The Piano Teacher

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Romance  |  House: Booksie Classic


A family moved from Germany to Canada and live in Toronto. They discover that their daughter is a piano wonder child. Eventually they move to British Columbia in canada and a prisoner of war camp
is located there and the young women meets a prisoner and falls in love.

Submitted: March 20, 2018

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Submitted: March 20, 2018

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The Piano Teacher

Jack Kay 

 

 

 

 

Chapter 1 1921

 

The situation in Germany following World War I was bleak. Unemployment was rife and there was the sudden rise of a new political party called National Socialism led by a man who was named Adolph Hitler, and  was joined by gangs of Brown Shirts and others. The men were thugs and Hitler himself was  viciously anti-semitic. The entire nation was a in a tailspin and there was a good deal of promiscuity in the beginning of the Jazz age which became a bone of contention for a country which was based on Lutheran doctrines. Many Germans decided to imigrate when possible to the United States and Canada.

 

There was a great deal of dissent in both nations for immigration due to loathing of wartime enemies. Canada had a resolute policy of minimal entry for anyone from Middle or Eastern European countries. People from the United Kingdom were welcomed with opened arms.

 

As Canada slipped into the depression between 1919 and 1922, it developed more restrictive immigration legislation. Under Section 3 of the Immigration Act of 1919, an order-in-council excluded immigrants from countries that had fought against Canada during the war. The list of inadmissible immigrants was expanded to include alcoholics, those of “psychopathic inferiority,” mental defectives, illiterates, those guilty of espionage, and those who believed in the forcible overthrow of the government or who ”disbelieved“ in government at all. At the same time, revisions made it easier to deport immigrants. Immigrants who could be shown to have fallen into an inadmissible class when they arrived in Canada were no longer safe from deportation after five years. The cabinet was also authorized to prohibit entry to any race, class, or nationality because of contemporary economic conditions or because they were not likely to understand  because of ”peculiar habits, modes of life and methods of holding property,“ a provision invoked against entry of Hutterite,Mennonites  and Doukhobors. Additionally, in 1921, adult immigrants were required to have $250 upon landing, and children, $125. Farm laborers and domestic workers with previous job arrangements were exempted from the landing fees. In 1923, immigration was restricted to agriculturalists, farm laborers, and domestic servants. The revisions were also supported by the business community, which had previously supported a more liberal policy. According to the president of the Canadian Manufacturers’ Association, while it was true that Canada had millions of ”vacant acres“ that needed population, ”it is wiser to go slowly and secure the right sort of citizens.”

 

The Canadian government rewarded returning soldiers with grants of land, but there was a high rate of failure. As a result, by the mid-1920s, the Canadian government was again seeking agriculturalists from Europe to develop Canada’s agricultural lands. The first choice was to grant land to British families. Under the Empire Settlement Act, British farmers with 25 pounds of capital upon arrival could get loans and other forms of assistance. The program eventually brought more than 100,000 British immigrants, though many of them went into other lines of work. At the same time, almost half a million Canadians emmigrated to the United States between 1925 and 1932.

 

With the end of the  depression by 1923, Canada turned its attention to refugee groups still languishing in Europe, especially if they were considered helpful to Canada’s economic recovery. Mennonites, who had been excluded by the orders in- council in 1919, were once again invited in 1923. Under the provisions of the Railway Agreement of 1924, which authorized the Canadian Pacific Railway and the Canadian National Railway to recruit agriculturalists for the development of the prairies, about 185,000 central Europeans came to Canada, about half of them German speking . Among the earliest to arrive were German-speaking Russian Mennonites, who had been doubly branded during the war as enemy sympathizers and pacifists unwilling to share the nation’s burden. Between 1923 and 1930, about 20,000 settled in Canada. About 3,100 Jews were admitted by 1924, though thousands more were excluded for fear that they were tainted by communism. About 1,300 Armenians were admitted in the early 1920s, but the government practiced an essentially exclusionary policy that refused entry to most Armenians.

 

Certain specialists were admitted including some musicians, technical experts and various professionals in the engineering fields. The number of men left in the tool and dye employment had completely diminished. In addition there were jobs in the jewellery trades that were impossible to fill , and many of the large Canadian department stores lobbied the Canadian Parliament for help in bringing Jewellers and watchmakers from Europe. The most aggressive store that depended largely on service was that of the national icon - Toronto Simpsons. It was under these conditions that Max Koogle of Baden-Baden in the Black Forest area of Germany decided to move to Canada. Max was a staunch Lutheran who detested the moral decline of Germany following the war, His fatherland was in crisis. Everywhere there were soldiers  and thugs on the streets,

 

Max Koogle had grown up in the town of Lahr and moved as a child to Baden Baden. He was not a good student but loved to tinker with old watches which his father brought home from the second hand store he owned. By the time he was sixteen in 1912 he could fix any watch he was given. His father was delighted and with Zurich Switzerland nearby applied to send Max to become a Swiss Watchmaker. . The young Koogle took to the training with enthusiasm and graduated from the major Time Piece Company Training School for  the world Class Company Patek-Phillippe.He returned home just in time to be drafted into the  German Army for service in the First World war. Because of his training he was enlisted in the specialist branch of the Army and stationed in the North of Germany in Soest. Here he worked on gun sights and bomb clock mechanisms. He never saw any real action and when the Armistice was declared he was released and returned home to Baden .He was now twenty-two and found that there was very little employment. He did land a job at small jewellery concern where he fixed watches and also was a salesperson.

 

The owner was a very bad tempered Berliner named Heinz who complained every day bitterly about his workers. He was a man possessed by money. and profit. Max found him more militaristic than when he was in the army during the war. He needed the job but swore that he would leave if something better came along. Max usually repaired watches at his own pace and it was suddenly thrust upon him that he was working too slowly.Assembly line watch restoration or renovation was right out of the question for Max. He could no longer stomach the scolding and reprimand and without thought packed up his tools and bellowed at the owner “Ich höre Sie sind eine Monster”

 

As he walked down the street the owner chased after him and began to  apologize, but Max wanted no part of him and took a street car to his parents home.When he announced he had left the jeweller’s employ he was chastened by his mother as being too sensitive.

 

He couldn’t stand much more of his mother’s criticism and walked out with his father heading to a beer hall nearby.He and his father were very close. He felt a need to examine what was happening in Germany with the attacks on Jews and the brazen firing of guns on the street.  His father leaned over to him and said that Max needed to consider moving away to America. Members of the family were now in . Minneapolis and St Paul Minnesota. Max considered his words and returned home with his father only to see that Heinz, the owner of the jewellery shop was ensconced in their living room drinking a cup of coffee.

 

Heinz apologized profusely for his behavior and invited Max to return with a raise in pay. He promised there would be no  interference with his work.Max agreed and returned the next day to his bench at the store.The following week he and his parents attended a bible study at their church and Max noticed a buxom young woman who  smiled at hime. After the bible study he saw her again on the sidewalk and began a conversation. He learned that her name was Lisl Kramer and she introduced her parents . Her mother was a Canadian  who was from Hamilton near Toronto and had come to Germany before the Great war and married Lisl’s father. Her mother was an English teacher and as a result her children spoke perfect English. There were three girls in the family. Max chatted with them for a short while and was invited to visit them the next week. He was delighted. Lisl was quite pretty and the family seemed very nice.

 

They met over tea at the Kramer home with all of the family in attendance and Max spoke of his work. Lisl’s mother often spoke English to her and Max would listen. They always translated what was said, except to tell him that they were very impressed with him. At the end of their tete a tete, Lisl said she would be happy to teach him to speak English.

 

So began their courtship, every Monday evening he would come to their home and within three months he was becoming quite fluent. The family was quite surprised at how he adapted to the new language. He and his new found love often stopped the lesson to kiss and snuggle. Max was absolutely enchanted with her. They became absorbed with each other to the point that Max who was nearly twenty-four and still a virgin was taking himself in hand almost every day. He decided he could wait no longer and knowing that he could not deflower her without marriage went to her father to ask for her hand in marriage.It was all agreed and the wedding was planned for the following month giving time for the bans to be read.

 

The marriage was a very simple affair and Max and Lisl took their vows with a a short trip to a Rhine Guest House for three nights and he found out that his new wife knew more about copulation than he did. In any event their marriage was consummated many times.

 

 Chapter 2 1922

 

 

 

The young couple moved into a small flat overlooking a park in the newest section of Baden. Max was still experiencing numerous woes with the store owner. Despite his assurance that he would permit his  watchmaker  to work at his own  pace he was still nagging at him constantly. Numerous times they argued and Max would return home in a very bad frame of mind. Lisl would always commiserate with him and make an effort to placate him with special meals. However he constantly spoke of going elsewhere but there were few jobs and Germany was falling into a black hole of a depression. He was just at the point of quitting when Lisil came home with Liberty magazine from her parents published in English in Canada. She glanced at the articles ,not showing any real interest and was just about to lay it down for Max when she saw an advertisement that caught her eye:

 

WATCHMAKER WANTED

 

ROBERT SIMPSON DEPARTMENT STORE

 

QUEENS STREET -TORONTO CANADA

 

MUST SPEAK ENGLISH AND BE SWISS CERTIFIED

 

WIRE ALLEN KUSHNER -ROBERT SIMPSON Watches

 

***

 

Lisl became very excited and could not wait for Max to arrive home. She ran down to the trolley stop to greet him. They talked far into night with Max being very cautious as was his approach to life. She told him she would go to her mother and ask how to respond in business English. Her mother drafted a telegraphic reply which was sent the next day from the Post Office saying

 

Have qualifications for Watchmaker position

 

Wish to immigrate to Canada

 

Certified graduate Piteck-Philippe Training School- speak fluent English

 

Will send information by letter mail

 

Please send address

 

to Max Koogle, AlfredStrasse 16

 

Baden-Baden Germany

 

Zone 2

 

Within three days a call came to Lisl from the Post Office that an urgent telegram had arrived and she raced down and found that the Simpson store had sent a cursory replay saying they were interested and gave their address.

 

She did not wait to discuss the message with Max but boarded a trolly across town to a architectural office that for 1 mark  made photo copies of documents. She had them reproduce Max’s diploma and went immediately to her mothers home for assistance in writing a proper response. Her mother also suggested she ask if they paid  for the transportation from Germany to Canada since they would need their savings to get settled.

 

The letter was sent after Max agreed . He was very impressed with Lisl’s aggressive stature and how she had handled the entire matter. They slept very fitfully awaiting the reply. Germany was in the throes of a terrible meltdown politically and financially. The money was simply of no value. A loaf of bread cost one million marks and nothing could be purchased without a wheelbarrow full of cash. Fortunately for many people including Max and Lisl they had hoarded US dollars and other currency which they used for grocery purchases and rent. But the money was running short and each week Max came home with a mail bag stacked with his salary.

 

Every day Lisl waited anxiously for the postman,she was getting extremely nervous about their application to move to Canada . Then just as she  was about to give up the letter slipped through their front door mail slot . Now she had a dilemma, whether to wait to open it with Max or to immediately rip it open and then run to his shop. She decided to take the former , so they would have the joy or anguish together. She placed the letter on the mantle and went about her daily chores.

 

When Max was slightly late she ran down to the trolley stop to wait for him and on his arrival she told him excitedly about the letter. He walked so fast that she fell several feet behind him. They both laughed and Max put his arm around her and dragged her along.Max carefully opened the letter which was quite thick and read:

 

Dear Mr Koogle

 

It is with pleasure that we accept your application for the watchmaking position at ROBERT SIMPSON QUEEN ST STORE , we are enclosing a contract outlining the conditions of employment including salary, shared agreement on transportation, and our appeal to the Government of the Dominion of Canada which has been tentatively  approved based on your qualifications and  necessity in Canada…….

 

They both danced around with joy but Lisl went to the phone and called her mother asking her to come over the following day which was a Saturday.

 

Max came home early on Saturdays and her mother arrived to read through Max’s contract. She told them it was a standard work related style of indenture. She outlined the most important aspects which she jotted down in English and she spoke to them also in the same language.

 

“The parts that are important which relate to salary and will be one hundred Canadian Dollars per week, and are  generous. They will pay fifty percent of your transportation to Toronto but will send you the entire amount in the form of two 2nd class tickets on a German Ocean Liner leaving from Bremen, your choice of date, The amount that you will owe is to be deducted for six month from your weekly pay. Train fare from the arrival point either Halifax or Quebec to Toronto will be paid by Robert Simpson Company. You will be required to work for five years as watchmaker with the company. They will assist you in finding living quarters and necessary furniture.”

 

Her mother finished the discourse with tears streaming down her cheeks.They all hugged . Lisl and Max knew it would be a very sad time for both their parents but it was a wonderful opportunity to make a new start in Canada.

 

Within a few days they took a train to Berlin as her mother had  made an appointment with a Canadian Immigration office located on Leipzigstrasse. She knew there was not yet a Canadian Embassy in Germany. The office was run by an English Speaking staff who spoke very poor German but were helpful to the young couple because of their fluency in English. The Canadian representatives prepared all of the documents for entry into Canada . The big surprise for Max and Lisl was the one hundred dollars each they were to receive for immigrating to Canada. They also arranged the shipboard passage on the “Munchen” a ship from the German International Line which left from Bremen one month hence. The tickets would be sent to them at their home in Baden and immigration money would be paid on board ship by the purser. The office was already aware of them through a message they had received from the Robert Simpson Company.

 

They could not contain themselves and they laughed almost all the way back to Baden. Just before they reached Baden Lisl made her big announcement to Max .

 

“ It is time I told you Max, something I have held back from you” she said in a whisper

 

“ Stop the joking Lisl” he said pulling her hair as he did when he knew she was funning him.

 

She leaned forward, taking hold of his hand “ we are going to be parents of a Canadian born child.”

 

He said nothing for a moment and then took hold of her. He would not let go as he smothered her with kisses, saying nothing but how much he loved her..

 

 

Chapter 3  1922-23

 

 

 

At the very first opportunity Max handed in his resignation. The entire store was curious but none more than the owner Heintz . He complained bitterly that he did not have enough time to look for a replacement. Max was given a party by the other employees and left without the usual handshake proffered by an owner and employee. Nonetheless he felt some sympathy for the employer.

 

Max and Lisl purchase a steamer trunk and several suitcases for their journey. They were sent on ahead by a truck. Their tickets and boarding passes arrived within two weeks and their was a flurry of activity as they packed their last goods to be shipped. They moved out from their flat a week before their sailing date. His mother and father hosted a family party at their home where they saw many relatives including some who now wore an armband with the German National Socialist Swastika. Max and Lisl were not impressed nor were her parents.

 

Finally the day came. They boarded a train to Bremen. With much kissing and hugging and many tears they left travelling several hours before reaching their destination. They spent the night at a Guest House before taking a trolley to the Bremer-Haven where their ship “ München” was docked. They were surprised at the size of the Cruise Ship and after a few minutes of exchanging documents they  were escorted to their cabin situated aft on deck 3 .Shortly thereafter the purser arrived with Canadian dollars in the amount of 200.00 cash. They began a cursory look  through the  ship and very soon the dinner bell rang and they found their way to the Tourist class dining room.. They felt the ship begin to move and they realized they were on their way to Canada.

 

It was an uneventful trip other than they both became very sea sick, especially Lisl who with her pregnancy needed the ship’s Doctor on three occasions. He was British and she conversed with him quite easily. He gave her numerous medications of which none worked for very long but after eight days they arrived in Halifax Nova Scotia. It was August and the weather was beautiful .

 

On their arrival they were met by a an elderly man holding a sign with their name.  They learned that he was a Simpson’s employee in Halifax and that the Toronto store had arranged for him to meet them and take them to the Canadian National railway station for the train to Toronto..The train was due that evening and he told them of his work and extolled the company.. He was very impressed with their ability to speak English fluently. He took them to a restaurant specializing in fish and chips and they were delighted with their first meal in Canada. Lisl was able to keep the meal down and they went in the man’s car to wait for their train. He was very polite and shook their hands and was extremely generous to them. Max was so overcome with happiness that he had to brush away tears as they separated. It was as Lisl would say very much unlike him but she felt  the same way. Their arrival in Canada was as they kept commenting to each other a joyous occasion.

 

The train travelled through New Brunswick, and Quebec to Montreal. They changed trains for the trip to Toronto the next morning after sleeping in Pullman berths. Finally the train slowed down as they neared their final destination. This was the city of the 1920’s, street cars auto busses, numerous cars and a  large numbers of pedestrians. Both were completely thrilled. It was a dream of a lifetime. They were greeted not only by Allen Kushner of Robert Simpson store but Lisl’s grand mother  whom she had never met. They all cried with delight.Even the department manager Kushner saw how much joy they were experiencing.

 

They all went to dinner in a restaurant and later they were ensconced  in a hotel. They spent the next day with lisl’s family members including cousins and her uncle and saw some of Toronto. It soon became time for Max to go to work and for Lisl to search for an apartment. One of the first things she did however was to begin to spell her name slightly differently and changed it to Lisa . As she said she wanted to become Canadian in name as well.

