From Fulda to Fulda
Ebert of Fulda, Germany sent me an old article published in the
Fuldaer Zeitung in March 1933. In this report an Ursuline Sister
from Fulda, Germany reminisces about her stay in Caldwell/Fulda,
Ohio in the years 1931-33. I have abbreviated her story somewhat,
omitting her description of the voyage from Bremen to New York, the
impressions of that city with its noisy streets, infernal heat,
crowded subways and the hot train ride through Pennsylvania.
The writer signed her report only with "S.E." and I do not know who
she might have been. Maybe someone in Fulda, Ohio or Caldwell can
find her full name in the records of the Ursuline Convent there.
Elizabeth Ginsberg, 15 Nov 2005
Upon arriving in Ohio, "Sister S.E." writes:
|Toward evening it is getting cooler, and we are
riding through Ohio-Land. Ohio means "beautiful". And
this land is beautiful, wonderfully pretty. As we ride
along the Ohio River, the landscape reminds me of our
German Rhine; other views with wide forested hills
remind me of our Rhoen mountains at home.
After an 18-hour train ride I get off in a small town -
Newcomerstown. This town is called that way because all
newcomers have to come through here, I was told,
jokingly. From the station master's flood of words
I understand three: "Two sisters come." I wait one
hour, going on two hours, I am falling asleep, until I
feel myself hugged by friendly arms and hear cordial
German greetings of welcome. Two more hours' ride
in a car, then I stand a little surprised in front of
our small Ursuline convent [in Caldwell]. It is
built of wood and with its four verandas and many doors
it does not look at all like our German convent.
But inside it is homey, and most of the sisters are
compatriots. For my sake they talk German for a
while; even all our American sisters know German more or
less. To my delight I hear two young novices talk
in the most genuine Rhoen dialect. "Well, where are you
from?" "From Fulda!" "Is it possible? Where is it?"
"Close by, half an hour by car. There are always three
of our sisters who teach in that school."
This Fulda is a friendly village of about 300 people. I
t was built 100 years ago by settlers from the Fulda
[Germany] region. Their last names sounded
familiar to me. The great and splendid church is
dedicated to St. Bonifatius. Until the war [WWI
1914-1918] sermons, prayers and songs were in German.
Then came another pastor who introduced the English
language in church and school fearing German-hating
fanatics. And so it is that our younger student
generation uses only two German words which have been
included in the English, or better, American language:
Kindergarten and Sauerkraut.
It was always a pleasure for me to hear the old farmers
speak German. When they are at a loss for a word
during a conversation, they invent one. I found it
a little peculiar when they often said: "Ich gleich das"
instead of "Das hab ich gern" [I like that].
My English must have sounded just as curious to them.
In school I always made mistakes in pronunciation.
But the American child is so polite, does not at all
ridicule by laughing, but corrects one in a most gentle
way. One quickly grows fond of these children,
despite their sometimes too independent nature.
Let's hope that the teaching of the sisters among them
brings a rich harvest."
Translated by Elizabeth Ginsberg 15 Nov 2005