Appel Is Forever
A Child’s Memoir
Publication Year: 1999
Published by: Wayne State University Press
One morning in the spring of 1989, I popped awake, sat upright in my bed, and heard myself say, "You have to do this and you have to do it now; you cannot wait any longer!" "It" was the writing of a memoir that would describe my experiences as a child of five, six, seven, eight, and nine during World War II. Since the age of thirteen, I...
Throughout the writing of this memoir, dear friends encouraged heart glows when I think of Emily and Dick Axelrod, Jackie Granat, Barbara Stock Kozel, Joyce Lopas, and David Koenig. A separate and heartfelt acknowledgment goes to Winifred Wanderwalker Farbman. From the start she entered my words into her computer and page by page...
Time and Geographical Sequence
In the 1930s many German Jewish families fled Germany and came to hospitable Holland. Holland had been neutral in World War I and people hoped it could be neutral again in the impending war. Amsterdam had a sizable refugee community and many of the German Jewish families joined the large Liberal Jewish Synagogue of Amsterdam. Holland also had a more established...
1. Matza with Honey
The outside stairs are stone and very steep. Then you open the shiny wood door and go up another and then another steep flight. Then our door opens to a square center hallway with a tall grandfather clock that ticks, always. Home—home is where I live with my little brother, Daantje,1 Mama, Papa, Oma,2 and Oma Deena. Daantje and I sleep...
After the first few days, I forget that we've ever lived anywhere else. It is so strange here. There are too many people and a thousand thousand kids. The soldiers with guns slung across their backs are called marachausee and they are Dutch. They talk differently from us, though. There are Germans, too. They walk around holding onto the leashes of big German Shepherd dogs. Every...
3. First Days
The train is a compartment. The windows are blackened so that you cannot see in or out. We ride through the night. Miserable, I sleep on and off. The train stops on the railbed that is built higher than the surrounding country. The doors open. There are German soldiers everywhere, holding onto barking German Shepherds. The Germans scream, "Schnell, mach schnell, raus...
4. Appel Is Foreve
I learn from some bigger kids to find a stick. Then you find a little piece of wood. You hit the little piece hard on one side. If you do it right then you can make the little piece jump high and it falls down at a distance. You can try to flip your piece to the line the other kid draws on the ground and they can try to flip it to your line. I'm outside flipping my little wedge of wood but...
It's now cold at appel. Sometimes it snows in heavy, wet flakes. Mama goes back to the barrack. She cries, and in between cries she mutters curses at the Germans. She gets Daantje out to stand appel in the cold, wet snow and I've never before heard Mama say the bad words she says now. Daantje has an ear infection...
6. Four More Weeks
In the clear blue sky, high up, so far out of reach, I see the white trails of airplanes. How is it that they are above us and yet don't know what is happening in this place? If they knew, they could come down and do something. Every time I see the white trail in the sky I feel the impossibleness of being down here and someone from the other world actually flying over us. Sometimes...
In late winter, a day of sunshine causes wet everywhere. I stand outside the barrack in the thin sun warmth. Everywhere I look and step is mud or puddles. To the side of this barrack is another wired-off compound. There standing by the wire is a child. I see that it is a Gypsy child. My curiosity goes only so far as to observe her. I do not walk closer to see because I've just noticed that I am...
8. One Night: One Day
Papa lies on the ground. I look to the left. Others are lying on the ground. To our back are the big barbed-wire main gates and far across the way is the Germans' barrack. Near there is a pit where big turnips are stored. I watch Papa. I don't talk to God anymore to ask that Papa doesn't die. I know he is going to die. I have one little carrot left. I believe that if only he will...
9. The Train
The truck stops by the side of a railroad track. There is a small station house. We are hurried off the truck. Amid pushed, milling people we are to get on open freight cars. To each side of the railroad track I see a long wide trench. In the trench, on each side of the track I see chopped bodies lie. As if a giant hacked apart the bodies; arms, legs, torsos, heads are all jumbled, piled this way and...
