The KIT Newsletter, An Activity Of The KIT Information Service, A Project Of The Peregrine Foundation
· P.O. Box 460141 · San Francisco, CA 94146-0141 · telephone: (415) 386-6072 · FAX (415) 282-2369 · http://www.perefound.org
KIT Staff U.S.: Charles Lamar, Vincent Lagano, David E. Ostrom
EuroKIT: Linda Lord Jackson, Carol Beels Beck, Elizabeth Bohlken-Zumpe, Benedict Cavanna
The KIT Newsletter is an open forum for fact and opinion. It encourages the expression of all views, both from within and from outside the Bruderhof.
The opinions expressed in the letters that we publish are those of the correspondents and do not necessarily reflect those of KIT editors or staff.
Yearly subscription rates (11 issues): $25 USA; $30 Canada; $35 International mailed f/ USA; £20 mailed f/ EuroKIT to UK & Europe
The opinions expressed in the letters that we publish are those of the correspondents and do not necessarily reflect those of KIT editors or staff.
Yearly subscription rates (11 issues): $25 USA; $30 Canada; $35 International mailed f/ USA; £20 mailed f/ EuroKIT to UK & Europe
Table of Contents
Joy (Johnson) MacDonald
KIT - Lee Kleiss refund
Celebration of Wolfgang Loewenthal's life
Miriam Arnold Holmes
Margot Wegner Purcell
Melchior J. R. Fros
Rosie Johnson Sumner
Johanna Patrick Homann
George Maendel - Memories of Forest River
Joy Johnson MacDonald, EuroKIT Gathering, Summer, 2002 - Dear KIT friends: We have found a fabulous venue for next year's Wheathill reunion KIT gathering on Friday 2nd. Saturday 3rd. and Sunday 4th, August 2002. Hesterworth, near Craven Arms and just half a mile from Aston on Clun, is a large Victorian house with several holiday cottages on 12 acres of landscaped gardens. It is in an area of outstanding natural beauty in the South Shropshire Hills.
There are eleven units (named after local hills) of varying sizes from two to eight beds and all are self-contained and self-catering, so our thinking for this get-together is that breakfast and lunch will be organised by groups or individuals as it suits them. We think this is especially suitable for this reunion as we know many people will want to be out and about, hiking the old haunts, exploring the many ancient settlements and castles and maybe visiting Ironbridge birthplace of the Industrial Revolution or Uri-conium, the forth largest Roman settlement in Britain. KIT will be arranging the communal evening meals, hopefully including our usual Saturday B.B.Q.
We have provisionally booked all eleven units in the name of KIT but want family groups or individuals to make their own decision as to which unit would suit them best. A brochure/price list is being sent to interested U.K. residents. If you do not get one and wish to receive it, please contact Joy. When you have decided which unit you want, please contact the proprietor, Mrs. Sheila Davies. She will request a deposit of £20 (approx. $30) to secure your booking and send an invoice which you will need to pay in full by the first week in July. It will be the responsibility of the person booking the unit to collect the money from the others sharing that unit. So for this occasion there will be three costs:
1) Three nights accommodation. Booking and payment (by cheque) to Sheila Davies at Hesterworth.
2) Payment to KIT for evening meals and cost of hiring large dining room and conservatory for communal use throughout the weekend, etc.
3) Your own breakfast, lunch and outings, etc.
There are only fifty beds so you will need to book very soon.
Many people will wish to stay for the whole week and the costs are very reasonable approximately £10 £15 per person per night but of course the charge is per unit so half-full units will cost more per person per night. At the moment all units are available until 10:30 am Saturday, 10th August, but the KIT booking is until 10:30 am on Monday 5th, August 2002.
For those of you not in the U.K., please contact Joy, preferably by e-mail (email@example.com) and she can tell you what is available and make your booking. Joy will also have information on local B.&B. accommodation if Hesterworth House has no more space.
This is just a hasty hot-off-the press communication and more detail, including KIT costs (always very reasonable!) and activity ideas picnic at the top of Titterstone?!? will emerge later. Those of us privileged to have spent time at Wheathill and the Shropshire mountains will enjoy sharing this special place with any KIT friends who are able to come.
KIT: When Lee Kleiss bailed Dave Maendel out of Jail in (year?) she lost $4,500 which the State of New York kept back from the $45,000 she put up. Folks who would like to contribute so Lee can make good this loss are kindly invited to send a contribution directly to her: 1012 Westmont Drive, Fayetteville, NC 28305
Celebration of Life: Wolfgang Loewenthal
written by Claudia, Tamara & Virginia Loewenthal
Wolfgang Maximilian Sebastian Loewenthal was born on February 12, 1921, in Marburg an der Hahn in Germany. At the age of six, his parents divorced, and Wolfgang was sent to live in a boarding school run by the Bruderhof, which means the "Place of Brothers." The Bruderhof was an Anabaptist Christian commune modeled on the early Christian communities described by Paul in the New Testament. It was established by pacifist idealists in Germany. All goods were shared, and all members lived in community as brothers and sisters.
In 1936, the Gestapo closed the school, providing the impetus for the group to move to Liechtenstein, where they resided for a short time. Wolfgang never forgot the spectacular natural setting of this tiny country. But Hitler's increasing persecution of various religious groups soon prompted the Bruderhof to move to England. As an impressionable teenager, Wolfgang grew to love the English countryside. He spent his time exploring the footpaths that criss-cross the land and learning the local culture and folk songs. He heard limericks, and embraced what would become a lifelong passion for collecting and writing them. He also began to collect folk melodies and poetry reflecting nature's beauty.
When war broke out between England and Germany four years later, the British government asked the Bruderhof to leave. Failure to do so would necessitate imprisonment. So the Bruderhof moved to Paraguay because it was officially neutral in the war. Wolfgang was part of the first wave of Bruderhof members to make the dangerous Atlantic crossing to South America in 1940. At nineteen he was strong, fearless and enthusiastic, with the virile good looks of Rudolf Valentino. He worked with his fellow commune members to erect simple shelters, latrines, and cooking facilities for themselves and the next wave of Bruderhof immigrants.
Wolfgang lived in Paraguay for twenty years. It was a life of adventure, romance, exploration, learning, love, marriage, parenting and teaching. When he reached adulthood, Wolfgang was baptized into the Bruderhof commune. Like all Bruderhofers, he vowed to make the church first in his life, placing loyalty to it above all other relationships. He then earned his Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Asunción in the capital of Paraguay where he indulged his lifelong fascination with languages by specializing in this area. He embraced the Hispanic culture, adding Spanish, Portuguese, and some Guaraní to his repertoire of German, English, and French. Soon he was teaching German, English, and Spanish in the commune school, where he became well-loved as the teacher who incorporated songs and dances into his lessons. In the mid-1940s, Wolfgang met and married the gentle Hanna Elisabeth Boller, a native of Switzerland, who came to be known as Lisbeth Loewenthal. Between 1948 and 1964, Wolfgang and Lisbeth had nine children five girls, two boys, one girl still-born and one girl who died in infancy. All but Amadeo and Miriam were born in Paraguay.
