Friday, November 26, 2010

100th COG Edition ~ There's One In Every Family ~

On the 21st day of March in 1933, my grandparents Adalbert Haf (1907 ~ 1968) and Liselotte Kaiser-Saule (1913 – 2010) gave birth to a beautiful baby girl --Elfriede Haf (1933 ~ 2010). That beautiful baby girl would one day become a most loving and gracious mother, grandmother, and great grandmother, that we could have ever been blessed with…that very special one in our mom. 

In daily life, everything mom did was to enrich our home and family life. She was good at so many things and always amazed me. Children usually don’t pay attention to the things that I did, but I always noticed the little things mom did to make my life safe, secure, and full of warmth and love. Mom made many sacrifices so that the quality of our life was that much better.

Mom was born and raised in Augsburg, Germany. Augsburg is a town rich in history that is over 2000 years old. As a young girl starting out, she worked at a dry cleaning service, and later she moved on to be a seamstress in a factory. She was an excellent seamstress and made most of our clothes for years. 

Mom also sang in her Church choir and loved being a part of a high springboard diving swim team. She loved to travel and toured many countries throughout her life.  I have postcards and photos that she collected and saved throughout her travels…that will be another post or even another blog down the road!

In 1957, my mother, stepfather and I,  (he was in the Army) traveled on a military ship, the U.S.N.S General Maurice Rose, from Bremerhaven, Germany to the United States. I know it was difficult for mom to leave her home and start a new life. But the one thing about mom, she was adventurous, strong and very independent! She couldn’t wait to start that new life.

Modern day photo courtesy of Flickr

Once we settled, mom’s very first job was at the Bear Flag Restaurant located within the historic Cannery Row in Monterey CA. As I was searching for information about the infamous Bear Flag Restaurant, I came across this site “Cannery Row Photo Album” by Robert Lewis…I was blown away to find my most favorite photo of mom (I own the original and have posted it several times on my blog) at the lower left bottom of the page! This must be the gentlemen that took the original photo. There is very little information regarding the Bear Flag Restaurant that I have been able to find.

If you are a Steinbeck fan, Cannery Row was the setting for John Steinbeck’s novels “Cannery Row” (1945) and later, “Sweet Thursday” (1954) based on the life and times of Cannery Row.  The Bear Flag Restaurant was based on an actual business…the Texas themed Lone Star Restaurant. Apparently, in the earlier days, the Bear Flag Restaurant was a “gentleman’s” place, owned and operated by Dora Flood (1923-1941)…way before mom’s time. 

When her job ended at the Bear Flag Restaurant, mom started her career at ‘Montgomery Wards’ in Monterey, CA. As I posted in the Bound for Mom blogging mini series carnival, she started out as a sales girl in the Woman’s Fashion Dept. Later she went on to be the first woman to become a District Merchandise Manager in the history of ‘Montgomery Wards’. She continued to climb the ladder to a Corporate Regional Executive Manager’s position and was very successful up until her retirement 35 years later.

How my mom did it, I will never know, she was amazing. We didn’t live in the best of homes when we first arrived but mom always told me, “You make a house a home” and that is exactly what she did. Mom could make a shack look like a palace. She would make drapes for the windows, and along with table linens she had brought from Germany; she made our home warm and inviting. Not only was she good at decorating, she was good at cooking, and entertaining. 

Mom was an excellent cook. She continued to make traditional German meals and deserts in our home. The two recipes that stand out the most for me is her Marble Pound Cake recipe that was originally made by my great-grandmother, Margarete Kaiser-Saule and handed down to mom, and her own German Spritz cookies. It always amazed me how mom would put on a holiday dinner and never stress about it. She just loved doing those things and did it with such great ease. She made it fun and enjoyable, you felt comfortable, welcomed and relaxed. As an adult, I always loved going home for Christmas and I would feel like a kid again, none of us wanted it to end.

Christmas stands out the most ~

Mom would start baking her Christmas cookies in early November.  It’s hard to think that I won’t be having Thanksgiving or Christmas this year or tasting those cookies with mom but she did instill many traditions and memories in me. As hard as it is going to be, I want to keep them going in her honor. I would like to try my hand at her spritz cookies…and pass the tradition down to my grandchildren so they remember where the cookies originated and who always made them.

Mom made Christmas magical, amazing and true to the spirit of what Christmas is all about. One whole side of mom’s garage housed her Christmas decorations and it took her weeks to put it all up! When she was all done and you walked into her home…it was as if you stepped into an old fashion German home at Christmas time. I have never seen anything like it anywhere else.

One of her favorites was her Thomas Kinkade’s Christmas Village collection set. She started collecting this village quite a few years ago.  Mom would painstakingly arrange the village in faux snow and bring it all to life.  I could stand and stare at it for hours and I always wanted to just jump in and walk around!

Mom's Christmas tree was incredible. Up to last year, she would adorn the tree with old fashion tinsel from Germany that she saved along with ornaments as old as I am. I did just inherit some of those ornaments and part of the Christmas village recently after her passing away in July. I am going to try and set it up like mom did but it just won’t be the same. Mom would weave over 2500 lights on the Christmas tree! I don’t know how she did it but you never saw the wiring from the lights anywhere!

