Pop has been planning this trip back to the old country for a long time. My belief is that regardless of all the great life he created for all of us here in America, his and Oma’s hearts still were ‘back home’ where their roots were established. Their connections back to their relatives in Germany and Switzerland remained from the very time they immigrated in the 1920’s. They established their lives here in the USA and raised their family within the comfort provided by the Lutz families and Muggensturm Americans they found here. It was truly living the American Dream.
The trip for them was a six month plan carefully orchestrated with our relatives overseas so they would be prepared to not only ‘house’ them wherever they went but transport them to Switzerland, Muggensturm to Mom’s home town, and to Bernau where Pop’s roots/relatives still are. The bulk of the travel was provided by Mom’s families in Muggensturm. That was Kurt and Rosel Angele and Karl and Katcha Kottler whose pictures you will see as we visited all these places. The trips Pop planned were not only this 1966 one, but also 1976 with Lisa and 1978 with Chris when they took the grandchildren along with them to meet everyone.
Pop was a master planner to all who knew him. He was going by ship just the way he did when he arrived here and again in 1946 when he went to see his mother for the last time. As was customary when travelling by ship, many friends including Lynn and I went on board for the Bon Voyage party. With them on the trip until separating for their individual destinations, was Anna Zittel from the Catskills also going back to see her family in Germany.
Lynn and I complicated things for all when we were able to join them for two weeks on a planned vacation organized by the IBM CLUB in New York. It could not have been more timely because our planned baby adoption had not occurred yet, and were joined by our good IBM friends Peter and Fran Schenk. Peter is also a native of Switzerland taking Fran for her first visit to his homeland. When the plane landed in Zurich, we split with each of our relatives meeting us, taking us off to a few weeks of great experiences. We are still in touch with the Schenk’s today, see each other on occasion, but the European trip for Lynn and Fran was truly enlightening. Amazingly enough throughout all of this the hospitality was fantastic and the entire bunch of us never spent a night in a hotel or in a rental car.
First Stop – Aunt Hilde in Basel Switzerland
My Aunt Hilde was hero #1 who we visited first. She put us all up for a couple of nights and we had a chance to take some trips around Switzerland. We stopped again the night before we left to go back home. She also came to America for our wedding the year before and gave us a great wedding gift by being there
I am inserting a short video clip I have from The Schenk family which Peter took when we arrived in Zurich. If you look closely, you will see Pop greeting Fran and her children and toward the end you will see Lynn and I departing to a taxi.
Peters short video clip! Its just a small piece of History!
Stop Two – On to Oma’s Village of Muggensturm
In order to get there, more of our family came to pick us up and drive us up to middle Germany where Muggensturm is located, near the City of Rastatt. I don’t recall exactly who got us but no matter we were there in a few hours. It is in the central part of Germany close to Rhine River. Here are the pictures of our host families while we were there. All took turns daily hosting us, but we were ‘housed’ with the Karl Kottler family while we were there.
The Muggensturm Kottler and Lutz History
All these folks we met are the closest relatives I have in the world at that time. The details of their history are covered in the Family history document which you can review if you wish and also some of the Laubis story in Chapter 2. When we were there already 60 years ago, all was well and we had a great time getting to know and socialize with them all. Of course since these pictures were taken, the older generation and a few of the younger have passed on. As I mentioned already, both our son Chris and Elizabeth with Lisa had opportunity to meet all the relatives in these pictures. Lynn and I had an additional opportunity by living and working in Germany during 1986 and 1987 before our retirement in 1988. Karl and Katcha Kottler, Rosel and Kurt Angele and Eric and Gerta Nuss plus later on their children all came at separate times to visit both my parents and Lynn and I over the years that followed all the way into 2010. Time flys very quickly!
Stop – 3 The final and longest stay of our trip was to Pop’s Family in Bernau
As mentioned earlier, many pictures and comments already exist in the Laubis Story in Chapter 2 about Pop’s family roots in the high Black Forest of Germany. Fortunately this was as rural a place in Germany as it gets and therefor never suffered the spoils of wars through the centuries. Life as we experienced it in 1966 was the same as it was for Chris and Lisa 10 years later. None of these folks ever came to visit us in America.
There was however, my father’s cousin Emil, who wound up in America in Chicago. Their story is also told in part in Chapter 2. Their daughter Carol, passed through our home in NY a few times on her way over to Bernau to visit our ‘shared’ relatives in Bernau. Carol married and became part of the Germanos family. The Germanos name popped into my ancestry research work and I made contact with her son Paul. Unfortunately a little too late as cousin Carol had just recently passed on. His story with more family pictures can be seen on Paul’s page on this site. Paul’s grandfather Emil was brother to Theresa Schellshorn.
