November 10, 1946
Dear Family Schleich!
You will be certainly astonished to receive a letter from a former German prisoner of war, who returned home three months ago.
Because you were the best farmer I ever worked for, I want to tell you that I like to remember those some days when I did farmwork at your farm. It was really a good job, the five days beet-topping at your farm (after three days by water-Hart) and I’ll never forget Trinidad, Colorado and the friendly family of Phil Schleich.
Before I continue my letter, I should like to thank you for the correct treatment and I hope you, your wife, the three sons, daughter and the little grandson, I think Harold was his name, to be always in good health, till now and also in the future.
Perhaps you don’t know me at once but you will remind you on me by telling something about the farmwork in October/November 1945: I was the youngest in the group “Woerthmuller” (the name of our supervisor an old Lt. Colonel) and with me together were Jokisch, the actor, Hoeppuer and Mueller, the artists and the long fellow Kalle from Cologne/Rhine who imitated the radio-speakers.
Now I am at home again after an absence of more than 3 years. The damned war made Germany, the country of your forefathers, a poor country and my hometown Bremen, which is now the only embarkation-port used by the Americans for the Bremen-Enclave and for the American Zone of occupation in southern Germany, is heavily bombed down, but my parents and sister are still alive. But it is hard to live in the present Germany. We have much to do with the rebuilding of my country and my hometown Bremen, but the Americans help us and it is well to cooperate with the American authorities.
The matters I remember best are the trips with your red truck from and to our camp, but especially the very good meals your good wife was cooking. Furthermore the visit to your farmhouse on the last day, when you told me that you, Mr. Schleich, left Germany as a Volga-Deucher (German from Russia) many years ago at Bremen and… I never forget the Mutter (mother) Schleich’s special doughnuts. It is the best remembrance and a fine good-bye to Colorado. After we left Trinidad, we came to California. We started our home voyage at San Francisco and we shipped through the Panama Canal to France.
Today is Sunday and so I am reminding to you and to the good time I have had in the U.S.A.
I would like to help you beet-topping this year again. Many greetings, please, to Mr. Eckert and his wife - and his radio truck.
I would be very glad and very obliged to you, if you would be so kind and give me an answer.
Once more, I thank you and with the best wishes and kind regards, I say: Good luck for you all!
A few things to focus on... The fact that Karl mentions the ENTIRE family tells me that it wasn't just Grandma and Grandpa that spent time with the prisoners. The three sons, my Dad was the youngest at 13 when the prisoners last made a trip to the Schleich farm. Bill was the oldest son (24) and was the driver of the truck to transport the workers.
The daughter, Clara, (I shared her zucchini brownie recipe over on the Flower Garden Block post) was married and had a child, Howard, not Harold as Karl mentioned. (Pictured at the left at about 3-1/2 years.)
Howard would have been 5 years old at the time of the last harvest. Here's one of his personal memories, probably from fall of 1946... Post WWII.
"I was the first born grandchild, so I was doted over more so than the rest of the grandchildren. Also the grandparents were younger and able to be more active with me.
One of the first things I remember was it was late in the fall and Granddad and the uncles were picking corn by hand and tossing it on the wagon. With three Uncles and Granddad they could pick 2 rows each, but they needed a tractor driver. I was excited to drive the tractor - I must have been around 5 or 6 (I'm guessing). They got the wagon full and came to the house to unload. I refused to go back out, because the Uncles was yelling at me and it was cold. The way they got me to go back out was fix me some graham crackers and put pink frosting on them. At that same time, they had not harvested all the pumpkins and winter Queen Watermelons. So I helped them gather the smaller pumpkins and melons."
Haha! Bribery works every time!
Karl mentions the other men that he worked with, including Mueller, an artist. I think this was Helmut Müller who wrote the previous letter and had given Phillip and Katie the painting of Fishers Peak on glass. The first letter that Phillip and Katie received was from Worthmüller.
Another item that is worth focusing on... The red truck that transported the men from the camp to the farm. I recently listened to a recording of a conversation between Uncle Bill and my Dad, Melvin as they studied a map of Camp Trinidad. I couldn't help but laugh as they shared memories.
Bill talks about how he would pull up to the camp where the men would load up, and how they would scramble to climb into the back of the truck equipped with stock racks and be on their way.
They recalled how the men looked forward to the opportunity to work at with the Schleich's and enjoy "Mama's cooking"... Just as Karl mentioned "Mutter Schleich's special doughnuts".
Well... you take a listen. My apologies for any bad language that may have been missed in editing.
There are endless recipes for doughnuts in the Germans From Russia cookbook that I have... Along with the doughnut recipes there are recipes for Krepple or Grebble... They were rectangular in shape with slits and the dough twisted back through them. My Mom has told me numerous times of how the family loved Katie's "tangled britches"... probably the same sort of twisted, fried pastry.
The easiest doughnuts I have ever made were with canned biscuits. Poke a hole in the center and deep fry. I used to enjoy them immensely, but no longer. 😢 I figured I could make my own biscuits with Einkorn flour and deep fry... total fail! The doughnuts just fell apart as they were cooking...
So I recently purchased a baked donut pan from pampered chef and have a recipe for Bakes Apple Cider Dounuts. I'll let you know how they turn out when I receive the pan.
Because of Karl's mention of his friends that worked along side him at the beet harvest, I have chosen a second Friendship Quilt block. Like the first friendship block - The Signature Block - where I copied Katie's signature, I traced Phillip's signature from his Naturalization Certificate. I chose to include his years of birth and death, as well as the locations of both events.
I have rambled on long enough... go grab your pattern and then come back and link up for the free fat quarter give away.
But before you go let me know...
What was the "stand out" of this letter for you?
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