Mom was a true history buff, she knew everything about Augsburg and it’s history. She would tell me stories about this wonderful city and how you can still see parts of the moat that had surrounded the city during the medieval period.

Also, mom shared the time she was taken from her family for a year during the war and lived with a family on their farm…the beautiful Cathedrals and the countryside of the Alps, she loved her home and was very proud of it. She knew a lot about a lot of things and I loved sitting and chatting with her about Opera, classical music, Germany, and all the wisdom she had. She was a very wise and warm-hearted person. If need be, she would send me in the right direction after one of our talks!

Mom just made our world beautiful and unique. She made such a difference in so many lives that I know, not one single person she touched will ever forget her.  That’s just the kind of person she was, my hero, mentor and best friend. She was an outstanding mother, wife, grandmother, great grandmother, and friend to so many. She taught us by example and left a legacy of love. It is with her that I learned the blessing of life. I am extremely grateful and fortunate to have been her daughter, in her life and to have been loved by her.  

There will be an empty spot in our home and hearts this holiday season…it’s hard to want to celebrate but I want to do it for her and in her honor…I know she would want it that way. 

Mom will be dearly missed and your daughter, the keeper of our memories, will always keep your memory were the one. 

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This post has been submitted for the 100th Edition for the Carnival of Genealogy...There's One In Every Family, hosted by Jasia over at Creative Gene. This is Jasia's 100th Edition!

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Thanks to Flickr for photo of the Bear Flag Cannery Row Building
and Google Images for the City of Augsburg.  

All other photos are originals and owned by Gini Webb


Joan Miller (Luxegen) said...

Gini - What a wonderful post about your Mom! I've been to Cannery Row and can just picture what you have written.

Olive Tree Genealogy said...

A lovely tribute to your mom. Thank you for sharing

Elyse Doerflinger said...

Gini - Beautiful tribute to your mom! I am so happy that you are carrying on the traditions that she has passed down to you. Just imagine when your granddaughter is a grandmother - and the stories she will be able to tell!

Judith Richards Shubert said...

Gini, I have read some of your other posts about your beautiful mother. What a wonderful tribute you have written today! You must miss her terribly. Thank you so much for sharing this with us.

Charley "Apple" Grabowski said...

Your mother was one of a kind. A very lovely tribute.

Amy Coffin, MLIS said...

Lovely tribute, Gini! I enjoy reading about your mother. She truly is one of a kind.

Carol said...

Beautiful, as always, but this one is over the top wonderful! May her love surround you for ever. Thank you for sharing her with us.

Lisa Wallen Logsdon said...

Gini..this was just beautiful! I almost feel like I knew your mom the way you describe her. Moms are our special angels and they never really leave us!

Greta Koehl said...

This is a true classic of a post and I can see how your mother totally deserved this tribute - a person who knew how to love and enjoy life and could pass it on to others. Absolutely wonderful.

Michelle Goodrum said...

Beautiful, beautiful! I almost feel like I know her and was with her in Germany and Monterey.

Even though you have an empty place in your heart and at your table this holiday, rejoice in the love, memories and traditions your mother has left you with.

Herb Behrens said...

You have written a wonderful tribute to your mother. The building pictured, the Bear Flag, is still standing and inside are several fine shops and Bullwacker’s restaurant. Bullwacker’s is a recent addition, so I do not think your mother worked there, The Bear Flag [run by Dora Flood] in Steinbeck’s Cannery Row was a fictional depiction of Flora Woods Adams’ brothel, “The Lone Star” It was not named after a Texan or had a Texas theme. The building Flora Woods bought was a restaurant [which did have large five-pointed star on the front] owned by a Chinese man, Steinbeck named it Bear Flag as a dig at the state of California’s state flag with a bear on it The site of the Lone Star [her “customers” referred to it as “Flora’s”] is now a gift shop. The building is situated as Steinbeck described it his book, almost straight across from Ed Ricketts lab [“Doc”’s in the novel]. More information about the fiction and real Cannery Row places and people would be found in “Scrap” Lundy’s book, Real Life on Cannery Row. Many of Robert Lewis’ photographs hang on the walls at the local Starbuck’s coffee house.

Herb Behrens

Cynthia Shenette said...

Gini - This is a lovely, heartfelt post. I'm all admiration. My mom died two years ago, and I haven't really been able write about her in any significant way. At least not yet. You are my inspiration on how to get it right when I finally do give it a go. Thank you.

Tonia said...

Oh, Gini, such a sweet, sweet post. I know you miss your mom so much.

Tammy Renee said...

What a lovely tribute to your mother.I know it its not easy writing bout a close loved one that has passed away. I have tried many times to write about my dear brother but the tears flow and my mind goes blank. I commend you and your strong sprint. God bless you Gini

Susan Clark said...

What a blessing to be able to write so perceptively about your mother. It's clear her strengths live on.

Nancy said...

You brought your mother to life for me. I could almost feel her sweet spirit as I read your tribute. Wonderful! Thank you.

Leah Kleylein said...

Gini, this is a beautiful tribute to your mom. Her spirit will always live on through you and your memories.