Table of Contents
Introductions / 5 Claude - In His Own Words / 9 First Impressions of America / 19 Earl Rosenblum , Rosie & Willie Bosco, Bill and Betty Green, The Burger Family (Shirley & Milton), Jim Wattenmaker, Lois & Chuck Aaron
We Were There From the Beginning / 33 Sue Loebel, Vera Hirtz, Charlotte Gysler, Renate Samelson, Maria Becker, Irmgard Salb, Phil Lee Blumenthal, Herbert Loebl, Meinhard & Brigitte Meisenbach, Lena Wulf, Hermann & Lisa Schulze
Village Dwellers At Heart - But Not on Weekends / 59 Lenore Suhl, Arthur Erickson, Alice Tibbetts, Joan Muller, Lotte Franklin, Erich and Inge Meyerhof, Peter Cohn, Hy Shuman, Stella Handler, Simon Schochet, David and Bea Emery, John & Marlies Fry, Howard Ross, Jerry and Sabina Braunthal, David Schermerhorn
Tales of Tenafly / 81 Claudette Walpole, Louis and Mary Mandel, Lin McKelvie, George McCauley, Cathy Moliski, Sharon and Steve Enderes, Laura Kennedy, Ray & Bettina Sons (née Dieckmann), Steffie Schmidt-Burgk, Brigitta Grekov, Rita and Alex Kauders, Vincent Giudice, Matt Cormons, Chin Manasmontri
The Pen Pals: New Worlds Through Words / 107 Yasuhiko Ichigawa, Hiroko Ichigawa Murata, Noriko Ichigawa Tsukagoshi, Nodoka Murata, Seiko Tomita, Teruo Sakanishi, Ikuko Kanda Watanabe
East is East and West is West, But That’s Just True on Maps / 119 Julie & Ching Hock Siow, Mary & Chew Swee Wong, Eddie & Lita Siow, Danny & Kimlan Kwan, Lubna & Mustafa Jumabhoy, James Kwok Ho Mow & Lily Siow, Ashita & Karl Kampmark
Walking the Plank / 135 Kamelia McGuirl, Blanche Blazer, Jerry Simmons, Mary and Alex Jethanamest, Robert Stanton Feder, Christopher M. Wolak
Other Special Friends / 145 Johanna Roman & David Barish, Janet Williams & Fred Berndt, Nives Zanotto & Georges Phillip, Grace Solari, Shining Sung, Jean Beltramini
Business as Usual — Friend or Foe? / 159 Peter Triano, Jim Sattler, Dan Salopek, Frank Sawyer , Daphne Sawyer, Bill Walker, Roberto Pietrocola, Ron Dugger, Norman Plotkin
Appendix / 177
Introductions A friend remarked, “When I think of Claude, I have a smile on my face.” This sentiment reflects Claude’s legendary gift for friendship. He endeared himself to people from diverse backgrounds. Differences in age, race or religion were no barriers. He embraced them all and forged long lasting friendships. In turn, his personal and business friends responded to him with equal warmth. Claude would have been proud of the lasting impression he left on them. For those who benefited from his lessons, enthusiasm for the outdoors, and patience with the inexperienced hiker, cyclist, skier, (“bendze-knees” was his refrain on the ski slopes), he had a transforming effect on their lives. Most recall “persistent memories” of his adventurous spirit, humor and generosity, but some also remember with discomfort the risks he took with them on the ski slopes and hiking trails. All survived to tell the tale with a measure of awe. He combined hard work and fun with equal aplomb though the latter was pursued with more enthusiasm. A friend remembered him crawling out of the camping tent one Monday morning to put on a business suit for a business appointment. He helped pioneer the plastics industry in the United States and established a successful plastics business. Nevertheless it was his personal relationships which took precedence. This book has been long in the making, over ten years. It was started to commemorate Claude’s 80th birthday in 2000 and gradually morphed into a book about friendship. He was working on this book on Nantucket when he had an accident in July 2003. Though he survived, he was unable to complete the book. The manuscript was then turned over to George McCauley a Jesuit priest and publisher of Claude’s various books including his magnum opus “Breaking the Mold” In between his priestly duties, George re-fashioned the manuscript into a lively tale. He would call to report progress with the book, “I have lives coming out of my ears!” With George’s untimely death in Sept. 2010, there was now a renewed urgency to complete the book before fate would intervene otherwise. There was also the lingering memory of Claude’ ominous last words to me before his accident.”If something should happen to me, will you complete this book for me? “.
With the passage of time, some of Claude’s friends - David Barish, Lena Wulf, Peter Cohn, Steve Enderes, Roberto Pietrocola, who are mentioned in this book have passed away. But friends, even if they are no longer around, live on in our hearts. They will be remembered for enriching Claude’s life and mine. Mo-Li Bamberger September 23 2011
The Opening Gambit
My previous book, Breaking the Mold, is my autobiography, more or less celebrating myself, largely chronicling life as seen through my eyes. As all of us are mortal, I intended the work as a legacy for my descendants and future generations. This new book, Celebrating Friends, is dedicated to the many wonderful people in my life, most of whom I have known for countless years, others who have more recently crossed my path and, alas, those who have passed away both recently and others a long time ago. All of you have in some way contributed to who I am, have enriched my life, and therefore deserve to be commemorated somehow in a supplement to Breaking the Mold. If, as will be the case is many instances, their descendents, children and grand children might benefit and learn something about their forefathers they never knew. It was my spirited wife, Mo-Li, whose idea sparked the flood of letters that make up the bulk of this book. While “Breaking the Mold” deals with the way I see the world and my life, this new work largely reflects how the world sees me. Each communication of introduction by way of a brief vitae and subsequently a letter addressed to me are followed by my personal comments and observation to amplify the record. It may be a response and, possibly a rebuttal of what was said, and in any event it could spark a lively discussion at a future meeting. Claude P. Bamberger
Mo-Li Bamberger 34 Farview Road Tenafly, NJ 07670 July 21, 2000 Dear Friend of Claude, For some time, I have been thinking about how to celebrate Claude’s 80th birthday on September 23, 2000. If he were Chinese, he would get a bowl of noodles with two eggs for long life and good-luck. But this is hardly Teutonic. To let this occasion slip by without doing something doesn’t seem right, even though Claude himself would like to forget about it. On the other hand, a birthday bash alone is not special enough. To be meaningful, a party would have to include all his friends, who live in various countries. Obviously, it would be difficult to organize this. For Claude, a life without friends is unthinkable. For those who have read his book “Breaking the Mold” and his “Japanese Pen-Pal story,” you know his zest for life, ability to reach out to the young and old alike and to maintain relationships over many decades. Through his writing, his friends got to know each other. He has been in plastics for so long that he has become a legend. Some people have remarked disbelievingly, “You mean he is still alive? But I heard of him from my great-grandfather!” Well, Claude is indeed well and alive. I hope you will join me in marking this milestone in Claude’s life and share your recollection of any experience you have had with him by writing a page or two, a paragraph, a sentence or even one word in any language you choose or a drawing if that best expresses your feelings. I will gather all this in a book and surprise him on his birthday. At a later date, I hope to send copies to all of you. Although this letter will be sent primarily to personal friends, I have included a few people in the plastics industry as well. If you feel obliged to respond, you are correct. I am not letting you off the hook! The responses will be judged and the winner will get ski lessons with Claude! (They can be exchanged for a free bag of our Bamberko Purging Compound!) Please respond legibly by September 8, 2000 (kindly print your name and address) and mail to: Mo-Li Bamberger, c/o Claude Bamberger, P.O. Box 67, Carlstadt, NJ 07072, USA. With warmest regards and thanks, Danke vielmals. Mo-Li Bamberger
Claude - In His Own Words It all started when I was born. Mother, living at that time an agreeable life in a little country town in Southern Germany, felt all of a sudden that it was high time, and was forced to rouse Mr. Hartmann, the chauffeur, in the middle of the night. In the early morning they raced towards the next hospital, located in another little town about twenty miles away. My poor mother’s hair must have turned grey during that fateful trip, especially at the moment “when Mr. Hartmann over¬ran a rabbit and insisted, despite the extreme emergency, on stopping, in order to pick up that piece of precious meat. It was not much later than two A.M. when I finally opened my eyes in a world then new to me. Obviously dissatisfied with my surroundings, I started out with a healthy yelp, screaming my bitter way through the first four years of my life. It was at five when I first discovered my ability to cause trouble. My friend, the son of some petty county official, and I were pretty well known, and I dare say feared, among the more respect¬able Citizens of our town. We delighted, for instance, in studying the psychological effect on people on whose head a little stone dropped from the second-story window. We liked to place flower¬pots on top of a staircase and then hide to see what would happen when somebody opened the door on the top floor. Once I painfully raised a horde of tadpoles in my own bedroom (need I mention that my mother was delighted?), only to pour them afterwards into the desk of my teacher. However, when I played “wood-cutter” one afternoon and kindled a little fire in our attic, my parents thought it was high time Vto send me to some school where my talents would be guided into the right channels. So, shortly after my tenth birthday I had to say good-bye to my beloved little home town, and for two days I travelled North. First the train carried us over the green, wooded hills of the Thueringer Forest. The adventure of travel was then new to me, and I delighted in the lovely scenery, the jolly red brick houses and the grazing cattle flashing past us. My first night in a train was not less exciting, but sleepiness overpowered me and I did not awake until we glided rapidly through the flat, endless prairies of Ostfriessland. For hours there was nothing else to see but the green pastures of that famous Ostfriessland cattle, only interrupted once in a while by very straight irrigation channels filled with brown muddy water. Finally the train stopped at the big sea — the North Sea, — but this was not the end of my journey. Together with many other boys and girls who 9
had accumulated at each intersection as the express rushed towards the coast, I boarded a little, chummy steamer which took us in four hours across the calm, silent “Wattenmeer” to the Island of Juist. Juist was a very small island consisting of “nothing else but rolling dunes, grass, a few huts owned by poor fishermen, and the school. Juist was quite an unusual school. It belonged to a group of educational institutions which were new and widely criticized in Germany at that time. “Free Schools” they were called, with the aim to prove the advantages of co-education as well as to bring out the individualism of the student and to educate him in such a fashion that he would be self-reliant, self-confident and independent at a very early stage of his youth. The whole school was managed mostly by the students themselves, whereas the teachers stood at our side to teach in the first place, but also to help and guide us through the various difficult stages of boyhood. Although I was desperately unhappy and homesick the first few months, I eventually got to like the system under which; we lived so much that I am still influenced by it to the present date. It was a rough life on this lonely island far out in the North Sea. In winter, boat service was often discontinued, and only the most necessary victuals, medical supplies and mail were dropped and picked up by the daily plane. There were lonely winter nights, when the sharp north wind tore around the cor¬ners of our barracks. But especially those nights were full of spiritual richness and close companionship. We used to sit around the fireplace, each one working on some sort of handiwork, while somebody told a tale full of ship¬wrecks and souls of haunting sailors. As it was up to the students to keep the buildings and property of the school intact, we had only four classes a day, whereas the afternoon was spent in painting fences, paving a decayed corner of the court or planting ‘helm’, a peculiar weed which keeps the sand from flying away. Life on Juist was almost a continuous fight against the sea, which year after year seemed to take a bigger share of the already narrow strip of land. Three glorious years I spent on this little island in the North Sea. Three unforgettable years of work, study and play. Then all of a sudden, on the 1st of March, 1933, a black storm cloud appeared on the horizon. Hitler, who for years had threatened to overthrow the government, to destroy everything we held dear in order to mold a horde of grim fighters out of a peace-loving nation, finally succeeded in coming to power. From then on, things went from bad to worse. Little by little our small community on Juist fell apart,—cracked first here, than there until it finally split into two hostile camps. It was a day of bitter disappointment for many of us, as we had always thought of Juist as a fort¬ress, an impregnable Maginot 10
line against the forces of the outside world. It was so remote from that world of politicians, bureaucrats, small business¬men. But today I realize that the end had to come, just as the United States of America was bound to get involved in the present struggle. The disaster could not have been prevented. Three times a year we packed our packs, streamed down to the landing dock, crossed the blue sea and rushed South-ward, homeward bound. We spread out fanlike, all over Germany, to the South, the West and the East, only to meet and reunite a few weeks afterwards. At the time of Hitler’s election many did not come back. Many came back poisoned with ideas of fascism and revolution. At first nothing could be seen. To the outsider, life in school seemed as happy and serene as usual. But in the heart of the student body the seed of hatred and racial persecution was sown. It expanded, multiplied like mushrooms in a green-house. I packed my trunk for the last time at Christmas, 1933, and with the last boat that could get through to the mainland before the island was marooned for the winter, I left, — but not without shedding a tear for my once so beautiful Juist. Life in Germany seemed to become unbearable. Already at that time Hitler was obviously steering towards the present war, and to escape humiliation and suppression I moved on to Switzerland, where I was sent to a very well-known international school. That was quite a different affair than Juist. After all, now that my energy and my characteristics were directed into the right channels, it was necessary to polish and smooth the coarse surface. In other words, it was high time for me to learn how to behave in Society. These two years of molding my char¬acter anew were a pretty tough job for some of those, bearded professors, Doctors and Directors, and more than once they proclaimed me desperately a case who would never be a success in society. Well, this was perfectly all right with me, as I never intended to be a success in that regard and probably never will be one. Anyhow, as the months slipped by, my unhappiness changed to indifference, and in the end after two years of intense study of various subjects in the commercial field, I began to like it pretty well. But enough was enough, and after two years I thought I was quite capable of judging what I should do and what not. I was tired of the kindergarten methods used by the Institute. During vacation at home I persuaded my mother to let me go to Neuchatel in order to learn French and continue my commercial studies at the Ecole Superieure de Commerce. The family readily agreed, and after spending a lovely Easter vacation in the southern part of Switzerland among palm trees, orange groves and snow-tipped mountain peaks, I travelled all alone to Neuchatel to attend the above mentioned school. Mother, who had prearranged the place 11
where I should stay and the people with whom I should live, just gave me the address and left me to my fate. During the first hours and days in Neuchatel I hardly knew a word of French, whereas the people I was staying with hardly knew a word of German. As it was I already had considerable difficulties at the station when I tried to find out if that gesticulating lady in that funny dress was somebody from Travelers’ Aid, a lady from the Salvation Army, or the person who was supposed to meet me. Neuchatel was a lovely, little, typical University town, and the means of living of its citizens depended mainly on the students, who streamed there from the farthest corners of the world. Every house seemed to be a boardinghouse or a “Pension”, and those that were not, probably were schools. The classes were extremely international, and students of all nationalities sat and studied to¬gether. I once had a very old-fashioned teacher, who wore nothing less than a stiff, starched shirt and tails to class. As I was one of the few Germans in his class, he told me time and again in a rather reproving way, that I was not at all like the now so prominent Nazi Youth leader, Hermann Hesse, who had been once upon a time one of his ace students. At that time I was rather dumbfounded whether to consider this statement a compliment or an insult, but now, being considerably older and more enlightened about Nazi Education in general, I am almost sure that I could accept it as a compliment. In Neuchatel I spent two lovely years. After school there was fortunately neither a Professor nor a Director to prevent me from roaming the countryside, and almost every week-end one could see me hiking up some lonely valley. On other occasions I took my trusty bicycle, cycled to Lausanne, Geneva, or other historic spots to admire all the beauty and to enjoy the peace only to be found in such places. But time marches on, and the black cloud which had appeared years ago on the blue, endless sky over Juist, caught up with me. This time it loomed blacker and bigger, more sinister and terrible. WAR was plainly written on its greyish face, and sensing disaster, my family again took its little Claudius under its providing wings. This time the trip was considerably farther, and more adventurous than ever With a touch of tragedy that bit into the heart, I left, never to return again. It was midnight. The last mail and express packages were hauled on board. All of a sudden the whole deck trembled under the impact of the roar of the gloomy sirens which howled their unmelodious song through the starless, empty night. Slowly the S. S. Manhattan nosed its way out of the harbor, carrying Claude with his hopes and fears toward a new destiny.
Mo-Li’s Note: In early 1938, Claude arrived in Cleveland from Germany. He was sponsored by his grand-Uncle Gus. His wife Pauline treated Claude very badly. Claude was not allowed to enter the house through the front door. Uncle Gus was not permitted to give him a ride in his car and Claude had to walk a few miles to the Cleveland High School to study English.
Aunt Pauline - Cleveland 1938 She pounced on me like a tiger on its prey, as I entered the kitchen door and tried to ascend the back-stairs unnoticed. “Where have you been all day and what is the idea of coming home so late? Uncle worried all evening and you know the doctor said he should not get upset on account of his heart. How can you be so ungrateful?.” Thus started a verbal down pour on my unsuspecting head. An outbreak of accumulated rage, envy and hatred which was worse than all those which had filled the previous weeks. It was obvious that Aunt Pauline enjoyed those scenes. The deeply engraved lines, sloping downward from the corner of her mouth were taut. The flabby, soft flesh of her cheeks did not quiver. Her sharp, mean, mouselike eyes darted about, taking in everything from my dust-covered boots to my disheveled hair and the pack which hung limply from my shoulders. “You German refugee you,” she sneered, “if you behave like that you can’t stay in my home.” A dark figure appeared on the top of the staircase. Looking against the light I perceived the broad shouldered, slightly stooping silhouette of my uncle. “Pauline,” he said, with a strongly noticeable German accent in a voice which was soft and melancholic, “leave the boy alone.” Aunt Pauline quickly turned around. “Gus,” she said patronizingly stern, as if talking to a naughty boy, “you go back to your room, I can handle this.” “You leave the boy alone,” my uncle repeated somewhat discourage, but nevertheless turned reluctantly and disappeared in the hallway. “You see,” Aunt Pauline hissed, “you, who ought to be thankful to be in this country, do nothing but aggravate your Uncle.” “But Uncle gave me permission to go on a hike,” I retorted, though knowing that this statement would provoke another wave of abuse. “We don’t want any tramps in our family, and if you want to gallivant about like a bum we don’t want you.” 13
I was furious. The last words cut into my consciousness like a whip, like the slogans which used to greet me in big red letters on a white flag which was stretched across the street on the entrance of many a German town and which read: “Jews are not wanted in this community.” “If that is the case,” I yelled, now trembling with rage, fright and humiliation, all of which head accumulated within myself during the last bitter months, “I might as well go right now,” And almost on the verge of tears I pushed past my Aunt and ran upstairs. “I wish you would,” I heard the shrill voice of Aunt Pauline calling after me, as I slammed the door of my room. ‘I wish you would, I wish you would,’ it echoed and heartbroken, homesick and miserable I threw myself on the bed and cried. Those were bitter tears that wet my pillow. Tears of utter misery and loneliness. Tears of rage and impotence. Tears of stubbornness and humiliation. Never had anybody treated me like that and I swore that night that I’d never give a chance to anyone to do it again. It was late when I calmed myself, and still with an occasional hiccuping sob but full of resolution, I pulled my battered suitcase out of the closet and began to pack my few belongings. Only two months hence had I spent a vacation in St. Mortiz, Switzerland’s foremost winter resort, hopefully waiting for my visa to the United States, the land of opportunity, freedom and wealth. Wistfully I remembered the long, kind letters of my Uncle, giving me hope, courage and a sense of security: ‘Dear Claude’ he wrote, ‘now it is only a few weeks until you will join us in Cleveland. Although there is a depression over here, there always is an opportunity for those who wish to make good. Above all, you will have the rights to the four freedoms which we cherish and which you have lost in the Old Country.’ The prospect of leaving Europe where persecution of race, hatred and the threat of war became ever more eminent every day, almost made me glad to forfeit the sheltered atmosphere of my home, in exchange for a life of freedom though uncertainty. A life in the country where all men were equal, with equal opportunity for all. I remembered too that my Uncle was one of the most influential people in town, and though cautiously, a ray of hope and optimism tinged his letters. ‘…Things are still very bad here. Last week a strike crippled our plant for a few days until we came to terms with the Union. Unions are detrimental to business in this country, but don’t worry, once you get here, I will find a way to take care of you.’ ‘Take care of me’ I reflected bitterly, he could 14
not even give me a home, though he lived in a huge house alone with his wife, Margot the maid and Julius, the colored chauffeur who had his den in a little cubicle above the garage. My thoughts wandered back. I saw the SS Manhattan anchored on a grimy pier in Le Havre. It was close to midnight. Most passengers had gone to bed long ago. None of them were on deck. Only a few stevedores stood smoking in little groups on the wharf underneath the bright, naked arc lights. Their voices came and went like the surf on the beach. I could not understand their word, nor did I care what they were saying. Clouds of cigarette smoke hovered over the little groups. There was another person on the pier. A little woman - dressed in a tidy blue-gray suit, a neat blouse with ruffles in the front. She wore a bluegray felt hat which covered her already graying hair and which matched the suit. She stood by herself, away from the talking groups. It was my mother. She looked so forlorn insignificant in contrast to the gigantic coils of rope partly secured around massive bollards. She looked lost and forlorn compared with the immense black hull of the streamer, which looked dark and ominous above her, already a chasm that could not be bridged between the two worlds. Occasionally she called and her voice reached me faintly: “Good luck” she cried, “be good,” and dabbed her eyes with an embroidered handkerchief that she had pulled out from her sleeve. “Regards to Uncle Gus and Aunt Pauline” she called, “and don’t forget to get your board money from the purser.” All unimportant things which had been discussed a hundred times before but which were brought up again since there was nothing else you could say. Then a tremor ran through the ship. The sirens droned three deafening blasts. The groups of stevedores broke into bustling activity, clearing anchor tows and pushing down a canvas covered gangway which had been left there for last minute arrivals. Now all connections with the vessel and the land – the continent of Europe - had been severed, and slowly the SS Manhattan moved away from the pier. It was a matter of minutes until the ropes, the people, mother, and the arc lights became one blur of light, with lights from neighboring piers moving rapidly in on both sides, soon forming a solid row of lights which grew quickly dimmer and dimmer until they were swallowed by the darkness. The SS Manhattan had set her course, her bow heading West towards the promised land. The voyage, New York, the Greyhound Bus Lines, Scranton, Syracuse, Buffalo all skipped rapidly through the invisible projector of my mind, 15
leaving only blurred images on the screen of my memory, until the arrival in Cleveland slowed down the speed of my thoughts. Aunt Pauline was at the door when a timidly rang the bell. “Hello Darling,” she said in a whining, artificially affectionate voice, pressing her dry, lifeless lips on my cheek. “You should have got out in East Cleveland, dear. Julius has been waiting there for hours,” she stated with a note of resentment in her voice, showing both the inconvenience the arrival off a refugee caused her and the annoyance that her chauffeur was frittering away time for which he was paid, at the station. “How is Uncle Gus,” I asked, as I set down my suitcase in the foreroom. “Scht, Scht” Aunt Pauline said gravely, “he is a little indisposed today and I hope you will not cause him excitement. “I am sorry,” I mumbled bashed, “I hope I am not too much trouble. “Frankly, Uncle really shouldn’t be troubled with you,” Aunt Pauline said with a wicked smile which I came to know later only too well. “He has so many worries in his business and I warned him that the doctor said that excitement…” “Pauline, Pauline,” my Uncle’s voice could be heard suddenly, “did the boy arrive?” “Yes, Dear,” she called, “I’ll send him right up.” Then she turned to me: “I hope your shoes are clean; in America there are no servants to clean your shoes. People who cannot afford to have them shined must shine them themselves. “I might as well tell you right now,” she continued with a lecturing voice, “Don’t let me catch you making dirty finger-marks on my wall paper, and after this, please use always the back-stairs for the Persian rug on this staircase is very valuable and should be walked on too much.” During the latter part of this conversation we had walked upstairs and were now entering my Uncle’s bedroom. “Here is our boy,” she said beamingly, padding me on the shoulder, “I just told him how happy we are to have him with us.” “And lucky too,” my Uncle smiled, pressing my hand warmly. “Let’s forget all about Germany. You are now in America and you want to forget. All I want is that you will become a good American.” My Uncle. Whom I had never seen before, was a broad shouldered tall, kindly looking man. As he lay there he had a paradoxical expression of fondness and pride of having brought one of his kind to this great country. He immediately admonished me in the two things that he considered most important, namely, that a man should never tell a lie or sleep with a woman unless he intended to marry her. As these two points were 16
somewhat remote from my mind I could readily reassure him, just before I was ushered out of the room by Aunt Pauline who said benevolently: “Come Claude, dear. Uncle Gus must rest now.” Her voice changed again to the brisk cold business tone as she opened a door exclaiming that this was to be my room. “We keep the shade down all day to prevent the sun from bleaching the wall paper,” she said by way of explaining the semi-darkness in which I was to live the following weeks. “It is our guestroom and I hope you always keep it orderly and clean. Never lie on the bed, and before sitting on a chair you must cover it with a newspaper,” she said in a tone that gave me to understand that I was only tolerated in this room. The weeks that followed this first day were terrible. I was homesick and miserable, a condition aggravated by my aunt’s constant nagging and the senile, good-natured, but ineffective protest from my uncle. “Its women” he would tell me confidentially when we were alone,” you must humor them in America, and,” by way of explanation and justification, “I am just her guest – I have lost so much money during the depression. I went to school for a while as I did not have a job and to improve the “very, very poor English” I spoke according to Aunt Pauline’s evaluation. Though our way was the same and we both left the house at eightfifteen, Uncle Gus was always driven to work by Julius in an immense new Packard, while I was instructed to walk regardless of weather conditions. “It does the boy good to walk” Aunt Pauline would lecture Uncle Gus, who was trapped occasionally by her when waiting for me with Julius around the corner, “and I do not wish him to ride in my car.” Uncle Gus would then protest by gesticulating silently as if struggling for air, getting a very red face and stamp upstairs into his room, slamming the door in defiance. After such scenes Aunt Pauline would turn furiously upon me blaming me for breaking up their peaceful home and threatening to throw me out. The only peaceful moments I had during my stay in their hospital home were some hours spent with Margot and Julian in the kitchen, who listened to my tales of woe with sympathy and understanding, for theirs was not an easy lot with Aunt Pauline as their employer. I had finished packing the few belongings and defiantly snapped the locks of my suitcase. ‘Thank God this is over’ I thought as I deftly slid out the backdoor to freedom into a cold starry spring night. Cleveland 1938 CLAUDE P. BAMBERGER 17
First Impressions of America “Looking back over my life from the vantage point of my eighties,” Claude reflected, “so many people have come and gone that it is very difficult to call any one person my best friend. Friendship is as fickle as love, fluctuating and changing constantly, and friendships exist on many levels. Another important factor is the question of equality — most relationships are not necessarily equal. One person may care more than the other, all of which further complicates the selection of a best friend.
When it comes to Earl Rosenblum, whom I met in the elevator of a hotel in downtown Cleveland, Ohio, sometime in 1938, he certainly qualifies as “best friend” for at least some periods in my life — though I am still not sure whether he ever considered me a serious friend. Strangely, knowing Earl for some sixty years, I am not sure that he ever considered that anyone could be his friend. One evening in the fall of 1938, Earl offered me a ride home when we left a meeting of the Cleveland Ski Club. I was then renting a room with a refugee family in Cleveland Heights, which was on the way to Earl’s home in Shaker Heights, habitat of Cleveland’s wealthiest families. On the way we discovered that besides skiing Earl liked cycling, and I suggested that he join me on a bike trip the following Sunday. From then on, off and on over the next sixty years, Earl was part of my life one way or another. What impressed me most was that Earl, who came from an enormously rich family — owners of a department store in downtown Cleveland — disliked the material comforts inevitably a part of such a heritage. As a result he was forever at odds with his parents and relatives, who did not understand him. As an example of what an oddball he was, when his family offered him an executive position in his father’s department store, he opted to become a night watchman. Moreover, during the war he earned a high 19
commission in the navy but then resigned to enlist in the marines as an ordinary soldier, feeling he could not provide the leadership his position required. He came to New York whenever he had leave and it was then that he became part of our gang and joined us in cycling, canoeing, and skiing, which were our main activities during that period. Eventually he married Lisa Grad (a regular member of our Friday night folk dance group), got a job as a physicist with MIT, and raised a family. We saw less of him during that time, but periodically the family would spend some days with us at our house on Nantucket. Once or twice they even visited us in New Jersey. Still later in life, fed up with the demands made upon him by living in an urban society, he abruptly left his family and friends, bought a pick-up truck, and drove West, where he eventually bought forty acres of land in the redwoods some 150 miles north of San Francisco. It was then that we heard and saw even less of him, though on occasion there would be a letter telling us about the progress of the house he was building for himself on this land, which featured this metal wood-fed stove. Not until the mid 1980s did Earl actively resurface in our lives. On our urging he left his redwood retreat once a year and came East to Tenafly to visit us for a couple of weeks. During these prolonged visits we had ample time to renew a fading friendship and get to know each other in depth, and I marveled at how talented and unusual a person he was. His talents were not only physical (he repaired, improved, remodeled and fixed everything in our home that had failed to function since his previous visit), but also intellectual, his input proving invaluable in helping Mo-Li with her doctoral thesis. He also helped me solve business problems and edited many of my manuscripts, teaching me to become a better writer. This went on for about ten years, then Earl retreated once again into his shell. Holed up on his forty-acre hideaway in the redwoods and claiming he had gotten too old to travel, he could not be persuaded to continue his much-appreciated annual visits.” For his part, Earl, didn’t write much about his friendship with Claude, but assuming Claude’s voice with unerring wit, he once offered this loving appreciation of Claude:
“I’m too tired and I can’t work as fast. I still have a few things to do, but… There’s too little time (maybe only a couple or so decades), Yet I want to… Write some more, about several critical subjects, Write more about my past life, Write up some more stories, Say more about a number of subjects, Recover more of my family’s “stolen” artworks Keep all my newer and older friendships active, Make more new ones, Travel some more, to places previously visited And to new ones, Vacation at familiar and unfamiliar places, Keep up on my skiing, hiking, biking… Keep up on sports I’ve engaged in in the past or never, Climb more mountains, Hike to familiar and unfamiliar places, Win our lawsuit, Help keep our business going, or end it gracefully Renovate, finish, refinish Farview and our summer homes on Nantucket and in Westhampton, Complete, continue or start any number of other activities, projects, etc. So there ain’t enough time for everything, And this is the first day of the rest of my life!”
Earlier, in fact in 1942, Earl had written a more sober but equally sincere reference letter to the Chairman of the National Ski Patrol System urging him that, “because Claude has always displayed the utmost love for the U.S.A. and his completely democratic viewpoint allows him nothing but hatred for all things connected with 21
dictatorship, I am sure that if Claude Bamberger obtains an assignment to the mountain troops, he will, because of his particular abilities and interests in that field, be a valuable member of the U. S. Army.” The time would come when Claude and Mo-Li began to take in bad news about their friend, Earl. The messenger with the news was Earl’s daughter, Rosie, who, with her husband. Willie, would care for him with exquisite attention and every practical remedy possible over Earl’s declining years. In the beginning this meant travelling to Earl’s home again and again to fix up his place, sort out a regime for his medicines, and even get him to the hospital when he fell. Finally they got him to move in with them and renovated their home to accommodate him, build a handicapped-accessible and equipped bathroom for him off his room, and setting up a satellite TV set up for him. Still, the small strokes and ultimately dementia took their toll. Claude volunteered to send Rosie a VCR on the topic and some Scottish short bread that Earl liked. When it became more difficult to talk to Earl on the phone, Claude and Mo-Li would talk or correspond with Rosie, which Rosie described this way: “You know, I think this is really good therapy for me! I enjoy writing to you. Thanks for being a friend.” In the end Earl was moved to a hospice where he would die in 2004. Claude’s reflection afterward was to the point: “There is no way to tell what fate has in store for us, but it seems that life flows on; as one relationship wanes, another may be in the making.” And in this case that new relationship — that new friendship — would be with Rosie and Willie Bosco (above).
