What stories she could tell! She had been through some great adventures, leaving war-torn Europe and coming to America, specifically to Pennsylvania.
Lottie and husband Helmut had two little Seefeldts then, I believe she told me. They applied to leave Austria and come to these parts, where they would have work and a place to live.
That was important. Displaced persons were not supposed to come here to be public charges. No matter what it says on the base of the Statue of Liberty about the tired and poor and wretched refuse, the post-World War II immigrants had to have families or employers prepared to make sure the newcomers would have work and homes.
Living on a G.L. Carlson tenant farm would mean work and a home. But what about the language barrier? Helmut and Lottie didn’t speak much of any English, she recalled when she was telling me the story.
“They told us if we are going to Pennsylvania, that will be okay. In Pennsylvania they speak German. We came here. No one is speaking German. No one!” Then she would laugh with delight at the joke on them, or the consulate.
She liked to remember Helmut’s exploits, and how he and she had managed so that at last they were able to retire off the farm and have their own place in town.
The farm days had many memories for her. And of course she remembered her homeland. There were those rare trips back, to see family and friends. Occasionally visitors came to Benton Avenue from Germany.
On summer evenings when I would be out in the garden, Lottie would wave and call from across the street. Sometimes she would walk over for chats through the garden fence. I would ask her what she could use. Some onions? Lettuce? Mint or chives? Tomatoes or peppers? Parsley? I would hand it over the top of the fence. “This is good! I will enjoy! From the garden is the best food,” she would enthuse.
Sharon would stroll over to chat with Lottie. One evening I was watching the bats doing their aerial maneuvers high above. Sharon spotted them too, and gave a little shudder and went indoors. Bats are not her thing.
Lottie, though, was entranced. “Fledermause!” she said. “I like to watch. Catching all the bugs like they do back home.”
The neighborhood is not the same without this dauntless lady. We will miss her.
Once again I feel regret. It isn’t just that we have lost this good member of our community, but also that we did not capture her stories in audio or video. How many more repositories of history will we lose?
* * *
My highly alert “Cuzzin,” Elizabeth Stout, e-mailed me this seeming sequel to last week’s weather-related doggerel:
Oh, what a blamed uncertain thing
This pesky weather is;
It blew and snew and then it thew,
And now, by jing, it's friz.
She said she had received it from “Aunt Mary Sawyer Gallup,” and added, “She even credited it to Philander Johnson—correctly, according to Google.”
I noticed that the poem is not a limerick, and thought it could be made into one easily enough, if Philander Johnson would not mind too much.
The cause of excess mis-
Ery this weather is.
It blew and snew
And then it thew,
And now, by jing, it’s friz.
* * *
“Who used to sponsor the Christmas lighting contest in Port Allegany?” asks a reader.
I’m not sure. Maybe the Chamber of Commerce?
Next question. “A hit TV show is about a Glee Club. Some of us remember when there was a Glee Club in our high school. Most high schools and colleges had glee clubs. Apparently in some places they still do. Do you know why they don’t have one here?”
I’m not sure they don’t! Maybe it’s just that they don’t call any of our school-based vocal groups that. I’d have to dig out a year book to know what they called the large vocal ensemble when I was in high school. Maybe it was the Glee Club, maybe it was Chorus.
Were Glee Clubs called that because people in them were gleeful and were expressing jubilation by singing? Originally, vocal glee was singing in which each participant sang an individual melody, and maybe individual, not shared or identical, words. Eventually the word was applied more loosely to group singing, and could include vocal combos where people sang in a more orderly way. Now show choirs perform numbers that incorporate dance and drama, and a broad variety of musical styles.
Which brings me to the variety of kinds of projects the newly combined, still agglomerating Potter-McKean Players contemplate undertaking.
There are other folks out there, not yet members of M-P P who have something to add to the group, others who would enjoy the experience and provide some entertainment for the rest of us. So hurry and join up! Contact Dave or Anna Fair, Joel or Dottie Anderson.
Whee! More glee for thee and me!