Thursday, February 25, 2021

Pieces From The Past - The Pride of Ohio




This letter from 1949 was written 3 years after the closure of Camp Trinidad.  Three years!  It is the last of the letters that Phillip and Katie received from the men that worked in their sugar beet fields. 

Riesa, Jan 30, 1949


Very honored Mr. Schleich!

Please forgive if I allow myself to approach you with a very large request.  It is well known to you that we do not lie on a bed of roses here, and in this way to tell you how pleased we would be and how much good it would be to our bellies, if you could have sent to our address a care package with urgently needed foodstuffs, mainly cooking fat.  Our dear God blesses you richly for your good heart.

Our son-in-law Gotthart Hauswold worked for you as a POW and he always praised how well he liked working for you and how you treated him like your own son.  Unfortunately he has been very ill for a long time and urgently needs better and more food.    I most politely implore you, grant this motherly request.  God Almighty has inspired me to approach you and will richly reward you for your good work, if you have some food sent to us.

Heartfelt thanks in advance, very honored Mr. Schleich, for the good deed that you hopefully do for us in our need,  

Most sincerely yours,

Mrs. Marie Lomtscher 

One last heartbreaking letter...  Honestly, I'm not sure I could take much more heartbreak.  😭

Post Master, Mase Hauswold, wrote on his son's behalf in January, 1947 (Block #14 - The Owl Quilt).  Gotthart Hauswold, himself, wrote to Phillip and Katie later that same year, in November (Block #16 - The Corner Star Block).  And this final, desperate plea from his Mother-in law, Margarete, two years after the first request for help was made.  

Phillip and Katie had worked hard raising sugar beets for Mr. Bob O'Brian and after several years they had managed to save enough money for them to purchase a 63-acre farm of their own between Model and Trinidad.  Their mailing address was simply Route 1, Trinidad, Colorado - as noted on the envelope to the left.

Under the current postal regulations this letter to Phillip and Katie would have never arrived in their mail box since forwarding orders for mail are in place for only 6 months.  Is it possible that more letters never arrived simply because they moved?  Were there letters that were "returned to sender"?  We will never know...

How difficult it must have been for Gotthart and his loved ones to be so desperate to set aside their pride and basically beg for assistance.  Asking for help is one of the most difficult things to do.  Yet when we make the decision to do so, the reward is often two-fold, the one needing help has needs met and the one fulfilling the request is rewarded with a feeling of satisfaction and even joy.  Remember, it is in the giving that we receive.

As I read that Gotthart had told his family how much he liked working for Phillip and how he had even been treated like a son, my personal feeling of pride rose up.  Knowing that, though Phillip and Katie had, at times, barely enough to feed their own three growing sons, yet they shared what little they had generously with the men from the POW Camp.  They left a lasting impression on lives that were lived on the other side of the world and it makes me proud.

It makes me not only proud, but it inspires me to try to be a better person and carry on such a legacy. For this reason the block named Pride of Ohio was selected as the final block of this sew along.


When your block is completed, you can assemble row #3.  You will need three 2-1/2" x 12-1/2" sashing strips to be sewn into place between the blocks.  You should have a sashing strip at the bottom of the row 2, as well as the top of row 4, so you are ready to add row 3.  In case you missed the cutting instructions for the sashing strips...

Additional cutting directions for sashing strips...

Row 1 - cut three 2-1/2" x 12-1/2" strips 
Row 2 - cut four 2-3/4" x 9-1/2" strips
Row 3 - cut three 2-1/2" x 12-1/2" strips
Row 4 - cut two 3-1/2" x 16-1/2" strips 
Row 5 - cut three 2-1/2" x 12-1/2" strips

Horizontal sashing - 4 strips 2-1/2" x 54" long.  Unless you are using extra wide muslin, you will need to have a seam in the sashing between rows.

Don't forget to come back and link up for the opportunity to win a free fat quarter.  Be sure to use the hashtag #PiecesFromThePastSewAlong and tag me on IG - @MelvaLovesScraps or on fb at Melva Loves Scraps.  I love seeing all of your blocks!


Be sure that you join me one last time on March 18th for the final wrap-up of the Pieces From The Past Sew Along series.  I will share some details of the dismantling of the POW Camp, a reunion that was held in 1964, and the final cutting instructions for the final borders and binding of the quilt.  At that time I will have a final link up opportunity for you to share your finished quilt tops.  Those who link up their finished tops will have a chance to win a copy of the Kansas City Star Quilt Sampler book from C&T Publishing... actually, there are FIVE copies available!  And good news!  The chance to win a pattern book will not be limited to US addresses only.  