Claude introduces the Bill and Betty Green this way: “I count them among my very first friends after I set foot in the United States in January of 1938. I met Bill at a gathering of a handful of adventurous characters who were the founding fathers of what became twenty years later the very large and popular Cleveland Ski Club. 22
What was so remarkable about this group was their enthusiasm for something that really didn’t exist. Ohio, with its undulating farmland and pastures, is for the most part very flat, and its winters are largely without snow. In the late thirties, skiing was in its infancy, and in Ohio, without snow and without mountains, the ski activity was mainly restricted to raucous meetings in some German restaurant, where the group would gather to drink a lot of beer, sing songs, and make some faint attempts at yodeling. Nevertheless, there was some serious interest in organizing a ski trip of a primitive sort at a local golf course. Shortly after I met Bill Green, who was then interested in biking as well as skiing, he met Betty, who was a member of a bicycle club on Cleveland’s West Side. We hit it off well together from the very start. While this outdoor stuff was relatively new to Bill, Betty and some of their friends, it was very familiar to me from my Swiss camping days, and soon we became an inseparable group, meeting each weekend for long hikes, bike trips, and later on white-water kayaking — all sports virtually unknown in the Cleveland area.” Betty Green tells us more about their lives and about their relationship with Claude: “My Bill was an exotic welder who helped NASA put a man in space. I took a crash course in drafting at Case Western Reserve and got a job in the Engineering Dept. at NASA. In 1952 we organized and led our first ski trip to Aspen. In 1960 we formed an agency that we named High Adventure Tours. Between 1960 and 1970, while still with NASA, we helped organize and led charter ski tours for the Central Ski Association. In 1972 we left NASA and expanded our own tour agency. We took plane loads of skiers to the most famous European ski resorts. We’ve always gotten a great deal of satisfaction in planning tours eager, healthy for people who enjoy the out-of-doors —whether it’s hiking, backpacking, kayaking or skiing — to take them to places they have never been before. Highlights for us: skiing the glaciers on Mt. Blanc or to Zermatt in the shadow of the Matterhorn; helicopter skiing in British Columbia; all the exciting rivers we 23
kayaked; the years we skied at Vail; then bicycling through Ireland, England, France, Germany, Austria, Canada, Australia and all over the U.S. Claude introduced us to the Cleveland Orchestra and all the wonderful and fulfilling music that has been part of our lives ever since. Biking was our first outdoor activity together— our bikes piled high with gear heading out to southern Ohio, Indiana and all the Youth Hostels around Cleveland. He was usually the “Guide” whether it was biking, hiking, boating or skiing. And I still can remember him bringing his old folbot to Cook’s Forest for us to have. That was the start of all those wonderful trips on rivers and lakes in Michigan, New York, Pennsylvania, Maine, etc. And it was with Claude that we had adventures skiing many mountains and glaciers in Europe and at many resorts in the US. Nor can we forget our visits with him after he left Cleveland. Our first was to his apartment in New York, where we arrived at 2 a.m. after hitchhiking and riding a street car. Then came Long Island with his mother, Nantucket and even a summer house in Maine.”
“The first time I set eyes on the Burger family” Clause recalls, “was on a rainy Saturday night in October 1938 while working for as a delivery boy for Uberstein’s drugstore in Cleveland, Ohio. They had ordered some potatoes chips, cokes, toothpaste and a prescription all of which was usually delivered by the stores in those days. I had been hired only a month before, because I had a bicycle and agreed to work for a flat salary of $ 8.00 a week, waiving the right for payment of overtime at the based on the minimum wage of twenty five cents an hour according to the laws at that time. When I rang the Burgers’ doorbell, a very pretty 15 year-old girl opened the door, and when I said with my limited English, “Delivery from Uberstein,” she was apparently thrilled by my heavy German accent. She had a very shrill voice and yelled into the back of the house: “Daddy you got to come and see this,” as if I were an exotic animal in the zoo. Subsequently Mr. Burger, a small, gentle creature, appeared, took my packages, and recognizing my German accent asked me to come in. In 1938 German-Jewish refugees were still a novelty in the United States, and Jewish people were interested in getting some first-hand information about what was actually going on in Nazi Germany. I was asked into the living room and introduced to Mrs. Burger, who had never met a real German refugee. So I answered some questions about the persecution of Jews in Germany, of which I knew very little. Shirley, being totally disinterested in what was being said, would occasionally interrupt, 24
shrilling: “Daddy, isn’t he cute!” — a statement that would be followed by a pained silence. As I made regular deliveries to the Burger home during the following twelve months, I got to know Shirley much better. Although considerably less interested in Milford, her 12 year-old brother (r. with Shirley), I learned from his most recent letter to me that he, in fact, found me quite interesting. He said: “Now you and Shirley may remember things differently, but I can only speak of my own recollections. As I try to look back to a time more than sixty years ago, I remember meeting you on Glenmont Road in our neighborhood one day in summer on your unusual light-weight-looking bike with its skinny tires. You seemed to be going from house to house, probably trying to sell something. A ny w ay, C l a u d e , a t that point in time this was probably the first contact you had with the Burger family. Given your now-well-known enthusiasm and personal interest in people, we struck up a relationship right on the street. And if memory serves me, I led you to my house to try to sell something like raspberry syrup (?) to my mother. From this meeting it seems to me you quickly discovered I was a tennis enthusiast and also a bike rider on my heavy Roadmaster with fat tires. Cleverly putting two and two together, in no time you arranged sunrise games of tennis at Cumberland Park. And you even went so far as to let me use one of your bikes for an overnight bike hike with you as the leader and head chef — a memorable experience for a young impressionable boy. And so you charmed yourself into the Burger household, where as luck would have it, father Sam Burger discovered he needed someone with energy and quick intelligence to help him in his hat manufacturing business. Fortunately for you, you knew there was a much bigger world out there, outside the hat factory, and so you left us for the East Coast a little while before I left for the Navy and WWII.
Now, having rediscovered you six or seven years ago, I find it really interesting to compare my impression of the young Claude I knew those sixty-some years ago with the man I met in Tenafly again. What’s really interesting is that the essence of you, in my mind, had not changed one bit over those years. I saw the same enthusiasm, intelligence, energy, and deep interest in people that was my memory of you as a young man. You’re now worldly — wise and traveled but still keeping the innocence of that youth.”
Jim Wattenmaker, when he wasn’t skiing, hiking and “wandering the world,” created and ran an advertising agency while his wife Bev, after a long teaching career, founded something called Adventures in Real Communication which set up Homestay experiences for international students coming here and American students going abroad. Son Jeff made it big in Silicon Valley and his wife, Pam, makes spectacular sculpture constructs. Daughter Karen is a nature photographer with forest fires as a specialty and her man Steve, besides running a huge chunk of the U.S. arctic program, is a mountain guide and pilot. The beat goes on. Jim writes of his friend Claude, “ The challenges of Claudian friendship have been memorable if not always comfortable. They have always ended with that ingenuous smile of his that says, ‘That wasn’t exactly the way I remembered it’ or ‘You knew starting out that I am always for adventure; look how much fun you’ll have talking about this near disaster.’ Each of the adventures that follow started routinely with ‘Come’ and sooner or later turned into successful survival tests with disaster narrowly averted. (This 26
approach to life seems to relate to Claude’s business career as well, as he tells it.) Davos, Switzerland — ‘Come.’ We climb to the Rosen Hutte. Do we have a map? ‘No, I have been there many times.’ How long will it take? ‘Only an hour up, less down.’ Two hours later, we find the hut. We enjoy a non-view in the fog and start down. We seem to have lost our way, weaving through dense forest on our skis, a slight variation on the wonderful downhill run I had been promised. Three hours later we are still winding through the trees, and six hours after our start we arrive at a road — nowhere near where we had expected to be. We finally hitch a ride back to town where we regale the gathering crowd with stories of our exploit. Near Pearl Pass, well above Ashcroft, Colorado — ‘Come.’ We climb the Backyard Slope (this after a climb from 7000’ to 9000’ that left all but two of us ready for rest; they would just watch.) Do you know where we go? ‘No, but Otto Schneibs says it is the best skiing’. We go, zigzagging our way upward in full view of the spectators. It is beautiful, and I ignore my nagging doubts about the snow conditions. We enjoy the view, start down — through serious breakable crust. We zigzag/kickturn our way down. Fortunately our way is clearly visible before us. Unfortunately we are also clearly visible to our waiting companions. Our one-hour relaxed outing has turned into a 3-hour survival test. Pontresina, Switzerland — We arrive in a pea-soup fog on only my second Alpine ski trip. I have no fear because I am in good hands. By midafternoon the soup gets even thicker. We can barely see the street from our comfortably elegant hotel room. ‘Come.’ Where are we going? ‘We ski the Diavolezza.’ Are you sure? ‘Sure, I know this mountain.’ We find the lift; it’s operating. We pass the first tower, see nothing. We reach the top, see even less. We cannot see from one big orange marker to the next but somehow tell down from up. My guide stops at the edge of an unmarked precipice, by accident I’m sure. I realize that the Swiss idea of mountain safety is different than the American. We survive to tell the tale. 27
The Hudson River, upstate New York (on this adventure Bill Green gets equal credit). Our small flotilla of folbots starts out happily after our leaders have inspected the water level marks. The current is swift, the first few hundred yards are beautiful. Suddenly, an impenetrable rock maze looms in front of us. The rocks — inexplicably say our guides — are higher than the water. We hear screams and the sounds of Folbot ribs cracking like the Fourth of July. All but the few stragglers who had been warned demolish their boats and soak everything they own. We pull our boats out, spend days drying out, enjoy our riverside camp-out and return home. We survive and return to try with rubber rafts the following year. Submitted here while still (amazingly) in command of all my limbs and most of my mind but with the proviso that I do not have to take another ski lesson from Claude Bamberger or follow the Claudian dress code!” Jim even came up with an elegant (and large!) certificate of membership in the ‘hardly exclusive Claudian Survival Society’. It certifies that the person has survived at least two verified Claudian experiences and thereby is entitled to all rights and privileges, including the right to remain silent in the face of repeated importunings to participate in still another Claudian adventure. Mo-Li is identified as the Society’s President!
Lois Aaron begins, “My memories of Claude span 60 years and arouse two extremes of emotion: the lesser is that of discomfort while engaging in many outdoor activities with my husband, Chuck Aaron, and his “legendary” friend Claude when they were among the founding members of the Cleveland Ski Club. In those early days, the Ski Club activities were primarily at rigged-up rope tows at a local country club, or in a farmyard in Kirtland which had occasional drifts of snow and persistent cow pancakes. But the Club also had a program for getting into condition, run mostly by Claude, who with great gusto led hikes, bike trips, and expeditions to Allegheny State Park, for “real” skiing! So a fraction of my early memories involve discomfort and wetness. (I was not an avid athlete, as you can tell, but I did have a fondness for boys who were.) I recall a rainy, early a.m. cycle across Cleveland to the west side home of Betty and Bill Green, and a further ride (or did we get a lift from a truck driver?) to the port of Sandusky, where we got on a ferry to Kelly’s Island for a damp night of camping out (sans tent). 28
A few years later, when Chuck was serving in the army at Aberdeen, Maryland, Claude visited us, and we had another bike ride, interrupted by a surprise snowstorm. But hey, we were young and carefree, deeply appreciating that, by the luck of the draw, these men were not clawing their way up the Italian peninsula or storming the beaches at Iwo Jima. A little wet snow was inconsequential. Then there was sailing with a confident Claude near Rehoboth Beach; when halfway out on the ocean, he confessed that he hadn’t manned a boat since his school days in Germany. But the stronger and more persistent memory of Claude is one of warmth and hospitality, a constant that has remained through the decades, in many different locales. He so enjoys being a host, overwhelming his friends with good food and Gemutlichkeit. (I cannot give him all the credit for his capacity for friendship; he was fortunate to have had a wonderful “Mutti,” whom I was lucky enough to know.) I first met Claude shortly before my marriage, when Chuck and I walked out to Coventry Road to visit a friend of his who had escaped from Hitler’s Germany and was working nearby (either at Uberstein’s drugstore down the street or for Mr. ’s felt hats factory. I remember sitting with Chuck on a huge bed in a little room, Claude serving us tea and delicious pastries from Newmark’s bakery. After the war, when he had moved to New York, he introduced us to our first coffee house (Greenwich Village?), hosted us at the ground-floor flat he and Kathy had in Brooklyn Heights, and put us on the plane for our first trip to Europe. 29
Later there were visits to Nantucket, where we had wonderful feasts on the beach — one fabulous clambake, which he and Chuck managed together, with clams and lobsters and corn, and lots of little kids running around, ours and his and those of many friends. I recall that Stephan was about three at the time. When we bought an inn in New Hampshire he visited several times; one year he arrived in November, our off season, with a charming young woman from Malaysia whom we instantly fell in love with. And even there in our own home they provided hospitality, doing the shopping and chopping and cooking for a sumptuous Chinese feast. Another memory is of driving through New Jersey on our way to Washington, arriving at the Bambergers’ home for a real banquet, our first experience of roast suckling pig with an apple in its mouth. When Chuck died in 1978, Claude and Mo-Li drove up for the memorial service in New London, first stocking up at Zabar’s on the way in case the mourners didn’t have enough to eat. But more importantly, at the service Claude spoke spontaneously and sincerely about his friendship with Chuck.” Claude then responded in kind to her warm thoughts: “I consider Lois a lifetime friend, although we rarely see each other. When we do meet, a very friendly rapport is established immediately, as if we had seen each other only the day before, not months or even years earlier. Lois is accurate in describing the beginning of a lifetime friendship, first with her husband, my friend Chuck, and later with her in her own right. Both Chuck and Lois were what one would describe as “characters” — very unusual people. Chuck worked first as a life insurance salesman (he talked me into buying insurance I could ill afford at the time) and later in the family envelope business, which he found very boring, but all his life he had the ambition to get into the ski business somehow, and as I shared his feelings he came to me with all kinds of proposals, all involving investments of money, which neither of us had. The most notable event was when one day he called me excitedly, to say that the old Hotel Jerome in Aspen, Colorado, had been offered to him at a bargain price. That was before Aspen became the world famous resort it is today. That was one of the many opportunities I missed in my life. Ultimately Chuck and Lois reached their lifetime goal by actually buying an inn in New Hampshire. The upkeep, yearly maintenance, and constant anxiety about the weather almost killed both of them. However, the story had a happy ending when after a number of years they sold the inn at an enormously appreciated price. 30
Lois was always a warm, intelligent person, always interested in whatever subject was at hand and interesting in her often different approaches and opinions. She has always been supportive in the ups and downs of my life and I valued her friendship greatly.”
Friendship has a good memory.
We Were There From the Beginning Sue Loebl was born Suzanne Helene Bamberger in Hanover, Germany on May 14,1925. Her father, Hugo, was Claude’s uncle. She married Ernest Moshe Loebl in 1950. Ernest now is Professor Emeritus of Physical Chemistry, Polytechnic University of New York (Brooklyn Poly). Two children, Judith and David were born to them; David, “her best friend,” was taken away by AIDS in 1994. Her book, The Mothers’ Club: Of Love-Loss and AIDS, tells that story mightily. Her first book, Fighting the Unseen - The Story of Viruses, was published in 1967. Among her favorite subsequent publications are: The Nurses Drug Handbook (sold 350,000 copies in seven editions); At the Mercy of Strangers: Growing Up on the Edge of the Holocaust; and America’s Art Museums: A Travelers Guide to Great Collections Large and Small. She turns her writing skill to use when she describes her relationship with Claude: “Claude, I obviously can’t remember life without you being there. My earliest memories are thus tales of the times when ... ♦ You crept through the banisters in your house in Lichtenfels and Jetta and Kuni rescued you before you jumped. ♦ I visited in Lichtenfels for recuperation after my ear operation (I was not yet three). Allegedly I was a most peaceful creature, except when cousin Annegret showed up. I wildly tore at her hair, a youthful version of female competition for our beloved male cousin. ♦ Later you and your friends invited me to watch you shower, my first glimpse of male anatomy. ♦ Then there were the hikes around Lichtenfels — the time you made us cover our heads and arms before entering Vierzehn Heilingen, the electric railroad set up in the attic, the famous Schutzenfest. ♦ I remember you and Ruth visiting in Hanover on your way to and from Juist, and you discussing with your sister the hygienics of picking up food and eating it from the floor of the railroad carriage. ♦ Before leaving Germany we all met in Titisee, where you tried to show me the sunrise. (It was cloudy. You stayed in bed and I wandered through the hotel lobby at 5 a.m.) You also took me and Gaby boating in a boat with a hole. You went off swimming and flirting and we kept bailing. Obviously all of us survived. 33
♦ I remember our arrival in New York. Soon thereafter you took me hitchhiking and hiking in the White Mountains. We traveled to White River Junction in the baggage compartment during the night, and you managed to sleep peacefully on top of the roaring wheels. Then, of course, you set out racing up the mountains — we spent the first night at Craig Camp, me painfully tagging along after your strong steps. We met Gerald on that trip and I explained to an amused audience about the “blisters on my teeth” (toes) and my fear of “beers.” Eventually we met up with the Greens, Earl, and Lisa and the pace slowed down. ♦ I remember spending every X-mas eve with you in Bellerose. Once you picked us up in your ancient coupe called Clementine. You got a ticket. ♦ We went folk dancing together, and I was there when you met Kathy. ♦ There were canoe trips and hikes with your numerous friends: Bob and Lenore, Jack and his two Lenores, other Suhls… ♦ A few years later, again with Earl and Lisa, we went together on your honeymoon in Canada. That trip actually turned into Ernest’s and my honeymoon. ♦ I remember a visit to Nantucket when Stephan was 12 weeks old. The next summer we met in Maine with your mutti, Ruth, and Emil. We ran into our cousin Rudy and his wife, Lotte, whom we had not seen in years. ♦ There was another trip to Nantucket after your separation and your heart attack, and then that wonderful day trip to the island in Bob K’s plane, when you wanted to look at the lot you had purchased. ♦ Then Mo-Li came into your life. I remember our long talks at the beginning of your romance, and finally her arrival and us welcoming 34
her into our family. I remember your small apartment overlooking the Palisades, the beautiful vanity you had made for her, and of course your lovely wedding. ♦ And I watched as your beautiful relationship with Mo-Li grew stronger over the years. ♦ Then there were our mothers, of whom we took good care and who had their own problems, almost enmity — and the strain that imposed on you and me. ♦ I remember you giving David a summer job — I was especially grateful for that after he died — and the presents you brought back from the Orient. I still have the sari and a blue raw-silk dress, though I do not wear them any longer. ♦ I remember our many nice dinners: at Union Square Café, a Greek restaurant, a French restaurant, and how therapeutic they were for both of us. I remember my pleasure and pride at you being monetarily comfortable. But I remember, too, the hard parts.” Claude felt the full force of this affection and his reaction isn’t surprising: “We have been friends for more than 70 years and she documents the highlights of our relation very well. Over the years she has been a good companion to me as I have been to her, and we have enjoyed a close relationship.”
Charlotte Gysler was born the same year as Claude, but in New Jersey. She worked for McCall’s designing children’s clothes and later for Women’s Day magazine. She would marry Otto Giesler in 1949 and that was the ‘Claude’ connection. As she tells it, “Claude and Otto met in their early teens when they were both attending a commercial school in Neuchatel, Switzerland. One of their many escapades was to bicycle many kilometers in the countryside and gorge themselves on a farmer’s irresistible stolen cherries. Another was to bicycle 10-12 kilometers up the mountains to the small village of Valagin,” to eat gateaux au beurre at Mr. Webber’s. A close description of the dish would be a huge, ultra thin crepe with melted butter and salt. Accompanied with Neuchatel vin blanc of course, or, heaven forbid, tea. Valagin is still a must whenever Claude is in the district. Even today, it is a word synonymous with Claude and Otto for our children.” 35
Naturally the escapades continued when Claude and Otto met again in New York. Charlotte continues, “Remember the winter of 1947-1948? Claude, who was never one to waste weekends, decided to form a NYC Alpine Ski Club. His fee for the weekend: ‘Bend your knees — $200 dollars, please’ (not really), but it was fun. Actually, I don’t remember much about the skiing, but I do remember Claude running out in the cold snowy night in his red long johns to direct the late comers at the lodge. Otto, my sister, and I were among them. Claude advertised his old friend Otto as a ‘genuine Swiss ski instructor.’ Moneywise, I think Claude broke even, but that wasn’t the point; it was his chance to ski with old friends and new.” Charlotte and Otto returned to Switzerland. He, as a buyer of raw cotton, would traverse the world, and she treasured their travels together. She also takes pride in seeing two elegant homes she designed successfully materialize, one in Spain and one in Vervier, Switzerland. Otto ‘went to sleep’ in 1990. “He cherished Claude’s loyal friendship,” she writes, “but I too cherish Claude’s and Mo-Li’s loyal friendship. They are rare and beautiful.”
Claude describes the beginnings of his friendship with Renate Samelson this way: “Who would believe it! I first met Renate when I was a freshman in 1930 at the Schule am Meer, a very special educational institution on the remote island of Juist in the North Sea. “Nati” — as she was called by everyone — was the eldest of four daughters of Dr. Reiner and his wife, Anni, directors of the school. Since Nati was four years older than I was then and already an elder in the hierarchy of the school, I had little in common with her. Actually my relationship was with her then youngest sister, Ruthli (lower right, with Nati, center, and sister Eva), who was a classmate of mine and of whom I was very fond.
Later in 1933 with the rise of the Nazi regime in Germany the school had to close, and the students, who were a close-knit community, scattered all over the world. We kept in touch with our peers as much as possible, and it was not until a few years later when I was invited by my friend Ruthli to their summer house in Brissago on idyllic Lago Maggiore in Switzerland, that I got to know Nati better. Again, after a lapse of time when I emigrated to the USA, I learned from Nati — who meanwhile had married a university professor and also lived in the United States — of Ruthli’s tragic death by drowning. Nati was then my only link to the Reiner family, who lived in far away Switzerland. She thus became a friend. The Samelsons moved around a good deal from one university to another, and we kept in touch by correspondence and an occasional visit as circumstances permitted. Once when I had a weekend pass while I was a rookie soldier stationed in Camp Hale, Colorado, I hitchhiked
700 miles to visit Nati and her husband, Hans (above), who was then working in Laramie at the University of Wyoming, just to spend a few hours with them. Nati always represented for me ‘home’ and my puppy love for her younger sister.” Life took Nati eventually to Ann Arbor, Michigan, where she became a physical therapist and continued offering massages even after retirement. She had trained for that in Sweden, fifty years before, and was delighted to revisit it (and Russia) on a North Cape Cruise with her son, Peter (right). 37
Peter, a professional magician and entertainer also performed on the trip. Needless to say, they included a side trip to the island of Juist. Because of age and health limitations Claude and Renate saw each other perhaps only once a year but kept in touch by phone and mail. However, when they did meet both of them knew they were truly good friends and thoroughly enjoyed each other’s company.” Nati signed her letters to Claude, “Your longtime friend.”
Claude wanted to let an article in the Hamburger Zeitung, Feb, 1990 introduce another classmate of his from Juist. “Her presence fills the auditorium! Even when silent, Maria Becker calls herself A Radical Individualist, a rarity in our time, where reproductions and copies are often taken as more important than the original. Today, the theater buffs of Hamburg can see Becker in Ghosts Karl Parylas production. With good intention the critics call Maria the last great actress of tragedies of the German stage. But this is not true. Ms. Becker never consented to or agreed with this title, as she also represents light comedy as well as roles of lighter fare. In short, the love all type of theatre has been her steady companion. The aura her presence inspires is certainly not restricted. Whoever knows Maria Becker personally — over a glass of Chianti, for instance, with a plate of simple pasta al’oglio, will know how pleasant it is to be with her and how her open, natural way is outright hypnotic. Maria was born in 1920, daughter of the then famous actor Theodor Becker and her equally famous mother, the actress Maria Fein. In 1930 went to Martin Luserke’s Freie Schule am Meer on the island of Juist in the North Sea. The curriculum of this unusual school specialized in music and primarily in the performing arts. Martin Luserke, the director of the school, was a playwright and writer in his own right. Besides producing unusual Shakespeare productions in the large building which he especially designed for performing arts, he wrote plays of his own, keeping in mind who of the small student body would play which role. He recognized Maria’s dramatic talent which Maria was only one year old and created some roles especially for her. With the rise of the Nazi regime in 1933 this liberal arts school fell on hard times and eventually closed its doors. Maria opted for an acting career and left Juist to study with the Reinhardt-Seminar in Wien. Forced by the annexation of Austria (Anschluss) by Hitler’s Germany, the 19 year 38
old Maria Becker fled to London, where as a German speaking actress there was little opportunity for her career. Shortly thereafter she was able to get a contract with the well known Zuricher Schauspiel Haus, which with a few gaps became essentially her base until 1956. At that time she and her husband, actor Robert Freitag, together with Will Quadflieg founded the Zuricher Schauspiel Gruppe, which performed not only in German spoken regions but also in Canada, USA, Belgium and Holland.” When it comes to celebrating her relation with Claude, Maria Becker calls it Pieces of Memory. Her account has all the graceful movement from place to place, and from topic to topic, we would expect from a star.
“Never had I seen a shallow wicker-plated small basket used to bring roses you cut in the garden into the house where they were arranged in vases. I was fourteen years old in 1934 and the Nazis already ruled Germany and Mrs. Bamberger, Claude’s mother had invited me for the holidays to her beautiful house in Lichtenfels. Claude’s uncle, a friendly, somewhat portly gentleman with horn rimmed glasses and a chic Merced convertible picked me up in Berlin and drove with me across Germany to Lichtenfels. We stopped, I believe, in Mannheim and looked at the cathedral. I still 39
remember the spectacular statues, especially a tall, happily smiling angel. The trip is only piecewise in my memory but I still remember the weather was beautiful, most of the streets were dirt roads and there was practically no traffic. Nothing like today. Claude’s mother received us in Lichtenfels with wonderful food and showed me to my cozy room. I was especially impressed by the miraculously beautiful garden. Ruth was not there and Claude was in boarding school in Switzerland. I believe it was called Rosenberg. Mrs. Bamberger was a good-looking very active woman although deeply overshadowed by the death of her original and talented husband. I still see him standing on the beach in Juist, when he came to visit his children Ruth and Klaus. I noticed that he was not dressed like most businessmen. He was wearing a black suit, a shirt without tie, with a kind of band around the collar and a black hat with a wide brim. His wife suffered very much under his untimely passing and I had the feeling that it was agreeable for her to have me as a companion. We made short trips in her Mercedes; she had learned to drive only recently, and tried to be especially cautious. At home, she put the roses, which she cut every morning in her garden, in the wicker basket and then arranged them in beautiful vases. Everything in the house was beautiful and tasteful, and nicely kept and there was a sweet gemütliche housekeeper who cooked deliciously. Her name was Kuni — a kind of person whom you cannot find anymore today. I don’t remember how long I was alone with Claude’s mother until he arrived from his Swiss boarding school. The first thing he noticed with disappointment was that I could not ride a bicycle. He started immediately to teach me with great patience how to do it and dragged me, as soon as I could keep my balance sufficiently, on long biking tours. It was a physically painful but emotionally uplifting experience. We rode to the nearby magnificent cathedral of the Convent of Fourteen Saints (Vierzehn Heiligen) to Castle Banz all uphill from Lichtenfels but rewarding once we reached our goal. Klaus now thought I was ready to seek further frontiers and decided on a trip to Nurenberg, some 100 odd kilometers from Lichtenfels, where we stayed with his relatives. On the way we went to a public swimming pool. Huge billboards were fastened over the entrances inscribed Juden ist der Eintritt verboten (Jews are forbidden to enter) Klaus went in without batting an eyelid and I followed rather meekly. ‘Nobody will notice,” he said. While I don’t remember much of that trip, I do remember that I had a totally spoilt stomach and could not eat anything. 40
Klaus insisted that we look at the medieval town, bicycling steep, cobble-stoned streets by bicycle, no easy feat for me — a novice cyclist feeling deathly ill with a stomach virus. Nevertheless I was impressed with the, narrow and fairy tale ancient alleys and courtyards everything preserved as if time had stopped. With the advent of World War II, all that was reduced to rubble; in one night this memorial of another time has been an unredeemable loss. I remember very well the visits of a sculptress, a friend of the family. Her name was Lerche. I still see the magnificent courtyard, the steep wooden stairs and the apartment in the medieval house or castle in which we sat and were hosted with opulent coffee and cake. Everything was much more beautiful and quieter than today, less traffic, no airplanes no tourists and no asphalt. You hardly noticed the Nazis, here and there SA-men, rarely a small troop of Hitler Jugend. One could, as many did, unfortunately think yourself secure, believing everything would disappear one day as it had come. The terrible war to come was not felt yet, lthough I personally suffered under a latent panic and never could get rid of the feeling of a constant insecurity. When we were even younger, Claude and I were at the Schule am Meer (School by the Sea) where I spent the happiest three years of my life. We lived in the house of the little ones which was New Foundland and which was managed with great energy. by Freulein Neumann. Saturdays there was hot water for our showers, a luxury in which we could not indulge during the week. We had to stand under the shower and soap ourselves under icy water, winter and summer at seven o’clock in the morning. But Saturdays we sat warmly showered all together in one room and Freulein Neumann cut our feet and finger nails. There was Claude, curly haired
(that’s how I remember him) and always full of life and funny. How we became such friends I don’t remember, because I always thought he was so much younger than I. After my vacations in Lichtenfels, the Bambergers went to the U.S.A. But we wrote to each other from time to time. After the war when I came as a guest of the Schiller Theater to New York we saw each other again after a long time. Mutti Bamberger was older but unchanged and Claude was married to Mo-Li. Since then we still see each other, but regrettably not often enough. Yet the childhood friendship has kept to this day. Those are pieces of memory which still stay in my head, but all the same they are vividly alive. It was a pleasure to take them out and leaf through them.”
