Monday, June 30, 2014

LINKS TO A LONG PIECE FROM steeped in seattle AND THE INTRO TO "write some numb's, bitch!"

    • I got lucky - for once - having David Brewster as editor for A PRIVATE BOWER, a section from STEEPED IN SEATTLE, in making it fit Crosscut's purposes (his work involved eliding a side story and then proved marvelously permissive in allowing a few adumbrations I only thought of at the last moment).
    • Not so in Seattle with "WRITE SOME NUMB'S, BITCH!".

    • After the Seattle Times and one of their Pulitzer Prize winning writers  and I did not find a way of translating my approach to this material into something that might fit a family paper & even though I had the recommendation from a Seattle Weekly writer I never even heard back from Mossback then the editor there..  
    • The title "WRITE SOME NUMB'S BITCH" was a frequent utterance by an ex-prize fighter (Think white Sugar Ray Robinson!) who ran City of Troy, an outfit that hustled circus tickets, and who employed a den of cross-country thieves. Troy, holding fists full of hundred dollar bills in his hands, a hard-on in punk shorts, would utter this memorable phrase to his sale folk while merrily dicking them and holding the fists under their nose. ("Smell this, Bitch!") It goes nearly without saying that the circus AT Troy's was far more amusing than the circus that he was selling in Seattle to raise funds for the Police Guild.
    • This priceless experience is the only matter that made up for being broke, broke for having been hustled by the likes of a sly brute of a crook like Roger Straus.

    • For, had it not been for Straus's dastardliness the disappearance of a small stipend that allowed me to pursue some long term projects after I left the so distracting and sybaritic  NY City, would not have entailed these interesting consequences, as of 1994, and also entailed another ten year's worth of translating, some fine texts, of course - especially the work of Josef Winkler, Adorno, Habermas – chiefly for  Ariadne Press in Riverside California, a firm that, however,  does not even send galleys to Publisher's Weekly or Library Journal: so no great surprise if no one has heard of some of the marvelous Austrian stuff that they put out, such as my best translation, of Handke's WALK ABOUT THE VILLAGES  
    • And, a further THUS - it is probably irrelevant that Ariadne fail to send out royalty statements as their contracts stipulate.

    • It is astonishing the world I bumbled into as of 1960 when I had an ABC OF READING epiphany in Alaska while contemplating what adventure to pursue after forest fire-fighting and geological surveying
    • THUS, there is the occasional thought that I might have been better off pursuing a second love, of wildlife biology. Having had my own kind of peculiar childhood where I found myself communing with animals, I cannot imagine that I could have done worse than with some of the wolverines, wolves and grizzlies I encountered in the world of the arts, jackals all. Not that there is anything to prevent FSG/MacMillan USA/ Holzbrinck (who after all are living off the 50 books they have in print courtesy of my work in the late 60s) from repairing Straus’s infamy, so I might at least get my teeth fixed; but no – the ones who will get the money are the lawyers.
    • In the event, I, who am involved in multiple projects, haven’t even tried to hustle "WRITE SOME NUMB'S, BITCH!"  First, I held back for a documentary in the making, but the AG indicted Troy for taking illegal in-kind donations, Troy took a powder and drove a truck full of these donations back to Illinois, then I turned WSNB into a screenplay on which, say, a Microsoft Millionaire took an option - it turned out without having read it, only so as to have first dibs on it. My writer friends like it. The screenplay itself – which incorporates its transformation from its documentary origins - needs to be made more playful. This is one of those books that has a saga attached to it even prior to final publication.
    • NEWS
    • (1) A PROFESSOR Leland Durantay FROM CLAREMONT COLLEGE proved to be ante-deluvian and ignorant and gratuitously nasty (an "ignoranus") in once more and again, and in the London Review of Books!, coming down on Handke's affording the Serbians a modicum of justice for being exclusively accused of crimes or being first among nationalists, whereas they were the last. There is a particular way in which academics share in universal and infinite stupidity, any McGoo who has been in Academe will know what I mean.

    • (3) I am completing SCREEN MEMORIES,
    • The Self-Analytic Memoir of a Mid-20th Century German-American Youth.
    • I've put the new, long, and gentle opening, that now precedes the screen memory at the inception of WW II
    • and a tentative Part One of the postscript on line @
    • (4) If Farrar, Straus ever manage to put out Handke's MORAVIAN NIGHT, which was published in Krautland (adjacent to Puntland as you know!) eight years ago, Scott Abbott and I will conduct what we hope will be a widely attended on-line discussion of that fascinating,  many-sided but I think interestingly imperfect work @:

    • In what is now 75 years of reading (I started with a magical wax writing tablet that my mother gave me at age 4) I have had more astonishing reading experiences with Handke's work than with any other writer’s {A SLOW HOMECOMING - the novel fragment; ABSENCE, MY YEAR IN THE NO-MAN’S BAY, ONE DARK NITE I LEFT MY SILENT HOUSE, especially with the “Hill and Dale” section at the end of CROSSING THE SIERRA DEL GREDOS, and MORAVIAN NIGHT has stretches of the finest of Handke's classical prose, which if read at a continuous clip, uniquely induced a reading quake, which was comparable to one of the minor quakes that precede the deadly serious events, the kind that someone like me who has spent a third of his life on the West Coast will be especially sensitive to, but sure surprised the hell out of me in the context of that activity. I account for it, to myself, as being due to an unconscious over-accumulation of beauty, it was a release of a different kind of tension.
    • I leave you with the opening poem of STEEPED IN SEATTLE that just appeared with VOX POETICA

    • The first blackberries are late this year--
      it was a late spring.
    • The blackberries will be that much more plentiful in fall--
    • most will rot in the early rains.
    • Most did.