As you go about your life, I encourage you, challenge you even, to make a difference in the world by being kind to those around you.  Your actions, your smile, and your kindness can be something that someone else may hang onto for years to come!  

Before you leave though... Leave a comment about a small way YOU make a difference to those around you.

Me?  I always return my cart to the store or a cart corral and at times I will let others check out before me... especially if there is a parent with a restless little one, I will allow them to go first.  I remember like it was yesterday how challenging it could be to take small ones shopping. :)

Keep Piecing!

Melva


Monday, February 22, 2021

Two To Bind




I did it!  The commissioned t-shirt quilts are ready for binding... and I thought I was going to be hand-sewing them in the car on the way to our friends in Texas...  I am giving up.  


Once again, postponed, this time because the weekend was just too much fun with the grand-daughters.






The day of sledding (well, two hours of actual time at Cuchara Mountain Park) wore the girls out!  



We were lucky enough to find snow pants and boots in the right sizes and sleds at the local thrift shop, all for $21.  They made good use of them as they played in the snow on Friday after arriving at our house and again on Saturday at the mountain park.  They even ventured out again for a short time on Sunday afternoon.  

There were giggles and squeals and a few wipe outs and then laughter again.  There was some huffing and puffing on all our parts as we we hoofed it up the hill and some whining by the littles.  We just encouraged them to stop and catch their breath and that it wasn't a race to get to the top.
They were happily reunited with their Mom last night after her 12-hour shift at work and we returned home to the quiet that was nearly deafening, yet so pleasant.  Dave and I laugh all the time about how wonderful it is to see them arrive for a visit, but also nearly as wonderful to see them leave.

As I catch up with cleaning and finding all the little hidden treasures that were left out (tiny barbie shoes and accessories) and laundry, I look forward to binge watching one of my favorite Netflix shows and some much deserved slow stitching time.

What are some of your shows to watch while stitching?

There is a significant difference in the weight of these two quilts.  The two-sided, with light-weight denim is 5-3/4 pounds!  The pink/grey "dance" quilt is only 3-1/4 pounds!  I am glad I went with the flannel sheet in the two-sided quilt.  It was still heavy, but I no issues with tension while quilting it. :)

Leave a comment... you know I love to hear from you!

Stay calm and piece out,

Melva
Melva Loves Scraps - Home of the Pieces From The Past Sew Along
that features vintage Kansas City Star quilt blocks!
Final block will be released on February 24th!

Linking with:

Scrap Happy Saturday at Super Scrappy
UFO Busting at Tish’s Wonderland
Oh Scrap! at Quilting is More Fun Than Housework
Sunday Stash at QuiltPaintCreate
Patchwork & Quilts at The Quilting Patch
Monday Making at Love Laugh Quilt
Design Wall Monday at Small Quilts and Doll Quilts
Colour & Inspiration at Clever Chameleon Quilting
To Do Tuesday at Chris Knits & Sews
Mid-week Makers at Quilt Fabrication
Wednesday Wait Loss at The Inquiring Quilter
Stitch Sew & Show at Life in the Scrap Patch


Monday, February 15, 2021

Tuesday To-Do Update

February is a short month and always seems to fly by... and here we are with the month 1/2 gone!  Most of the United States is in the fierce grip of an severe cold front and no doubt dreaming of warmer temps and spring.  I know we are!



However, because the cold temps have kept us from getting away (I mean even the south is cold!) I have been secluded away in my studio working diligently on the two commissioned t-shirt quilts.  

The first of the two, the two-sided quilt is awaiting fabric for a border on side two and the binding.  

So that extra bulk of the seams wouldn't be an issue, I made the blocks for the back only 12-inch blocks rather than the 14-inch blocks like the front.

Also, I have flannel fabric on order to use in the sandwich, rather than batting.  I think I will be very happy in making this decision.



Since I am in a holding pattern for this quilt, I pulled out the second quilt... this one is only the top only and it is sandwiched and ready for quilting.

