I can remember that everyday when we sisters came home from school there was a fresh round loaf of rye bread with jam for us to snack on. Continue reading
My mother was of course the one who taught me how to sew, so she was very important in my beginnings. When my sisters and I needed a new dress, I helped her make them or I made them myself by the time I was 12 years old.
Mother made our winter coats and during World War I, she made my sister Josephine and I military style coats out of Astrakhan (a fake fur material). And we had military caps to go with the coats; the kind that fold flat and can be slipped into a coat pocket. During this time my Uncle Alex who was going to the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor took Jo and I to our first Football game all dressed up in our Astrakhan military coats and caps. I think it was Michigan playing St. Louis.
Mrs. Haveman was another one of the earliest influences on my life. Continue reading
Gretchen and I wanted to get to know the young people in town, so we took the road around Chesley Lake and walked to the presbyterian church in Allenford on Sunday mornings. The choir master greeted us very kindly and we were recruited for the church choir. Eventually, however, the choir master discovered that I did not have a voice and asked me not to sing, but to mouth the words with no sound, so I could remain in the choir. I did not mind as long as I could stay in the choir.
At first, when we got to Allenford, we were considered stuck-up city girls, but the young people soon learned to like us, and we liked them a lot, and we were allowed to join the group. In Allenford, there was a big group of teenagers that did everything together as a group. There wasn’t so much dating in those days.
We went to all the baseball games in Allenford. This is one of the things everyone did together. Aunt Gretchen and the two of us always wore the same dresses. She wore a white polka dotted dress with a pink background. Gretchen’s dress was blue with white polka dots and mine was violet with white polka dots. They were our baseball dresses each with a sash to match. I had made them all.
The baseball games in Allenford were very important because it looked like the team had a chance at winning the Canadian Farm Baseball Championship award. And that was important to us, because Gretchen’s father had told the team that if they won, he would sponsor the Championship dance to celebrate their victory. It was to be given in their big barn and he would pay for the band and everything.
By this time, Gretchen was dating both the Pitcher, Norman Wayne and the Catcher, Percival Noble, who when he grew up became a member of the Canadian Parliament. I was dating, Garnett E. Montgomery, the Postmaster’s son. He delivered mail, too, by horse and buggy in the afternoon and often invited me to join him for the ride and each time I went with him, he presented me with a bouquet of sweet peas. They grew in his mother’s garden.
We wore the same dresses, which I had made, to the baseball games and the square dance socials. And each girl had to bake a pie. Gretchen baked mine and her’s. They were always butterscotch pies with whipped cream topping and everyone knew that they were the best. Then at the social the boys had to buy the pies and they would get the girl to eat it with them. Usually there was a “box supper” that went with the pie.
You can imagine how excited Gretchen and I were when the boys won the Baseball Championship and we actually had the big dance in the big barn. Gretchen and I helped Aunt Gretchen make all the food for the big occasion. We made fried chicken, potato salad, vegetables and cakes. That was the first time I ever made mayonnaise from scratch.
It got cold in October and November and the lake was frozen. On Sunday we walked to town across the lake and we loved it. Some days it was very cold, like 35F below zero, but we did it so we could get a ride home after church and sometimes we were invited for dinner by some of the girls and boys or we invited them home to our house. It worked out very well.
And in the winter time we went with the gang to all the hockey games with the hockey team. They used a big sled. In Allenford in the 1920’s the only form of transportation in the winter was by sleigh. We went in a big sled that had straw on the floor and had enough room in it for the hockey players and all the young people of Allenford; the cheering squad! We always kept on the main roads since the side roads were pretty narrow and our sled was so big. To make sure that we got to the games on time, the driver would sometimes pretend that we were a “funeral sleigh”. He’d tell us all to be real quiet, and cut out the teenage ruckus and then he’d signal the other sleigh that we were a funeral sleigh and they’d let us go right through. We were never late for a game!
Many, Many Artistic endeavors……….
