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Tuesday, December 18, 2012

A Family Christmas in Germany

14
 
Advent is the Christian season that spans the 4 Sundays before Christmas. Advent means "arrival," or "anticipation." A time full of expectation, music, and Christmas decoration.
Marianne, our live-in kindergarten teacher taught us to create little baskets, stars and bells from shiny gold and silver paper. We explored the woods to collect acorns, hazelnuts and fir branches to create our special decorations.


We would gather for our family breakfast at 8:30 am. on Sunday mornings during Advent.
The table was decked out in white and silver, each place setting had a fir branch, decorated with the bells, baskets, stars and gold and silver painted acorns, hazelnuts and a tiny red candle - as festive as can be. After breakfast, the we marched as a family unit to church; kids in front, parents following.

And then came Christmas. Ooh!
Germany celebrates Christmas actually on Christmas Eve, December 24th.
There was a running and hushing and secretly sneaking all over the house. A trying to stretch and crick our necks to catch a glimpse of just the Christmas tree, which was
erected and decorated in the music room on the afternoon of the 24th. Never earlier!  

At 7 pm the entire family was dressed in festive gowns, the gents in Tuxedos or at least a dark suit, yes, the little ones too. A buffet of shrimp and smoked salmon, deviled eggs and caviar was served. There was also a punch or champagne…. and I would become tipsy late at night after I sneaked up and sampled those forbidden liquid fruits.
At last, the rush to our presents that were piled up like little mountains; a little mountain for each child, parent, and household helpers, our Oma, Aunt, and cousins all gathered in our music room. The hour up to exchanging and opening gifts seemed to last for an eternity.
But first, we had to sing. Mother in front and overpowering everybody with her admittedly good, but loud, voice.
Rita, my younger sister and I played the grand piano four handed. Christmas songs that we rehearsed with our piano teacher for weeks. Edith, the oldest, played the concertina, Bernhard attacked the flute and Mother even abused the violin.
And everybody sang to this cacophony – the room was lit by nothing but candles, everybody’s heart basked in a solemn but celebratory mood.
After at least five songs both Rita and I had to recite (by heart, of course) a Christmas poem. Bernhard was allowed to READ the Christmas Story from the bible.
“So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem...”


Then, our performance duties complete, we were allowed to storm and take possession of our toys, new clothes, books and knick-knacks.
Gifts for our parents HAD to be hand made by us, and therefore were always somewhat awkward.

Come 11 pm though, the complete family, sporting either new coats, hats, shoes or gloves, most of all wrapped up to stay warm, strolled to church again. Time for Midnight Mass.
Germany celebrates two Christmas days – the so called 1st and 2nd when all stores are closed, they are Sundays and one ws required to go to church. It was just bad luck when  the 24th fell on a Monday because then we had to go to church on Sunday, Monday, Tuesday AND Wednesday.

On the first Christmas Day the traditional meal served was always a delicious crispy goose with potato dumplings and red cabbage as the main course, typically preceded by a soup before, and then completed with a dessert, after. Poor Mother and our household help! They had to produce a stupendous portion of dumplings, because we children would race to get the most of them, I remember, to this day, gobbling down as many as a dozen, and I am NOT making this up!

More will come!

Don't forget to hug your kids tonight! It's so important to tell your children that, yes, they CAN. I missed out on that :(
Please , sign up, become a "fan", follow me? Leave a message? Tweet it, click on +1 ...?? I'd be grateful. Thank you!