Another childhood friend of Claude’s is Irmgard Salb (nee Brutting). She and Claude were six when the political times were turning grim and the school was disbanded. Her memories of Claude are positively adoring, possibly because he proposed marriage to her! Wiser minds decided otherwise and it would not be until 70 years later (left)that they would meet again and keep in touch ever after. In his book, “Breaking the Mold” Claude described how he and Irmgard discovered each other 70 years later! He wrote, “In Irmgard’s case, a miracle happened. While vacationing on a Caribbean island, we befriended Rainer Schwartz, a retired German Wehrmach General and his wife Ruth. We told them the story of the picture of Ruth (my sister) which I had described in my Art Book in 1989. Rainer, six years my senior and the same age as my sister, told me that he had gone to High School in Bamberg and that is where he went each year for a class reunion of those fellow students who were still alive.” It was during one class reunion that Rainer Schwartz learnt that Irmgard Brutting was a younger sister of one of his classmates. Soon after, Claude received a war letter from Irmgard, now Frau Dr. Hans Salb and a grandmother of many. As Claude was about to attend a plastics exhibition in Germany, they agreed to meet in Munich in 1995. In his letter to Irmgard, Claude recalled, “Of course I have not forgiven you for jilting me. You may recall that we were “engaged to be married” under the beech tree in your garden, and the next thing I knew, you disappeared from my life and moved to the end of the world.” 42
Irmgard promptly responded as follows, ‘Klaus, you are all wrong. I remember the episode very well. The engagement took place in the willow warehouse of your father’s business, in which we liked to jump around, using the willow reeds as a sort of trampoline. At one point, you suddenly stopped jumping and said, “Irmgard, I must talk to you, we must get married.” I was all shaken up and said immediately, “Klaus, that’s impossible because I am Catholic. But undaunted, you replied, “I know it’s all right , I have discussed it with my father and he said it is OK.” At that moment, I didn’t know how to reply. All I remember was that marriage was something ‘forever’; it has also to do something with priests, altars, churches and I wanted no part of that.”
We were unable to arrange a meeting. Irmgard lived in Hamburg in the north and my meeting place was in Munich in the south, clear across Germany. However when,one day in Munich, I entered the lobby of my hotel, I was greeted with a big smile from a very good looking ‘elderly’ lady who threw her arms around me and said, ‘Da bist Du es jetzt.’ (Here you are). ‘Who are you?’ I replied, puzzled. Then she said, ‘I am Irmgard,’ and so, after a seventy year interval, we were reunited once again.”
“I was very touched,” Claude writes, “ when, among the many letters I received, was one from a distant cousin whom I had not seen in more than 43
55 years, but who had kept in touch with me through periodic year-end reports about his life and family. As the reader can see from his letters, Phil went through an enormous amount of trouble to give some background information about my mother’s side of the family, a chronicle that otherwise none of my descendants would ever have known, as many of the Wolff side of my family have died — and the few people who are left are neither interested in nor or even capable of reconstructing the past. Therefore, Phil’s contribution to this book is of particular interest and value. Phil Jr. is the son of Phil Lee Blumenthal (1889-1964), a first cousin of my mother. My mother and Phil Sr. had the same grandparents, who lived in Schwaebisch Hall, Wurttemberg, Germany. Their daughter, Minnie, and son, Aaron, emigrated to the U.S.A. Minnie married Bernhard Blumenthal in 1866 and gave birth to their son Phil Lee a few years later. Phil Lee, father of Phil Blumenthal, Jr., was a chemist and lived in Buffalo, N.Y. before early retirement to Louisville, KY. With the Nazi regime on the rise, two months before the famous Kristallnacht in November 1938, my mother — the famous Mutti — took the midnight advice of a minor official in our home town, Lichtenfels, Bavaria, who had some inside information about what was in store for the Jewish residents of Lichtenfels. She fled, from one night to the next, leaving behind her home, her garden, her business, and my father’s valuable art collection in short, the possessions accumulated during a lifetime. All she had with her was one suitcase, the legally allowed limit of one hundred marks (the equivalent of $25 by the exchange rate of that time), and a valid passport. Upon arrival in New York she found shelter for a few days with some distant relatives, but she had no idea what to do next. I, Claude, was working as a delivery boy for a drugstore in Cleveland, Ohio, earning about $7 for a 50-hour week, sometimes $8 if I was lucky enough to get a tip here and there. I could be of no help. My sister, Ruth, was an au pair living with a family in England, Mutti’s brother, Leo, and his family were living in Paris, France, and the rest of the family had stayed behind in Germany. Mutti knew she had a cousin, Phil Blumenthal, living in Louisville, Kentucky. From her childhood she remembered him visiting Schwabisch-Hall in 1901 to see his family. He was much older than she, and all she remembered was that this cousin had come from distant Kentucky, in America, which to her mind was inhabited only by cowboys and Indians. In fact, she remembered asking him where he kept his gun. Now, virtually destitute, stranded in New York, Mutti put a phone call through to her cousin Phil, ostensibly to get his advice about what to do. She found out that his aging mother-in-law, who had taken over 44
managing his household with two young children when his wife died, could no longer handle the chore and Phil needed someone to help him raise his children. He suggested that Mutti should take this job, which seemed to her a perfect temporary solution to her problem. For the following four years my mother took care of her cousin’s household and helped to raise Phil Jr. and his little sister, Julie. Only after they were in high school did she leave to join me in Cleveland, where I had remained, withstanding constant pressure from the family to move to Louisville. To me, Louisville was still the Wild West of my mother’s childhood memories, while Cleveland appeared to be modern and civilized. Eventually, Mutti’s move to Louisville resulted in the entire Wolff side of my family settling there. Soon after Mutti’s move, my sister, Ruth, followed; she remained in Louisville, where she became a prominent resident of the Jewish community, until she died in the 1980s. My mother’s younger sisters, Lina and Ilse, followed in 1941, and finally my grandmother Therese managed to get there via Tripoli in 1942. All of them had been fortunate to obtain American visas, with the help of affidavits from Phil Sr. I should have mentioned above that not all of the Wolffs are out of touch. I recently received a warm note from Lucian and Christina Wolff in Bonn, Germany. “The love you gave to your friends and your fantastic ability to make all different kinds of people around you feel accepted and at ease are both expressions of your extensive love of life. You show us that happiness can simply mean to enjoy and be with human beings, with all their possibilities and also with all their limitations. This is a great and wonderful sign of hope. Du bist ein echter LebensKunstler (a true artist at life) und wir lieben Dich.”
One word describes the curriculum vitae of Claude’s cousin, Herbert Loebl, and that word is ‘innumerable’ — innumerable academic degrees and lectureships, memberships in professional institutions, businesses founded, public activities that revolutionized the Northern region of England, awards like the OBE and the Cross of the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of his native Germany, and an intense list of publications along the way. Herbert writes: “It is one of the regrets of my life, that I have known you and Mo-Li only these last ten years. Had you responded to my first letter of 1988, instead of contemptuously consigning it to the waste paper bin with the words “another genealogy nut”, it could have been eleven and a half! So you deprived me of 18 months of a wonderful friendship. 45
However, you have more than made up for it. Not only by the incomparable kindness you have shown me, but also — perhaps even more — by “catching” my interest in family research. Don’t they say “imitation is the greatest form of flattery?” And I know that it has given you great satisfaction to rediscover the life of your ancestors, parents and cousins. Anyhow, it is now in print and forever, particularly if you deposit copies in some archives, for example the Leo Baeck Institute in New York and the Lichtenfels town archive. The latter should also have copies of your other books, the fruits of many years of work, which are important records not only of your and your family’s lives and work, but of the turbulent, indeed cruelly violent times you and we have lived through.
Personally, I have had a number of unexpected bonuses from my family research, not least because I met many unusual, interesting and friendly cousins. But none have embellished my life more than you and Mo-Li.! And now that I mentioned Mo-Li again, I can say without fear of contradiction, that the greatest achievement of your life was to secure the love of such a beautiful, warm-hearted, clever and competent woman. She has made you the envy of all your friends. And while these lines are intended to celebrate your birthday, it would be unthinkable to leave her out of this paean, since she surely helped you to reach this day. You tell me that you suffer from some of the usual ailments associated with advancing youth, But outwardly, at least, I have noted no change these last ten years. Above all, your unmatched humor has not diminished by an iota, nor the extent of your thoughtful hospitality, nor your enjoyment of the good things in life — you do not even mind the hassle associated with going to the theatre in New York. You still collect me by car from Stamford, Connecticut and until recently, at least, you were still skiing and did more 46
travelling than most people half your age. May you long continue with some of these activities until 120, as we Jews say. I raise my glass to you.”
Meinhard Meisenbach reminisces with Claude: “I think it was in 1923 when your and my parents met for the first time. You were two or three years old then —- and I was not yet born. Our parents must have soon taken a mutual liking. I conclude this from the dedication in the book your parents gave to my father as a birthday present in 1930. The dedication went like this: ‘There have always been stereotyped phrases and expressions, and many people are fond of them. Among real friends, however, they aren’t valued highly.’ (Because they don’t need them.) As our parents lived in different cities I can only guess what it was that brought about their friendship: our parents, especially your father and mine, were connoisseurs of the arts. Anton Rauh (1891-1977), a well-known Bamberg painter and, since 1920, also an art dealer, had organized about 60 arts exhibitions in Bamberg between 1920 and 1933. In 1922 Rauh and his friends, the painters Otto Boveri (1868-1946) and Josef Albert Benkert (1900-1960), organized a widely regarded exhibition of expressionist art. Maybe it was on that occasion or at a meeting of the Kunstverein ‘Samberg or the Verein fur Graphische Kunstfreunde where your and my parents got to know each other and eventually formed a lasting friendship. The two couples saw each other frequently; this is why you, dear Klaus, must have got to know me. But since I was a baby then (I’m four years younger than you) I wasn’t of great interest to you, let alone a playmate, I’m afraid. I myself have no recollections whatsoever of our first such meetings. There was, however, a funny incident that must have happened in 1929 or 1930. I know of it because my mother Brigitte and Meinhard Meisenbach 47
told me about it: One day, my parents were going to visit your parents in Lichtenfels, and I saw a cheesecake already cut into wedges, ready to be taken to Lichtenfels as a present. I secretly snatched it and devoured it, leaving only five wedges for my grandma, my parents, for my younger brother and for the housemaid. I had my fill of cheesecake so that I couldn’t move or say much and was benevolently praised by everybody as a good boy. Although I obviously was able to count to five at that time (the five spared wedges of cheesecake give evidence of that), I can’t say that I remember meeting you or Ruth on that occasion. At that time, we were too young to form a friendly relationship. I only remember that your and my father talked about a toy concrete construction kit for children, and this fascinated me so much that I wasn’t interested in anything else. I also vaguely remember other visits at your family’s beautiful home in Kronacher Strasse, especially the paintings (though I must admit I can’t recall their motifs), the library with its Bauhaus armchairs (my father had similar ones in his office) and the staircase. The bookcases and the large double staircase have probably made me compare your home with ours in Bamberg: Your staircase possessed a very important advantage: the wall of its first landing contained a narrow closet for storing suitcases etc. For children it was a wonderful place for hiding and playing. It was not before a visit to Lichtenfels shortly after Christmas 1934 (maybe 1935) that I really got to know you, although you were no longer at Lichtenfels at that time. In the meantime the Nazi government had already gained control of Germany and had imposed its racist rule on the German people. German Jews were tortured and humiliated, and eventually relentlessly murdered. At that time your father had already passed away; and you attended a Swiss boarding school. I was only ten at that time, and I couldn’t imagine what a hard time it was for your mother in Lichtenfels, in Germany, and how admirably bravely she struggled to survive until she managed to leave Nazi Germany just in time in 1938. But let me have another look back to my visits to your home and our indirect encounters. The staircase in your house plays a key role in my recollections. Its second landing was like a balcony from which we could see what was going on in the house. The first door in the corridor led into Ruth’s room. She had a very impressive miniature grocer’s shop where I very frequently “bought” loads of sweets. In retrospect I am still amazed how patiently Ruth played with me, though she was much older than I. Opposite Ruth’s room was yours, and I was allowed to stay there sometimes. Numerous winner’s awards and records testified that you were a successful sportsman. I must admit that they didn’t impress me 48
much because I have never been a good sportsman myself. The aim of physical education at school was to raise a new generation of able-bodied young men who were to become instruments in the hands of Nazi rulers. It went under the label of “national physical training.” For this, and for other reasons, I didn’t like sports and physical education in general. On the other hand, I was very interested in your low-voltage wiring which you had nailed to the walls and even to some pieces of furniture. I would have liked it very much to install such a device myself in my room at home. But, alas, my mother would never have tolerated such. On another occasion I saw some sort of a shelter you had dug in your garden (unfortunately we didn’t meet on that occasion either), and after returning home I also dug a big hole in our garden. I also very well remember your mother coming round frequently to see my parents. Although it was not before the end of World War II that my wife Brigitte and I and you and Mo-li really got to know each other and establish a sincerely friendly relationship, our very first meeting was so full of mutual understanding and friendship as though we had seen each other day in day out during the past decades. Dear Klaus, dear Moli, we want to thank you for your wonderful, lasting and candid friendship. So now we arc going to tilt the horn of plenty to pour onto you our innumerable good wishes: may the sun of good luck shine onto you for many, many years full of happiness and tranquillity, We do hope that our friendship will last forever and that it will be continued by our children and grandchildren.”
Claude had two aunts, Lina and Ilse Wolff, living in Hartford, Conn. Beloved aunts as they were, and often visited by Claude and Mo-Li, by some strange providence, they brought two new “aunts” into Claude’s life — Lena Wulf and Henny Lampe. Halina Sudyka, who took loving care of Lena Wulf into her old age (she died in a nursing home at age 102), took down the story of how this happened from Lena herself . “When Lena’s mother died (1958 or 59?), some of the condolence cards were accidentally delivered to Lina Wolff. This is how the two women became aware of each other. They had similar jobs — Lena Wulf was a physical therapist and Lina Wolff was a social worker — so they also crossed paths professionally on occasion. They became friends. Lena and Henny learned about the two sisters’ nephew, Claude, from them. They heard a lot about him, but never met him. Whenever he came to visit his aunts in Hartford, Henny and Lena did not get to meet him. The 49
sisters always had an excuse: he was tired, he was just visiting quickly, etc., so Henny and Lena got the impression that the two sisters did not want to share their precious nephew or their time with him with anyone else. And that was fine. But when they knew he was being married at the sisters’ home one weekend, they picked a bucket of rambling roses from their garden and sent it to the house as a wedding gift for him, even though they had not yet met him or his bride. Their first meeting came when one of the aunts passed away, and they finally met Claude at her funeral. After the one sister died, the other quickly became ill. Because Claude and Mo-Li lived far away, Lena became their intermediary in Hartford, talking to them frequently to update them about his aunt Ilse’s health. When Ilse died, Claude and Mo-Li came for her funeral. Afterwards, they asked Lena and Henny: “Do you want to be our new Hartford aunts?” Which, of course, they did. Every year since, Claude and Mo-Li have shared their wedding anniversary at the lovely Hopkins Inn on Lake Waramaug with Lena and Henny. The first time they went to the Hopkins Inn, Claude reserved a single room for Lena and Henny to share. But when Henny snored so loudly that Lena didn’t sleep a wink, every year thereafter Claude got them separate rooms. After Henny passed away, other friends of Lena’s were always included in their anniversary celebrations at the Inn. Lena recalls she and Henny traveling by train to New York City, to meet Claude and Mo-Li, to go to the theatre and other great places. They would carry a lemon meringue pie on their laps to bring as a gift for them. She delights in the way that Claude and Mo-Li open themselves up so easily to others and have been so generous in sharing of themselves with Lena and all of her friends. Their friendship is one that has meant more than can be described. Lena loves you both dearly and thanks you from the bottom of her heart.”
Lichtenfels, Germany, Claude’s Home Town
Halina and Lena
23rd September 2000 Birthday Greetings Dear Klaus What a joy that you were born What a privilege to have you as a friend, And to be blessed with all the gifts the goodness of your heart has been presenting us to enjoy. Against all this, any faults and imperfections you may have are trivial indeed. Today, after forty years, you are still a birthday child. May you never have to go through a period of sadness or sickness and may you be spared any harmful experience. Our gratitude goes to your parents who have given you your life. May God protect all steps you take: this is the fervent wish of your friends (signed: Lisa & Hermann Schulze) (free translation by Sigrid Karner)
Preface As with lifetime, it is with the days: none of them seems good enough To us; none is perfectly beautiful and each one has – if not its aggravations – Its imperfections. But added up, you do get a sum of joy and life. Friedrich Hölderlin (free translation by Sigrid Karner)
Village Dwellers At Heart But Not on Weekends In her professional days, Lenore Suhl was by turns a book designer, sales girl (Woolworth), private nurse (NY), hospital nurse, topographical designer, maid (Aegis), surveying work, animated pictures, drawing, salesgirl (SAKS), author, decorator, photographer, assembly-line-work (NY), journalist (Tripoli). But some things stand out for her: her years with Jack Suhl and her stepson Andrew, and her five published novels! Amazing, then, that she could say, “It’s not easy to write about oneself, especially when there isn’t too much to write about. But for Claude, I will bare my heart and soul.” And she does so below with her writer’s eye: It must have been in the winter of 1960 — or was it in 1961? that I opened the door to Jack’s matchbox-sized apartment on Perry Street and faced a tall, strapping, smiling stranger who said: “I’m Claude.” The twinkle in his eyes conveyed that he knew the situation. I was Jack’s new girlfriend, but things were acutely unsettled. After my divorce and a dangerous wrong turn, I had moved in with Jack on a part-time basis, but at that particular time he wasn’t home. Having moved out from Claire’s not long ago in a state of fury and despair, he was skiing in Lech, attempting to regain his composure. As his place was a vast improvement over mine — a dump on west Houston Street, where an ancient fridge stood in the middle of the only room — he had offered me Perry St. during his absence. His next move was unclear. His fulltime committment still had to be achieved. Now there stood before me the Claude of Claude P. Bamberger Corp., Jack’s partner and long-time, closest friend. “Jack told you I’d be by,” Claude smiled. 59
“He did, but he didn’t say when.” Under Claude’s amused scrutiny I felt myself diminishing. I wanted to make a good impression on this important person in Jack’s life — me, a German from Berlin of that ridiculous “aryan” origin — but it was morning and I was not yet dressed. No doubt I was looking like a slut in my cheap old housecoat, my feet in worn “street” shoes because I had forgotten to bring my slippers. “You must be Lenore. I’ve just come to pick up the envelope Jack left for me. On the bookshelf, he said. May I use the bathroom?” I murmered that I had taken a bath and that everything was splashed, that I had not even yet let the water run out of the tub. “Don’t worry.’ Claude disappeared and was soon back. ‘You took a bath? But the water is still so clean. You must be a very clean person.” Was he being sarcastic? As I looked at him uneasily, I looked into the open face of a sensitive, cheerful, generous, honest man, a man who was both optismistic and astute. A man who was not only Jack’s friend but would also become mine. That was the first time I met Claude. Through the passing decades I have seen him often, last when he visited me in Munich and handsomely invited me to dinner. He walked with a limp but his spirits were undampened. He had done some shopping: small, colorful figures handcarved in the Erzgebirge, and he was enormously pleased with his catch. It was nearly 11 p.m. when we parted at the subway at Lehnbachplatz where I was in walking distance of my apartment. There wasn’t another soul around. The escalators endlessly leading deep down to the platforms were as brightly lit as deserted operating rooms. Unfazed, ready for the next adventure, Claude waved me goodbye and, without a valid ticket, disappeared from my sight. Perhaps one thing stands out for me: Claude was the life of the party. When some of us felt dejected by life’s calamities (and Claude himself took his share), soon there would come a call to assemble: around a Christmas tree, at the river for some ‘canoodling,’ at somebody’s house for a wine tasting. He will always be gladly remembered!
Arthur Erickson also took part in the East Village revels. He met Claude through Mosten Gilbert, who lived in the same walk up in the Village and who did occasional work for Bamberger’s Plastic Enterprises. Through Mosten he met Jack Suhl, Claude’s business partner as of 1953. Mosten and 60
Jack became two of his closest friends, even when they found themselves on opposite shores of the Altantic for years at a time: In our Village days we partied a lot, played tennis fussball in the city parks, and, when the snows fell, skied snowed at places like Mount Snow and Hunter Mountain. Claude, a veteran of the Army’s 10th Mt. Division, and I, a rank beginner, mostly skied on different trails. However, all trails led to a common table where we embellished the day’s skiing events and
talked over happenings of wider import like Castro’s rise in Cuba (good then) and Madame Chiang Kai Chek and the China lobby (bad). The food was usually stick-to-ribs New England fare: beef stews, mashed potatoes, and slabs of white bread. But Claude, or maybe Jack, added a new dimensions to our culinary experience. They discovered a small country restaurant run by a German lady. The specialty there was sauerbraten. All in all, you could say that Claude added a solid main course to our salad days in Greenwich Village. Skiing with Claude didn’t hurt either. Arthur would later take a job as a journalist for McGraw-Hill World News in Paris and would ski in this international journalists’ ski meet at St Anton in 1961.
Alice Tibbetts writes as a devoted Bamberger fan: Our friendship started 62 years ago, 1946. I was 22, Claude must have been 26. We met in a subway after I had given a talk at a symposium of some kind somewhere in NYC. Was it a 4-H group or Youth Hostel meeting — probably the latter — and I was talking about the Soviet Union, having just returned from a trip to that country. We must have exchanged phone numbers or addresses, because I remember meeting an interesting assortment of Claude’s friends at parties, square dances, or ski trips. I was amazed at his energy and commitment to taking trips; it seemed as if he and some of his friends went somewhere every weekend. This is still true. When you get in touch, you find that Claude has just been somewhere interesting or is about to go. Or a Alice picking blueberries in front of wonderful packet arrives in the mail their New Hampshire house with one of detailing his latest adventures. their four-year-old triplet grandchildren. He and a group of friends came up to our place in Randolph, New Hampshire one winter presumably to ski. I remember that there may have been a question when they arrived as to whether or not they would get right on with the skiing, but my Dad had built a large fire in our large fireplace, and they all willingly came in to gather about the warmth. There was a visit in NYC after we both were married. We had earnest talks about the labor movement. My husband Norris was employed by the Textile Workers Union of the CIO at the time. Claude’s experience with labor in NYC had not been good. There were a lot of years when we didn’t connect after we had moved to Wisconsin. However, there were always wonderful newsy Christmas cards — news of marriage, children, divorce, illness, trips. We were both doing a lot of skiing, then, and we finally made arrangements to meet and ski together at Winter Park. That was a 62
wonderful few days. Claude was full of stories about his travels, a boat trip with his son where they were completely lost, his meeting and wooing of Mo-Li — what a great story! And then there was a day of skiing after Norris convinced Claude that he needed to rent-up-to-date ski boots and skis. Disaster! Total lack of control. One spectacular fall after another! We laughed and laughed — later! I’m not sure that Norris has been really forgiven for his insistence that Claude would love the new technology! Another time I stopped in New Jersey for a day on my way to see a daughter in New Haven. Claude and Mo-Li were the perfect hosts. We drove into town to see a play on Broadway — a big deal for this Midwesterner. How I loved being taken into the City by someone who knew the ropes: where to park and what to see!”
Joan Muller got to know Claude through two people she loved dearly — Jack, Claude’s closest friend and associate from the very beginning, and Jan, also close to Claude. Both, as she writes, were “part of those early years in New York: the dye factory, camping and skiing in the Catskills and Adirondacks, evenings in the east village. Claude was a world of friendship and integrity, and so intense in living as were Jack and Jan. Thank you, Claude, for being!”
Lotte Franklin writes: “Perhaps the first memory that I have of Claude is a picture of his business office in the early days of his venture into the plastic business, days when men and women dressed formally in prim business suits for even the most menial of workplaces. Claude. however, as well as all of his employees, were wearing shorts, in keeping with the relaxed atmosphere that pervaded the premises. Despite the fact that various cats and kittens were frolicking over the typewriters and file cabinets and other furnishings and equipment, one could see that business was indeed being accomplished. I believe this first impression is a representative cameo of Claude’s entire life in that he could always combine career and gemútlichkeit into one integrated endeavor.
Claude’s ease with people and his ability to make life-long friends were a distinct advantage in his business dealings. At times, however, his magnanimous nature could prove a hindrance. I recall his efforts to establish a weekend ski package deal from New York to the slopes further north. In order to impress potential customers he offered free trips to his friends — the strategy being that a bus without empty seats would suggest a booming, thriving business with lots of satisfied customers. A noble idea, but doomed by the mere fact of Claude’s ebullient personality, since anyone who rode his bus once, or two times at the most, was miraculously transmogrified from customer to friend! In the 60’s when so many young adults thought it fashionable to be in rebellion against their elders and to mock their values, I admired Claude for not being the least bit ashamed or embarrassed to express his devotion to his mother. I appreciated the warm hospitality his mother always extended to every member of the groups that gathered at her Long Island house to visit Claude. Claude’s thick German accent and his English-in-German-syntax often made him the butt of much teasing. I can’t recall how many times I heard Claude’s standard rebuttal, “You have to remember I wasn’t born in this country.” Reading Claude’s numerous writings in the past few years, I think Claude had the last laugh. For someone who “wasn’t born in this country” his English is impeccable, and of course, in his writings you don’t hear the German accent. Too bad! Foreign accents add charm to this country. For his part, Claude definitely thought Lotte belonged under the rubric: Most Unusual Person. “Tired of the politics in the New York school system, where she was a teacher, Lotte quit in the mid-forties, went to Alaska, and for a couple of years taught Eskimo children in Kasiglug, an Eskimo settlement somewhere in the far north, near the Arctic Circle. When she came back home, one of her Eskimo students followed her all the way, to study in New York. Once, she
appeared for dinner in our apartment bringing an Alaskan reindeer skin (somewhat smelly) as a gift.”
Claude writes, “Erich and Inge Meyerhoff played an active part in my life some sixty odd years ago. Erich was a regular on our weekly ski trips to Vermont.” But Erich’s first love was the Medical Library of New York (MLCNY), of which he was the first Director and remained as Director Emeritus until it closed in July, 2003. “No deficiency in its operation, financial mismanagement, or questionable conduct of its personnel is alleged as the cause of MLCNY’s demise,” Erich would tell you. “On the contrary, the center has always been a superb operation, and each of its directors provided leadership in cooperative solutions for the coordination of resources. Among MLCNY’s achievements are the various editions of me UCMP, a computer-aided listing of the periodical holdings of some sixty-eight health-related libraries in our area, including the American Museum of Natural History and the New York Botanical Garden, that eventually grew to reflect the holdings of more man 600 libraries in the Northeast and was regularly updated with on-line access. In addition, MLCNY provided a van delivery service to its membership to provide speedy delivery of interlibrary transactions, a storage facility for members, and, most of all, a site for a collection of lessused journals in the health and allied health sciences with the aim of eliminating duplication. A superb staff maintained a practically flawless and courteous operation. With a collection size of over 450,000 items, it is a measure of its effectiveness that in 2001 MLCNY received 39,571 loan requests and filled 33,882; in 2002, it received 34,882 requests Peter (r. with Claude.The figure in and filled 31,751.” The fiscal the middle is one of the inhabitants of support just wasn’t there. the wax musuam they were visiting!
But Erich doesn’t forget the old days either. “It is only recently that Inge and I again visited Hogback mountain and its surviving restaurant. What a time it was when you, Claude, were our extraordinary cicerone on those ski trips to Mount Snow, before it was discovered by Playboy magazine. Your skill in finding the right place, at the right time, at the right price are memorable. No matter what disaster met us on our trips through ice and snow, you managed to save the day and remain in good cheer. And, ah, those dinners at the Bottenbergs with the cowed Mr. Bottenberg playing the piano under the watch of his domineering wife. Yes, you can’t take those things away from us.
Peter Cohn was born in 1921 in Leipzig, Germany, but his family moved to Berlin when he was five and his younger brother, Michael, two. They lived a middle class existence in a large apartment, although his father was a Luftmensch, a member of the communist party, who traveled in intellectual and artistic circles and coincidentally was a close friend of Jack Suhl’s father. Let Peter tell it from here: “Seeing a dark future when Hitler came into power, we emigrated in 1933 to New York with the help of relatives already living here. Middle and high school education in the Public School system, tutoring Jack Suhl in math along the way. When my father died, I interrupted my studies and worked in various machine shops (I liked to work). After the war I went back to college and graduated from the University of Colorado in Boulder with a mechanical engineering degree. For three years during W.W.II, I served in the U.S. Army where, after basic training, I was assigned to the Engineer Board Radiation Lab at Ft. Belvoir, Virginia. Sent on a technical assignment to the China-Burma-India theater of operations (loved Burma). After the end of hostilities, back at the Radiation lab, I worked on captured German infrared equipment and with a German captured scientist. My German language came in handy. I was offered a chance to work at the Eniwitok nuclear tests but fortunately passed that by. In civilian life I worked for Texaco at their research Lab in Beacon, New York and spent the last 33 years of my engineering career here in N.Y. with EDO Corporation working on international sonar contracts. The work took me on short-term assignments to Italy, Peru, Venezuela, India and Korea. (I like to travel). 66
Nominally retired in 1983, but am plenty busy with various art and museum related projects (some with my brother Mike), with financial affairs, with family and friends, and with some travel, but not as much travel as Claude and Mo-Li. We have our main residence in Manhattan near Columbia University and a vacation home in Bolzano (South Tyrol, Italy). I have been married for 45 years to Bernice, formerly employed as a teacher in the early childhood field. We have two sons David and Claude who also live in New York City, and two lovely little granddaughters, Silvia and Sabrina.”
It was in the early 1950s that Hy Shuman met Claude and Jack Suhl in a garage in Brooklyn. He reflects: “Claude and I were both much younger when we met. What started out as a business call turned into a wonderful friendship, now close to 50 years. Many things have happened since we first met, but the one thing that still remains constant is our friendship. I feel very fortunate that we were friends for all this time.”
“I can’t afford to buy skiing equipment,” Stella Handler told Claude. “I barely managed to buy myself a bike to explore Brooklyn on. But you
had a friend who sold used skiing equipment, second-hand, cheap. I got some very mismatched skis, a pair of old not-so-good fitting old boots, etc. A pair of red and white snowflake mittens Mutti had made. I cherished them for many years. After some preliminary lessons on gently rolling land, I vaguely recall, you took me up a real ski trail. I remember being scared and you saying, “Don’t worry, you’ll just follow me — you’ll be fine.” Was it at Pittsfield? I do remember that I sprained both my ankles, but rose to ski again. The whole Pittsfield experience was rich. I don’t remember how we all got there, but it was a crowd. Lots of singing, laughing, freezing in a “rented” unheated empty house. Followed by nights in a rooming house that I still think was a brothel. Then there was a diner or something like that where we warmed up on wonderful hot cocoa. I remember a canoe trip along a river where we camped in tents and were awakened by a cow pushing its head into our tent. On another camping trip we got up one morning to be amazed to see you step out of your tent in full business suit, hat, tan pigskin gloves, and coat, to go off to make a business call! So real life is better than any soap opera — a little unbelievable.” Claude felt bad that he and Mo-Li hadn’t seen Stella in many years, but he remembered well her early perkiness. “Stella was one of the most high-spirited people I ever met,” he says. “Some sixty-odd years ago she was one of the Friday-night regulars who came folk dancing in the East Village. Easygoing and always with a smile, she had an open invitation to join us on all our outings, where she was an enormous asset because of her singing. I know of no one else who had such a huge repertory of songs, and around campfires, in ski lodges, on kayak trips or long train or bus rides to and from New England, she could entertain large groups of people. Her magnetic personality got people to join her as she sang tirelessly.” To feed her passion for skiing, Stella took a market research job where she and two other young women were sent into a black slum in Newark. Their job — to go into all the bars on Thanksgiving Day (her own 21st birthday that year!) and get the locals to respond to a long questionnaire on the virtues and popularity of Reingold beer and on the slogans connected with its selling. “At a dollar an hour, expenses paid and 50 cents an hour for travel time, it was quite an experience. Proceeds to skiing, of course.”
