Walter Panknin (1898 – 1977) and His Family Ch6 Part 3

The Picky Eater

Biene wrote this post.

Although we did not like to eat in the crowded and noisy dining hall, my brother and I adjusted quickly to our new life in the camp. I, in particular, was a very picky eater and often felt nauseous just from the food odours permeating the building. My father had experienced extreme hunger as a POW. Therefore, he had no sympathy for me and would get very upset and angry when I refused to eat certain foods or left something on my plate. Eventually, my mother would feed us separately at different times so my dad could enjoy his meals without stress.

The Panknin Family 1954

After a long break in Dortmund, my brother and I could go to school again right at our camp. Makeshift classrooms were set up in one large lecture and meeting hall. We sat at round tables, which was a nice break from individual desks. I always loved school and even enjoyed homework. Since one teacher instructed us in a multigrade setting, we often had to work independently. Math problems were my favourites because we could read or draw when they were completed. I would always draw beautiful princesses in elegant dresses.

I remember the day I received my first report card. My brother and our friends walked across the big courtyard back to the living quarters. All of a sudden, we were stopped by a stranger. “Well,” he asked, “who of you children received the best report card today?”  Immediately some of our friends pointed at my brother, some at me and some at another boy. “Let me see your report cards,” the man demanded. Timidly we handed them to him. After studying them for a while, he handed them back except mine. “You have the best,” he said, “congratulations, you deserve a reward.”  He reached into his wallet and gave me some money, about $5.00. I was so stunned that I could barely say thank you. I had never had so much money before. My dad was so proud to hear the story that he matched the stranger’s reward.

7 Replies to “Walter Panknin (1898 – 1977) and His Family Ch6 Part 3”

  1. I can totally relate as a picky eater myself. And today would we want our kids to talk to, let alone give our report cards to and take money, from a stranger? Such different times.

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  2. That story could be taken two ways. First, it was great to be rewarded for a good report card, but on the other side, a stranger should know better than to ask for a kid’s report card. It’s not his business to pry into how the kid is doing. Who knows if he will gossip about that child? Imagine if the report had not been good and he told all his friends and neighbours. But from the child’s point of view, it was nice to get a reward (twice) for all the hard work.

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