Wolfgang & Lisbeth with Virginia & Claudia, El Arado Bruderhof, Uruguay - 1954
The Paraguay years were also ones of prolific musical accomplishments. Wolfgang wrote a personal lullaby for each of his children. He had a rich bass voice and loved to sing and perform in the commune. He collected poems and set his favorites to music. He wrote nature songs, love songs and songs about hiking. He taught himself to play the recorder and formed a trio with Claudia and Virginia. He taught the Bruderhof members folk songs, and indulged his love of choral music.
Although rich in many ways, the Paraguay years were difficult in others, and South American isolation prompted a mass migration of the Bruderhof to the United States in the early 1960s. Wolfgang and his family moved to a commune newly established in Connecticut. Here the family lived for about one-and-a-half years before moving to a commune near Uniontown, Pennsylvania, called New Meadow Run. These were challenging times filled with hardship. Lisbeth, although undiagnosed, was suffering from Parkinson's disease. Miriam, the youngest of the children, was born in Pennsylvania with brittle bone disease. Political upheavals within the Bruderhof also caused the expulsion and dispersion of many members and their families, including the Loewenthals.
In 1965, Wolfgang decided to leave the Bruderhof because of ideological differences with the group. The decision was difficult because no one in the commune owned personal property or money, the Bruderhof strongly discouraged leaving, and Lisbeth did not want to break her Bruderhof vows. But Wolfgang could not with integrity stay. So the family left with a few clothes and $20 cash in Wolfgang's pocket. They went first to live in a house in Somerset that the Bruderhof had found for them.
Wolfgang was a wonderful teacher, but he could not get a teaching job in the Pennsylvania public schools until he was certified. With no money and a family of nine to provide for, he took whatever work he could get and ended up doing many different jobs, including apple picker, typesetter, newspaper circulation manager, substitute teacher and school bus driver. After the family moved to Clarion County, Wolfgang decided the time had come to get certified. So he enrolled in Clarion University, where he majored once again in languages, specializing this time in Spanish and German. With credits transferred from Asunción, he completed the four-year Bachelor program in two years.
For a time, Wolfgang's undergraduate days at Clarion overlapped with both Virginia's and Claudia's. The Loewenthal trio dominated German classes, and enjoyed playing background recorder music that Wolfgang arranged for a production of Shakespeare's As You Like It. Indeed, music continued to be a focal point throughout these years. At Papa's insistence, all the Loewenthal children learned to read music, play the recorder and sing in harmony. The family performed for various church functions and local events. Music had a way of drawing everyone together.
After graduating from Clarion, Wolfgang took a teaching job in the Allentown public school system. Here he taught German and Spanish by teaching folk songs and dances. His students loved him and threw parties for him and gave the family much needed gifts such as dishes and other necessities of independent living. Wolfgang also enjoyed his freedom by making regular trips with the family to state parks, where he could more fully indulge his lifelong love of nature. Cook Forest and Seneca Falls would become particular favorites.
About a year later, in the early 1970s, Lisbeth's parents came to visit. They had left the Bruderhof and gone back to live in Switzerland, but were considering returning to the group because they had heard things were different now. By this time, Lisbeth's Parkinson's disease had advanced to the point where she was seriously ill and a virtual invalid. The Bollers talked to Lisbeth and Wolfgang, urging their son-in-law to reconsider his decision to leave the group. They encouraged Wolfgang to leave Allentown and return with his wife and children to live in a Bruderhof commune, where they could get good medical care for Lisbeth and Miriam.
Because things were supposedly different now, Wolfgang decided to give the Bruderhof a second chance, rejoining with Lisbeth and the five remaining dependent children. As grown women now, Virginia and Claudia chose to continue living independently outside the commune. The Bruderhof accommodated the Loewenthals by allowing them to live on the outskirts of the New Meadow Run commune and participate to some extent in outside life. Instead of working in the Bruderhof factory producing wooden toys, for example, Wolfgang was allowed to work in landscaping on the Rockwell Estate across Route 40 and earn an independent income. This arrangement continued for about two years, but did not work particularly well for Wolfgang because Lisbeth and the five children still living at home had become fully integrated into the commune, having nothing at all to do with outside life.
Then, one day in 1976, the Bruderhof approached Wolfgang with an ultimatum. Either join us and live within the commune as others do, or leave. Wolfgang was given only 48 hours to decide. He chose to leave, and came alone to Pittsburgh where he stayed with Claudia for several months before moving in with Virginia. Meanwhile, Lisbeth and the five younger Loewenthals continued living in the commune.
Wolfgang in his prime! - 1981
Leaving the second time was emotionally devastating. The Bruderhof severed all contact between family members living inside and outside the commune. Lisbeth and the children were not allowed to visit with Wolfgang, Virginia or Claudia, and phone calls were discouraged. There was some written correspondence, however, and Wolfgang saved Lisbeth's letters for the rest of his life. The letters were usually short, as Lisbeth's Parkinson's made writing difficult. Aside from news regarding the children, she would express her longing for him, sometimes accompanied by exhortations to return to the "The [Communal] Life." Although the Bruderhof provided well for the family's physical and medical needs, Lisbeth was depressed and her emotional needs during this time went unmet. In June of 1978, her body was found floating in a pond.
For a few years after Lisbeth's death, Wolfgang lived with Virginia. Granddaughter Erika was a baby at the time, and along with the other grandchildren was a source of delight and comfort. Then Wolfgang found an apartment in Pittsburgh and did substitute teaching and landscaping for a while. Finally, he got a job with the Mobay Chemical Company, a German firm, where he worked full-time until he retired at age sixty-five in 1986.
In his later years, Wolfgang had an opportunity to travel and reconnect with his family in Germany as well as with his brother living in Australia. Then, in the late 1980s, a group of ex-Bruderhof members began organizing to share their experiences. The Bruderhof discouraged such contact, but the ex-members found it helpful to validate their experiences by sharing with others. Soon they had a "Keep In Touch" or KIT newsletter, and were arranging their first conference near Andover, Massachusetts. Claudia went and was approached by a woman named Joy Jones, who said she had known Wolfgang in Paraguay and asked if it would be okay for her to write to him. Claudia gave her Wolfgang's address. Joy wrote, and a year later, in 1991, the two seventy-year-olds were married. Wolfgang moved to Fort Langley, near Vancouver, where Joy lived because she had three children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren all living in Canada.