 

 

Chapter 4  1923-1939

 

In the years that followed the arrival of Max and Lisa (as she was now called) in Canada their life in Toronto was beyond their dreams. They were hardly hurt financially when the depression created a country wide disaster. Max had taken the precaution to place all of his extra cash in a safety deposit box in the Dominion bank. He realized there was no interest but banks were failing and the Dominion seemed to be safe. It was a good choice because the Canadian banks suffered huge losses.They lived comfortably in a two bedroom flat located six blocks from the store on Dundas street. They welcomed their first born beautiful blonde haired darling daughter in the spring of 1923 . She was called Erica after Lisa’s grandmother.

 

Max was a prize for the Simpson store. He was called upon to fix a number of watches of  some of the very rich and so called famous of the higher echelon of Toronto brought to Simpsons. He became adept at making parts for watches that were no longer manufactured such  as the Walton pocket watches. His reputation grew as did his salary. His stash of cash began to grow to the point that he had to rent another box in Lisa’s name.

 

The little girl Erica they discovered was a pleasure for them . They no longer spoke German and the child spoke perfect English by the age of three, but also was adept in German as well. Lisa noticed one day that Erica was dancing to the music on the radio. She seemed to have a natural rhythmic sense of the beating patterns of music. When she was four Lisa took her to  the Simpson store so they could have a lunch in the restaurant with her father. They happened to pass by the music sales room where a man was demonstrating a piano and suddenly Erica walked over and watched for a moment and duplicated the man on another piano nearby. Lisa and Max were stunned to see their child’s reaction. The pianist stopped and watched her as she plunked away on the piano awkwardly but playing the exact melody, owith  both hands. He commented “she has had lessons I can see.”

 

“No never ” Lisa responded and took hold of Erica’s hand.

 

“But” stammered the piano salesman “how did she learn to play like that?”

 

Max knew the man by name. They spoke for a few moments before Lisa cut into the conversation which seemed to annoy her.

 

“The man is telling us something Max, and I think we should listen”

 

The man’s name was Frederick Kallman . He was a piano teacher and played concerts around Toronto. He had also come from Germany and in his case to escape the anti-semitic fury that was taking over in his homeland. He took hold of Erica’s hand and led her over to the piano he was playing and set up a a higher chair for her to sit. He then played again, but this time he selected some classical music which was fairly difficult. Within seconds Erica played back the same tune exactly although quite ham-fisted. But the result was a similar sound. He repeated the exercise , this time selecting the Beethoven music Fur Eloise. Without any prompting she played back the music exactly.

 

Kallman was almost in a state of shock. Max and Lisa looked on in amazement. A crowd that had gathered was dumbfounded. Erica kept smiling as if she was playing with a doll. The luncheon in the restaurant was put on hold as they made arrangements for Erica to play in the store and be paid. Over the next few weeks, Kallman sold a piano every time she played and he gave the Koogles a commission on every sale. They also arrived at a decision for Kallman to go to a well known teacher and concert pianist Scotsman Alistair Mckinnon for advice. McKinnon was associated with the University of Toronto.

 

McKinnon responded immediately by saying ’I dont teach children I leave that to those doughty women piano teachers to do“

 

Kallman was adamant and said “Maestro Mackinnon this child is virtuoso and has never had a lesson.”

 

“ Mr Kallman when I last saw you were selling pianos in the Simpson store, moreover I have a conversation like this about every two weeks from some other teacher or parent and I have to tell them all the same, No No No, I don’t have time”

 

And with that he hung up the phone. Kallman was furious. He did undertake to teach Erica. Once she had learned the fundamentals she was brilliant in playing without music. He arranged a concert for her in a church in Toronto.The place went viral and both Erica’s parents did not know what to make of it. She played music with really not knowing the extent of the classical repertoire. But getting her further main stream concerts proved difficult. Max and Lisa decided to buy a piano from Kallman. Erica was not enrolled yet in a elementary school but she spent several hours playing music she had heard. Her problem right from the very beginning was her inability to actually read music . The teacher worked very hard on this skill but it came very slowly. Her mind would  seem to rush by the notes, and despite his admonitions to slow down and read the music from  the written parts they seemed to provide a hindrance to Erica.. Kallman at times would lose patience and she would sob, leaving him feeling guilty. The winter passed and the summer was spent  working diligently with her on the reading but it was fruitless. In early September at age six she started school at the nearby ViceRoy Alexander School. Her teacher’s name was Elvira O’Toole. She became aware that Erica had the unusual ability to parrot what she said and would remember everything from day to day and week to week. It was difficult to decipher whether she understood what she heard or had the ability to fathom what was meant. At the time the idea of a photographic memory had not been substantiated but Elvira O’Tolle was able to establish that Erica was blessed with the instinctive cleverness to both hear and read instantly.

 

As the years rolled by she appeared in numerous concerts playing music she easily played mostly by ear. Her reading skills in many ways had improved  but she relied on her memory to play. For her teacher it was a wonderful experience but he knew deep down that her skills technically and pianistic ability were limited. By the time she was twelve in 1935 Erica could play entire piano concerti but as it became apparent and despite his constant demands she did not improve her cumbersome playing. However other developments began to cloud Erica’s and her parents lives.

 

***

 

The situation in Germany was unbearable for their families. They were not harassed by the Nazi’s under Adolphe Hitler but they were steadfast in their support of Jewish neighbors and friends whom were being taken away by the truckload. Lisa’s mother still held her Canadian citizenship and applied to take her and family members to the Dominion of Canada. they were permitted to leave but were not able to take any of their funds or furniture with them. They also would forfeit their home to the national Socialist party. They decided to stay and not lose their home . It would later proved to be their downfall. Max’s family remained in Germany and his father was drafted into the German navy as a civilian contractor. Lisa could sense that there was going to be a war . In 1936 she decided to take trip home to Germany, Max said he preferred not to go but finally relented. They arranged their trip at the same time as the Olympics in the summer. Both were now Canadian citizens and they also were not taking Erica. She was left in care of her Great Grandmother in Bowmanville near Toronto.

 

Max and Lisa made their travel arrangements through the Simpson travel office. They were scheduled to leave from Quebec city on the Cunard Liner the Empress of Canada for arrival in Liverpool and then to take the train from there to London. They then were to fly on the new inter-European Britannic Airline to Berlin. The entire trip was to take two weeks.

 

They were now holders of Canadian passports . Both had completely lost their German accents. They had spoken English in their every day discussions and were very fluent. They were questioned by a boarder control officer on arrival in Berlin. He began by speaking a very low level German to see if they spoke German, but when they seemed to be unable to understand him, he broke into guttural English.They were finally released with the admonition to behave themselves in the new Germany. Both were astounded at the absolute arrogance of the man . They were met at the airport by almost the entire family and taken for lunch to a very ritzy restaurant before joining them all in their cars for a trip on the newly built autobahn to the South of Germany. They talked well into the early hours of the morning. Lisa was astonished by the number of flags bearing the Swastika.They were everywhere.Every day they heard people shouting out ‘HEIL HITLER’ She also noticed that many of the neighbors were very inquisitive about them . Lisa’s mother told her they were all spies, telling on anyone who said anything bad about the Nazi government. . They were forced to speak in whispers when discussing any matter. Their visit lasted for a week and they left by train to Berlin to attend the 1936 Olympics. Max had tickets for the track and field as well as the basketball games. They stayed in a Guest House near the massive stadium. The cost was enormous but they had saved diligently for two years before taking the trip. They were fascinated about all of the massive numbers who attended and the number of times people were flinging their arms in salutes to Hitler. They were careful to not arouse any suspicion and did the same. They had heard that North Americans had been beaten for not doing so. Max shouted under his breath “BULLSHIT” and they giggled at his humor. After they had used their tickets they shopped for some items to take back to Canada and spent their last few days with their families. Max and Lisl left with tears in their eyes, embarking on a train for the first leg of their journey to Paris. After three days in France they flew to London and took the train to Liverpool where they boarded the Liner The Empress of Britain for their homeward bound journey.

 

Both were happy to be returning home and engaged in deck games as well as walking around the ship . At night they found time for each other and made love very often. It was from this copulation that they conceived a brother for Erica.

 

***

 

They were very anxious to see Erica on their return but Erica had proven not to be a good guest at her Great Grandmothers. Erica had been very mean and had disobeyed her on numerous occasions. She missed meals and on one occasion called her GG  a miserable old witch. She ordered Erica to go to her room several times but she just went to the door and walked out. It was very worrisome to Max and Lisa. They did not have car as yet as a result friend drove them from Toronto to Bowmanville to pick up Erica. Lisa’s grandmother was furious with them and passed Erica over to them through the doorway , saying only that she would never look after her again. Lisa finally got her to give an account of Erica’s misbehavior.They did not speak until they returned home and their friend said goodbye and drove off.

 

Max was non plussed about the situation. They did send Erica to her room in  order to discuss the issue. Max was in favor of punishment but did not know what they should do. He was against corporal punishment but could not think of a way to to have Erica understand authority other than they as her parents. Max went into the living room to listen to the radio while leaving the matter to Lisa. Lisa went to Erica’s room to find out what had possessed her to act she had in their absence.

 

“ I was bored, we did nothing all day except to sit in the  den and listen to the radio. I did not have a piano. The meals were frightful Mommy, all the very things I hate. We never once went out to a park or had ice cream. She was constantly telling me Erica do this Erica do that. There were no other young people to talk to or to play with nearby. When I did go out on her porch she would come looking for me. She awoke every day at 6:30 and I had to come into the living room and pray with her. I fell asleep every time and she told me I was godless. There were no books in the house except bibles so I asked if we go to the library. She told me that libraries are dens of sin. Books with terrible pictures and many dirty story books. The longer I stayed the more angry I became. I am sorry Mommy , that I said some very bad things to her and I know I will be punished  but it was a very bad time for me and I missed you very much”.

 

With that she broke down a cried and Lisa took hold of her in her arms. Her mother also cried but she knew that there had to be a penalty for her conduct.

 

“ I want you to know Erica that your actions while staying with your GG are unacceptable and that your punishment will remind you each time not to let your mind rule your heart. You are confined to your room for the next seven days.Your meals will be in the kitchen and your spending money is stopped also for one month.You must also apologize to your Great Grandmother.

 

She was told to go to bed and think about her conduct and the matter slipped into their memories. Lisa made a decision not to stay in touch with her grandmother because she felt that Erica was after all mistreated. Max returned to work and life continued on until news that war with Germany was imminent.They began to notice that they were a target of anti-German sentiments with abusive language and pronouncements. Lisa was becoming very upset by the nature of the attacks. Erica was in High School and students in the school were very ugly in their threats against her and other children with German names.

 

Lisa was expecting in this time period. She was having a very hard time . She was thirty-seven years old and her pregnancy was arduous. Max had also begun to experience sly remarks in his work at his shop in the Simpson store. Allen Kushner had retired and his job of manager of the Jewellery counter and watchmaker had been taken over by a man named Ronald McNair. He was very insulting to his staff and especially to Max. It reminded Max of his employer in Germany. The man continuously angered Max by saying there were lots of unemployed Canadian watchmakers looking for work. Max kept reminding him that he was a Canadian citizen but the man would sniff and say nothing.

 

They received great news when her mother sent a telegram from saying that she and her father along with her two sisters had walked out of Germany to Strasbourg France leaving their home and business to get away. They were however in need of money. Lisa knew that they were very short because of their trip in 1936 but went to a bank to see if she might loan the money. Most banks in the 1930’s were tightfisted and chintzy. She was turned down everywhere. She knew that her mother and father were desperate.Erica’s music teacher Frederick Kallman came forward and said he would lend them the money.

 

“I have no family in Canada I would be happy to loan you the money” he said

 

They both rose and hugged him and cried . “How much do you think you will need.”

 

Lisa thought about it for a few minutes . “ Do you think $500.00 would get them from Strasbourg possibly to a seaport. I don’t know the geography of the nearest port that they could sail from. Kallman sat on their couch, running over in his mind whom he could ask for advice. It suddenly came to him.

 

“There is a Jewish man I know who is working at the travel office of the Canadian Pacific on Church street . He is knowledgeable about travel arrangements. By the way I am willing to loan you $1500.00!

 

***

 

In the space of two days arrangements were made for Lisa’s family to travel to Canada via Paris on a French liner called the De Grasse. The fares for tourist class were quite inexpensive at 159,00 each . The ship was to arrive at the port of Quebec .When the ship docked they were held in quarantine for three days. because the girls had only the papers issued by the Canadian Embassy. Luckily Lisa’s mother Florence still had her Canadian citizenship and based on that they were given six months to straighten up their visa problems in Canada. They knew however that the family would not be sent back to Germany. Jake Berg the man from the CNR had arranged for a sleeper from Quebec to Toronto. Their arrival was a celebration. They sat up the entire night telling their story, all in English.

 

Florence began the story of their hazardous escape from Germany.

 

“I first went to the Canadian Embassy in Bonn to make inquiries. They renewed my passport and also issued travel documents for Marietta and Madeline. Gustave for some reason was issued with a temporary travel pass. The pass would never be accepted by the Nazi boarder Police, but it was a chance . We tried to sell as much as we could to have money to pay our way across the line. On the day we decided to leave a friend drove us all to Offenberg and we stayed overnight in a Guest House. The next morning we took a bus to Kehl which is within 200 km of the boarder station. I asked around at what time to boarder station closed for the night. I was told that someone is usually there all night but most people just walked across at the beach area which fronts a French Resort called the Hôtel du Rhin. I asked some people in a cafe if anyone could guide us to the Hotel that evening. A young woman who spoke good German said she would and told me it was a bit dangerous as there were Guards in the woods nearby..She wanted 100 franks or 85 Marks to escort us. We took out much of what we had left and decided to take the chance. It turned out to be as she described. We could hear boisterous talking from soldiers and see fires burning. She said that they were Gestapo. There was a fence just before the entrance to the beach. A man in uniform came over to us and it was really frightening. I said in English we are Canadians and we are lost. He pointed to the French border Guard who was inside a small covered box of some kind who immediately stepped out waved us across and returned to the box, all the while a cigaret hung out of his mouth. We started walking down the road to the Hotel but as we approached veered off to a forest path . We followed the path which led we found to the main road. We stopped and huddled in a bus enclosure. We were hungry and down to our last few marks. Our darling Marlene saved the day, when she suddenly said Mama I have my pay from the store in my purse she had forgotten. We now had enough to possibly take a train Strasbourg . As the sun rose we waited at the bus stop, A woman came by and said there is no longer a bus coming to this stop, but invited us into her car and we headed for the next town. We were able to converse in German and she said we were only 3 KM from the train and drove us directly to the station. We boarded the train taking seats in a third class compartment . The cost was unbelievably four marks for all of us. Within half and hour we were in the city. While in the station I used some of our limited money to send the telegram. We found a small tourist place and took one room . We paid 1 mark per night and the place was frightfully dirty, so we slept in our clothes. I bought some cheese and bread and bottled water. In the morning we had their continental breakfast and coffee. At four in the afternoon we went the telegraph office and you had replied. We spent another night in hotel and the next day filled up on the breakfast. We waited three days before a young messenger came to our room and told us a cablegram had arrived for us.We raced to the office and we were told that we were in receipt of a money transfer.”

 

Florence began to tear up at this point .”Gustave and I raced to the telegraph office where a Western Union telegram and a draft for one thousand US dollars awaited us. It was fantastic . We went to the International bank where they issued us with letter of credit and I also took cash.We went to the travel agency where the booking had been made on the ship from Canada named the De Grasse. We had a sumptuous dinner and the next morning we took the train to Paris and then to Le Havre. Everywhere we went there were soldiers and military equipment . Finally after three days waiting we sailed and it was an enormous relief.”

 

They drank coffee and smoked cigarettes and stayed up another night talking. The next day Lisa introduced the family to the man who had paid for their trip and was really their savior. As 1938 ended,Lisa sisters gained employment working in a a bakery shop and Gustave her husband was hired by the Ontario Liquor control store in the warehouse. Florence also found work at the Balmoral Hotel as a front desk clerk because of knowledge of English, French and German.

 

They found an apartment a few blocks from Lisa and Max and were self sufficient. Eventually the visa problems were satisfied but the taunting and badmouthing of people of German abstraction was gaining strength, They were saddened to learn their piano teacher and good friend Frederick Kallman was moving to British Columbia to try and get away from the harangue in Toronto. He had purchased a music shop in Appleton British Columbia in the heart of the fruit belt. He would teach lessons and also have an opportunity to teach music in the local High School . They had big party for him before he left and he said he would stay in touch. It would prove to be a prudent move for the musician and also later the beginning of a new life for Erica and her family.In early 1939 Lisa gave birth to a a healthy little boy whom they called Fred in honor of their friend Frederick Kallman.

 

 

Chapter 5 1939-1945

 

 

 

War broke out on September 1st 1939 and the family tried to keep clear of any discussions. Max was heaped with abuse at his work ,even from  people he had known for years. The work was drying up and he was threatened with dismissal. Erica had become a money earner with her numerous concerts, but she was now greeted with limited applause. They all were quite desperate and in fear.

