Walter Panknin (1898 – 1977) and His Family Ch6 Part 4

Imagination Run Wild

Biene wrote this Post

Although I missed my best friend in Gotha, I made many new friends. After school, we would play on the large meadows surrounding the buildings. Contrary to our parents, the restricted living area in that small room was not an issue. We had lots of space and freedom to roam on the meadows and green spaces surrounding the barracks.
One day we ventured as a group out of the camp confines to a nearby treed area to play hide-and-seek. It was almost getting dark when one of the kids shouted, “Let’s go back. A dangerous man is trying to catch us!” We raced back to the camp gate with pounding hearts and breathlessly told the attending guard that a dangerous man had pursued us. Although I found out later that none of us had seen this man, we were sure we were telling the truth. In our minds, he existed. I guess this is a small example of mass hysteria. We never ventured into that forest area again.

Putting on a play (Biene with the big hat)


Later I will tell you about our move to the Old House of Rocky Docky in the Rhineland region of Germany. But now, I want to talk a bit more about our experiences in the refugee camp in Aurich, East Frisia. Most children live in the present. I have always liked to live in the present moment to this day. However, writing my blog now forces me to relive the past.

Natural Splendour of the Arrow Lakes

Wednesday’s Photo

The Birdbath

Recently we added a solar-powered fountain to the birdbath in our yard. The soothing sound and the clean water are great attractions for our feathered friends. In this video, I captured five having a jolly good time frolicking around the and around miniature pool. My wife and I like to watch them while we are having coffee and cake in the mild afternoon air. Enjoy!

This coming Friday, I will have surgery at the Vernon Hospital. My posts are programmed to upload automatically. But I will not be able to give likes and comments for the next couple of days. Sorry!

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.

Natural Splendour of the Arrow Lakes

Wednesday’s Photos

White Violets among the Violets

Canadian white violets (Viola canadensis) are growing among the regular ones in our backyard. They are tiny and delicate flowers. You need to lie down on your belly to photograph them properly and make their inner splendour visible. The pine cone in the second picture was a pretty addition to complement the violet’s beauty. My wife and I are happy to see them grow in abundance as soon as winter has loosened its grip. Enjoy!

Walter Panknin (1898 – 1977) and His Family Ch6 Part 2

First Impressions of the  Sandhorst Refugee Camp

Biene wrote this Post

My mother was distraught after our first night in the crowded dormitory shared with twelve strangers and other strangers passing through our room from the adjacent sickroom.  She feared for our health and well-being due to the proximity of the contagious people who had to pass frequently through our door to visit the facilities or other places in the building.

Mutti Panknin at the Refugee Camp

After my mother voiced her concerns to the management, we were assigned to a small private room furnished with two metal bunk beds, a table with four chairs and a small wardrobe.  Although this room was smaller than my father’s study in Gotha, we felt happy to have more privacy.  We still had to share our door to the hallway with the occupants of the neighbouring room; a young widow and her two children.  Her son was five years older than my brother and me, while her daughter was two years younger than us.  But despite the age difference, we became good friends.

Rainer and Gabi’s mom always looked glamorous. She dressed like a film star.  I knew what film stars looked like from pictures of American actors and actresses in the packages of chewing gum.  I started collecting those pictures when staying with our friends in Dortmund. When I commented on her mom’s clothes to Gabi, she told me her mother’s secret.  Her mom had found a way to contact actors’ fan clubs in the United States.  She would tell them about her plight as a widowed refugee asking for charitable donations.  She would receive big parcels with the most fashionable, expensive outfits, shoes and accessories, often only worn a few times by her idols. Gabi’s brother Rainer went to the Merchant Marine Corps as a cadet after he turned 14 years old and had passed grade 8.   He brought me a beautiful scarf from one of his training sessions in Hamburg, the biggest harbour in Germany.  My mom proudly displayed it on the wall, as you can see in the picture. I admired and adored Rainer.  He would be travelling to many of the places my dad had shown us on the world map.

Natural Splendour of the Arrow Lakes

Wednesday’ s Photos

Spring Has Sprung at the Arrow Lakes

The last remnants of snow in the shadowed places have melted away. The grass is green, and the trees slowly but surely have begun to leaf. On a recent walk over the picturesque Fauquier golf course, I captured the following three signs of Spring. Enjoy!

Branch of a Sumac tree
Buds ready to break out into leaves
Mature catkins of the pussiwillows
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