Kindly
Johanna (YooHUNNa)

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Fearing Father

13)

My family's home was unimaginably formal. When Father came home from work at 12:15 to attend our 'midday meal' he changed into a house jacket that was soft and comfy yet still formal and presentable enough to welcome unannounced visitors.
Saying 'I love you' to one another or even hugging each other was neither heard or seen.
Displays of love and affections were not in the equation of the Koziol household.
To the contrary - I respected Father to the point that I feared him.
Hearing Father's huge bunch of keys rattling when he walked in the house, I always scrambled: 'Quick, quick, give me an apron' - that I would look busy in the kitchen or finishing the table setting. An apron had to be! Otherwise I could be seen as being lazy, although, I, too just came home from school or later on from work in my (Father's) company.
Appearing as if I had too much time on my hands or was not working on anything resulted not only in earning the evil eye but also an immediate order to grab a bucket and rag to clean this or that. Father always found something to do; yeah, especially for me.
I was dealt a bad hand at birth - I am the sandwich kid, remember? My two older siblings were not at home, Rita, my younger sister, was a wizard in the art of disappearing; Stephan was too young to be shooed around.
Besides, him being the smartest from baby legs on, he evolved to be a master at playing Houdini. Stephan was simply invisible far into his adulthood when he all of a sudden appeared out of nowhere, played foul, stole Father's company and my sister's and my rightful inheritance.

But THAT is another story!

Father was called 'Chef' between us kids and our household fairies, even my mother chimed in when he was out of sight. We didn't talk about Father, but 'Achtung! (Caution!) THE CHEF is on his way'.
A 'Chef' in German has nothing to do with cooking at all. A 'Chef' is THE BOSS.

He would become very angry when he heard us referring to him as 'The Chef',
and fulminate: "There are 500 workers in the factory that must call me 'Chef'. But there are only 5 people on this earth that may call me Father. I demand that you call me that. I am not your 'Chef'"

Thereafter, as long as he lived I respectfully called him 'Father'. We had no permission to use somewhat softer names like Dad, Daddy, Papa or such.

Oh, and was HE a Preacher!
Never ever did I hear a sentence like: 'Well done, Johanna.'
Never ever did I get any praise. Doing things right was assumed thus no reason to waste a word over it, besides, wasting chatter was strongly being frowned upon.
But I, the tomboy, was prone to always doing something wrong. Inevitably came the sermons. Hours long in the evenings, not to waste work-time during the day.

Father scolded me (sometimes all of us) endlessly by repeating over and again his childhood stories, how he and his Mother had to work so hard, how he made it where he was today, how bad I am behaving, how irresponsible my deeds are, and in summation that I am not good for anything. Whatever I brought up, ideas or otherwise, his answer was: 'ACH! (Dear me!) Jo-HAN-na! Stop! You can't do it anyway!'
It haunted me throughout my life. "I can't do it. I can't do it anyway."
I will never know how I produced all the water for my never ending stream of tears during those preachings.



More will come!

Don't forget to hug your kids tonight! It's so important to tell your children that, yes, they CAN. I missed out on that :(
Please , sign up, become a "fan", follow me? Leave a message? Tweet it, click on +1 ...?? I'd be grateful. Thank you!

Kindly
Johanna (YooHUNNa)

 

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Instructions Go On Toilet Paper



A little History about Ivory first A German Ivory Carver's Story My Father, The Ivory Carver ... it wasn't easy... A Milestone Moving on to New Pastures Dreadful Times (not only for Europe) USA to the Rescue Phoenix from the Ashes American Officers sent Father to Prison Political Trial leads to Trade Mark Instructions Go On Toilet Paper Fearing Father A Family Christmas in Germany Boarding School (Part I) Part II Coming Soon Boarding School Part 1
German people discovered their wanderlust,  their love for travel and the Volkswagen Beetle ascended to their preferred companion.
For each and every destination or excursion - be it the coast, the mountains, Fairy Parks or Zoos - Koziol produced and provided the matching brooches or pins, souvenir pictures on vases or wall plates. Worldwide!

