In August, the Centrum Creative Writers won First Place for Cooperative Writing in a state competition sponsored by LeadingAge, a nonprofit association representing more than 400 long-term care organizations. The writers live at the Centrum, Willow Brook Christian Village’s assisted living center. They enjoyed collaborating to record their stories. Here we feature three more of our residents’ pieces.
The mother sheep (ewe) refused to take care of her baby lamb. My mother said it would be all right for me to raise the lamb in a pen in our backyard. At 10 years old, I was proud to be the lamb’s new mom. Ninety years ago, Delaware City had no problem with neighbors having barnyard creatures living in town. By the way, I named her “Lamby.” It doesn’t sound like an original name now, but at the time I thought it was perfectly fine. I loved to exercise my lamb by walking her down the sidewalks in town on a leash. As I walked in my neighborhood on nearby West Central Avenue, I always passed the city jail. When the prisoners heard the clumping of Lamby’s hooves, they would all yell out the windows, “BAAA! BAAA!” Lamby loved to answer them back. I just had to laugh at the conversations.
Right after my husband and I got married, he went into the service. We had the opportunity to travel to Germany, France and the Philippines. Some places were better than others to live. The best part of the experience was meeting different people and learning about their cultures. During those years our children were born, and when they came of age, they were able to attend French schools. Most people spoke English so it was easy for them to learn quickly. Actually our children were bilingual, while my husband and I only spoke English. The kids enjoyed talking without us understanding them. It was difficult for my husband and me to make friends, while the children enjoyed their growing up years in Europe.
This is the story of my grandfather Fredrick. He was a son of a baker in the Black Forest of Germany, one of 13 children. His father had passed away in 1892. With a large family to support, Frederick’s mother thought it would be best for him to come to America to live with an uncle in Greenville, Ohio and begin a new life. At 15 years old, this was a big step to take in his life.
With a note pinned to his shirt asking for help to direct him to Greenville Ohio, he boarded a ship to come to the new world. He did not speak a word of English. I could not imagine how he felt, alone and unable to explain. He had to trust the people he met to help him on this journey. He remembered reaching the United States and going through lines listening to a language he did not understand. Somehow he traveled to Greenville, then arrived at his uncle’s home. Now, Fredrick was an avid reader. He grew up reading the books of James Fenimore Cooper. With all the vivid stories about Native Americans, Fredrick was waiting to see these people on his journey. He was a bit disappointed that he did not meet an “Indian.” At 15 and not knowing any English, he was put into the first grade at the local school. Although Fredrick was embarrassed to be with the little ones he learned fast and was soon progressing with the students his age.
Fredrick said his first love, his Christian faith, had brought him through these hard times. His second love was his wife Clara Clark. Together they raised a fine family of five children. He always had a sense of humor throughout his life. When he was quite old, he would sit in a chair in his yard enjoying the outdoors. One day, as the story goes, he happened to be in the wrong place when a pigeon flew over. Well, the pigeon relieved himself “targeting” my grandfather’s head. He laughed and said, “I’m glad cows don’t fly!”