Walter Panknin (1898 – 1977) and His Family Ch5 – Part 12

More Questionable Child-Rearing Practices

Biene contributed this post.

Another child-rearing practice my parents employed is also of dubious nature. My parents’ generation stood under the influence of the naturopathic medicine movement of Sebastian Kneipp. He believed in the therapeutic power of cold water. My parents wanted us to grow up strong and healthy. Every Saturday, my brother and I had our weekly bath in a big zinc tub placed on two chairs in our spacious kitchen. A hot bath was a luxury at that time.  We enjoyed this rare pleasure tremendously. But all treats come to an end, and for us, it was very abrupt. Without warning, my mother would dump a bucket full of cold water, which she had hidden under the chairs over us, as suggested by Sebastian Kneipp.

This “shock therapy” was supposed to toughen and strengthen us. Before we could utter desperate cries of protest, we were wrapped in warm towels. Time and again, my mother would assure us that she would not do it again. But she never kept her promise and was very skillful in hiding the bucket of frigid water. Until the end of his life, my brother detested cold water. I, on the other hand, started to like this invigorating therapy. To this day, I love swimming in cold lakes and conclude my warm bath with a cold shower. 

Another Kneipp practice my parents employed was even more dramatic and terrifying. As a small child, my brother had terrible temper tantrums. He frequently would fly into such a rage that he almost turned blue in his face screaming.  All measures to calm him down failed until my mother and sister started to resort to another Kneipp treatment. They would quickly pick up my hysterical brother and hold his head under running cold water from the tap.  The shock would instantly calm him. I was very scared watching this cruel procedure.

Like my brother, I was also strong-willed. But I did not voice my protests in furor. I would instead use passive resistance. My mother tried to give us one teaspoon of pure cod liver oil every day during the fall and winter season to prevent rickets and other health conditions. I vehemently detested this foul-smelling and even worse-tasting liquid. My mother could neither coax nor threaten me into compliance. I kept my mouth pressed shut. When all attempts failed to change my mind, my sister would hold me down on the couch, open my mouth forcefully. In an instant, my mother would pour the disgusting sticky liquid down my throat. I could not understand why my mother and sister, who loved us so much, could do such horrible things to us.

Splendour of the Arrow Lakes

Wednesday’s Photos

More Nostalgia and Dispelling the Winter Blues

Last week I posted flowers. I sense from your comments that you too enjoyed looking at their bright colours and beautiful shapes. Today I would like to focus on the landscape around the Arrow Lakes that is so delightful to view, especially in the fall. One month of winter is already behind us. Only two more to go until spring. Rejoice!

Walter Panknin (1898 – 1977) and His Family – Ch5 Part 11

Bizarre Child Rearing Practice

Biene contributed this post.

“The door flew open, in he ran,
The great, long, red-legged scissor-man.
Oh! children, see! the tailor’s come
And caught out little Suck-a-Thumb.
Snip! Snap! Snip! the scissors go;
And Conrad cries out, “Oh! Oh! Oh!”
Snip! Snap! Snip! They go so fast,
That both his thumbs are off at last.”

I sucked my thumb with passion and abandon right from birth and maybe even before. My parents never got tired of telling the embarrassing story when I tried to suck my brother’s thumb. He often stood still when observing something with his hands folded on his back like a statesman. I played on the floor behind him when I suddenly grabbed his hand and tried to put his thumb into my mouth. He screamed in horror, thinking I was going to bite him. Initially, my parents thought that I would eventually give up this bad habit on my own. But when I continued past the toddler stage, they started to get worried. All their attempts to stop me from putting my thumb into my mouth failed. As soon as their attention was diverted, I made up for the lost time, especially at night.

Heinrich Hoffmann: Der Struwwelpeter;

Finally, my mother and sister decided on more drastic measures. To me, they read the then bestselling children’s book ‘Struwwelpeter’ by Heinrich Hoffman. I listened attentively, sucking my thumb peacefully when suddenly my ears pricked up. There was a story of a little boy who had this habit of thumb sucking like me. Like me, the boy did not stop when told so by his parents. Then one day, the thumb cutter came and cut off his thumbs. Thus he stopped him once and for all.

I was getting a bit worried hearing the story when suddenly the doorbell rang. My sister got up to answer it. She returned after a few minutes looking very serious. “The thumb cutter is here looking for Biene,” she told my mom. “Should I let him come in?” My mom replied, looking at me, “Tell him to go because Biene will not suck her thumb anymore.” My thumb was out of my mouth in an instant. I was shaken to the core. “Miraculously” from that day on, I stopped this bad habit for good.

Walter Panknin (1898 – 1977) and His Family – Ch5 Part 10

Early Childhood Education at Home

Biene contributed this post.

When we turned four years old, my father started teaching us on weekends.  He had a large world map, which covered a wall in his study. He introduced us to geography. We had to point to and name all the continents, major countries, capitals, rivers, mountain ranges and oceans.

We had to draw maps and were rewarded with pennies if they were accurate. Papa explained the solar system to us and allowed us to colour his beautiful pen drawings for the ballads he had written. At bedtime, he would read books of the great explorers and inventors of the past or other historical events.  I loved cuddling close to my father on the bench of the big tile stove and listen to the great stories of mankind. 

Hiking – From the left: little Walter, Gertrud (Biene), Walter and Elisabeth Panknin

I learned to read before I even went to school and have always been a voracious reader from then on. I was six years old when I read my first novel. My mom had the book sitting on her night table. It was a gift from my father, who loved historical novels. Whenever I had the opportunity. I secretly read this big book which intrigued me. It introduced me to an exciting world far beyond my years. To this day, it is my favourite novel. The author is Hervey Allen, and the title is “Anthony Adverse.”  It was translated into German. 

Elisabeth Panknin, the twins and their sister Elsbeth

Although religious practices were tolerated under the new regime, they were not being encouraged. My mother had been strictly brought up in the catholic faith by her guardians.  However, my father was protestant.  Shortly after our birth, even before my dad had a chance to meet us, she had us baptized in the protestant faith out of respect for my father. My mother was always a firm believer in the Christian faith and instilled this faith in me. For her, the differences among the various religious denominations were not of great importance. She believed in a personal relationship with God and salvation through Jesus Christ. She would always encourage us to pray and believe in the power of God’s love.

We were introduced to the word of God by an interdenominational Christian group that read bible stories to preschool children. They must have sown seeds falling on fertile ground. To this day, I have never lost my faith in the goodness and truth of God’s word and the miracle of Christ’s promise of salvation.

Natural Splendour of the Arrow Lakes

Wednesday’s Photos

Experimental Video of a Fall Picture

Adding motion to a still picture is an effective way to add interest to your slide show. This is known as the Ken Burns effect and can be accomplished by using the crop and zoom tool in a video editor. Recently, I learned a more advanced technique that is making use of the so-called keyframes. They allow you to gain more precise control over the motion within a given time. In addition, the keyframes also let you change the opacity and quite a few other interesting functions, such as colour, rotation, scale etc. Ideally, you start out with a high resolution image. The above photo I used for this experiment lacks the clarity, which is very noticeable after I more than doubled its magnification in the process. Playing the short video will give a good idea of what I was trying to accomplish.