The Schellshorn family owned the biggest Farmhouse in Bernau and all his family already were grown and had their own homes in Bernau so there was room for all of us to stay with them. Their house was old then but it had a bathroom which was nicely added to a section of the barn that held the cows. Interesting aroma, no problem getting business done quick! You will see in the pictures, nothing has changed much from 1966 thru our last visit there which was when we lived in Germany, working for IBM, in 1988. More on that later.
When Chris visited in 1978, he took lots of pictures and you can see them on this page, Chris 1978. But for right now, we are including our best liked pictures from our 1966 trip including a few from Chris Not much changed in those 10 years. These slides are of all stops, 1,2 and 3. Read captions and be sure to Please enjoy!
The Cow and Hay history stories
These customs go way back in German History. The master plan centuries ago was that towns were constructed in a fairly tight circle which would be surrounded by a a wider circle of land that belonged to and was divided up to each family in the town. Beyond that the open space was call the “Geminte” or the space belonging to everyone. In simplest terms, picture small villages each with a dozen or so houses sitting in the center of a pie and a slice of pie around it owned by each village family. Beyond the slices, was for everyone’s use to graze cows etc. On the pie slices of land the owner would grow hay for their cow feed and during the season of harvest, they would cut the hay load it on wagons and store it up in the barn loft and use it all winter long as feed for livestock.
The cow story! So each day one of the families was responsible for ushering everyone in village’s cows in the morning out to the common land where they would feed all day and at end of day they would be ushered back into the village. It was a relatively simple task because the cows were trained from young on how to exit their barn on command, and return back to their individual stall when the farmer doing the ushering brought them back down the streets as you see in the pictures. They were trained and very structured in their daily routines. This was a great event to watch and we really enjoyed it and took pictures.
The Hay story is a little more difficult. Remember the pie slice description above, pretend that centuries ago the pie only had 8 slices, no problem! However as generations grew the village grew as the residents had children and grandchildren. Through inheritance, the slices got divided up into even smaller slices till there were hundreds of slivers, many only maybe 20 ft. wide by 200 ft. long! Here comes the problem. The current family may now own 24 slices spread all over the place. We were there watching this ‘fiasco’ of cording off all the individual slices and harvesting only what was on one’s side of the cord. It was done using a sythe, pitch forks, loading on horse and wagon. Then back to barn and pitching the hay fork by fork into the top of the barn. Exhausting work I know. I tried it. Pops movie below shows some of it toward the end.
One night, at dinner with a whole group of our relatives, I suggested that the land be calculated according to amount owned by each family instead of all these little parcels. Then get a tractor with a hay bailer cut it all at once and split it up by the calculation defined by ownership. Well they all had a good laugh discussing the quality of hay on one hillside versus another. Well some many years later, Oma told me they got a letter that she should tell Hubert “that they finally did it all in a similar way to my suggestion.”
Pop took our Movie Camera to Capture the Trip
We are very glad he did because while all of it is not a Hollywood production, it captures a way of life in the high Black Forest village of Bernau which no longer is the same. Towards the end, it shows scenes of “bringing in the hay!” the way it was once done. If you look close, you will see Oma and I working along side the experts twirling the hay and loading the wagon. For me the office worker, I slept most of the next day due to the rigor of the work effort. Everyone else was fine!
Today, July 4, 2022 while I work on This 56 year old chapter a Big Surprise!
I have the good fortune of becoming in contact with a Muggensturm native and fellow ancestry historian, Holger Fuchs. Today I received a wonderful email from him with this picture attached. It is a picture of him with GERTA NUSS. Gerta is the sole survivor of my generation whom we first met on our 1966 Germany Trip taken by Lynn and I.
We became close to Gerta and Eric as well as their children Isolde and Ulrika, all who visited us in America at one time or another. Our last visits together was during 1986-87 when Lynn and I lived in Germany working for IBM. That story sometime later! Unfortunately, Isolde, and Eric have long passed on at this time but I have these pictures to share provided by Holger for us. But first, here is his recent email!
“Today I met Gerda in front of her assisted home. When I saw her, I stopped immediately, jumped out of the car and walked to her. She needed some time realizing who I am, because her eyes are very bad. Then I said to her: Gerda let’s take a picture of us both and guess to whom I will send it!? Hubert Laubis I said and she was so excited!!!
She looks very nice for her age and it was fun to talk with her.
After that I met Peter and U’ll at the Schützenfest. I showed Ulli the picture of Gerda and me and she told me that she wrote you some weeks ago. Bastian became a dad a few days ago, so they are grandparents again.
Lovely greetings from Muggensturm“
Holger and all the others 🙂
Almost Finished but a little more to come in this chapter…….
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