come to see their Mother (Jutta Rudy’s daughter) they come by me. I see Riley and I see Jessica on the house. Yah they are nice kids. I like to see the ah Sudbury is too far. Jutta works on the town and has a house in Elliot Lake now. She does good too. My kids (grandchildren) are all working.
Yah. Harald, Anne Marie and Brian are retired. Like me. Jutta goes with Brian to visit Harald and the family in Germany. That’s too far. I went one time ah nobody was at home in Falkenberg. That was too bad. I could have seen my son ah no one was at home. Ah that was the way it turned out. Now I seen him and I see Jutta. So I see the kids. Jutta and Brian come by me. Brian watches the soccer and Jutta fixes my mail.
Chapter 43 – Elliot Lake
Physically Rudy’s years were catching up with him. His doctor recommended he be placed in a nursing home so Rudy had applied in Sudbury where is daughter was going to college and his grandchildren Julie and Randy lived. The waiting list was very long. Applications were sent out to various homes along the north shore. Vacancies were non-existent and there would be a waiting period at all homes.
Then after nineteen years living in Massey my daughter went to Elliot Lake and she found out how the seniors lived there. She didn’t tell me anything about it first. So she found out how the seniors live here in the senior manor.
So she came to me and said, “Dad I think it’s better you move.” I said, “Yah? Where?” She said, “To Elliot Lake.” “That doesn’t sound too good.” “Yah! Elliot Lake. You get good food there and they got the doctor right there. If something happened, you got the doctor right there.”
So, in December 2005, Elliot Lake phoned me and I am suppose to move right away if I can. So my daughter took the telephone and told them, “Yes.” I moved right away so my future son-in-law Brian and Jutta helped me move. So my daughter moved me. She and Brian brought my stuff from the apartment to the Manor. Yah they help me quite a bit.
When I came to Elliot Lake I seen it was two-room apartment and my daughter moved me in there. So I got my food, I got my laundry; I got my bed and everything from the senior home from the Manor. Yah! So the food is good in Elliot Lake the people are nice to seniors. We got the nurse right there. The doctor is available any minute.
Yah! I am getting older I have my birthday the ninety-third. I said, “Jutta.” I said, “Jutta, I might make the hundred full. Yah!” “That is fine that you can make the hundred full.” So we still hope and pray that I make the hundred full
So I went with my Sammy in that new apartment in Elliot Lake, which is very nice. I’m quite used to it. Sammy too. We are both quite used to it. So I will see what the time brings. I am ninety-two now. As far as I am concerned I will live one hundred years. I wish I would. Yah! My family is grown and I am lonesome now. I know I lose Sammy soon. He’s more than 12 years old. I think I lose him soon. Yah!
I got to meet some people. Some were nice and some were not.
One guy kept coming in my room and I told him “Get out! Yah! Get out now!” He didn’t go so I turned him around and he got mad and pushed me yah! The nurses came down and they put him in his room Yah. He needs to be watched. He is trouble for me. I don’t want him in my room.” “I don’t want to make trouble ah he cannot come in my room.” Now he is gone.
There are lots of people. The people at my table are the same ones all the time. I talked with them and one guy said he knew me. Yah! He was the Toastmaster Bread man at the restaurant. Toastmaster Yah. He delivered to the restaurant. That is John. I sit with Elma, Theresa, Ellen and Agnes too, and Alan too.
My great grand children come and see me and play on my bed. Up and down Yah! They like that. The kids are far away. Yah! Too far. I am lonesome. I only have Jutta and Brian and with Harald I talk on the telephone. Yah, that’s it.
In St. Joseph Manor are a variety of senior citizens from all over the world who have settled in Elliot Lake. The residents represent many nationalities. Rudy is one of several with a German heritage.
After spending a few weeks to settle in, Rudy was asked to call BINGO for the weekly bingo game on the second floor. Later he was invited to call for the first floor weekly game as well. He was asked to play Santa at the Christmas party in the Manor.
Chapter 44 – The End Of The Book But Not The End Of Me
Yah I wake up early. Six o’clock. Then I get dressed and lie on the bed until breakfast. Then I go and eat. I come back and have my bath or watch the television and listen to the radio. I take care of Sammy and wait for the lunch. After the lunch then I go back home. Yah. I have a rest and listen to music or the radio. I don’t do too much. It is a lonesome life. They tell me when it’s time for supper. I go to the dining room and eat. I call the bingo two days every week. Yah. Sometimes Jutta and Brian come. Sometimes I have to go out. I get ready for the bed at 7:30 and then I go to bed. That is all what I do.
Rudy is now a favourite amongst the staff and most of the residents as is Sammy the cat. Although now limping with arthritis and spending most of the day sleeping, Sammy strolls through the hallway like a king. Rudy is the only resident with permission to have a cat on the second floor.
So the days will go by and I will get older and older not wiser anymore and my wisdom is to end. So God bless us and this is my end. So this is my life as immigrant who came in 1951 to Canada with a baby carriage a pee pee pot and diapers.
My whole doing from my birth, on to our restaurant, to the last days here. That is my story, my whole, true story. I wish you would think it over when you read it that is all the truth. There is no lie in between it. That is the truth. I thank you.
Good luck, happy times and a very good bye.