Wolfgang and Joy
Wolfgang often said that if it weren't for Joy in his life, pun intended, he wouldn't have made it to his 80th birthday, which he celebrated with Virginia, Claudia and Tamara just four months before his death. The battle with cancer had begun in 1998, and Joy cared for him steadfastly at home until the end finally came on June 12th of this year.
Wolfgang is survived by six children youngest daughter Miriam having passed away in 1992. Johannes Manuel, Maria Yolanda and Wolfgang Amadeo remain within the Bruderhof commune. Virginia, Claudia, and Tamara are with us today. Wolfgang also leaves twenty-one grandchildren, two great-grandchildren, his second wife, Joy, and five loving stepchildren.
As a husband, father, grandfather, great-grandfather, teacher, composer, performer, gardener, man of letters and languages, Wolfgang touched many lives in numerous ways. His children recognize that they are who they are because of their Papa, and shall remain forever grateful for the many gifts of the spirit that Wolfgang shared with them. Tamara's love of limericks and ability to compose them comes from Papa. Her personalized lullaby, which described her legs as never being still, remains appropriate to this day as she pursues her career in professional dance. Like Wolfgang, Virginia loves languages and has become fluent in three of them. Claudia's ongoing passion for recorder music and playing with a recorder group hails from those early days when Papa taught his children to play the recorder and to harmonize. He instilled a love of classical music and choral singing in all his children, as well as his love of nature. He modeled an integrity of spirit and love of freedom that gave his children permission to leave the Bruderhof community when they felt called to do so. For these and so many more gifts of the spirit, as well as for his generous parenting, Wolfgang is deeply missed by those outside the commune who knew and loved him.
In remembrance, now, in a time of quiet reflection, let us listen to Mozart's "Ave Verum" a favorite piece by one of Wolfgang's favorite composers, and music that he specifically mentioned he would appreciate having played at his memorial service.
L & R: James, Virginia, Wolfgang, Tamara and Claudia -- 2001
Sam Arnold, 6/17/01: When Ramón posted that he was under the impression that Wolfgang might not be around much longer, I had to call the Loewenthal home. Joy told me the sad news. I am sad for his family, who I am sure had been preparing for this news, yet relieved that his long battle against cancer was now over. Joy asked me to let my uncle Albert Loeffler know. Wolfgang and Albert are the same age (80) and were friends on the Rhoen Bruderhof when they were still quite young.
I did call my uncle right away, and was glad to learn that he and Wolfgang had spoken to each other quite recently, so the news was not unexpected.
Albert told me that two other classmates of his on the Rhoen Bruderhof were Rudi Hildel and Gertrud (Braun) Wegner, Margot's mom. As far as we know both are still living. Albert then told me that just a few days ago his four grandsons, and other children who are part of a Waldorf home-school group, performed "The Magic Piper." I am sure that many of you still remember this delightful children's song, the words written by E. L. Marsh. Wolfgang wrote the tune and a pretty flute obligato as accompaniment in 1949. A twelve-year-old student played the flute part in the recent performance. I was very pleased to hear this, as I had included this song in my "Rounds for All" booklet that I published myself last year, along with five of Wolfgang's rounds.
When I contacted Wolfgang over a year ago, he was so pleased that I asked for some of his rounds that he sent me copies of a number of his songs, all hand-written. I could not use them all, but I did include the following rounds: Erwachet! (Awaken), Wandern (Wanderer), Freude (Joy), Des Kindes Abendgebet (The Children's evening Prayer) and Schlummerlied (Slumber song).
My own memory of Wolfgang is his liveliness and his wonderful music. To me it is very special to be able to help keep his music alive today!
There piped a piper in the wood,
Strange music soft and sweet.
And all the little wild things
Came hurrying to his feet,
Came hurrying to his feet.
They sat around him on the grass,
And listened as with shining eyes
Sweet melodies he made
Sweet melodies he made.
The wood grew green, and flowers sprang up,
The birds began to sing,
For the music it was magic,
And the piper's name was spring
And the piper's name was spring.
Rachel Mason, 6/18/01: I had the great pleasure of talking to Wolfgang and Joy a few weeks ago. He was cheerful and we talked about this and that.
The main impact Wolfgang had on my life was through his songs, which he sent directly to my mother so she could teach them to the Wheathill children. We loved them, as did my Mum. When I look in my song book, I find his name is often missing even on "My Brother Had a Little Flute." I am glad Sam has included some
of Wolfgang's songs in his collection.
I am relieved that Wolfgang's pain is over, and I am deeply sorry for his family. I will sing his songs to myself.
Miriam Arnold Holmes, 6/18/01: Wolfgang wrote both the words and the tune of many songs. One of our favorites was a song about a trip to the Tapiraguay river. "Schon frueh beim ersten Tagesgrauen." We sang it with great gusto every time we took a trip to the river. He also set many of Philip Britts' poems to music.
Here is a list of his songs that became part of the Bruderhof repertory:
Slow Horses Slow.
There Piped A Piper.
The Silver Moon, The Shining Sun.
The Old Road Tires Me.
October! October! There's Magic In The Air.
A Haze On The Far Horizon.
The Fairy Flute.
Starlet, Starlet Twinkling Bright.
Erwachet Der Goldene Morgen Anbricht.
The Sun Descending In The West.
I Walk the Unfrequented Road.
When Clouds Sweep Low The Sky At Morn.
Come Let Us To The Fields Away, For Who Would
Eat Must Toil.
Come Let Us Go A-Roaming.
This list is surely incomplete. Rachel is correct that he was often not given credit for his music.
I am very sad about Wolfgang's death. I had run into him in Pittsburgh about twenty-four years ago, and we had maintained our friendship via correspondence through the years. He delighted in his children and missed contact with the ones remaining on the Bruderhof terribly. My thoughts are with his family.
Ramón Sender, 6/21/01: Judy and I very much enjoyed meeting Wolfgang at Nadine and August's, back when KIT was first starting. I also read his journal with interest, and enjoyed the various times we chatted. We shared a common interest in music composition, and the very first scores I wrote out after leaving the Bruderhof were "Stoop Low" and "Slow Horses Slow," unaware at that time that Wolfgang was the composer.
I'd have to dig them out of an attic trunk, but they were very simple settings for piano and voice, as I recall all that these haunting melodies required.
Our sincere condolences to Virginia, Claudia and Tamara, and especially to his devoted wife Joy who so faithfully stood by him during these difficult last years.
Margot Wegner Purcell, 6/28/01: Last Saturday, my brother Adolf and I went to the memorial service for Wolfgang Loewenthal. Virginia, Claudia and Tamara were there with most of their children and spouses. So great to see them all and to meet their families.
It was a lovely service. Many songs were sung and recorded pieces played. Claudia played her recorder to accompany the singing. Refreshments were served by some ladies of the church. This time gave all a chance to meet and also look at photos. Wolfgang's photo albums were out for all to see as well as a collage of photos on a bulletin board and framed family photos.