10. The Apron
The gunfire has stopped. The train stands next to a dirt path. Mama and Daantje have gone ahead. I don't know how I came to be alone in the railroad car. The path is full of people walking, pushing in one direction. I walk with them. The path turns away from the railroad bed and still the stream of people flows on. The path becomes a village road. On each side of the road are...
The roads are full of trucks, moving slowly. In the late afternoon we stop and go into a small building. People are there to ladle out food and we sleep in bunks. The next morning back into the truck. There is no end to this life on the back of a truck. We move, we stop, we get off, some others get on, we move again. Looking out I see trucks travel before us and some way behind...
12. We Have Come Back
It is late afternoon when the train pulls into the Central Station of Amsterdam. After a long wait, someone comes for us in a small open truck. We tumble on and Mama is muttering that it is verschrikkelijk1 that no one was there to get us. As usual, I can't bear to hear her grumble and scold and I try to...
Iama has told us how she went to the mountains in Switzerland when she was a young girl. She lived with a family high up in the mountains and got very healthy there. Mama loved living there, better than living in Frankfurt where she grew up. One evening, after tea and cookies, Mama asks whether I wouldn't like to go to Switzerland. Unlike Holland, Switzerland has a lot of...
14. Now That We Are Home
Now that we're home again, I can settle into life at school and in the city with full attention! I have two best friends. Each is completely different from the other. Chariotje lives in one of the beautiful old houses on the other side of the city block where we live. The front windows of her apartment overlook the end part of the Vondel Park, which is in the center of our neighborhood...
15. The Point
i am walking out on the "point," that circular outcropping of rocks and grassy park reaching into Lake Michigan. The neighborhood behind me surrounds the University of Chicago and is called Hyde Park. I live there, alone, in a rooming house, apart now from Mama, Daan, and Tante Lisel, Papa's sister. We've...
16. New York
According to geography our DC-6 has landed on a new continent. But to me it is like landing on a different planet. The trip itself seemed to go on forever, twelve hours of it or maybe more. The plane refueled in Ireland then in Newfoundland. There we waited, dozing on and off in big stuffed chairs while outside in a blowing snowstorm, the plane was checked...
17. The Farm
The farm is a house on a hill, and at the bottom of the hill across the road a barn and another smaller barn. In between the barns, a slowmoving creek, a pond made by Uncle Walter, and a huge, wonderful oak tree straddling the creek bed. The pond holds ducks. Up behind the white painted house is Aunt Rena's garden, growing herbs and vegetables. A grassy lawn slopes in front of...
The train hurtles fast. I look out until the light fades. I eat the sandwiches Aunt Rena packed for me. I fall asleep. A long time after it is light again, the conductor announces we'll be coming into Chicago. Now suddenly I'm terribly afraid. Where am I going? My paper slip says Englewood and Eggleston. They sound so alike. One is the name of the station and one is the name of...
19. Lab School
I walk three blocks, take the streetcar going east toward Lake Michigan, get off and walk north from 63rd Street to 59th Street, crossing a big open park area known as the "midway." From the first day I love the "school" part of the Lab School, also known as U-High. Teachers teach and in this school the thinking, learning life exists. For the next two years I'll love Mr. Edgett's social...
20. University of Chicago
Freshman classes start in October, a few weeks after my sixteenth birthday. What do I know? I know I'm pretty enough for boys to ask me out. I know the "Y" friends told me I have a good figure. I know I didn't understand what they meant when they first told me. I know that I liked my breasts when they grew. They seemed just right. Why I felt happy I don't know, but I did...
The farm summer was truly a happy time. After that, several young men fell in love with me at the university. I was still too childlike to respond, emotionally or physically. I continued to commute during my second year at university and worked part-time as a receptionist at a dance studio located across campus on the south side of the midway. At the start of the third year...
Page Count: 176
Publication Year: 1999
OCLC Number: 849944866
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