Thursday, June 26, 2014



A Self-Analytic Memoir

Of a Mid-20th Century German-American Youth

Michael Roloff


=I:  Walk-About: Fir Place

=II: Screen Memory One – The Toy Train

=III: Screen Memory II – The Bombed Dream

=IV: Travels with Ms. No

 =V: The Idyllic Years 1944-1947

=VI: Inception of the Cold War

 =VII: A Leave-taking

===PART 2===

=VIII:  Pineapples & Sour Oranges

IX: Antacid: Oakwood School

=X: First Summer Interlude

=XI= Haverford - Take One

=XII: Second Summer Interlude


The Year Abroad:

=XIV: Haverford: Take 2: Senior Year

=XV: Fourth Summer Interlude

=XVI: Stanford -Take 1

=XVII; Fifth Summer Interlude

=XVIII: Stanford – Take 2


Part I
Part II

An Excerpt from A Patient’s Experience of his Analysis
An Excerpt from Charlotte Pommer’s Memoir
Significant Figures:
Frank Conroy, Michael Lebeck

Resin, fir needles, the V , the tree, the well, the currant and goose berry beds, the way the plum and pear trees looked when bare from the eaves, detaila!



Forests, meadows, a gentle brook, a kind of castle, a pond, a cobble stoned street, fields, farm houses, a little boy.