The progress on both of these quilts are "ahead of schedule" since a second cancellation of our trip to Texas to visit our friends happened.  In case you haven't heard... the US in in the tight grip of winter and, while we would have gladly gone to help with breaking ice, caring for the nanny goats that are close to dropping kids and keeping track of the chickens and baby chicks they have.  I had actually volunteered to be their personal chef, head bottle washer and housekeeper, but still... it would have been lots of hard work on our part, we were willing... yet, they suggested that because the mood might not would not be light, cheery and fun-filled we postpone.  

No problem.  We will just wait until the 21st (and warmer weather)... and then we then got a request from our daughter about having the girls for a weekend visit since she and her husband are both working.  Sure!  This means that *sigh* we don't leave the 21st...  what is with this???  LOL!  

However, with the delays, I am almost guaranteed to have two quilts that will need the binding hand-stitched. 😁

Goals for the coming week?

❧  Get both quilts quilted and the binding attached and ready for hand-sewing.

❧ I'll be doing a little more research on Marion Sloan Russell's journeys on the Santa Fe Trail and begin writing cutting and assembly instructions for the block patterns and finalizing a schedule.


It is tempting to toss in another fun project on my to-do list.  One of my readers so kindly sent a set of Moda's "Flat Dolls" ~ like paper dolls, but better.  You don't have to worry about the cardstock dolls or paper clothing getting torn.  They are a little larger than most of the paper dolls I have seen too.  Perfect!  Thanks so much for sharing Kathleen. 😍

Speaking of goals and Tuesday To-Do's... did you hear that there is a new host for the linky party?

Chris, from Chris Knits & Sews will take over the linky party this week. 

Having a plan and setting goals is something I find helpful in keeping me on task.  It prevents me from picking up too many squirrel projects.  I'm not one that struggles with UFOs but I do tend to take some detours.  LOL!

How about you?  
Do you have a tendency for UFOs?  
Or are you more like me and find distractions?  Or, maybe you are well disciplined and don't have either of these issues.

Either way, leave a comment and let me know what your tendencies are... you know I love the brief visits from each of you.

Keep piecing!

Melva

Linking with:

Monday Making at Love Laugh Quilt
Design Wall Monday at Small Quilts and Doll Quilts
Colour & Inspiration at Clever Chameleon Quilting
To Do Tuesday at Chris Knits
Mid-week Makers at Quilt Fabrication
Wednesday Wait Loss at The Inquiring Quilter
Stitch Sew & Show at Life in the Scrap Patch
Put Your Foot Down at For the Love of Geese
Needle & Thread Thursday at My Quilt Infatuation
Can I Get A Whoop Whoop at Confessions of a Fabric Addict
Off The Wall Friday with Nina Marie
Brag About Your Beauties at From Bolt to Beauty
Peacock Party at Wendy’s Quilts and More
Friday Foto Fun at Powered by Quilting
Finished or Not Friday at Alycia Quilts


Wednesday, February 10, 2021

Slow to Go

The time in my studio has been a little short and my schedule has been full.  This is not the ideal situation for me and, thankfully, not typical.

After enjoying a two-hour lunch with a few of my closest "sisters" last week (failed to take a picture), it was evident to me that the love language of four of us is clearly gift giving.   Three of us arrived bearing small gifts, the fourth certainly would have, if she had a little more notice of the get-together.

My bookmarks, filled with love, were well received 💗 



The Paper doll quilts have dolls ready to fuse to their blocks.  The next step with them will be to give them some underwear, hair and facial features.  At that point the blocks will be ready to sew together, get borders and then be quilted.  

"Dressing" them will be a fun-filled time and I have many ideas for clothing options.  A ballerina, a farmer, a basketball player, super hero... and more!


But... I should get the t-shirt quilts finished first. Fabric was purchased for the girl's quilt last week when I met my friends, and the boy's quilt had all of the t-shirts cut and prepped for window pane borders.  I spent one afternoon over the weekend framing blocks for the top.  There are more that are to be the back of the quilt.  I haven't quite decided how I will handle this.  I need to either make the blocks a different size, and/or the window pane fames a different width and wider outside border, to avoid having super bulky seams to quilt over.  

What are your thoughts?  Have you done a two-sided quilt?  Was quilting over bulky seams a problem?

Leave a comment... you know I love to hear from you. 

In other news... my request to use patterns from the Kansas City Star Sampler book from C&T Publishing with my next sew along was denied.  Hmmm... I will not let this deter me from my project.  There are many free blocks out there in the world and some blocks are published with multiple names.  Yes, I will find a way around this hurdle.  Watch for an announcement about the schedule and fabric requirements.

