Friday, January 27, 2006
The Black Sea Germans
were Germans who had moved to Russia with the persuasion of Tsarina Catherine II. Gradually, promises of land allotments, no military service, freedom of religion and freedom from taxes had diminished. Many left from Russia to re-settle in Germany and then onward to the United States. (1) At less than 2 years old, my Grandma had already lived in 3 countries.
Grandma & her family settled down in Bismarck, North Dakota. I remember stories she'd tell us about cows they'd lose during the winter. Come springtime, they'd find these dead cows standing up & still frozen. My Grandma was a very stern woman & now I realize that coming from such a large family, coming over a ship under only her mother's authority, all the children had to be extremely disciplined.
(On the far left is my Grandma & some wicked looking women ~ 1918)
My Grandparents moved to Eugene, Oregon, where my dad was born. Grandpa owned an auto shop & also raced cars. Perhaps being 1 of 15 children formed Grandma's decision to have only 1 child. When my dad was a young boy they divorced & although he wanted to live with his dad, he said he wanted to live with his mom so he wouldn't hurt her feelings. She lived to be 101 years old, but I must admit, when she passed away I wasn't very sad. I loved her, but she was so intentionally cruel to my dad, still making this strong man cry at 72 years old with her demeaning words. He always longed for his mother's approval, but never got it. Since her death, I've often wondered what caused her to be so hateful.
As a child, I wasn't aware of the interpersonal problems; afterall, I was just a kid. I just knew I didn't like her babysitting us when my parents went on vacation because she was so strict. As long as my parents were gone, so was the relaxed, undisciplined atmosphere that we were accustomed to. But despite my Grandma's faults, I remember games she taught us. Eye Spy My Little Eye and finding animals in clouds. She told us if we looked thru her bathroom window, we could see spaceships and we could! (When I grew up, I realized these were white lights from the passing traffic)
I can still taste the wonderful apple pies she made. I remember other foods she made that I've never seen anywhere else. Cabbage & banana salad sounds awful, but it was delicious! It's just cabbage, bananas & mayo & always tastes better the 2nd day. Another favorite was her spaghetti, it had bacon in it. It's ingredients were bacon, spaghetti, tomato sauce & onions. And, as my mother says, if you want it to taste good, you have to include the bacon grease
. The last one & my absolute favorite was her fruit salad which we still serve at family get-togethers. This was a mixture of oranges, apples, pineapple, bananas, marshmallows, cherries, some cherry juice and mayo. I could eat this every single day of my life.
(Male relatives at a family business of some sort)
I'm a firm believer that everything happens for a reason. When I think that my very existence is partly because of the hardships my ancestors endured, it boggles my mind. On my paternal side, the Germans relocated because the Russians didn't honor their word. On my maternal side, my relatives were chased out of Mexico by Pancho Villa's gang. For both families, there had to be some place they could safely call home. Ironically, both families chose the same safe place in
America. There are undoubtedly millions of us who have wonderful immigration stories to share. What's yours?
(1) Federation of Eastern European Family History Societies
Technorati tags: genealogy
, tsarina catherine ii
, black sea germans
, north dakota
posted by jane at 7:07 PM