We – you, the at least momentarily enticed reader, and I, the at least half-way competent author-analyst-guide – after brooding at length on my subject - home in, not only as originally anticipated via a rich and detailed and obsessive memory, but by means of a magical medium that no one, at least not I, had anticipated at the time I first considered examining my childhood, that is, I gradually zoom via Google Earth:,8.656524,19919m/data=!3m1!1e3!4m2!3m1!1s0x47b12c958d080703:0x5a475e92564e98ad
toward a speck on the map of Northern Germany that I have put into Google Earths “search” space, and which, amazingly, small as it is in the scheme of things, actually eventually virtually materializes. It is a spot named Fichtenhof/ Fir Place. We hope to find it in Schönebeck/ (Pretty Brook) a village near Vegesack (Sweep-the-Sack - a medieval pub’s name – into or out of is an open question - what we might term “Last Call”, sweep ‘em out, the last drunken bums, riverboatmen), a town fifteen miles up-river from Bremen. Regarded from the north, Vegesack is about fifteen miles downriver from Bremerhaven, Bremen’s port at the mouth of the river Weser, estuary to the North Sea, in northern Germany. Vegesack in other words lies approximately midway Bremen and Bremerhaven and for all we know grew out of the late nite Bremen and Bremerhaven dregs, sweepings?    There seems to have been a lot of boat traffic on the Weser going back to the days when Roman bi and triremes were scuffling with Germanic pirates!  When Germanic tribes of all kinds were scuffing with each other or in allegiance with Romans – the fragmentary record makes what transpired seem a lot like American Indian wars of the 18th and 19th centuries - lots of broken treaties, shifting alliances. And who knows how the people in Bremerhaven felt about the folks in Vegesack in medieval times?! Perhaps that’s where everybody’s sweepings were sent! Anyway, a funny name for a town for a boy to grow up next to who hated always being told to stay clean! Or he’d get stuffed into Vegesack. Only kidding!
Bremen, pronounced “bray men”,
means “edges”, edge of the river, edge of the embankment, a plural of the now extinct Saxon “brem”. And there it is, the Fichtenhoff, sort of, there appears a designation Stiftungsdorf Fichtenhof – there has been name change, an amplification since I myself physically last walked about what had been a kind of childhood paradise, approximately twenty-five years prior to this magical Google tour. Even then, in 1991, the Fichtenhof had undergone certain changes as a retirement home for old Bremen folks, and now it is even a village all its own, or wants to be! It seems to have become a Stiftung, a foundation. No objections on my part. If by chance I had not emigrated and had inherited the beautiful small estate and not pissed it away or encumbered it too severely I would have turned it into a Yaddo for writers, with cabins off in the woods and meals served in the main house, the villa, and convivial evening around the fire place for those who wished for company after a day’s writing. There would have been a cabin in the apple orchard where Peter Handke would have felt at home. I would have turned the large beech wood bower at the end of the horsechest nut alley into a haven for Virginia Woolfs, those who like fish and ducks would have had a hut next to the pond. There would have been a “deep woods” cabin for the woodsiest most hermity of the lot. No doubt I would have elaborated the underground cave built on the badger and fox labyrinth  and the bomb crater into something more habitable for those who liked to live in the earth, or in an underground bunker. Unfortunately no part of the small estate afforded access to peat, and so I would not have been able to construct, at least not “naturally”, dug right out of the earth, a cabin made of dried peat for whatever writer wanted to make believe he could live briefly the way his ancestors had ten thousand years ago. But there would have been summer bacchanalias during Midsummer night’s time, in 1991 I noticed an abandoned German hippie VW bus that had got stuck in the forever sumpy meadow by the pond, the boggy part of the estate, at the foot of the rise to the moraine, and thus there would have been drugged feasts after “postpill paradise” as John Updike called it visited paradisiacal Fichenhof and panties would have dropped like parachutes during the arrival of a heavenly airborne division
As the Google camera descends - like the Eye of God, or the closest we have to that eye, could it guide a drone?, somewhat omnisciently – the vastness of the flat once glacial but then alluvial plains greet the beholder, northern Germany and the lowlands appear as dark green. - Imagine this expanse without the towns and cities that will appear as you begin your descent, go back about 12,000 years when the first inhabitants after the end of the last ice age lived in turf huts that were built on top of man-made mounds or on the few natural outcroppings, the moraines, and as they may well again if global warming persists and the glaciers and huge arctic and Antarctic accumulations of ice continue to melt; for, to build a dike all along the North Sea coast to keep this expanse from flooding as it used to with each and every tide would seem to be impossible.
As you descend further, the prevailing color is dark green, Google Earth filmed this part of the world in early spring or fall, and some brown and dun-colored patches for the plowed fields mix in with the green, rivers and canals start to appear and of course the tile red of most of the roofs of the houses in the settlements, not too many even farmhouses still have breathing reed roofs, though Fachwerk/ timber reinforced construction persists. Still, astonishing with the population explosion and that of the settlements once the Romans and their Catholic successor Charlemagne had begun to tame the Germanic tribes (“Stop worshipping Odin. Convert to Catholicism on the pain of death.”) how much of the land appears arable and good: there are heaths and moors galore, the Teufelsmoor, an extensive area, extends just to the northwest of where I am homing in to the Fichtenhof, my first nearby train station, St. Magnus (!) appears in the lower left, there is the Heerstrasse, the main road from Bremen to Vegesack - Army Street - how many armies have marched on it since Charlemagne’s time? And prior to that Roman legions? Napoleon did! -  the Weser River and its Lesum tributary, various other settlements appear as we, all agog from googling, begin to focus in on the village Schönebeck that has that pretty brook running  through it, an Aue, designation for a gentle book, flows out of the moors and runs through a wide stretch of meadows, through the meadows with their summer and fall haystacks, meadows that flood and freeze in winter and the kids still ice skate and dream of skating on frozen rivers and canals all the way to Holland on low long-distance skates, Holländers, with extra-long blades for maximum purchase on the ice and a knob at the tip of the blade so that the skate won’t, can’t catch and send the skater sprawling. You have seen the Breughel paintings of winter and summer scenes. Matters in that respect were not radically different when I skated and went haying there as a kid.         