Monday, October 27, 2008

Art That Shaped My Life - Gone With the Wind

Sometimes while I'm working and have the television running in the background I'll surf through the channels and come across a television show or movie, sometimes a song that magically transports me to another place and time. It isn't the memories that come flooding back that have me so mesmerized as the realization that in some instances the moments spent watching or listening somehow have etched not just my memory but my personality, my passions, my dreams. Imagine that - how an art like music and "theater" can shape who a person becomes...

Gone With the Wind
- in GERMAN - Come on, admit it - that's funny!

In the middle of fifth grade, while stationed in Fort Drum, Watertown, NY we received news that we were relocating to Stuttgart, Germany. I was attending my first Catholic School, Our Lady of Sacred Heart and was a frequent visitor to Sister Bernadette's office, our school principal. I was a dream of a student but had difficulty understanding and accepting how the world was created in seven days and topics of evolution and the time line of the dinosaurs would send my head into a tail spin. Sister Bernadette would just smile and listen to my ramblings as I played with the floppy gray rabbit in her office.

My memories of the school and my friends are happy ones. I think that's the time in my life that I dove into my "tom boyishness". I remember that Christmas, my mother volunteered to take me and a group of my all boy friends to the Salmon River Mall to find our teacher the perfect holiday gift from the monies we had collected in class. She was fond of pigs and we found her a particularly adorable stuffed pig that oinked and knew she'd love it! After our shopping spree we convinced my mother to let us watch Bill Murray's Scrooged that was in theaters that Christmas. Imagine my mother's horror as the opening scene showcased scantily clad Vegas-style dancers in full almost undress as the group of twelve year old boys and I giggled uncontrollably!

My last day in class was an emotional one as everyone cried and they presented me with cards and tokens of remembrance and a beautiful "We'll forever miss you, Dorana!" cake. I remember carefully gathering all of my precious mementos onto the bus and then on the walk home; my special New York treasures...

My parents had purchased a house while we lived in upstate New York and it was tucked away off of the main route on a winding dirt road. Our Spaniel/Beagle mix would run to meet me at the bus when he heard the wheels screech to a halt. It was a custom cedar siding house that had high ceilings and skylights. The first time I saw the house and the skylights I excitedly exclaimed,

"Daddy are you getting me a giraffe?"

Walking to the house that day I was filled with sadness, but somewhat relieved knowing that I wouldn't have to shovel the driveway of snow every afternoon after school in my uniform so that my parents could get their cars into the garage when they got home from work. I would develop huge welts all over my body from the extreme cold - the doctors said I was "allergic to the cold".

My father said "she's allergic to shoveling!"

I was still in awe over how school was never closed for a snow day! I definitely would not miss the tunnels of snow that would pile up in the winters.

As we awaited housing in Germany, we lived in an apartment above a bookstore in a little town in the Black Forest named Calw. My little sister would sing,

"I live in a cow, MOO MOO MOO! I live in a COW COW, MOO MOO MOO!"

It was something out of one of my fairy tale books; cobblestone roads, Tudor-style houses stacked line by line, beautiful bridges... And we lived smack in the middle of town across the street from the cathedral whose bells would ring every hour on the hour! Right in front of our building was a flowing water fountain which we would spend hours playing in that summer.

Our apartment... it was something right out of National Lampoon's European Vacation! It was a "two bedroom" where we shared the only toilet with the apartment next door, complete with an old fashioned skeleton key with a beautifully swirled handle and the doors had large keyholes you could see through. In the middle of the night when the young couple came home and you had to pee, you'd get caught walking through the hallway in your pajamas! Forgetting to check for available toilet paper before you sat on the pot was not an option!

The apartment had an open foyer with a corner booth-styled square table that led into the kitchen... Oh the KITCHEN - there was a complete floor to ceiling mural the entire span of the wall of an actual life-sized photo of a herd of deer in the woods!

After a party with friends, we came home one night to my father jumping into the air!

"Angie!" he yelled at my mother, "There's deer in the kitchen!"

I fell asleep that night in a fit of giggles!

Our shower was located in my parent's bedroom. Literally. In the MIDDLE of their bedroom! It was a standing shower completely surrounded in a square shower curtain contraption and my sister and I shared our space in the "living room" where we were ecstatic to find a pair of Murphy beds - beds that folded into the wall - that we slept on. Cleaning our "room" was a game of "how much can we throw into the wall and cover with our beds before it's no longer flush to the wall?" - game.

One morning I woke the house with screams as a man walked along the side of my window as if suspended in mid-air three stories above the ground,

"Morgan fraulien!" ...He was putting up a tent for smoked fish for a weekend festival!

The streets outside our apartment would transform every Saturday morning into an incredible farmer's market with fresh fruits and vegetables, produce, incredible fresh meats and this heavenly little tent that made fresh to order crepes with the most delectable sauces and toppings! My mouth waters with the memories of fresh curry wurst and brotchen, rotisserie chicken and the sweetest chocolates and cherries you can ever imagine right outside of the door every weekend!

My little sister and I had to wake up before dawn every morning to catch the first of two buses for school. We would run down the street, our heels clinking against the cobblestone as we ran up the stairs to the public bus, "Schnell! Schnell fraulien!" The bus drivers would wait for us each morning while the town commuters sneered at us for being late.

Lazy Sunday afternoons, we would curl up on my parent's bed and watch TV... without cable or any channels in English. We would surf through the channels looking for something to watch and would always settle on Spartacus, the mini series North and South, and of course Gone With the Wind... in GERMAN!

My sister and I would sit there mesmerized by the wonderful costumes and sets and be taken away to another time and world history as my mother would tell her version of the stories and about when she first saw them.

I'd then rush to the library that week to borrow the books and learn the scripts so that I could create my own translations when we'd catch the movies on TV again that weekend!

I fell in love with history and theater that summer... and now when I catch glimpses of those movies, I'm whisked away to that fairy tale cobble stoned town where we were magically immersed into another time; where the church bells sung me to sleep every night and townsmen floated outside my third-story windows!


  1. Thanks for sharing such a lovely story. Gone with the wind the book and film have a big part in my life as well but I haven't such a wonderful story to go with it.
    Anice xx

  2. anice - you are always so kind with your words and praise! thank you SO much for your support! im thrilled to have brought good memories back in recalling such a great book and film!

    siempre - dorana

  3. What a nice read! I enjoyed your writing style. It was very easy to imagine it all as I read.
    Thanks for sharing. :)

  4. gov thank you SO much for your insight! i'm thrilled to be getting the opportunity to hear a man's perspective! i look forward to your thoughts and ideas!

    siempre - dorana