#2 Polly: The Politzer Daughters

I do not know the story of how my parents met and decided to marry.

 

Josephine, Berth, Frieda

Josephine, Berth, Frieda

But, they were married in New York City on March 3,1907.  After they were married, they produced a daughter every year for four years.  My four older sisters were born in New York City. 

Josephine was born in 1907, Frieda in 1908, Bertha in 1909, and Gertrude in 1910. Continue reading

#4 Polly: Our Mother

Mother’s role was MOTHER.  She always did what needed to be done.  For the most part she was living the life she expected to live.

My mother was very much a loving, generous, caring person who was simply limited by her lack of education, but, strong in meeting human challenges. Continue reading

#8 Fritzie: My Early Influences – How I got my Professional Name

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

# 11 Polly: The Butcher Shop & Advancing a woman’s education

…..after leaving Flint for Detroit, MI, Dad bought a Meat Packing Plant, hoping a son would arrive to take over the business, but when that didn’t happen, he opted for a retail butcher shop as a means of livelihood, which was located near where we lived.

Leslie 1-1I (Polly) worked at our father’s butcher shop from the age of 8 years old, probably in 1927 or 28, both inside and outside running errands, and continued through high school. Continue reading

#12 Fritzie: Allenford, Ontario……..after highschool

Rustic Culture in a Canadian Province


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When I was 17 and after high school, Gretchen and I planned to spend the summer and the winter of ~1925 with her parents in Allenford, Ontario.  I think we had already spent time there before.  Gretchen drove us up in her new red Chrysler Roadster that her father had given her for graduation.  Those were the years when the roadster was a very popular car and she always had to drive it barefoot.

1925 Fritzie & Gretchen at Stony Point, ONT_2Allenford is a little town south of Owen Sound and north of Port Huron, Ontario, Canada, about 5 miles from the Canadian edge of lake Huron; which means that we were close enough to lake Huron to have beach picnics sometimes.  This was more than just an ordinary picnic.  We would buy fresh fish right from the fishing boats and have a “fish boil” with new potatoes in a big kettle over a big hot fire.

1925 Fritzie & Gretchen at the house_2Aunt Gretchen and Mr. Haveman had gone there earlier in the spring and were working on the remodeling of an old farm house and added a big huge barn and garage that had room for 4 cars and 3 horses.  It was so spectacular that people came from all over the neighborhood to see it.  The farm house had 4 bedrooms, a large remodeled kitchen.  And if you can imagine, in those days, remodeled and it still only had a wood burning cook stove.  We kept that big stove clean and polished shiny black.

Gretchen and I were both paid $4.00 per week to share the duties of maid and cook.  We took turns with the maid’s duties which were house cleaning, making beds, etc.  One of our cook’s duties was learning how to use the big wood cooking stove. The Haveman’s hired a groom to take care of the 3 horses.  He lived in the huge garage/barn and he took his meals in the house, that we cooked for him.  He took care of the horses and kept them and the garage clean. With the money that we earned, we bought ourselves shoes and stockings and little gifts when they were needed.

There must have also been some kind of ice box or cooler in the kitchen, because Mr. Haveman would spend part of the winter storing ice for it.  The farm was very close to a little lake, Chesley Lake where there was a natural cave to keep the ice in.  Mr. Haveman would take his ice cutter and when the lake was frozen just right he’d cut these big uniform blocks of ice and store them just down the road in the ice house he had on the edge of the lake.  He’d cut and store enough ice in there to last us the whole hot summer.

1925 Fritzie at Allenford, ONT_3

other side of the post card of Fritzie on the horse

The family did a great deal of riding.  Even I had a few rides.  One of the horses was very tall and I think Mr. Havemann rode him most of the time.  He stood 17 hands high and that was considered a really tall horse.

Mr. Havemann was a marvelous cook and the village butcher was a personal friend of his and supplied him with very excellent cuts of meat, so he was able to teach us how they should be cooked.  The village baker was also an excellent baker and during the summer when we took our lunch to the baseball games, we roasted a whole calves liver and sliced it for sandwiches using the baker’s fresh bread.  Cooking it in the wood burning stove was exactly right for these cuts of meat and we really learned how to cook them.

I don’t remember just when it was that Gretchen and I got in her car and drove to Toronto.  Probably early on in the summer before we got so socially involved.  Gretchen decided we were going, we got in the car and she drove all the way without her shoes on.  We must have stayed about two days seeing the sights.  When we got there, she went into a hotel and later I went in to visit her, sort of, and just never left.  So that’s how we only had to pay for one.

