April 30th is a pretty special day.
My grandfather on my Mom’s side, who we fondly called “Papa” (and he so fondly called me Kindergarten Girl (and then added in the number of years since Kindergarten – so I was Kindergarten Girl plus 1, plus 2, and got all the way up to plus 22 when he passed away), was born on this day in 1910. He married my Grandmother also on this day in 1938. AND they had their first date on this day too in 1932!
So, whenever April 30th rolls around – it is filled of memories for me of my wonderful grandparents.
My Grandmother, along with one of my very talented writer cousins, pulled together an amazing book of my grandmother’s life: every tale from Germany, to England, to Canada. My Grandmother was truly an amazing woman and I have her to thank for getting me to write this blog. She told me several years ago (before she passed away in 2010), that I MUST write my stories and I’ll be forever grateful to her for pushing me to do just that.
We have read “Her” book together as a family, and the kids love hearing the stories about their Great Granny and Papa.
I also love leafing through it every once in a while and catching a glimpse of their life. They lived through some terrible years, but came out of it with courage and strength and went on to create a beautiful family – leaving behind such a legacy (if I do say so myself).
If I take a snapshot of April 30th, 102 years ago, I would see my grandfather, Wolfgang Paul, being born in Berlin to Helene and Max Busing. Max was a very gifted man, who had studied philosophy and German literature, did a lot of writing and acting, and eventually became a school teacher. He married his second cousin, a very beautiful woman who grew up in southwest Germany. They had my Papa and his sister Ruth (who I remember meeting as child).
Fast forward to the year 1932 on April 30th, Papa decided to go to Tubingen for the summer of 1932 – and he records, “It proved to be the most fateful decision I have ever made in my life“. He lived about 1.5 km away from the University, and he was walking back and forth from where he lived (his bicycle had not yet arrived from home) and noticed a young woman several times on his way. This, was Erika Angele Jenny Mathilde Danckwardt. On April 30th he “was immensely pleased to see her when a group gathered to register for an introductory course in regional archaeology. I told her that it happened to be my birthday, and would she like to have supper with me at the “Pomana”. We had supper together that night, and did some boating on the River Neckar the next day” (italics taken from his memoirs). It must have been quite the whirlwind romance (which is funny to think of given how “sensible” Granny was), because on the evening of June 12 they decided to get married.
Well, history is history, and the tale is a long one to unravel (but well documented in Granny’s book), but they finally are able to marry in England on April 30th, 1938.
Granny tells a bit about her wedding day: “Olive and I went the morning of my wedding to the market at Croydon and I bought myself a bunch of tulips. That’s why I’ve always loved tulips you know. I can still see that – I figured I had to have something in the way of flowers“. They were married in Marylebone Town Hall, then went to St George’s, the Lutheran church, and there was a service to bless the marriage. The sad part was they could not be in touch with their families on the actual day. Their families knew it was happening, as Papa’s father had come to visit them earlier in the spring in England and was told of their plans. He of course had a hard time accepting the news; being a teacher, having a son marrying a Jewish girl in England, after leaving Germany – did not look good. He had spread the news to Granny’s family – but also had said not to be in touch with them when the time came.
Today, they would be celebrating 74 years of marriage. Perhaps they are celebrating! Granny will have her tulips and their families would are finally able to celebrate with them!
So, April 30th is a pretty special day for our family – as it is truly the beginning (with Papa’s birth), and the beginning (their first date), and the beginning (their wedding). I wonder if they ever imagined what would become of these beginnings? Here I am blogging about them….
Miss you both. Love always,
Kindergarten Girl plus 40