“As is well known,” Simon Schochet reminds us, “the ancients believed that friends are indispensable to human life. Having lost my family in Hitler’s camps, a life without friends seemed to me one not worth living. I was fortunate to find Claude, a friend with whom I was able to share joy and sadness and to have the intimacy of face to face encounters. His presence, his readiness to help and our conversations have not only stimulated me but have also enriched and sometimes changed my views on life as he had and does have a sunny and positive outlook on life. Our discussions would range over many subjects. Claude was, despite his outer appearance, a late 19th century man possessed of all the manifestations of that time: romanticism, love of nature, hidden melancholy and the remembrance of his idyllic childhood in his beloved home in Bamberg. During our talks, he would often ponder whether or not people were happier a hundred years ago than now. Were people more beautiful, more honest in the past than now? Strangely enough, Claude was never interested in talking about the Nazi times with me although we were both refugees — as if nothing more could be said about those evil times and people. In business, there were no obstacles for Claude. In the most difficult and trying situations, Claude found solutions and never gave up. Once we had some discussions about trying to do business with the Eastern European Countries which were then under Communist control. As I had been born in Poland, we decided that I should go to Poland and investigate the possibilities of establishing business contacts there. I did go and returned disappointed and without leads or positive results. It is just not possible to do business there was my report. Claude was unhappy with my statement.There is always a way to do business was his stance. Poland has an industry and therefore business must be possible. I tried to explain the impossibility of the situation there but he was adamant in his views until I repeated what a Polish manager had told me during a supper when we had consumed much vodka. He admonished me to go back to America and forget about doing business in Poland and illustrated how work was done there. “ From Poland” he said, “clay pigeons are sent to Hungary in exchange for eggs. We send eggs to Czechoslovakia 69
and in return receive chickens. We sell the chickens to Bulgaria in exchange for chicken liver pate. We export this pate to the Soviet Union which sends back clay pigeons!’ Claude laughed but still did not give up. Things will change in time was his considered opinion. He was right: there is now a booming business done with Poland.” Simon graciously responded to a request from Claude and Mo-li, who respected his historical interests, for his scholarly research projects and the lectures he gave at various universities in Poland, the Czech Republic and this country. Many were about the captured Polish-Jewish officers who were murdered in the Katyn forest about which he is an expert. Simon later travelled with a famous photographer to a place in Ukraine where families of survivors of the Katyn forest like this woman could be found.
As an industrial psychologist and psychological consultant to managements of business, government and social agencies, and who reviewed and taught management systems aimed at increasing people’s effectiveness and satisfaction in their work in both developed and developing countries, David Emery seems admirably formidable. A volunteer ambulance driver in World War 2 and father of five, a former Iowa freestyle swimming champion also into surfing, skiing and flying — sounds awesome enough. But David rests on more modest laurels. “What long, good memories we have” he says, “— all the way back to the “gang” that skied, played soccer, coffee at Mutti’s, square danced, then all of us when the families started to intertwine.” Bea Emery, his wife, was the beginning of a connection with Claude. “I found myself alone in New Hampshire. In the middle of a lot of introspection, I ran into Claude at a little convenience store. He had a great bunch of friends and adopted me. It felt homey after my self-esteem had 70
just been tested. From then on he was a great friend, which later included my husband David and all our many children.“ “You,“ she wrote to Claude, ”were the one who ventured all over the world and broadened our horzons. You were a wonderful model to our children, introducing them variety of ideas and concepts. You taught them to make the best pflaumen-torte, you got them excited about hiking,
cookouts and canoeing and you brought them great presents from your travels. You and David, sometimes to my exasperation, played endless chess games. I admired your resourcefulness in weathering the leaner years and then back up again to everything you built on your own. I admired your courage and sense of enterprise. It’s been a real, enriching pleasure knowing you — and all that from an accidental meeting in a little store in the North Country.” Claude considers Bea a lifetime friend. “We met during the war years in the early forties during a long Christmas holiday ski weekend in North Conway, N.H. As usual, I had made all the arrangements for a varied group of people, disregarding the compatibility of the participants. There was also some mixup about the bed and breakfast accommodations, and when we got there the place had no record of a reservation for our group of about eight people. In consideration of our plight (we had come some eight hours by train from New York), the innkeeper said we could sleep in the bar after the midnight curfew. A makeshift mattress dormitory was established, where males and females happily slept together — quite unusual given that time 71
before the sexual revolution of the sixties, when such arrangements became the rule rather than the exception. While shopping for bread, cheese, and salami — our mainstay of nourishment in those days — we bumped into a good-looking female student from Sarah Lawrence College, who had hitchhiked, skis and all, from Connecticut to North Conway, also foraging for food. Her name was then Bea Landshof; she was a German refugee like myself. She seemed forlorn and distressed, in need of a place to stay. My friend Jack adopted her for the weekend, and she joined us in our makeshift dormitory. She has been a good friend ever since. But what can I respond to such an ode of praise? I have considered Bea always a good, sympathetic and understanding friend. In fact when I review the relationship with the Emerys over a lifetime, it is only thanks to a personal bond between Bea and myself that our relationship lasted that long. Relationships between people are complicated, to say the least. It is rare that two couples, involving four people of varying background, upbringing, taste, and inclination, all get on equally well together. More often than not, one or more in a foursome does not see eye to eye with the others and at best is merely tolerated by the others to preserve decorum. At worst the relationship between the couples ceases and what remains is a one to one connection between the original friends, a connection obviously limited for logistical and emotional reasons. There is so much to be said here. Enough to fill a book. Bea married Dave Emery and I married Kathy. We had two children, the Emerys had four. We spent many a weekend together. Later, we jointly bought some land on Nantucket and built vacation homes next to each other. That’s where we spentmost of our summers when the kids were still small. Now that our families have grown up we haven’t seen much of each other. Bea and I might meet for lunch several times a year — interludes that give us the opportunity to catch up on the news in each other’s life. The friendship and empathy for each other endure.”
Let Claude introduce John & Marlies Fry. “Although we have known the Frys for a good many years and consider them friends we don’t see much of them, which is unfortunate. For one thing, they live in faraway Westchester County, in one of the loveliest houses we have ever seen. Custom designed and built by John, it overlooks a huge reservoir. From their terrace one can observe all kinds of waterfowl, and around sunset deer magically appear, grazing in a copse below their house. John and Marlies are into gardening, 72
and when they are not away skiing they stick close to their beautiful home and are hard to dislodge. John was the editorial director of SKI Magazine for 16 years. Then he became the founding editor of Snow Country, launched by the New York Times in 1988. He was elected to the U.S. National Ski Hall of Fame in 1995. In 2006, he published a much acclaimed book, “A Story of Modern Skiing” Meanwhile, he continued to write a column in SKI mostly about the foreign ski resorts that he visits, frequently reporting about various ski events. One of his more exotic trips was a visit to Harbin in Manchuria (below, playing hockey there), with the explorer/adventurer Ned Gillette. There they found that the indigenous population had skied for many years. The Harbin skiers, used to skiing on barrel staves or crudely handmade wooden skis, were amazed to see the fiberglass skis, step-in bindings and modern clothes John and Ned brought with them. Even such things as gloves seemed to be a novelty. Obviously, the Frys are very unusual people, and Mo-Li and I are proud and fortunate to be able to count them among our friends.” “What can one write about le grand Claude,” John Fry asks himself, “that does not sound like wretched excess? Here is a man capable of uniting qualities rarely co-extant in one character: obdurate courage, insight, loyalty and winning charm. Not surprisingly, I’ve been enriched by knowing him. I have spent much of my life skiing yet I can recall only once being on the slopes with Claude. We were vacationing together at Copper Mountain, which, at 9,000 feet above sea level, is one of the world’s highest ski resorts. The two of us were immediately recognized as “old farts.” Ancient alpinists we were. Dressed as he was in somber khaki wind-jacket and navy blue pants, Claude looked like a model for “Herr Hoch Alpinismus,” or the old man of the mountain who had perhaps just escaped from the nearby Colorado Ski Museum. The impression grew when, in the mid-way lodge at noon, Claude extracted a boulder-sized crust of bread, a cylinder of 73
smoked sausage and a wedge of remarkably aromatic cheese from his leather rucksack and presented them to our table for lunch. We rode the lift after lunch to near the top of the mountain. It didn’t occur to me that the slopes presented any special hazard to Claude. Mo-Li was not present and I had either forgotten or never learned that Claude’s heart,a once robust organ, had fallen into disrepair. In short, it might easily stop beating. But he skied well, better than many men half his age. And so it went. Typically, each day Claude followed me down the mountain. As the week progressed, my skiing grew stronger. One day down the beautifully pitched Andy’s Encore, from about 11, 000 feet, I led Claude and my wife, Marlies, in a non-stop descent of a mile. We may have made fifty or a hundred turns. It was March and the sun shone. Finally we stopped to rest. Perspiration beaded on Claude’s face. He looked like he was undergoing the sort of strain observable on the face of a wrestler who has been pinned to the mat. Finally he spoke. Gasping in the thin air, he said he had a confession to make: he had this heart problem. “My God,” I exclaimed, “skiing the way you are at this altitude, you’ll kill yourself. You’re crazy!” Claude grinned sheepishly in response. Of course, he didn’t kill himself. He was in the mountains, doing what he loved best. That was when I came to know the indomitable strength of Claude’s will to live. Mightier than any polymer! Enduring as the most advanced vinyl. The scrappiest mensch in the world!” But Claude gets the last word in. “Of course, John exaggerates greatly in his description of our ski outing on Copper Mountain a few years ago. Then I was still wearing my old Austrian leather ski boots, custom made by Mr. Huette, who in the 1960s was a famous bootmaker in Austria, living in St. Anton. I remember distinctly that week on Copper Mountain as a watershed outing, with respect to my antiquated ski equipment. Every time I went up on the chairlift, some teen-age kid would look at my boots with the query, “Gee, where did you get these? Cool!” More sober and to the point was a ski instructor who rode up with me and remarked, “I saw you skiing. Let me tell you, you’d ski a lot better if you would get rid of those.” 74
Well, that’s exactly what I did. My famous Huette boots, which look like a noose, with a menacing hook dangling from it, are now hanging on the wall at the Copper Mountain midway restaurant as quaint antiques.”
“Howard Ross became a friend almost by default,” Claude writes. We first met him on one of our arduous Vermont ski trips in the mid forties when he was introduced by his sister Lenore Kantrowitz, wife of my close friend and lawyer Bob. Howard became a Professor at Baruch College, and I got to know him a little better when Mo-Li came to the USA from Malaysia to do post-graduate work for her Ph.D. thesis. At that time Howard introduced Mo-Li to a friend and associate of his who subsequently accepted Mo-Li as a Ph.D. candidate. We got to know Howard much better after the tragic, premature death of first Bob and later his sister Lenore. Since then we have maintained contact, albeit sporadic, with Howard. Considering our age we no longer meet on ski and canoe trips or even hikes for that matter, but we do on occasion have a gourmet dinner together in New York City. When the chips are down, we know we can count on him. He is a true friend!” His friend responds: “I have known you more or less for 50 years. You, Bob & Lenore would make a series of brief appearances in my life, usually on Sunday evenings when you all returned from some trip. I have only a dim memory of Kathy. Memories sharpened when Mo-Li came on the scene. She graced the landscape — lovely, charming, giving. Unforgettable Nantucket — the natural beauty, your a-frame house, the clamming, that monster flounder caught as a fluke, zucchini bread (I still have the recipe in MoLi’s bond). And, before I forget, the case with Bob preventing an interloper from building a house in 75
Nantucket destroying your view. Since Lenore and Bob died, the friendship has grown. You, Claude, are as memorable as ever. A clear voice, incisive, witty, active, moving through life if slower then with as much assertiveness as ever. I know you will triumph over the intrusions of age. Courage, always. With Mo-Li, it’s easier and essential.
Ah, the Braunthals! They go back some sixty-odd years in my life’s history. At age 24 I was very much in love with Annalee, a young Bronx beauty of Russian heritage. It was a stormy, for the most part unsatisfactory, relationship that lasted about two years. One summer, AnnaLee, then 18 years old, had a job as a camp counselor at Pioneer Youth Camp, near Harriman State Park I hitchhiked (which in those days was my most reliable and only mode of transportation) one weekend for a visit, only to end up in a fight as usual. In the heat of an argument AnnaLee said, “Things don’t work out between us , but I have the perfect girlfriend for you.” She mentioned Jagna Braunthal, the daughter of Hilde Braunthal, a camp counselor. Subsequently I met and dated Jagna on a regular basis. Although I never considered marrying her — she was too wholesome for that period in my life — I considered her a worthwhile and interesting person, and we remained lifelong friends. Unfortunately, she died prematurely of cancer. Jagna lived in Queens with her brother Jerry and her parents, and this way I got to know Jerry, then an undergraduate at Queens College. Jerry Braunthal chooses flashbacks to reflect upon his friendship with Claude. • Flashback #1 Many decades ago, in the pre-Sabina (my wife) era, Claude became the master organizer of bus trips from N.Y.C. to top New England ski resorts,
a novel but apparently not such a profitable idea. Jerry and other fanatic skiers traveled north on Friday evenings, and into the night hours; some folks can sleep on such occasions, others hardly. Most of the time the skiing was great; on a few occasions, with almost snowless hills and before the invention of artificial snow machines, a near disaster from a skiing point of view. But there were compensations: good meals, good conversation, and good companionship made up for the one to two inches of snow on the ground. We returned from such weekends nearly exhausted but encouraged by Claude’s inimitable optimism, ready to leave on the next Bamberger expedition. And who can forget the walks along the Palisades; the canoe trips along the treacherous Delaware (I think) River, full of rapids, organized to the last degree by none other than Claude, who never seemed to become tired. • Flashback #2: Claude paid us visits in Amherst, after seeing his aunt in Hartford. Sabina and I made sure that prior to such visits we had on hand the inimitable pretzels and European-style dark breads from the Normand Bakery in Northampton. Occasionally, while on a visit to N.Y.C., we met in Manhattan and went to a museum or the theater. • Flashback #3: Our mature years: we spend occasional overnight visits in the fourstar Hotel Bamberger in Tenafly, New Jersey. Our gracious hosts, Mo-Li and Claude, make sure that our luxury suite is comfortable. We schmooze outside on the terrace or inspect the luxuriant garden. For dinner, we proceed to a nearby ethnic restaurant or enjoy the homemade dishes of the two master chefs. Then we proceed to reminisce about the past, discuss the present, and speculate about the future, not forgetting to touch on the protracted legal proceedings of Bamberger plastics pitted against the corrupt giants in the industry. The next morning the breakfast table is replete with delicious fat-laden German sausages and European cheeses, which, according to various doctors, should be eaten only in moderation. Claude, are you listening? Jerry does not go hungry, there are fresh bagels with margarine to still the hunger.” Others, however, might suggest different flashbacks — Jerry getting a Ph.D. from Columbia in political science, landing a job at U. Mass in Amherst in 1954, the year Amherst actually started a political science department, establishing the Western European Studies Program there and forging a link with the University of Freiburg. He was a visting professor at various other Universities as well, some intriguingly exotic. 77
In 1999, Jerry received the Commander’s Cross of the Order of Merit, Germany’s highest honor for non-Germans who are not heads of state. The award recognizes his academic achievement and contribution to GermanAmerican cooperation. On behalf of German President Roman Herrzog, the New England Consul General, P. Christian Hauswedell presented the medal (Jerry holds it at the left), extolling Jerry as a leading expert on Germany’s political system, as well as for broadening America’s knowledge and understanding of Germany and contributing to exchange program between U.Mass and Freiburg. Sabina’s achievements are also notable. She studied in Manhattan at the High School of Music and Art, majoring in the cello. She worked as a laboratory assistant at Columbia Physicians and Surgeons Hospital and at the Rockerfeller Institute in New York, then receiving an MS degree in bacteriology and public health at the University of Massachusetts in 1956. Later She held laboratory positions at U. Mass and at Amherst College, and occasionally taught biology elsewhere. For many years, she’s played cello in a local symphony orchestra and in a folk dance orchestra, and regularly plays chamber music with friends. She’s been a guide volunteer at Amherst historical house. Jerry and I have both been active in progressive political organizations, ranging from the Democratic Socialists of America and the Massachusetts Greens to the Citizens for Participation in Political Action. Such activities range from peace vigils to attending meetings, signing petitions, and writing to our Senators and Representatives. That, “ she says, “is what got us out of Vietnam.”
As David Schermerhorn tells it, “It started out with a quasidevelopment, followed by a brief honeymoon canoeing on the Delaware river. The new bride jumped ship after her top-of-the-line Abercrombie & Fitch life jacket deflated mid-Skinner’s Falls. The plucky groom paddled on alone for several days and, despite the odds, remains married to the same delight, Joan Carol, 40-plus years later. We went on to raise two fine children, David and Kate. The latter has issued grandson Sacha — a particular pleasure, that one.” David’s professions or jobs: summer stock, merchant marine, Bellevue Hospital attendant, insurance adjuster. After a $40/week offer, he tells us, “I could not refuse. I gave up adjusting for the bright lights of film production and never looked back. Come full circle now, I have returned to the boards on my Orcas Island paradise in Washington State, stunning local audiences as Agatha Christie’s Inspector Poirot, Don Juan, etc. My son the director has offered me a cameo in his next film. Negotiations are under way. In recent years, I have relished Arctic trips — Greenland to Siberia (not to mention this picture of the Magnetic North Pole) Oh, yes — the things I stand for? Short ski-lift lines and long friendships.”
Tales of Tenafly This, from Claudette, carries so much of the heart of Tenafly that it cannot help but move us: “I am imagining you sitting in the warmth of your sun room among lush orchids, Ansel Adams’ photographs spread out before you. I bet you pause to gaze at the zinnias blazing with color just outside the window. Perhaps, a Mozart concerto is playing softly. I am immersed in a dynamic Writing Workshop at the moment and you are often on my mind. Things are proceeding ‘swimmingly” as you used to say, and I am literally bathing in memories. I wanted to share a few with you. Co-cooning me in the wonder of words, you filled my world with magic. When I was very small, you sang me to sleep with songs of the stars and God, crooned in your native tongue. You introduced vibrantly illustrated picture books, translating as you went. I remember Kashmir, the boy who clambered onto the moon and traveled the world, visiting far-off lands. “The words rhyme better in German,” you insisted, but it was the sound of your voice that enthralled me. You were a wonderful storyteller, filling my imagination with exploits of yourself as a young boy. You often recounted the story of the Easter baskets, brimming with goodies prepared for the neighbors by Kunni, your childhood cook. You described how you snuck in to take a bite of an especially appealing chocolate bunny, but then had to nibble each of the other rabbits so that the baskets would be uniform in appearance. You continued in this vein, attempting to make them all perfectly even — until ten Lindt bunnies had somehow disappeared. As an obedient child with a mischievous mind, I loved the fact that you were telling on yourself. I remember the rousing folk songs we sang on the Nantucket beach around the crackling campfire as the smoke drifted into the salty air. I wore a Peanuts sweat shirt depicting Lucy railing against the world: “I am frustrated and inhibited and nobody understands me.” Even the clothes you purchased for me were filled with words. 81
Summer after summer, I perched on the edge of driftwood benches, crying over the hauntingly lyrical Red River Valley. Clementine made me sob even harder. After the sing-a-long, when the night sky deepened to midnight and the stars appeared, you told ghost stories that invariably made us huddle closer together in delicious fear.
Stephan and daughter Kira also made visits to Claude all the way from Maine on happy occasions. Claudette’s boys, Luke and Donovan also visited Tenafly all the way from Colorado.
The Christmas season was also filled with the magic of verse. I remember the towering Christmas tree shimmering with a thousand lit candles. We passionately sang 0 Tannenbaum and Oh Little Town of Bethlehem as Mom stood nervously by with a bucket of water — just in case. It mattered little that none of us could carry a tune. The songs lulled me with their soulful cadence. Dad, I bring you a handful of my recollections, knowing the ocean has stolen yours. They were erased by the wave that knocked you off your feet and deprived your brain of oxygen, those years ago. So here I am, bearing the gift of our shared history — paltry tokens of my immense appreciation. Thank you, Dad, for the memories. I love you.”
“I am frequently asked,” Claude tells us, ‘Where do you find such an assortment of people?’ And I am always at a loss to answer. Surely I can 82
count many so-called normal people among my friends, but Louis Mandel is certainly not one of those. Louis is a “Depression man.” He grew up in a very poor white Jewish neighborhood in the South Bronx. While he, like many of us, made it big as they say, at heart, he remains a guy from the Depression Era, far removed from today’s upscale, yuppie crowd. I first met Louis and his wife, Mary, when they moved next door into our upscale neighborhood. He took regular walks with a ferocious-looking German Shepherd dog named Wotan, and to tell the truth, Louis — a towering 6 foot 3 inches — also looked a bit ferocious. As it turned out, however, neither one of them was ferocious. Since I always wore shorts or dungarees around the house and did a lot of gardening, Louis had the impression that I was a gardener employed by the rich man who surely must live in our house. Louis, having a warm, outgoing personality and being interested in people regardless of their race or social status, always stopped and talked to me, and that is how we became friends. After forty years of ups and downs in our two households, weathering many a crisis together, and always being supportive of one another, we have become very close friends. Louis, who always says he is “just a dentist,” actually is a famous specialist in salivary gland diseases. He is also an assistant dean and professor at Columbia University Dental School and has all kinds of celebrities calling on him from all over the world. Around home he dresses in an ancient, raggedy sweat shirt and faded, worn corduroy pants and usually wears an old baseball cap. Looking at him I would say that he is the handyman employed by the rich homeowner. The truth is, while at heart still the Jewish kid on the block from the South Bronx in the thirties, he has an enormous amount of knowledge in all aspects of the medical field, not only salivary gland disease. So much so that in our family we would never dream of making a medical decision without consulting him, and I would never have a medical procedure 83
done — no matter how good the doctor was — unless it was done at Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center where Louis could keep an eye on things. Several Sundays each month, Louis appears promptly on our doorstep at 9 AM with a couple of bagels in hand. He comes for a cup of coffee and stays an average of two hours while we discuss what is happening in the world and in our lives. We call it The Week in Review. Aside from discussing current news, we often turn to events that happened many years ago. When asked what he considers the best time of his life, Louis invariably tells of the days when he was a captain in the air-force stationed in Germany during 1951-1954. Initially, Louis was stationed in Biloxi, Mississippi where he became friendly with a black First lieutenant Noah Calhoun. Noah and Louis would always lunch together in the Officers’ Club. One day Louis went alone and some southern officers invited him to join them. They told him it did not look good for Louis to be seen so often with Noah. Louis was certain they knew he was a New York Jew which to some extent they seemed to overlook. Louis’s problem with them was solved when he was transferred the following week to Germany. In Germany he felt he was a big wheel regarded by the post World War II population as an enormously wealthy American with unlimited access to the coveted supplies available in the Post Exchange (PX) on his base. While in Germany, Louis adopted two German children — Dieter 12 years and Renate Schauerer 10 years of age and often brought them gifts and clothing on the PX. He was aided in this activity by the Supply Officer Lieutenant Carl Nelson. Carl and Louis became close friends and to this day they phone each other 2 or 3 times a month. (Carl is in Minnesota). By the time Louis’s stint of duty was over in Germany, Renate was now almost 13 years old, had a crush on him and pleaded, “Please wait for me.” Renate is now married with a family of her own and lives in South Carolina. Renate keeps in constant touch with Louis who cherishes her friendship. Dieter Schauerer a retired plumber who had been employed by the State of Hesse, is now choirmaster of a famous German Cohr in Wiesbaden and 84
often keeps in touch with Louis. In short as Jews would say, ‘Louis is a real mensch.’” His wife Mary would agree. Lou has his own delightful version of things. “When I think of Claude, there is one incident that I cannot erase from my memory bank. I do believe that it clearly illuminates Claude’s spirit and willingness to accept life as it presents itself. Claude had coronary by-pass surgery in 1986 at Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center. Since I wo r k t h e re , I wa s able to visit him daily. Postoperatively, Claude did not fare well. By the fourth day, he was pretty well convinced that the end was near. “You know,” he said to me, “I have had a great life and I have been fortunate to be able to experience the many joys of life. Mo-Li has been part of it, and I am thankful for the time that I have had with her.” My response to him was about what could be expected. “You must be kidding, there are many years ahead for you. Besides, don’t think for a moment that Mo-Li will allow anything to happen to you.” Of course, I proved to be right. The secret of Claude’s longevity was Mo-Li’s witchcraft. It seems that Claude was suffering postoperatively from a severe drop in his red cell count for unknown reasons. His physicians were baffled, particularly because he was not responding to the blood transfusions that were being administered. Mo-Li sprang into action and concocted a cockamamie brew, the ingredients of which had been stored in a darkened corner of a Chinatown herbalist’s shop. The essential components seemed to glow in the darkness, have a life of their own, and were not to be found in any medical pharmacopoeia. It has a base of some sort of crocodile oil obtained from an uncooperative crocodile. Method of application? Sneak it into the hospital, dump a naked Claude into a hospital bathtub, and douse him with the substance — or was he supposed to ingest it? Ingest it? I doubt it because Claude was still around, so it must have been a bath application. Regardless, the result spoke for itself: recovery was rapid. 85
The reprieve gave Claude the opportunity to continue with the menu life offered. Claude is a constant theatregoer and seems to enjoy any production that is performed on a stage. Mary and I have accompanied him on several occasions. Most of the shows have succeeded in making me sleepy — I do not seek meaning between the lines. I want to relax and be entertained. However, Claude and Mary always respond enthusiastically to the play’s message, whatever it may be. Travel? Claude wants to see what the world offers. Many years ago, Mary, the children, and I joined Claude and his family in Italy. We piled into a VW van that he had requisitioned from a friend. Off we went to the Centi Valle. A mountain beckoned and Claude attacked. No one told me that the road was one lane, unpaved, and with hairpin turns such that the back of the van always seemed to be hanging off a precipice. That did it! Claude had my support for further travel, but without me. Food? Claude is the classic epicurean. He is a gourmet who gets instant gratification from a tasteful meal. I have a problem with a refined palate. Although Mary is in Claude’s ballpark, my expectations go no further than a salami sandwich, a pickle and a Coke. I cannot find that kind of sustenance in restaurants frequented by Claude. Sundays often find Mo-Li and Claude hiking or canoeing. In the past, Mary and I have been asked to go along. Constant refusals on my part have caused Claude to give up on me. My idea of sports is to watch Sunday baseball or football on TV. Museums? Claude knows them all, especially the art museums. Claude developed a sophisticated taste in art, particularly folk art, which I suspect he inherited from his father. As a rule, I did not join him despite being invited. My taste ends with the Hirschfeld sketches (Nina) in The New York Times. Claude’s great passion was skiing, no one doubted that he would continue to ski well into his nineties. What could stop him? Bad knee? Get it replaced. Bad heart? Increase the medications and “rev” it up. Bad hip? Get a new one in the off season and be ready for winter skiing in Europe. 86
Claude had another passion — conversation. Letter writing adds another dimension. Claude has an enormous number of friends and what is most astounding is that he manages to keep in touch with all of them. Fate will not dare to intervene. An interest in plants represents another of Claude’s personae. Available time, if it exists, will find Claude digging in his shrub bed. When I first met him, I thought he was the gardener. Years passed since Claude’s heart surgery. The years were very rich for him because they allowed him to pursue his many varied activities. I expected him to continue along these paths for a long time. He had MoLi, who always had that bile of a frog ready for his next medical bout! But that was not to be. Looking back, I think Claude was at his best when he went berry picking. I suspect that for him the berries represented a metaphor of life. He could choose, pick and discard, pick the best and discard those that did not meet his standards. His soft nature and inherent kindness prevented him from applying this approach to people. I suspect the berries served as human substitutes and they allowed him to vent and express his inner feelings. Important note I rarely if ever saw him discard a berry.”
Claude had high praise for Lin McKelvie. ”She was very much part of my life when she was my children’s teacher at elementary school in Tenafly, N.J. My daughter, Claudette, was part of Lin’s experimental class, in which students were encouraged to proceed at their own intellectual level without necessarily participating in the curriculum prescribed by the Board of Education. Claudette admired her teaching and while growing into a teenage girl heavily counted on Lin’s support and advice. As a teacher, Lin was part of a lot of lives. She taught nursery school through high school, she taught learning disabled and gifted students. In retirement, she established and directed the Polaris Foundation — a foundation to fund capable students who are from foster homes, dysfunctional 87
families, the handicapped or young people with criminal records but have straightened out their lives. She is a tutor for Project Lift — working with young people to complete high school certification.” Lin reciprocated with the compliments. She once wrote Claude, “A love of life, warm and kind humor, generosity, intellectual curiosity and sense of adventure are what come to mind as I think of him. Having been almost a part of his family in years gone by, it is my special wish that as they grow older and wiser, they will see and appreciate the interesting and unique person that they are privileged to call ‘Father’.”
“My name is George McCauley. I was almost asleep when the bell rang. Claude was calling to see my sister in our four floor walk-up. They had met at the folk dances down in the Village that my precocious sister had taken to. My mother descended on him like an avenging angel, driving him down the stairs. I missed much of the sequel because I went off to become a Jesuit in 1948. It wasn’t until 1955, when I was sent to teach at St. Peter’s College in Jersey City, that I could visit family. By now that included Claude. I’d visit him and Kathleen in Brooklyn Heights and always found him pleasant. My brother (below left with Claude and me) saw more of them and of my mother than I did after I went off again from 1958 to 1965 to finish my Jesuit studies. I’d hear tales of Claude arriving in the Bronx with a chess set under his arm and Arthur flinching at the inevitable game. The last three of those years had me studying at the University of Strasbourg and working the American army bases weekends for a little extra money. That’s how I got to see Claude’s family and friends in Lichtenfels. I’ll also never forget the occasional meetings of my mom, Agatha, and his, Mutti. It was like two proud, different worlds coming together and yet finding a deep human bond of similarity despite the differences. 88
I will always be grateful to Claude for his solicitude for my sister when she was dying in 1970, and later, at the recently built mansion in Tenafly, to be able to watch Stephan and Claudette blossom there and watch MoLi unveil her charms and talents in the immensely varied directions she eventually would awe us all with. My sister Mary (above, next page) stoked the ‘blossoming’ by sending tons of toys and presents for birthdays and Christmas year after year. She would hint that all she asked in return from Claude was that he would support her in her retirement! I enjoyed Claude’s company and friendship immensely — his enthusiasm, his energy (I passed on the hikes, kayaks and skis in favor of golf), his sensitivity to others, his humor and his almost philosophical calm. He never asked me what it was like to be a Jesuit priest but I never took it as a lack of interest. Though once, when panicky about some plastics shipment held up on a dock in Texas, he suggested that I dress up in my Roman collar and speak to the authorities down there in a persuasive — salvific — way. He was a terrific writer and I was proud to do the layout, design and cover of his magnum opus, Breaking the Mold. He had amazing sitzfleisch (what you sit on when you write!) for such an on-the-go man. I thought we lost him after the Nantucket accident. In the hospital here, he would only speak German, which I then had to translate for the nurses. I remembered the old German saying todessprache, muttersprache (when you’re dying, you always speak your first language.) What followed, however, was a remarkable come-back, owed chiefly to Mo-Li’s devotion and sheer skill over the years.
