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.
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.
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.