Afterwards, all the Loewenthals and relatives invited us to join them at a home of a church member who had allowed them to use their home. There was a swimming pool to use as well. We sat around and talked, sang songs and played recorder. It was a lovely evening.
Ben Cavanna, 9/9/01: John Holland just called me to say that Ludwig Fischer died on Saturday. His funeral will be on Friday coming. I remember him with great fondness from various KIT gatherings.
Auf wiedersehen "Gotteskind."
Elizabeth Bohlken Zumpe, 9/10/01: Yes, Ludwig died peacefully Saturday the 8th of September. He was home almost all the time, just went to hospital for short times to have his medication readjusted. He was kept without pain. It is a gift that this is possible. I have spoken with both Irene and Erna and Werner.
Ludwig knew that he did not have long to live and made every effort to leave his family, friends and church members in peace and harmony. All his brothers and sister Lucrezia had celebrated his 60th birthday with him and said goodbye. He was not sad, but arranged everything for his own funeral and helped his children to cope with the fact that his time had come. He was at peace with the world and all his loved ones and that is how it should be!
I remember Ludwig from when he was born, as we always lived on the same Hof with the Fischers and I had to pass their home every time I went to school or to the dining room. I remember also, that when he was five or six years old he had a huge abscess in the back of his neck and Cyril had cut it open. It was during holiday time and I was assigned to help at the hospital during the school recess. The little boy was in terrible pain and agony, but ever-so-brave and quite content, with me just sitting next to his bed, holding his hand.
We restarted our contact I think in something like 1986, when Erna called me. Like many others I also remember the KIT Conference at Ridgeway, where he lead a morning prayer meeting for those who wanted to join. Since that time, we have kept in close contact by telephone or by meeting before Christmas to sing the old Christmas carols.
What I respect most, when any of us start a new life in this world, is that a person searches and finds a new faith and relationship with our Maker without the influence of the Bruderhof meddling into our lives and faith. Ludwig had found the certainty for his life being totally in God's hands due to the love of Jesus Christ. This helped him throughout all his further life with joys and difficulties. Also it is pretty wonderful if a Bruderhof boy finds a Bruderhof girl "outside" long after they have left the Commune. Irene and Ludwig, same as Ludwig's brother Stephan and Karola Klüver, Ebo Trümpi and Anneliese Klüver, Jörg and Christine Mathis and maybe others, have found this a big help, as the other person understands exactly where you are coming from. I will always remember Ludwig's joy in singing and his full voice, that you hardly expected to hear from this frail man. We had good times together and he died in full trust and faith, that only his body had to be buried and his soul would be in everlasting joy.
Jörg and Christine (Jörg is his cousin) will be going to the funeral on Thursday, as well as Ingmar Bridgwater and all of his family and friends. He has arranged, that his two sons and two sons-in law will carry the coffin. He also arranged which hymns he wanted to be sung. Let us all think of Irene and the family on Thursday; it is always a difficult thing to lose a child (son of Erna and Werner) a husband a father a brother and he meant a lot to each one in the family. He was a joyful person.
Health will not permit me to be with the family, but I am sure that many will be thinking of Ludwig on Thursday as the third Bruderhof friend to die this year. First David Fischli, then Peter Holland and now Ludwig. In all cases, the parents are still with us except Hilde Fischli who died many years ago. I do think it is hard for parents to outlive their children. Let us keep them in our minds and thoughts. Much love to each and everyone,
Ludwig Fischer barbecuing at Euro-KIT - 1994
Melchior J.R. Fros, 9/11/01: Ludwig Fischer
The Urutau-ú is wailing. On the campo, spring peepers are crying. Lorritos have come home to roost in the trees. A companion has moved on and there is sadness.
They say, "There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot... a time to tear down and a time to build, a time to weep and a time to laugh,a time to mourn and a time to dance... a time to embrace and a time to refrain, a time to search and a time to give up... a time to be silent and a time to speak up, a time for war and a time for peace."
Lupi, I will miss you! Though my memories of you are few and far-flung as the circling stars, yet have you in some unknown way shaped who I am today. I am grateful our paths crossed once more last year in the Rhön hills of Germany. And though you looked frail, your smile was infectious! You sang with gusto, as though every word counted! Beside you, your lovely wife Irene the "milk maid" who had treated me to bread and fresh butter many, many years ago in Isla accompanied our singing on her accordion. I could not hear, and yet I heard. Amidst the joy I sensed an unspoken urgency... the harvest would soon be over. You knew it but did not speak of it. You appeared outwardly happy. Irene was happy. Everyone in the room basked in the joy of renewed friendships.
"He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has set eternity in the hearts of men; yet they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end. I know that there is nothing better for men than to be happy and do good while they live. That everyone may eat and drink, and find satisfaction in all his toil this is the gift of God." (Ecc. 3: 11-13)
Remember, Lupi, the unannounced visit to our lakeside home in Park Manhagen, Germany? How on earth did you find us? How was it that our paths crossed after my family and many others had be torn away from the life of our youth? I have no answer. But what I remember about this particular sunny, Sunday afternoon, was your faith in Christ and the fervor with which you wanted to pass on what lay on your heart: "Wir müssen Primavera-Schwung in die Deutschen Kirchen bringen!" ("We must bring the enthusiasm of our Primavera years into the German churches.") There was one other matter that lay on your heart perhaps the reason for your coming? I remember the occasion distinctly because I looked up to Bruderhof young people "die Jugend." What did my parents think of Irene Friedemann? Was she the one meant for you? My dear friend, I don't remember what my parents' response was, but evidently you found the love of your youth who fulfilled your heart's desire.
\ "Die Jugend und die Lieb sind beide nicht zu trennen! Und wer da hat ein' frischen Mut, frohes Herz und junges Blut, muss für die Lieb' entbrennen!"
(Primavera love song)
L to R: Renatus Klüver, Irena Friedemann Fischer, Karola Klüver Friedemann, Ludwig Fischer, Carol Beals Beck -Rookwood, 1994
I hear you have daughters, possibly twins. If I am not mistaken, they, like I, do not hear but must rely on visible cues to make sense of the world around them. We are connected in yet another unique way, dear friend!
If I go back further in time, I see a handsome, charismatic teen with boundless energy and a wonderful voice! I feel myself connected to you and your family via my close friendship with your younger brother, Giovanni. It is a friendship that was rekindled last year. In my mind's eye I see your Tante Johanna strumming her guitar while singing the Swiss song, "Lurget von Berg und Tal." Thank you, Lupi, for your inspiration! Thank you for your fortitude in the face of struggle. Thank you for the memories. "Good night, sweet friend, adieu. And flights of angels sing thee to they rest."
The Urutau-ú is silent. Frogs are feeding. Lorritos have flown off. The storm has passed. The sun peeks out from behind towering thunderheads. The River of Life flows on.
