מרכז תיעוד לתולדות העיר מראשיתה עד עצם היום הזה — סיפורים ותגובות שנכתבו על ידי אנשי העיר ואוהביה
A true story.
The day started poorly. Andreas was determined to finish the Latin homework on the way to school. But there had been so many other, more important, things to do on the school train, that he now thought of the coming Latin class with great apprehension. And then – an additional blow - he found a D on his latest Latin test after Esau distributed the papers. Esau, the Latin teacher, could never understand that this fellow absolutely refused to learn Latin while his brother had graduated at the head of his class.
Papa could not understand either. He was sitting in the garden by the pond, trying to find out whether the cat had once again eaten some goldfish for breakfast. Andreas, filled with foreboding, approached him, notebook in hand. “Bildung” = education, knowledge, was of greatest importance for the family and Latin simply belonged. Especially since Papa was able to name all European mammals by their Latin name without hesitation. Home was ruled by Prussian discipline, after all, Papa was an officer in WWI. Therefore it was not a real surprise, but still quite unexpected, that Andreas found himself sitting in the midst of the hazelnut bushes, because he had had his ears boxed. The hazelnut shoots, ruler straight and elastic, had often been used by Andreas – he carved them into a crossbow - but he had never seen them from this particular angle. Papa, furious, proclaimed in thunderous tones: “That’s it, enough! Finished with schooling. You will become an apprentice”. Actually understandable. This kid is repeating seventh grade, is unable to learn a few Latin irregular verbs and thinks of nothing but mischief. Papa knew quite well that boxed ears would not change that attitude. But he also knew, that it was either pure laziness or Andreas’ decision, that he simply would not learn Latin. - A little later when Mama had succeeded in somehow smoothing the stormy waves, a serious conversation took place. “ My son, this is your second time in the seventh grade, there is no third time! I have already inquired here and there (meaning the old man had anticipated) and you have this choice: apprentice to a weaver or a locksmith”. It took less then a second to decide, and thus he went to Lohmann’s Albert as an apprentice.
Lohmann’s forge was directly next to the Protestant Church, about 200 meters from home, and could be reached in about two minutes. Actually Lohmann was already forbidden to take on a Jewish apprentice. But this was a small town, Lohmann got orders from Papa’s factory and he did not have to pay his apprentice much of a salary. So what could be so bad about the deal?
And so it came about that Andreas, for the next 2 ½ years, instead of joining the school train, walked two minutes each morning to work at the workshop. And he received the princely wages of 3 Mark per month.
The first months consisted for the most part of fetching beer from the inn, handing tools to the senior apprentice or even taking manure to Lohmann’s potato field in a pushcart. And he was allowed to clean the lathe on Saturday. It was not so easy for him to be on his feet eight, nine hours a day and to be exposed to the senior apprentice’s moods. His name was Hans; most likely he was no anti-Semite, it was simply that he felt relieved from performing unpleasant tasks. Naturally Andreas was not allowed to do any independent work, but there was a great deal to learn all the same. He had to start the smithy’s fire, to watch it so that the iron would be properly heated, not burned. One clambered on scaffoldings in order to fit iron windows and climbed haylofts in order to repair the haylift. Bicycles were repaired as well since Lohmann had also a shop where you could buy new Miele bicycles. Andreas would never forget Mr. Boekenhans, one of the two local gendarmes, when he slipped him a “Groschen” after a well done repair of a flat tire. Boekenhans just could not miss the opportunity to tip the son of Dr. Meyer, who blushed but pocketed it anyway. After all, it bought an ice cream cone.
Slowly life became more difficult for the family – it was 1935. Finally Papa traveled to Palestine to find a place where to settle and to where to escape. Andreas hardly noticed the difficult negotiations for the sale of the factory and the house. His problem was to succeed in getting his hands clean after work and to meet with friends who continued to stick with him in spite of all that was happening. And then to get into – hopefully undiscovered - as much mischief as possible. Discovery would have gotten Papa into great trouble.
Around the middle of 1937 the packing and all connected problems began. At that time one could still take out furniture and Papa had the great idea to take along all the tools needed for a workshop. What other would have been the purpose of sending his son to become a locksmith!? Which meant, that Andreas was told to put together a list of all the necessary tools and equipment. All that could easily be bought at Oltrogge’s in Bielefeld, except a carriage for the welding apparatus. Therefore Lohmann was commisioned to build one, a task he handed to his apprentice Andreas as his first independent work. A problem appeared, but which Lohmann solved soon: wheels for the carriage. He brought two big, heavy iron wheels from a junkyard. They had already served as part of an agricultural machine.
A bit too big, a bit too heavy, but just because of that indestructible and the junk dealer was happy to get rid of them.
With a lot of effort and advice from the master a beautiful carriage was created, not quite streamline, but sturdy and with a chain which secured the oxygen bottle from falling off. Painted red with Minium anti rust paint it was added to the other tools and furniture in one of the two “Lifts”, that’s what containers were called then, and only saw the light of day again, when the lifts were unloaded in Nahariya from the trucks, that had brought them from Haifa harbor.
