Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Letters Home: Greetings From Marktredwitz

A postcard my father sent home during his Army service in Germany 1951-53 (click on the tag "Letters Home" for the whole series):
Click to enlarge. Clockwise from top left: [1] Schlageterstrasse, [2] Kreuzstrasse, [3] Krankenhaus, [4] Schillerstrasse. Note the name Marktredwitz is in the old Fraktur script lettering. The Nazis had a love-hate relationship with that style and ultimately sought to limit its use.

The reverse reads:

July 12, 1953
Hi Mom,
I am spending the weekend in Marktredwitz. I have been swimming twice. I am staying at my girlfriends house. They live in a small rented apartment. I will sign off for now.
Love V.


[1] Schlageterstrasse was named after Albert Leo Schlageter who was heralded by the Third Reich. Many German streets were renamed Schlageterstrasse or Albert-Leo-Schlageterstrasse during the NS times. After the war, many were subsequently renamed. By 1953, de-nazification had not yet reached the smaller towns.

[2] Kreuzstrasse, which means, I believe, simply Crossroad.

[3] Krankenhaus, literally the "Sick House", or the hospital.

[4] Schillerstrasse was named after Friedrich Schiller, the great German poet and philosopher.


  1. Did you notice the post card had no zip code?

    Did you know back in the 1940's ... if you used a street address in Brookyn, but by mistake, wrote Bronx ... The post office would get the mail to you, just the same!

    Then they added zip codes. As if that made getting mail to you easier. But gone are the days that mail would arrive ... when your address only hinted at where you lived.

  2. Did you notice the post card had no zip code?

    Not even a street address or a mailing route either. How did the postmaster "know" where people lived? I don't know about the Bronx or Brooklyn, but in a small town like Richland Center (cue John Cougar Mellencamp) people knew each other.

    The US introduce zip codes in 1963: link. Hey Carol, do you think maybe the adjective "zipless" was used by Erica Jong as code for "un-trackable" as in that encounter can't be traced?

    Just a stray thought.

  3. I dunno.

    Zipless could have been a tank top. Strapless. And, elastic "ridges" all around ... so you just pulled it up and down. Tits out if you really liked the petting.

    I think, back in 1971, Laugh In did a whole routine of zip codes. Basically the stage was set with lots off office doors. Half glass. Tops. And, different five digit numbers on each.

    Was it Rowan? Or Martin? Somebody took a bag of mail. Clearly identified as to whom it should be delivered to ... But instead, they went wild with "delivering" the mail to one of the doors. Often wrong.

    While I think Mark Twain spoke about how he'd get mail ... he lived in Manhattan. With all sorts of clues as to where the person wanted his missive to Twain to go. But not clearly stated on the envelope.

    Twain also did a story about a postmaster. In a small town. Who saw one of his letters was undelivered ... so he decided to trek to DC, and ask Grover Cleveland what he should do with it.

    Memories are hard to get completely right.

    Mark Twain would say "the best of us are liars." Because our memories don't serve us well when we try to paint "yesterday."

    I've also saved a postcard from a friend. Who went to Europe. 1963. To ski at Zermatt. He packed a stamp and pad. And, the message wasn't written in but stamped: "Having a wonderful time. Wish you were here." And then he signed it Phil.

  4. Don't you just wish that postcard was from Phil Spector--or was it?

    I've been to Zermatt--in the summertime. My parents came over to visit in 1992 and that was an obvious place to visit when we were living in Zurich. We nearly got stuck there though because there was a flash flood or something which took out some rail line.

  5. Who is Phil Spector? I don't go to the movies.

    I think, however, I just saw Al Pacino? Playing this role? As it is filming on a NYC street. In costume, with a mustache ... I didn't even recognize Al Pacino!

    While Phil to me is always Philly Milner.

  6. What I remember about Zermatt was told to me by Phil. He went for the skiing. Zermatt is in the Alps. And, they don't let automobiles "inside."

    Back in those days, skis were wooden. And, heavy. And, Philly Milner taught me how to ski.

    So? What's Zermatt like in the summertime?

  7. So? What's Zermatt like in the summertime?

    Zermatt in summertime: link

  8. Who is Phil Spector? I don't go to the movies.

    Phil Spector was a record producer in the early 1960s. He produced a lot of hits you'd recognize. Later, he was tried and convicted of second degree murder. link

  9. chickenlittle, I doubt I'd recognize any hits. (Yeah. Some songs I do remember! I loved your posting up the Kingston Trio's Rueben James. With the added detail of who was lost.)