Koziol had become the world's biggest  souvenir factory. The down side was that Father constantly had to come up with new "inventions", new ideas. I still can hear him sigh: 'I wish we would produce Coca Cola, they never have to come up with a new concept.'
To help with inventions of new items he traveled the world far and wide, at least five times a year, Mother in step, to find and come up with new ideas. Somewhere overseas, Father then would sit in his Hotel room and scribble and draw the results of his brainstorms on rolls and rolls of toilet paper - for lack of actual stationery at the time. Each single message was neatly wrapped together and addressed to the according department back home and every other day an impressive package of abducted toilet paper would arrive at the factory in Germany. Father was omnipresent even when he was not physically at the factory and his employees shook their heads in unison, grinned, laughed, took it seriously and got to work.

The return home of my parents was always highly anticipated and a holiday for us kids Father would not only bring suitcases FULL of samples for the company but also gifts for us from the respective countries they had visited.

A most important part was  played  by our "Master" Jakob Müller, an Ivory Carver in his own rights in creating new items by first carving them in wood or resin. For several decades Mr. Müller coined most of Koziol's figurines, from angels and flowers to animals and manger figurines, engraving his distinctive style on them.
The biggest success however was the 'Roaring Hart' (stag), gilded by a vacuum coating of 24K Gold. Mighty silly and immensely beloved by customers. "Greetings from the Black Forest."
Above: Jakob Müller at his work bench

Not that we didn't have a beautiful childhood, but I have only a few recollections of my parents being in it. Our resident Nanny was a certified Kindergarten teacher who resided next door to our "Kinderzimmer" (Children's Rooms).  Her name was Marianne and she played a big role in our upbringing - mine and my younger siblings.
Edith, the first-born and Bernhard Jr., the heir to Father's throne, were not in the equation, as I recall. Honestly, I have no idea where they were and what they did as small kids. I surely was too young.
I know however, that later on Bernhard attended a Jesuit Boarding College for 9 years and Edith was accepted into a French Boarding School in Switzerland and later at one in England.
My memories of both start when I was a teenager when they were actually visiting home only during school breaks.
BIG sister Edith was my Idol!

Our "Fräulein Marianne" played with us, taught us and had to go walk with us, every day.
First we went to get our daily 3 liter of milk directly from the farmer in the next little town. The milk was carried in a big tin can and sometimes part of it was being separated and kept out of the refrigerator to create soured milk. And hmm, this was delicious, ceaten with sugar.
After getting the milk though, Marianne would always take us for a visit to her family to have her afternoon coffee and cake. We played and had fun in their huge backyard on dirt soil, in a shed, in the barn, chasing chickens running around. Of course I did not tell Mother that we did not walk, instead went with Marianne to her parent's house.
The barn in the backyard was huge and had a porch roof reaching over the dirt floor where the family dried laundry in air, wind and sun, just like we all did at the time.
One afternoon, bed linens hung to dry and they were big enough for me to hide behind. To hide my feet exposed beneath the hanging linens I reached up and grabbed a wooden overhead plank to pull myself up. Unfortunately by doing so I jammed a rusty nail into my right hand.
Oh no, I did not scream or cry. I took the nail, ripped it out of my hand and threw it away as far as I could, attempting to make it undone, go away!
I knew, nobody would pity me; to the contrary, I would be slapped on the top my head.
So I went back to Marianne's house, said nothing and hid my hand behind my back all the while trembling with fear about what my punishment would be. One glance to my face and Marianne knew that something was wrong. Her mother being a nurse, bandaged my hand. But Marianne now feared she herself would be the object of retaliation when we finally returned home. After all, it would prove that indeed we were at her home, not on a walk through meadows and woods as Mother had instructed.
Uh, this respect that we all had for Mother and Father. It really was more fear, at least on my part.

As luck had it, the flesh around my wound grew into the bandage, which eventually brought on a case of lovely sepsis. I survived, but was no witness to what poor Marianne had to endure on account of this misfortune.

To be continued! (Read from chapter ONE!!)


Please don't forget to hug your kids tonight! Sadly, I totally missed out on that :(
Hugs and/or showing affection was a no-no in our family.
In the meantime, Please, sign up, become a "fan", follow me? Leave a message? Tweet it, click on +1 ...?? I'd be grateful. Thank you!
 
