Monday, May 6, 2013

A look in the Rearview Mirror

This past weekend I participated in a class-reunion with my elementary school friends.   It was the second of such gatherings of which I didn’t make the first one since it happened in Germany.  This time, I made special arrangements to participate in the meeting which took place in my home town Nordhausen in Thüringen.

I was part of that class b from 1955 until 1961.  I loved going to school, and I remember many of my schoolmates’ names, but after 52 years I certainly couldn’t remember my colleges’ faces.  Of the almost 40 children in that original class (many were added later while some went to a different parallel class), 32 had gathered around the “Roland”  which is the symbol of the 1,000 year-old city Nordhausen and represents its power, freedom and jurisdiction.

I am using the analogy of the rearview mirror, one of which we cannot avoid to look into when driving through life.  In the past I was so much looking forward and sideways, focusing on the ideals and avoided looking back because of some difficult times.  For one thing I didn’t feel proud of my hometown, country or my heritage.  Allowing myself to look back and rebuild friendships and relationships has enriched my life tremendously.

The class reunion has brought me one more step ahead. 

From the “Roland” we walked to the Tabakspeicher which is an old tobacco storehouse turned museum dedicated to craft trades, commerce, industries, and archeology.  In the small theater we watched an original news-reel from 1956.  One of our classmates is a volunteer at the museum and was knowledgeable about all the exhibitions.  At the end we had coffee and cake in the large meeting room.  That gave us the first opportunity to warm up to new/old relationships. 

From there we were guided by a professional tour guide through the historical old town.  When we arrived on the outskirts of the city wall along “Neuer Weg,” we learned of a legendary story which is symbolized by a cross in the old city wall.

As the story goes, in the original home across from the location lived a couple who has been waiting for many years for the return of their son.  Junior had gone out into the world and unbeknownst to his parents acquired a few riches.  He wanted to surprise his parents the next morning by sneaking into the house.  The old folks were frightened by the nightly invasion and killed the intruder, only to learn the next morning that they had killed their own son.  Upon his burial they requested to add the stone cross into the city wall.
~ Prof. und Heimatforscher E.G. Förstemann, Nordhausen (1788-1859)

Following the wall down the "Lesserstiege" and across the Rautenstrasse, we started to climp up the hill to the Petersberg.  There we greeted our old school which in the meantime changed its name back to “Petersbergschule” (in our days it was called Theo-Neubauer Schule).  From there we walked down “Am Petersberg,” Töpferstraβe and marveled at the new shopping center being build across the Blasikirchplatz.  Along the way our guide had all kinds of interesting information about the history and the people of our hometown.

I believe that the guided city tour was interesting for many of us since not everyone resides yet in Nordhausen. When we finally arrived at the restaurant “Alt Nordhausen” im Aldendorf, we were ready for dinner or at least a drink.

The rest of the evening passed with testimonies, anecdotes and even a presentation in the original language of Nordhausen which is special dialect related to “Thüringisch.”  By that time some of us had drunk some of the “Nordhäuser Doppel Korn,” and we all had a good laugh.

The past is like your rear-view mirror, you look back just to make sure you're okay, but in the end, you're still in your car moving forward.

When I look now at my 2nd grade photo I am not only looking for names but rather trying to figure out the faces which have grown old like mine and look forward to put a story with at least a few of them.



1 comment:

Yusun Abrahams said...

I still can't believe they have class reunions from so long ago. I liked looking at your picture from 2nd grade and comparing it to your current one (although I know a lot of the faces are different from back then, as you mentioned).