Keep the Piece,

Melva

Linking with:

Put Your Foot Down at For the Love of Geese
Needle & Thread Thursday at My Quilt Infatuation
Can I Get A Whoop Whoop at Confessions of a Fabric Addict
Off The Wall Friday with Nina Marie
Brag About Your Beauties at From Bolt to Beauty
Peacock Party at Wendy’s Quilts and More
Friday Foto Fun at Powered by Quilting
Finished or Not Friday at Alycia Quilts
UFO Busting at Tish’s Wonderland
Oh Scrap! at Quilting is More Fun Than Housework
Sunday Stash at QuiltPaintCreate
Patchwork & Quilts at The Quilting Patch

Thursday, February 4, 2021

Pieces From The Past - The Blockade




Willi Baruschke Berlin-Tempelhof Nov 10, 1948
Berlin-Tempelhof
Friedrick-Wilhelm Street 88

To: Schleich Family
Trinidad-Model (Colorado) USA

Very honored Schleich family:

Can you remember the group of German POW officers, who in the summer of 1945 worked on your sugar beet farm?  It was the group who, at the end of the work, presented you a small picture as a Thank You and a memento.  I am one of that group.  

I have often thought back to the lovely days spent in your family circle.  Unfortunately, only just now am I able to write to you, because then, as we left Trinidad in January 1946, the journey did not lead, as I hoped, to my home and family, but rather on the road to Russian-held Berlin and then deep into Russia in the Caucasus to the toughest work camp.  Only now have I come back, very sick.  And as for being able to recover my health, the first need is good food.  But as you have well heard, I am sitting here in Berlin, a blockaded city, in which rations at this time are very, very scarce.    

Then I think back to your words back then, if any of us is in need, that we should contact you.  And that is what I am doing now, with the big request of if you can perhaps spare a small care package for a sick survivor of a Russian POW camp now in blockaded Berlin.  I can pay you back by sending you other things by return package that would please you over there.  Very honored Schleich family, in the hopes that this request is met, I wish you all the best and send you my warmest regards, your Willi Baruschke.

Hope to hear from you soon.

Willi Baruschke

handwritten ~ And to you all a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.

From History.com - "Following World War II, Germany was divided into occupation zones. The United States, Great Britain, the Soviet Union, and, eventually, France, were given specific zones to occupy in which they were to accept the surrender of Nazi forces and restore order. The Soviet Union occupied most of eastern Germany, while the other Allied nations occupied western Germany. 


The German capital of Berlin was similarly divided into four zones of occupation. Almost immediately, differences between the United States and the Soviet Union surfaced. The Soviets sought huge reparations from Germany in the form of money, industrial equipment, and resources. The Russians also made it clear that they desired a neutral and disarmed Germany." 


With this letter from Mr. Baruschke, we hear again of an unfortunate German soldier who only wanted to return home, yet fell into the poor conditions of a POW camp controlled by the Russians and released only because of his failing health.

"On June 22, 1948, negotiations between the Soviets, Americans, and British broke down. On June 24, Soviet forces blocked the roads and railroad lines into West Berlin."

"For a few tense days, the world waited to see whether the United States and Soviet Union would come to blows. In West Berlin, panic began to set in as its population worried about shortages of food, water, and medical aid. The United States response came just two days after the Soviets began their blockade. A massive airlift of supplies into West Berlin was undertaken...  Russia looked like an international bully that was trying to starve men, women, and children into submission...  On May 12, 1949, the Soviets officially ended the blockade."



Willi Baruschke included two sweet postcards, probably for the boys, but possibly as a small "down payment" of his promise to "return packages that would please you".  

Handwritten on the back of each card were well wishes to the family.



Because of the Russian Blockade told of in the letter, this beginner block, The Blockade, is the pattern I selected to accompany this story.  I had a bit of a challenge in writing the pattern for this block since the printed templates included mis-sized pieces.  Errors happen, I get that.  But I cannot help but wonder how many "beginner quilters" got frustrated with this pattern in 1938?
Rest assured, the final pattern has been tested by myself several times, as well as a few pattern testers that have been a joy to work with.  

Now is the time to download the pattern for free - link is above (highlighted name).  Don't forget to come back when your block is complete to link up for the opportunity to win a free fat quarter.  Be sure to use the hashtag #PiecesFromThePastSewAlong and tag me on IG - @MelvaLovesScraps or on fb at Melva Loves Scraps.  I love seeing all of your blocks!


