(Video of my radio interview with Dr. David Wise — known as “Dr. D.” — is included below.)
Stories have always been an important part of my life.
Stories were how I became re-acclimated with the German language as I returned in 2011. It would be the stories of a kind woman named “Hanna” who shared with me her life in post-World War II Germany. It was delivered in a mix of the Silesian-Hessen dialects. It wasn’t easy for someone who hadn’t regularly spoken Deutsch for over 20 years.
But it was sink or swim time and I paddled upstream as best as I could. And, through her journey from the east ahead of the Russians to what would be later known as West Germany, I began to improve my skills as I was catapulted back to that world.
She’d lived an interesting life and it was a unique way for me to “study”. As I learned she was a breast cancer survivor — just like my mom — I had something familiar to grasp onto. She shared so much of her life with this relative stranger, I felt honored. Soon, she integrated me into her family. She always ensured I was comfortable whenever I was there.
She was always ready to share a cup of coffee with me as the tales continued. She was always there to fill my plate with her delicious homemade cuisine, and pour me a glass of wine, too.
After dinner, there would often be a bit of Krappe, a pomace brandy generally served after a meal as a digestif. Often, someone from the family would once again try to teach me to correctly sing part of the song “Die Hesse Komme” by a group named Rodgau Monotones:
Was hat’n da de Pappa da?
Der hat e Flasch Grappa da de Pappa.
Wo hat dann der Pappa die Flasch?
De Pappa hat de Grappa in die Tasch.
(© Copyright Rodgau Monotones. All rights reserved.)
This is one of the many dialects of Hessen. I’m not very good with dialects. And because there are an estimated 250 distinct German dialects, stretching from Austria to Germany to Switzerland, that was problematic.
But Hanna and the family tried to bring me along, to no avail. Even after another glass of Grappa, it didn’t help. But it was often fun being in Hanna’s home, even if I looked foolish struggling to sing that song! I’m grateful for her hospitality and I thank her for it. Now, these wonderful moments will always be part of my story catalog. They’ll always be with me.
Stories have truly been an important part of my life and I pray they will always remain so. And it was no different on the evening of March 30th, sitting in the KTST-FM radio studio in Anaheim, California. I took on the role of “Hanna”. I shared my stories with David Wise (known as “Dr. D.” on the air), along with his wonderful producer Leah. As I entered, I was treated to a glass of wine. I had a super time.
I’ve posted the Facebook Live video here. I hope you’ll enjoy it. Thank you, Dr. D. and Leah for making me feel so comfortable.
On this evening, it was a glass of wine and my stories.
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