#3 Fritzie: The early years in Detroit with the Haveman family

When the families first met………

This story really starts in Detroit, Michigan where my family moved in 1913.   We lived on Gratiot Avenue (pronounced “grashet”).   We lived on the north side of the street at one end and the Hans Haveman family lived on the other end of the same block.   We were already a family of 4 daughters and the Havemans had only one child, Gretchen.  She was named after her mother.  So there were two Gretchen Haveman’s in that family.  We called her mother, Aunt Gretchen.

after 1913 Havemann & Politzer girls_2

Not that I was any more aware than any other child of what one’s friend’s fathers did for a living, but eventually I did know that Mr. Haveman was a brewmaster of the old world German tradition and he worked for one of the big beer breweries in Detroit.

I can remember that the Havemans celebrated Christmas.  They had a Christmas Tree.  Mrs. Haveman played the piano, and even though we were Jewish they invited us to come over, the whole family, on Christmas Eve.  We girls would sing Christmas Carols with Gretchen while her mother played the piano.  Aunt Gretchen wanted to hear our young voices singing all together.  She enjoyed this very much and we had a wonderful time.  There was usually a Christmas Punch and Christmas cookies served.  It was a regular party.

after 1913 Havemann & Politzer families_3

Ida & Charles Politzer on the left side of the stairs, Aunt Gretchen & Mr. Havemann on the right side of the stairs. Aunt Gretchen’s parents in the middle and the children in the back.

I was chosen because I was the closest in age to Gretchen, and not too gregarious.  She’s a year younger than I am.   I was nine years old and she was eight at the time.  And they would take us out to dinner with them.  I enjoyed that.  And when they went on a day trip they took me with them, too.   So I became Gretchen’s companion and this lasted all through grammar school and high school until the end of our time in Allenford, Ontario in 1925.

The Haveman’s belonged to a club, and we always went to this club for dinner.  It was usually just the four of us, but once a French woman went out with us.  And she ordered Chestnut puree.  That’s where I first learned about Chestnut puree that you put on cakes and things for deserts.  I liked the puree very much, it was delicious.  I suppose that’s where I got my taste for chestnuts.

Aunt Gretchen, probably before she started a family

Aunt Gretchen

















#5 Polly: Living in the Country

When I was 5 1/2 years old, probably in 1924, the family moved to the country so that my mother, who grew up on a farm in Hungary, could have a garden, that subsidized the budget for food.  My father bought a ten acre plot which had a large house with an apple orchard in the front yard and was located on Southfield Road and 8 1/2 Mil Road just over the Oakland County line.

0001tR_2Our Southfield house was a two story brick structure with a large screened in porch in the front and on the left side.  The porch was wide enough for double beds which the family took advantage of in the summer time. In the winter, the porch space was used as a “freezer”; barrels of smoked goose and corned beef would be stored there.  Vegetables from the garden were stored in the cellar.  A ton of sand would be poured through a basement window (just like the coal was poured through the window of the coal bin).  And before the ground froze, the root vegetables and celery were picked and “planted” in the sand.  That way we had semi-fresh vegetables for the Sunday chicken soup.  The carrots sprouted leaves, as did the turnips, parsnips, and celery.

My cousins, Fred, Leonard, and Lillian Greenhut, and Harry Blau, would spend many summers with us full time.  Not having any brothers, this was a very natural way for me, and my two younger sisters, to have contact with boys.  (The four older girls were away, either at jobs or were married already).













#6 Fritzie: Growing up

Probably one of Fritzie's class pictures.  She is in the middle row, 3rd from the left.

Probably one of Fritzie’s class pictures. She is in the middle row, 3rd from the left.

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

#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

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

Rustic Culture in a Canadian Province

View Larger Map

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?)