 

One night as they prepared for bed, there was a loud knocking on their door and two men both in fedora hats and raincoats, despite the fact that Toronto weather was dry requested to speak to them. They were from the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. It had been reported that they were engaged in support for the Nazi cause in Germany. They denied the accusation vehemently but were told in no uncertain terms to watch their step.They all felt embarrassed about the incident. Lisa’s mother tried to come to their rescue but to no avail and they were without their knowledge placed under surveillance.

 

It was not very long before Max’s employer Robert Simpson and the department manager were told -Max was given the sack without a hearing or without notice under the wartime measures act. He was granted a small gratuity for his employment but it would not take care of them for more than a few months. He began to make the rounds of the shops. He approached a jewellery store owner with whom he was acquainted and was given a job strictly on a commission. He had to pick up the work and return them them within forty-eight hours.He found he could fix all they sent his way but it was very stressful. Lisa was given the job of picking up the repairs and Erica making deliveries. He had to purchase his own parts. He began buying them in bulk to save money. Acting as a jobber had it’s benefits as he was now making more money than he had at Simpsons. He decided to branch out and went to another jewellery store and obtained more business than he could handle.He was working non stop seven days a week .Lisa was becoming very concerned about his health, but their bank account was beginning to pile up. It seemed that their luck was changing dramatically.

 

The war swung into full tilt and they decided to purchase a car since automotive manufacture was now being turned into war time production. Erica sought more concerts or entertainment and teamed up with a few young men from school and began to play dances and recreation performances. It was nearly all popular music but it paid quite well. She was working mostly on weekends and the boys would pick her up and they played a number of locations around Toronto. She was earning as much as fifty dollars per week and gave the money to her mother She would be finishing High School in 1940 with the idea of seeking to enrol at the University of Toronto School of Music.When she made application for enrollment she found out she needed to under go an audition. She was asked when she arrived at the school who she had studied with and she could only reply Frederick Kallman .

 

The man and woman conducting the audition were taken aback and questioned her on her ability to perform at the high level required from students being enrolled at the University.

 

’Well in any event play something you know and then we will conduct some other testing.“ they said

 

She sat down and reeled off the first movement of a Beethoven Piano concerto without music . Before they commented she went straight into a Chopin Polonaise.They remunerated for a few moments then began to ask her musical questions on form , unknown composers and harmonic progressions. All of which she was unable to answer. They said nothing about her gifted playing but concentrated on meaningless cross-examination.

 

’We will let you know they said dismissing her.“

 

The so called professors of music were indeed frightened of Erica . So much so because neither of them could even match her sensational ability and they recognized they really could not teach her anything or use her talent to further their scholastic control of the school of music.

 

A week later a letter arrived denying Erica’s application to the Toronto University school of music quoting her lack of knowledge of the elements of music and dashing her hopes for a career in music. In the summer of 1940 she caught on with a local dance band called the Music Makers and was working almost seven nights a week mostly at the resorts in the Toronto vicinity. During the day she listened to her new portable radio picking out the latest tunes which she jotted down on manuscript paper and arranged for the six piece dance group. On arrival before each performance she handed out five or six new tunes which t hey ran and performed that night. Mickey Green the leader was ecstatic because they become well known. Erica was in the musicians union now and got paid twenty five dollars for each arrangement. Her salary amounted to 200 to 300 dollars per week. Again she gave most of the money to her mother, when she turned seventeen, they purchased her  a used car so she could get to her engagements. Erica was earning a living easily as a dance band pianist but it was a still not the dream she envisioned for herself. In the fall of the year she applied to three American Universities schools of Fine Arts. They did not reply to her letters . She made application to three smaller schools in New York one of whom responded by telling her they did not accept candidates from Canada. The war of course closed all European music schools and she had to continue as a swing band pianist.

 

The work for Max was becoming overwhelming. He repaired watches far into the night . He was totally exhausted but it was in his mind essential for their survival to proceed. Their fortunes however were to rise quickly when they received a telegram from Fred Kallman in Appleton BC in early November.

 

Have purchased a jewellery- watch shop in same block .STOP. Need you to manage.STOP. My music store now Music academy need Erica to operate ..STOP. .Letter to follow with terms, will pay for your move to BC

Fred

 

***

 

Appleton was a  town at the time  of 7500 residences located 18 miles from Vernon in the famous Okanogan Valley British Columbia. The town was founded by a firewood pedlar named Jacob Truitt. He had travelled through the area numerous times in his buckboard and liked the fact that it was situated on a small lake and the road leading through the place was well worn . He decided to build a cabin and in 1871. On completion  he made the place his home.He then was able to build a brick structure placed on the roadway where he sold provisions to travellers. Truitt began to buy up the land surrounding the lake and the main road at 4 cents an acre. He encouraged some farmers to move into the vicinity as well  as  a few cattle dealers. One man noticed a preponderance of Cortland apple trees and began to harvest crops for sale. They were the first Apples called Appleton Cortland’s being grown for market. The village under Truitt’s leadership commence to be named Appleton. In 1900 the village applied for incorporation with Truitt as mayor and some of the local business people on the village council. He built a village hall the following year and helped raise money for a Episcopal church. A business man from Victoria built a hotel along with a large dining salon. In 1905 Appleton was designated a town and under the rules, the streets required names and numbers. The main street was named for his uncle,Gibby Whyte Road.or just  Whyte Road Truitt had never married but had hired two young boys early to help in the store and they both became like his sons. The young men took wives from the growing population and settled down to run all of the Truitt empire.Railway service was slow in coming but the Kettle Valley railway began operation in 1907 and the Canadian Pacific railway used it as a branch line to Vernon. The Appleton Sweet Apple business was now known as the Tree Sweet Company and began shipping train loads of crops to Vancouver , Calgary and beyond.

 

Truitt passed away in 1912 and the ownership fell to his two quasi-sons Hadden and Joshua  They owned the entire city blocks of stores and buildings as well as the bank and thousands of acres of land . The competition for apples had begun to grow and they had to help finance a cider plant in town which produced alcoholic and plain cider for sale in the Prairie provinces. When World War 1 began in 1914 the Province took over all sales of alcoholic beverages and purchased only limited quantities of the Cider Ale.

 

By the time Fred Kallman arrived in 1939 there were eleven thousand residents in Appleton. He took over a run down music store and immediately upgraded the stock. He also redesigned the store with four small teaching studios in the back. He changed the scope of the store into both a music store and academy of music. He found that he was unable to keep up with the demand for pianos and violins.He hired a local violinist from Britain to teach to teach strings and a wood wind musician from the nearby city of Penticton to also teach. Kallman. was hired by the local school board to teach music at the Regional High School and began a band and orchestra programme where he rented and sold instruments to the students. He hired a young woman to help run the store and became romantically involved with her. He finally married her after town’s people began to talk.

 

In was in late 1941 with the war now in it’s first year that he noticed the ‘For Sale’ sign on the jewellery and watchmaker shop. He made inquiries and learned that the owner was ill and unable to work. The shop was selling for seventy-five hundred dollars and without thinking Fred purchased the store and the entire stock including the fixtures. It was at this point that he wired to Max and wrote a letter to him and the family:

 

Meine liebsten Freunde

 

My dearest Friends

 I greet you from a marvellous town in the province of British Columbia . This week I purchased a well established Jewellery and watchmaker shop which would be perfect for you and Lisa to operate. You can pay me back after you get started and as well I can offer Erica full time job as the piano teacher in my music store. I will pay all your expenses to travel here on the train which comes to a station near here. I suggest you sell your furniture and I will assist you in locating a home for you as well as furniture The weather is very good here with very little snow and lots of sunshine. I am married now to a lovely lady named Elizabeth who runs the store and does the books. She is absolutely a beautiful person. Let me know soonest dear and good friends. With much love and respect

 

Fred

 

***

 

They were amazed at the offer, it was the answer to their dreams. To get away from Toronto and begin their lives again. To give both of their children an opportunity to grow up in a small  community without all of the injustice and hate now prevalent in the city. Erica was not sure. She was playing every night and making a good living. Max said she could do that kind of work anywhere and this was an opportunity to teach as well as play concerts and dances. It was settled after some heated discussions that they would move to British Columbia.

 

****

 

Within six weeks they disposed of their furniture, packed their bags and purchased train tickets. Max jokingly said he was going to buy a cowboy hat. They were unable to obtain births on the train, with the war in full swing , soldiers got first pick. Young Fred was now nearly two years old and he was experiencing teething problems. They all took turns holding him , the dining car was packed constantly and  as a result they purchased sandwiches. When they arrived in Winnipeg several soldiers came aboard and they were moved to a very ancient railway car. There was very little heat and they went long periods without meals. Other families on the move also experienced the very same conditions. The soot from the engine filtered into the car, and they were sickened by it. On arrival in Calgary they had to change trains to the Kettle Valley train a branch line of the Canadian Pacific.The trains were three car arrangements and they found that they were very comfortable. Max and Erica had found several stalls in the train station in Calgary where they purchased bread, milk soft drinks and fruit. For the first time in three nights they all slept well. The train was a local and stopped numerous times all night to take on and discharge passengers.  Early the next morning they saw a breathtaking view of mountains, wildlife and bright sunshine. Just before noon they were told that the next stop would be their destination. To their utter surprise the train slowed down completely in desolate place and they were ushered off the train with their numerous pieces of luggage and told that their transportation would arrive shortly.

 

***

 

There were two very old benches to wait on but as they began to bide their time the place grew eerie. They had very little food or water but waited patiently. Suddenly they could hear a very noisy tractor in the distance and within minutes it arrived pulling a farm wagon with benches built into the inside and a tarpaulin cover. The driver was a man of very few words and bid them to get in .

 

“I charge one dollar each” , he said and Max paid him immediately.

 

’How far is it to Appleton “Max asked as they pulled away.

 

“Vernon is as far as I goes” he said turning away to change his gears.

 

They rode in silence as the wagon bumped along and they could feel every jolt in their bodies. The baby slept without a whimper, but Erica complained bitterly that her teeth were beginning to hurt from the impact of the bad roads they were experiencing.

 

Thankfully within a half hour they saw the outskirts of Vernon and before long arrived at the a main street arrival station. They boarded a cab for the final destination arriving in the late afternoon in Appleton. Fred greeted them and arranged for them to stay at the hotel nearby on the outskirts. They hugged and kissed and were delighted to meet Fred’s new wife and her family. Fred piled them into his car taking them to the hotel and later that evening they had dinner in the main restaurant in town known as the “Cosy Grill.”

 

They settled down for a few days at the hotel until Fred found them a small house with two bedrooms and a tiny kitchen, bathroom and dining area. There was very little furniture but they were happy and were able to get by with what they found in the house. After waiting four days they were happy to get an opportunity to visit the store they had come to take over. Located on the main street it was next to a small dress shop. on one side and a shoe maker repair shop. The sign above the store was very old and needed re painting. When they entered the place they all noticed how dusty and dirty it was. There was also a very strong smell of human waste coming from the back where the toilet was situated. The stock in the form of watches and other accessories was extremely old and quite shop worn. The counters were badly streaked and were cracked. The cash register was an antique, along with other fixtures . At the rear of the store was a watch makers bench that was covered with cigarette burns and had become very flimsy. The floors were filthy with a grit that seemed to seep into their footwear. Erica walked out after nearly throwing up. Lisa was thankful that they did not bring her baby and had left him with a young girl at the hotel.

 

Fred kept saying it can be cleaned and we will get some professional cleaners to do the work. Throughout the entire ordeal of viewing the shop Max said very little. He walked around viewing the place considering his options without commenting.or just muttering to Lisa in German. He motioned to them to move to the outside where Erica stood with her hands gripping a lamppost. Max walked over and whispered to her and she joined the group.

 

“ It is a challenge, to bring this place up to where we can conduct business, especially since we are now coming into the Christmas season , which is very important for making a profit in the first year. We need to clean it up and also we need new fixtures, but with war time we will have to have a carpenter build them and very quickly. I need a work bench in front and in the back. I will need to go to Vancouver to seek some stock, watches, diamond rings, gift ware and other items. The stock in this store is so depleted that we could not do any enough sales to keep operating. The cash register is so old it would be of no use to us. The windows need to be dressed with goods. We will need some help to get going. Erica must go to work teaching at your studio and we will need a care person for little Fred” he said in Grrman to the group.

 

“I will finance whatever you need up to a point of course” Fred commented immediately

 

Lisa had listened to the exchange without making a remark and then decided to add her concerns in English

 

“We already owe you several thousand dollars, and we will need more money to get started. At least by my estimate we need another five to 10 thousand dollars more, we may not be able to pay you back for several years. We have no more than 1500.00 between us. We also owe you for the train fares and the rent you put down on the house. If you will loan us the money over five years we will try and pay it back,We have to get started as soon as possible.

 

Without hesitating Fred agreed to make them a loan of 10 thousand dollars and including what he had already paid out the total amount was now 20 thousand . Erica said she would have money deducted from her pay as a teacher to help the family, but Max said he would not let her contribute her salary, but would ask she pay for a portion of the upkeep on their house and buy groceries. The shook hands and the business venture for the family was begun . The next day , cleaners came in and the the renovation began in earnest.They were working nearly day and night with their target date looming. Max took the train to Vancouver seeking wholesalers who would sell him goods he was seeking. He found sellers on Commercial street. He purchased several items that were still available and used his letter of credit which had been arranged by Fred Kallman. He also visited the Westclox company distributors to purchase their entire stock of the dollar pocket watches. He decided to spend every last cent of the eight thousand dollar credit letter. He also did not want to have to carry any good s so he had everything delivered. The next day he returned to Appleton completely exhausted. He had spent the night in the railway station . A carpenter had come in while he was away and begun work on the counters and his two work benches. Lisa had had the sign repainted with the new name MAX JEWELLER and WATCHMAKER , A number of people had come by to wish them good luck both Max and Lisa were becoming quite excited.

 

***

 

Erica was now teaching several piano students each week. Fred had transferred all of his piano students to her and she was quite busy especially in the late afternoon. She still found time during the day to assist her parents in their store. One day a young man dressed in a cowboy outfit came into the music store speak to her.

 

“Billy Steel ” he said flashing a wide smile with pearly white teeth.

 

She introduced herself to him and asked him to take a seat.

 

“I was just wondering if you did any Country music, because we are looking for a piana player”.

 

“I played in several dance bands in Toronto before coming out here. What kind of material do you play”

 

“Mostly country, with a few pops , we have a singer named Betsy who can warble a number of the new hits and we sort of honk -tonk the rest.”

 

“How much do you pay and how often do you work” she said growing more interested.

 

’Well we play mostly on the weekends,all of us have day jobs, like I have a small apple juice plant down the road I could pay you $15.00 for each job and transportation and also outfit you in cowgirl dress. We call ourselves the RAMBLERS . We have drums, two guitars and I play the fiddle. Betsy also plays the guitar if we need her“

 

“I am interested of course but could I come by a rehearsal and see how it works out” she said and they shook hands with Billy giving her information of where they were practicing at the local church basement the following Saturday morning.

 

Erica mentioned the offer to her parents and they were very supportive of her getting outside work. Fred said the group were not very good but at least a start for her.She attended the rehearsal and was amazed at how poorly they played . The idea struck her that she could improve this small band by training them to play in tune and by adding a much needed saxophone. Betsy the singer was really not bad but back phrased the words of the songs so badly that it would be hard to dance.

 

The music was what they called Western songs but most were totally corny tunes . Finally Erica stopped the group and spoke about what she thought.

 

“I hope none of you will mind my saying but this group is out of tune , the starts and finishes are hopeless, and the chord progressions do not fit the melodies. She began to take one of the tunes, CANADIAN SUNSET and showed them how far out they were with the music itself. She went through a waltz called ROCKY MOUNTAIN FLOWERS and illustrated how badly they had played the opening and the chorus. She kept on illustrating by playing the tunes they had played showing them how faulty their playing was.

 

By the time she was finished she had nearly torn them limb from limb going over their insecurity in starts and how they kept having the so called musical train wrecks .

 

Bob Brown the drummer said“what do you suggest we do, pack in and start again or what?”

 

“No that is not the answer, we need to take time to tune and to actually learn the music also we need to have count ins and clear endings where we all stop together, We need to put in a lot more time than an hour on Saturday morning. As well you need a good melody carrier and so we need a saxophone player, that doubles on possibly clarinet and flute”

 

They sat and talked for several hours and then headed over to the town restaurant for lunch. They had a dance that night so all afternoon Erica worked with them on the pieces they were to play that night. She was a hard task master but they seemed to enjoy her constant criticism. Betsy needed special help. She was very unrhythmic. Erica sang along with her on the tunes she needed help. Within a short time Betsy was able to vocalize in time with the music.

 

The dance went quite well considering their numerous faults. Early the next week when Erica was teaching when a very handsome young man entered the music shop and introduced himself as Ned Barlow from Penticton. I play sax, clarinet and he said, I got a call from my pal Bob Brown of the Ramblers. I would be quite happy to join up if I am good enough.She shook hands with him and noticed that she could smell a very distinctive after shave

 

They talked fora few minutes and he took out his sax tuned it up and she mentioned a tune that the band played and he nodded. He was not just good she thought he was amazing, he also pulled out his clarinet and roamed over the liquorish stick with agility.