KIT: the next few pieces are about the terrorist attacks in the United States on September 11th.
Julie Barth, 9/11/01: Just a bit of news from our area in western Pennsylvania. Anyway, you have all by now heard of a fourth airliner crash in this area, and it actually went down about five miles from our house in a rural location.
I worried all morning about Caroline in her school building, which shares its backyard with the runway of our county airport. The airport landing strip is adjacent to the school yard, and the incoming and outgoing planes fly over the school. I was glad when they dismissed school early.
Andy actually responded to the 911 high alert call and went to the crash site with an ambulance crew. He said that there is just a huge crater, small debris (not more than four-to-six-foot-long sections at the most, and most just pocket-sized sections of debris. He saw socks and underwear on the ground and said that there were a few human remains in small segments, but I don't know if he actually saw any of the remains. He said the plane was essentially disintegrated on impact.
This has been a surreal day here in Somerset County as well as everywhere. I feel numb with helplessness, as this is so close to home. Five miles is too close to my kids. Thank God that everybody we all know seem to be okay. The original reports in Somerset were that 420 victims were on the flight, but now we hear closer to 45 or so... Either way, it is too many. Well, for those who believe in prayer, this looks like a time to join together in prayer for strength and courage and national unity. All, take care.
Rosie Johnson Sumner, 9/14/01: I'd like to share how difficult I am finding this. The weight of so many people's deaths and hurts and losses from such a small number of hate-filled people's deliberate act is almost more than I can bear. I am seeing planes and thinking them ominous, seeing tallish buildings and counting how many people I think are in there, and how long to get them out. I am wanting someone - me if I could - to storm in and kill anyone who could conceivably be responsible, either first, second or third hand, just wipe them out, eliminate them, get rid. But when I hear 'God Bless America' repeated and see the flag focussed on with such fervour and the self-centred, bombastic, arrogant, war-mongering baying of the lynch mob I am thinking NO, NO, NO - that is the dung-heap crowing that HAS LED TO THIS. And then I realise that the Irish terrorists think the British arrogance and dominance intolerable, yet I don't. So those type of Americans probably really don't appreciate the effect they have on so many of us, which is really quite negative at times.
I have been heartened by the words of the other sort of American, but sickened by the failure of anyone on any programme I have heard to see that Americans have funded terrorism against us (I'm British); funding for muslim terrorists comes from fatcats living in Britain as well as other countries; Germany and England are big bases for terrorist activists. I hope the USA doesn't intend to wipe us out and I just hope that right-minded Americans don't war against whole countries when it is a small leadership or terrorist pods that are at fault. I hope that they don't war against whole religions, when it is religion as a whole that must carry much of the blame, especially whenever fundamentalist and bigotted. I hope that terrorists are weeded out, and their funders and those individuals and organisations who harbour them, and I do think I mean I hope they are killed quite dead, though that is part of what is so difficult for me to come to terms with, that I feel this way. And if that means laws that curtail freedoms, such as the freedom to fundraise in one country to support acts of terror in another, even if in that country you think the cause is right, then so be it.
In many places, among many people, although they will not say it now, we know there are people that do believe what has happened in New York and Washington DC is right and deserved. I only hope that as much resource is put into finding out why that should be and working to justify changing that perception, with humility. I am not optimistic. Get this wrong, and no amount of revenge and retaliation will make the world a safer place. Not for Americans, though God bless them, not behind missile shields, nor space shields, not no-how, and certainly not safer for the rest of us.
If Gods there be, now would be a good time to help each other sort out your humans. If even just one God: now is a good time to get it right! If no Gods, we'd better find a way to come to terms with that. Thereby may lie our salvation.
Elizabeth Bohlken Zumpe, 9/12/01: Today too, has been a sad, sad day, watching TV and unable to grasp that this has really happened! Thank you Julie, Margot, George, Matt, Mel and Charlie for sharing your thoughts and experiences.
I think the world will never be the same again and we will talk about "before" the terrorist attacks and "after" the terrorist attacks in the future, as it has an impact on the whole of the western world.. It all seems so unbelievable and the TV lets us know time and again that this is true.
When I went to Arizona last May, I took a flight back to Washington and from there to Amsterdam. I looked out of the window and saw the White House and Pentagon. As there was a high-school class on the plane, all this was pointed out to us. It seems so incredible, that such a flight, with innocent people is used for such a terrible attack! Years ago I worked in Manhattan and knew most of the hospitals in the area, so when I look at the pictures it just seems, as though this can not be happening in a time, when there is no official war.
This is worse than war I think, because it is a fanatic faith ready for suicide against the western democracy. It is not a war against one country, but actions against the western world. This is something we can not protect ourselves against it can happen everywhere: London, Amsterdam or Paris. The unpredictability of this is scary indeed and that is, how my children react.
I think it makes it clear that we, who have experienced "fanatics" and "man-worship," need to use our time and energy for the important issues in our lives: "the Christian faith" if we have it, "prayer for the world" if we believe in it, and "unity and exchange of thought and belief" with those we feel to have the same longing and faith in a leading of all life from above. It is hard to express what I mean but all of you in the States are very much in my heart and mind at the moment. So many innocent lives so many grieving families so much pain, which cannot be described.
Here in Holland some 7000 people were stranded at Amsterdam airport and needed a place for the night. The flights will be resumed again tomorrow morning 6.00 a.m. People talk bout nothing else and even here life seems disrupted.
I am thankful everyone we know seems to be OK but it still does not take away the pain for all the many men, women and children that will be affected by this brutal catastrophe! I do wish you all well and hope, that such a terrible thing might change the hearts of the Bruderhof people and make them feel, that they want peace with us, while it is still possible.
Tomorrow will be the funeral for Ludwig Fischer a friend from childhood and youth in Primavera. Today they expect a bus full of people from England to be there for Irene and family, I am not quite sure who is going, but I know Stephen Marchant, the Fischer family, Christine and Jörg and others will attend. I will not be able to go, but have telephoned several times.
In the light of what happened in the States, it seems a grace to die at home in your own bed with the family around you spiritual peace with all mankind and the deep faith that this is what God wanted at this time. Much love to everyone,
Greta Milam, 9/17/01: I watched a program called 'Town Meeting,' I think, on CNN last night. Basically Americans were talking about how to deal with this crisis and what should happen next. It struck so many chords within me I don't know where to begin. In summary I felt that I need to understand why this has happened a history lesson for me on how things have escalated to this depth. I concluded initially that many, many peoples of the world feel 'America' has been in their country or assisting those who have waged war in their country hence the absolute hatred for the western world. There has been hatred for a country that has such a diverse population but only the few reap the rewards, selfishly and without compassion for the rest of the population. Only recently, in light of these events have people looked at each other as people. Previously it was Black, Latino, etc., etc., i.e. nothing to do with each other. I include my own country in this analogy, England, as it has developed in much the same fashion. It sickens me to my stomach that now "we're all together, ready to fight a war."