With the completion of this block, you can assemble row #2.  You will need four 2-3/4" x 9-1/2" sashing strips to be sewn into place between the blocks.  You can also add a sashing strip 2-1/2" x 54" to the bottom of the row, and join row 2 to row 1.  Oooooooooh!  We are getting SO close!  Just one block left!  I can feel the excitement... Can YOU?

Now, before you run off, leave a comment telling me...

What was a stand out item in this letter?

Piece Happy!

Melva



Linking with:

Put Your Foot Down at For the Love of Geese
Needle & Thread Thursday at My Quilt Infatuation
Can I Get A Whoop Whoop at Confessions of a Fabric Addict
Off The Wall Friday with Nina Marie
Brag About Your Beauties at From Bolt to Beauty
Peacock Party at Wendy’s Quilts and More
Friday Foto Fun at Powered by Quilting
Finished or Not Friday at Alycia Quilts
Scrap Happy Saturday at Super Scrappy
UFO Busting at Tish’s Wonderland
BOMS Away at Katie Mae Quilts
Oh Scrap! at Quilting is More Fun Than Housework
Sunday Stash at QuiltPaintCreate
Patchwork & Quilts at The Quilting Patch
Monday Making at Love Laugh Quilt
Design Wall Monday at Small Quilts and Doll Quilts
Colour & Inspiration at Clever Chameleon Quilting
To Do Tuesday at Home Sewn By Us
Mid-week Makers at Quilt Fabrication
Wednesday Wait Loss at The Inquiring Quilter
Stitch Sew & Show at Life in the Scrap Patch

Tuesday, February 2, 2021

Ground Hog Day

And here we sit, suddenly it is February!  We turned the page to a new month in anticipation and hope that THIS may be the time that life returns to "normal".

It could be like the scenes from the movie, Ground Hog Day.  The day keeps getting repeated over, and over and over, until the character finally makes a change.  At times it might be nice to have a "do over".  But in all reality... with each new day, we DO get a new chance.

A year ago Dave and I were blissfully planning for a trip to the beaches of Texas.  News stories were just ramping up with the doom, gloom and fear of the Corona Virus, not to mention the political mud-slinging that was going on.

On Valentines Day we made the decision to turn. off. the. TV.  Ok, well, maybe not turn off the TV, but turn off the NEWS!  We packed up our stuff and flew the coop.  We drove south to Texas... much of the time was "unplugged".  At first, it was a challenge... and then we settled in.  Cell service was in and out as we approached our destination.  But with "No Service" at all on the beach of Padre Island National Seashore, we sat and watched the surf.  We watched the birds, we walked and biked along the shore. We talked, we read, I quilted...  we collected shells, we watched the sunrises and sunsets with awe.

All this to say... I don't know what "normal" is.  Does anybody???  Erma Bombeck said it was a setting on a washing machine. LOL!  I say "Normal" is a setting on the dryer as well.

So as I review what I had on my (late) To Do List from last week I feel a bit like Bill Murray in Ground Hog Day...

❧  Paper Doll Quilt

❧  Commissioned T-shirt Quilts



I have made little progress on the Paper Doll Quilts... I have cut the background squares, but am awaiting the arrival of assorted skin color layer cake squares for the dolls, as well as fusible adhesive.  

I decided to make the dolls in two different sizes.  The one to the right are on 12 inch squares with the dolls being about 10 inches tall.  This one will be for Emma who will be 7 this summer.  

The one above is for Maggie.  She will be 5 this summer and I thought that it might be a little easier and more functional for her to have something not so tiny.  She has a collection of Barbie Dolls that live naked because she just cannot manage dressing them.  Each quilt will have a pocket to hold the clothes (encouraging organization) and while the same, they are different and there should not be any fights over outfits because they are different sizes and not interchangeable.  (That's the plan anyway 🤣)

I also am awaiting the arrival of the T-shirts from my customer.

I had determined on Friday afternoon, once I realized I was in a holding pattern, that I would write that final post for the Pieces From The Past Sew Along... only to awake on Saturday morning and find that our internet service was out.  The outage was area wide... Ok... but that wasn't going to stop me!  I resorted to MS Word and started typing.  I got a good portion of it written.  And when the wi-fi was restored, I was able to insert pictures and links as necessary.  I will let it rest for now, until it is time for a final review.