Then the pretty brook forms a huge moat that encircles Schönebeck chateau – a big square three story box of bricks that doesn’t really seem to deserve the name Schloss or Chateau yet is a quite formidable structure especially in these modest surroundings. The moat itself is created by a dam, the dam that contains the sluice gates and turbine for the saw and grain mill. Schönebeck castle, badly run down during and after the last war, in mid-20th century, looks veritably lacquered, that I recall as a dilapidated refugee refuge with clothes hanging out the windows. Now it  looks veritably pristine in this spring photo, the reeds of course are
dun-colored in fall.   
After that fall, the brook flows freely again, through Schönebeck village, and into the Lesum, one of the tributaries of the Weser which twenty-five miles further North eventuates in the North Sea.
Once we have focused on that part of Schönebeck, however, we inevitably will notice, off to the right, a particular green, oddly shaped patch, a large jig-saw puzzle piece - green patches on Google Earth indicates trees - continuing to home - more closely now – looking for Fichtenhof - on what might be concealed in that quite irregular jig-saw-puzzle-shaped patch of green - neither rect- nor tri-angular, it has four long borders, but also cut-outs at two corners: there it is, Fir Place, once a small estate but now a possession of the City State Bremen. A rest home for old folks, three huge modernistic building have been constructed adjacent to the original villa. When I last visited there was only one addition.
As it is daytime - but it is always day-time on Google Earth [!] isn’t it? - we note that the Fichtenhof’s western edge is the Kirchweg, Kirkway, and that Kirkway is no longer the cobble-stoned road as which I recall rumbling on it as a kid on steel-rimmed  wheels of the horse cart. Kirkway is now paved, including it appears what was once just a dusty edge of pure dirt where a cart could proceed smoothly and the nag Lisa’s metal-shod hooves would not slip and slide on  cobbles.
Kirchweg/ Kirkway has its inception at the Heerstrasse, Army Road, the main road from Bremen to Sweep-the-Sack. Kirkway runs straight and could have become a shortcut, a somewhat shorter route to Vegesack if Kirkway had not been cobble-stoned. Kirkway re-enters the curving Heerstrasse at the end of Schönebeck where there used to be a smithy, where I used to stop by on my way back from my year as a fifth grader, my one year at a School in Vegesack, and gaze seemingly for hours at the fiery proceeding and not be in the least disconcerted, as best I recall, by the racket,  the cacaphony of clanking metal, the smashing of metal hammers on metal, the sparks. This is by either the entrance or the egress to the sack!
Kirkway, however, does not lead to a church, not any more, at neither end. And it is not clear where the church might have stood. Possibly at the crossroad near the chateau. There is no ruin, none that I ever even heard of. Perhaps the church stood and still stands in St. Magnus, and Kirkway was designated s such for the heathen in the moors not to lose their way. In 1991 Kirkway was not built up as is now with new houses, it still had open fields opposite its Fichtenhof side, potato fields I recall with their potato brush once the fruit has been picked, those left-overs will be burnt in the fall with long-lasting smoldering fires that produce an acrid smoldering low-hanging smoke that mingles with the autumn fogs and that irritates my airways even now that I recall it. The smoke of autumnal potato fields, a cliché for good reason! Smoldering acridly forever in fall, the smoke mingling with the fog and with the artificial fog that the beer barrel sized aluminum fog machines produced during the war to camouflage the area against precise air attacks on the nearby Blumenthal above-ground submarine bunkers.
Walking toward Vegesack, shortly after you have passed the Kirkway entrance to the Fichtenhof – we are now doing a walk-all-around the jigsaw puzzle - you can take a gentle right onto a dirt road that is wide enough for one cart and horse; it is not a sharp right, it runs off, say, at a 45 % diagonal and ascends an incline. To its left, at the intersection, lies farmer Witt’s meadow whose bull will be problematic for our chief protagonist, for me, for Gabriel Orloff as I call myself since though I think I recall the past I have become a fictional character to myself, problematic when he takes the short-cut to grammar school. To  the right of that dirt road and the intersection is a short stretch of farmer Witt’s small parcel of land; his hov his cottage which on Google Earth has been replaced by a modern house, which it had not the last time, around 1991, that I did my own final physical non-virtual utterly real walk-about Fir Place.
The nameless dirt road runs alongside Witt’s meadow on one side and the Fichtenhof fence on the right, where Fir Place is devoid its usual profusion of firs and as you find along its Kirkway and all the other sides, sometimes double rows of them, not many firs again until you are well up the incline, for the ground by the Witt meadows has bottomed out, is a kind of morass sinkhole, is the lower moist part of a near gulch that runs through the whole small estate, even forming a pond prior to draining into a forever soggy meadow along its sinkhole gulch way; which becomes a swamp by the fence by the dirt road that leads up the incline, and thus the swamp has the kind of near impenetrable growth that enjoys a moist environment, a thicket.  The ground there is both too loamy and too moist for fir trees, what grows there are trees and plants that love water. Fir trees thrive in drier soil.             
This nameless dirt road, a long spur, which diverges at a gentle angle and rises gently to the right, is one of the few stretches on which you can actually sled in winter if there is snow, as Gabriel then will, using a long bean pole clamped under his right arm to steer unless going head-first. At the top of the rise this dirt road  curves right past a big reed-thatched timber-framed farm house on the left that belongs to a farmer named Krudop [Cowvillage/ cowdorp], the sur-name of nearly all farmers in this bailiwick, and all big farm houses hereabouts are constructed in the Fachwerk/timber frame fashion.

