You’re Not From Around Here, Are You? Reminiscences
Author: Helga Stipa Madland
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
was my birth place; when everything collapsed in 1945 at the end of WWII, my
family and I became refugees. We trekked across Poland , to the west, and
eventually settled in a small village and then another one. Next was Germany , then
the Canada ,
United States ;
eventually we settled in Missouri ,
where my Father, who was a forester, found a job. I did not stop there! I was
married and continued my merry journey, Idaho ,
back to three different cities in California ,
and later Idaho ,
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 Seattle
in 1981, and have been here ever since. University of Oklahoma
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Not long ago I returned from a summer of research in the German Literary Archive in Marbach near
. 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 Stuttgart, Germany . The museum and the library are visited by
many Germanists, teachers and scholars of German language and literature. Schiller Museum
After I took the shuttle from
to Oklahoma City , home
of the Norman , 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
when I boarded my plane at the Germany 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
Silesia and emigrated to the with her family in
1954. She has three children and six grandchildren. She is Professor Emerita at
the United States and is the
author of academic and other books. Her husband, Richard Beck, teaches Ancient
Greek at OU in University of
Oklahoma , where they live with a dachshund and
four cats. Norman, OK
Her latest book is the memoir, You’re Not From Around Here, Are You?: Reminiscences.
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