The Meyer family was already waiting for their possessions, after a trip, which Papa had used to show his son on the way some ruins in Italy. Nothing beats education! The two lifts were put one next to the other at a distance of six meters, joined by a roof of corrugated iron, the space between them became a wonderful room for a locksmith shop and so – ready for business. One lift became the office and storeroom and the second Andreas’ apartment. Two meter twenty by five meters and two meters high. In summer one could easily fry eggs on the corrugated iron roof, in winter the rain drummed deafeningly like a tin drum.
Brother Justus had arrived in Palestine before the parents and Andreas. Together they opened the metal working shop J & A. Meyer and – here they went! Lohmann’s Albert would have died laughing if he had seen his apprentice opening his own shop. And the Meyer family were laughing, because they had a son who didn’t pass seventh grade. What could Andreas have done with another two or three years of painful Latin studies?
At that time Nahariya consisted of widely scattered houses, connected by a good network of roads. The settlers, almost all academics, physicians, lawyers, had no idea about agriculture or, in fact, any practical work. The smithy was the right thing at the right time. There were not many settlers yet and they were running out of money, so earnings were slim, but even that was a welcome addition to the chicken coop.
The workshop was well furnished and the welding apparatus stood proudly mounted on the red carriage. In spite of its great weight, it was taken to the various building sites or to Strauss dairy, in short to any place where welding was needed. After 1948, when Palestine became Israel, there were big orders for pipelines. Most often they were many kilometers away and the lines kilometers long. Then Mandy Weinrauch was hired with his horse Buba, to transport the tools on his buggy to the respective workplace.
The laying of pipes took place in the open fields mostly, which made it difficult to push the welding carriage, so it was left home more and more until finally it found its place among the scrap iron, which had accumulated over the years. The wheels were not oiled anymore and slowly the rust found its way between shaft and hub until they could not turn anymore. For many years the wagon remained there, quietly rusting along.
Until one day Mr. Rapaport came to Andreas and asked, if he could make him a garden gate. But not a standard gate, but rather something special, one with a “Pfiff”. So Andreas took the welding apparatus, which had been travelling on the carriage for so many years, and he simply cut the axle, next to one of the wheels, with the cutting torch. From thick flat iron two hinges were forged and welded to this wheel. To the right and left of the entrance to Rapaport’s garden three inch thick pipes, with the other part of the hinges welded to one of them, were installed and supported with concrete and Presto – a garden gate with a “Pfiff”. A bracket could hold the gate closed to the second pipe with two holes for a padlock. Mr. Rapaport himself attached the letterbox with the house number, not very expertly, with a piece of wire. But how could he know better? He had never even met Lohmann’s Albert! And so, for many years, the wheel was swinging back and forth without ever turning again while its companion continued rusting and rusting on the junk pile. One day the Rapaports painted the gate bright red, but they never oiled the hinges. And why so? At every back and forth the gate squeaked quite horribly, which told them, as well as their neighbors, when someone walked into the garden.
Then came the day when Andreas packed his belongings, sold his house and moved to Kfar Vradim, together with his factory. For many years the metal working shop had been changed, by him and his wife Esther, into a glass factory. There were several reasons for the move. The factory wanted to grow, which was not possible at this place. The town major had made Andreas very angry by felling all surrounding trees. Nahariya was not what it used to be, built up more and more and the climate at Kfar Vradim was so much better. Now his house sits 630 meters high between high trees, no humidity anymore as in Nahariya near the sea.
The years had taught Andreas not to throw away anything hastily – who knows it might come in handily some day, or might not be available anymore. That had become so much part of him, that even at 75 he took along things another person would not even waste a glance on. And so the second wheel of the welding carriage, with all its rust, came to rest in the garden at Kfar Vradim and there it still is , five years later, almost covered with flowers. It can continue rusting there for 100 more years, built so solidly as it is.
In contrast the Rapaports continued to swelter in Nahariya until one day their son took them to Berlin. He felt he could not let his father at 90 and his wife sweat it out in Nahariya and finally persuaded them to sell their house and lot. But even at 90 Rapaport wanted to take at least some of their belongings along and again a smaller lift was packed and sent, this time in the other direction. Poor Nofi had the chore to pack up everything. “The garden gate you can pick up, if you want it” she said to Andreas, “but please before December 31. Because on January 1st 2001 it will belong to someone else”. As usual Esther and Andreas planned to be with their last, old friends – the last of the “Jeckes” – the last Mohicans - to celebrate once again New Years Eve. At eight in the evening the two of them drove the 20 Km down to Nahariya, in their also old station wagon, a few tools in the boot. They stopped in front of the red gate - like thieves in the night – and with a few practised moves Andreas soon had the wheel detached from the hinges and with Esther’s help it was stowed in the boot, fitting perfectly, diagonally. Not an easy job at eighty with a 45 Kg heavy gate! They managed to arrive at the New Years Party, a bit sweaty, but on time.
Since then the gate – or the wheel – conspicuously red, stands in Kfar Vradim, leaning against the railing, while the other, rusty one, leans against a rock on the other side of the house. Will these two ever get together again, so close now? They never really were together, even when they traveled all over the place, parallel, at a distance. The tin mailbox was carefully cleaned and packed and sent to the Rapaports in Berlin, with the accumulated junk mail still inside and some Israeli sweets, as a surprise for his 90th birthday. Let them be a little homesick!
Kfar Vradim, Israel.