Foreshadowing the Turbulent Adolescence Years
Biene wrote this post.
Gisela’s grandparents always received us warmly when Gudrun and I came for a visit, and they treated us with delicious homemade refreshments. They took a genuine interest in our lives and liked to tell us stories of their exciting past,
Unlike Gisela, Gudrun was very outgoing and radiated warmth. She always had a sweet smile on her round face. Blond, blue-eyed and well-developed, she liked to take life easy and have fun. While I still wore hand-me-down clothes from my second cousins, Gudrun had the most beautiful skirts, blouses and dresses, which her mom sewed for her.
Like Gisela’s mom, her mother was a war widow and a seamstress. She also had a tailoring business at her home. Gudrun’s grandma lived with them. But her grandfather was dead. Gudrun’s Oma did the household chores while her mom sewed on a big long table in the corner of the spacious kitchen close to the window.
Gudrun’s well-dressed mom looked glamorous with her fashionably styled blonde hair, heavy makeup and bright red, enormously long fingernails. They were curved like claws. I secretly wondered how she could handle delicate materials with them. She would take frequent smoke breaks showing off her long fingers by gracefully holding the cigarette. She half closed her eyes leisurely and slowly exhaled the smoke through her rounded red lips. Smoking looked so pleasurable and alluring to us girls.
Periodically. a male friend of the family who was a truck driver for a brewery would visit Gudrun’s mom. At those times, much laughter and joking occurred, and thick clouds of smoke were coming from the sewing corner, distracting us from studying for school. I think her mom’s friend was a father substitute for Gudrun.
Gudrun had a record player, a luxury our family could not yet afford. She owned records of the top hits, most of them gifts from her mother’s friend. We would listen with excitement to the catching songs and rhythms of Little Richard, Elvis Presley. Connie Francis and Brenda Lee. We would even dance around as soon as Gudrun’s mom and Oma ran errands. When our top idol Elvis sang, “Love me Tender,” we were mesmerized and started dreaming of first love.
Biene Hiking with her Father Walter Panknin
With this final post of chapter 6, Biene concludes her contribution to the Walter Panknin story. I will carry on with this family history in Chapter 7.