Friends of Padre Steve’s World,
Today was a travel day. We left Munich this morning and drove to the town of Hochstadt, which is near the city of Speyer near the Rhein River. Hochstadt is composed of two older towns, Oberhochstadt and Niederhochstadt which were merged in 1978. It is a town surrounded by vineyards where most of the businesses are associated with growing grapes, or making wine. It is also where Judy’s some of Judy’s mother’s relatives come from, as did that of Elvis Presley, whose family name in Germany was Pressler, plenty of them in Hochstadt and there even is an Elvis Presley Strasse there.
Her part of the family left Niederhochstadt for the Ukraine in 1801 during the Napoleonic wars at the invitation of Catherine the Great who had invited Germans to settle parts of Russian earlier. They stayed in Russian until 1870 when they emigrated to the United States and settled in Nebraska in a largely German community. They were pretty insulated as both Judy’s grandmother and mother didn’t learn English until they went to school, her mother over 50 years after the family settled in Nebraska. By the way, the next time someone bitches about immigrants who haven’t yet learned the language, let them know that this was common among almost every group of immigrants that came to the United States, including the white ones from Germany, Italy, Poland. France, hell I could list almost every non-English nationality or ethnic group that came to the United States from Europe in the 1800 and 1900s. But as always I digress, not that it wasn’t important…
That visit was interesting, the town has a population of only 2,500 or so and so we went to it, got out of the car and started asking questions. The cool thing about knowing the language and the culture of Germany is that I feel comfortable being polite and asking people questions and it takes them a while to figure out that I am American, but anyway I digress again. The cool thing about this visit was just how helpful people were, in fact one older woman, who was really helpful was surprised as hell to find out her birth family name, Peter, was the same as Judy’s ancestors there. We both drive and walked around the town, finally stopping in the cemetery where we saw a good number of gravestones marked with the last name Peter. For Judy it was very special and though she told me, I can only imagine what a feeling it was to walk the same streets and by the same buildings that her ancestors walked over two centuries ago.
After that we drove up to our friends Gottfried and Hannelore who we have now known over thirty years. We first met when I was stationed in Wiesbaden as a young Army lieutenant. We will be with them until we drive back to Munich on Wednesday. They are wonderful people and we had a great night sharing stories and photos from the past decade.
Anyway, have a great day and hopefully, internet connection permitting I will will have something tomorrow.