Bunter Nachmittag in Olmsted Falls
Our event for the day on Sunday, February 8th, was the 26th annual "Bunter Nachmittag" event at the Donauschwaben German Cultural Center in Olmsted Falls. The English translation for "Bunter Nachmittag" is "A Colorful Afternoon" and so it was with "Schuhplattler und Trachtenverein Baveria" aka "STV Bavaria Vorstand" (a club that is devoted to preserving the German culture and customs) performing folk dances, songs, and skits with the latter two done entirely in German. In fact, Mr. Kenny Ott, President of STV Bavaria Vorstand, told us that this just might be the one program of its kind in Ohio conducted in German.
When we arrived we were greeted by Ms. Barbara Hermes who knows Ms. Margaret W. Wong because at one time they were both members of an investment club for women. She told us that 300 people were expected to attend this event and most of of them had immigrated to the United States from Europe years ago. Ms. Hermes, herself, immigrated here from Germany in 1954 with her family when she was sixteen years old and became a United States citizen in 1959.
The entire program ran just over an hour and we thoroughly enjoyed it because, even though we didn't understand the words to the songs and skits, the melodies were lovely and the skits were visually funny. We always like to see folk dancing and we certainly liked what we saw today although the dancers performed for only fifteen minutes or so. We may come back to see them when they take part in another show at Donauschwaben on March 7th that will be mostly dancing.
We shared a table with Mr. Frank Rinps and Ms. Ellie Tillman who recalled seeing Ms. Wong last year at a function in downtown Cleveland where they obtained a copy of her book, "The Immigrant's Way" which they liked.
Last week we ordered our ticket from Mr. Edwin Moore so we sat down for a few minutes and talked with him and his family. As it turned out, Mr. Moore served with our friend Mr. Joe Meissner in the special forces of the U.S. Army back in the 1960's. Mr. Moore was stationed in Germany in 1965 when he met his wife, Gisela. They were married in 1966 and she, of course, immigrated to the United States where she became a permanent resident and has been so for the last forty-eight years. Today their children are dual citizens.
Before the program started, we started to have a conversation with Mr. Alfons Schermaier, another permanent resident, who is the choir director for STV Bavaria Vorstand. Mr. Schermaier told us to talk to him after the program because he has been living in the United States for "58 years due to a love story." Afterwards, he told us that his wife was a Romanian refugee who settled in his hometown in Austria along with her family after World War II. They grew up together as neighbors but her father always wanted his family to immigrate to the United States even though they would have to wait for years for the visas to do it. Mr. Schermaier and his wife fell in love when they were teenagers but by then the necessary visas were secured so she immigrated to the United States with her family. She could have stayed in Austria with Mr. Schermaier but he didn't feel that he was ready for marriage at that time.
After she left, though, he missed her and decided to follow her to the United States but he faced a three year wait due to the quota system. It was then suggested to him that he marry her and then he could come to the United States as a permanent resident. So his bride-to-be returned to Austria just after Christmas in 1957 for a whirlwind two weeks in which time they married and had a four day honeymoon. The marriage enabled him to join her in the United States after only four months. Mr. Schermaier became a successful dental technician and today has four children and six grandchildren. He never became a United States citizen and is happy with his status as a permanent resident of the United States; he told us that he says the Pledge of Allegiance with a "clear conscience" and loves participating in activities that benefit our society.
During the course of our conversation, Mr. Schermaier told us that he believes that people start to see each other as "citizens of the world" and went on to say that the more that we understand and care for each other on a global basis, the more and better we function as individuals.