Monday, July 02, 2007

Stuff and More Memories

Although it rained some during the night, Sunday was sunny and warm - maybe I should say "steamy". With water standing everywhere, it makes things feel much like a sauna when the sun comes out, and then there are the mosquitoes. After church and the usual Sunday nap, we went to the park to play volleyball with Jesse and some of her coworkers. It was fun to be out playing for a change. The sand volleyball court was wet and sticky. It smelled a bit fishy too. We even found a dead crawdad in the grass. Everything smells fishy or like wet dog. I probably should not complain because the temps have not been that high this summer. They are getting up in the 90's occasionally, but not the 100's. Still, the humidity is something else these days.

More Memories
Last week I wrote about my wedding rings and my brother's forgetfulness. Toby shared a wedding ring memory of his own that had us all laughing. During the wedding ceremony, when my preacher asked for the rings, Craig put on his own little melodrama. He patted all of his pockets, looked around like he could not find the ring, and then with a smug look he fished it out of his breast pocket. I am sure this has been done at many weddings, but those of us who knew Craig had already forgotten the rings once, had a good laugh. I'm just glad it was all an act. If he had actually forgotten my ring at the wedding, I might not have been so generous with him twice. In fact, I am pretty sure that the violent side of my nature might have come out.

I also wrote last week about my grandfather and his interesting name change at the end of WWI. I sent my post to both of my uncles and received responses from each. I don't think any of the grandkids (like me) care one way or the other whether our name was Bernecker or Barker, but it may be a sore spot for my uncles as it was for my grandmother. Although they were both very polite in their emails to me, as in the past, I get the feeling they want to be Barkers. Maybe the Bernecker name is just a bit too German for them. According to my mom, my grandmother, having lived through both WW's, did not want to be German. They would all rather believe that our name was Barker, then changed to Bernecker during WWI, and then changed back to Barker after the war. Seems pretty silly to me. Why would my grandfather change his name to a rather German sounding name during a war against Germany? Why is there no history of any Fred Barkers before WWI? My Uncle Eli sent the following email which is interesting:

Dear Bob and Lou,
Thank you, Lou, for the info on Fred W. Barker, my Dad and/or Papu. All that I can add is info from recalled conversations with Nanny Barker, all after Papu went to be with the Lord. Papu rarely said anyting about his family except that after WW1 he went by North Carolina to see how things were and nothing had changed so he left again, never to go back.
Papu, born December 8, 1887, left home at 14 because of family problems and went to Cincinnati to stay with two older brothers who got him a job at the Gibson House (big downtown hotel) in Cincinnati working in the kitchen. Later, for some reason, he moved on to Chicago where he worked in the Palmer House (really big downtown hotel) food preparation. (He had a recipe for 1000 island dressing which was made with whipped cream that he learned at the Palmer House. Papu would cut a quarter head of lettuce and then put this dressing on top to make an absolutely delicious salad. I was in Chicago on business by myself in about 1961 and ate supper one night at the Palmer House and ordered this type salad. It was identical to the one Papu made. Incidentally. Nelson Eddy, who made singing several movies with Jeanette McDonald, was appearing that night in the Empire Room of the Palmer House. I decided not to go on my expense account budget to Nelson Eddy's performance.
Nanny Barker showed me Papu's WW1 discharge papers showing the name Frederick Wilhelm Bernecker. When she applied for a veteran widow's pension, the person who handled her application had no problem with granting her a pension on the basis that "he probably had roomed the Bernecker family in Chicago and entered the army under the name of Bernecker and left them his worldly goods."
Some way, Papu got to Kansas City and went to work for Nafziger Baking Company. They owned the Taystee Bread bakery in Wichita Falls, and Papu was sent to WF to manage the operation. Papu lived in the William and Mary Hotel on 10th and Lamar? He needed a secretary and advertised in the paper to interview interested parties in the lobby of the William and Mary on Sunday afternoon. (People worked 6 nines in those days). Nanny wanted to apply even though she was working in Uncle Eli's and Uncle Walter's feed store. Our uncles did not want their 26 year old sister meet a man in the lobby of the hotel. She got the job, worked several? months, married Papu, and off to Kansas City.
Some way or other, Papu got into selling irrigated farms in the Rio Grand Valley. Entire train loads of possible buyers would get on this train which made up in Chicago with others prospects added at each stop. In about 1929-30 we moved down there and lived on one of these 28 acre farms. We raised tomatoes, green beans, and cotton, had a cow and chickens. Bath every Saturday night in a No. 2 tub in the living room in front of the fire.
Frances came to live with us on May 25, 1930. She was born at home, the usual place in those days. Papu told me I had a new sister (I was 4 at the time). I
asked Papu where she came from. He said you remember the black bag the doctor had when he arrived. I said, Yes. Papu said she was in that bag. I believed him until Joe Fred came to live with us.
Papu had a Lincoln touring sedan with 'jump seats and a telephone for the passenger to speak to the chauffeur. He would take the back seats out and haul bushels of tomatoes and green beans into Harlingen but could not sell them in 1930-31. He would get so mad that he would throw them out on the side of the road on the way home. Not long and Nanny and 4 little kids were in WF with Grandmother Morgan while Papu went to Chicago to get employment at the start of the world-wide Great Depression. Then he came to visit and we were soon on our way to Chicago. (I pulled the Emergency Stop cord in the rail car. The Porter came and told me NEVER to do that again or he would put me off the train.)
In August, 1932, Papu got a job to manage 'Ye Olde Musky Inn' in Elco, Wisconsin. We were there until about April, 1933 and back to Chicago. (No one had money to hunt or fish during the Depression). Part of 'Ye Olde Musky Inn' building was still there when Daphne and I visited Elco in about 1992-3. Didn't look near as big in '92 as it did when I was 6 years old.
We lived in Chicago until August, 1936, when we settled in WF.


No matter what, Papu was an interesting man. It is just my opinion, but I think after WWI when Papu visited his family again and nothing had changed, he chose to change his name to cut family ties and to have a more American sounding name during a time when sentiment towards Germans was low. It just makes more sense.

1 comment:

Buck Pennington said...

No matter what, Papu was an interesting man. It is just my opinion, but I think after WWI when Papu visited his family again and nothing had changed, he chose to change his name to cut family ties and to have a more American sounding name during a time when sentiment towards Germans was low. It just makes more sense.

I'll buy that theory, Lou. As you said, it just makes more sense. There are SO many interesting stories in our families, aren't there?