Speaking of Pieces... Block #19 will be released on Thursday!  Which means there is still time to get the pattern for The Double T Block and link up for the chance to win a free fat quarter.  Who doesn't need free fabric for their stash?!?


And because I wrote that post I rewarded myself by opening the Civil War reproduction fabric that I had purchased for my next sew along.

Progress is coming along with the planning.  The schedule of the sew along has been made.  I have 12 blocks selected (13 actually, because one will be the label for the quilt), and I have been reading the Memoirs of Marian Sloan Russell and taking notes.  There is plenty of "administrative stuff" to be done, but I won't bore you with those details.

❧  A few small final projects I'll be making this week are "Galentines Day" gifts for some close girlfriends.  We will be meeting for lunch on Thursday (fingers crossed that the weather is good) and it has far too long since we have been together.  I'll be making them as bookmarks, rather than key chains.

With that... I better get moving!

Keep Piecing!

Melva


Melva Loves Scraps - Home of the Pieces From The Past Sew Along
that features vintage Kansas City Star quilt blocks!

Linking with:

Colour & Inspiration at Clever Chameleon Quilting
To Do Tuesday at Home Sewn By Us
Mid-week Makers at Quilt Fabrication
Wednesday Wait Loss at The Inquiring Quilter
Stitch Sew & Show at Life in the Scrap Patch


Friday, January 29, 2021

A Happily Ever After


After the last few letters I have shared from former German POWs I have felt defeated, saddened and depressed for the appalling conditions that were described in them.
   

International Holocaust Remembrance Day is an international memorial day on January 27th that commemorates the victims of the Holocaust, the genocide of European Jews by Nazi Germany between 1941 and 1945. January 27th was chosen to commemorate the date that Auschwitz concentration camp was liberated in 1945.

Yesterday as I scrolled through social media I found this story.  Often times the longer stories get skipped over because people can have a very short attention span... but this one is worth reading.  For that reason, I am sharing here...

Marcel Sternberger was a methodical man of nearly 50, with bushy white hair, guileless brown eyes, and the bouncing enthusiasm of a czardas dancer of his native Hungary. He always took the 9:09 Long Island Railroad train from his suburban home to Woodside, N.Y.., where he caught a subway into the city.
On the morning of January 10, 1948, Sternberger boarded the 9:09 as usual. En route, he suddenly decided to visit Laszlo Victor, a Hungarian friend who lived in Brooklyn and was ill.

Accordingly, at Ozone Park, Sternberger changed to the subway for Brooklyn, went to his friend’s house, and stayed until midafternoon. He then boarded a Manhattan-bound subway for his Fifth Avenue office. Here is Marcel’s incredible story:

The car was crowded, and there seemed to be no chance of a seat. But just as I entered, a man sitting by the door suddenly jumped up to leave, and I slipped into the empty place. I’ve been living in New York long enough not to start conversations with strangers. But being a photographer, I have the peculiar habit of analyzing people’s faces, and I was struck by the features of the passenger on my left. He was probably in his late 30s, and when he glanced up, his eyes seemed to have a hurt expression in them. He was reading a Hungarian-language newspaper, and something prompted me to say in Hungarian, “I hope you don’t mind if I glance at your paper.”

The man seemed surprised to be addressed in his native language. But he answered politely, “You may read it now. I’ll have time later on.”

During the half-hour ride to town, we had quite a conversation. He said his name was Bela Paskin. A law student when World War II started, he had been put into a German labor battalion and sent to the Ukraine. Later he was captured by the Russians and put to work burying the German dead. After the war, he covered hundreds of miles on foot until he reached his home in Debrecen, a large city in eastern Hungary.

I myself knew Debrecen quite well, and we talked about it for a while. Then he told me the rest of his story. When he went to the apartment once occupied by his father, mother, brothers and sisters, he found strangers living there. Then he went upstairs to the apartment that he and his wife once had. It also was occupied by strangers. None of them had ever heard of his family.

As he was leaving, full of sadness, a boy ran after him, calling “Paskin bacsi! Paskin bacsi!” That means “Uncle Paskin.” The child was the son of some old neighbors of his. He went to the boy’s home and talked to his parents. “Your whole family is dead,” they told him. “The Nazis took them and your wife to Auschwitz.”

Auschwitz was one of the worst Nazi concentration camps. Paskin gave up all hope. A few days later, too heartsick to remain any longer in Hungary, he set out again on foot, stealing across border after border until he reached Paris. He managed to immigrate to the United States in October 1947, just three months before I met him.