1925 postcard of the King Edward Hotel between Victoria and Leader, Toronto, Canada

1925 postcard of the King Edward Hotel between Victoria and Leader, Toronto, Canada (maybe it was this one?)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

#14 Fritzie: The Accident, that changed so much.

THE ACCIDENT:

That December in Allenford, the groom was given a vacation and when he left, the Havemans discovered that he had been mistreating the horses.  And particularly the tall one; the one that Mr. Haveman rode.

One day, Aunt Gretchen decided that she would feed the horses.  She went out to feed them and the tall horse got very excited.  She was a different person than the groom and she tried to calm him down.  She had food for him, but he turned and kicked her in the stomach and that did it.  I wasn’t there, I didn’t see it.  All I know is that he kicked her in the stomach, bad, and next I knew she was being carried into the house.  I was probably in the kitchen cooking.  I don’t even remember if they brought her into he house, before they put her on the sled.

I don’t know who got her out of the barn, but they had a friend nearby who was a doctor.  He examined her and said she had to go to the hospital immediately, she was bleeding internally.  And by the time she got to the hospital peritonitis had set in.  When the intestines are punctured, the poison comes out.  So she had all this punctured intestine leaking poison insider her and she didn’t survive.  She died three days later.  Oh, how heartbreaking it all was.

Gretchen and I had to stay at home all that time and do our house work and chores and wait and worry and imagine.  When they put her in the sled and took her to the hospital, they must have used the same technique as the hockey sleigh driver to get the ambulance sleigh through as fast as possible.

About a day later they came and told us how serious it was, and then another two days later they came and told us that she had died.  There were no telephones.  I didn’t see her again until she was laid out in a coffin back in Detroit just before the funeral.

They took her body back to Detroit.  I think to a funeral home, but I’m not sure and she was prepared for burial.  We were told to go to Detroit for her burial.  I don’t remember how we got to Detroit.  Gretchen had her Chrysler roadster.  That must be how we got there.

I was so completely devastated.  I sat beside her coffin in their living room all night crying.  What else could I do.  I just sat there in the familiar surroundings and cried all night.  I felt very badly about her death.  She was great fun and we had a wonderful time together.  She treated me as if I were her second daughter and I felt about her as if she were my second mother.  And now she wouldn’t be there to help me grow up.  She wouldn’t be there to help me become a fashion designer.  My mentor had died.  I would have to do it all by myself.  With so many odds against me.

She was laid to rest in a cemetery in Detroit. I went to the funeral, I don’t remember it at all.  Gretchen and I went back to their Detroit house.  Her grand parents had already passed away so it was just her and her father.  So we three stayed there.  My father wanted me to come home.  I couldn’t leave right away.  It was a big house with just Gretchen and her father and she did the cooking.  I finally went home.  But I didn’t stay there very long.  Gretchen and her father needed me.  Gretchen was very disturbed by what happened to her mother and she didn’t want to stay alone.

AFTER THE ACCIDENT:

These were the famous years, the 1920’s “Prohibition”. 

It was in full force in both Canada and the United States.  And you could be put in jail if you were found to be making alcoholic beverages or selling them.  Mr. Havemann was really a Brew Master of good German beer by profession, not your big time hoodlum, but not the kind of thing to be making in those years.  And during this time of Prohibition he was eventually caught and put in Leavenworth prison where he stayed until prohibition was over.

He was caught right after the funeral for Aunt Gretchen.  Gretchen decided she wanted to be in Allenford living at the farm.  But her father didn’t want us living in the farmhouse way out in the country in the winter time.  He felt it was unsafe because of the fact that we had no transportation to get through all the winter snow.

So until the snow melted in the spring we went into Allenford to live with a widow named Mrs. Baker.  It was a pleasant place to live; warm and close to all the young people.  Mrs. Baker would heat sand bags in the oven to heat our beds, on the very coldest winter nights.

While we lived with Mrs. Baker we could join the young people in their winter activities.  Mostly we went to hockey games and square dances.  We also sledded on flat shovels and pots and pans.  One of the boys had a harmonica and played square dance music at the top of the hill and we would dance in the moonlight.

And those are my memories of Allenford, Ontario and my first friend Gretchen and most of all her mother.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

#15 Polly: Fritzie’s many Influences on me & the dresses she made for me

Many, Many Artistic endeavors……….

the signature confuses me.  I always thought that my mother made the linoleum cut.  For sure she held on to this all these years.......

the signature confuses me. I always thought that my mother made the linoleum cut. For sure she held on to this all these years…….

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

#16 Fritzie: Playing college student in 1940

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. 

Continue reading

#27 Still Creating at age 95…..Contemplations…. (the punch line)

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. 

DSCN0958From 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

Josef Albers…………

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.