 From the top of that rise you gain a fine purview of the land all around, of the meadows, of the fields, of Schönebeck castle or chateau, of the village road as it intersects the Heerstrasse where the smith has his shop, of the meadows along Pretty Brook, the Aue, a different name for Bach, indicating quiet flowing waters. Then the dirt road, still only wide enough for a single cart, runs past a slither on the right that has a twin row of fir trees running off at a 90% angle and several rows of tethered black and raspberries, a gate and then, in my memory, the two Fichtenhof orchards, that have been replaced, according to Google, by large structures for the now old age village foundation of the City of Bremen. The first orchard used to be devoted to pear and plum trees, and was divided from the second, the apple orchard, by a big bower - which represented the end of a long alley of horse Chestnut trees that ran up all the way from the forest.   
If you looked closely at the second orchard at that time and knew something about apples you would conclude that whoever was growing apples wanted just about every kind. At the end of the second orchard there is a big gate, the outlet to the dirt road, and then a fence where the estate makes a 90 % turn towards the southwest. Inside that fence runs yet another but far longer twin row of firs, wind-proofing for the vegetable garden. Into this twin row my protagonist, Gabriel Orloff, pretending to be a rabbit, will occasionally scoot while escaping his father - once when taller, he ran his throat into a wire strung between the trees and it knocked the wind out of him, he decided not to run that blindly anymore, learning from experience!          
The dirt road continues on into a low growth scrub oak maquis for about a quarter mile before crossing a most unusual highway, a Chausee, the Leuchtenburger Chaussee, unusual for being sunken and having a rounded instead of flat surface and consisting of closely placed small granite squares. The Chaussee starts at the Heerstrasse, the main road from Bremen to Vegesack, in St. Magnus, as does the Kirkway shortly afterwards. These two arterials diverge at approximately the same gentle angles and thus nearly run parallel and you on the hay wagon with Klinner the foreman or Ivan the “guest worker” and Lisa the nag, would take the Chaussee as the easiest route to the meadows along Pretty Brook where Gabriel’s gentleman farmer father raised his hay. Further on along the Chaussee, well past the bridge across Pretty Brook, you could take a left to get to Gabriel’s first grammar school, certainly a very long, the longest way to, but nicely long on the dawdle back, to the Schönebeck Volkschule where an SS-teacher gave Gabriel, forever obstinate and sleepy Gabriel, an Ohrfeige/ an ear fig, when Gabriel used the wrong arm to salute the picture of the Führer, the Führer, this funny man with a pasty of a mustache on the furrow of his upper lip just below his nose, and a part in his hair which fell across his forehead and a pinched mouth and a wide leather Gurt/ strap running across his chest. “SA marchiert mit festem forschen Schritt” [S.A. = Sturm Abteilung/ is marching with a firm and steadfast steps.] still courses through my head - how did it get in there? From the radio no doubt. Who was he, the Führer, whom did he lead, where was he leading? why was Gabriel supposed to salute him, he never understood, but that was the way it was and so he did, except when he didn’t.
The Chaussee, too, is a military road of sorts, as its name implies it is of French origin, and sunken roads of that kind started being built during the Napoleonic wars; this particular Chaussee leads from St. Magnus to Leuchtenburg about ten miles off. Neither Gabriel nor I ever got to this hamlet with such a pretty shining name. Did it have or once had a castle that was all lit up?
Prior the one-cart-wide dirt road that crosses the Chaussee there stands, there rises magnificently, midway, a locally famous, ultra-huge - 10 foot in diameter, branchless, clean, grey 175 feet high - beech tree with a huge umbrella of a crown that lends truth to the saying “Eiche weiche, Buche suche” during thunderstorms (Avoid oaks, seek out beech trees). Like beech trees in general, whose acidic harvest inhibits undergrowth, this giant has beneath it an entirely flat area, as round and wide as its crown, that could have been used as a Tenne, a thrashing ground if farmers had wanted to. This tree was unique, there were no other beech trees like it in the area, scarcely any beech trees at all. Did the beech tree actually still stand during my last walk-about in 1991? I assume it did, for I would recall the shock of its absence if it hadn’t been there, it is planted so hugely and firmly in my recollection “And the flag was still there!” as it says in the Star-spangled Banner – to cut down that Beech tree would have been the biggest crime you could commit in the whole area!
Where the dirt road crosses the Chaussee, you guessed it, stands yet another Fachwerk farm house owned by, you guessed it, another farmer named Krudop, who looked a lot like a steer. That farm house was famously and memorably hit by ball lightning when Gabriel had sought refuge there during a storm. The circular small fireball, that devil, had entered the chimney and escaped into kitchen  where it scooted about - the fire department arrived just in time to douse the burning reed roof. This farmer Krudop was the one who had captured the American airman who had parachuted onto his field when his B-17 had been shot down, he had had a shotgun, the rest had had pitchforks. In 1991 that farmhouse, too, looked spruced up, lacquered, as never before.
On the side opposite the fence that runs along the orchards are fields that lead to a forest where Gabriel watched the B-17 crash and burn in the Summer of 1944, it has an old wooden barrack at the edge where Gabriel, that same summer, once hid out until it was dark after he had disobeyed his father, it was the 19th of July and his father was on his way for a General friend to sluiced him over to the British lines if the 20th of July to kill the dictator mass murderer succeeded. Gabriel had gone with the foreman on their hay wagon with their nag Lisa to fetch coal from nearby Burg at a time that air raids were a daily event and of course his father had apprised him of what he was about to do and of the general political situation! Fat chance of that with a kid who was seven years old!
These fields stretch about one hundred yards from the dirt road to forest; as with some hay meadows along the Aue his father rented these fields and the foreman farmed them.
 At the oak maquis side of the Chaussee Gabriel, I and my cousin Ditloff, will lie in Spring of 1945 and watch our first American troops drive past in jeeps and personnel carriers, windshields down on the hoods, machine guns mounted, and if someone had given the two young boys guns to play Werewolf they sure would have.
The long fence that runs in a south-westerly direction, with that twin row of fir trees, good windbreaks, slopes down alongside what used to be a huge vegetable garden that has been replaced by more living quarters for the aged, a huge, 100 yard long vegetable garden where you could find every kind that grows in this region, peas, beans, radishes, beets and salad leaf of all kinds, carrots, tomatoes, potatoes, and had two huge dark spreading black cherry trees with crows and scarecrows and Gabriel during cherry picking season who is terrified to be blown away with the crows when his father and his double barreled shotgun patrols below, and one Mirabelle cherry tree that affords no camouflage concealment of any kind and that instead of spreading out, and needing supports, grew straight up and which I never climbed.