 

“You are terrific and as far as I am concerned exactly what we need for the Ramblers. They made arrangements for him to come to the next rehearsal and just before he left Fred Kallman spoke to him about teaching at the studio and he gladly accepted to begin after the Christmas season.

 

Erica had just turned eighteen. She suddenly fell in love with this newcomer into her life. .

 

***

 

Max and Lisa decided a target date to open their new store. The place was spic and span and people from the town stopped in to wish them good luck. Flowers arrived from various stores  on the block and the Mayor Grant Hisslop came in for a photo opportunity in the weekly newspaper the Appleton Times. By the time the Christmas season had passed they were sold out of all of their gift items and numerous jewellery and watches.which gave them working capital as well as being able to repay Fred Kallman some of the money they owed him. Max was also inundated with watch repairs which became their bread and butter during a slow season

 

In 1942 the municipality were approached by the Government of Canada Defence department to see if the town would consider the building of a Prisoner of War camp outside on a property originally owned by Jacob Truitt, the pioneer settler. The plan were forwarded to the town planners and they noticed that there were to be 12 bunkhouses,a hospital,dining hall and a recreation building. The outside enclosure was to be an electrified fence with a gate wide enough for trucks to pass through.There were also to be quarters for the Guards and various buildings to house administration and storage. Towers were indicated on the diagrams as well as machine gun nests. The area that was required was almost 200 acres of land which would be turned back when the war ended. It was a considerable amount of money for the town and in addition work for people both in Appleton and the surrounding areas.The town accepted the deal and the work began in the Fall .

 

Business in the town increased considerably and both Max’s store and Fred’s music Academy were constantly busy. Fred had started selling Hohner Marine Band harmonicas and he continuously sold out his stock. In seemed like the POW venture was just starting when it was announced in the pages of the newspaper that the Camp would soon be open just before Christmas.

 

The Commandant of the camp was Colonel Art Grundwald . He was a First World war Veteran who had remained in the Army during peacetime and was from Regina Saskatchewan . He had retired in 1939 but was recalled to duty to take over the camp. He spoke German fluently and was a Mennonite with strong moral convictions. Soon after arriving in town he made himself known to the residents by having a town meeting arranged by the Mayor and town council. He was well spoken with a strong military bearing. He reiterated several times  the Guard Battalion were all experienced soldiers whom he trained in the Army establishment in Victoria British Columbia. He said that towns people were safe and that the POWs would be given jobs to do, such as working in the fields and various other farm employment.

 

The Camp opened on a wintery blustery day in early February 1943. The first POW’s were from the German Air Force and Navy many of whom were well educated and spoke English fluently. The group included some German Royalty , with Captain Baron Von Hauser as the most well known, he had been captured in Sicily when the Allies landed .The highest ranking officer incarcerated in the camp was Lt General Hans Biedermeier who had been kidnapped by partisans in Crete. Biedermeier had served before the war as a military attache at the German Consulate in New York city. He reminded Colonel Grundwald that under the Geneva Convention it was the duty of a prisoner to escape captivity.

 

The day after the General arrived he was ushered into Grundwald’s office. General Biedermeier immediately launched into his comments in regard to the Geneva Convention.Grunwald politely asked him to sit down across from him. The Colonel reached down into his desk drawer and withdrew a bottle of Crown Royal whiskey.

 

“Before we begin our talk Herr General he said in German”. Possibly I can interest you in a shot of Good Canadian Whiskey.“

 

The General nodded his ascent. They sat in silence for a few moments both relishing the smooth taste of the alcohol.The Camp Commandant then opened the top drawer of his desk and withdrew three tins of McDonalds flat fifties of cigarettes. He passed them over to the General and remarked they were special for the General, the second in Command of the POW’s Navy Commander Heinze Buchardt and Captain Baron Von Hauser.

 

Grunwald then began to speak in a very official manner in English.

 

“General this camp was designed to offer comfort to the enemy as required by the Geneva Covention. We have five very good cooks, and they are all of German extraction.The food is based on the meals prepared for Canadian Servicemen. There will be two choices-meat and chicken , vegetables,special rye bread of German Pumpernickel, deserts as well as fruit.There is a six bed hospital manned by a military doctor, 2 military nurses, and four military medical orderlies. It will be open twenty fours hours a day. Unfortunately not all the Guards speak German but I am sure we will make do. My assistant whom you will meet shortly is Captain Alex Gordon, a Scotsman who was invalided back to Canada after the Dieppe debacle. The Guards for this camp were hand picked because they were strong willed, good sharp shooters and at times they can be very impertinent and objectionable. You may complain if they are taking advantage of their position. Now Herr General you must understand Grunwald said in a very authoritarian voice FOR YOU THE WAR IS OVER, YOU ARE A PRISONER of war in Canadian Camp, nothing will change that situation. This fact you must instill in your soldiers, sailors and airmen”

 

Col Grunwald then reiterated imperatively in German repeating the same warning .

 

“ I will tell you also my men have been ordered to shoot to kill any prisoners who attempt to escape . That rule will remain in place until you guarantee for me that your subordinates will not make an attempt to leave this facility without authority. I want you to know that your people will be hired if you like by local fruit farmers at the going rate . I also can provide other jobs for those who want something more stimulating. Medical people will get an opportunity to work in the hospital. They may list peacetime occupations that will assist in the running of the camp. There will be no slave labor of any kind, all jobs will be paid, cigarette rations will be doled out every day. There will be no smoking in the bunk houses, because of he possibility of fire.We will have a library and it will be managed by a young woman from Northern BC. Recreation is in the hands of a retired teacher named Lenny Brown from Vancouver. There will be all sports that may be played. A morning parade will be held every day except Saturday and Sunday which you will attend and be saluted. You will be saluted by all the personnel on this camp on my orders including me. .I will have tailor visit shortly so that you all will have a summer and winter uniform made . There will be church services twice on Sunday , one for catholics and the other for all faiths. Attendance is not mandatory. You and I will meet for lunch every Monday in the mess hall and you may voice your concerns. On the first monday of each month the Commander of Prison camps will be here for inspection. The turnout of all service personnel will be perfect so we can continue to receive special benefits. Every month everyone will receive a Red Cross parcel packed and sent from Eastern Canada. Lastly you have been brought up to hate minorities such as Jews and others. I will not permit or know of any remarks, conversations, or other discussions regarding this matter at any time. I will jail anyone including you and any rank initially for seven days in the punishment building number 10. The rations are limited, the cells are 4 by 6 and you will be required to be 23 hours in your cell.I might also add that the Canadian Prisoner of War service is very lenient but we do have a camp for those that decide to get up to no good. One last thing ,Sgt Major Evans of my staff is a retired associate warden of the Kingston Penitentiary, he is as tough as nails and it would be very smart of you to advise all of your people to stay clear of him in regards to misdeeds.

 

The General had listened with interest to the camp Commandants directive and they shook hands with very little further conversation.In May of the camp was almost nearly at capacity as a number of submariners arrived.

 

Colonel Grunwald decided to begin lending out prisoners to local apple farmers for assistance in picking and general farm work. He also began running short trips in military vehicles for the prisoners to see the countryside. A driver named Cpl Paul Watts from the motor pool had begun stopping with his group at a roadside Inn where he treated them to a beer. Watts was a very big man who liked his beer . The first few times it was a short visit to the pub but on one occasion he found he needed the washroom quickly and left his wallet, and keys on the table. There were eight German sailors in the group and after waiting for Watts nearly half an hour they decided something was quite wrong. One of the men made his way out to the men’s room and found Watts slumped over on the toilet and dead. None of the Germans spoke English but the oldest ran over and try to tell the bar tender who followed him over to the washroom. Noting the man was indeed dead, he called the RCMP office close by. They arrived within a few minutes. The men were very upset by now. The police officer called the camp but some how there was no answer. He pointed at the truck and using sign language asked if anyone could drive, One man who had been a lorry driver in the German army stepped forward. The men boarded the truck beginning their search for the return to the camp . They became lost several times because they were unable to read the road signs. Finally a man in a Ford coupe was seen on the side of the road and the driver pointed and said “camp” . The man understood and they followed him to the entrance.

 

The guards at the gates were astounded . Here were eight German prisoners who could have escaped , they had a van and Watts had left his wallet on the table with a recent pay. Yet they made their choice to return to camp. Colonel Grundwald was elated but told them to keep the matter to themselves. The next day they were invited to his office and he extolled their honesty. They were given extra rations of cigarettes and a bottle of beer. He also selected them to be the first trusties that were allowed to walk freely in Appleton. The men were all hailed by the Guards as heros and honest responsible POW,s and it was through this experience that five of the men returned to take up citizenship in Canada after the war. General Biedermeier and the other officers were extremely unhappy that the men did not make an effort to escape. The oldest member of the group Petty Officer August Gruber  spoke up for the group and for others in the camp when he said

 

“Escape to where my General, no U boats await us at sea, we do not speak the language, we cannot hide , we are indeed prisoners on another continent , thousands of miles from the Fuehrer, and the Gestapo. To steal a boat, and live to tell the tale would be suicidal. We are trying to make the best of this situation and so far it is a success. For the most part we are free, to roam the town. My wife knows where I am and a roof over our heads and three meals a day is okay by me. Sei realistisch und bleibe am Leben, bis der Krieg vorbei ist- Be realistic and relax until the war is over.”

 

***

 

In The early summer some of the men asked the recreation director if they may have musical instruments and form a small orchestra .The Commandant was approached and was very enthusiastic about the idea. He sent the Recreation director to see Fred Kallman at the music store . Kallman said he needed to know what they required and would provide the instruments at 10% against cost which Colonel Grunwald thought was very generous. After doing a canvas of the camp it was found that they would need violins , a flute, clarinet and a bass fiddle. Kallman provided music which he obtained from an orchestra in Kamloops that was taking a break for the duration of the war. It was discovered that a a submariner had been a professional violinist before the war and he was elected leader. Erica was asked to join them to play piano.

 

The violinist was Helmet Koenig , captured from a U Boat DS- 43which had experienced mechanical problems and were dead in the water. Batteries had failed to work and they had been at a point of desperation until they were sighted by the Canadian Cruiser Athabaska nearly 100 miles off the coast of Newfoundland . Koenig was the third officer and spoke some English. The Captain was sent to a POW camp in Nova Scotia but other crew members were sent to various other sites throughout Canada as was the policy of separating unit personnel.

 

***

 

Helmet Koenig was born in Kiel on the North Sea in 1920. is father was a master sea man who had served during World war 1 in battle Ships. Following the war he returned to Kiel and began a career on trans Atlantic Freighters , plying the seas from Germany to South America. He had married during the war and his wife bore him 3 children, Helmet’s older sisters Marietta had married a Doctor from Madrid and now lived in Spain, his other sister Cassandra lived at home. When Helmet was eight years old his mother started him on violin with a local teacher. Over a period of time it was discovered that he had talent and he began to play with local quartettes and residential orchestras. His father who was away a great deal of time wanted him to develop seamanship skills as well. When he was twelve in 1932 he was selected to be a midshipman on the liner the SS Breman . He served on the ship for five years. and was able to continue his playing by entertaining passengers during the afternoons. He became very popular with a his Gypsy style of violin playing. In 1937 he returned to Kiel where he began to play in local restaurants and hotels. His playing did begin to draw attention and he was engaged to perform with the Tempest string group. In early 1939 when he had just turned nineteen he was drafted into the German Submarine service and began his training. On graduation he was ordered to the Sub U -425 and later to the Submarine U-43 where he was captured in January 1943. All of the contents had been confiscated by the Canadian Destroyer and  one of his valued violins was among the items.After arriving in the camp he wrote letters asking for the release of the instrument but he was advised that all items of a personal nature were to be held until the war ended.

 

He was very disappointed until he heard that instruments were going to be available, and he immediately went to the his superior Captain Baron Von Hauser .to have his name placed on the list.

 

Fred Kallman began to receive the instruments and invited the musicians to come to his shop to test them out. When Helmet appeared he was very dismayed at the quality of the violins. He expressed to Kallman that the instruments were very rudimentary, particularly the way in which the frog and strings had been installed. They discussed the matter for sometime before Fred mentioned that he would research the possibility of obtaining a violin or two from some collections he had heard about.

 

***

 

Fred began to call to various string players in province that he knew until he spoke to a collector in Vancouver who possessed a set of violins he was willing to rent to him at a very reasonable fee but would need to be insured. The were part of the Antonio Ippolito collection , a Italian instrument maker of the 17th century. Kallman called the Commandant and relayed the information and that the fee would be ongoing and was quite inexpensive. He also had checked on the insurance and found it very high. Colonel Grundwald called his superior in Vancouver and was given the okay to rent the violins as well as pay the insurance fees.

 

Kallman headed to Vancouver with cheque in hand to pay for a one year lease, he paid the owner and took two violins and a viola, and stopped at the Canada-Wide insurance agency, and paid the insurance fees for a one year period. He was late in arriving back in Appleton but made sure the string instruments were safely locked in his home. The next day Helmet accompanied by a trusty went o the Kallman music store where he auditioned the instruments and proclaimed how marvellous they were and how excited he was with Kallman’s work. It was at this time that Helmet met Erica. She was playing one of the many pianos in the store when he arrived and he immediately could hear that she was a star studded pianist. After testing out the string instruments he stopped to speak with Erica whom to his delight spoke fluent German. He was almost immediately very enamored with her.

 

Erica was now twenty years old. She was  pretty  and quite attractive. Her hair fell beautifully down on her shoulders she spent a good deal of her toilet brushing her coiffure. She wore metal frame glasses which made her appear studious and her complexion was very clear. Erica had white teeth which helped to make her look appealing. Her plutonic friendship with Ned Barlow had ended when he enlisted in the military and took a job in the Canadian Army Show. Overseas. His replacement in the Rambler’s was a pimply faced youth from Summerland BC who was beginning to develop into a good sax player. She also found Helmet good looking and polite. He did speak English although haltingly but he was very anxious for her to join their orchestra.

 

The orchestra rehearsals were held in the recreation hall on Monday evenings.The missing parts such as cello and trombone for the orchestral pieces were filled in by Erica on piano. They went through several titles and it served two purposes .To evaluate the players and to see what would be suitable for a small orchestra. The violins with the exception of Helmet were amateur musicians but seemed to be able to hold their own in a orchestra setting. The clarinettist had been in a military band in Vienna Austria and played very well. The flautist was a young man who had been captured during the Africa campaign but who had really just walked into the allied camp and given himself up. The group decided to play a concert the following month which was October of 1943. After visiting with the orchestra Colonel Grundwald decided that they should practise during the day two days week.

 

***

 

Helmet played brilliantly and began to take the lead in the orchestra. He continued to search among the POW’s for more musicians, but it was not until January of 1944 that the Camp now known as Camp 222 increased the intake. The newcomers however were captured in France and were members of the Hitler’s Das Reich killers battalion. They were kept separately from other prisoners because of their brutality. They were extremely dangerous and were still very loyal to Hitler. Colonel Commandant Grundwald assigned them to a new officer to arrive a Captain named Younger who had been a police Sergeant before the war in Toronto. He was a tough cop with a reputation for striking first and asking questions aterward . Special Guards were placed in charge of the three dozen men. They started out to raise a ruckus . The Guards began to get severe, reducing the cigarette rations, marching them to the dining hall and confronting their every misbehavior. A month after they arrived , the newest camp Sgt Major joined the establishment. His name was Alvin Running Bear and he was called Chief.

 

. Instantly they became respectful. The guards noticed that just looking at the CHIEF they shriveled up. Mostly because of his giant appearance he was held in awe He was the most immaculate soldier they had ever seen. But what also contributed to his appearance was a scar which ran down his left cheek that looked very nasty. He was as they found a man of few words. His utterances were mostly in the form of two or three words. Even some of the guards were mesmerized by the shortness of his orders. Captain Younger his senior officer was the able to get him in conversations. The new POW’s became very obedient. But what was most fascinating was that two of them were string players. Heinrich Selfert played cello and Basel Braun played violin. They were immediately transferred to the orchestra cabin where the musicians were quartered.

 

Erica had a very demanding schedule. She taught every day except Sunday at the Kallman music academy and Tuesday and Thursday afternoons were set aside for the orchestra. Helmet proved to be a stern task master as leader of the ensemble. He would stand in front and play the lead .Erica found the rehearsals scintillating. The players were rounding into a formidable group. Helmet and Erica spoke sparingly but his eyes had a way of saying it all. He rarely smiled but she began to feel he was becoming fascinated by her with constantly focusing his gaze on her when he addressed the group. The camp commandant was becoming very excited by the level of musicianship the orchestra was reaching and ordered that on completion of their rehearsals that refreshments were to be served after the practice. On these occasions Helmet would speak to her about a number of musical questions which were arising during rehearsal. The others also approached her and asked about her training. Erica did not smoke but she brought Sweet Caporals cigarettes not usually available to POW’s so they could have a good smoke.

