Reminisces of Lahr, GermanyNew photos of Lahr and surrounding area courtesy of Scott Ballinger. Usual warnings ("You can NEVER go back") DON'T apply. These are beautiful.
Added Sept 8, 2001
Photo by Kate Tompkins
I'm an army brat. When I was nine years old, we moved from Calgary, Alberta, where I was born, to Lahr, Germany. That move probably had the biggest impact on my life of anything that has happened to me.
Drizzling rain greeted us at the airport, and it turned out to be a regular feature of the climate. That and beautiful, thick fogs. I miss the early morning fog; it had a mysterious quality which appealed to me and still does. Kingston gets a fair amount of rain and fog, but nothing like Lahr.
The house we moved to was a beautiful old white stucco house, of what I think is considered a French style. Those of you who have been to Lahr may remember it; you could see it from almost anywhere in the city. It was called Schutterlindenberghof, and was the huge white house with a barn about 3/4 of the way up Schutterlinden mountain. I could hardly believe my eyes when the car pulled up in front of this place, and I was delighted to find out it was where we would be staying for the next four years. Even more exciting, when my sister and I went exploring, was the fact that there was a barn full of horses around the back of the house. I fell in love with the Haflinger pony as a result of spending the next four years hanging out in the barn with Haflingers as much as I could. Poor Mom, who had to do the laundry for two horse-crazy girls who got smelly pretty well every day.
It was a wonderful place for an imaginative child like I was to grow up. I could see the ruins of the Hohengeroldseckercastle from the end of our driveway. Wasserklamstrasse,photo by Kate Tompkins, at the end of the driveway. The hill in the distance is the one the castle is on, and the field on the right overlooks the city. Many people used to gather there on New Years' Eve to watch the fireworks.
Downtown was another tower, the Stork Tower, all that is left of another castle from centuries gone by (also originally built by the Geroldseck family), and we caught the bus to school just outside the walls of the
Stadtpark (city park, photo by Kate Tompkins), an absolutely lovely garden, which had free admission during the winter. One of my fondest memories was a festival celebrated there every year. The place was lit up at night with candles, and we could purchase tiny battery-operated lanterns which shone green or red. I recall a small "cave" under a waterfall, and it was exciting to me as a young girl of around ten to wander about in the dark with my lantern lighting the way. The photo linked above is of the fountain which changed patterns constantly.
We lived near the top of the Schutterlinden "mountain", with vineyards (photo by Kate Tompkins) all around us. This photo was taken just below the park on the top of the hill. Our landlords owned a large, sprawling farm full of orchards, and I have fond memories of spending lazy summer afternoons up in a cherry tree stuffing myself with sweet, ripe cherries.
My favorite summer holiday was spent visiting Bavaria, in particular the castles and palaces of Ludwig II, whose tragic story fascinated me. We camped on the Starnbergersee, the lake he drowned in, and every evening a family of white swans would visit the lakeshore, gliding along the gilt-edged waters in the sunset.
Snow was a rare event, though in the winter we often had gorgeous hoar frosts, which turned the grass and trees briefly white. Remember how all the new teachers used to wonder why everyone got so excited and ran to the windows when it snowed? By the time they had been there for a few years, they were as excited as we were.
I went to Lahr Intermediate from 1974-1977, then Lahr Senior for grade 8. I remember a ski trip to Biberwier, Austria, a trip to Switzerland in grade 6, Hinterlangenbach(thanks for the URL, Janet) in grade 5, London England in grade 8. My homeroom teachers included Mr. Hopkins (grade 5), Mr. Melanson in grade 6, Laurie Williams in grade 7, but I can't remember the name of my grade 8 teacher. Funny how memory works. I had a M. Thompson for grade 8 French, and a Mr. Whitehouse for science in grade 6 or 7. I had some really nice slides from the trip to London, but I think I lost them in a house fire some years back.
I was too young to have a camera until my last year there, and many of the pictures I did take are fading badly and turning red now. I'd love to hear from anyone who has fond memories of Lahr, or who has photographs from there to share. I've managed to scan a couple of photos to put here; more to come. (especially if I can borrow negatives from my family and scan them. Gotta love working for Information Technology Services!)
Here are a few more pictures I've got done:
Other photos by Doug Shepherd:
Der Kanadier is back up and running! For more news and more recent photos of Lahr, check out their site!
Apparently there is a high school reunion planned for August 2000 in Ottawa.
Angela Wiwczor's Westend Junior School Page If you went there, I highly recommend you visit her page.
Kim Herron's Lahr Portal Keep up to date with other Lahr Brats and gatherings, links to lots of Lahr pages. Photos of Lahr in 2000.
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last updated September 8, 2001