At the bottom of the garden the ground starts to become soft and moist and a vegetable is planted there, it grows nearly the height of sugar cane, but its root is what you devour, that is exotic to this region, a root called beau-chinam-boor [sp?] that the original proprietor brought with him from the exotic lands where he made his fortune so that he could buy this piece of land and build himself a mansion but in the local style with some royal gardening and an aristocratic French geometric layout.
At the beau-chinam-boor region the vegetable garden lies in nearly eternal fir tree shadow and the ground slopes further down into a near bog. That bog has a small brook, a kind of seeping all around trickling mostly seeping through brackish loamy soil, thus replenishing the pond that is a hundred yards off to the right. From the pond through the forever soggy meadow and thence onto the soggy section along the gentle rise near Farmer Witt’s meadow.
The fence continues on past a shed and rises again as it passes the pig pen and the foreman’s vegetable garden, and you can see the foreman’s thatched roof cottage, yes it really is a cottage that is attached to the barn for hay and straw and the cow and horse stalls; separate enclosures for the swine and all kinds of feathered fowl. At the end of the foreman’s vegetable garden the fence makes another 90 % right turn, the length of the width of the foreman’s garden, perhaps 100 feet, where it takes a 90 degree left - and this is one of those junctions - as is Farmer Witt’s cut-out parcel - that makes the shape of the estate part of a jig-saw puzzle and keeps it from having a perfect trapezoidal shape of some kind.
Then the fence proceeds - fir forest to the right - and at that last right turn runs along the property and house on the left that my protagonist, after foreman Klinner has called him a Bolshevik for breaking a villa window attempting to throw a chestnut across the roof, a house that Gabriel will look at very closely as though observing will tell him,  allow him to fathom, discern what that reputed “Red", a Bolshevik, a communist, is: are Red Begonias on the window sill of an exceptionally clean house the signifier [?] for great destructiveness?
 Then the fence makes one last 90% right turn and we are back at the Kirkway, where you could climb across the fence if you wanted a short cut (via an overhanging oak tree branch). Thence the fence runs for maybe a 100 yard before it reaches the main entrance to the estate, a two car width wide wooden Fachwerk structure that is hinged to a big post. There some strong saplings grow on the shoulders on which I will pretend to be a monkey who can leap from tree to tree and from which Gabriel will leap onto the wagon that day that he is not supposed to go with Foreman Klinner on the ladder wagon and Lisa the nag to Burg to fetch coal because his father is afraid that he might be caught in an air raid.   
The main gate to the estate can be swung shut and there Gabriel will trade bottles from their wine cellar with some African-American members of the occupying forces in the Spring of 1945, and our circumferencial tour along the Fichtenhof is complete, yet if we go another fifty yards we will be back at the point where the one-cart dirt road leads up the incline, but also where yet that other small 50 by 50 yard section, for the puzzle’s sake, has been cut out, occupied by small-time farmer Witt’s cottage, a drab and dirty white one story structure, whose bull in the meadow on the left side of the inclining dirt road has an eye out for Gabriel as Gabriel has for it whenever he takes that short cut to school, and whose son, simply called Witt, will be one of Gabriel’s playmates. Witt’s house is not Fachwerk but a true poor man’s cottage, white-washed once upon a time its plaster is crumbling at certain strategic places, no thatched reeds either.
This then has been my very last walk-about the circumference of the Fichtenhof, virtual, via Google earth. I sometimes imagine that my first walk-about was a crawl-about around age four and a half, because when I returned three years later the first thing I did was do a walk-about a circumference that I felt I recalled as intimately as I did this last time. But I guess that it wasn’t Baby Tuckoo, as I call baby toddler me, who ventured that nearly one kilometer long circumference all by himself (and anyway chiefly on the in and not the outside) but maybe my curiosity  impressed my mother and she led me to various sections. It certainly was not my father’s doing the famous “hoppe Reiter” allowing his child to use him as a horse! Anyway, I knew it by age six and came to know it better and better and where branches allowed a way of getting easily across the fence. And I can Google also in my mind and spool time backwards and forwards.
With the Google Earth view of Fir Place and its surround now done, what is astonishing is how little has really changed in about seventy-five years in the overall surround. It is still green, perhaps greener than before. The farmhouses all still stand, the fields and meadows are intact, here and there is a new building, Fir Place is being used as an old age facility and therefore there are more residences. I miss the orchards and the vegetable garden and cannot tell off-hand whether they have been replaced. I could of course find out by contacting the facility. Would I want to live there now myself well past retirement age? The idea makes me queasy! A nook in the forest would do!
From the main entrance gate a well-maintained dirt road - ground coke grounds are periodically applied - leads through the forest that slopes up on the right; to the left is a short cut to Witt’s garden and his house and then there is that meadow, also on the left, barely glimpsed as you drive, a footpath also leads through the underbrush to it, and then comes a well-maintained foot path between the meadow and the medium-sized pond, which is covered by duck soup, that leads up through the fir forest to the main house and, turning left, across the road up to the clearing, but there the path becomes overgrown and obscure and wide and is not well trodden.
   The pond is missing on Google Earth! It must have been drained, perhaps the City of Bremen feared that the old timers who inhabit the grounds would trundle down the slopes or fall into it from the footpath? As far back as I can recall, and that is to toddler years spent watching frogs and their progeny, the pond was thick with duck soup that only a strong breeze might push in one or the other direction to clear a part of it. Duck soup was a vegetation that resembled the rolled-up Japanese paper flowers that expanded when you placed them in water – a better metaphor than Proust’s madeline for the expansion of memory! An apt screen memory as well – a minor one. The pond at the bottom consisted of the blackest thickest and gooiest muck imaginable! It was as though the blackest oldest ship’s engine oil had been deposited there. It was a puzzle I never solved, how with sandy and loamy soil all around that black muck that did not seem to consist of rotten vegetation had become many feet thick that the last thing you wanted to do was step into it.
At the end of the war, what is left of the company of German soldiers that spent some days recovering near the pond from a forced march all the way from Arnheim, will fling their guns into the pond! On the pond Gabriel and his cousins, after the war, will have their raft Kontiki which is constructed on top of five gallon U.S. gas cans, and use bean poles to navigate; and sled down headp-first between the trees onto the thickly frozen pond, their huge bangs on the winter ice resounding, reverberating all around and up the hill to the main house, the villa.    Along the foot path between pond and meadow with it knobby headed willow trees, that get an annual haircut, we must imagine Gabriel hunkering by the side, entranced by frogs and guppies and long strings of frog eggs. God had to be a frog if there was a God was a thought that might have but that I do not recall occurring during those entrancements. Occasionally a carp surfaces, or a pike leaps up and slaps the water, ducks are devouring duck soup, ducks show their rumps as they dive, the duck soup keeps closing up behind them.