Well, aren't we all people of this one small world? If anything should come out of this, it should be to my mind having more compassion for one's fellow man, wherever they are. When will we all be ready to fight together for peace? One woman said she'd never felt for victims of terrorism / war before until it came home to her. Why not? It's probably a most unpopular stance I'm stating, but really, wake up world! I'm fearful now that the actions to come will only move many more to violence against each other for years to come.
I pray for peace and compassionate action now, for all in this world.
Ben Cavanna, 9/14/01: Reflections
Here in the UK along with the rest of Europe, we had three minutes of silence this morning at 11 o'clock to reflect and stand with you all in the U.S.
Here in Hastings we have a lifeboat which is called out by the firing of two closely spaced maroons, or rockets. This morning precisely at 11.00 one maroon was fired and most of the town came to a halt for the three minutes of silence with the end of the three minutes marked by the firing of another maroon.
Fifteen thousand people tried to get to St. Paul's in London for the memorial service and the streets all around were packed. Among other music they sang the "Battle Hymn of the Republic" and "The Star Spangled banner."
I wish all our leaders wisdom and cool heads. Love,
Julie Barth, 9/14/01: Ben and others, I just want to say thank you to the world for their prayers and support. I have wondered about how the countries who have been ravaged by war have viewed this... wondering if they think, 'It's about time something bad happened in the U.S.' We felt so safe and untouchable here... until Tuesday.
Thank you to the world for not leaving us to manage this on our own. The prayers, memorials, and kind words are comforting. We hope this thing brings the world together against the evils that did it. We had a huge memorial service on the stairs of our courthouse tonight. There were probably five-thousand here. For a town of only six-thousand, that is a huge crowd. We had the governor and attorney general of Pennsylvania here. We had numerous family members of the Flight 93 victims here. We even had the Pittsburgh Steelers here. It was a good chance to let out some emotion and try to sort out feelings. It was a good chance to share the grief, to see that each person is feeling this sorrow just as intensely.
Our community was impressive in singing out loud and clear. "God Bless the USA" was thunderous. When our local chorus sang "The Lord's Prayer," I couldn't contain my tears. One of the family members turned around to the crowd at the end of the ceremony and waved to those closest to her a forlorn signal of thanks... she had a weary but grateful smile on her face, and I think she was truly touched by what the community did. Here, we all have acknowledged the passengers on Flight 93 as heroes. They are truly heroes. They saved the country from an even more colossal loss, but at the ultimate sacrifice of their own lives... not selfish like the terrorists, but totally unselfish and, at the time, the right thing to do.
We asked for forgiveness of the terrorists. It is so hard to say the words forgiveness and terrorists in the same sentence. We confessed to God that we are struggling to find forgiveness. I know we are taught to turn the other cheek, but I think that if we cannot forgive, then we cannot be at peace again... but that it is still okay to punish the ones who did this... forgiveness can still come as punishment is meted out and justice is served.
Time to go to bed and try to put this day behind us. There are so many reminders around this community that we will not be able to avoid the constant thinking of the tragedies for weeks. I drive past the makeshift morgue several times a day, as it is set up in the National Guard Armory along Rt. 281 between Friedens and Somerset. I don't think they will have much to bring in, but maybe something that they find will help each family have the closure they need.
This catastrophe is so pervasive... almost everybody that anybody knows is touched by it directly or by association. Nobody is untouched. It's a small world, and again, I want to say thank you to the world for being here to share this burden. Today and all week, we have seen that there is so much, much more good than evil, and I believe that the good will prevail in the end... I just know it will.
Johanna Patrick Homann, 8/9/01: Last Thursday, at 3:30 PM, we had a tornado go through our block, felling huge trees and destroying property all around my house. Miraculously, my house and trees were spared and I feel so grateful for that! I did sustain some damage to my fences from the branches of neighbors' trees, but nothing compared to their losses. We were keeping the kids in late after school because of the tornado siren, but there was no damage there. As I got closer to home I saw more and more damage and my street was the worst!
The trees had completely blocked our street, power lines were down, and we were without power for fourteen hours. Neighbors and thrill seekers were out walking everywhere, looking at the damage, using video cameras while stepping over fallen limbs and power lines and just in shock! The city had to use huge machines to push the fallen trees to the side so that the power company could get in to repair the lines. Eventually, the city came back to remove the mountains of debris.
Trees, two and a half to three feet in diameter, had just been snapped off at the ground. Others were grotesquely splintered about halfway up and some were topped. It looked like a war zone. The weather people never admitted that it was a tornado, probably because they were embarrassed that they didn't warn us until it had passed and the news did not film the destruction. Everyone who has seen the damage says it must have been a tornado because of the way it just skipped from place to place and because the damage was so severe. The news people and forecasters were focused on a national golf tournament to our west which only had minor damage, but people there said that they saw a funnel dip out of the sky.
Things are getting back to normal now, the power is back on, debris has been hauled away, but the neighborhood looks quite bald with all those missing trees. Neighbors helped each other with debris removal and have contacted their insurance companies. I have lived in this area for thirty-plus years and this is the first time that I can recall that we have had a direct hit to this city. Again, I feel very lucky to have been spared!
Matt Ellison, 10/2/01: Charlie called me out of the blue and ordered me to write a piece for KIT about our trip across the States. I say, "Look, I'm pretty busy at the moment, what with my tax return and probate and dashing here and there and a million people I haven't written to." And then I say, "What about Ben; he could write something." So then Charlie says, "Well you bull**** better." With superlatives like that what more could I say. So I ask, "When do you want this," thinking I could stall a bit, and he says, "Now." Now? Now is not in my vocabulary. He can be quite bossy you know. So I try another tack; I say, "You know Bette and I have practically written KIT between us this last year." He just says, "Yes." Well just to show how independent I can be, I didn't do it 'now,' but now I'm ready to have a crack at it. Well I'm told every good yarn has to start with a cliff-hanger, so
There we were in the middle of the desert; amongst scrub bushes in the bottom of the flash run creek, with not a sign of any tracks ahead. The sun was beating down at 110F and behind us a huge black menacing cloud was fast approaching. With only a few bottles of water and no one in sight for miles, this was starting to look as though it could be tricky.
It all started earlier in the year back in the old country. This trip was supposed to be Ben and Charlie, but when I heard the plan was to drive across the States from San Francisco to Boston, I said, "me too please". But then due to various difficulties, Charlie, our very own new President, was unable to leave his work and KIT unattended for the four week trip. That meant it was now down to Ben and myself and we busied ourselves planning the route and who we would visit for free accommodation. I'd been mouthing off quite a lot on the Hummer and annoying people who were strategically situated along the route, but surprisingly when we
contacted them they all seemed to like the idea of us visiting, and in the end, we just couldn't get to everybody, it would have taken months.
