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Fechenheim am Main, Hessen, Germany
Part of Frankfurt am Main

Home of My Kaiser Family from 1636 to 1949

Frankfurter Neue Presse

24 November 2008

English Translation

Once Again: Do You Remember?

By Mirco Overlaender

Fechenheim. As the former Children from the Ruetschlehen now gathered for the fifth time since their first meeting in 2002, it was simply a matter of time until they would start talking about the old times. More than 20 former children found their way this time to the Boathouse.  Because of the predicted winter weather there were, unfortunately, many cancellations, the organizer Bernhard Pfender regretfully announced. The 70-year old, in spite of this, was happy that Ursula Foster, born Kaiser, was part of the group. The 69-year old was clearly the one who traveled the farthest: from the U. S. state of Washington, where she lives near Seattle.

Until her tenth year, she lived in the Ruetschlehen (mistake: I lived on the Jakobsbrunnenstrasse around the corner from this street). Her mother married an American soldier and immigrated to the USA with her daughter in 1949.  Ursula Foster later accepted the marriage proposal of an officer in the Coast Guard and for decades moved with him through the USA. The mother of seven children is a Mormon and studied ancestral research.  "I have always been interested in my former homeland and have collected books on this subject." In January as she was researching on the internet she discovered the book "We Children of the Ruetschlehen. "It was unbelievable. I had to have this book and came in contact with Bernhard Pfender."

In April she at last received the book and within two months she had completed the English translation. "I did this for my grandchildren. They can't imagine how sheltered and difficult our childhood was." During the translation, many memories resurfaced. For this reason, she added historical and personal footnotes in some places.

Ursula Foster isn't finished with her archival work. She already has created a web site about Oberkalbach and is now working on a site for Fechenheim on which she will soon post the translation of the book.

On this evening, three of the five siblings von Freyberg are also present. At that time on the Ruetschlehen they were called the "Freyberg Band", remembers Thomas (68), Mechthild (67) and Jutta (64). She can still remember Mrs. Foster's mother. (another mistake - it was a another older woman that remembered my mother).

The Freybergs have a real share in the transatlantic return of Mrs. Foster. Thomas von Freyberg explains: "The idea of a reunion came from Johanna Stahl." Within one year, Pfender collected 85 addresses of children on the Ruetschlehen in the years 1928 to 1952. "At the first reunion, there were more than 70 of us. There I had the idea to collect all the stories and events into a book", says the author.  And so the book "Wir Kinder vom Ruetschlehen", which contains the memories of their childhoods on the 160 meter street of 14 authors of the birth years 1928 to 1952. Jutta von Freyberg edited the text and published it. And so all those who were at this reunion agreed that, without the book and a truly small coincidence, the contact with the "lost sister" in America would not have happened.

"It's only too bad that the others aren't here", said Renate Schneeweis.  "At that time we didn't really have such a sense of community," remembers the 64-year old. "Children more usually played in small groups. It is all the better today, to meet together with people from our long past childhood to exchange (memories)." "It is interesting that even we siblings have various memories of the same events," adds Jutta von Freyberg.

The various articles tell of mischief and playing in the street, of friendships, memories and of well-known personalities in the neighborhood. Illustrated with numerous photos, the record shows the street as a playground. "The street was simply there for us children," remembered Jutta von Freyberg at a presentation in the year 2004.  No car traffic disturbed the play and the frolicking - only one car appears on the pictures, an Opel P4.

One chapter is dedicated to those on the Ruetschlehen who became famous. "Among others who made their homes there is Nobel Prize winner Gerd Binning, Heinrich Schleich, as well as social democrat Heinrich Kraft", says Pfender, who still lives on the Ruetschlehen today.

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Copyright 2008 Sue Foster