This is what I am doing now, trying to pay my bills. Maybe you find this very gift you were looking for? :
My personal Web Site
And I am selling part of my jewelry HERE

Kindly
Johanna (YooHUNNa)
....
scroll down, there is MUCH more:
You GOT to start at the Beginning: Chapter 1 !
Koziol invented the Dream Globe, taught dish brushes and shoehorns how to stand on their own two feet, and made the world a more colorful, cheerful place. Since 1927, koziol characters have been colonizing households around the globe. And while their shapes and functions may have adapted with the passing years and trends, the underlying philosophy has never changed:

Make your world a better place and yourself a happier person.



Saturday, January 28, 2012

Political Trial leads to Trade Mark

11)


1952 was the year that German scientist Dr. Albert Schweitzer was duly honored with the Nobel Peace Prize for his tireless dedication and work at the Jungle Hospital in "Lambaréné", the Capital of Gabon, Moyen-Ogooué District, West Africa.
Humanist Schweitzer was reckoned Germany's idol of the time.
Dr. Albert Schweitzer *1875 †1965





Germany grew and so did our family. My parent's number Five arrived and my older sister and brother NOW could rightfully moan that they had to "share" even more because that's what they already did when I, being number three, arrived. 
Yeah, my jealous older siblings!
(This was conveyed and told by "outside sources"  ;)



I vividly remember one morning standing in front of the big blue sink in our "Kinderzimmer" (children's rooms), my mother braiding my pigtails when I finally noticed that she had pretty well grown out of proportions.
'Mutti, du bist aber dick geworden in letzter Zeit!'
(Which is to say, "Mutti, whew, you are eating more? You became very big lately!"). As it would be an embarrassment, she whispered that "we" are expecting a baby.
Not missing a beat I just answered: 'I hope it's a boy, we are already 3 girls'.
And that was it. I still was a tiny miniature edition of the human species, mind you!




In the middle of the summer the youngest member of our family arrived and YES, it was a boy - our "Goldi-Locks".
Stephan was a pretty baby and even stayed that way throughout his childhood, which, what experience taught me, is not always a given. Everybody loved and adored him and we older ones where - you guessed it - mighty jealous. Five kids were naturally divided by age gaps - it panned out that I was the "big" one of the three youngest. BAD position to be in.



I was not the first born, neither the heir to the throne. I was not "finally a son again" neither sickly as my younger sister who demanded a lot of attention.
I was not pretty (matter of opinion, sure) but a tomboy and healthy to the bone.
I was the "Sandwich Kid". 


And let me tell you THAT was not desirable and no fun. No soul was interested in me.
This was surely no pleasure in our family where always nannies and household helpers were around, living, sleeping and eating with us. That made for a huge family where guests - business and otherwise - were always welcomed too. Sometimes we had a "midday meal" table of 12 or more people. Chatter occurred only when strangers attended; otherwise, as told before, our meals were taken in silence. The parents spoke a little "business" to each other but that was all.
At one point we had a household maid who was a sunny happy-go-lucky young girl. Her name was Gisela. She teased my Father asking him to smile for a change. Father looked mighty irritated at her and produced a wry smile. After dinner she asked him:
'So, Mr. Koziol, tell me what you just ate'. This question made my eyes bug out, stunned as I was by her sassiness.
No, Father could not tell. Gisela had noticed what was daily reality for us. Father was always totally absent, his thoughts away on business and politics. Naturally, Mother felt miffed and gave the girl the evil eye. How dare she expose this!
Mother had pottered about in the kitchen all morning and her husband wasn't even aware what he had swallowed.



