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197 45 The chimneys of the iron and steel works in Rothe Erde on the east side of Aachen no longer emit smoke. Due to a lack of iron ore from Luxemburg, the plant has become unprofitable.The high, lifeless chimneys loom in the sky. Just behind them lies the countryside of Eilendorf. Wilhelm swings his cane smartly in the air with every step. Maria walks happily beside him. He has not linked arms with her, as he usually does. They pass the church, a splendid building surrounded by meadows. Cows rest beneath an old pear tree that later will bear hard Münster pears. The cows and hens on a farm are the only living creatures they encounter on this early Sunday afternoon.When they turn the corner around Pannhaus, the oldest house in the village, Wilhelm’s parents’ house is there in front of them on Steinstrasse. The roof rises to form a cupola in the middle. The full midday light falls on the gray slabbed plinth and the dark red brick walls. Stone scrolls and bows frame the windows. Each one has a railed ledge, painted green, for flowerpots. Maria is impressed. In the workshop window, she sees dark coffins with gleaming metal fittings. She glances at Wilhelm and thinks, Coffins, corpses! Dreadful. Doesn’t he always think of death if he has to live with things for dead people every day? But Wilhelm gives her a cheerful smile and asks, “Isn’t it a beautiful house?”“Yes, yes, very beautiful house,” she replies quickly and eagerly. The main door, with its two heavy wooden wings, is closed. One side of the house slopes into sunken gardens where, between rambling hop plants and elder bushes, the Clover Brook flows. Wilhelm unlatches the front door and lets Maria in. In the hall, she stops, waiting. Wilhelm points out that he did all the painting, and he explains that he designed the light-colored oil paint on the ceiling and walls, the green wainscot, and its frieze of colorful, fancy stencils. The steps of the wooden staircase and the turned banister posts are painted Stories Main Pgs 1-258.indd 197 4/26/2017 12:17:43 PM 198 Maria Wallisfurth in a shiny gloss paint. Nothing is worn or scuffed. Maria’s face shows her appreciation of Wilhelm’s fine work. They go into the large, combination kitchen and living room. Wilhelm’s mother is sitting at the stove and has nodded off. She looks up sleepily. His father is smoking a pipe and reading the newspaper. Wilhelm introduces Maria to his parents. Maria shakes hands with his mother. Her indifference makes Maria feel shy. His father stands up and greats her warmly. He has deep furrows in his forehead and a moustache like her father in Freilingen. While Wilhelm helps Maria out of her jacket, his mother sees to the stove fire and puts water on for coffee. Maria admires the kitchen walls, which Wilhelm has also painted, especially the funny figures all around the molding that Wilhelm created himself. “Everything in house I painted new, everything,” he tells her. He is very proud of his work. Wilhelm leads Maria into the living room. There are pictures hanging on all the walls, beside each other and above each other, in wide frames and in narrow ones. There are paintings of landscapes and people, in addition to many, many photographs.“I made all myself,” Wilhelm says. “Photographs, too?” Maria asks in surprise. “Yes.”Wilhelm tells her that he has a camera and a darkroom where he develops the photographs himself. In the old farmhouse, there is a cupboard full of nothing but exposed plates. When he sees Maria’s expression of disbelief, he takes a number of big photo albums and cardboard boxes full of pictures out of a little cupboard. He spreads everything out on the table. “Where you learn?” Maria asks him. Wilhelm tells her that only two people in Eilendorf owned cameras—the young teacher Heinrich Schmitz and his hearing friend and merchant Josef Woopen.They were the first in Eilendorf who understood photography. Wilhelm is the third person in the whole village who has his own camera. He bought it in 1915, and the other two men taught him how to use it and how to develop photographs. Now Wilhelm takes photographs with a real passion. When the war came to an end, the occupation authorities ordered that everyone had to have an identity...


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MARC Record
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