   Looking to the left, where the path crosses the road and rises into the forest, you see it become overgrown with high grasses and end in a Schneise/ a clearing. The Schneise will be featured in Gabriel’s / my first nightmare where a Billy goat that he has teased, chases him up the incline as a unicorn from one of his fairy tale picture books. The Schneise is the first of part of Fir Place that becomes cathected with a dream image, that fits, or vice versa, as Fir Place evidently has become entirely, so that I can continue to walk about it in my mind.   
Looking in the same direction, a bit to the left of the clearing, you will espy the Reitbahn/ riding rink which has been cut horizontally into the slope. Its exposed cut-out side is riddled with entrances, holes for animals - badger, fox, rabbit, hare - which means that the Reitbahn is so old that it was built by the original proprietor who fancied riding as much as Gabriel’s father and entire family does. One of those holes in the back of the rink will be one of the two entrances to the “fox hole” that Gabriel will build and that links to an adjacent bomb crater.
After the junction of path the main road  runs straight to the actual farmyard with its aforementioned barn and animal pens where it takes a left and winds around the pond to eventuate in a long straight horse chestnut alley that blooms with candelabras in spring and sheds it fruit in fall, leads to the main entrance to the mansion villa on the left the way it looks now with some new building in back and beyond, to the bower that

 divides the two orchards. The section between the main house and the plum and pear orchard, which has a thick 6 foot high beechwood hedge, used to have beds for three different kinds of currants, the refreshing red currant the dark black musky currant, and innocuous yellow currant, a gooseberry patch and one quince tree, there were also rows of raspberry bushes and rhubarb patches, and yet another cherry tree (black sour) against the back of the house. The south and narrow side of the house features yet another, but smaller bower and a garden divisible into four parts; and yet another beechwood hedge, six feet high that divides it from an area further down that is called croquet for the game that is played there in summer and where the German shepherd Mara will commit suicide in her Zwinger/ pen by throttling herself on her collar on the top of its fence when two bombs fall near the riding rink in Spring 1940 and where the foreman then put his chopping block and where Gabriel at age 8 will stand trying to chop wood at the inception of his “idyllic years” as the first horse drawn wagon load of refugees grind up the horse chestnut alley in Fall 1944 with a person seemingly neither man of woman 300 pounds light wrapped in a huge dark great coat and wearing a Basque cap, Die Röppin, a baroness no less it turns out! A name that implies a delicate being and not a hippo!
In back of the ivy covered bricks of which the house is built, that is on the house’s north side, adjacent to the brick wall stands the sour cherry tree that is always shaded. There stairs lead down into the cellar where the apples that will store at low temperature spend the winter and a wine closet. The North East side, with its parking circle at the main entrance to the house has the main path to the vegetable garden. Tour nearly over for what will have been Gabriel’s paradise at a point in the future, plus quam perfect.
From the outside part of the veranda but especially from the second floor vantage of Gabriel’s room you can look down the path that leads between the two layers of lawn and between the fir forest, whose front line highest trees Gabriel will climb and refuse to hearken to his governess’s police whistle, and the pond on the left and meadow on the right, a path with knobby-headed willows on both sides all the way up to the Schneise, the clearing, the uncut willow heads there and in the meadows by the Pretty Brook will enter deep into Gabriel’s dream life, a clearing that has some new growth deciduous trees to the right but that is never clear of high grass and on which the sun shines brightly, the Reitbahn with its hurdles to the left, it is as though the woods in their entirety were a very large woman an Amazon of a wood nymph all spread out before Gabriel, me. The second floor also has that landing with a grand piano and Gabriel’s parents bedroom which has windows to the front and to the vegetable garden, and which is of special interest to Gabriel. His own room faces the front, that is roughly south and its side faces roughly west. His governess, Ms. No, the policewoman of his nightmares, has a smaller room right next to his. There is also a series of guest rooms that face North, and of course a hallway inbetween.  My last actual – as compared to this virtual - walk-about dates to 1991, nearly 25 years ago, yet it feels as fresh as the dew of the morning that I arrived at my destination – my objective being that very morning dew and fog.
 I took the earliest train from Hamburg to Bremen, just a couple of hours, so as to catch the first suburban train to Sweep-the-Sack and got off at the usual stop, St. Magnus, named I presumed after Albertus Magnus, patron saint of medical technicians who had done such an excellent job with my tonsillectomy and the removal of my festering vestigial gill cyst during childhood. But perhaps also after Charlemagne.        
My idea had been to arrive at dawn, fresh as the dew, and see the fog banks hovering above the meadows by the Aue, by Pretty Brook, where I had gone haying as a child and where I had gone the one time that I went hunting with my grandfather. That must have been in 1946, because Opa died in Spring 1947 and in 1945 he had just been liberated from Buchenwald. And my stepfather to be, then young lieutenant U.S. Army CIC and OSS Richard Weber was along, as gun bearer and jeep driver and awfully deferential.
Dick espied a deer, a big buck, amongst the beloved fog banks which I regretted were not anything you could lift off on, and handed the gun to Opa. Opa replied: ”I see it, too. The problem is that I see two deer and I know there is only one!” Later I concluded that if like my grandfather I saw two objects at a great distance when I knew there was only one I might be nearing death as my grandfather was then, not that I recall being aware of the fragility of his health. After all, he was still dashing about in his BMW convertible and I still, pathetically, abased myself, begging to go along {“Darf ich mitfahren?”}, and Opa seemed in fine form playing Skat by the fireplace, where I was allowed to kibitz to my hearts delight. – The family it was all together.
However, that early morning, forty years prior as of 1991, neither Opa nor Lieutenant Weber had taken a shot and the buck that had briefly showed himself between the Nebel Schwaden, the hovering fog banks, had faded away amongst them.
I myself had nearly gotten arrested on the Suburban – for keeping my ticket uncanceled! I had no idea of the new regulation that you had to self-cancel and that if you didn’t you were regarded a fare-thief who was presumed to then re-use the ticket, it was something absurd like that. I was already having a deja vue of an experience in the Strasbourg railway station where one morning as I lay wrapped in my U.S, Army coat someone woke me and shoved a postcard in front of my face and asked whether it would get more quickly to the United States if he sent it regular or by airmail. This incident represented the height of absurdity in my mind, and I kept puzzling over it thinking maybe I had missed something by taking the question at face value. - I don’t know, perhaps the fellow was checking whether I could be rolled. It was only on showing the conductor my U.S. passport that he let me go, without inquiring where I had learned such good German.