Cathy Moliski writes to Claude: “You are always in my heart. ‘The spirit should never grow old’ it is said — and yours is as it was when I first met you. You— storyteller, traveler, one who experiences everything out in the widewide world! When I received your letter requesting a tid-bit or two about “us”, it happened again. “It” refers to the thrill I get at seeing your handwriting — a sort of “Yee-ha! Whoop-dee-do” feeling. It’s been that way for 32 years. 89
But even more so, the thought of hearing your very juicy European voice always makes me smile! The child in me will always want to get together with the child in you. You and Mo-Li treated me (l.) like family. Claudette was my best friend. Stephan was my childhood flame. You took me to my first PG movie (Love Story) and took me to China-town for my first Dim sum (and fried chicken or duck feet). You had me to Nantucket where we kids camped on Ester Island with a beached whale..) We also had a chance to sleep in the island’s hostel.
You invited me to every major family celebration — a roasted pig thanksgiving, Xmas, Claudette’s wedding. I was able to know the Omis (tall and little), Albrect (blue eyes), and Uncle George. You visited me in Virginia and later came to my wedding. You were there within 12 hours of the birth of my first child, Adam). I was just as excited about seeing you as having the baby. Twelve years and 4 more babies later, I find myself wondering how they can get to hear your stories and see the world through your eyes. If you would take the four-hour drive here (nothing for you!) we could go apple picking and hike a motherof-five-friendly trail.I was so honored that you wanted me to illustrate any of your journals with my drawings. And so you will always be in my heart, a part of me. I miss you.” Cathy’s husband John (below l.) is equally enthusiastic. “I first heard about Claude even before I was interested in Cathy as a future spouse. During a Bible study, Cathy was relating a story about these wonderful people who have always been there for her and always been a family to 90
her. How everyone in that group wished to have life-long friends like she had. I have always loved visiting with you. Cathy is never more happy, alive, and vibrant that when she is with you. You must think she is like that all the time. But it’s the effect you have on her. My greatest contribution to you was being privileged to provide the title of your book Breaking the Mold. I know it meant something to you because you refer to it so often. To be a small part of your world was a much bigger part of mine. When we came to visit you a couple years back, you volunteered to be the tour guide to our family to some sights along the Hudson River. What a generous and ambitious undertaking! To my satisfaction, I had the opportunity to experience what Cathy always spoke of — your wit, charm, and youth. You related your fulfillment in life and how you were looking forward to passing on. I asked if you believed in the after life and you said, “No.” After an awkward silence, all I could think of saying was, “Our dearest Claude, the afterlife would not be as much fun without you. Whatever it takes to convince you that we all need you there, we will do.” But I didn’t say anything. It was either my inability to express in words as a dilettante to a master of this life. Or it was an untimely interruption by one of the children. I was unable to finish my thought. I am finishing it now. We love Claude. Please make it possible for us to share an eternity together. Even that won’t be long enough to get to know him, love him, and learn from him the lessons of a happy and fulfilling existence.”
Claude tells us that “Sharon and Steve Enderes are relative newcomers in our life — is it ten years or twelve, but who knows and who cares? What is important is that ever since we met there has been closeness between us that is relatively uncommon when one meets people at the end of one’s life. Both Steve and Sharon have an irresistible charm, and it is impossible to get angry at them. Steve, a unique craftsman, has gradually redone our entire house. 91
Normally he is one or two years behind schedule. In fact, there is no schedule! When we discuss a project, Steve will think about it. He is not prone to compromises and often it may take him months, if not years, to come up with a solution that satisfies him. Inevitably, the result is stunning. Everything has meaning. Everything has a yin and a yang. As in the description below of the side table that he made for us. It’s typical of how he thinks and works. A great and unusual person!” “Dear Claude,” Steve writes me, “I figure that if I complete a piece on the first day of a new year, a new century, or a new millennium I am off to a good start and deserve a reevaluation of my notorious reputation (which I detest).
About this table. Subject: The Claude Bamberger Vanguard Table. The elements of this design are meant to reflect many of your qualities. The curly maple represents the ripple effect you have had on all the people who have met and known you. The cherry wood, which is your favorite, represents substance, beauty and stability. The cube square that holds the top suggests the Bauhaus commitment to function and form. The woven bamboo veneer represents the Bamberger legacy and all that it meant for the people in all the cottages in Lichtenfels and all that that means historically. The light, floating curly maple shelf reflects Mo-Li, whose life in such interesting ways has paralleled and interwoven with yours. And the concept of the Vanguard, of the base and the flat surface launching 92
forward, this is meant to reflect your great love of life and of adventure and of always pushing forward into each and every tomorrow. I hope you and Mo-Li will enjoy this table. I put a lot of thought into it and I know that the angles might appear strange at first. Much of the meaning behind the piece can be found in Robert Frost’s wonderful poem Birches, and in a movie that I saw last year called The Incredible Lightness of Being. I have interpreted both of these works with this piece. I thank you for your special friendship — for the inspiration that you and Mo-Li have given me.” Claude adds an after thought. “This is typical Steve Enderes. It is equivalent to a guided tour when visiting a museum as opposed to just looking at the exhibits on your own. Looking at Steve’s side table, it appears to be just a beautiful piece of furniture. No one would fathom the details and thoughts that went into its construction, as described and enumerated above. When I was a child growing up in Lichtenfels, Bavaria, my father had a very odd circle of friends belonging to all social levels. Somehow I have followed in his footsteps. Among these friends was an architect named Erich Dieckmann. He was a designer of furniture for the famous Bauhaus in Weimar, Germany. Over the years, Erich Dieckmann renovated our entire house, and historically our family became the largest customer of the Bauhaus at the time. To this day, I have a Bauhaus file with pictures of our ultra-modern house in Lichtenfels, which is in a style of architecture still valid today. I have letters between my parents and their Bauhaus-friend Erich discussing the projects of the time. Erich Dieckmann was a frequent guest in our home. The similarity between the relationship of the Bauhaus Dieckmans to my parents at the beginning of the Twentieth Century, and my relationship to the Enderes family at its end is striking, including those puzzling delays. By way of example I am including two letters written by my mother in 1928 to Mr. Dieckman: 93
February 9, 1928 Dear Mr. Dieckmann, We have not heard from you in a very long time and I would like to know how you are? I always hope you and your wife will visit us one of these days. Last week a gentleman from the Bauhaus stopped by for a visit but as we were not home, he was “received” by Klaus, who no doubt told him more than enough. How is our kitchen order coming along? Could we count on delivery in March? Or will it be later? I am also in need of two simple white chairs. Klaus totally ruined the ones in his room what we need mainly are some “very solid” ones. -Sincerely, Jetta Bamberger April 16, 1928 Dear Mr. Dieckmann, I reply to the letter I received from the Bauhaus, directly to you. The painters are finished with their work and I hope that the kitchen can be installed within the next weeks. I leave it up to you whether your personal presence is required, but I need not mention especially that you are welcome at our home anytime. As to the lamps, perhaps one would be sufficient as the kitchen is not very large. Best would be to install two smaller lamps rather than one big one. My husband must go on a business trip at the end of the month, and he would be glad if the kitchen could be installed before he leaves. -Best regards, your Jetta Bamberger”
Claude writes, “Laura Kennedy is a very busy top-notch lawyer, married with several children, and we rarely have any news from her. Yet I consider Laura and her husband Peter among our friends. We are certain we could count on them to help if called upon. And that is what friendship is all about. Laura is the daughter of one of our very closest friends, Bob Kantrowitz, who played an important role throughout our lives until his sudden and unexpected death at the age of fifty-five. As I reminisce about my life, I realize that the Kantrowitz family has left an indelible print on our hearts. In what follows, Laura aptly describes the relationship as seen from the vantage point of a seven-year-old girl.” “I have known Claude my whole life. He was a close friend of my parents. From my earliest childhood days, I remember listening to stories 94
about their canoe trips and bike trips. I remember when they went folk dancing together. Then came the Nantucket days. Sometimes we stayed with Claude and Mo-Li in their beautiful home overlooking the moors. Sometimes we stayed in one of the Taylor Cottages. Always, we shared wonderful dinners and breakfasts together on the deck. The smell, and taste, of those fresh,
hot fruit pies and breads are imprinted on my memory. Claude was always thoroughly entertaining. Whether he was recounting the latest about Madaket Millie or some other colorful character in his broad spectrum of friends and acquaintances, he would engage the crowd in laughter. During those relaxed, summer days, Claude was full of energy and ideas. He was the one who would rally us all to go clamming, biking or swimming. I am grateful to Claude for those memories I cherish. After my parents died years ago, I continued to enjoy Claude’s warm friendship. We met for the occasional dinner in New York City, where we exchanged stories about the joys of skiing and the (not so joyful) aches and pains of growing older, especially as it affects the lower back. For nearly a half century, I have known Claude always to face life with vigor and enthusiasm and never really to let age get in the way. For that, Claude continues to be a great inspiration to me.”
“Mr. Dieckmann, of Bauhaus fame, died during the war,” Claude remembers, “leaving behind a wife and two daughters. After the war the family contacted me to ask whether I could sponsor the immigration to the United States of the two daughters, for whom there seemed to be no future in Germany. I provided the necessary papers, and the daughters arrived. We meet Bettina and her husband, Ray, who live in Colorado, regularly for ski vacations.” Bettina remembers it even more sharply: “Sometimes I wonder what would have happened if Claude hadn’t sponsored me to immigrate into America. Stay in Germany and marry that doctor who begged me to stay in Wurzburg, my last working town? Instead, I followed dutifully a Berliner youth friend’s promises of a golden future in the U. S., but I needed a sponsor since this fellow still lived in Canada on his way from Australia to the U. S., so Claude, played a big role in my fate, which turned quite different than dreamed. After my adventurous friend turned out to be an unsteady disappointment in every way, I sought my freedom from this five-year marriage. Starting all over in this new country (too proud to return home!)
and feeling really down, I found Claude always helpful with advice. Over the years, he gave me lots of fatherly guidance, especially when it came to business-like problems. Life turned rosier when I married Ray, who got me hooked on skiing. Our friendship really grew closer when Claude joined us often in the Colorado mountains. “You became our idol in technique on the slopes,” she told him, regardless of all kinds of artificial joints in your body. Maybe the grease of the salami and cheese you always carry lubricates those hinges to make you schuss down so gracefully. Despite bagels, smoked lox, and the many sinful goodies you love so much, you’ve made it this far with no dents in 96
your mind (besides the few in the body!). We hope to hold out as well as you so we can treasure your gracious friendship”
Steffie Schmidt-Burgk was born on March 28, 1940. She is not married and has no children — but she has an unofficially adopted grandson and his mother. “Claude,” she writes, “from 1960-1961, I was in the USA in your family where I worked as a ‘mother’s helper’. Claudette was 2 years old and Stephan was just born. I felt very much at home, being part of your family and had many new experiences in the USA. After I left you, I worked another six months for a family with five children in Berkeley, CA. And, after that I toured America and Mexico with nine other international students. After that I went back to Munich to complete my education. Because I liked to travel, I signed up to teach in a school in South Africa for 1964-65. This was a very interesting experience, although I could not stand the Apartheid policy of the Government and therefore left before termination of my contract — to settle down in Munich, my place of birth. There I worked as a teacher in a school for handicapped children —a work which gave me a lot of joy. Since 1997 I am retired. My hobbies are travel, cycling, swimming — everything, as you can see, which has to do with nature.”
Brigitta was another au pair to Claude’s family. She returned to Germany and had a family of her own, her husband and three stunning daughters. With family to care for she didn’t have much time, especially when her aged 97
mother who lived alone in Bavaria has a stroke that paralyzed her left size. Brigitta brought her up to Schleswig to live with her. Her mother recovered
fairly well, but had problems swallowing, so she needed watching. Her husband retired and got very serious about doing some fitness training every day. Most of the time she joined him, doing 10 to 20 km per day on roller blades. Once her husband went to Gorlitz at the Polish boarder by bicycle together with some friends. It took them about 10 days to get there — a daily average of about 100 km per day. She says, “Thank God I stayed at home!” Her eldest daughter, Jessica, married Matt Beaumont, an American MIT grad with a specialty in aero space engineering. They live near to Stuttgart, and Jessica works as an architect. Larissa studies medicine in Goettingen and is specializing in neo-natology. Saskia she calls ‘our little one’ (“though she’s taller than me,” Brigitta will add) studied languages, even Latin, in gymnasium.” Brigitte did not think her ‘the busiest student’ though she considers her outstandingly intelligent. To sustain her nostalgic ties to Tenafly, Brigitta (center) sent wonderful pictures of her children (Jessica l. and Larrissa r.) to Claude and Moli. And last but not least ... of Saskia.
new friends. Children, grandchildren, and old friends take enough of your time to preempt new, meaningful relationships. It is a bit different with the Kauders. An enormously active couple, they are forever on the go, morning to night. You can see them canoeing early in the morning, in the afternoon they’ll take in a movie, then on to a sunset sail in their 30-foot yacht, moored at City Island on Long Island Sound. After that they may go to a restaurant with live entertainment and dance until midnight. For them, that is an average day in the life of a septuagenarian couple. However, what we like most about Alex and Rita — quite aside from the fact that we enjoy joining them in some of their activities — is their total lack of pretense and hypocrisy. Most people we know make excuses and allowances when it comes to relationships between spouses, children, and sensitive issues in general. Rarely do we find a parent who comes right out and admits that their child is not always the greatest, their grandchildren sometimes less than adorable, and their world not perfect. Not so Alex he comes right out and says exactly how he feels about a given situation. There is a German saying: He does not cover his mouth with a leaf, possibly a reference to Adam covering up what is obvious. But for us, Alex taking a stand on any subject and calling a spade a spade is most refreshing and so is his and Rita’s company. Rita recalls, “My most vivid memory of Claude was his entry into our early morning self-styled “ladies’ exclusively” aerobics group (Rita is at his left). We had previously managed to discourage any man who attempted to join this elite group. We did not enjoy having male participants. They were big, hard to see around, somewhat clumsy, and unwittingly always in the wrong spot. Claude refused to be intimidated by our silent disapproval; and after a while, we admired his determination, and he was fully and affectionately accepted.
“Rita and Alex Kauders,” Claude tells us, “came into our circle of friends relatively late. Once a person reaches a certain age it is hard to make real 98
My other story, I once told you, was when I learned that he was European, that he was an ardent skier and hiker — all of the things Alexi and I love to do — so I asked him whether he would like to meet for a cup of coffee to talk. He looked at me — a nebbish (Jewish word for pathetic) 70- year-old at the time — and said, “Well, you know I’m married.” Claude chuckled when he heard that. “Well, here it is several years later and I and still am in the ladies’ aerobic class, still as clumsy as ever, and still equally as persistent. Rita and Alex have become part of our circle, and we always hope that their being so enormously active will not prevent them from seeing us every so often.”
It was a twist of fate. Mo-Li brought her aching back to orthopaedic surgeon Vincent Giudice who cured her. (Mo-Li would later credit him with getting her to move Claude from Boston to Columbia Presbyterian after ‘the accident’.) He in turn was impressed by her keen, erudite mind, so he and his wife Emily got together with Mo-Li and Claude socially.
“What a wonderful relationship followed,” they wrote. “We heard wonderful stories about Claude’s fascinating life and heritage along with Mo-Li’s astonishing life experiences. We always looked forward with great pleasure to hearing more stories. Their interest in people in all walks of life and their sense of humor made each evening spent together fly by incredibly fast.” 100
Their relationship was all the more rare in that their sports were different. Emily was New York City tennis champion at age 19. Vincent was U.S. Physician golf champion for four years. And both were mad for dancing.
Carving birds came quite naturally to Matt Cormons. He had always been keenly interested in nature and spent many hours of his childhood in the overgrown lots adjoining his home in New York’s East Harlem. It was there that he began to learn about plants and animals (mainly insects). With reading and trips to many of the city’s parks (which had a surprising variety of insects, reptiles, amphibians, birds and plants) and zoos, he was well on his way to becoming a fine naturalist. His interests led to a bachelor’s degree in animal behavior form the University of Wisconsin, Madison. Matt had never felt settled in the city and believed that one day he’d leave; it wasn’t about to happen soon. After graduating from CCNY he worked for five years at the American Museum of Natural History as a teacher and lecturer, and later as a technical illustrator and field assistant (resulting in two new Venezuelan insect species named after him). After graduate school he taught middle school science at a private school in New York City, followed by twelve years as the director of the Tenafly Nature Center, an environmental education center in a suburb across the Hudson from New York. It was there he got to know Claude and Mo-Li Finally, in 1985, at the age of 44 (and against the advice of their less venturesome friends, neighbors and family) Matt, his wo n d e r f u l , a l ways supportive wife Grace, and their two young sons decided to leave New Jersey for their dream of living a more self-sufficient life-style away from the intense pace of the city and suburbs. 101
That April they moved to a 43-acre farm on Virginia’s Eastern Shore and since then have been living very full, independent, satisfying and busy lives. Their two sons, schooled at home by Matt and Grace, are graduates of the University of Virginia and are also pursuing independent life-styles. For several years Matt assisted Grace in her long term study of the endangered Roseate Tern, taking time off each spring from the farm and his carving to trap and band terns in the Azores. The resulting data on the species’ movements has been published in one of the leading ornithological journals. Matt’s carving, which fits well into this life-style, provides a large part of the family income, but over the years has been supplemented in various ways, including a family farm and nature camp for children, leading nature walks at nearby Chincoteague Wildlife Refuge, writing nature articles, reviewing nature manuscripts, growing organic produce for market, selling livestock and hay, and teaching adult education and English as a Second Language courses. Recently Matt has been heavily involved with photography, writing copy, illustrating, sharing ideas and acting as a facilitator for an innovative and very successful family literacy program initiated by Grace. Matt has also written a children’s novel about an operatic starling that has yet to be published. But then something happened. “Along with my interest in nature, I had a talent for drawing. However, my parents discouraged me from pursuing a career in art. Nor did my father, a highly skilled cabinetmaker who emigrated from Italy as a young man, want me to follow in his footsteps. They hoped I would have an easier life with a good-paying job. But things were about to change. “A year before moving to Virginia, I had met a decoy carver on the Eastern Shore and decided to carve decoys for a living. Even though I had never carved anything before, I knew I could do it. I took a decoy carving course with a local carver and since then have carved about a hundred bird species and have gone well beyond decoys. 102
I had finally found my niche — applying my artistic talent to wood — to my late parents’ ultimate delight.”
As long as I live, I will never forget our close friend Chin Manasmontri! He falls into the category of one of the most unforgettable characters I have come across in my life. He is just about the most enterprising individual I have ever met, constantly teetering between riches and poverty rollercoaster style, as he is forever tempted by wild get-rich-quick schemes. He always comes to us for advice, never listens to it, and then gets into trouble.
For instance he got an invitation to make half a million dollars just for changing several million dollars from a Nigerian “businessman” into Thai Bahs. All he had to do was fly to Geneva, Switzerland, wait in a designated hotel, get a suitcase full of cash, take it to a designated bank, and exchange it. Easy, all arranged, no risk and a rich reward for this favor. Our advice was to simply forget about this — either he makes a fruitless trip to Switzerland or he collects the money and gets murdered 103
in the process. He went to Switzerland anyway, waited in the hotel three days — no one (luckily for him) showed up — and flew home again with $2,000 less in his pocket. We first met Chin on Nantucket in 1971 when he was assisting the manager of a boutique that specialized in Asian imports. Mo-Li, who had a little import business she called “A Touch of Malaysia,” which sold Nepalese novelties to resort boutiques, approached Bert, the owner, and landed a small order. Years later when Chin became a real friend he confessed that he had advised Bert not to show too much interest lest the price went up. “Asians are that way,” he had told the owner. Chin’s main source of income at the time was working as a Chinese houseboy for one of the society ladies — a Broadway producer, in fact the type of profligate society figure who populated the Nantucket scene in those days. Having a Chinese houseboy was a symbol of supreme prestige. Chin regaled us with unbelievable stories of what was going on in the haute monde. His employer required being undressed when she came home drunk in the wee hours of the morning. Chin had to dye her white brassieres to pink and was told by a jealous gardener to weed a patch of poison ivy (unknown in Thailand, Chin’s native country) with dire results. At a party where singer Crystal Gayle was a guest, the hostess’s pet dog ripped off her strapless dress. (Chin thought the dog was trained to do that.) Eventually, Chin started giving Chinese cooking lessons to the society clientele he had met during his houseboy career (He knew nothing about Chinese cooking.) Later he branched out into the restaurant business and made his wealthy students do all the chopping and other preparatory work in their afternoon class for the specials he had scheduled to serve that night. Later he became an expert in weaving the famous Nantucket Lightship baskets — an ancient mariner’s art — and managed to get some write ups in books and magazines as one of the oldest and most famous basket makers on Nantucket. He bought and sold real estate, started an upholstery business, and operated his own boutique. Everyone on Nantucket knew Chin, most loved him, but some of the jealous old-timers hated him for his popularity and success.” Chin expressed a similar joy in Claude: “As I think back over all the twenty-eight of friendship we’ve shared, the impression I hold foremost in my mind is your tireless energy and love of life. I cannot remember you ever giving up on anything, and that tenacity is a valuable lesson to all of us. You told me that this summer you have begun to feel that your health was turning against you, yet I remember you going on a skiing holiday with 104
a very sore hip and never complaining once. I know you will find that the best of times are yet to come. Claude, in many ways you have become like a father to me, not because of our age difference but rather for your vitality and the inspiration with which you grace your friends. I remember during the recession you helped me unselfishly and without hesitation, and that help allowed me to weather the storm. You never turned away from me and you never turned me down. With that said, perhaps the most sincere compliment I can bestow on you is that you have come to behave very much like an Asian — always, always there for a friend. Your only friend on Nantucket!, Chin Manasmontri”
The Pen Pals: New Worlds Through Words Let Hiroko Murata tell us about it: “When I was child, I lived with grandparents, parents, and sister Noriko. Nowadays, a young Japanese couple doesn’t want to live their parents. But in my childhood, it was a duty that eldest son and his wife took care of his parents. My father Yasuhiko was the eldest son of family Ichikawa, so he and my mother had to live with their parents. Having a son was important wife’s work at that age. When I was born, Yasuhiko was disappointed a little bit, because I was not a boy. But he loved us. My father worked as officer in Gunma prefecture government. He loved to see the movies with my mother, and he loved also something new — television, stereo, car, electric washing machine, telephone, etc. (they were not so popular of course; our neighbor didn’t have telephone. They used to come to my home and telephoned.) On Sunday evening, my father took us to a western restaurant and he taught us how to eat beefsteak with fork and knife. (For me, it was not fun. To use fork and knife was difficult. Although I enjoyed the western taste!!) My mother was teacher. She worked elementary school in Maebashi. My mother was so good a teacher that the students loved her. In vacation, graduated students visited our home to see my mother. My mother was generous to them. Sometimes I was jealous of her students. When Noriko and I were 10 years old, we started to learn English. My parents thought that Japanese would have a chance to go and work in another (foreign) country. So they decided they wanted us learning English. Twice a week, after elementary school finished, we went to Mrs. Kurosawa’s English class. Her class was fun. In it, we couldn’t speak Japanese but we enjoyed a melody of Christmas party and English songs. Noriko and I really wanted to go America (for us, a foreign country means America). At age 13, we entered Junior High School. In J. H. S. there were lots of clubs. My sister Noriko was member of English Club. She wished to have a foreign friend. So she wrote letter to a principal in America. One month later, huge package full of letters reached us from a New York Junior High School. Were we surprised!!! Noriko delivered those letters to E. C. (English Club) members. I was not member of English Club but Noriko gave me two letters. 107
One of letters was from Arno. He was fourteen years old and liked music, especially the Beatles. He sent me John Lennon’s picture. I also loved listening to the Beatles’ song Love Me Do. “Oh,” he wrote, “you know A Hard Day’s Night.” So he became my pen-pal. He wrote me about his marching band, his mother’s job, his hobbies. Then, he asked me “Could you introduce to Japan my mother’s company’s president whose name is Mr. Bamberger? He’s about to go to Japan on a job.” I was surprised!! I showed this letter to Noriko, my family and our and English teacher, Mr. Sakanishi. My family (especially my father) was happy to hear that news. And teacher Sakanishi told us “Our English Club could welcome him. Let’s have a party for him.” So, I wrote to Arno: ‘Dear Arno, We are happy to hear of your mother’s boss visit to us. Please ask him to stay our home. Could you tell us the date of his arrival? We’ll wait for him at Maebashi station. P.S. We (Noriko and I) will have a red rose in our right hand. Mr. Bamberger doesn’t know us, but he can spot girls holding a red rose.)” Noriko and I waited for Mr. Bamberger at Maebashi Station, holding a red rose. We waited and waited. At last, he appeared. We saw a handsome tall gentleman. And he asked us “Are you Noriko? Hiroko?” At that moment our long friendship started. When he arrived at my house, my grand parents welcomed him in a special way of bowing. Although he seemed to be surprised to see such a bow, he smiled to my grandparents. Then they led him to the room. After a short but the most pleasant chat, my parents returned from work. Noriko and I introduced him to my parents. Soon my mother prepared dinner for him. She wondered if he would like Japanese food. There was no worry for her to do that, because in fact he loved Hiroko(l) and Noriko(r) years later on Japanese food. Before we their first visit to Claude in America. started dinner, we had to 108
show him how to use chopsticks. During dinner all of us were watching him all the time, his way of using chopsticks. Finally he said with a big smile, “Don’t look at me, otherwise I’m embarrassed.” My mother was serving him without eating, so he asked her not to worry about him and to eat together. After dinner my mother said to me in the kitchen, “I just love him. He is so kind and polite. Moreover he can use chopsticks so well.” The time for Mr. Bamberger to retire to bed had come, so my mother brought a futon for him. Again my mother had to worry that it might be too small for him. He didn’t care about its size. He actually enjoyed sleeping on it. In spite of the fact that everything was new for him, he was always smiling and asking lots of questions of us. The very next morning he was surprised to see that my mother was putting aside the futon. Just a while ago the room he was sleeping in was a bedroom and now it turned out to be the living room. He was so excited he said, ‘It was just like magic’!” Hiroko’s husband, Minoru, is a neurosurgeon. One of their daughter’s, Nodoka, is especially proud of her continued correspondence with Claude. Maybe she caught the bug from her mother, who once wrote, “for me, Mr. Claude Bamberger is like a window. Through Claude’s window I can see the whole world. He shows us wonderful, mysterious world with different ideas, thinking and religions. We live in such a small, closed, one-race country, so for us to know Claude Bamberger is to know the world.”
Hiroko’s sister, Noriko, takes up the tale: “My name is Noriko. I was born on May 3, 1948. It is a national holiday, Japanese law foundation day. So my parents named me Noriko (“Nori” means law and “ko” means child). The name of most girls my age ended in “ko.” I married with Terutada in 1970. I went to a senior high school and convent college for girls. I was believed too shy to look for husband. So my aunt introduced Terutada. My aunt is a physician. Her patient’s husband is Terutada’s boss. I met Terutada and I liked his smiling face. He was born 20 June 1942. He is an only child, he doesn’t have any brother and sister. His father died when was one year old. His mother 109
died soon after we married. He majored in chemical engineering at graduate school in Gumma Ken. He worked for IGC till July last year and works for Mitsubishi now. We have two boys, Akihiko, married to Mami, and Takashi, married to Shinobu. When I was a teenager, I wanted to go to the U.S.A. America was my dream country. I didn’t have enough courage to go there by myself. It was not to be the U.S.A. but Indonesia; still I was glad to live in an overseas country. We lived in Jakarta for four years from 1974 to 1978. I love Indonesia. I love Indonesian people, songs, culture, nature very much. I belonged to Indonesian songs chorus group. I still sing Indonesian songs with the same group in Tokyo once a month. I worked for Japan Development Bank for one and a half years after college. Soon after we came back from Jakarta we lived very near to my aunt’s clinic. I work for the clinic when I am needed as a housemaid, driver or secretary. My aunt comes to my house to have dinner together almost every day. My aunt is my mother’s younger sister. She is a single, never married. My aunt is like my mother since my mother died when I was 46 years old. My aunt is 73 years old and working as a physician.
Here she is with Seiko Tomaita (Center) and Ikuko Kanda (right) I think gardening is one of the highlights in my life. I was not interested in it while my father was alive. My father liked gardening and farming. He loved roses, I like scented plants. I sowed many kinds of herb seeds like chamomile and mallon and fennel. I enjoy herbs 110
making tea, potpourri, wreath and taking herb bath. While gardening I found wonder and beauty of nature. The sky before dawn, a drop on the leaf, the air a few minutes after sunset and so on.” Reflecting on her visit with Claude in Tenafly, Noriko tells him in a letter, “You were the Claude I remembered — a wonderful warmhearted person. We talked and laughed like we used to, and you seemed to be interested in everything about Japanese culture and customs.”
Hiroko Murata’s daughter, Nodoka, carries on her mother’s tradition. She writes Claude: “It is amazing that we have been corresponding about 10 years. I don’t remember when I started to write to you. I knew that my letters were horrible at the incipient stage, so I don’t want to recall them. No matter how horrible they were, you never gave up reading them. That’s the best reason that explains how we could maintain our correspondence such a long time. First, I wrote to you about trivial things, but now I write about everything. You are a wonderful listener. Without you and Mo-Li, my life would be utterly boring and meaningless. I asked you so many things such as why couldn’t I have a real friend as you do, or how can I cope with people with whom I don’t want to be, or how I could control my appetite. You answered all questions that I asked. Even my parents didn’t, but you did. I also write about a lot of movies how I feel about it or how I like it. It doesn’t matter whether you have seen them or not, you always give me some comments. Those comments enable me to have a new aspect or view. We have known each other for years, but I only knew you through all those correspondence and pictures of you and Mo-Li. I could easily see kindness and consideration in their face. Last year my dream came true. I always wanted to see you, but you were too busy. Just because we had an Italian student stay in our house for month, we decided to go to Italy to see him. My mother wrote to you about our trip to Italy. Then we came to know that you also would visit to Italy. What a coincidence! My mother was supposed to see you in Italy, but she couldn’t. I didn’t think I could go there by myself. Only the desire to see you and Mo-Li made me to decide to 111
do that. To tell the truth, it was not as hard than I expected. Soon I found Japanese company, so my trip alone was pretty good. Except the plane was delayed. While I was heading to the hotel at which you and Mo-Li stayed, I was so nervous and scared. I wondered what if I couldn’t see you. When I arrived the hotel where you stayed, I couldn’t see you anywhere. I asked a woman at the front like this, “I’m supposed to meet my friends in this hotel.” First she looked very grumpy, but she smiled at me and said to me, “Mr. & Mrs. Bamberger, right?” I nodded. Then she said, “Well, their plane is delayed, please sit down in the sofa.” While I was Nodoka would have another visit with waiting, it seemed impossible Claude, this time in America to meet you and Mo-Li. Finally, someone came into the hotel and asked the woman at the front something. There you and Mo-Li were, standing with joy and happiness. I’ll never forget that moment. It was wonderful. People whom I only knew from letters and pictures were actually standing in front of me. I was overwhelmed, so I almost started to cry. We were talking like teenage girls. Then we decided to go out to have lunch. I told you about a stupid mistake, which I made in that morning. I ordered a waiter. “Can I have a cappuccino with milk.” I wish you were there and could see his face. He was more embarrassed than I was. As you knew I did much better than last time I order cappuccino! On that night, I couldn’t sleep with excitement and joy and happiness. On the very next day, we went so many museums and places. You explain everything you know about them. You are brilliant. I don’t know how you could remember so many things in your brain. I could never do that. If there is any way to do that, please tell me. The time to say good-bye was gradually coming up. You don’t know how I deeply wish time long last forever. My wish was in vain. The time had come, I don’t remember what I said to you, but I definitely know I could have said something nicer. 112
For two days you and Mo-Li took care of me as family. I don’t know how to thank you. If my mother didn’t correspond to your secretary’s son, we couldn’t get too know each other. It is the last thing I want to think about. Life without you and Mo-Li, it is disaster. I’ve got to say thank you to my mother who introduced me to you.” Nodoka would later spend time in England, taking a course in teaching Japanese to English speakers. While there, she also took Karate lessons and resolved that Karate would be her hobby in the future. She was struck how, while not too many Japanese are into Karate, people in England are interested in oriental things like the martial arts.” All in all, Nodoka remembers Claude as, “my best friend and listener and adviser and dear American grandfather.”