We took off from Gatwick on Saturday morning on our flight to San Francisco, crossing over icebergs, massive glaciers and the frozen wastes of Greenland and Canada before heading south down the Pacific coast, and there at the gate were our welcoming committee Dave Ostrom and Charlie Lamar. Charlie wasn't really there to meet us but just happened to be there meeting someone else. So we left him there and piled our stuff into the back of Dave's new crew cab S10 GMC pickup for the ride south round the bay and over the Dumbarton Bridge to Newark...
So then I think... that's not right. When we came out of SFO we turned right not left and headed for a tour of down town San Francisco, looking for the telescope shop where Ben had ordered a six inch computer guided telescope. Then we headed over the Golden Gate Bridge for San Rafael, past San Quentin infamous jail, and the derelict dock where Dirty Harry blew away the hijacker. Across the bridge for Richmond, then Oakland and on down to Newark, stopping on the way at one of those American steak houses with wooden walls and buffalo heads on the wall, and meals the size of houses. By then we'd had a pretty long day, with eight hours tacked on for time difference, and we were glad to arrive safely at Dave's house to be greeted by Diane and Nancy. There was still a lot to talk over, but pretty soon we'd had enough and it was time to hit the sack.
We spent three or four days in San Francisco and the Bay Area. Vince and Charlie took us to a baseball game at the big new stadium on the water front in downtown SF to watch the SF Giants getting thrashed by the away team, Arizona Diamondbacks. This was my first baseball game and it certainly can be exciting, even though I haven't a clue to what's going on. We were seated in the "bleachers," which means when it's hot, as it was, we just started to burn. Straight out of cloudy England and wearing shorts and no hat, I just started to, well, bleach. I bought myself a Giants cap and found something to cover my legs and sat back with an enormous dog and garlic, and coke. There was an tremendous crowd almost filling the forty-thousand-seater stadium. At 'halftime,' there's compulsory calisthenics and everyone does stretches to the music. Outside on the quay, boats cruise up and down in the hope that a ball will get knocked over the wall and into the water. When we got down to Phoenix, the Giants were there thrashing the Diamondbacks. Strange world.
We cruised up and down on the BART train system and got to transit the whole Bay area rapidly. We rode a streetcar and visited Charlie's recycling centre where we saw how they do it in S.F. Charlie gets quite annoyed if they put the wrong plastic in the right containers. His collectors are mostly homeless type guys, who make a few bucks collecting paper, plastic, bottles and cans, in supermarket trolleys. The scheme is subsidised by the local government, but is an economical way of reducing landfill and paid street cleaners, and provides a living for Charlie and his helpers.
We visited Ramón and Judy, and we all had the now-traditional KIT Chinese meal in the local restaurant. It was nice to have a look at Ramón's church centre where he works; he's nearly as laid back as Vince already.
On Sunday the Peregrine board had a meeting, and while they were cogitating the way forward in the light of Ramón's retirement, the continuing threat of legal harassment and the changing nature of the KIT process, I messed about on Charlie's computer, sending e-mails home and hearing how things were going back home. Then I got bored and changed all his settings. I decided it was time for a walk and offered to go for coffee. Charlie said it was only a few blocks away, so off I toddled. When I got back with coffee and bagels, pandemonium had broken loose; Dave was smashing his chair over Vince's head and Charlie was jumping up and down on the table pulling Ben's hair. You just can't leave them alone for five minutes. Vince is so cool, he just sipped his coffee and mildly complained that he had wanted his black.
We were invited to Charlie's apartment, where his family were having a birthday party for their three- year-old daughter. This started with the piñata game, where a decorated paper container of candy is dangled from a rope, and the child is blindfolded and given a stick to try and smash the candies out. Then upstairs for birthday tea party and cake. Charlie's bedroom appears to be in a cupboard, but he seems to be quite content.
Andy Bazeley, Ben Cavanna and George Maendel - 2001
That was about all for San Francisco, and we went on the last evening to fetch our hire car from the Alamo rental. When they discovered that we were dropping the car off in Boston, they must have had second thoughts about giving us the compact we had booked, and gave us the larger Buick Century, which turned out to be an excellent car all round. By the time it was time to leave, we had had some pretty hefty aussprache, and had chewed over some meaty topics. Whether we got anywhere is not clear to me, but it was fun having a try.
Next day we said our good-byes to Dave and Diane and headed off for the coastal highway No.1 down to L.A. Although this is a winding road that hugs the coastline for most of the way, it was well worth while avoiding the freeway and taking in the breathtaking coastal scenery and then the vineyards and orange groves. On the way, we pulled off the road for a break, high above the sea on a cliff. We could hear the sound of seals drifting up to us, and thinking they were directly below, scanned the beaches and coves for signs of them but couldn't see any. Ben got out his trusty compact binoculars and sighted up on an island about three quarters of a mile offshore. So without more ado, Ben whipped out his new telescope and trained it on the island. Sure enough, there they were about fifty elephant seals covering the rocky outcrop and swimming around it. They were a sort of camel- yellow colour, and a fascinating sight to be able to catch just by sheer chance. Overhead we spotted a couple of rare condors (Roger, they were not sparrows) and Ben has the photo to prove it.
On down through Santa Barbara to L.A. L.A. is enormous and stretches for over a hundred miles. We just drove and drove through Malibu and Santa Monica, to Venice Beach and Beverley Hills. Mile upon mile of the Santa Monica Boulevard. I was particularly hoping to see the Hollywood sign, but it was getting dark and we'd done a lot of miles, and even Hollywood is gigantic. So we had to give up and head on east on highway 10 through anonymous suburbs. Ben reckons he was getting nervous of my multi-lane freeway driving, saying that I was going over the line into the lane of the semis that thundered past at 80 mph. So we changed over and I had a go at being nervous about his driving. Eventually we pulled over on the right hand side of L.A. and found a restaurant and motel for the night.
Up next morning and away for Phoenix, Arizona, after breakfast of pancakes and maple syrup, bacon and eggs, sausage and tomato, washed down with unlimited coffee. Stick on the cruise control and go with the flow. Air con kept us nice and cool as the temperature rose the further east we headed. The middle states of America were experiencing a heat wave, with temperatures well up above 100 F. Scattered townships gave way to scrub pastures and eventually to desert, with those typically western cacti. Large mountain ranges on either side gradually converged until, at the narrowest point, we passed through a vast wind-generating farm with hundreds of three- bladed turbines. Old ones were being replaced with new ones of maybe two or three times the size, and the site was obviously producing a massive amount of electricity. On to the Colorado River and across into Arizona, stopping only for gas and a screen wipe, or a bite to eat. Gas was getting cheaper as we headed east, and in places was less than $1.20 a gallon. Even taking account of the smaller U.S. gallon, that is less than £1 a gallon. We pay about £3.40 in U.K.