 

The seasons changed from fall to Winter and it was resolved to play a Christmas concert for the inmates. The same concert would also be played for the town’s people at the local United Church of Appleton. Posters were printed and were distributed. The response proved to be exceptional, as it was standing room only. The musicians were elated and following the concert the town provided a reception. The senior leadership of the German POW’s were invited and failed to appear.

 

Commandant Grundwald was not happy he requested that General Biedermeier come to his office prior to their weekly meeting.

 

“I was very disappointed that you and the senior echelon did not attend the concert in town. I would have had a car take you all”

 

“Colonel Grundwald I do not owe you an explanation for my actions ” he said in English

 

“I find this very uncooperative General and furthermore without any rationale. Your service personnel are for the most part performing in this group and they would be very proud if their senior serving officers would attend.”

 

“This is your pet project Colonel, not mine; most of my people are doing very unpopular work in this camp and at the farms around here”.

 

“You have not come forward at any of our meetings or to my office and provided me with alternatives, you have not at any time addressed the prisoners and furthermore you have asked and been given extra rations which I approved ”.

 

“Rank has its privileges’ the General said glaring at the Commandant.

 

Colonel Grundwald had had enough of the arrogance of the General and dismissed him.

 

Following General Biedermeier’s departure, Grundwald called his superior General Hugh McKinnon in Vancouver and explained the situation.

 

“No problem for me Colonel I will send you a Submariner captain named Untermeyer who has asked to go to your installation from Yorkton because he has learned that you have an orchestra and he plays guitar and saxophone. I will send him with the next draft of prisoners probably in a week”

 

“I will send the General tomorrow with two of my guards by road, the roads  are not  too bad I have heard”

 

General McKinnon chuckled, “your General is not going to like Yorkton, and they have two other Generals with an array of high ranking officers who are always trying to figure a way to escape”.

 

Grundwald rang off after they spoke about the war and how well it was going.

 

He called in his 2 I/C and advised him that General “B” was being transferred to Yorkton Saskatchewan and that a prison van was to be used to take him there. Two guards were also needed to be dispatched who would take turns driving. Colonel Grundwald was so happy with his decision that he went to the Officer’s mess and had a few drinks to celebrate.

 

***

 

The concert for the prisoners was to be held two days before Christmas. Helmet and Erica planned out the music and Captain Untermeyer arrived a week before. Helmet knew him and he was overjoyed to have him play in the orchestra. There were no saxophone or guitar parts but Erica scribbled out the entire concert repertoire for him. Helmet was impressed with Erica’s diligence and knowledge of part writing. Untermeyer was now the most senior POW in the camp and at a Friday parade, announced the concert and that it would be at lunchtime and everyone will attend. It was to be a special occasion and the Christmas meal was to be Turkey served by the guards. It was a tradition in the Canadian Army that Officers and NCO’s would act as servers and that each­­­ POW was to receive a small gift, donated by the Town of Appleton and a special Red Cross parcel.

 

The lunch went off like clockwork and many Christmas carols were sung . The orchestra was a big hit with the prisoners. Captains Untermeyer thanked the camp commandant and a bottle of Canadian Beer was given to all.

 

After the new year of 1944, Erica and Helmet were given permission to perform as a duo, and practiced at the camp. The music had a style that brought them together. Helmet would often stop and tears would come to his eyes when she played. To him her expression within the music was highly emotional. Helmet began at times to gently wrap his arm around her shoulders to demonstrate admiration. It was during these occasions that she began to sense a thrill especially in her loins. At night she would lay in bed and her only thoughts were of Helmet, she had become bewitched by him, smitten by his old world charm. Erica could hardly wait for each of their meetings to rehearse. A new beauty parlor had opened in town and she began to go on a weekly basis to have her hair done. It didn’t take long for her mother to recognize Erica’s actions had all the appearances of a love affair. Lisa became quite concerned because she felt Erica had lived a somewhat sheltered life and there was the possibility of her making very bad choices.

 

Before long Lisa approached Erica and asked her directly what was going on.

 

‘Erica I can’t fail to notice you are dolling yourself up recently and although I am happy to see you are becoming quite feminine I think there is a good reason?”

 

Erica was caught short on the question, she stammered for a few minutes and then as usual with her mother blurted out that she was quite interested in Helmet. She ran down all of his qualities and especially his musicianship. The conversation had been up to that point in German but Lisa began to speak in English.

 

“Darling he is a prisoner of war and the war as I understand has a long way to go. We are very proud of you. You are a marvelous pianist and you must not do anything to ruin your reputation. You have to beware of the pitfalls of any romantic undertaking with a POW. Beyond the fact that Helmet and the others are not able to have girlfriend relationships, they are the enemy, we are Canadians and we must not let our German ancestry stand in the way of that fact”

 

Erica began to sob and her mother comforted her but was still worried about her and the possibilities of a bad outcome

 

A summer electrical storm swept across the Okanogan valley and caused a crash in the circuits of the town and camp. The afternoon meal was in preparation for the prisoners and had to be terminated with the prisoners receiving sandwiches and a stale desert. Several  of the guards were called to the dining room when the POW’s began banging their plates on the table. Then within seconds a riot erupted, with prisoners attacking the Guards who were unable to control the onslaught. The alarm was set off, with the night guard being awakened and whom were assembled. Colonel Grundwald placed an emergency call to the Army camp in Vernon where troops of the Rocky Mountain Rangers were immediately placed on alert . They were sent by truck to the POW camp only a few miles away. Bren gun carriers were also activated and joined the troops.

 

The combination of the guard’s battalion and the Rocky Mountain Rangers soon bought the disturbance under control. But major damage had been sustained including the furniture breakage and two large industrial coffee urns that were beyond repair. Serving tables had also sustained serious ruin. The Commandant was extremely upset later when order had been restored he was directed to convene a board of inquiry, with two officers from headquarters in attendance,

 

The camp was placed in lockdown meaning POW’s were not permitted to leave their quarters even for meals which were brought in with a potable kitchen to each of the huts. The noise subsided but the POW’s were still seething with rage. The board of Inquiry ­ convened two weeks later with powers to call all witnesses and the camp remained in lockdown. Two Generals from Ottawa were part of the team of officers on the board. Their attendance proved to be a complete joke . Both had been called up for service but had little or no experience in military court procedure. They showed up each morning completely hung over and asked so many questions that Colonel Grundwald became quite angry. Finally he took them aside and advised them to remain quiet or he would ask to have them recalled.

 

The board called all of the German officers who gave different versions of the events but were staunch in defending the action saying the men were not happy with the meals, not just the sandwiches on the occasion of the electrical storm.

 

The board met three days after the testimony was taken for a meeting to discuss how to attribute blame for the riot. The Generals were adamant that the German Officers were responsible because it was their responsibility to keep their men under control. Colonel Commandant Grundwald was not in accordance, with their findings and relied on a Major who led a platoon from the Rocky Mountain Rangers that had been called to put down the rebellion. He said that the officers may not have been in control but that to assign the fault to the officers would only fire up the POW’s even more but would cause more disturbances. . He suggested that they call in Captain Untermeyer and literally read him the riot act. He alone would be held accountable for further acts of disorder. In the same vein he and the other officers would be asked to provide ideas for improvement to the camp life including the meals.

 

Erica had been pining for Helmet while the camp was on the lock down and she was very excited when the restrictions were lifted. Her mother was aghast at her behavior but said very little. The day the restriction was lifted Erica journeyed quickly to the camp to meet Helmet at the cabin where the orchestra rehearsed. None of the others were around and on seeing him she ran to him and threw all caution to the wind. He wrapped his strong arms around her and they kissed in the open. She also put her arms around his neck hand holding tightly. Neither of them spoke until she uttered a statement of eternal love.

 

She whispered in his ear “I will love forever my dearest Helmet- Du bist mein wahrer Liebe Helm ich werde dich ewig lieben, vermisste ich dich so sehr und jetzt unsere Seelen müssen ein

 

They kissed and hugged to the point where Helmet became aroused. They saw some other musicians approaching and separated immediately pretending to shake hands, but Erica was so giddy and flushed that they all recognized and knew that Erica and Helmet were now heavily involved with each other.

 

***

 

Lisa was becoming quite concerned and warned Erica to be warned that she would get herself in trouble. It all came to a head when she arrived home quite early one afternoon after picking up your Fred from school and expecting them to be practicing and found them wrapped in each other’s arms on the couch in the living room. Erica was half dressed and Helmet although fully dressed was in a excited state.

 

“Do you call this practicing” She said sending young Fred to his room.

 

“I expect you to act like adults and especially you Helmet, after all you are a prisoner with benefits and you are taking advantage of my daughter. Erica please leave the room I want to talk to Helmet”.

 

Erica resisted but her mother was extremely angry and pointed to the door, Helmet suggested that she go to her room. Erica resisted but her mother was extremely angry and pointed to the door,

 

Erica was distraught because she knew her mother was going to take action against Helmet if their affair did not crease. She began her warning to Helmet in German:-

 

“Helmet you are a POW and our enemy, and your countrymen have been murdering people, mostly Jews as I understand the news. For you to use your musical skills to take an advantage of a young impressionable woman is reprehensible. I want you to stop seeing her in this house. You are no longer welcome and furthermore I will go to the commandant and report you if you do. Now please leave and stay away from Erica, you are spoiling her reputation and making our life as New Canadians a misery.”

 

He left immediately and but for an unforeseen incident he would probably would not have followed Lisa’s caution.

 

Erica was extremely upset and told her mother that she would be seeking her own apartment in town. Lisa tried to talk her out of making the move. But by Christmas of 1944 she had found a small flat located near Fred’s music store. Max had said very little about the situation with Helmet and Erica except to say that Erica was now 21 and it was time for her to move out on her own.

 

***

 

The last prisoners to be assigned to the Appleton camp arrived in early February 1945. They were captured in September 1944 at the French Port of Calais which the Canadian Army had liberated. There were ten of them, two of whom were dyed in the wool staunch Nazis, Volker Dietrich and Rudolph Felder. The entire groups were housed separately because of being investigated for war crimes in France. They were going to be turned over to the French government when the war ended. Colonel Grundwald notified Captain Untermeyer of the conditions of their incarceration. They were under constant guard by 4 members of the guard battalion and were marched to all meals which were at a different time than the other prisoners. A week after they arrived, officers visited them in their quarters. Helmet led the group and questioned them about their treatment .On the second occasion of Helmet’s visit he was attacked by the group and beaten very badly before the guards were able to stop the clobbering . He was very badly pummeled by the group, both kicked and struck about the face. He was immediately taken away by ambulance to the hospital emergency in Camp Vernon where he was treated for external and internal injuries. The most serious of his injuries were broken ribs and a badly mangled face and mouth. He had broken arm which was almost severed as well. He was treated by two military Doctors but they made a call to a newly established trauma unit at Kelowna General Hospital for a civilian Doctor who specialized in trauma injuries. He was flown in the next day to nearby Penticton. After his examination he advised to move Helmet to the trauama unit as soon as possible. The patient he said was growing worse because of a loss of blood and broken bones. Helmet was now in a coma brought on by several blows to his head. A hospital plane was flown up from Edmonton and he was taken by air to Kelowna.

 

Commandant Grundwald was anxious that every rule of the Geneva Convention was followed to the letter regarding the beating of the German Nval officer.

 

He went to work with the other two officers but within two days he had with his skills gotten admission of guilt from all but two of the prisoners. . Eventually he found out that they, Volker Dietrich and Rudolph Felder were the ring leaders. He promised that they would receive long prison sentences and if Helmet did not recover they would be charged with murder and as he said they would hang “by the neck until dead”

 

The prisoners became extremely frightened and and .following their statements being processed they were charged under the a combination of two sets of orders with several charges of misconduct. The charges were extracted from German military charges written in 1939 and Canadian Army Orders of 1942. The major charge was attacking a senior officer which in Germany was a offence which carried a very long term of imprisonment or during wartime execution by firing squad . The sentence in Canada for striking an officer was ten years behind bars. The trial was set when Helmet was able to to attend but with the ending of the war never did occurr.

 

***

 

Erica was absolutely heartbroken when she heard the news of her friend’s beating. She wanted to see him in Kelowna but he was guarded day and night by guards from Camp Vernon. Finally at last after several calls and notes to Grundwald she was given permission to visit him in at the hospital. . A car was arranged for her and two others including Fred Kallman, his wife and a guard who played in the orchestra.

 

They were sorely disappointed when they arrived to find out he was not ready to receive vistors, the Doctors were very guarded about his condition but were hopeful he would soon be able to speak slightly. Erica cried almost all the way home to Appleton. The next day she asked and received permission to see the Commandant.

 

She spoke very plainly when she said“ I am very concerned about Helmet”

 

Grundwald thought about what the young rather attractive woman in front of him had remarked.

 “Miss Koogle I think that you brought a lot of joy to the camp and to the town with your wonderful musicianship but I see in this more than what you have described I have heard some rumors that you and Koenig are romantically involved. I have not received a complaint but I meant to speak to him and Captain Untermeyer about it. I realize that the music you produce as duo could be the lynchpin of your devotion. I also know the war will be over soon and you no doubt will seek to see him afterward”. She felt the tears come to her eyes and reached into her purse for a handkerchief . ”However I am getting a lot of flak from the Defense Department how it was possible that a German Naval officer was beaten within an inch of his life. I will consider your kind offer however there will be conditions that you must obey or the entire effort will be scrubbed.

 

‘What will be the conditions?” She said in a very soft voice.

 

“His recovery may take weeks and months Miss Koogle and so I will find you a place to stay which will be convenient and for which the charge will be borne by us. As well in the event he begins to make a recovery you will not demonstrate to him any him any expression of an affair of the heart. That is paramount because there are guards present. How you handle it otherwise is your business. I would suggest no kissing, not hugging, just no significant display of  affection . By all means hold his hand, smile at him and give him a feeling of support but you are there to see that he recovers. Find a piano in the hospital and entertain the patients so they will get to know you”

 

At each juncture of his cautions she nodded her head. She was told a decision would be reached shortly. With 48 hours she received the good news that she was appointed as his official care worker in hospital.

 

***

 

Erica did not have long to wait as within two days she was advised to get ready to take up residence in Kelowna. The response came in the form of an official order typewritten appointing her to duties under the provision of Canadian Regulations and Orders as a civilian assistant to the war time measures act in regards to German POW’s. She packed her bags said little or nothing to anyone including her parents was driven in a military vehicle to an address in Kelowna North. near the General Hospital.The building she was taken to was a monolithic featureless construction. She went the door which featured a door knocker. She struck the metal plate under the ball quietly and caught sight of the residence name.

 

Convent of the Sisters of Mercy

Parish of the Jesus Christ our Savior

 

She waited patiently until a large wood door was opened by a young girl in a gray poorly fitting dress . The young woman was adorned with a head covering. Erica announced herself and the girl silently led her into the hallway. The first thing that Erica notice was the pervasive odor of floor wax mixed with the unmistakable smell of feces.The girl led the way but Erica covered her nose with her handkerchief. The hallway ran for several yards before they reached an large door with a glass window covered with a religious vision of what Erica knew was Mary the mother of Jesus.The girl opened the massive door and they entered a office with nuns on typewriters and phones. There was quite a bit of hub bub in the outer office. The girl tapped on the door which read MOTHER SUPERIOR. They entered and a nun dressed in the habit of the Gray Nuns but with a very tightly compressed veil on her head. Erica recognized that the woman was middle aged. She had a pen in one hand and a cigarette in the other. Erica was invited to sit and the girl was dismissed.

 

“ I am Mother Superior Mary Anne Hunt and have a letter introducing you, Miss Koogle so we can save time and discuss your stay here in the Manor”She puffed on her smoke and dropped her pen on some papers.

 

Erica became aware of the nun’s facial expression which was bland, without smiling or changing her demeanor. She wore eye glasses that were very thick but it was apparent she did not alter her steely  focus on Erica.

 

She continued“ I have arranged a room usually reserved for visiting nuns. Meals times are listed on the wall of the dining room. Nuns are permitted conversation during meals and they will no doubt ask you questions. Bedding is issued every Friday morning along with towels. I must apologize for the very bad odors pervading our facility but our plumbing has backed up and as you could see our office staff is now on the look out for a plumber.The food we have here is donated by local business and is nourishing as well as being plentiful. We listen on the radio to the Saturday Night Hockey game on the CBC from Toronto, you are welcome to join us. We also listen to the Sunday afternoon Opera from New York”.

 

“Do you have a piano?.” interjected Erica

  “Why yes we have a piano in the the Meeting room, which may I add no one ever plays!”

Erica smiled at her quip. ’I am a concert pianist and I would be happy to play regularly a program of classical music for the nuns“

 For the first time Mother Superior broke into a broad warm smile.“ Miss Koogle we would be delighted to hear you play. Could you play once a week while you are here”.

 

Erica shook her head yes and suddenly the ice was broken as the woman asked her about her career. and what she was doing in Appleton. Erica also mentioned that she would just like to be called by her first name and that she would entertain at their discretion. She also mentioned that the driver was sitting in the car and that he could bring in the baggage . The Nun immediately called the young novas and instructed her to bring in the luggage to Erica’s room.