“My name is Seiko Tomita. I was born in Maebashi-city, Gunma Prefecture on January 15, 1949. I’m sort of old now, but my spirit is still 23. I’d been a private English teacher for 16 years/ but now I teach the tea ceremony once a week. I started teaching the tea ceremony several years earlier than I started teaching English.
On having an operation for sigmoid colon cancer, I decided to lead an easy life and quit teaching English, and train myself to deepen my tea ceremony. But English meant a lot to me, I’m one of the baby-boomers. In those days when I started learning English at 10, television was full of America. As I watched programs like Surfside 6, Papa Knows Best, Rawhide, Wagon Train, Laramy and so on, I was attracted by America. That’s why English became the subject I like best. I enjoyed writing to a pen pal named Robin in Australia or singing the Beatles songs every day. Though I used to be passive and diffident, studying English gradually changed me into a positive girl. At such time Mr. Bamberger came to our school to talk with the members of Overseas Pen Pal Club. That was the most exciting event in my junior high school days. I had imagined what Mr. Bamberger might look like and hoped it was like Troy Donahugh. I was only twelve. I wrote later that I envied Noriko and Hiroko and wished I was as close as they were. After that I went to Hosei University in Tokyo. and majored in English and American literature. I liked to become friends wilh foreigners and to be kind to them. So I sometimes show them the tea ceremony and explain Japanese culture or give foreign students lodging or teach Japanese.
I got married on April 13, 1998, when I was 48. Years have passed since then. I trust him and feel that we’re still newly-married. He has three children of 24, 22 and 20 years old. Their mother died in a traffic accident in 1994. l’m their stepmother. 114
The eldest son, Yuusuke, lives with us and is a student of the medical department. The second son Tsunaki studies education in Tokyo, and the youngest daughter Maki studies the science of nursing in Niigata.They are gentle and good children, but it takes time to know each other inside out. The Pen Pal memoir you wrote inspired me to write an autobiography of my father, who had two factories where the bodies of heavy and light trucks are manufactured.He was born in Fujimi.Village to the “north of Maebashi on January 26, I914. He lived to be 88. His life was successful. He came from a poor family and went through hardships as a youth, But he was a hard worker and highly resourceful, considerate and modest. He was also a good father. I miss him. I sent Claude his autobiography as a token of our friendship.”
Teruo Sakanishi wrote the following for the occasion of Claude’s birthday: “Telephone calls from Noriko and Hiroko Ichikawa reminded me of those heart-warming happenings of old in 1961. They sent to me your book, Pen Pal, which I enjoyed reading very much and I adored your correct memory for events long since history. In 1961, when you visited Maebashi City, I was an English teacher at a High School attached to Gunma University. Both Noriko and Hiroko were brilliant and active students at school, especially in my English classes. I appear in your Pen Pal book as “a youngish Japanese teacher of English.” The teacher really looks quite young at the right on page 16! He’s now over 72 years old. It was my deep regret that I had not been a talented interpreter at the Ichikawa home and also at the meeting of the International Pen Pal Club. Your book taught me your deep love for all the members of the Ichikawa family, including the ones who have passed on. I believe the Pen Pal Club students in the same picture would be sure to express their heartfelt thanks for your giving them a big opportunity of mutual understanding between the U. S. and Japan. Three years after I met you, I was transferred from the Attached School to the Board of Education of Gunma Prefecture. It was the 115
beginning of my long office life. I began with the work of supervisor, and after that became section and division chief, dean, superintendent and so on. And last July I retired as president of Gunma Prefectural Lifelong Learning Center. Now I am completely free from an office job and spend my days in reading books and gardening.”
Mo-Li didn’t like the part about Teruo (above center) thinking he had not been a talented interpreter. She reminded him that the Pen Pal group he shepherded blossomed into “a new friendship club!” She even put it more forcibly: “It is YOU who helped open the window to a new world for Claude.”
Since his visit to Maebashi city in 1961, Claude also heard from other members of the Pen pal Club. On August 2000, Ikuko Kanda (Watanabe) wrote to Claude: “It was a big surprise when I heard about you from Noriko a few days ago. Do you remember the Pen Pal Club in Maebashi City? I was a member of Pen Pal Club. And I saw you first the high school in the conference room and went to take pictures from the roof of the school. You helped me to talk to a foreigner without shame. Your story made a deep impressions on me when I was a young girl. Thank 116
you from the bottom of my heart for visiting Maebashi City and have a chance to meet you. I introduce myself simply. My name is Ikuko Kanda. I married about twenty seven years ago. When I met you, I was fourteen years old. I’m one of Noriko’s friends. I’m very happy to hear your name and nice to hear you and memories with Ichikawa’s family. I have four children, two girls and two boys. I tell them about you. They are very surprised for your story and interested in my younger days. I’m very happy for getting a chance to meet you.”
Claude also received a letter from Sanae Kodaka on September 2000. She wrote: “I’m sure it is sizzle in Maebashi City. I was very glad to hear from you after a long distance. I saw some pictures of my dear friends. I recall all those wonderful days that passed. To me, at age 41, Mr. Bamberger is a very dandy, handsome looking, attractive man. I’m terribly sorry, it seems I don’t remember anything. My memory is horrible. I’m jealous and happy to know that Mr. Bamberger and Hiroko still keep in touch, I hope he will be in good health and enjoy his life as long as possible.”
Upon his return to the United States, Claude received a newspaper article dated 1961 about his visit to the International Pen pal Club in Maebashi city. Translated from the Japanese Newspaper: “Just after 1 pm in the afternoon, we the students of Fuzoku Junior High School in Maebashi city, Japan, were so excited to see a guest from America., Mr. Claude Bamberger. We had no idea what he was like except that he was a male. Was he a student or perhaps an old man? With hope and anticipation, he finally arrived. It was 2 pm. Some one gave a shout, “The car is here!” 117
We ran down the stairs from the 3rd floor to the ground floor. He seemed at age 40, a father-like figure. We sat down around him. We were so excited. Mr. Bamberger started speaking. He spoke slowly but we could not understand his whole speech. So our teachers, Mr. Sakanishi and Mr. Tamura translated for us. Mr. Bamberger said, ‘I feel like President Kennedy, surrounded by the press and being interviewed’. We started to introduce ourselves to him. He listened to each introduction and asked questions. Sometimes the classroom was filled with smiles and laughter. The whole conversation was recorded on tape for memory. We were ecstatic that we could actually communicate with a native English speaker. Mr. Bamberger told us he owned his own plastics company. He traveled around the world to purchase scrap plastic for recycling and resale. He told us he loved skiing and enjoy visiting Switzerland every year. He was very sorry to miss seeing our famous Nikko skiing area during his short visit to Japan. We asked him what American students were like. He answered that they were like us! He asked us if we go on dates. We said, NO! NO!” We sang school songs and some folk songs. He seemed to enjoy them.”
Friendship Sometimes Surprises Itself
East is East and West is West, But That’s Just True on Maps “My name is Ching Hock Siow. Born in Malaysia, I am the younger brother of Mo-Li, who is just two years my senior. Looking back, I always remember the happy childhood days in Sua Betong, a remote Malaysian village surrounded by endless rubber trees. It was here that Mo-Li and I had the bond of playing together and sharing various outdoor activities. At dawn in Sua Betong you could be awaken by echoing tunes of the cockerels, or after, our lovely and frisky dogs would be at your bedside to rouse you from a deep sleep by licking your face. My early morning excitement with Mo-Li was to search and collect fresh organic eggs laid by our happy hens, ducks and geese. During the day we would feed them and played with the baby ducks in puddles. At the rear garden of our house and close to a pomelo tree was our little sugar cane plantation. Immediately after chopping down the ripe sugar canes, we would use our sharp front teeth to peel them and then refreshing ourselves by chewing and sucking in the succulent juice. We also enjoyed climbing the guava tree and swinging on the strong woody stems of our giant hibiscus. On 11 September 1971, I left Malaysia for England. After having completed successfully my three-year studies in graphic design and marketing in Newcastle Upon Tyne, I switched to accountancy. Since leaving my last job with a firm of accountants, I was on the dole for a short period. I still remember once a fortnight I had to join a long queue at a local government office to sign up for a petty benefit payment. Indirectly, this was like a street beggar. As I was the only Chinese in the queue, I always felt uneasy in front of all the white people. Surprisingly, some of the Geordies always gave me friendly smiles, as though they were welcoming me to join their Unemployment Club. Later, I started my own business as an accountant by using part of my apartment as an office. While doing subcontract work for other firms, I had to canvass for my own clients. My main targets were mostly the small traders on catering businesses. One day when I was in the city of Leeds I spotted a newly opened kebab restaurant. As soon as I stepped into the restaurant, I introduced myself to the owner called Ozen from Istanbul who was very delighted to meet me. This was what he said, “You came at the right time, I am looking for a new accountant.” Just half an hour later, he brought all his business records and said, “You can take it back to Newcastle 119
and prepare my accounts.” That was years ago. Today, Ozen stayed as my client. It was so easy then to get clients, like picking cherries. It would be very difficult to seek for a female companion when you are busy running a business. The quickest way was to advertise myself in a personal column of a local newspaper. The response to my advertisement was good. But I did not find the right partner. However, one young lady I met had appointed me as her accountant for her business on sports gear. Another lady introduced me her sister who had a minibus travel business, became a client too. Instead of love, I found more business. After having joined a professional leisure club for a year I became a committee member. I was responsible to welcome new guests and to ensure they become members of the club. One evening I spotted a wellgroomed young attractive blonde sitting alone. The beauty and radiance of her smile enticed me to chat her up right away. I could feel her warm heated voice signaling her desire to be close to me. Since then she always accompanied me whenever I joined any outings by the club. This English rose was indeed to become my wife, Julie.” Julie tells it herself: “One evening in the year 1989, I decided to go to a social evening. This was about to change my life. Across a crowded room I saw a gentleman with lovely dark hair, smiling at me. I was instantly attracted to him (just like the movies). We both hit it off straight away. From then on we would see each other nearly every night. The following year we were engaged and on April 20th, 1991 we were married. Mo-Li and Claude kindly came to our wedding. But unfortunately, other members of Ching Hock’s family could not attend, due to it not being safe to fly because of the Gulf war. I was happy and so grateful Mo-LI and Claude were able to attend and give Ching Hock the support he needed on our special day. 120
My parents, Muriel and Alan gave us a fairy tale wedding. It was held at a castle and was and is the happiest day of my life. The only down side was the weather. Snow, hail and rain, not to be expected at that time of year. In the evening, or close family and a few friends, Mo-Li and Claude kindly booked and arrange our evening reception at a well-known Chinese restaurant. The meal was superb. Everyone enjoyed this so much. (Even talked about to this day.) At the time I was working for local government in business information. Soon after our wedding, Ching Hock asked if I would like to work with him. I agreed and have not looked back since.” “As Julie and I do not have a family,” Ching Hock continues, “we travel extensively. One evening in Istanbul we joined a special dinner at a leading club that featured belly dancers . The guests were mainly tourists from all over the world. As soon as we arrived we were ushered to our table with Malaysian and Turkish flags. This was because in my reservation I mentioned we came from Malaysia. Right in the middle of the show, the flamboyant Turkish compeer came close to us and announced, “Please welcome the only couple from Malaysia” and immediately to my surprise he sang, “Rasa-sayang, hay, rasa-sayang — a very popular Malay song — and he expected me to continue singing. I really looked embarrassed when I couldn’t sing it. During our one week stay in Kota Kinabalu, capital of Sabah in East Malaysia, we took an early morning return flight to Sandakan in order to join a trip to Sepilok, a sanctuary for the orangutans. On the same coach we were travelling was another party of monkey enthusiasts heading to see the proboscis (big nose) monkeys. We just could not believe what we saw! Both an elderly white man and his son had massive and unusually shaped noses — the biggest we have ever seen! It was very strange and coincidental that they were on the way to see the big-nosed monkeys. They could be here doing research in primates. It was a heavy raining day. By the time we arrived Sepilok, we were soaked and could only see a few orangutans during feeding time. We were also disappointed that we did not have a view of Rafflesia, the biggest flower in the world (three feet wide. You need to go deep into Borneo jungle to find it.) 121
From Kota Kinabalu we flew to Kuala Lumpur. I suggested to Julie that we should be able to see more orangutans at the K.L. zoo. We were pleased to see many here. While we were standing and watching, a young Malay keeper was trying without any success to separate two young orangutans clinging to each other. We did not know why the keeper was doing it. Just minutes after he left, we were shocked and bewildered to see these playful monkeys performing sex — the male aroused by the female! This explained why the keeper tried to separate them. Probably he took the view that it was a taboo to see these erotic apes in a Muslim country. Since the 11 of September we are more cautious on our travelling. The Canary Islands are our favorite haunts. There is not jet lag flying there where we can enjoy the superb warm weather all year round. We hope we will continue exploring other exotic islands i.e. Tahiti and Bora Bora. We are very fortunate to have traveled so much and so far which we both enjoy. There are so many places yet to see. One of which is not too far and that is Venice. So, Ching Hock, how about it? The things that are important to me are good manners and behavior to all persons, respect and a sense of humor. I have been fortunate to have been part of a loving, caring and supportive family and look forward to continuous health, happiness, love and support with my husband Ching Hock.”
“I am Mary Wong, born in the town of Kuantan in Malaysia. After my secondary school I left for Kuala Lumpur to pursue my education at the Univ. of Malaya where I met Mo-Li Siow, now Mo-Li Bamberger. Mo-Li and I became bosom pals. We were roommates and college mates for three years and this was the start of a wonderful friendship that has endured to this day. In 1970 after graduation, I met Chew Swee Wong whom I married after a wonderful courtship of 14 months. We have two children: a daughter, now a doctor, and a son a dentist. We’ve had a great life. Chew Swee worked in the corporate sector, more like a high flying executive, making deals for the company he worked for, all over the world till 1987. I was a teacher for 25 long years. A very trying and rather stressful job. Would have liked something else, but what? A new life began for us when we moved to New Zealand in 1987. Chew Swee went into the supermarket business, which has become very successful and fulfilling for us. 122
Together as a family we have traveled to many parts of the world and done many things. Now that our children have left home, we spend a great deal of our time playing golf. We are not great golfers but we are nuts about the great game. We have played in more courses in four years than most people have in a lifetime. We have golfed in New Zealand, Australia, Malaysia and the USA. The high point of our golfing career? Seeing Tiger Woods in the flesh in the New Zealand Open in January 2002. In life we seek contentment, health and peace of mind. We strongly believe that money alone cannot make the world go round. It’s about attitude, positive attitude. You are what you believe you can do and achieve. Mo-Li and Claude were married for a very long time. So were we, and we are very happy. Happy marriages are not made in heaven. We believe in working hard to attain happiness and stability in a relationship, otherwise everything falls apart. We ask for simple things in life, love, friendship, good heath and happiness.” “We have known Claude for almost 40 years. This friendship thrived despite the great distance that separated us. We are greatly saddened at Claude’s passing and wish to join Moli in remembering him and celebrate a life well lived. Through the many postcards, letters and articles written by Claude, for he was a prolific writer, and the precious times we spent together we have a vivid picture of a man who lived life to the full. He worked hard. He was energetic, vibrant and adventurous and he had done more things, seen more places and had more experiences than most people had in their lifetime. Everyone can see he loved life despite its trials and tribulations. He might have tried to reach for the sky but he also clearly enjoyed the simple things in life. 123
We remember him happily sunning, with Moli, in our courtyard in cold and windy Wellington. We remember him enjoying a simple but delicious plate of Chinese noodle in a New York restaurant. We remember him in beautiful Queenstown in New Zealand, where, as Moli said, the stars seem bigger and brighter than anywhere else in the world and Claude was happily walking and talking with us under the beautiful Southern Skies in 1998. He obviously enjoyed this simple pleasure. I (Mary) remember him happily driving a battered old Morris Minor with no air-conditioning in 1968 in Kuala Lumpur in temperatures soaring towards 100F, with the windows wound down and his shirt buttons off, with Moli his girlfriend by his side, and me in the backseat. Claude was then about 48. We will remember many things but most of all the memory of you, Claude, you who embraced us warmly as your own friends although we were Moli’s friends. We value your friendship and we were privileged to have known you. Chew Swee and Mary
Eddie Siow grew up in Sua Betong, a rubber estate in Malaysia managed by Guthrie & Co.
Eddie’s father contributed to the development of this rubber estate by organizing locals to clear acres and acres of jungle so that the rubber trees could be planted. He quickly realized that rubber tree cultivation would become the future of the Malayan economy and began to buy up parcels of land to establish his own rubber estate and hired workers to tap the trees and built a factory to process the latex. The latex was treated with hydrochloric acid and then pressed through a mill to be made into sheets which were later put in a special “smoke house” to be smoked. Eventually palm oil would become the focus of Sua Betong’s production. Schools were not available in the estate proper, so Eddie and his siblings would stay in Seremban, the state capital, for the school week, and return weekends to home. But let Eddie tell the tale: “After completing primary and secondary school in 1956, I worked temporarily as a school teacher for two years to earn some money for a journey to Australia. In 1959, I arrived in Melbourne to begin a Civil Engineering course at Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology. On completion, I obtained a structural engineering position with Public Works Department of Victoria in Melbourne. I stayed with this Department for six years and gained valuable experience and knowledge. But the remuneration was not very attractive and chances of advancement remote and decided it was time to seek new pastures. In 1970, I ventured some 3,000 km north to Townsville in Queensland to work for a small Structural Engineering Consultant. Townsville, a small town, was initially quite a pleasant change form the hustle and bustle of Melbourne. It was also easily accessible to such wonderful holiday destinations like the Great Barrier Reef and the rainforest of the Atherton Tablelands. However, the novelty of the new place began to wear off after a couple of years. Being far away from the big cities like Sydney and Melbourne, I was feeling isolated both career-wise and socially. So when Cyclone Althea hit Townsville in 1971, it accelerated my decision to move back to Melbourne. In 1975, I married Lita Augusto, originally from Baguio in the Philippines. We had twins, Lani and Justin. Lita is 125
a qualified nurse and midwife and worked in a Melbourne maternity hospital looking after premature and/or sick babies. This time around, in Melbourne, I joined the Commonwealth Department of Works, a government department responsible for the design and construction of all government facilities throughout Australia. I stayed with this department for the next 24 years, until my retirement in 1996. During this time, my career, as a structural engineer, progressed satisfactorily and for the last 17 years I held the position of Principal Structural Engineer. In this position, I managed a structural engineering group and was responsible for design and documentation of building projects such as governmental defense facilities, factories, aircraft test facilities, research laboratories, houses, flats, offices and stores. I first met Claude in 1980, when he and Mo-Li visited us in Melbourne. Although I had learned from Mo-Li, and other family members, that Claude was a very nice guy, I still had the stereotyped image of him as a swaggering, globe-trotting American industrialist. So I was somewhat anxious as to how I should receive him when he and Mo-Li arrived to stay with us for a few days. Our house was quite modest and certainly unfit for someone perhaps more accustomed to the luxury of a five-star hotel accommodation. Furthermore, Lani and Justin were just two months old at the time and our house was, needless to say, chaotic. We did the best we could to make the place presentable and we even vacated our bedroom for them as it had the only decent bed in the house. So when the day finally arrived for my first meeting with my American brother-in-law, I was relieved to find that he possessed none of the negative stereotyped image I had pictured earlier. Instead I found Claude to be a friendly, unassuming man, full of warmth and understanding, confirming others opinions of him as a nice guy. There was nothing plastic about him, and he didn’t even have an American accent!”
Friendship closes distances to let us see the real maps.
Danny Kwan writes. “I was born on 15 December 1935 in Singapore, the only child in the family. I was still a little boy when my parents moved to 126
Seremban, a little town in the State of Negri Sembilan, Malaya, some 300 kilometers north of Singapore. The earliest memory I had of my childhood was my first day in a little Chinese School, which also happened to be my last day in school since the first group of advanced Japanese soldiers landed in Malaya. During the 3 years and 8 months of Japanese occupation, I, like other children of my age attended a school where we learned to speak and write Japanese. After the war, I found myself admitted into St. Paul’s Institution, a missionary school which was established and run by the La Salle Christian Brothers. My admission was rather unusual — as if led by Divine help. One morning, 1 went to the school and walked into a classroom and sat on an unoccupied chair and desk at the back row in the classroom. By then, the class was already in session, and it was rather odd that the teacher did not even query my sudden presence. He must have thought that I had been duly registered and granted admission and assigned to his class and that happened to be late for class that morning I guessed that at the end of the day the teacher was having problem with his attendance record as he just could not account for that extra pupil in his class. How this problem was finally resolved is a mystery to me to this day! Anyway, it was in this school that I had my first taste of learning to read and write in English and where I remained till I completed my secondary education in 1954. Due to financial constraint, I could not go for further study, and instead I opted to become a probationary school teacher in Singapore. After a year of that. I felt it rather routine and not challenging enough to my liking. Feeling restless, I happened to come across a Shell Company advertisement in the local newspaper for a position as a Sales Executive trainee. I went for an interview and got the job with a starting salary of 350 dollars a month!! I served the company for 33 years and held the position as Pan Malaysian Manager responsible for large companies accounts till I retired in 1988. Looking back it could be considered quite an accomplishment vis-a-vis my educational background, it could be considered quite an accomplishment vis-a-vis my educational background and having to compete with my fellow colleagues, almost all of them were degree holders. I married Siow Su Lan, also known as Kim Lan, in July 1962 in Seremban. She came from a large family of nine — 5 daughters and 4 sons, and is number five among the siblings. She was born in Sua Belong, little village in close proximity to the resort town of Port Dickson. She studied in a Chinese School and later moved to Convent School in Seremban. After her marriage she wanted something to do to keep herself occupied. She took floristry courses and decided to open a florist shop in Penang. She stayed with that for 30 years before retirement. 127
We always had a good laugh on the many incidents which he related to us about himself. Like an incident when he was travelling with a group of Japanese tourists on a coach tour. On the way, the tour bus made a short stop at the tourist spot. Instructions were given in Japanese when to come back to the coach to continue. Obviously Claude’s Japanese was rusty! When he tried to locate the coach, it was no longer there. It had left with the rest of the Japanese, leaving Claude all alone in a strange country. How he eventually caught up with the run-away coach and retrieved his belongings could be entered in the Book of Records as a mini-miracle! Another amusing incident he told us about was his active participation in aerobic class. We were told that when the class had dismissed and everyone had left, except Claude, lying on the floor, enjoying his early morning siesta, in the world of his own! Kim Lan, second from right, with some of her many siblings l. to r.: FangLan, the oldest, Lily, Mo-Li and Ching Hock.
We have a son, Tze-Liang, who was born on 30 March 1972. After his secondary education, he went to the United States in 1993 to further his study at the University of Rochester, where he obtained his Bachelor of Arts degree, majoring in Mathematics and Economics. After this, his interest in taxation led him to study this subject and eventually received his degree of Master of Science in taxation from Fairleigh Dickinson University in 1998. After working at Bloomberg in New York City for a year, he moved to Vancouver, Canada where he became a Senior Manager with Deloitte & Touche based in Vancouver.” Looking back, Kim Lan and I can still remember vividly our first meeting with Claude, “A red-haired devil” (local terminology commonly used to describe Whites). Kim Lan also wondered why Mo-Li would be drawn to someone not of her race or age. She concluded that Claude must be a good man, and after many years of contact she began to find him a Gun Qin — a Chinese who can touch the heart and the feeling of another. 128
Now, on a more serious note,. Kim Lan and I know that we could always count on his support, understanding and friendship, which we deeply appreciated and valued. We were extremely grateful for his personal help in getting Tze-Liang admitted into University of Rochester, and looked after him with visits and gifts during his stay in the States. Claude was always a source of inspiration to us. There were times when we felt sad and mentally and emotionally distressful, Claude never failed to contact us by phone and letters to console us with his kind words of comfort and encouragement. He brought back some smiles into our hearts and helped us to heal our wounds and gave us the strength to carry on and enjoy our retirement as best as we can.” 129
My name is Lubna, the wife of Mustafa Jumabhoy. Because Mo-Li is the sister of my very good friend Liza (Kim Lan), we’d see her a few times when she came to Penang. One time she showed up with Claude. The first time we met him was when they came to our house for dinner. Claude enjoyed the Pakistani food I had prepared, we enjoyed having them over, he was a gentle and very intelligent man. When I went to New York in 1997, Claude and Mo-Li took me, with my son Saleem and his wife Dini, out to a lovely restaurant for dinner. We got to know Claude better, and really appreciate what a wonderful man he was. Mo-Li invited us for brunch to their lovely home in Tenafly; she had cooked a great meal, and even gave me the recipes. Claude took my daughterMustafa is a Dato, the Malysian equivalent of in-law Dini, who had just knighthood. Lubna is a Datin. graduated from the School His service to the government, merchants, of Visual Arts in Manhattan, tourism, education, manufacturing, vocational training, commerce and industry, his work with around the house to show her the Chamber of Commerce, the Rotary Club, and his art collection and she was his many contributions to his charitable causes, awed. My next visit to New York etc. are just too mind-boggling to detail!! Lubna served as Hon. Consul/Consul General was in 1999 when Claude and of the Republic of France in Penang for over Mo-Li came over to my son’s 24 years, and was given the title Chevalier apartment to see our grand de L’Ordre du Merite by the President of the son Arman who was just over Republic of France in 1992 . a year old. They played with him and when they were ready to leave Arman wanted to go with them. Babies seem to know the good people!— Arman actually howled when Claude and MoLi left. Claude used to send us his writings and we enjoyed reading them. I in turn sent him a poem that expressed my feelings in his regard. It’s called Friends Forever: 130
Written with a pen Sealed with a kiss If you are my friend, Please answer this: Are we friends or are we not? You told me once, but I forgot. So tell me now and tell me true, So I can say, I am here for you. Of all the friends I’ve ever met, You’re the one I won’t forget. And if I die before you do, I’ll go to Heaven And wait for you.
Claude gave a revealing response to the poem: “As I grow older I begin to value friends even more than family. Family is tricky, — you have no choice — but with friends you have a choice and when it comes down to the bottom line you begin to realize that there are very few of them. If one is too critical, one ends up with a zero, so ‘tolerance’ is the solution if you do not wish to be isolated from human society. We have numerous people in our ‘circle’ but we are aware of their weaknesses and shortcomings and while being aware of them we also accept them as part of the human condition. In my lifetime of experience I have found that when it comes to a test, very few friendships hold up, so it is better never to let it come to a test as one is in for disappointment and hurt. But we are fortunate enough to have a few people in our life we trust implicitly and whom we can call indeed true friends, hoping that, if it came to a test, they will prove themselves.” It seems that Claude’s art was precisely never to let it come to a test.
My name is James Kwok Ho Mow (Miu). I was born in southern China in 1943. My family — my father, mother and an elder sister —migrated to Hong Kong in 1949.1 have since been separated from my mother and sister when they returned to China in 1950 and were detained by the Communist government for being members of a property owning family. 131
had time for traveling, writing, reading, swimming, skiing, etc., etc. His writings are an expressive testament to his great curiosity in other people and other cultures.
I came to Australia in 1962 as a student. On completion of my nursing training, I worked as a nurse until 1972 when I ventured into the Chinese restaurant business. In 1984 I returned to nursing. A year later, whilst working full time, 1 studied psychology and gained my Masters degree in 1991. In 1993 I was appointed by the Government Department of Community Services as Programme Director responsible for the psychology services such as counselling, assessment, behaviour management and training programmes for people with a developmental disability. Upon completion of my degree in Master of Health Administration 1994, I was appointed by the Department of Community Services as Deputy Director of Nursing Service of Western Sydney Disability Services. Later, 1 was contracted to work as Chief Executive Officer of an institution for children with a developmental disability. In 1997 on completion of the above employment contract I returned to my former position as Deputy Director of Nursing Service. I would regard my marriage to Lily as a wonderful accomplishment in my life. She is a mountain of strength and has given me immeasurable support, encouragement and solace during my student years and difficult times.
Claude had an extraordinary ability and talent to express himself both in writing and in speech and was blessed with a good sense of humour as well. Even the traumatic drowning incident he suffered did not affect the rhyming verses he wrote; his power of expression and a humorous take on lifc were still shining through these verses! We remember getting letters from Mo-Li saying Claude had had a heart operation and now has “new blood flowing through his veins” (Claude’s words) or that he just had a hip replacement!, only to gets newshortly after that that Claude and Mo-Li had just been on a skiing trip in the Alps! Then I would have this image in my mind of Claude skiing down the mountain slopes with his new body parts. Karl and I would marvel at his wonderful strength and courage! Claude was always game for an adventure, and we have many very fond memories of him. Claude made the best of every moment in his life and he had a life enriched with many experiences. We remember him for his friendliness and magnanimity. May he rest in peace.
“I am Ashita Kampmark. I was Mo-li’s best friend all through high school. My husband, Karl, and I now live in Australia, so it was hard to keep up.But we will always remember Claude as a dynamic, amiable and extremely energetic personality, constantly engaged in some sort of project. Even if his innovative plastics business kept him very busy, he still 132
Friendship is the Heart and Soul of things.