Father's company kept growing and being the character he was, he also took care of his people. Once a year all company employees received a "lunch bag" (a little bigger than that) that even included a small bottle of wine and were invited to a day-long excursion either by train or by ship, cruising the Rhine River, always ending at a nice restaurant where all their hungry bellies were filled. Having fun was mandatory, and these events became the year's highlights.
Come Christmas, Father arranged for a Christmas Party right under the roof of our factory in our so-called "Festsaal", Festival Room that even had a stage with lighting and a curtain.
Today we would say a Party Room, right?
Carnival Societies held their festivities there and Koziol produced the needed Carnival fraternity honor medals.



These pictures are similar to the honor medals we made










Now we had a church and a festival room for many societies to hold their festivities there and in case you are wondering: yes, use was always free for everybody who would behave properly.

Father's business had nothing to do with Ivory anymore although he had become an avid collector of all things Ivory and more over a collector of all objects of beauty and artistry. Those would consist of figurines and unusual mirrors, elaborate antique or just elegant chairs, illustrious chandeliers and lamps, Persian rugs, crystal, wood carvings as well as artistically aesthetic jewelry for my mother. The most beautiful (and expensive) porcelain was used daily. He wanted to see and enjoy it, not look at it stashed away behind glass.

The firm's hallmark had changed too and and in an unexpected way:
It all started with Father's involvement in politics, and a trial.
Father was fully engaged in politics and therefore it was inevitable that he had to clash with some big shots. He was never shy to speak his mind. He fought for what was right - even with the help of full page ads in the area's big newspapers. He was "THE Koziol" - not Mr. Koziol anymore.
I even had the honor to "be seated" on a knee of Germany's Chancellor Konrad Adenauer in our famous Gentlemen's sitting room during one of his visits to our home.
Father was engaged in such a big fight with one of his political foes that it ended up in court. It was a two weeks trial but one day when I returned home from school, I found the house flooded with flowers.
For me that just meant that the trial was over. Finally! There had been no subject other than the trial spoken about at home. It was dreadful and soooo boring for me.
All the flowers though, were the sure sign that Father had won.



During the trial this important member of the Parliament was so lost after all, that he did not know what kind of "kitchen sink" to throw at my Father after all else had been attempted. So, he resorted to an insult, by bringing up Father's unusual name.
'Your honor, do you even know what the name "Koziol" means when translated? It is Polish and means Billy Goat.'
The entire court room went into a laughing fit for such an "ingenious" defense.
Father himself had not known this and, needless to say, used it to his advantage.
  
Our new Hallmark was born

Later on, the "Mr. Impo-tant" who challenged Father even had the nerve to ask for compensation for his "invention." Politicians!

To be continued! (Read from chapter ONE!!)


Please don't forget to hug your kids tonight! Sadly, I totally missed out on that :(
Hugs and/or showing affection was a no-no in our family.

In the meantime, Please, sign up, become a "fan", follow me? Leave a message? Tweet it, click on +1 ...?? I'd be grateful. Thank you!
 
This is what I am doing now, trying to pay my bills. Maybe you find this very gift you were looking for? :
My personal Web Site
And I am selling part of my jewelry HERE

Kindly

Johanna (YooHUNNa) .... scroll down, there is MUCH more:
You GOT to start at the Beginning: Chapter 1 !


koziol invented the Dream Globe, taught dish brushes and shoehorns how to stand on their own two feet, and made the world a more colorful, cheerful place. Since 1927, koziol characters have been colonizing households around the globe. And while their shapes and functions may have adapted with the passing years and trends, the underlying philosophy has never changed:
Make your world a better place and yourself a happier person.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

American Officers sent Father to Prison

10)

Time: Must have been around 1945-46 after American Officers occupied part of "our" factory.

At some point, after the occupying forces moved in (and as I said, thank God it was the Americans in our part of the country, Hessen, South of Frankfurt!) they wondered why Father was not a soldier, was not drawn to the war front. They figured "He must have been a good Nazi" with lots of strings pulled for him. Consequentially they threw him in jail. There was little Father could do to prove that they could not be farther from the truth.

Officers combed his offices, files, and papers.
What they found was no sign of any Nazi membership, but rather found a letter from Father addressed to one of the dreaded Party Croesi, suggesting just the opposite. 