St. Magnus seemed utterly familiar and needing to walk a long set of stairs from the sunken rail line to level ground, and then had done a forced march down the sidewalkless Leuchtenburger Chaussee, that unusual street of my childhood that was made of closely placed granite squares, and rounded for the rain to wash off; that is, I had not first said good morning to Fir Place and had not gone as far as Kirkway. – After gazing at the Aue from the Chaussee bridge, and moseying about the haystacks – it was late summer – I then took the old short cut through the meadows, along the winding backside of the Oak maquis back to Fir Place. Ah yes, that was the spot where I had seen Frieda getting laid by a GI! All those condoms lying about once the G.I.s started being welcomed. I had misunderstood the English expression “making hey” at once on first hearing it.
At that time, in 1991, the pond had not been covered up as it evidently is now (I recall patting the knobby heads of the willows on the path between pond and meadow), at least on Google Earth, and the main orchards and the vegetable garden were still intact; only one addition to the main house had been constructed, eliminating the currant and gooseberry beds, and the one Quince tree in the rear of the main house. However, my short cut to school, through “Witt’s meadow”, was now an actual footpath with a signpost and a round white sign with a green border and a black crow in the center and a legend threatening arrest if I picked as much as a single leaf of grass – what about the bull shot through my head: no bull or cow that I could find although the meadow looked grazed. The Green Police among the police-crazy Germans!
I walked all the old roads and places, the saw and grain mill was still there, but seemed to have been shut down. The Chateau was already spiffed up! I was one of the last to recall the refugee laundry hanging out its windows! I don’t think I talked to anyone. If I had known that playmate of my youth Peter Schmidt was around I would have looked him up.
The main house had lost its reed roof many years ago, they rotted and were expensive to replace, and caught fire from lightning. I objected to the red tiles on the roof, but what could I do. The lawns were flattened out, no more levels, the boxwood and beechwood hedges were no more. I looked for vestigial signs of Mara’s dog pound. There was none, nor of the croquet that had been played there. Perhaps a metal detector would have found a croquet goal pushed into the ground. Nor of the spot where the chopping block had stood and wood and sawdust whence I had first seen the refugee cousins in Fall 1944, the inception of our “idyllic years”, and which had marked the lawn for many years. Yet the recollection of my canine hysteria at age four at the first bombs and the dog committing suicide as I thought of it, in its enclosure, was still keening in me. However, the row of fir trees, including the tallest that I had climbed it so often as a kid, at the littoral of the lawn and the forest was still standing. I had climbed it so often as a kid as to clean out all the small twigs, the underbrush as it were, along the trunk, and its smoothness beckoned, as did the idea of the feel of resin on my hands, resin which invariably turned black for the dirt it picked up if you did not get the stickiness off your skin. The smell of  resin was its chief attraction, it signified freshness, as its excess oozed out between bark layers in  Spring and then it was fresh and clear. Around stumps along the bottom of the tree trunks where branches had been amputated to create a clear vista all along down the slope to the pond and the meadow the resin accumulated into sugary clumps. The taste of fir resin, however, was bitter.
I considered climbing the tree one last time. The house was still asleep. Yet if someone saw a middle-aged man behaving as a kid: would my explaining that I was just an overgrown kid that used to climb this particular tall fir tree to escape and lord it over my governess suffice as an explanation to avert whatever police action the new supervisors no doubt had in mind as soon as they caught sight of me?
 The thatched roof had been replaced with red tile already shortly after the house was sold to the City of Bremen now forty years ago. As I turned the corner at the main entrance I was shocked to confront a huge, modernist adjunct that replaced the entirety of the three sections of currant bushes and the one devoted to gooseberries. That meant that the Quince tree off in the far corner would have been cut down, too! My insides felt violated! How could one do this to such a delicious unique fruit garden was the thought that shot through my head. It was late summer, currant and ripe gooseberry time, gooseberries, that defined what sour could be when unripe, transformed from green to yellow had that special tang that retained just a teint of sour! How I had looked forward to the currant! Was there anything more refreshing than a few hands full of red currant? They too had a sour component and it was the sourness that refreshed. The black currant yet was so utterly different with its variegated flavor, sweet and musky and rich and indeed dark, it made the richest juice. At least the plum and pear orchard right behind what had been the berry garden was still intact. The shapes of the tall pear and plum trees were more interesting than the fairly uniform apple trees in their adjacent domain, some of them had literally looked filigreed in Winter with their seemingly in-turned branches as I as an eight year old had looked out dreamily at them from under the eaves of the loft.  I picked several hands full of a profusion of fallen Zwetschgen, oblong and with that blueish tint that rubbed off, becoming shiny then, known as Italian plums or prunes in the United States. They too had a refreshing sour component but were fairly ordinary fruit. Some of the pears were so ripe they dissolved in pure pear juice pulp as soon as you broke their high yellow skin.
German hippies had abandoned a VW bus to rust to death at the path, the short cut, from the meadow to the main road. That sight pleased me. Fir Place had been liberated, had become the people’s at least briefly.
Was the giant beech tree still there at that time – I am trying to remember. I can’t swear it was, yet it is unforgettably lodged in my image of the surround. Google Earth won’t tell me!
The Riding Rink was entirely neglected, one of the entrances to my cave, the once badger hole, had caved in, although some of the other animal entrances were still in use. The two famous Bomben Trichter, craters, of Spring 1940, were still in evidence in the form of indentations, now covered and filled in with an accumulation of fir needles and cones and branches. I loved the feel of toes  sloshing around a bed of dry fir needles, what a surprise that their smoothness provided such sensual satisfaction. My entrance, its cover, to the cave I dug from the one nearest to the once badger labyrinth, seemed to have held all these years! However, at this age I was too big to fit into it if I had wanted.
It was now noon, I had done a huge walk-about on very little sleep and I decided on a snooze. Since I was at the Riding Rink the Schneise, the clearing, was the obvious most comfortable place to take it, that cunt in mother-earth, which, amazingly, at age four had represented itself to me as something that the Old Goat would pinion me for wanting. The grass stood high and mostly dry and thick on both sides of the cunt’s slit, which was a path that people and animals had trod there, and the sun was warm. No great sexual dream that I recall during the fine two hours sleep.
And now I will spool time back even further, not just to my final leave-taking or to the end of “the war” when American trucks suddenly proliferated on the Heerstrasse and kept careening into its huge old Linden trees, or the war years that are marked by a kind of continuous air raid alarm, but to the first screen memory that is attached to the very beginning of “the war”, to Christmas 1939/1940, the screen memory of a catastrophe where the impending war had left its mark.

 (c) Michael Roloff, 2014

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MICHAEL ROLOFF Member Seattle Psychoanalytic Institute and Society this LYNX will LEAP you to all my HANDKE project sites and BLOGS: "MAY THE FOGGY DEW BEDIAMONDIZE YOUR HOOSPRINGS!" {J. Joyce} "Sryde Lyde Myde Vorworde Vorhorde Vorborde" [von Alvensleben] contact via my website