Walking the Plank Claude introduces “Micki” as all of us in the office knew Kamelia McGuirl: “She was a most amazing secretary — quick to adapt to any situation that might arise in a small office such as ours. Whenever someone quit and left us in the lurch, it was always Micki who came to the rescue. She was with us 13 years, from 1967 to 1980, when she retired and moved to Florida. Since her family still lives in New Jersey she is a frequent visitor up north and every so often puts in an appearance at the office. True to tradition, when we recently had a personnel crisis and needed someone to take over some duties in our shipping department, Micki came for a few weeks to help out.” Micki has happy memories galore — “pool parties, picnics in Branch Brook Park, clam digging in the Hamptons, movies, dinners in N.Y. City, etc. A notso-happy memory was when my car mysteriously disappeared from where I parked it when you and I were each taking a class at the New School. While you were in class, luckily, Mo-Li walked me to my car — what car? Was it stolen? Towed away?? (I thought I parked legally but who can understand N. Y. parking regulations and signs.) Off we all went to the Port Authority garage, where thankfully you had the cash to rescue me. So many happy memories! Unfortunately, many sad ones with the passing on of those we worked with and loved. We were family and shared the happy and sad times. Thank you to Claude, a wonderful human being, for being my friend and loving me.” Claude chuckles: “The disappearance of Micki’s car is only one of many bizarre incidents. Things that happen to no one else seem to happen to Micki. Here are some examples: Micki, who was always on time, came two hours late to the office one day. She told us that when her car wouldn’t start she called the AAA, who discovered that someone had stolen her battery during the night. Three days later she found a battery at the front door with a note of apology, stating that there had been an emergency, and 135
including two opera tickets to make up for the inconvenience. Micki was delighted. Three weeks later, while she was at the opera, her house was robbed! Then there was the time when she went to a shoe store to buy a pair of new shoes. When she couldn’t find a suitable pair she discovered that her own shoes had been stolen, and thus she went home barefoot. Or the story of an elegant sheer silk dress she had bought but which blew out of the window of her 48-story Chicago hotel the night before a wedding. or Micki getting hit in the neck getting out of a chairlift at a ski area. In short, Micki is a very charming, most unusual and unique person.”
Let Claude introduce Blanche Blazer, who lives some 60 miles south of Carlstadt, comes for lunch a couple of times a year and is always present at the annual office Christmas Party. “I believe she was rather skeptical when she applied for the job. She seemed to be interviewing us instead of the other way around. She came from a huge textile firm whose office manager she disliked, and didn’t want to jump from the frying pan into the fire. She played an important role during the development and growth of our business and was in charge of bookkeeping at our company for a period of 29 years.” Her own versions of things is a delight: “Somehow it showed at about age 5 that I would be involved in finances throughout my working career. At that age, my father had brought home a blank checkbook from his silk company and I had a great time writing checks! Omen of the future. Sound familiar? I attended grade school, high school and many colleges. Never got enough of learning. And though I manned booths at American Cancer society Health Fairs, and, as a member of Hadassah, the Women’s Zionist Organization of America held office in National, Regional, and local chapters, and helped raise money for a Hadassah hospital and children’s village in Israel, my life’s work was in bookkeeping, accounting for a chain of shoe stores, hosiery manufacturers and a high priced drapery manufacturer who offered me a job in their N.Y. office, Chicago and Los Angeles. But I chose the Claude Bamberger Co. in Ridgefield Park, NJ and remained 136
there for 30 years. Now in retirement I’ve made many new friends. I still enjoy sports, love a good movie (particularly a good foreign film) as well as concerts and exploring art galleries and museums. When I came to work for Claude (& Jack) they were renting a factory at the foot of Mt. Vernon Street in Ridgefield Park, NJ, right on the bank of the Hackensack River. When it rained heavily the bank overflowed, and we were inundated. I always had a pair of boots ready and waiting so I could keep my feet dry. Finally the lease was up, and Claude and Jack decided that it was time to buy a place of their own. I remember how nervous Jack was to make such a large investment in buying a factory. They finally found a very nice building on Paterson Plank Road in Carlstadt. Bob Kantrowitz, their attorney and personal friend of Claude, saw to it that the factory was swept clean before we took it over. But the nicest thing — and I really do believe one of the reasons that Claude bought this building — was that the previous owners were in the business of making in-ground swimming pools. Directly in front of the building was a very nice Olympic-size swimming pool that was used as a demonstration pool, and did we love that pool! It was the place for outdoor picnics at lunch. And weather permitting, we would take a quick swim before lunch. (I always had a bathing suit ready). What I always remember is that Claude insisted on interviewing prospective secretaries in a bathing suit (how he would have liked that!). Well, we had our fun (we were also permitted to use it weekends for those who did not have a pool at home). Eventually, the pool was filled in to make way for additional parking spaces. We had grown and the additional parking lot was needed. So, as we gave up the pool our business grew. I think Claude impressed many a customer and supplier when we had the pool. They were always invited to be our guests. Claude certainly became famous in the plastics industry.” Claude couldn’t help responding: “Ah yes!, the swimming pool. The truth is, that was the main reason why we purchased the Carlstadt property! Its suitability for our business was secondary. As Blanche aptly described, it turned out to be the focal point of our activity, not plastic scrap, which was our main source of income. Because of our inefficient, lax management and a lack of specific rules, all we had to do was look in the swimming pool when we could not locate one of our employees during working hours. On weekends there was chaos. Only “privileged” employees had the keys and the use of the pool, but apparently dozens of keys were in circulation; when my family went on a hot summer weekend to use the pool, we found all kinds of unknown people having picnics and enjoying themselves. One day, when I entered my office to change into my bathing suit, I found a stranger at my desk, making a telephone call. When I asked who he was and what he was doing, he merely said: ‘I am using this phone to make a long distance call. They won’t know the difference.’ In the end, when the pool sprang a leak that would have taken a small fortune to repair, we decided to call it quits and turn it into needed additional parking space. While it lasted we had a great deal of fun!” 137
Jerry Simmons is from Mt Pleasant, S.C. At one time, Mt Pleasant was populated only by the blacks. Now the whites are moving in. Taxes have gone up and blacks lost their property because they could not afford the taxes. They had farms and could fish for food. But now the shore line is dotted with private homes and the blacks have hardly any access to the sea to fish for food. Jerry had three sisters and three brothers. David was a long shore man at Charleston port; unloaded 3 ships in a day whereas the New York Port unloaded
one ship a week. Lawrence worked as a conductor on the New York subway for 20 years. Earl worked for Claude for 10 years and for the police dept. until he retired. Jerry’s mother worked as housekeeper for the Humphrey family in Charleston for 30 years. They, too were a large family and Jerry used to play with two of her boys. His mother took home all the laundry to be ironed every night in her house. She also sold flowers on the street in Charleston. At that time, the blacks were not allowed beyond Broad Street in Charleston. Jerry himself dropped out of school to take a job as handyman for the Humphreys for $15 a week. Mr. Humphrey taught him a lot about repairs, etc. In World War II, Jerry escaped the draft by drinking “soap water” which showed up in his blood so he was rejected. He says the blacks who were drafted were dying like flies and he was not ready to die. During the war. Jerry used to date someone at Fort Moultrie. To get by the sentry, he had to learn the required password. Did he ever date a white woman. ‘’No way,” he says. “If you go out with a white woman, you never come home alive.” 138
In 1945, Jerry went to New York, stayed a while and then returned home. Back again in New York, he had a job making buttons, which he left when he never got a raise. He was making $ 37.50 a week 1953, he paid $5.00 to a head hunter to get him a job. He called the company — Claude Bamberger located at 152 Center Street, Red Hook, Brooklyn — and spoke to a Claus Becher, who told him to report for work at 1 p.m. Jerry didn’t believe that this was a real job because no one starts working at 1 p.m. So he was heading back to the head-hunter to get his $5.00 back, but decided instead to go to Claude Bamberger to find out more. When he showed up at 1 p.m., Claude Becher told him to start working immediately. Jerry was paid $ 90 a week (plus 2 hours overtime in the morning, which was another $42 a week) Jerry tells the story from there: “I still remember the very first day I met Claude in April 1953. He came to the shop (factory) and watched me work. We were at 152 Center Street in Brooklyn. I was operating a grinder at that time. I didn’t even know that he was my boss. An hour later, he told my supervisor that he wanted to see me in his office. I had just started the job and thought that now he was going to lay me off. But I was wrong. Claude told me that he liked the way I work and that I was mechanically inclined. He was moving the business to Ridgefield Park in New Jersey and he wanted me to join him there. I told him I didn’t want to
work in New Jersey. I was then living in Brooklyn and thought it would be too far to commute to NJ. Claude promised to increase my salary if I join him in Ridgefield Park which he did from $ .95 per hour to $1.10 per hour. Claude took a liking to me and we would go on trips together to look at materials. I also drove the truck for the company. Whenever we were together we would talk non-stop. I remember one advice he gave me. He said, “Jerry, never mix business with women.” That was sound advice. One day he asked me what I planned to do when I retire. I told him I would like to go back to Mt. Pleasant in South Carolina and build my own house one day. He told me he would help me with that. He said, “First, you find a piece of land.” I started looking. The piece of land I found was the same piece that my father had advised me to buy for $75.00 in the 1950’s but I told him that I was never coming back to Mt. Pleasant. I was wrong. Then Claude hired a lawyer to do the title search on the land. Then he checked my pension fund with the union and advised me to take out the money which I did. I had $38,000 and the land costs $15,500. After I bought the land, Claude helped me build my house and sent me some furniture. He was always very generous to me. I have never met a man like Claude — easy-going, down-to earth and very sensible. He was like a father to me, always looking out for me. I will never forget the time that Claude and Mo-Li visited me in Mt. Pleasant, South Carolina in 2001. Everyone in that community was shocked that my boss would come all the way from New Jersey to celebrate July 4 with me and my family. That was the talk of the town. Boy, did I enjoy their visit. We had such fun. They took me peach-picking and we toured the plantations and we went on those historic tours — all things I never did in my life and never knew existed. I was able in turn to introduce him to the famous iron work created by a relative of mine that dot the city of Charleston and many other cities as well. After Claude’s accident, I visited him at the hospital regularly. And I will never forget our trips together after that to Nantucket. Mo-Li would drive and I kept an eye on Claude. Sometimes he got agitated and when he saw the “Exit sign” along the highway he thought we missed the ferry to Nantucket. He loved Nantucket and was happy to go there. A few days before Claude passed away, I visited him at the hospital in New York. He told me that he was confused because I was not supposed to be on the 140
same train with him. He told me he was going somewhere. He said, “Jerry, when I get off from the train, you have to continue your journey. And remember to look after Mo-Li.”
To say that friendship can be colorblind misses the whole point!
In early 1980, Mary and Alex Jethanamest moved across the Hudson River from New York City to New Jersey. “In order for me to have more time for our toddler son,” Mary (below) tells us, “I had decided to change my job in New York City to New Jersey. I answered an ad in The New York Times and here I am working for Claude Bamberger Molding Compounds Corp. since 1980. I remember telling Alex that if it doesn’t work out I can search for another job. Claude was uncertain whether I would be suitable.. He noticed I took five or more minutes to answer each question. He told me later that it was because a hard thinking person who thinks things through before making a decision. Now almost thirty years later, I am still here. I am so glad that I accepted this job and to be associated with Claude and Mo-Li whom we feel very fortunate to have known. At the beginning Mo-li always said to me, ‘You and Claude misunderstand each other all the time.’ She had to be our translator even though we all speak English, not German, not Chinese and not Thai either. Claude’s last visit to Claude was a very special boss Patterson Plank Road and a very warm soft-hearted gentleman. The plastic business has been through good times and bad times, but Claude always looked at the world with a positive attitude. He was very kind and very generous to his employees. His kindness and his generosity never escape from his expression and words. I truly admired his 141
willpower to enjoy life like a fighter who perseveres. I have come to learn many lessons in how life should be lived. Claude loved outdoor activities very much. He even planted the raspberry bushes and vegetable garden at the back of the factory. In the summer during lunch break he would change into his gardening outfit and go out to pick the berries and tomatoes with much joy and happiness. Claude was born to be liked; everyone liked him especially his beautiful smile. He is always in our thoughts and especially in our hearts. We love him and miss him very much.” No wonder Claude described her as “among the most conscientious, reliable and trustworthy persons we have come across during our life.”
Robert Stanton Feder was born in Newark in 1931. “I got smart in my seniority,” he says, “and married Eileen — probably as wise a choice as Claude marrying Mo-Li.” He went to Harvard Law School and became a lawyer and has been practicing in New Jersey ever since. He enjoyed and still enjoys all of it. And though he considers marrying Eileen and producing three daughters, Stacey, Debbie and Lisa, “professionally,” he adds, “I had a far better and more enjoyable life that I ever could have imagined. I am a firm believer in fundamentals upon which our country is based and have found an excellent outlet for my patriotism and my sense of appreciation to those who have
preceded me to the practice of law. I believe in justice and my confidence in those who seek it has stayed with me all these years.” Enter Claude: “Ever since my close friend and lawyer Bob Kantrowitz had died, we had been looking for a lawyer/friend, someone with whom we could feel comfortable to help us from time to time with legal advice without getting into a big deal. About three or four years ago, when we had a legal problem with our union, someone recommended Bob Feder. While waiting in his reception room I was kind of impressed by the literature scattered about. Not the usual mix of Time, Vogue, US News, etc. but rather some interesting books and a guide to canoe routes in New Jersey. When Bob finally saw me waiting, I had become engrossed in one of the books and he said, “Oh go ahead and take it home. I keep these books to teach my Spanish speaking clientele English and literature. When I indicated the canoe guide, it turned out that, like myself, Bob was a canoe enthusiast and loved white water canoeing, the same as we did. Not only did I get good advice about my union problem, but tips on the best canoe routes in New Jersey. Bob Feder seemed to fit the bill! The feeling was mutual. “Very rarely in life,” Bob says, “do you meet someone and know immediately that you were destined to meet by some mysterious force. Perhaps a shared view of the world, shared ethical values, shared love of the outdoors (especially as seen when paddling a canoe down a river) all of these and more. Thus, we had to meet Claude (and Mo-Li), though the mysterious force took its darn sweet time in arranging the meeting. But it did happen and we were enriched by having known and shared portions of our lives with the irrepressible and ageless Claude and his lovely wife, Mo-Li.”
Christopher M. Wolak, Claude Bamberger Company’s accountant, was born in Nisko, Poland in 1961. He arrived here with his mother, Maria, a seamstress who instilled in her son a work ethic and respect for others that has served him well in his dealing with clients as a CPA. The fact that he was born in the year of the Ox is also quite helpful in coping with the arduous hours one must work in that profession. Married in 1988 to Pamela Schuster, a hairdresser and owner of her own salon, they have no children of their own by choice, but enjoy spoiling the little ones of their friends and loved ones during the holidays and other social occasions. 142
There is more to his life than just work, however, and in his spare time Chris enjoys being a Mr. Fix-it, reading magazines on such varied topics as music, stereo and hometheater equipment, cars, computers and watches — usually while listening to CD’s from an eclectic collection, which includes classical, jazz and so-called alternative music. Having reached age 40, Chris reflected on the fact that the first twenty years of one’s life are spent in schools, the next twenty acclimating to one’s job and finding that significant other. His conclusion? “That the best is yet to come as all the pieces of the puzzle that is one’s life are in place to be enjoyed for another forty (hopefully) years.”
Other Special Friends In 1939 David Barish joined a civilian pilot program and trained to fly for wartime transatlantic ferry operations. In 1942 he joined a TWA piloting C-54s transoceanic air traffic control flights. In 1944 he enlisted for active duty in the Amy Air Force and qualified on the P51D Mustang. “Fortunately,” he says, “the Japanese surrendered the day I graduated.” The Air Force then sent him to the USAF Institute of Technology for two years to qualify in aero engineering and another two years to Cal Tech to obtain an MS and professional degrees in aerodynamics. He then worked with the wind tunnel testing at Wright Air Force Field in Ohio. In 1953 he left the air force and followed a career as an aero consultant. Subsequently he became a consultant with NASA in a program to land a man on the moon. In the early 1960’s he developed a new rotating parachute. I t st i l l re m a i n s a s a staple in today ’s military arsenal. Later he produced the first generation of gliding personnel chutes allowing spot landing in high winds. It proved to be a version suitable for the landing of three men and was chosen by the NASA for their requirement to return astronauts safely to earth. In 1965 his gliding chute was first applied for civilian use to be used on ski slopes under the name of Sailwing as a new summer sport which he called: Slope Soaring. The idea was that the soarer would skim down the grassy ski slopes sail into the air and softly land at the base area. The project was shelved because too many parachutes ended in the surrounding trees. 145
Now the plot thickens. “One day in the summer of 1993,” David tells us,” while driving near a site in Ellenville, NY, I saw thirty paragliders in the air. Thus, at the age of 72, I realized that para-gliding had become a very popular sport, both in the European Alps and in USA. My interest was rekindled and I went back to my drawing board and sewing machine. It seems to have paid off. In 2001, when I was 80 years old, I was very pleased to be invited to the annual gliding festival at St. Hilaire, France as the guest of honor and finally recognized as the true inventor of this sport. Two years later I was flying again, trying out my newest designs. Unfortunately I ran out of test pilots (one having been killed ) so I had no choice but to continue on my own. One video shows me about 300 feet off the ground flying my latest prototype in very turbulent conditions.” David’s wife, Johanna is a very lively, outgoing and and capable individual. During World War II, she trained and worked as an aircraft mechanic. However, the major part of her professional life was devoted to the publishing industry as an editor. For some years she ran her own concert promotion business. — music being her passion. To all that, add a few years with the United Nations, where she worked for the Development Program in the Documents Division. At the age of 75, she had her first paragliding experience during the annual paragliding festival at St. Hilaire, France, where husband David was being honored for his contribution to sports flying. Johanna recalls the way she and David first met Claude. “It was on a the cold sunny day at the top of Whistler Mountain (below), and it was “love at first sight.” His intelligence and warmth drew us to him, and though we know Claude for just a few years, we became old friends” from the start. Claude has an enthusiasm for life that surely infects those around him. He is gracious, considerate, generous, open-minded, and genuinely concern-ed about others; he is a giver, a sharer, a doer. We have known him to go out of his way to help others even when it involves inconvenience to him. Claude insists on being a fully active member of the human race, leaving few stones unturned. His lifelong 146
love of full speed on ski slopes is amazing, and his companions have learned not to get in his way! What higher reward in life is there for a man of character, with all these attributes and passions, than having the love and companionship of a great partner — Mo-Li!” Claude was struck by these relative newcomers in his life. “It is very unusual to form a close relationship at a mature age, yet it was exactly as Johanna, herself an extremely outgoing person, says: ‘love at first sight’. Only after we knew David, a very q u i e t , s o m e w h at reticent man, for a couple of years did we learn to our amazement that he was the “inventor” of paragliding, which differs from a simply parachute and from hang gliding, A parachute comes in a bundle strapped to your back when flying in an airplane. Upon jumping out of a plane in mid air, a cord is pulled and hopefully the parachute opens and lets you glide gently to earth. Hang gliding differs in the sense that it involves a lot of equipment, having an aluminum tubing frame that holds one or two people in prone position. A steep slope, preferably located where wind up draughts are available, is necessary for successful soaring, A paraglider, by contrast, is much simpler and operates more like a soft kite inflated by ‘ram-airfilling’ chordwise tubes. The equipment involves only a cloth wing and lines, which fold up small enough to be carried in a backpack. In fact, David never goes anywhere without carrying his chute on the chance he may pass a suitable site to do some soaring.” 147
Johanna goes back to her earlier theme: “Some of the best memories we have of Claude are the times we spent on the ski slopes together. Even in his mature years he was a great sportsman, and shushing downhill with him stays in our memories forever. Of course, that was only one part of our friendship with Claude. His intelligence, humor, insight and enthusiasm for life was contagious. It made us love him and he loved us back. A wonderful legacy for us.”
Fred and Janet Williams Berndt tell this tale: “Claude was fascinating to us from the moment we met him. Fred and I will never forget our first encounter with Mo-Li and Claude at Johanna and David Barish’s home for brunch. I was impressed by the obvious love and warmth that exuded from the wonderfully odd couple. I say odd, only in the sense that I related on a personal level, myself — a young American of African descent being married to a German man almost my parents’ generation.
I recognized instantly the respect and affection that I have experienced in my own marriage and felt an instant kinship. Opposites do attract! Claude was charming, intriguing, and exuded an openness, an ease, a curiosity that was alive and very present. The anecdotes he shared about his life as an immigrant who for years worked hard to climb to the top of his profession, the revelation that we both shared the same birthday, and his vitally cosmopolitan view of the world seemed to break all barriers of time and space that normally define relationships. We instantly felt connected to this wonderful man as a kindred spirit we’d known for a lifetime. Fred and I were obviously not the only ones. It seems as if Claude’s life was full of fast friends who remained so for a lifetime. One our dearest memories of Claude and Mo-Li occurred when we all ended up 148
in Switzerland on the occasion of his 80th birthday. This is a memory that sums up the special light that Claude was in the world. There we were (right) with a group of robust near-octogenarians (all but Mo-Li, Fred and me), classmates of Claude, eating the delectable “Gateau au Beurre“ (below) special to Patisserie Weber in Valangin near Neuchâtel, drinking crisp wine from the region, enjoying the stories of friendship each shared. In come the waiters with not one, but two incredible birthday cakes – one for Claude and one for me and I’m struck by the generosity of spirit both Mo-Li and Claude embody by remembering that I, too was celebrating a birthday. Claude’s quick wit, easy humor and zest for life was so evident that day – filling the room just like the aromas and flavors of the various “Gateau au Beurre“ we enjoyed - at one turn salty, at another, sweet, but always deliciously unique.
One of Fred’s and my favorite anecdotes have to do with the parting picture that remains in our minds at the end of that lovely day. It’s a picture we often describe with a certain amount of envy and awe, as well as an inner motivation we both hope to be able to call on as we advance in years. The weather had not cooperated all day and a persistent and steady drizzle accompanied by gusty winds showed no signs of letting up. Fred and I were looking forward to a lazy afternoon in the warmth of our hotel room and perhaps a short nap. And what did our companions do? 149
They headed off, ‘berg auf’ for a hike in the hills, the near 80 year young Claude leading the way as he waved goodbye and disappeared in the thick fog of the Swiss mountains.”
Claude and Mo-Li first met Nives Zanotto and Georges Phillip in Klosters, Switzerland in 1980. They went there to ski. Just before they left for Klosters, they received a letter from a Mr. Georges Phillip, a lawyer and Financier in Zurich who wish to meet the Bambergers to discuss the possibility of doing some business in plastics. What started as a very formal meeting ended up as the beginning of a very long and warm friendship. Not much business was done over the years but they kept in close touch and spent many fun evenings together in New York, Zurich and on vacation in the Caribbean exchanging colorful stories of their business deals in Russia, India, Pakistan etc.
They enclosed a wonderful poem in German about time by Elli Michler which was most appropriate. Claude who always had a million projects could never could find the time to do half of it. “On your BIRTHDAY we do not wish you just any gifts. We wish you what most people do not have: We wish you TIME. Time to enjoy and time to laugh. And if you make good use of it, you will be rewarded. We wish you time for what you do and time to reflect, Time for yourself and time to share with others. We wish you time for leisure and recreation, And time to be happy and content. We wish you time -- not just to pass We wish the time for you to last As time to marvel and to trust But not a race against the clock. We wish you time to reach for the stars, And time to grow and mature. We wish you time to hope anew and to love: There is no sense in putting it off. We wish you time to find yourself And enjoy every day, every hour. We wish you time also to forgive We wish you: Have time to live! Free translation by Sigrid Karner of a German poem by Elli Michler
On the occasion of Claude’s 80th birthday, Nives Zanotto and Georges Phillips wrote: “Dear Claude, We have given considerable thought to what we would like to wish you on your 80th birthday. We found it. We would like to wish you TIME, moments of joy, of well-being. We would like to offer our sentiments of friendship and strong ties with a great human being. We are happy to have time to raise our glass to you on September 23rd wishing you a HAPPY BIRTHDAY!” 150
Remo Solari was born in Italy Oct. 31, 1926.Castel San Giovanni, Piacenria. He came to America in 1947 and became a TV repairman. He worked also in restaurants and loved to cook. Margaretha Streefkerk was born in Amsterdam, Holland April 15, 1940. Came to the United States Sept. 22, 1963. She worked as a governess in Flushing, N.Y. (in Holland she had worked and studied to be a children’s nurse at a children’s hospital on the outskirts of Amsterdam. 151
She tells us, “The family I worked for in Flushing lived next door to Remo’s oldest sister., His sister asked if I would go out with her brother. He had 3 children from his first wife, who past away in 1962. His children were then 4, 6, and 7. We did go out and we got married Aug. 8, 1964 in Flushing. The children were 6,8, and 9. Together we had three more children. All together six, two girls and four boys. Later on my husband fixed anything and everything less and less TV. Because TVs changed so much and, they became cheaper to buy a new one. We had a pizza restaurant with ice cream etc. in Englewood for a while so we did both. It got too much also with the children who needed more driving etc. When our last son was born, he was special and needed a lot of attention. All in all our children are grown now. The oldest son Anthony got his doctorate from Duke University so he lives in North Carolina. Peter started his own business in a basement in Dumont and has a big place in Orangeburg for T shirts from all schools and landscaping etc. He lives in Blauvelt, N.Y. Renee lives in Michigan and has her degree in Certified Medical Assistant works for 3 doctors. Yvonne works in Englewood Hospital catscanning technician also M.R.I. lives in Cresskill, NJ. Ed has his finance and economics degree from the Wharton School of University of Pennsylvania, lives in Belgium and is a head trader for Electrabell,
Remo Jr. lives in Park Ridge, NJ in a group home and is very happy and works at ARC in Hackensack. We have all together 13 grandchildren and our life is very busy especially with Holidays. When thechildren got older I worked nights in a group home for 9 ½ years. At the moment I work for 3 dentists in Englewood Cliffs.” How did he meet Claude you ask? Let this poem tell the tale: Every weekend Dr. Lou Mandel would ring Mr. Bamberger’s bell. They would have breakfast together and talk about everything and the weather. One weekend Mr. Bamberger said: I need some repair done very bad. Could you recommend a man? Well, said Dr. Mandel, I think I can. So Mr. Bamberger met Remo Solari and he took him to his factory. They did repairs and talked and in the end, They were happy, each had a friend. We all went out in the morning for dim sum in New York. For dim sum you do not need a fork. Inside every noodle is a surprise Some is good for the brain, bones or the eyes. On the market were many different goods. It all came down to good vegetables and foods. We had dinner together and Ray was the cook, It was delicious, the recipe did not come from a book We all enjoyed fondue and lobster together It was great and everything was always better. Claude also loved linzentart That was a cookie after his heart. Having dinners and discussion together, you see, means a lot when you are with great company. Friends like Mo-Li and Claude it is our wish To have many more times like this So with this poem Grace and Ray, Wish you a very “Happy Birthday”
This from Shining Sung; “Claude, hop on the time capsule, tighten your seat belt and let’s jet back to 1968,to that precise moment when I first met you. It was shy of 43 years ago when my sister and I arrived in New York. That fall, our cousin, Richard, with whom you have been doing business, came from Taiwan to New York on a business trip. He wanted to introduce someone he knew to protect two girls, fresh out of college in Japan, who landed in the big jungle called New York.
You, Claude, were the chosen one to fulfill this role. I remember (how could I not?) so well that night when you invited us to have dinner at the restaurant way up high at 666 5th Avenue. (Were we impressed by the stunning view of the city!) You were all smiles, and patiently explained to us every item on the menu. (That was the first time in my life I had raw oysters!) That was also the first time I met an American with such a heavy accent. And the rest, as they say, is history, and what a glorious history it was!! During all these years until you left us, the wonderful things I have done together with you and Mo-Li are enough to fill a small volume: the winetasting, hiking, skiing (in my silk stockings, you would tease me), studying in Tenafly (during my graduate school years), vacationing in Nantucket, West Hampton, the Kutztown fair, going to movies (Blue Angel is still my
favorite) and of course, countless dining and theater experiences, all of them ‘the first time’ in my life. How you have opened my mind and vision! I was also able to travel vicariously through your travelogues filled with most unbelievable anecdotes to the most remote areas on earth. Your positive attitude and sense of humor made all the ordeals you and Mo-Li encountered during your adventures looked like blessings. Through your diligent writings and the time we spent together, I learned about your extraordinary past which was always a living part of the present, be it a place, a country or the people who were lucky enough to cross your paths in their lives. People who have touched you are in turn touched by your royalty and friendship. For you, friendship is a lifetime commitment. By spreading your wings over continents and harboring your friends wherever they could be, you spread your joie de vivre. Claude. We love you and we miss you.”
Jean Beltramini tells us a little bit about herself. “I worked for J.P. Stevens and Co., Inc,which was located in the Empire State Building. While there, I was a receptionist, model (when needed) and secretary. At the time Stevens was one of the largest textile firms and since Ken was a textile engineer we met there and the rest is history. Of course, several years later I decided to pursue a career as a travel consultant and that history you know! Nowadays I enjoy the work I do as a volunteer at Hospice House working with patients and volunteering as a docent at Davenport House, which is the house that started the Savannah Historic Society, which saved several historic homes from destruction in the name of progress to make way for a parking garage or such! Also, the joy of travel that Ken and I did, and the many friendships formed through the years. For, truly, family and friends are among my most 155
important possessions. I guess the above is what I stand for, but I must add that I hope in my heart.
My most favorite of all their trips was the trip to India in 1985, which included attending the Pushkar Fair (above), with arrangements for a private tent with private facilities, and organizing trips by train from one area to another, hotels, etc. It was, for me, a joyous accomplishment, and I could not wait to speak with them upon their return. Fortunately, most of my efforts were successful, but Mo-Li did become ill while traveling through India. However, nothing stops these inveterate travelers. I always loved to pick up the telephone and hear Claude say, â€˜Well, Jean, I have another challenge for you.â€™â€?
I feel it only appropriate that I should start a letter like this while flying to a destination, for travel is how I first met Claude. I was his travel agent, consultant, coordinator, etc. for a good part of my travel consulting career. He was and will always be my favorite client. Why? He is so intelligent and well read in all he does, so it is no surprise for me to say that I learned so much by doing his trips. When he married Mo-Li, the research and attention to detail became even more interesting.
Business as Usual — Friend or Foe? Peter Triano had worked early on in many jobs, including one with Claude’s uncle Anton. In 1960 he formed the Federal Plastics Corp. which started in Elizabeth, N.J. but moved to Cranford in 1978, where it added serious compounding capacity. He likes working with management people from both customers and suppliers. And takes special pleasure in having helped a half dozen companies get under way. His business philosophy is simple: Integrity and fairness. Build a business for the long haul, both in satisfaction and success. “It’s been more years than I care to count,” he tells us, “since I first met Claude Bamberger. Looking back over the years, I realize that Claude was a pioneer, perhaps the originator of the recycling industry. Through the years Claude established the standard for ethical business in supplying plastic materials one could depend on. His introduction of acrylic purging compound is an example of his creativity. I would be remiss if I did not thank Claude for being unofficial historian of our end of the plastic business. Without his books, our legacy would be lost. Most of all I am glad to have known Claude for his witty philosophical friendships.”
