On Sunday we had a brilliant, almost cloudless sky. So, half an hour before sunset, we quickly drove down to the Fauquier boat dock, hoping to find a few interesting objects to photograph in the setting sun. The Alberta wild rose was literally aflame in the late evening setting. A daisy in a dense carpet of like flowers also attracted my attention. The weeds in the remaining moments looked glorious. Enjoy.
Although the yard was neglected, it was an ideal play area for kids. We had plenty of safe space to engage in ball games, skip rope, play badminton, hopscotch, marbles, tag and even hide and seek in the bushes and behind the old trees. There were even grassy areas where we could put blankets to suntan, read or do gymnastics. We played outside in all kinds of weather until nighttime. The rooms in the Old House were too small for children to play in. Our parents struggled to cope under the primitive and restrictive conditions in the decrepit emergency shelter. However, we had lots of freedom, space and companionship with other kids. We were happy. Velbert is a big town in North-Rhine Westphalia. Its primary industry is small-scale steel production. It is renowned worldwide for the manufacturing of keys, locks and fittings. You can see all kinds of exciting locks and keys in the local museum. Velbert has a primarily small-based metal industry that evolved from backyard forges. Right beside the Old House was such a small forge. At suppertime, we would see tired, and grimy-looking workers emerge from the dark, windowless stone building to trudge home.
My mother had respect and pity for these hard workers looking emaciated and pale from working long hours in that hellish plant. North of Velbert is the city of Essen, where the largest steel manufacturing plant in Europe was located. My dad found employment in the dental laboratories of the 400-year-old Krupp dynasty of steel manufacturing.
Every morning my dad would leave by bus around 6:00 a.m. to go to work. It would take him about an hour to get to his workplace in Essen. He would return at 6:00 p.m., dead tired but happy to have employment with a prestigious and socially progressive company that treated its employees well. For my parent’s 25th wedding anniversary, a representative of the Krupp management visited my parents at the Old House and delivered some gifts and well wishes. My parents were touched and honoured by my dad’s employer’s caring and generous treatment.
On one of the rare rainless days, my wife and I eagerly went on a digital hunt for late spring images worthy to be published. We both lucked out on our leisurely stroll down to Heart Creek swollen with the melt waters from the nearby mountains. I particularly liked the fern in its monochrome green, the lupines in their multi-coloured glory, the piece of snake-like driftwood that I had stuck into the sand, and, of course, the wild waters tumbling over the shiny rocks in the creek bed. Enjoy!
The school looked new and bright. Our teacher was a young, tall man with a severe expression. He didn’t smile at us once. About thirty students quietly stared at us when we entered the classroom. I recognized a girl and a boy I had seen last night at the Old House. When our teacher introduced us as refugee children from Thuringia, a tall girl with big brown eyes smiled at me. Gisela was her name, and she eventually became one of my best friends. She still lives close to Velbert, Germany. We have only seen each other twice after moving to Canada, but we have been corresponding for almost 50 years. I soon discovered that she was born in the “East” and from Eisenach, close to Gotha in Thuringia. Eisenach is renown for its imposing Wartburg castle.
When school was dismissed, a girl from one grade higher than us approached me and introduced herself as Margit. I had briefly seen her through the window at the Old House this morning. Margit smiled at me warmly and invited me to walk back with her. She became my closest friend when we lived at the Old House. Margit was mature beyond her age. She was a motherly type and a born leader. We liked her cheerful and outgoing personality. Fights amongst us kids never lasted long because she was a peacemaker, and we trusted in her judgement.
About 15-20 kids about our age lived in the Old House, and we spent most of our time playing in the big yard around the old building. The Old House used to be a beer garden restaurant with a bowling alley in its younger days. The hedged-in yard with old trees had been the garden area of the venue where people would eat and drink on warm and sunny days.
We finally had some sunshine, and the clouds above the Arrow Lake and the nearby mountains were imposing. To create a video I took 70 still pictures. I used a tripod for my camera and connected it with a new device called Shutter-Boss II. This amazing tool allows you to set the number of shots, the interval between the shots, the start time and many other controls. All you have to do is turn on the camera and focus on the object you want to photograph. Later at home, I ran the images through my video editor and increased its speed to make the clouds dramatically move across the blue sky. Enjoy.
When I woke up from a deep sleep the following day, I could see through the big window that a clean blanket of snow had covered the drabness of the yard outside the Old House of Rocky Docky. My father had heard the famous song on the radio and aptly applied it to our new abode. It would always cheer us up to listen to our “theme song,” We would sing it with gusto to make the old house rock.
The bright morning sun made the snow crystals sparkle and dance; Despite the first signs of spring earlier, winter was not over yet. My parents were already dressed to go out. My mother told us that the manager of the refugee shelter had allocated them some funds to buy household items, utensils and other necessary equipment for everyday living. Our mother told us that before she would go shopping, she would enroll us in the nearby school called Elementary School at the Tree. Since we had missed classes for more than a month in the transition camp in Massen, we were looking forward to regular school life again.