Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Spotlight - You're Not From Around Here, Are You? Reminiscences by Helga Stipa Madland

You’re Not From Around Here, Are You? Reminiscences

Author: Helga Stipa Madland
Publisher: Aventine Press
Pages: 202
Genre: Memoir
Format: Paperback/Kindle

I start with when I was born, then there was a World War, and then I went to Norman.—Klodnitz, in Upper Silesia, now a part of Poland, was my birth place; when everything collapsed in 1945 at the end of WWII, my family and I became refugees. We trekked across Germany, to the west, and eventually settled in a small village and then another one. Next was Canada, then the United States, Missouri; eventually we settled in Idaho, where my Father, who was a forester, found a job. I did not stop there! I was married and continued my merry journey, California, back to three different cities in Idaho, and later Seattle, where I earned a PhD. My children were grown by then, I was alone and ready to find a position. That’s when I ended up at the University of Oklahoma in 1981, and have been here ever since.

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Book Excerpt:

Not long ago I returned from a summer of research in the German Literary Archive in Marbach near Stuttgart, Germany.  Marbach is the birth place of the eighteenth-century writer Friedrich Schiller, author of the “Ode to Joy” and many other famous works, and is also the location of the Schiller Museum.  The museum and the library are visited by many Germanists, teachers and scholars of German language and literature. 

After I took the shuttle from Will Rogers Airport in Oklahoma City to Norman, home of the University of Oklahoma, I settled back into my house and realized I needed an item that required running to a department store.  When I stood at the cash register with one or two other customers and started speaking with the cashier, one of the women standing in line with me said: “You are not from around here, are you?”  “No,” I answered.  It was a question I had heard many times.  In fact, I had just heard it in Germany when I boarded my plane at the Frankfurt airport; in German, of course. 

My role in life seems to be a fluent, but accented speaker of two languages—English and German.  German I learned at my mother’s knee, as the saying goes, and English I learned when we emigrated first to Canada in December 1952 and then to the United States in September 1954.  I turned fourteen in January of 1953. 

This is going to be my memoir.  Friends have startled me by saying “I can’t wait until your memoir comes out.”  I had never considered writing one, it seemed to me something for someone like Goethe, Dichtung und Wahrheit (Poetry and Truth), or people who write smashing memoirs that turn out to be stunning successes and end up being false.  But then, how can one remember everything exactly?  I am scared to death about telling an untruth, but somehow I think I am bound to if I proceed with this project.   

And proceed I shall because I have nothing else to do—except laundry, shopping, cooking, watering plants, feeding cats, dogs and birds, keeping up with family and friends on the internet, paying bills, making travel arrangements,  that’s about it.  Richard keeps the kitchen clean.  And expresses a great deal of sympathy when I complain, which I do a lot.


About the Author: 

Helga Stipa Madland was born in Upper Silesia and emigrated to the United States with her family in 1954. She has three children and six grandchildren. She is Professor Emerita at the University of Oklahoma and is the author of academic and other books. Her husband, Richard Beck, teaches Ancient Greek at OU in Norman, OK, where they live with a dachshund and four cats. 


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