 

They spoke for a few minutes and then the Mother Superior had another youngish woman take Erica to her quarters. It was easily accessible . She then was led to a side entrance near the outside door which had a bell and would be answered by a elderly nun at a desk near the entrance. Erica was driven to the hospital where she met with the head nurse on floor earmarked as casualties. She was taken to Helmet’s room and she took his hand wherein unable to speak he clutched her hand, smiling as much as he could. Thus began a daily pilgrimage to Helmet’s bedside by Erica , she walked from the convent and took bus from the hospital each day. His recovery was a long process but as the months went by he became stronger. Erica’s love and devotion for him grew to a point of distraction. She threw all caution to the wind as they consumed themselves with long and intense romantic endearments. Nurses would knock before entering his hospital room when she was there. The intensity of their love was growing daily as his health and spirit improved. It was not long before they knew, they needed to somehow consummate their daily touching with love making. Helmet spoke very little but reached out to her by running his hands through her hair and gently rubbing her back or if she stood he lightly rubbed  her behind. They were however unable to enter into a sexual partnership because of his injuries. The war was reaching a conclusion and on May 8th 1945 , ended with the signing of the surrender. Erica was told to go home to Appleton because within weeks Helmet would be invalided back to Germany with the rest of the POW camp. They were heartbroken . It seemed their love would have to wait. Early in June Helmet was placed on a hospital ship in the Vancouver harbor sailing for Kiel Germany. Erica was unable to see him off -he did send note to her just before being taken from the hospital he wrote:

 

My Dearest Love

 

I am unable to say what will happen to me. Germany is in chaos

 as I was told. But there is no doubt I will do everything within my power tocome for you. You have been my shining light, my love for you is without end. When I get home I will send you the address. and as soon as I can I will come back for you

With undying love for you my darling

 

H

 

 

 

 

Chapter 6  1945-1949

 

 

 

Erica returned to her teaching and playing on Saturday nights with a new band called the MUSIC NOTES. Over the period of the five months she had been seeing Helmet in the hospital she had used up her savings on the rent for her apartment but Fred Kallman again was helpful by loaning her money until she got started up again. Her family were delighted to have her back and that both the war was over and that Helmet was gone . Lisa did question Erica about her relationship with her friend but she was mum on the subject. One night however they did have a frank discussion . Max was curling ,a sport he had taken up in Appleton and they went to a new restaurant called the White Spot for dinner. Lisa was quite direct with Erica by asking in German if they had in engaged in love making with the German expression of Liebe machen.

 

“Not much chance of that Mama with nurses , guards and doctors roaming around. I was there to raise his spirits.”

 

Her mother didn’t pursue the question any further but did report to Max that the love affair had for all intents and purposes ended. She was now looking for a suitable suitor for Erica.

 

***

 

Colonel Grundwald bid the town goodbye in September as the POW camp had been torn down and the town were advertising the grounds for commercial properties. The instruments including the violins were returned happily to Fred Erica now had a extensive number of piano students including her own six year old brother, Fred. She was booked also for several piano concerts in the surrounding cities and towns. An entrepreneur named Jack Green contacted her to do a tour through the Province in October and November of 1945. It was a ten city tour including Vancouver and Victoria on Vancouver Island. It proved to be a a well paying concert tour and before long she had amassed a small fortune.At the end of the year she cried as the long awaited letter arrived on blue airmail paper arrived from Helmet in German and written with pencil

 

Dearest Beautiful Erica

 

I hope you are well as I am back on my feet. I spent only a few weeks in the hospital the Americans have set up in Kiel. My brother Anton was killed in the defence of Berlin and my family are saddened. My father is not expected to live very long but at least their home is still intact. My treasured violins were hidden during the war and I did begin practicing. Luckily I have obtained job with small Gypsy group in some basement bars in Schönhorst only 6 miles away. The money is terrible but at least I can work again. There is some talk of starting an orchestra in Lubeck and I spoke to a flute player who is seeking work there and he said it will be up and running soon . Trains are just starting to run again but not yet to Kiel. It will be a while before I have enough money to make a trip to Canada. I had to undergo a DeNazization procedure last week. Most former sailors like myself usually come away cleared especially since I was a POW. My address is below and I since I can only write a small page I will have to sign off and say to you my darling Erica -I LOVE YOU-I LOVE YOU- I LOVE YOU FOREVER.

 

Yours

 

Helmet

 

She saw that the letter had taken month to reach her in Canada so she sat down and wrote him a air mail letter pledging also her undying love and mailed it that day. She then called a travel company in Vancouver as Appleton did not have a travel agency and requested information regarding flights to Germany. She was disappointed to learn that none of the major airlines were established yet on that route. She had to fly to London and try and make her way on land crossings. There were several routes but the agent was unable to say as yet which ones were available.She was then told that Trans World Airlines was flying indirectly to Frankfurt beginning in March 1946. She could take a TWA flight from Seattle to Chicago which were running every day.

 

Erica sat down and wrote Helmet another letter that evening .

 

My Most Wonderful Helmet  I have heard that Trans World Airlines will begin servicing Germany in March 1946 from the USA(Chicago)I have the finances to make the trip to you my darling and will do so. It may be May when I come as I was told that flights were already sold out . I called the airline and they told me that I would be placed on a list and it may be May before seats are procurable.I will write you as information is provided to me. In the meantime may I help you in any way. I have contacted the post office and we may send parcels to Germany. I can send canned goods, packages like pasta and other various products, also clothes-perhaps for your family.. I must send only however products of Canada. As well I think I can send you money by Western Union which is the safest way.My darling I cannot wait to see you, please write as often as you can and I will send a parcel this week.

 

Erica purchased cans of peaches and other fruits and vegetables. Her first package was overweight and she had to re-pack it but nearly every week she sent parcels. Erica went to dinner at her mothers , on Sundays and spent time with her family. Young Fred was becoming quite a good pianist even at his age. She marvelled over how he picked it up. His mother said she was bit disappointed because he was playing a lot of jazz that he heard on his radio. Erica found It was at it quite funny but scolded him to practise what she taught him at his lessons. On the Sunday before Christmas she announced her intention to go to Germany.

 

“I have been booked for either May or June from Chicago on TWA to Frankfurt , I plan to stay at least a month at Helmet’s family home“.

 

“But the cost must be high her father said in German”

 

“I made a considerable amount over $8,000 from the concert tour and the man wants me to take a ten city tour through Washington Oregon and California in February. I have been sending parcels to Germany and they are overjoyed. You know the situation Mama and Daddy in Germany is horrible. Helmet has to play in a Gypsy group in order to make any money.I will take watches as well for them so that they can feel dignified again. ”

 

Her father nodded his agreement. Her mother told her brother to go and practise or go to his room.

 

“Erica you are going to see a man whom you really don’t know very well and-----.”

 

Max broke in “Lisa- Erica is 22 years old and an adult woman I think it is time we stop giving advice , she should go to Germany and maybe she can see whats left of our families as well as see Helmet. What she does when there is her concern. We have no right to know about her life except for what she wishes to tell us”

 

“But she is still our daughter Max we want what is good for her she is making wonderful progress in getting concert work, and now in the States.”

 

“I appreciate your concern my dear parents but I am an adult and I want to begin to make my own decisions, good or bad but I want to have my own life, I do love Helmet . I sat by him for several months and do know him , he is a good man with whom I have so much in common . We talked music , we spoke about our hopes and aspirations. I am still not the complete musician and he can help me to reach that level. I am hoping to see the family but travel is really difficult in the homeland. If I can I will“.

They talked earnestly for several hours and Erica wa s happy they finally agreed with her although she recognized her father was mostly on her side.

 

***

 

The months rolled by and she kept in constant touch with the Vancouver travel agent. Her US tour won her several plaudits and several thousand dollars. People in the United States were more generous than in Canada she remarked . The call regarding her Germany trip came suddenly in late May 1946 . Her flight date was to be mid June and the cost was very high because of the season. She would need to fly from Seattle to Chicago Midway Terminal two days before her overseas flight . The agent made reservations for her as the Lockheed Constellation airliner TWA  flight departed from Chicago to Gander Newfoundland , stopping in London and then landing in Frankfurt. Arrangements in Frankfurt was chaotic and she was told there were trains possibly now running to Northern Germany. She was lucky the agent expressed to her because she spoke German and it would be easy to get to Kiel. Greyhound was now running daily trips to Vancouver with onward runs to Seattle. She purchased an advanced ticket through to Seattle leaving June 5th. She transferred several hundred dollars to US money as well as buying several thousand dollars in the new American Express travellers cheques. Her parents held a small party for her before her departure where they all shed tears for her safe return to Canada.

 

***

 

Erica left on the early morning bus with her suitcase and a travelling bag. The first leg proved uneventful but the service to Seattle was delayed because of persons with identification at the US crossing at the Peace Arch in Vancouver. Several passengers were not permitted ino the United States with the necessity to find their suitcases which took up valuable time. Erica was armed with a Canadian Passport and was immediately passed . The highway cruiser arrived two hours late in Seattle but she was not in a panic because her plane was not scheduled until the next day. She lugged her suitcase to a hotel in mid town Seattle stayed the night and took a cab to the Seattle Municipal Airport for her flight  in the mid afternoon. She found that most of the flights were backed up because of the weather in Denver and she would be delayed at least four hours. She had checked her bag in and took a seat where she fell asleep. Within two hours the flight was called and she raced to board. She had never flown before so this was new for her. The plane was a TWA Strata Cruiser which was a prewar plane and very noisy but she endured . She dared not look down however. The landing in Denver she found very bumpy but as the time elapsed she fell asleep just as a seat mate began to speak. . It took more than six hours to land in Chicago and by now Erica with her long nap was quite wide awake. Midway airport was teeming with throngs of people. Erica was able to claim her bag against much jostling wherein she headed out the exit. A taxi stand was nearby and she directed the driver to take her to a nearby the Howard Johnson Hotel. Two days later she was back at the airport to check in for her overseas flight. She arrived early with idea of resting up but the noise and commotion level in the terminal was so powerful she could only stay awake and sit. She had brought a readers digest with her but she had read most of the articles. She checked in her bag and after a long time the plane departure was called , Erica became very excited as she walked across the tarmac to the stairs leading up to her plane. She was happy to know she had an isle seat, but she also realized immediately that the person next to her was very talkative. It suddenly decided to pretend  that she did not speak English as she was a German. She laughed inwardly as the woman suddenly tuned away  when Erica had smiled that she did’nt understand. English. The flight to London was 14 hours with several meals they arrived at mid morning . Erica went to freshen up,on her return she had breakfast just before the pilot announced they were making their descent into London. A stewardess then announced that that layover would be 2 hours. She carried on her pretense by calling the airline hostess  over to ask if she could tell her in German what was said. A man across the isle  repeated the message in German so that Erica could carry on her sham.

 

***

 

Fortunately the woman left the plane commenting to another passenger, that “people that can’t speak English should never fly on American planes.”Erica found the comment very humorous . The next passenger to sit next to her wasa lean young man who spoke German and with whom she had a conversation. When she arrived at the Frankfurt Airdrome she found that it very quiet. She reclaimed her bag and went through the new German Customs desk. They asked her in English where she was going and she answered in German. They smiled and sent her on her way. She headed to the Visitor Bureau where she sought out information to go to Kiel. The route she found was quite simple -Frankfurt to Hamburg to Kiel leaving at 7:20 and arriving at 8:40.in Kiel. She went to a phone box , where she try to call Helmet from the airport but the number would not connect. A telegraph office stood near and she sent a wire to his address.

 

:

 

Just arrived in Frankfurt arranging train to Kiel for tomorrow arrive at 8:40-Love you -Erica

 

From there she took a tram to the rail way station and bought a one way ticket to Kiel., she then booked into the railway hotel behind the station for the night. She was barely able to sleep, waking often, as her excitement built. After nearly a year she would see her own love.

 

***

 

When Helmet returned to Germany he found he had his own needs. He made a very quick recovery from his terrible beating. He filed his denazification documents and was barely interviewed because of his POW experience. He moved into the family home which was untouched by the war . He began to practise hours every day. Once he had got rid of his rustiness he began to make applications for work. He found that he was last in a long lineup of fiddle players searching for work. Having done some Gypsy work before going into the navy he searched for groups in that medium. As luck would have it he meta Zither player he knew slightly from before the war who asked him to join their group. The pay for a four hour performance on a daily basis was ten NEW German marks. It was starvation wages but at least a start. They did not play on Sunday or Monday so he found other other  work piloting a fishing boat. The pay again was very low . Very often when he worked at the Basement bar where the Gypsy group played, exceptionally attractive young girls would come for drinks and to enjoy the music. One night he saw a downright stunning girl come in with a group. He decided on a whim to begin chatting with her and the group. To his amazement he found they were American servicewomen who were working at the newly established US Submarine base near Kiel. The girls were Waves, a terminology for woman in the United States Navy. As he got closer he realized she was gorgeous. He walked over and said hello, and they all piped up“ Sorry we are new and we don’t know how to speak German”.

 

As soon as he spoke to them in English they invited him to join them and he explained how he had picked up the language. They were very apt listeners. They asked him lots of questions including the girl he was watching . He found out her name was Mary Ellen Clarke from Decatur Illinois. She had joined the Woman’s Navy in 1945 right out of college and after training posted to Germany . She told him she was an Ensign which he did not quite understand. From then on the girls talked with him and he returned to play. She became quite interested in him as he would flick his violin bow to her and her friends and visit during breaks to speak to her.

 

At one point he asked to see her outside of the club and she demurred. She began to come in alone mostly during the week, and after few weeks she surrendered and they met at a small lunch counter outside the Kiel Navy Yard. She appeared very smart in her uniform and turned several eyes. Mary Ellen mentioned that she could bring a guest to the American BX recreational bar and dance floor on the Base. He would need to have a special pass which she organized. He was off on Mondays and she got him a card with his picture on it. They met at the entrance where he was questioned and passed in. Mary Ellen lead him to what had been the former German Officers mess and was now an all ranks dance hall and bar.He was surprised to see and hear a dance band playing present day Jazz and standard tunes . They drank wine and danced. She held him very tightly when they swayed around the floor. She recognized that he was aroused. Her face became flushed as he led her around the dance floor during a very slow torch song. He was absolutely bursting and she could really sense his desire which matched her own craving.

 

“We can’t use my room in the woman’s quarters” she said suddenly

 

“We can take a taxicab to the Europa Hotel”. he said leaning over to kiss her lips.

 

She nodded, taking hold of his hand and leading him to the doorway of the club.

 

***

 

Mary Ellen Clarke was to his mind the most most beautiful creature he ever seen. He took in her divine nude body before touching her every where. They spoke very little but before he knew it he had entered her .Her only comment was to silently whisper to him “please wait till I tell you to pull the trigger”

 

He held on to her buttocks moving very quickly and she moaned and shouted out BOINK ME HONEY-FUCK ME BABY-OH LORDY GIVE IT TO ME. As Helmet discovered over the next several weeks the beautiful and desirable Ensign Mary Ellen Clarke had an insatiable desire for sex. It was during one of his escapes with Mary Ellen that the telegram from Erica came to his family home.

 

***

 

Erica had found a seat on the very crowded train from Frankfurt. She was riding second class and there was smoking as well as the smell of food stuffs, human excrement and body odors. She had a stop over in Hamburg where she changed trains. She found the track wherein she entered a partially empty car that did not move from the location on time. A conductor rudely told her that the train was going to be late getting into Kiel. No one else entered the rail car and she was getting very nervous about the situation when there was a sudden arrival of several noisy and drunk passengers.They were soccer fans and were hooting and hollering all up and down the car. The conductor arrived to take their tickets but there was so much chaos that the was unable to stop the drunkenness. He pulled the emergency wire near the door between the cars . Two men dressed in uniforms that Erica was sure previously owned by the gestapo. The men had side arms as well as night sticks. Order was restored as more railway police arrived. The noise level was reduced as well as the stomping around the car by the sports fans.The train travelled very slowly over the newly laid tracks from Hamburg to Kiel. The passenger next to her was an elderly man who merely nodded at her and fell asleep. The train arrived without incident in Kiel 2 hours late. Her elation began to grow as they neared her destination. She alighted with a number of other passengers and  searched among the greeters for Helmet. She went into the very old building that served as the train depot but there was no sign of him. There were numerous American service personnel  in the terminal and she searched the faces of the others. She sat on a hard bench for several minutes trying to think of what to do next. After more than than an hour she realized he was not coming. She found the Railway Hotel behind the train station and booked a room for the night. The rooms were not very clean which was unusual in Germany. She could feel a terrible letdown almost immediately as she fell fully dressed on the bed, sobbing, eventually crying herself to sleep. Sometime during the night she awakened with a need to relieve herself. Afterwards she fell back on the bed  into a very deep sleep. The next morning she was awakened by a solid rapping on the door, and running to the door she saw it was the hotel maid.who wanted to make up the room. She vacated the room and returned to the train station to wait for Helmet. grabbing a light breakfast in lobby of the hotel .

 

***

 

Helmet  went straight home  from his  romantic evening in Scharnhorst and arrived at mid day  His mother promptly passed the telegram to him, and asked him who was Erica and was she planning on coming to see him. He responded after reading the short wire .by telling her that the girl was a friend from Canada. His . mother walked away saying that she is not staying here we do not have the room. Helemet did not respond but left for the rail way station.