    But, basically, I wouldn't recognize Happy Birthday if you were to hum it. There used to be a show called Name That Tune. I used to shut it off. It was just a foreign language. I had no idea what I was hearing. But that's just me.

    And, Ulysses S. Grant. Who HATED music! Hated dancing. It was the one area at West Point that he flubbed.

    Oh. And, on your link to Zermatt in the summer ... what I know ... because Phil Milner told me. Is that they don't allow automboiles into that town. I think you "gallop" around in horse drawn buggys.

    And, what I do know. Because I skied Davos. Is the odd thing that you spend about a half an hour to get to the top of the mountain. You ski down all day long. And, you end up in a valley where you board a train ... to go back to your hotel.

    I also remember that people skied into Italy.

    And, when I came back to the States, what had overwhelmed me was how Europeans to just switch between languages. The way we use to switch between channels on a TV.

    Of course, I once believed that to speak Italian, you just added an "O" to the suffix of every other word.

  10. Please tell me that you know about these: link

    and link (both are from "A Tramp Abroad" I believe). If you're not familar with these I'll have to blog about them. :)

  11. Cars at Zermatt: We arrived and left by train or by bus (I don't remember). But we didn't walk there. We almost got stuck because of flooding.

  12. I forgot that I posted this already. I found it when I added a "Twain" tag to this thread because of your comments.


  13. I bet you didn't see cars IN Zermatt! Of course, you get there by bus or train! What did you want? People with skis to walk their from the airport?

  14. RE: The "link." My parents spoke to each other in Yiddish, thinking their thoughts were bypassing me. When, to their woe, they discovered I had figured it out.

    Yes, Twain's funny.

    But I like my car's name: Volkswagon ... It combines people inside a little red wagon. Except my bug is green.

    I should have had problems purchasing a german product. By I remember Mort Sahl discussing this Jewish difficulty. He solved it for me when he said he used a Swiss typewriter. In the days when those things were manual. And, you wanted one you could carry around. It even had its own "suitcase." But no room for a ream of paper.

    Still, back to the point Sahl made. He mentioned that the Swiss were up to their eyeballs with the nazis. And, that didn't stop him from buying his typewriter.

    Okay. Just in case this point makes no sense. I was in high school before 1957. And, I learned how to type on a manual machine. Within a few years IBM hit the marketplace. And, typerwiters went electric.

    I loved my Executive IBM so much (it computed a different space for the letter "m" ... which was a "5-er." And, the "i" ... which was a 2. IIRC.

    I didn't believe people would go for the Apple. But my son's dad bought him a 2-E. And, that's where I got addicted.

    I became a globalist, I guess, before it became popular? Not with computers. But with other things. Because they were so good at making stuff. Like the Japanese.

    You know the good thing about both french and german? You don't need them anymore, to get to college. (Alas, Latin suffered the same fate.)

    English is now the way to go. And, so is learning Chinese.

  15. ... As did "the dead white males" ... who produced so much good reading material. But the kids rebelling in the 60's ... saw to it that colleges and universities tossed this stuff out.

    But not for me! My favorite authors all wrote up to and including the 1940's.

    Have you read Philip Wylie?

  16. Mark Twain's Autobiography. Published 100 years (per his will's instructions), after his death. So no one would even have grandchildren who would get embarrassed.

    Lots about the Italian Villa. (His wife was sick. That's why he was there.)

    My audiobook, read by Grover Gardner, is only Volume 1. And, it contains 20 CD's. You can skip the first one ... ONLY if you think you'll be bored at all the details on bringing this to publication. Because of the "mess" that were Twain's files.

    You get portions of stuff that made it into other books. Along with fascinating details that didn't.

    Sorry I didn't comment when you referred me to your Twain links.

    Do you want to borrow my CD's? (My son said he got them using his MP3.)

  17. Do you want to borrow my CD's? (My son said he got them using his MP3.

    Maybe. I'll get the CD I ordered next week and upload it to my iPhone or listen to the CD myself. I'm an audio book virgin and so I need to try it out first.

  18. Well, there goes your virginity, huh?

    I'm grateful my Bug was sold to me in the year 2000. My radio even handles cassettes! And, I have to open the truck to change the 6-CD's ... that carry "forward" all the words in the books "I read" ... while I'm driving. It's such a great little car!

    Once you start listening to books, you'll become a connoisseur of voices, too. (It's like the radio. When you become a fan of Paul Henry.) Where you'd be willing to listen to almost anything he read into the microphone.

    Oh, yeah. Rummy was so good, too! I felt I had him in my car. And, I was his audience.