We got into Phoenix about midday and headed for Gilbert, the suburb where Hila and Susie live. Before leaving Dave's, we had downloaded printouts of the exact location of their address. On the second-to-last print zoom, the red star indicating which main block they were in, was placed erroneously in the next block. We searched up and down the block for their street, until it eventually dawned on us that the map was wrong and their street was next to a crooked-shaped lake not a rectangular one, and all became clear.
It was great to meet Hila and Susie after getting to know them on the Hummer and in KIT. They live in a lovely house in a lovely suburb. They are so obviously very much in love. It is a crying shame that the Bruderhof can continue to exert such a negative effect on so many people's lives. Nevertheless we had a lovely evening talking about this and that. Events next day led me to observe the utter strangeness of high-blown Christianity in action, where Jesus requires us to hate our family in order to follow him. That is something I could never countenance, and never will. We lounged around in the pool for the morning chewing the fat on philosophy and the ways of the world and, after putting away our gear, took off northwards for Flagstaff.
At first the road took us through Phoenix and out into the desert. We pulled off the road for gas, into a one-horse town in the middle of nowhere, with not much more than a gas station and general store and a bar called Ellie's Frontier Saloon. It was hot and dusty with palm trees and neon signs. We looked around, but John Wayne didn't ride in. We filled up and drove on out. As the highway gradually rose into higher altitudes, the landscape changed to ponderosa pine forest until at last we entered Flagstaff. On arrival, we noticed a sign for the Lowell Observatory, and on investigation found that they were running open evenings with the chance to look through the large telescope. So we drove a little further north and found a chalet motel that catered to the skiers in winter. Apparently it's claim to fame was that Clark Gable, (or was it Cary Grant) had shot a film there. We didn't stay in the same room as he did, but one that the film crew had used. This motel had a restaurant, and we ate early so that we could drive back for the evening show.
It was very interesting to be able to look through their various telescopes at several of the stellar features that were out that night. Ben was in raptures, and will no doubt write a proper report on this event. He told me that working as one of the lecture guides at this venue would be his true vocation for a life of happiness. Next day we were up bright and early and heading for that great wonder of the world, the Grand Canyon.
(To be continued)
Our rental car just misses being swallowed by tornado at Shiprock.
Memories of Forest River
by George Maendel, 8/28/01:
Making a Slingshot
This is how I remember making a slingshot at Forest River. It must have been spring, 1955. Forest River was a Hutterite Colony, although the seeds for change had been planted; in December, 1954, two ordained ministers from Koinonia, Clarence Jordan and Will Wittkamper, had been to Forest River for a long visit and in February, 1955, John Maendel had been elected second minister and Allen Baer (a member in good standing but "an outsider," a former Mennonite even!) was elected to fill John's former position, that of householter (steward, or "boss").
A walk in the woods is first, looking for a suitable Y-shaped branch of just the right size. The branchings must be exactly opposite but not too sharp, too sharp means a weak intersection, a gently forked, almost U-shaped fork, is best and strongest. It sometimes took hours to find just the right one. I found one among some red-barked willows growing along the river bank, a type of willow that had few opposite branchings and most of those that were opposite were at severe angles and not usable. But I found one and cut it with a small saw. I peeled it and made notches, seats for the rubber bands, near the ends of the forks, not too close to the edge, to prevent the remaining wood from chipping off. Once it was handled for several days it was obvious that I had the perfect beginning for a slingshot.
A trip to the shoe shop was next, to sneak a piece of leather that had just the right feel and weight. It was trimmed to the correct size and small slots cut in either end, slots that were tiny, perfectly shaped rectangles. A simple cut in the leather was not good enough because it might continue tearing under stress and could tear out, making it useless.
The third component and the one that was often most difficult to procure was the rubber bands. They had to come from a quality inner tube, not an old one, and they had to be cut carefully, one tiny nick and the bands were considered useless, they would eventually tear through beginning at the nick. We usually found one of the older boys to cut the bands for us. This time I was really in luck. My older brother had been to a local grass airfield, a base for one or two private planes and for an air spraying service, where he found a used airplane tire inner tube. We could tell it was from an airplane tire, it was obvious by it's color, a sort of muddy green. The tubes on our farm were black, or once in a great while, red. The red ones were notoriously weak, but the muddy green was the best we had ever seen. My brother cut a section into bands, bands that were entirely even and smooth, without nicks.
Next, a trip to the carpenter shop for some string and then help from one of the older boys to tie the rubber bands to the wood. The string had to cross the rubber band just so, making a square crossed diagonally by the string which was then knotted on the under side with the knots facing toward the leather pouch. At the pouch end, the bands had to be bound by the string and then tied carefully, not so tight that the bands were squeezed out of shape or cut by the string.
When the bands were tied in all four places it was time to fold the leather pouch exactly in half and compare the length of the bands. They had to match perfectly and in the case of this red willow slingshot, they did. Then the bands were wrapped around the wide part of the Y and if they were the right length, the leather pouch would just slip over one end of the Y with a tiny bit of tension. The slingshot was ready to be stuffed into a pocket, a most important feature because we knew that to keep the slingshot safe it had to out of sight at all times, especially out of sight of the grown men. They allowed slingshots grudgingly, but were likely to snap the fork in two if they found one lying around or if they saw one at all after they found damage that they suspected might have been caused by a errant slingshot-fired stone. We knew better than to fire a stone at anything made of glass, especialy barn windows.
Equipped with a tucked away sling shot, we might casually gather a few small stones, careful to do it without appearing too obvious and never while the slingshot was in sight. The two must never be seen together by the eyes of a grown-up. We had seen enough whippings to know where the path was smoothest.
Out of sight of the buildings and out of sight of the men, we could use our slingshots. Use them to scare birds, chase squirrels or just shoot at tin cans. The real purpose was that comfortable feeling of a slingshot carefully stowed in a pocket and two or three small round stones in the other pocket.
Matt Ellison, 8/31/01: Arts & Crafts
A long time ago, a certain young man, who will remain nameless, was found to be stealing voluminous knickers from the washing line. He was brought before the Servant, who started to interrogate him.
The Servant said, "Young man, I vant you to tell me vhy you vere taking zese knickers. Vere you having bad thoughts?"
"Yes," said the young man, knowing he was in deep do-do and deciding to confess.
"Und did you zink about undressing zis vuman?"
"Und zink aboudt taking off her blouse mit de bodice combined?"
"Und den young man, tell me, did you zink aboudt lifting up her skirt and taking off her knickers?"
"Und zen young man, tell me vot did you do?"
"Well, I took out the elastic to make a catapult."