All the time he had been talking, I kept thinking that somehow his story seemed familiar. A young woman whom I had met recently at the home of friends had also been from Debrecen; she had been sent to Auschwitz; from there she had been transferred to work in a German munitions factory. Her relatives had been killed in the gas chambers. Later she was liberated by the Americans and was brought here in the first boatload of displaced persons in 1946.

Her story had moved me so much that I had written down her address and phone number, intending to invite her to meet my family and thus help relieve the terrible emptiness in her life.

It seemed impossible that there could be any connection between these two people, but as I neared my station, I fumbled anxiously in my address book. I asked in what I hoped was a casual voice, “Was your wife’s name Marya?”

He turned pale. “Yes!” he answered. “How did you know?”

He looked as if he were about to faint.

I said, “Let’s get off the train.” I took him by the arm at the next station and led him to a phone booth. He stood there like a man in a trance while I dialed her phone number.

It seemed hours before Marya Paskin answered. (Later I learned her room was alongside the telephone, but she was in the habit of never answering it because she had so few friends and the calls were always for someone else. This time, however, there was no one else at home and, after letting it ring for a while, she responded.)

When I heard her voice at last, I told her who I was and asked her to describe her husband. She seemed surprised at the question, but gave me a description. Then I asked her where she had lived in Debrecen, and she told me the address.

Asking her to hold the line, I turned to Paskin and said, “Did you and your wife live on such-and-such a street?”

“Yes!” Bela exclaimed. He was white as a sheet and trembling.

“Try to be calm,” I urged him. “Something miraculous is about to happen to you. Here, take this telephone and talk to your wife!”

He nodded his head in mute bewilderment, his eyes bright with tears. He took the receiver, listened a moment to his wife’s voice, then suddenly cried, “This is Bela! This is Bela!” and he began to mumble hysterically. Seeing that the poor fellow was so excited he couldn’t talk coherently, I took the receiver from his shaking hands.

“Stay where you are,” I told Marya, who also sounded hysterical. “I am sending your husband to you. We will be there in a few minutes.”

Bela was crying like a baby and saying over and over again. “It is my wife. I go to my wife!”

At first I thought I had better accompany Paskin, lest the man should faint from excitement, but I decided that this was a moment in which no strangers should intrude. Putting Paskin into a taxicab, I directed the driver to take him to Marya’s address, paid the fare, and said goodbye.

Bela Paskin’s reunion with his wife was a moment so poignant, so electric with suddenly released emotion, that afterward neither he nor Marya could recall much about it.

“I remember only that when I left the phone, I walked to the mirror like in a dream to see if maybe my hair had turned gray,” she said later. “The next thing I know, a taxi stops in front of the house, and it is my husband who comes toward me. Details I cannot remember; only this I know—that I was happy for the first time in many years.....

“Even now it is difficult to believe that it happened. We have both suffered so much; I have almost lost the capability to not be afraid. Each time my husband goes from the house, I say to myself, “Will anything happen to take him from me again?”

Her husband is confident that no horrible misfortune will ever again befall the. “Providence has brought us together,” he says simply. “It was meant to be.”

Skeptical persons will no doubt attribute the events of that memorable afternoon to mere chance. But was it chance that made Marcel Sternberger suddenly decide to visit his sick friend and hence take a subway line that he had never ridden before? Was it chance that caused the man sitting by the door of the car to rush out just as Sternberger came in? Was it chance that caused Bela Paskin to be sitting beside Sternberger, reading a Hungarian newspaper'

Paul Deutschman, Great Stories Remembered, 
edited and compiled by Joe L. Wheeler

As I read this story I had the sickening and heart-wrenching realization that the German POWs that had returned home only to become part of the Russian POW population were the ones digging the graves of the Holocaust victims.  

I am left speechless. Oh, how I wish I would get a response from Klaus Hesselbarth's family!  I wish more stories of happy reunions were available... stories of survival... stories of happiness and joy...  more stories of "happily ever after".

Never forget!  And I can only hope that history never repeats itself in this way or to this devastation again.  🕯

Shalom,

Melva



Block #18 -  Double T - is still available and the link is still open.  Link up to be entered into a drawing for a free fat quarter!

Melva Loves Scraps - Home of the Pieces From The Past Sew Along
that features vintage Kansas City Star quilt blocks!