This Baker Learned Not to Cry Over Spilt Milk – Part Two
Last Week we ran Part one of the Lisa Wetzel interview by Mary Ann Yevuta
Do you have any favorite Christmas memories? Mama and Papa would go into the room and close the door and decorate the tree. Then we would hear a bell ring and mom would say, “look, Kris Kindle was here!” We would all get a little plate with cookies and knitted mittens or a hat. We also left our shoes out and if we were good, there might be something left in them. There was also a bad Santa, and if we were bad we didn’t get anything. That happened to me once.
What were some of the hardships you experienced during the war? In the wartime it was bad. We would beg farmers for food. Inge and I had a little wagon that we would take to different farms. The smallest farmers always gave us something, but the big ones would say they didn’t have anything. One time, a bunch of us went into a farmer’s fruit trees, right after dark. We looked during day time to see where the best trees were. My sister Anna would shake the trees and we would pick up the apples. Once, the farmer heard us and came out (in his underwear!) and chased us so we ran. I had new shoes that I waited years for and as we were running away, I lost one. No one wanted to go back for it and I never did find my shoe.
Pop had a nice watch and when the Americans came, he dug a hole in the backyard and buried the watch because some of the soldiers took things from the townspeople. When he finally went to get the watch, it was gone; we later found out it was our neighbor who took it. She would bake pies and leave them out, but she would never share! Our other neighbor was my friend Maria’s family. One day, a car pulled up with SS on the side and they went in and Maria’s father had to leave with them. We never saw him again. We think he must have said something against the Nazis. There were posters all over town with a picture of a person with their finger to their lips, meaning don’t talk. We couldn’t trust anyone. There were good Americans and some bad ones. Germans couldn’t go out after 7. Sometimes at night, we would hear screaming.
Amidst all the wartime stress and despair, what did you do to have fun? The Mangfall River went right by our house. In the winter, we would ice skate (we had one pair of skates.) Our town was in the Alps, so we took advantage of the terrain and went sledding.. How stupid we were! When you’re young, you don’t think about danger. In the summer, we swam in the river or picked berries. We would ride our bikes to Bad Aibling or Munich. One time, we were in Munich during an air raid and had to get underground.
How old were you when you started baking? I can’t remember how old I was; I learned cooking and baking from my mom, but it was plain stuff. I loved to bake, and learned more on my own.
How old were you when you got your first job? First, I worked in the wood factory, right out of school at 14. Then I worked at a chocolate factory! That was better.
How did you meet your husband Bill? I was working in Bad Aibling and met him while he was stationed there with the Army. My friends laughed because Bill was so tall and skinny! I loved to dance, and Bill didn’t. An Air Force guy asked me to dance and Bill got jealous and didn’t want me to dance. That was when Bill got his nose broken! Army and Air Force guys were always getting into fights.
What is the most interesting place you’ve traveled to? Japan. We lived right outside of Tokyo by the rice paddies until the government moved us to an apartment downtown. The bath houses took a lot to get used to! I’d run and jump in so no one could see me, and the water was HOT! We also lived right outside Paris for less than a year. We didn’t like it there very much, so Bill put in for Germany again. I moved to the US when I was 27. We came by ship in October and it took a long time. The dependents of the soldiers were low in the ship, and I was seasick the entire trip. I couldn’t get out of bed! The kids were young and getting so hungry. Finally someone followed them down to me and noticed I couldn’t get out of bed and they helped me. I lost 18 pounds. When I got to the US, Bill was still overseas at first so I stayed with Bill’s mom and pop.
What was your new American life like? Bill’s mama was the best woman, besides my mama. She paid for my flight to Germany every couple years sno I could go see my family. We couldn’t afford it because Bill was still in the military and we had four kids. I still talk to my niece Ingrid, who lives in Munich, every week. We talk about food and she makes me jealous for all the things I can’t get over here. English was very hard to learn. I learned by talking to other people. I told Bill I would learn English and he would learn German, but he never did. I eventually found out he understood more German than I thought. Sneaky! My mom really liked Bill right away. He was always so good with kids.
What was the hardest adjustment when you moved to the US? I can’t complain, everyone was really nice. The only thing was racism was bad and I hadn’t seen that before.
What do you feel most grateful for in life? That my family and I are all healthy, and that Heather lives so close nearby. Hopefully I’ll get to visit my daughter, grandkids and great grandkids in Columbus soon! And I’m so lucky to have good friends like Mary and Loretta, and that at 89 I can still bake for the Farmer’s Market!