 

His first thought was that the arrival was badly timed. He really had something going with Mary Ellen. He had an idea that Erica would want him to come back to Canada with her , and beyond that if she stayed for a long duration he would have no way to continue his relationship on Monday nights. He had taken a Tram because he needed time to think out his next move. When he reached the station she was no where about. But within minutes he spied her coming out of the WC and they ran to each other. Helmet realized that she had become quite attractive. They kissed longingly but somehow he did not feel the same about her. They sat on a bench for a few minutes while she told him about her trip. To her he did not look the same. He was poorly dressed,unshaven, and seemed a bit cool as she relayed her adventure to see him. He mostly smiled and listened often glancing at the entrance.

 

“We should get lunch at a coffee bar” She agreed and he picked up her suitcase.

 

They walked to a very quiet coffee bar nearby and he ordered two German sausages with potato salad, and soft drinks. Helmet told her about his job as they ate. Erica listened attentively but she sensed he was not the same man she knew in Canada. He then told her that there was not enough room at his mother’s house but he would get her a room at a Guest House if she could perhaps pay for a few days.

 

“I was planning on staying at least three weeks but if there is way to stay with you it would be better.”

 

“Erica my father is very ill and my mother is taking care of him, my sister has a room and there is my my room. My mother would never allow us to have the same bedroom”

 

She was near tears“ I came a long way Helmet to be with you what other solutions do we have I am not staying in a Guest House”

 

“There is a nice new hotel near here called the Lexor but expensive.”

 

“Thats okay, Lets take a taxi.” She took his arm and they left the coffee shop.

 

The hotel was one of the newly built group of hotels springing up in Germany in bombed out areas. The Schleswig -Holstein area of Northern German was hardly hit by the Allied Bombers outside of the Naval base. The Lexor Hotels were being financed through a Swiss bank and  the rooms were very reasonable. They cabbed to the hotel and Erica paid the fare. When they alighted from the cab a bellboy took hold of the bag and they went into the lobby. Erica was not really sure about how long to stay so she booked in for  a opened ended stay. When she presented her passport the clerk said she was being granted the military rate. She didn’t argue and the room cost of the equivalent of 25 US dollars per night. She placed her valuables in the hands of the desk clerk.

 

Helmet went up to her room where he romantically kissed her but she could sensed he wanted to leave. She asked him when he would return and  he said the next day. She was stunned when he barely kissed her and took hold of the door handle and said “Auf Wiedersehen”!

 

She sat down on the lone chair in the room and realized  what a fool I have been, how blatantly stupid I am to have made all of these arrangements. She shivered with embarrassment ,and felt a wave of sickness which was overcoming her. Imagine she said outloud that I spent four months caring for him and travelled half way across the world and he is a changed man. She spread out on the bed falling into deep dreamless sleep. When she awakened it was late at night. She washed her face and headed down to the lobby hoping to get sonneting to eat, but the place was closed up tighter than a  drum. She search her purse for a candybar she had purchased and gobbled it down with tap water.She returned to her bed, and began to think about the situation. Erica had never expected to be in this dilemma but she was able to put her finger on the problem after lying in bed and thinking it through. Of course she said to herself he has a girl friend.He no doubt preferred a German girl to a quasi German Canadian girl. She made up her mind to confront him when he came the next day. But unfortunately he did not return to the hotel to see her.for two days.

 

By now his clothes looked even more dirty and creased. He still had not shaved and she could smell a combination of beer and garlic on his breath.She began to question him by asking if he had a chance to freshen himslf up. He said he was just heading to his house to change and shave.

 

“ Helmet do you want me to do, go with you or should I stay here?” she said sharply.

 

He did not answer and she sat down on the chair looking at him with a very indignant  gaze.

 

“ Helmet I have been here exactly three days and already I think I have made a serious mistake. You are not the man I knew, you seem to be somewhere else. If you have someone else I will try and understand. Tears began to form in her eyes and she put her head down to cry in ernest.

 

“I do love you” he said taking hold of her by wrapping himself around her.

 

He next bade her to stand up and pressed himself against her, she responded by placing her lips on his. They stood kissing for several moments until he beagan to undress her .Erica stood still as he removed her clothes and stood before him completely naked. He ran his hands across her back and bottom and she felt feverish. He then with her help also pulled off his clothing and they fell on the bed holding  as they examined each others bodies. Erica was amazed at his size as  he was quite erect . He kissed her breasts and whispered in her ears that he loved her and she responded. He then reached down and caressed her venus mount and she shouted out with joy. She was by now exceptionally moist.

 

“Be tender , I am still a virgin” she uttered breathlessly.

 

He nodded and mounted her , and within minutes the act was over. She was thrilled. There had been some pain and a blood but she was now as she thought at long last a woman. They kissed and layed in the bed touching each other. Before long they began making love again. She was just amazed at their ability to draw each other out.

 

“I must leave soon for work”.he said after they had ravished each other for the third time She was now laid  on the bed utterly exhausted. He had shown her how to make the sex more pleasureful by raising her buttocks as he thrust into her and she found it was very strenuous.He began to dress and she watched him smiling and suddenly remembered she had a brand new Gruen watch for him with an expansion bracelet. She opened her suitcase and handed it to him. He was shocked to have been given such an expensive time piece and held her for along time with tears rolling down his cheeks. There are two more for your mother and sister when I meet them. He kissed her several times and told her he would back on Saturday.

 

She lay back on the bed and remained languid for a short time until she fell into a deep sleep. She awoke just before supper and raced to dress and head to the hotel restaurant where she ordered a 3 course meal.She drank two glasses of Riesling wine. Afterwards with still plenty of daylight she went for a walk , glancing at the new items that were beginning to arrive in the stores along the Kronshagener Way, the main shopping area. She was jubilant, and stopped again for another glass of white wine. She spoke to a young couple who were sitting quite near her in German. They both thought she was an American but she said she was not. They were surprised at her very good pronunciation. She was asked to join them and she ordered a drink for them, Erica was careful to nurse her own drink. About half way through she discovered that she needed  the bathroom quickly and it was a outhouse arrangement where she discovered the paper was an old telephone book.She did her business and laughed until she tryed to rejoin the couple who had departed. On returning to her hotel room she showered and got ready for bed, Erica was so excited about her sexual experience that she was unable to sleep. She tossed and turned the entire night , falling to sleep almost at dawn.

 

The next morning she felt very drowsy and rushed down for coffee and a full breakfast to await Helmets return. She could hear bells ringing across the city from  the  hotel lobby where she waited They  were rung every Sunday she was told.She wandered around the area near the  hotel and on her return saw that there was a piano in the reading room. No one was about in the room. She went to the front desk ,where she asked the clerk if she could play as she was a concert pianist. After a few minutes the manager came out and told her it would be wonderful if she would. She had the idea in her mind that when Helmet arrived she would be playing. Erica  sat down and began to play some Chopin preludes as well as some other lolly pops as she called them. Her concentration was so intense that she did not notice that the room had become crowded and the overflow was in the lobby. She played for over two hours without stopping. After each number there was rousing applause. Helmet did not appear and it was almost lunch time. She bowed and smiled that she was finished for the day. As she left a couple asked her to join them for lunch and she sat with them.She returned to her room where she again felt the tears of frustration. Erica slept the whole afternoon, awaking at sounds of more bells across the city calling worshippers . She undressed and showered noticing that she had dried blood in her pelvic region.

 

She did not hear from Helmet that day or the next, on Tuesday morning she awoke thinking I must see Helmet . She though about her dilemma.It became quite simple she would try and see him at the club he was playing called the CAVE in Schonhorst , a short 6 miles from Kiel. Erica went to the desk and questioned a desk clerk the best route to Helmet’s workplace, She had tried to call his mother’s house but the line was disconnected. Given the directions she was also advised to travel there during the day and return home by Taxicab. She boarded a Tram that went to the end of the line where she caught a bus which took her to within a few blocks of the venue. It was mid afternoon so she walked through the town square. She sat on benches as well as taking a coffee at a outdoor restaurant. She had no real plan but remained in the square until the traffic began to diminish. She walked to a restaurant that read American Food. She had the most terrible dining experience she had in Germany and barely finished her dinner of so called ‘Hamburger-Americain’. By then it was sunset so she entered the place known as the CAVE. The place ws poorly lit but she found a seat at the back of the hall in a very dark area of the place. She studied the interior of the bar and dance hall. It was she noted a very dingy old fashioned beer hall that her father had spoken of in Germany. There were pictures of semi nude women and provincial scenes hung up around the walls. She noticed that there was a photograph of Waffen SS unit behind the bar, which had become illegal in the new Germany. A waiter came and she ordered a large beer , although she no intention to drink it. The place was quite empty as she remained in her secluded place for a long wait until the musicians began to stroll in. She did not see Helmet , but as the others were warming up she saw him with his arm strung around a blonde girl whom he kissed numerous times and were in a rigorous embrace . They began to play but Erica was so blind with rage that she was unable to open her ears to the sound. They played for at least 45 minutes . At the end Helmet came off the stage and again went to the girl and before sitting they clasped each other in a loving embrace. He held her with his arm around her shoulders . When the break ended they again held each other in a fond embrace.

 

Erica wept which caused a few people near her to glance at her. She could not bear anymore and rather than confronting Helmet which she knew would not only be embarrassing for her but would cause a flare up in the room. She signalled the waiter she was leaving, paid for her beer and raced out of the door into a very dark and deserted street. She did not see any taxi cabs but stood in a doorway with a few others who were waiting to get into the club. A cab did roll up but raced off before she had chance to get into it. She now stood alone but just as she became alarmed a cab pulled up and she ran to it and asked to be driven to the Lexor hotel in Kiel. The driver told her that it would cost $10.00 American , and she did not argue. She sat back in the seat both dismayed and outraged . She had guessed at why he was so distant, of course he had a blonde girl friend.

 

***

 

Erica called the front desk on her arrival to find out when the next train to Hamburg was leaving. She was advised it was the next day. She asked to be given a wake up call as she would be leaving  at 6:00 . She also requested her  bill . Erica  had two more weeks in Germany before her flight was scheduled to leave from Frankfurt. Her next destination was her father’s family in Baden.She left Hamburg the next day in the morning arriving in Baden-Baden in the late afternoon. She had taken first class because she knew there was writing cubicle forward of her carriage car. It was here that she penned a letter to Helmet.

 

Dear Helmet

 

I went to your dance hall on tuesday with the idea of surprising you because I hadn’t heard from you after our Schlafzimmer-Gatte. So after taking my virginity in our bedroom romp I saw with my own eyes you then ran to your blonde girlfriend, I watched you at the CAVE which I think is well named for your dishonesty. I cannot tell you how really foolish and stupid I feel. I thought that you loved me, that you cared for me, but it took me a little while to get the message that you are nothing but a good-for-nothing and you are a scoundrel . I sat with you for over four months coaxing you back to health. Giving up my life for you and what you have done to me is unforgivable.

 

Erica

 

***

 

Erica’s train trip to Baden was uneventful. She enjoyed the scenery, but there was severe devastation everywhere. The train station in Baden was nothing more than a temporary building but she found a cab quickly and was driven to a brightly lit hotel in the city center called the Shwanin or The Swan. She found that the room was very comfortable and very economical. She was extremely tired and fell into bed and slept through till the breakfast call the next morning.

 

The only address she had for her grandparents was located near the town Center and she decided to walk from the hotel. She became lost a few times but found the location on a back street. The building was very old with collapsing rubble on the sidewalk. She entered a lobby which smelled of cabbage and detergent. A woman who Erica guessed was  the Hausmeister or janitor was at work washing the floor and she was red faced. ‘No vacancy’ she shouted in guttural German. Erica told her she was looking for her grandparents the Koogles, the women pointed and flashed three fingers meaning apartment number three.

 

Erica couldn’t believe the run down condition of the building. She went to the door of the apartment and knocked when there was no answer she said “I am Erica, your grand daughter from Canada ”  There was a very long delay before her grandmother opened the door.

 

“God in Heaven” her Grandmother replied.

 

She was kissed over and over by a very frail woman and then led to the bedroom where her grandfather lay, the odor was frightful she thought. It was the beginning of a sojourn that would last two weeks and take nearly half of her money.The grandparents apartment was crumbling, in every aspect, , water stains everywhere and broken windows. They were living in a hovel . Nothing worked and they ate soup and bread for all their meals. Both were shriveled beyond recognition as human beings. She sat with them in the bedroom as they explained that they received only 50 marks each month for food and rent. Erica thought that to be impossible since the rent was 25 marks per month. She thought I must do something they are really the last of our German relatives and they were her fathers kin.

 

She left and told them she would be back in the afternoon with food and clothing. They were both dressed in rags. First she headed out the front door of the building some fresh air. She walked to a phone box but there was no phone book , she then asked where the city hall was located and again by luck  it was nearby. Erica was now on a mission to get them proper accommodation and decent meals. St the city hall she was told that the office she was seeking was at the Baden office of Information located in the Government offices which were in a  across the street.The building she found was a hive of activity, but she greeted in the same way with the usual rude acknowledgement. She then said in English

 

“I am here from Canada and I want information on how to improve my Grandparents living condition. I want an immediate meeting with the office or officer who is in charge” She said pointing her finger at the receptionist.

 

The girl jumped up and ran down the hall and a man hurried to speak to Erica. The entire complexion of the situation changed and Erica was ushered into the man’s office and the girl ran for coffee.

 

“What agency are you with from Canada ” he said to Erica in English

 

Erica had to think fast . They thought she was a  Canadian representative . German officials were terror stricken when they were approached by people from the Allied nations that had won the war.

 

“Housing and seniors” Erica lied

 

“Ah good you have come to the right place, what can we do for you”. he said offering her a cigarette.

 Erica waved it off and went into her story about her grand parents living in very poor circumstances, and then she asked what benefits are now available in the new Germany.

 

’We will move them immediately into a seniors facility where they will receive both medical and dental services. They will be furnished with a double room reserved for couples. They will be provided with 3 nourishing meals each day and the cost to some is minimal.

 

Erica was delighted with answer and then began asking questions, finishing with the inevitable “How much does this cost”

 

She could see the man was uncomfortable, but answered by glancing out the window

 

“The cost for a couple is 500 marks each month”.

 

Erica quickly ran over in her mind the exchange rate of 10 marks to the Canadian dollar and the cost would not be prohibitive. Her father would pay she knew and she decided to pay for a year in advance from her travel money. She advised the man that she would look after the first year and that future payments would be sent from Canada.

 

As usual when dealing in anything there were numerous documents which she signed, giving her box number in Canada and she then paid in American money the equivalent needed . The man did not question her very much because she recognized he was really happy to get the matter cleared up quickly.

 

They sat and drank coffee and he asked about Canada and when was a a good time to travel. She asked why he spoke English so well and he responded by telling her he had been a guard in a American POW camp during the war!

 

***

 

She headed afterward to a K and Y department store and purchased several items of apparel in small sizes for her Grand Parents Within a few days they were moved to the facility which was a converted hospital building. Erica was satisfied that they were well taken care of and discussed the entire arrangement with the staff. She visited them every day for a week seeing to their every need and she could see the joy on their faces. A Doctor advised her that her Grand Father was suffering from prostate cancer and really had a short time to live. parents.She bcame quite distressed at the news but did not report the matter to her grandmother. Next she bought food items for delivery to the apartment. She now had several bags to carry and she took a cab.When her Grand parents had moved into the home she looked for a piano but none was found. Erica went in search of a used piano for the senior’s facility. Eventually she found a small grand prewar in fairly good condition. Some of the keys were scarred with brown cigarette burns but they going to be replaced. The interior was claen and in good order so she made arrangements to buy it and have it delivered to the home. The cost ate very deeply into her cash reserve but she knew she had enough left to pay for her own accommodation and other expenses. During the balance of her stay she played the piano for all the residents. The presentation was heralded by the manager and nurses in home and she was saluted for her donation. On the last night before she departed the staff hosted dinner for her with her gleaming grandparents in attendance.

 

***

 

Erica read over her letter to Helmet several times and in a fit of pique tore it up before she left on the train for Frankfurt. In it’s stead she sent him a postcard.

 

Hi Helmet

 

I decided your attention was no doubt on someone else, so I left for Baden to see my Grandparents. Thanks for the interlude for one time lovers and best of luck to you.

 

Erica

 

She proceeded on her trek by train arriving in Frankfurt, three days before the scheduled departure. She checked into a older style hotel near the airport and went to the TWA desk to check on her return flight. She was overjoyed to hear that TWA were flying to Seattle with a stop in Iceland. She changed her tickets, with a view to seeing something of Frankfurt, The girl searched through the schedules in a book she used.

 

“You can leave tonight if you like there are a few seats remaining . Departure is at 21:25 from gate 4 ”.

 

“Yes yes book me on that flight , how long is the layover in Iceland”

 

The girl search more pages and told her two hours.

