Walter Panknin (1998 – 1977) and His Family – Ch5 Part 14

Gender Inequality at the Panknin Household

Biene contributed this post.

My brother had an inquisitive mind and constantly tried to figure out how things worked or how people made them. I would often discover that my toys or dolls were broken or taken apart. They had fallen victim to my brother’s curiosity. It would upset me tremendously. Although my parents expressed some sympathy, they never punished my brother or tried to change his behaviour. They not only condoned his often destructive explorations but almost encouraged them. They were proud of his clever findings and discoveries. In the name of science, they expected me to sacrifice my toys.

I do not have many memories of our early school days. But I remember that our teacher was called Frau Gans (Mrs. Goose). Her name very much amused my dad. In German, you say “dumme Gans” to a “dumb female.” Our teacher definitely was not “a stupid goose.”

Photo Credit: Pixabay

Both my brother and I were artistic and liked to draw and paint. I produced my first “masterpiece” in grade one. We were supposed to paint a picture of a wall. Mrs. Goose was very impressed with my work because I painted such a realistic-looking brick wall and a happy worker beside it. My dad was a bit puzzled by this unusual theme. “Why paint an ugly wall?” he asked. Ten years later, the communist regime built the Berlin Wall to separate the two parts of Berlin. Maybe this early art exercise in wall paintings was the first step to glorifying wall building. Or was it a premonition?

Natural Splendour of the Arrow Lakes

Wednesday’s Photos

Of Ice and Snow

Two images of the ice and snow sculptures show artificial mountain ranges. An icy layer hanging over a decaying tree trunk creates a dark mountain image, while an ice sheet at the bottom becomes a snowy mountain against the dark, blurry background of the same tree trunk. What do you see in the other photos? Enjoy.

Walter Panknin (1898 – 1977) and His Family Ch5 – Part 13

School Memories

Biene contributed this post.

As I already mentioned, my dad prepared us well for school. Before every lesson in his roomy study, he would say in English, “I am your teacher.” He wanted to acquaint us with a foreign language early on in life. He refused to teach us Russian, which would have been more helpful in a communist state controlled by the Soviet Union. Math was always fun. My brother and I had competitions in mental math, which I would usually win. Until my last years in high school, I consistently outperformed my brother. But then he surpassed me, and I could never catch up. Calculus was my downfall.

We had to memorize poems, ballads and, of course, lots of folk songs, which we would sing on long hikes in the beautiful forests of Thuringia. Most of the songs are still fresh in my mind. They bring back happy memories of picking berries, swimming in rivers and lakes, and picnics under beautiful trees. My dad would tell us legends and fairy tales often connected to the region’s folklore on these outings. Since the German language has fairly consistent phonetic rules, I learned reading almost on my own before entering school.

Walter and Biene

The famous German “Zuckertüte” or sugar cone bag originated in Thuringia near Gotha. This giant, brightly decorated cone-shaped paper bag was filled with chocolates, candies and other delicacies or little gifts to “sweeten” the first day of school. I wished we had a picture of ours. But at that time, my parents did not have the means to buy films.
We only had a few hours of school every morning for the first few years, including Saturdays. Students were expected to do homework and practice their new skills after school. Since my brother and I were fast learners, we had lots of free time to play when we returned home for lunch.

Natural Splendour of the Arrow Lakes

Wednesday’s Photos

Of Snow Sculptures and Winter Landscapes

During the last two weeks, I may have created the false impression that I did not like winter with my nostalgic look back to summer and fall. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Every season has its beauty. I pulled photos out of my archives because I had to take care of my wife and make sure that her broken leg was healing properly. There was just no time to go out and take pictures for both of us. Today and the day before, Biene and I drove down to the lake. My wife could not leave the car but took photos through the open window. I wandered around the parking lot to look for some worthwhile themes. The highways crew had piled up the snow such that the resulting sculptures displayed interesting shapes. Here they are. Enjoy!