Around the time I started high school, my older sister Frieda, who was already called Fritzie most of the time, began working for Olga Fricker at her School of Ballet, as the costume designer. Fritizie lived in her studio on the top floor of the school which was a three story building on Cass Avenue near Wayne University. Fritzie and I had become better acquainted with each other and were then very good friends: I found in her someone I could talk to and she was very supportive. I let her know how lonely I was living in the “boonies”, at home.. She made arrangements with Olga Fricker to let me join an after school ballet class and pay for it by being responsible for keeping Olga’s office clean. Continue reading
I was a working girl in Detroit in 1939. I was a freelance fashion designer making clothes for women in the more affluent Detroit suburbs, including wedding dresses, etc.
Through the work/study program at Antioch College, Polly took a summer job in 1939 at the Mt. Washington Hotel in Bretton Woods, New Hampshire. When she and I talked about doing something together the following summer, we decided to go work at the hotel again. Then, at the end of the summer when Polly would go back to school, I would have saved some money and would go to New York City to try and find work as a fashion designer in the big city.
Finaly we arrived in the Big City to look for work…
Fritzie must have gone back to Detroit and continued to work as a fashion designer making clothes for women in the affluent Detroit area. Continue reading
In 1943 Fritzie got married.
The story goes, that this friend of the family who met Polly at Antioch college, Fred Pollak, asked each of the still single girls in the Politzer family to marry him. Continue reading
Fritzie continued to make clothes for our family thru the 1950’s. I believe only my father’s clothes were store bought. Continue reading
Fritzie enjoyed Hats very much. It is clear that she took great pleasure wearing hats and made some of the hats she wore. When she made Ballet costomes, head dresses, must have been part of her work.
In the 1990’s, Fritzie spent 7 years living in a senior residence near my middle brother Tim, in the Denver, Colorado area. Tim & his wife, Ruth, took on the day care role and my youngest brother, Victor who lived nearby in Salt Lake City, visited her with his family often. She was very happy to have this time with her sons.
They made sure that she was cared for, took her on outings, were in constant communication with her, were there in cases of emergency and… among other things made sure that she had her sewing machine with her. When she did use it, she still showed a flare for design, color and style.
In 2001, Fritzie, already 93 years old, came to live with me in Israel. The only reason she decided to go, was because she was offered the thrill of taking a cruise on the Queen Elizabeth II cruise ship to get there. Still in evidence, her flare for design, color and style, continued…………………
She had a team of young day-care helpers who she was very happy with. They were totally charmed by her and stayed with her to the end, through a stroke that took most of her, the last 3.5 years of her life.
From Elena: “I am Elena, I was one of Fritzie’s day-care helpers for 7.5 years and to this day my memories of that time and of Fritzie herself, are very good. Usually older people are demanding and moody, while Fritzie was always very calm with a favorable temperament and in a good mood.
Fritzie thanked me for everything I did for her: for the food I prepared for her and for all help that I administered to her. It was very pleasant to be around her. I am very sorry that in her last years she was in a very difficult health situation and was stuck in her bed. She was the nicest older person that I ever worked with.
May her memory be blessed.”
(Elena’s words were first written by her in Russian, then translated by her daughter to Hebrew and then translated by me to English.)
I have one last story to tell……………………………………………………………………………
At the age of 95, my mother had another opportunity to express her artistic flare and sense of color. She was introduced to the weaving of little rugs and produced quite a number of them with the help of one of her day-care helpers, Svetlana.
From Svetlana: “She was a good woman. Communication with her was pleasant. We all loved her and tried to help her in everyday life. I worked with Fritzie mostly in the evenings. When ever I arrived, I came up to Fritzie and we chose what to do. Sometimes we read the newspapers, sometimes something cooked together (she helped cut), but most evenings we work on the rugs. When we started to work with a new rug, she chose what colors yarn would be used. She was already at the baskets looking at the colors, a few colors. I put them on the table and she chose what we use each time. She liked to work with a rug and often we did that a long time. When it was hard holding out the yarn I helped her.”
some of the rugs…
Svetlana would arrive as I was leaving to run errands. I have clear memories of Fritzie eagerly going to the baskets that held the colored yarn for these rugs and watched her intently consider which colors to combine. To me, these little rugs are another testament of my mother’s creativity. Where would she have gone if she had landed a job with Valentina in New York City, or ………………………, if her life had been a little different. The color combinations of these little rugs, remind me of some of the early 20th century “modern artists”,
……………..such as Piet Mondrian and
I believe that my mother was happy to have married and had children, but I still wonder what else she might have accomplished in her life.