 

Erica raced back to her hotel checked out. She grabbed a meal ,but she had to make a number of visits to the woman’s washroom as she had an upset stomach. She had a long wait but checked her bag and found a lounge to relax in. For some reason she continued to feel sick . She thought perhaps it was the excitement of going home to Canada, but she had to make a number of visits to the woman’s washroom and she felt quite dehydrated.

 

When she left on the flight she fell into a deep sleep and on waking up again felt ill. Erica was in a window seat and she tried to walk to the washroom at the rear of the plane but she stumbled slightly and fainted falling against a man who caught her before she hit the floor.. She awakened within a few minutes as they used smelling salts to revive her. A seat at the front of the plane had been set up  with a pillow and the announcement for a doctor had called forth a German speaking physician who examined her and had the cabin crew bring water and a pill which was for flying sickness. She immediately felt better and drank the water as well as a tea they brought. The doctor disappeared to his seat but the cabin stewardess whispered to her “the Doctor thinks you may be expecting, suggest you see your physician when to get home”.“

 

At that moment Erica remembered that Helmet had not worn any protection which she knew was essential. Further she searched her memory for the last period she had. Her face reddened when she realized she had missed and she was pregnant with Helmet’s child.

 

***

 

The flight home was without mishap and she arrived in Seattle at noon the next day. She bussed to the train station, boarding a train for Vancouver and arriving that evening. now  she was exhausted and checked into a hotel. She found she was unable to sleep. How was she going to explain to her parents her predicament. How could she keep a baby when she still  wanted a career as a pianist. The questions kept swirling in her mind. She tossed and turned , At dawn she fell asleep and missed her bus. She had to wait in the Vancouver bus terminal for three hours before leaving for Kelowna on a milk run. It was late evening when she got to Kelowna , which was having a heat wave. She checked into a new motel near the bus station and called a friend from the Music Makers band to see if would drive her Appleton. He came the next morning and happily for her he drove her right to her apartment door and asked her to come back to the band as they had full time work in a resort in Penticton. She told him she would advise him later.

 

She called her mother at the store, and she was happy to hear that Erica was safe. Later when she had rested , Erica went see her parents at their home.She told them mostly about how she had found a place for her fathers parents in a home and had paid for a year. Her father cried and said he would send money to them now that he knew they were alive and well.They talked for several hours about her visit and then Erica excused herself without making an announcement before seeing a Doctor.

 

She made an appointment the next day but needed to wait until there was a opening . The Doctor was only one of three in Appleton, so she needed to wait a few days.Thankfully for her the doctor’s children studied piano with her and he gave her a full examination and pronounced that yes indeed she was pregnant probably only a month.in the first trimester. He asked no questions and she gave no information, but she did have to hold back her tears, mostly because she felt so boneheaded to not have taken precautions.The town would learn soon enough about her serious fau-pas because people gossiped- unless she had an alternative plan. She quickly turned her attention to Roy Hillier the pharmacist from the Rexall drug store . They had been out on short dates after Helmet had been sent home. Hillier was from Halifax Nova Scotia and had graduated from the School of Professional Pharmacy in Toronto. He was quite handsome and several of the girls in town thought he would be a good catch. Erica did not have much time to waste. She knew that she would need to have a really short courtship if she was to keep her reputation. She visited the pharmacy and he raced over to speak to her. He asked about her trip, and they spoke at length sitting at the lunch counter drinking coffee. He then asked her timidly if she would like to go with him to his sisters wedding the following Sunday. She said she would love to attend and he told her he would pick her up.She attended the wedding and both got quite tipsy on champagne and they did a lot of touching and kissing. The Sunday started what was a whirlwind romance. After three dates

 

One  of them at the movies and two dinner dates was just enough to get him into bed . He proved quite awkward in this capacity having difficulty finding the mark but eventually did so with remarkable control. She was amazed at the fact that he being a pharmacist did not have the sense to use a condom. She was also inwardly overjoyed. He proposed in quick fashion and she introduced him to her parents who were already acquainted but did not know him very well. They liked him immediately . His parents were in Halifax and would attend the wedding which was scheduled in early August 1948. Erica was still not showing so her plan seemed fool proof. She returned to teaching and seeing her fiancee almost every day. There was going to be a very small wedding at the local United Church and a reception following. The night before was a rehearsal and party at the Church followed by a party at the Chinese restaurant. She met his parents who were still burned out from their trip. The wedding went on without a hitch with her best piano  student and flute playing for the ceremony. The reception was  held the newly built Green Valley Country Club with thirty people in attendance. Fred Kallman was the master of ceremonies and the dance group the Music Makers played during dinner and for some dancing afterward. Roy and Erica had decided for their Honeymoon to take a driving trip through British Columbia to California. They drove to a small resort in Vernon the first night hunkering down in bed and making love frantically. Erica’s mother had noticed she was putting on weight and mentioned it to her in German that men do like a girl with a little meat especially on their behinds -.“ Männer wie Frauen mit einem kleinen Fett auf Ihren Körper vor allem auf Ihren hinteren enden” Erica thought if only her mother knew the truth.

 

***

 

The honey moon was a short lived affair when Erica became ill in Portland Oregon. They visited a Doctor who gave her a new medication for what he diagnosed  was car sickness. Roy was not bothered, making sure she was comfortable in the car for their homeward journey. Roy was not fooled by the Doctor’s prognosis. He knew she was pregnant and thought  their romp before they married was responsible.They returned and took up residence in a rented house near a newly constructed ice hockey arena. Lisa and Max were very excited that they would soon be grandparents and gave her all kind of advice. Her brother Fred kept going around saying I am going to be an uncle. .Erica’s husband did some calculations and knew before long that he been hoodwinked. Somehow he did not care, Erica was very pretty and having a baby would be a dream he had of marrying and being a father.In February of 1949 their son was born in the brand new Appleton Hospitable. When Erica saw the baby she at once saw the resemblance to Helmet but Roy was ecstatic. They had not planned a name but after a full discussion came upon a name suitable to both of them, taken from their childhood memories- Christopher from the poem of Christopher Wren. Roy had made the second bedroom into a childs room.They brought  home various items from the pharmacy for the baby. He was a great help as well getting up for late night feedings so Erica could sleep.  Erica just could not get over the wonder of having a child. Roy brought inadvertently made the right choice in marrying Roy. He was a great father and a terrific husband. She knew that she could never love him like she did Helmet but she was safe in the knowledge that her choice in committing to him was not all together deceitful.

 

.

 

 

Chapter 7 1950 And Beyond

 

The year 1950 brought several changes to the community of Appleton. The town was designated  an incorporated  municipality and began to develop a future plan which was undertaken by the mayor and council. The population had now increased to over fifteen thousand , there were five separate apple producers in the area and employment was very high.Roy purchased the Rexall franchise by getting a loan from the bank . The store was now his to begin improvements. Erica was part of the discussions . The soda counter was torn out with counters and shelves as replacements. Their little son brought them enormous joy with his constant smiling and laughing. When he was about a year old Erica noticed that he liked listening to her play. Roy had purchased a Grinnell grand piano through Fred at the music store and was a surprise for her which she lovingly played on very often. One day while he was in his playpen she saw little Chris was in fact shaking his foot to the music. She played some rhythmic pieces to see if he was actually conscious of the time . When she played faster he beat his foot in time on the cushion floor of the play pen. Then simultaneously he patted his hands with the music.Erica was astonished and when Roy came home from work she repeated her earlier playing and the baby responded. She invited Fred Kallman over to see the ‘new celebrity’ and he said it was a gene she had passed on to the child. Her young brother Fred visited often to play with Christopher. after school. He just adored the little guy and Erica’s mother came almost every day.

 

Erica had taken quite a long sabbatical from her concerts and teaching and she returned part time to teaching. She had been contacted by her tour manager advising her that David Silverman a well known concert cellist was seeking a partner for a Spring concert tour of the Prairie Provinces in 1951. They would meet for rehearsals in Toronto for a week before the tour and travel for two weeks from Winnipeg to Calgary. the money was more than she ever earned and there was a chance to continue in the USA in the fall.Erica asked her mother to look after the baby and they also hired a practical nurse to give her mother breaks.  She flew to Toronto in April for rehearsals at the University of Toronto School of Music. Silverman was quite young but a exceptional cellist. He was very particular about accompanists but raved at Erica’s playing and musicality especially because she had all of the music memorized after only one practise. They played a concert for music students at the school which received rave notices from both students and staff. Their tour was scheduled for the first week in May with a refresher rehearsal in Winnipeg two days before the concert . Erica arrived with a terrible cold. that became worse as the days progressed but she went on with the show. Two nights later they were in Regina and it became worse. Silverman then cancelled the Saskatoon and Edmonton concerts and with her feeling better they played the Calgary performance. Regardless of the cancellations Silverman was really overjoyed at her ability to meet all of his musical expectations . He then asked the tour manager to arrange further concerts. The Calgary Herald review said ’Canadian Duo brilliant“They met for drinks after the concert discussing all of the highlights. Erica drank a few glasses of wine and without any thoughts took Silverman to bed. He proved to be a quick learner and they repeated their copulation well into the night. Erica was quite ashamed but needed stimulation which the act brought to her.She also knew that she had broken her marriage vows to Roy. The excitement of secret sexual congress quickly diminished when the episode ended and she vowed never to indulge herself again.

 

***

 

Erica returned to Appleton and continued her teaching practise as well as taking care of baby Chris. There had been a lot of mail piling up for her and after she would finish making dinner for Roy would then read some of her correspondence. Many of the letters were praise for her piano work but she was suddenly jolted by a letter which had been forwarded from her old apartment. It was from Germany . The letter had been  written in April . She hesitated before opening it. She just knew it was from Helmet by the handwriting on the envelope. Suddenly in a flourish of dread she opened the letter, sensing pangs of remorse and stirrings in her stomach.The letter read:

 

Dear Erica

 

I hope you will receive this letter and I will begin by saying that I am fully ashamed of my behavior. You came with bright eyes to me and I turned you away. I cannot say that I am sorry because it will never serve to ease your pain. The affair with the  woman who you saw me with at the club has now left my life . I make no excuses I wanted to have a woman and I would never have done so while I was in Canada unless it was with you. My desperate desires were met but I was blind to your needs and wants except on that one occasion. I will forever love you and it has taken me along time to realize how much you meant to me and that if not for your care I would have never survived.

 

I am returning to Canada in spring 1952 with the Mozart String orchestra and we will be performing during that tour in Vancouver. I have been with this ensemble for a year and we have played numerous concerts in Germany and across Europe. It is led by Hans Opfel, whom I studied with in Hamburg . I am the assistant Principal. May I see you again next year. I will let you know the details if you agree. I do love you and hope you can find it in your heart to forgive me.

 

With Love

 

Helmet

 

The letter placed her in a quandary. She had thought about Helmet very often . After reading the contents of his letter over several times she was completely overwhelmed with visions of their love making. Erica sat in her livingroom,her body trembled with memories of his closeness. She closed her eyes and his vision came within the darkness of her her mind. She felt the wetness below and knew that he would never leave her dreams without closure. She walked to their role top desk , searched for writing pad and began her letter to Helmet

 

Dear Helmet

 

Since returning from Germany 18 months ago, you have been upper most in my mind. I can tell you that I felt absolutely betrayed when I saw you cuddling the blonde girl when it was only a few days before you had mated with me, not once but several times. You were my first lover really, you took my purity and I gladly gave it to you. I had taken care of you for four months and yet I understood you had changed when we met. I realized you had been in a POW camp for almost 3 years, but also that you did need to have a woman in the biblical sense.I have no doubt that it would have happened had you not been attacked.

 

I must tell you that I have married since returning to Canada. I married the local pharmacist, but more importantly I have a little boy, which I must tell you is yours. He is the spitting image of you. Helmet , please understand that I want nothing more from you, I have good a life now with Roy my husband, the baby and as well I am now playing numerous concerts in Canada and the United States. Our life Helmet together, is over. We make choices in our lives and you had made yours. I know it eventually ended but I was there for you , I travelled there to be with you and reignite our love. I am so happy you have an opportunity to play in a highly professional orchestra, you are a great violinist and deserve this honor.

 

Enclosed is a photograph of Christopher whom we call little Chris. I will not come to Vancouver Helmet , but wish you much success with your tour.

 

Fondly

 

Erica had now put closure to her love affair with Helmet. But she still needed to seek absolution from her husband. For the first time in her life she went to her mother to tell the whole story and beg both the forgiveness of her family and eventually Roy.The next night she sat down with her father and mother. Her brother Fred was not yet ready to understand her complicated life so he was dropped off at the local hockey arena with a friend to see a hockey game. She began her account of the trip to Germany which she spoken numerous times  alluding to her night with Helmet. They did not become angry until said that she had married Roy to cover up her immorality.

 

“ I thought only of myself, it was so selfish because as I learned Roy is a wonderful husband and knew nothing about my short affair with Helmet in Germany or the fact that I took care of him in Kelowna. The deception will end tomorrow what ever the consequences , if you agree”.

 

Lisa looked at her husband who said nothing and began to offer her reflections.

 

“Erica we both believed that you were sleeping with Helmet through your camp association and the later part of his ordeal. I did caution you several times because you were so naive, but you continued to show outward affection for him. When I found you wrapped in his arms here in our home I just had to put a stop to it . Just as any mother would, to safeguard you from possible pregnancy. We breathed a sigh of relief when he left for Germany that the romance was over but you kept the fire burning by writing, and sending both money and parcels. When you went to Germany we thought for sure we had lost you, but you came back . We both knew your flirtation was over , but did not recognize the result. We certainly did not expect that within a month after coming back here that you would be married. We knew that you were on the , rebound and we finely felt a  sense of relief.”

 

“It was not a rebound decision mother, it was a effort to cover my derriere. I was pregnant and I had to have a husband, Roy was perfect and he jumped at the chance. I am asking you both to stay with me and tell me that I am doing the right thing by  my unburdening with the truth.”

 

Max took hold of Erica’s hand . He knew that she was tormented by her deception.

 

“We could not have asked for a better son-in-law than Roy, he is very good to us and we know he just worships the ground you walk on. He adores the baby and he is a terrific pharmacist.Everyone in town rave about how he takes care of people’s medications. Our advice is to tell him everything, No man could ask for more than the truth. You must take the consequences of your action.” he said in German

 

***

 

When Erica returned home Roy was in bed and fast asleep, she joined him and he mumbled that he was burned out and went to bed early. The next morning he got little Chris dressed and fed him while she slept. She had a sleepless night. It was Sunday, Roy usually read the Saturday newspaper and they had a breakfast he prepared.

 

He noticed that she just picked at her food and drank two cups of coffee.

 

“Whats up my beautiful piano teacher” he said

 

“I have something to tell you Roy, I am not really the wonderful person you think I am because I must tell you that Chris is not yours and that I married you only to insure my reputation. I was with child when I came back from Germany and we had a few dates, which made me think perhaps you were interested in me. I did not know you but I have learned to love you as much as anyone could. I have lived a lie for as long as we are married.”

 

He looked at Erica as she began to sob and showed very acute  emotion . He went to her and wrapping his arms around her, held her to his body.

 

“Erica, Erica I love you with my soul and my heart, I was overjoyed that you selected me from all the Bachelors in town. I have loved every minute we have been together. I am so proud that you are a concert pianist. Everyone asks about you. You are Appletons piano teacher , you are the star of our town. You know my darling I am a pharmacist and I knew instantaneously when we were on our honeymoon that your sickness was not car related but that you my artistic ravishing wife was indeed expecting.We have a terrific little guy and some more to come I hope, and if you think I give a hoot then you would be vastly mistaken.”

 

She looked at him in amazement with tears of joy and they kissed several times.

 

“One thing I ask of you Roy is that you stop going to cowboy movies at the Roxy you are starting to sound like one  of them!!

 

 

 

 

 Epilogue

 

 

 

Roy and Erica had two more children- Lisa in 1957 and Lorraine in 1959. Erica never did tell Roy about her one night with the cellist . She went on to become a renown soloist across North America. Their son Christopher began on piano at age four. He took up the oboe when he was ten, by the time he was fifteen,he was selected for the Canadian Youth Orchestra and was admitted to the the newly opened school of music in Vancouver at the University of British Columbia. He studied with Arthur Frankel the principal oboe of the Vancouver Symphony. later he was accepted at the famous Julliard School of Music in New York. When he was twenty he auditioned and was accept as the principal oboe at the Baltimore Symphony. Both of their daughters went into the medical field and married young men from Alberta and moved to Calgary. Erica and Roy became grandparents in 1980.

 

Max passed away in his sleep in 1982 and Lisa closed the store , herself passing away in 1986. Their son Fred studied marketing and worked in Vancouver for a manufacturing company Fred Kallman retired and sold the music store to a national company. Erica began to teach at home when she gave up touring. She taught right up to 2001, but stopped when she her fingers became stiff with arthritis. Roy retired from the Pharmacy in 1999, and the famous London Drugs bought him out. Erica passed away in 2006 , but Roy still lives in Appleton and mourns the passing of his wife the ‘Piano Teacher’. Of Helmet nothing much is known he played for a while in Seattle Washington but returned to Germany where information of his whereabouts ended.

 

 

 


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