#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

















#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

#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

#10 Polly: The Fire

One October evening Dad came home and announced that we would be going to Temple after supper.  It was Succoth, a Jewish harvest festival, and there would be a special ceremony and treats for the children.  The synagogue was about 15 miles from our house, which resulted in our not going there very often.  But when Dad decided to go, we went.

On the way home, we noticed a bright light as we neared eight mile road.  Continue reading

#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