In this letter he excused himself from a Sunday's Nazi mass "cheering" because "he had received a lorry full of coal by train which he had to unload to keep the factory going, his people working and making sure the military-related items would be delivered on time".

 In a BINGO moment, the stunned American officers had change of heart.
 "If this man does such straineous and dirty work himself, all alone, on a Sunday - and has 100s of workers under his command, THEN he did not WANT to go to this meeting."

It was true. Father pulled many similar stunts - besides, he never did shy away from dirty work. He DID empty this entire train wagon on that "oh-so-important-for-the-Party" Sunday.
After two weeks in jail Father was released immediately upon discovery of the truth about his allegiance. But during his brief incarceration, he observed the dire conditions of the prison, and returned with a troupe of his own workers to paint the entire jail inside and out.
"End of story" ... so to speak. That was once again just soooo my Father.

All of this of course was one of many reasons why he and the Americans got along and why he was well respected. The officers listened to him and helped out where they could. Father never had to beg in vain for sugar, flour or milk powder and then again: this infamous grease (please see chapter 8). He fed many, many people.

Father was a God fearing man, yet absolutely down to earth. While he was no hypocrite, he sometimes made a "deal with the devil," to achieve a greater good.
He trusted in God without many words and most of all without trying to convince others. He just did what he deemed was right and he did not ask anyone. We did our prayers in the morning, before and after meals, at night, went faithfully to church but there was never any talk about God. It just wasn't necessary.


He was successful - to me it seems today - with everything he touched and started.

On Sundays, after our collective breakfast, the complete family sported their best attire and marched to church, attending 10am mass. My Mother had a very good singing voice and was heard throughout and by everyone.
"Oh, Mrs. Koziol is in the house"... people would say.

(I laugh about this now, but at the time I was morbidly embarrased.)

In the early 20th century Catholics were in the minority in our part of Europe but with all the refugees from Eastern Countries the Catholic population grew by leaps and bounds. We had no Catholic Church. Father though had more than enough room in his factory and thus provided space that was converted into something like a church hall. I think it held up to 250 parishioners. He had artists decorating the walls with relief carvings, the seats were chairs, there were no church pews.

After church and dutiful "meetings and greetings" we marched home again, Father worked through his mountains of business mail and we waited for "Dinner".
Our "Dinner" naturally taking place at 1pm was called "Mittagessen" - "midday meal". This was our main meal. The family had to be there; every single day our table was decked in white linen, white napkins and silver flatware. We used our linen napkins for a week and recognized our own napkin, because the napkin rings, of silver or Plexiglass, were engraved with our names.
Only Father was allowed to have a drink with his meal. Usually it was milk.
(Having no drink with a meal is unthinkable today. And honestly, I still do not drink anything during a meal, if it is not wine ;-)
We were not allowed to speak. "One does not talk while eating." Children may be seen but never heard.

Every day after our midday meal Father would rest, take a 30 minute nap during which each and every present soul had to be silent and sneak quietly through the house, if necessary.

I always had the dubious honor to be seated at Father's left during our meals and cannot number the countless times he pulled my right ear up, up toward the ceiling.
My other siblings were seated either far away from him or not even present in later years. They attended boarding schools... until it was time for me to suffer the same fate.

MUCH more to come.

This is my birth town, Michelstadt, dubbed "The Pearl of Odenwald". Enjoy my little Video presentation ;)

Please don't forget to hug your kids tonight! I totally missed out on that :(
Hugs and/or showing affection was a no-no in our family.

In the meantime, Please, sign up, become a "fan", follow me? Leave a message? Tweet it, click on +1 ...?? I'd be grateful. Thank you!
 
This is what I am doing now, trying to pay my bills. Maybe you find this very gift you were looking for?  :
And I am selling part of my jewelry HERE

Kindly

Johanna (YooHUNNa) .... scroll down, there is MUCH more: the beginning!