“I first met Dan Salopek and Jim Sattler” Claude tells us, “in April, 1982 at the Firestone office in Akron. I visited them to buy their offgrade Stereon 840 and Stereon 870. Later that year we had dinner with them in New York. From 1982 to l996 we met with them several times a year. Jim (with his wife Mary and daughter Julie) came to Tenafly once for Thanksgiving. We 159
also met them in Scotland and attended Julie’s wedding at the Firestone Country Club.”
Jim goes deeper into the relationship: “Ralph Waldo Emerson once wrote, ‘Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.’ This certainly epitomizes the style by which you have lived your life and the way you have touched the lives of countless friends and associates in our case, your guidance, counsel and common sense advice was invaluable as we started our fledgling business, Momentum Technologies after years with Firestone. But as you know our friendship with you and Mo-Li goes back more than twenty years through much of the Firestone years. During those years we developed both a close business and personal relationship. We cherish the good times we had together at the Stony Hill Inn and our wonderful mushroom dinner in Ballachulish Scotland. Of course, Julie still measures the success of Thanksgiving by your hospitality and the gathering of interesting people at your home.“
Dan Salopek wrote to Claude, “Since our first meeting in 1982, I have enjoyed the many dinners and the excellent, friendly hospitality with you and Mo-Li. The professional and personal support that you have given to me over the years will never be forgotten. I have always admired the integrity and honesty that you and Mo-Li bring to your business. Life would be so much easier if there were more people in the business world like the Bambcrger’s. I sincerely thank you, for your friendship and allowing me to call you each a “friend.” Maybe Dan was thinking of his own adventures in business. He started with Firestone T&R as a process engineer in the synthetic rubber plant, moved to sales in 1965, and retired from Bridgestone/Firestone in 1996. 160
He had held positions as Sales Rep, regional Sales manager and served as Manager of Marketing for 25 years. Upon retiring he started a new business call Momentum Technologies with two former associated from BFS (one of them Jim Sattler). But he’s proudest of the sales and marketing he did at Firestone in the late 80’s and early 90’s, which were probably best in the synthetic rubber industry. His philosophy was simple: manage people the way you’d want to be managed. He wanted people who were working with him to be smarter than he was — “which wasn’t too hard to find,” he would modestly add. Integrity and honesty were very important to him. He was a true believer that ‘average people’ can achieve a great deal, and he couldn’t stand pretentiousness. “Don’t forget where you came from,” he’d tell you.
Frank Sawyer prefers to remember Claude as the lively, humorous friend of a long past. “We first met many years ago, how many I don’t know. After a stint with the Army Air Force, I worked, from 1951 to 1987, for a long forgotten supplier in the industry (DuPont.)
I remember one occurrence relative to our professional relations. Our plant had a large number of bins filled with resin stored in an adjacent field. Along came a flood and the bins were immersed. On offering the product to Claude as is, I noted the resin could be contaminated by flood water leakage. Claude’s immediate response was, ‘Don’t worry where this is going they can have people pick the contaminated specks out by hand. I also squirreled away not only Claude’s publications, but also his travelogue letters with their, to me, unbelievable tales of adventure. Dining with the natives and sharing some of their lives until India!
Working with Jean-Claude, we purchased huge amounts of their off-spec Hytrel acrylic and shipped it to Taiwan to make rubber sun-glasses. We had also bought it from Dupont USA. Putting it all together, at one point we became Dupont’s second largest customer in the world.
Frank’s daughter, Daphne, would agree, too, but perhaps for different memories. She wrote Claude, “When you first entered my life one Christmas, it was as a coveted — and hard-fought-over — box of divine Swiss chocolates. You immediately assumed mythical qualities, much like a wizard’s. Then, as a German Pen Pal in your book, wisdom was added to your mythical goodness. Though your writing we all enjoyed your humor and wit, which, over time, reduced your ‘mythicalness’ and increased your humanity. When we met again years later, your perfection was completed with your gracious appreciation of my cranberry cordial. I thank you for your friendship to our family and me.”
Bill enjoyed the meeting enormously. “As you can imagine, I meet many people in my job and it always seems I have a constant stream of visitors. But I would like for the both of you to know how truly special your visit was to me. I felt that we made an immediate connection at a deeper level, to the point that I could not wait to get home that evening and tell my lovely Persian wife, Mehrnaz, all about it.”
Under Matt Taylor’s direction, CYRO grew to become the largest North American producer of acrylic sheet, and a leader in the production
Bill Walker also worked for DuPont — as plant manager for Du Pont Nemours, Luxemburg.Claude and Mo-li were seeing him for the first time along with Christophe Englebert (Operations Manager for off-spec Hytrel) and my old supplier Jean-Claude Pierrard whom Christophe had replaced. 162
of acrylic molding and extrusion compounds. Following the completion of a $35M expansion program, CYRO’s Osceola, Arkansas, manufacturing facility yielded the largest continuously manufactured sheet capacity of any producer in the world. Claude and Mo-li did a lot of business with him. Matt thought Claude’s “was a life that speaks wonders. When I think of you — beyond the obvious firsts, namely, Mr. Plastics and true professional — other descriptors come to mind: patient and enthusiastic, gentle, resilient, tough-minded and energetic, thoughtful and fair minded, and a person with a true love of life.” Mo-li felt that the acrylic business could never be the same after Matt’s retirement. “You represented,” she said” “a bastion of intelligence, integrity and a warm heart. It would be difficult for anyone at Cyro to match this.” And she adds with some sniff, “ In fact we have experienced the opposite.”
Roberto Pietrocola tells the story: “My friendship with Claude dates back to the late 1940’s. At that time, he was working for his uncle at A. Bamberger. Shortly after his uncle died, Claude left to form his own plastic company. I was introduced to Claude by a mutual friend, Vasco. Vasco was also a good friend of my wife Piera. Claude was active in Italy selling various types of plastic materials. I bought acetate, vinyl and polystyrene scrap from him. Claude and I became good friends. We had many philosophical discussions and we often skied together. He was a champion skier. He was always ready to do anything which is “risky,” like skiing on slopes which were dangerous. I was not as good a skier and I had trouble getting out of some of the pistes. Our friendship continued through the years. 164
One day Claude announced that he was coming to Milano with someone from the Orient and asked me to book a romantic room for them at the Hotel Manin where he always stayed. That was the first time Piera and I met Mo-Li. They came to our house for dinner and that the start of our long friendship with Mo-Li, too. Then we all drove to Cervinia to ski and I got them an apartment at the Geomein. In 1975, Piera and I together with our sons, Flavio and Marcello visited them at their house in Nantucket. We had a marvelous time. It was the first time I saw a horse shoe crab. After I sold my company Impi to LATI, I also started Caleppio in Milano which made house wares out of vinyl. I had over 400 employees. To be in business at that time was very difficult. Interest rate was over 17 percent. The unions were very strong and made many demands. Eventually after 20 years, I was forced to close Caleppio. In the late 1970’s I started another company in Ireland manufacturing vinyl. Piera and I bought a beautiful mansion called the “Mentone House.” Claude and Mo-Li also came to visit us. In 1973, the Bambergers , including Claudette and Stephan, spent a week with us on our 120 ft. yacht the Bar Mingui (below) and we cruised in the Mediterranean stopping in places like Corsica, Sardinia. I think they enjoyed themselves very much.
(Who wouldn’t enjoy themselves? A crew, a butler and a cook who favored six to ten course meals, a walk-in fridge with crates of fruit, scuba diving, swimming, sun and scenery. Only Stephan had to endure the compulsory chess matches with his father.) In the late 1970’s, Claude came alone to visit me in Dublin for a weekend. He had a serious business problem and needed my advice. He had discussed the problem with Mo-Li who told him to see me to get a second opinion. So he flew all the way to Dublin to see me just for that. After many hours of talking, the solution became quite clear and he went home to implement it. It was also what Mo-Li had advised him to do. Other memorable trips included skiing in St. Moritz. Shortly before Claude’s accident, we also met in Venice and stayed at a wonderful hotel, the Metropole. Piera was unable to come. We had a great time together. That was the last time I was with Claude and Mo-Li.”
Ron Dugger knows a good story when he sees one “ Having watched Claude continue to be as active as a 20-year-old man into his late seventies, there is nothing that would surprise me. Depending on the time of year, Claude would be found skiing and/or hiking in Switzerland, walking in the White Mountains, swimming the English Channel, or dropping out of airplanes, pinching nurses while recovering from a hip transplant — anything one can imagine, he’s either been there or done that! And, he did everything with zest.
I have been extremely fortunate to hike with Claude (and Mo-Li) on numerous occasions both in New York State and in New Jersey. Mo-Li, always in contact with the Carlstadt office, would often be found sitting 166
upon a boulder conversing with staff via her cell phone. When someone invents a hand held fax, she will undoubtedly be monitoring that too! Claude is another story. I suppose, had he not been in semi-retirement by the time he and I hiked together (late 80s and 90s), he might have carried some of the same 20th century gadgetry, however, probably not. He consistently chided me about my compass, maps, and hand-held global positioning system, shaking his head in disbelief that I could not navigate simply by observance of surrounding natural phenomena. I quickly learned that he mostly depended on his keen sense of direction and past, lifelong, hiking experience to find his way. This worked well in Switzerland, where the paths in the mountains are so wide and worn, the way is almost too obvious. However, in New Jersey, he did admit once or twice that a map and compass could be helpful (but never compulsory). This is not to discredit his natural sixth sense about such things, at all however. More than once, the compass in Claude’s head proved to be better than my Boy Scout-learned woodsman’s skills, compass, map, GPS, intuition and all. Amazingly, he can be relied upon almost every time. But then, there was one time in Harriman State Park when he and I walked an unplanned mile along a busy highway. This hurt his pride a bit. When I hiked and maintained New Jersey trails as a member of the New York/New Jersey Trail Conference, besides my tools, my backpack contained plenty of water, a couple of Diet Cokes, some Oreo cookies, a peanut butter sandwich, an apple, a piece of cheese, and maybe some pretzels. Most of my trips were day hikes, usually 7-10 miles in length, following a careful plan. Using trail maps, I carefully plotted a circuitous route that returned me to the car in the late afternoon (Claude considers such senseless planning a bit trite). He did appreciate the beautiful scenery that he never dreamed existed in his own home state of NJ (like the Bearfort Trail overlooking Greenwood Lake), but always marveled at my preparations. This is nothing to compare with his preparation, however. Namely, lunch! The first time I saw Claude lay out lunch in the woods was truly amazing. First out of his pack, he produces a bottle of aged French wine. No self-respecting man of Germanic origins would ever dream of taking nourishment without the proper elixir to wash down the cuisine, right? 167
Next he pulls out a small bag of processed meat the likes of which I have never seen before. Upon inquiry, I learn it is goose liver pate. I am becoming uncomfortable and hide my peanut butter sandwich under the rock I am sitting on. “Goose liver pate.” I exclaim, “what in the world is that?” Then out comes the packet of fresh French bread, pre-cut in thick slices of course. He starts smearing the beige pate over its surface. Sure enough, he gives it to me and says, “Try it!” I get a huge surprise, the stuff is excellent. “I knew you would like it,” he says, never blinking.
He again reaches into his pack and extracts a small package of German sausage (the high fat and cholesterol stuff); makes perfect sense, I tell myself. I also learn that this is not just German sausage, it is a connoisseur brand, which probably costs $7 a gram. It too proves to be delicious. Sin is scrumptious. The palate tingles with excitement as the body writhes from the abuse. Next he produces some special ham, pischutto? This also goes on the French bread, after finishing the pate, the proclaimed second course. In between, he is washing down everything with splashes of wine. I am concerned because someone has to drive. I say, “I better lay low on the wine and stick to my Diet Coke.” He laughs and says, “Don’t worry, with your compass there could not possibly be a problem.” Time for dessert. Claude again reaches into that small but bottomless pack and displays yet another bag, containing some exotic pastry the name of which I cannot remember, but it must have been 3000 calories per bite, boy it was rich. All thoughts of anything which came out of Claude’s bag not tasting good are now permanently dismissed. I want to offer something back to him for all the goodies he is giving me, but all I have are Oreos. Quite ashamedly, I give him one and he politely accepts it. The true response is written all over his face as he slowly chews it, then politely says, Interesting. 168
He professes to like my Colby cheese too, but his cheese, ooh-la-la! It is of Swiss origin and made out of goat’s milk. It is very rich indeed. Fruit next, but of course, it is no ordinary apple or peach. It is a small pear called a seckel pear. It is about the size of a golf ball but soft and so sweet your eyeballs fill with tears. This guy really knows what’s good. The pears turn out not to be from some exotic part of another continent but purchased at a local farm market. which he takes me to on the way home. While there, I must also purchase some Seckel pears to take home to my wife. How does he know these things? I’ve been around for almost sixty years myself, I never heard of Seckel pears. If you have read his two books, Breaking the Mold and Pen Pal, as I have, you realize that this is no ordinary man. Having personally had the privilege of dealing with Claude Bamberger for many years in the plastics business, I can honestly say that those experiences were among the most pleasant in my career. He operates with high integrity, fair-mindedness, a good sense of humor and sound horse sense, always. He really knows the business, but he will not take advantage of anyone who could fall easy prey to his vast experience (unlike most others in the recycled plastics business). Claude is easily one of the finest and kindest men I ‘ve ever known. I was enriched during our time together. I gained a few pounds too.”
Claude replied to Ron’s story. “We met Ron about a decade ago while doing business with his employer the BASF Company. Actually our first meeting wasn’t the greatest. Working for a powerful company as BASF he had a bit of a chip on his shoulder. The product we were buying was a relatively new plastic compound and the manager of the company insisted to sell us this off-grade material on the condition that the material had to be exported. Ron Dugger, his subordinate, scoffed at Mo-Li’s quotation of a lower price prevailing on the export market. He said he could get a much 169
better price. “We know the export market” Mo-Li replied, “There is no way anyone can pay that much.” So Mo-Li lost the deal to our competitor, who paid more than we had offered. However contrary to his promises he sold the material to a domestic customer of BASF who used, up to that point, the much higher priced first quality plastic. The transaction backfired when the customer called BASF and complained about the poor quality. After that incident, Ron became a good friend, a good supplier, and was never tempted again to listen to promises of others offering substantially higher prices. One day Mo-Li came home from a meeting with Ron and said that she had made a date with him to go on a hike. I had met Ron before. He did not strike me as a regular hiker. Anyway, I, heralding originally from Switzerland, took a dim view of New Jerseyites claiming to be hikers. In fact this was my turn to have a chip on my shoulder. When we met, Ron had a compass and all kinds of fancy gear; ‘ridiculous,’ I was thinking to myself. Despite maps and compass we got hopelessly lost on that day and instead of the planned four hours, it turned into an eight-hour hike. I was utterly exhausted, while Ron acted as if eight hours of ups and downs on rocky terrain was the norm. Many hikes followed and I always had a bit of trouble keeping up with Ron. In fact, despite coming from New Jersey, he was a far better hiker than I had ever been.” But Ron gets the last word:
Norman Plotkin, as he reflects on his action-packed life, is sensitive to its highs and lows and, surprises , but especially to its opportunities to show others respect. “I am in the eighth grade,” he tells us,” and take the test for admission to Stuyvesant High School. I am the only student in my class to be accepted. Commuting every day from Brighton Beach in Brooklyn to mid-Manhattan, I am elected to Arista and The National Honor Society. I serve on the school newspaper, The Spectator, and am on the swimming squad. I graduate in the top 10% of my class and declare my major to be chemical engineering. A defining moment!
Next, I am a senior in chemical engineering at the University of Illinois in 1953. All the major chemical and petroleum companies are interviewing on campus. Chemical engineers are in high demand and short supply. I’ve been on several interviews and have scheduled one with Shell Oil Company. I’m deeply involved in a senior research project and forget the interview. Suddenly 15 minutes into what should have been the interview I realize that I’m missing it and run down the corridors in my rubberized laboratory apron, filthy, grimy and perspiring. I see two immaculately dressed young men peering out from an office. I identify myself, apologizing profusely for my tardiness. They took one look at me, dirty, sweaty, and two of the most beatific grins faced me. What should have been a half-hour interview 170
ended up taking close to two hours. I had a job offer when I left the office. A defining moment! I have been awarded a teaching assistantship in chemical engineering at Columbia University in 1955 having been drafted into the U.S. Army in 1953. I complete all my course credits and am working on my Master’s thesis when my advisor receives an appointment to another university. I am now married and a father living with my wife’s parents while attending university. Two years in the army, two years at Columbia, no significant income and a family to support. The chemical engineering department wants me to start my research all over because no one wans toto advise me on completing my current research. I contact Shell; they immediately offer me a position and I leave graduate school with no degree but I have a job and I’m now supporting my family. It’s now the 1970’s and I’m director of Marketing and Sales for Novamont Corporation, a subsidiary of Montedison S.P.A. manufacturing polypropylene. E.I. duPont is one of the largest consumers of polypropylene, a highly desirable customer by any standards and one which Novamont has been unsuccessful in selling. The problem is that although much of what Novamont manufactures is high quality, it is inconsistent and this customer demands the highest quality from their vendors on an everyday basis. I initiate with the cooperation of manufacturing and research a zero tolerance product manufactured to duPont’s exacting standards . Any materials not meeting these standards are rejected and reserved for other non-critical applications. Hundreds of rail cars are shipped to duPont with not one rejection. I am elected by the Montedison of Director to be Novamont’s Vice-President of Marketing, Sales and Research and Development. A defining moment! Novamont’s sales are significantly exceeding capacity and Montedison’s laboratories have developed a high efficiency catalyst. I push for additional capacity and Montedison approves a giant new facility, which is built. This makes Novamont ripe for acquisition and U.S. Steel’s chemical subsidiary purchases Novamont and I have a severance package. I am now 52, too young to retire. I do not have a job. Another defining moment! The petrochemical industry has for all intensive purposes relocated to the Southwest. Within the New York City area there are minimal employment opportunities in the chemical industry. I join Bamberger Polymers owned by Claude’s cousin Gerald, , and while there, I meet a representative of McGraw-Hill who alerts me to opportunities that are in the chemical and plastic trade publications and I become sales manager for Modern Plastics magazine, then the president and publisher of XIP Target 172
Marketing magazine, a direct marketing publication. I retire in 1994. By this time my family consists of my lovely wife, Eve (above), Harvard law graduate and former head of the Family Law Unit of the NY Legal Aid Society, three married daughters, all university grads, and six grandchildren.”
Claude’s response to a letter Norm wrote Claude revived their earlier alliance. “Mo-Li and I have a warm feeling in our hearts for Eve and Norman, though we more or less lost touch with them after Norman retired and seemingly devoted all of his time to his grandchildren, whom he adores. What was unusual about Norman was that despite his high position as a vice president of Novamont Chemical, he “stooped” so low as to actually talk to a scrap dealer. Most people in Norman’s position could not be 173
bothered to talk to the likes of me and, unlike most corporate bigwigs, he was incorruptible. Most people working for global corporations in some way manage to look out for themselves, using their position to further their own goals, whether they be political or financial. As for Norman, I always had the impression that, rather than lining his own pockets, he looked out for the company that employed him. One of my best memories is the day I asked him to have lunch with me because I needed the advice of a big corporate wheel. I was having a lot of personnel problems at the time and sought his input on how to go about solving them. In the course of the conversation I also mentioned that Mo-Li had just graduated from a pilot program sponsored by New York University and some global corporations, aiming to persuade recent Ph.D. graduates to pursue a career in big business rather than academia. I said she was looking for a position with a multinational corporation like Novamont, hoping he might offer her a job. Norman either misunderstood or thought he could solve two problems for me at the same time when he said: “I really don’t think you have a problem at all. Mo-Li would be the ideal person to manage your business and solve all these personnel problems. Offer her a job!” “I was crazy not to have seen this myself. Ultimately, Mo-Li did join our business, and it was the best decision I have ever made in my life. She turned out to be a hundred times more efficient and successful than I had ever been. All this thanks to lunch with Norman.” The embrace of respect and friendship was reciprocated. “I’ve known Claude Bamberger for more than 25 years,” Norman says. “We were part of the Golden Age of Plastics. I met Claude and subsequently, Mo-li, when I was Vice-President of Sales & Marketing of Novamont Corporation, a manufacturer of polypropylene resins and acrylic sheet. Claude and Mo-li were re-sellers of plastic materials worldwide. Many re-sellers vied for my company’s materials. Their livelihood depended on a consistent source of saleable product. I came to know Claude in the ’70s when I was marketing director and technical director of a petrochemical company. Claude was in the business of selling off grade material and scrap when available. The off grade was perfectly suitable for many applications but was sufficiently off-spec so that we could not put our label on it. As such, these materials were in great demand by re-sellers and we were contacted by many. We soon came to know whom we could trust. I put Claude Bamberger on the top of the list. He always called for an appointment and kept it once made. Claude never lost his temper, never raised his voice; he would smile and say, maybe next time. I would smile back and say, ‘the sooner the better.’ 174
Most times we came to an agreement and I have to admit to being prejudiced in his favor on a number of transactions. In every business there are companies with questionable business practices. I knew who they were. Claude knew who they were; in many cases they were his competitors. Never did Claude say a negative word about them. Claude positioned his company as how he could help me, not how much better he was than anyone else. He would make his case, they could make theirs. When Claude introduced me to delightful Mo-Li, I was very impressed with her charm and business knowledge. Claude had many interests outside buying and selling plastics and I think left to his own devices, he might have let the business side slip. But he had Mo-Li and therefore the best of two worlds. He could indulge his other passions knowing that Mo-Li could run the business if he were absent. If Claude left a legacy, for me personally it might be the way he fostered mutual respect in his dealings with others. One could not help being charmed by his gentleness, warmth and honesty. I learned from Claude that one can be resolute in business and still be civil, that honesty and forthrightness is still the best policy. As for his professional legacy: Claude Bamberger was a giant in the plastics industry and if there was a Hall of Fame, he surely would be one of the earliest inductees. We didn’t socialize much and it wasn’t until many years after I was involved plastic industry that my wife Eve finally met Claude and Mo-li when Claude was writing his magnum opus to the plastics industry, with his family as the central theme. I remember how Eve and I were so impressed with his biographical study. It was a pleasure and an honor to have known him and worked with him.”
Appendix A. Publications B. Obituaries C. Final Notes
A. Publications Some publications by contributors to “Celebrating Friends.” The list of publications is by no means complete but it enables the reader to learn more about the people in Claude’s life and their professional interests. Claude P. Bamberger
Breaking the Mold. A Memoir (Claude Bamberger Molding Compounds Corp. 1996) Pen Pal. A Memoir (Claude P. Bamberger International Inc. June 1999) History of a Family: The Bambergers of Mitwitz and Lichtenfels 1770-1992 (Claude P. Bamberger International Inc. 1993) Art (Claude P. Bamberger International Inc. 1989)
Aus der Geschichte der families Bamberger. Kindheitserinnerungen an Lichtenfels (Ubersetzt von Gerhard Schmidt, Herausgegeben vom Stadarchiv Lictenfels, 2005)
Mein Leben (Pendo Verlag, Munich 2009)
Right-Wing Extremism in Contemporary Germany (New Perspectives in German Studies) (Palgrave Macmillan 2009) The German Social Democrats since 1969: A Party in Power and Opposition (Westview Press 1994) 177
David A. Emery
The Compleat Manager: Combining the Humanistic and Scientific Approaches to the Management Job (McGraw- Hill 1970)
The Story of Modern Skiing (University Press of New England 2006)
The Social Implications of the Financial Crisis in Southeast Asia. (United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs Report June 2000). Keynes Was Right: The Stock Market and the Long Run (Barron’s, October 25, 1999, p. 71) Cost Shocks, Collusion and Differential Efficiency in Oligopoly (with B. Ma, Journal of Quantitative Economics, 2 (1): 9-19, January 1995)
The Nurses Drug Handbook (Wiley/ Delmar 19767. Seven editions) At the Mercy of Strangers: Growing Up on the Edge of the Holocaust (Pacifica Press 1998 ) The Mothers Group: Of Love, Loss and AIDS ( iUniverse 2006 ) America’s Medici’s: The Rockefellers and Their Astonishing Cultural Legacy (Harper 2010)
Juden in Bamberg: Die Jahrzehnte Vor den Holocaust, (Verlag Frankischer Tag 2000) A Coat Too Long, An Illustrated Autobiography ( Fen Drayton UK 2005)
Medical Library Center of New York, Oral History Project. Voices of the Past
Radioactive Iodine and the Salivary Glands (Mandel S., Mandel L - Thyroid 2003: 13; 265-71) Serum electrolytes in bulimic patients with parotid swellings (Oral Surg Oral Med Oral Patho Oral Radiol Endod 2003; 96: 414-9) Dental erosion due to wine consumption (JADA 2005; 136: 11-5) First Bite Syndrome after parapharyngeal surgery (Mandel L, Syrop SB - JADA 2008; 139: 1480-3)
Theatrical Close Up (Magical Publications, 1983)
Feldafing (November House Canada 1983)
The Problems of Ethnic Cohesion among the Chinese in Peninsular Malaysia: Intraethnic Divisions and Interethnic Accommodation (L. A. Peter Gosling and Linda Y. C. Lim (eds.) The Chinese in Southeast Asia, vol. 2 Identity, Culture and Politics. Singapore: Maruzen Asia. pp. 170-188 1983)
Eine Kette von Sicherheitsnadeln (Verlag Mainzer Reihe - Christian Wegner Verlag l956 ) Ein Traum von Freiheit (Marion v. Schröder Verlag 1975) Frau Dahls Flucht ins Ungewisse (Marion Schröder Verlag 1966 ) Tango in Tripolis (Verlag Claassen l999) Charlottes Liebesdienst ( Verlag Claassen, 2003)
Eddie’s Dream (Something More Publications 2005) Night Air Dancing (Something More Publications 1990) Journey Man (Something More Publications 1995)
B. Obituaries Included below are obituaries of some of the contributors to this book. George McCauley (1931-2010) “Fordham mourns the death of George McCauley, S.J., a former faculty member in the Graduate School of Religion and Religious Education (GRE). He was an associate professor of theology and religious education at the school from 1971 to 1987, who specialized in sacramental theology. Father McCauley was an avid practitioner of the study of group relations. He was a frequent organizer and facilitator at Tavistock Group Relations Conferences and other group-process experiences. He wrote for America and edited S.J. New York, The Medical Mission News and Here and Abroad. Among his theological publications were Sacraments for Secular Man (Herder and Herder, 1969) and God of the Group (Argus, 1975). Father McCauley wrote five books of poetry, composing and producing background music for two of them. More recently, he published a novel, Eddie’s Dream (Something More, 2005), in which the central character navigates the shoals of priesthood, religious life and teaching in the second half of the 20th century. He was a hospital chaplain at the Jewish Home and Hospital in the Bronx and worked closely with the student Eucharistic ministers who administered communion to the hospital sick. Father McCauley was honored with the GRE’s Founder’s Award at its 2007 Sapientia et Doctrina Celebration. A wake will be held on Friday, Sept. 10, from 3 to 5 p.m. and 7 to 9 p.m. at the Loyola Hall Chapel on the Rose Hill campus. Funeral services will take place on Saturday, Sept. 11, at 10:30 a.m. in the Fordham University Church. Founded in 1841, Fordham is the Jesuit University of New York, offering exceptional education distinguished by the Jesuit tradition to approximately 14,700 students in its four undergraduate colleges and its six graduate and professional schools. It has residential campuses in the Bronx and Manhattan, a campus in Westchester, the Louis Calder Center Biological Field Station in Armonk, N.Y., and the London Centre at Heythrop College in the United Kingdom. 180
David T. Barish ( 1921-2009) Mr. Barish was an aeronautical engineer/inventor. Developer of the sports paraglider; he is considered the “father of paragliding.” In 2000 and 2005 he was honored by “Coupe Icare”, the annual international festival sponsored by the French free flying organization based in St. Hilaire, France. For further details see obituary in The New York Times , January 1, 2010. Steven E. Enderes, age 54,
(From The Record, April 27, 2005)
Longtime resident of West-wood, NJ, on Sunday, April 24, 2005. Steve began his career in design and cabinetmaking as a set designer for Broadway Shows, Julliard School of Drama and Summer Stock theater. He later took his skills as craftsman/artisan/cabinetmaker to Bogert Built Furniture in Westwood, NJ Additionally he designed and built displays for Georg Jensen Jewelers in NYC, as well as LaViano’s Jewelers in Westwood, NJ. Later he went on to build his own business “Wood Wrights Inc.” Fine Cabinet making in Paterson, NJ. He designed custom built furniture for clients such as: Richard Nixon, Ralph Lauren and Mary Higgins Clark Steve’s creative designing abilities won him several prestigious awards. In 2000 he won first place in the NY Watch Display competition for his innovative representation of “Millennium Man”. His enthusiasm for art/design and expression won him first place awards at various shows throughout NYC including the Jacob Javits Convention Center. Currently, Steve worked for “Wood Artisans” in Northvale, NJ- as chief designer and cabinetmaker of high-end furniture and interiors. Notedly, Steve was a highly spiritual man who touched the lives of all he met. His talents and’ love of all things beautiful were beyond compare. His generosity was never-ending- his kindness, strength and love were, and are truly a beautiful thing. Beloved husband of Sharon Enderes (nee Schattenberg). Devoted father of Emily, Sarah, Bethany and Anna Enderes. Loving grandfather of Alexandra. Cherished son of Marion Enderes and the late Edward Enderes. Dear brother of Kim Pasini, Kathy Ofledt and Gary Enderes. Service at Becker Funeral Home, 219 Kinderkamack Road, West-wood, NJ on Friday at 8 PM. The family will receive their friends on Friday, 2-4 and 7-9 PM. Memorial gifts to Tomorrows Children’s Fund, Don Imus WFAN Pediatric Center, c/o 181
Hackensack University Medical Center, 30 Prospect Avenue, Hackensack, NJ 07601 or Alzheimer’s Association, 400 Morris Avenue, Denville, NJ 07834-1365 would be appreciated. Lena Wulf Lena Wulf, 103, of Hartford passed away peacefully on Thursday (January 4, 2001) in the presence of her beloved friend, Halina Sudyka, who was like a daughter to her. Born in Cologne, Germany on November 3, 1897, she was the only child of the late Paul and Franziska (Halle) Wulf. In Germany, she studied weaving at the Bauhaus and established her own studio where she taught physical fitness. She immigrated to the United States in 1936, and became an American citizen in 1944. Lena worked for a doctor and an orthopedic surgeon for many years. which inspired her to return to school at NYU to receive a degree in Physical Therapy. She worked at the Greater Hartford Easter Seal Rehabilitation Center and later as a field worker for the State of Connecticut. She had a great interest in meditation and spiritual exploration, and taught yoga and exercise as a volunteer to the residents of Avery Heights until she was well into her 90’s. One of its earliest residents, Lena moved to Avery Heights in February, 1963. She was a bright light whose amazing energy and spirit will be greatly missed by those she leaves behind: the communityof Avery, her fellow Cottagers, and all of her many close friends across the country and around the world. A Memorial Service is planned for·Saturday, Jan. 13, in the Chapel at Avery Heights at 2 p.m. In lieu of flowers, Lena requested that donations be made to the Avery Heights Wellness Initiative, 705 New Britain Ave., Hartford, CT 06106. Funeral arrangements are entrusted to the Hartford County Direct Cremation and Burial Society.
Published on Aug 12, 2012