FFH 1934 - 1946

This is a follow-up on the previous page covering our parents' story until the end of 1933.

I was born on 28th January, 1934, at the "Maternité at 12 Rue Paul Cabet, Dijon (a building that still existed in 2009!). I was born prematurely that evening at 20h40, the confinement being assisted by Louise Perret, director of the Maternity Hospital (this hospital closed in 1950). Further details can be obtained from the official medical report received in July, 2009, with annotations, available from the webmaster.

A savings booklet was opened at the Caisse Nationale d'Épargne, Dijon, on 15th May, 1934, and remained intermittently active for a number of years.

Mother returned with me by boat to New York, taking the White Star Line's S.S. Majestic from Cherbourg on 19th May, 1934, arriving in New York on 25th May, 1934. A few images taken during 1933-1936 remain from this period.

Meanwhile, Marie Amalie Hänggi-Gmür, our Father's own mother, moved from Dübendorf to Schmelzbergstrasse 54, Zurich, per 30th March, 1935.

The parents' original 3-year visa to work in the USA could only be renewed once for a further year, thus they had to leave New York.

Mother left with me in January 1937, with one of the boats from the Cunard Shipping Lines, one month before Father. She first stayed in a hotel at Boulevard Montparnasse in Paris; soon after arrival she haemorrhaged and had a miscarriage, she sent me out - 3 years old - to call for help. Suzanne Genevois then looked after Mother and me, and later took me with her children to the "Jardins des Tuilleries" where we pushed boats in the pools. Mother then proceeded with me to briefly visit her own mother in Auxonne, before carrying on to join Father in Zurich and Küsnacht.

According to the "Gemeindeverwaltung" in Küsnacht both parents registered their new domicile as Bahnweg 20, Küsnacht, as from 19th March, 1937, having formerly been registered in Washington DC. (though working in New York NY and living since 29th August, 1933 at 100 Pelham Road, New Rochelle, N.Y.). The Nathan Institute refused to pay any transport costs back to Europe, so Father had to look around for another job as money was in short supply, and there was a crisis in the family with an unexpected pregnancy - Father did not want a second child; on the edge of the Lake of Zurich, feet in the mud, Mother decided to walk into the water and drown, but in the end she did not (in those pre-war days, employees were at the mercy of employers, with no social support system available).

One of my earliest impression I have from my childhood is walking with Mother over a narrow bridge in Küsnacht near Zurich, to get to the home, a park (the CJ Jung Institute) and the lake of Zurich (In 1999, I tried to retrace my faint impressions visiting Küsnacht, but I did not recognise much, not even the building with 6 apartments where we had been living in 1937). I have some images from Küsnacht, but do not remember actual events.

FFH and HWH in Küsnacht, 1937 N.B.: click on images for a better view!

Father left Nathan per 31st October, 1937 as he got a job at the Actienbrauerei in Basel from 1st November, 1937, though the family only deregistered from Küsnacht on 17th January, 1938. During this period, Father probably had to commute with the train between Küsnacht and Basel, until the family moved.

In the 1938 Basel address/telephone book, our family was recorded as "Walter Hänggi-Gruber, Betriebsingenieur, 137 Gundeldingerstrasse".

My brother Henri René was born in Dijon on the 27th April, 1938, Mother having decided to again give birth in France, to be near her own mother who was then at 3 Rue Carnot, Auxonne. I most likely came along, for I have my earliest memory from Auxonne at that age - a cat running up a wooden stepladder in a very dark room where my great-grand-mother lived!

We were then living at 137 Gundeldingerstrasse opposite the St Margarethen Park, Mother would often go with us children to the "Sonnenbad" on top of the hill - I remember this well, for she would always use the same spot to sunbathe. After our move to the flat at the Actienbrauerei in Gundeldingerstrasse 285, she stopped going there, as we had a large sun terrace on top of our building.

In the 1939 Basel address/telephone book, we were recorded as "Walter Hänggi-Gruber, Betriebsingenieur und Prokurist, 285 Gundeldingerstrasse".

On 1st March, 1939, Father advanced to the position of Technical Director and Head Brewer of the Actienbrauerei Basel (capacity: 100'000 hl/year). According to the "Handelsregister" of 22nd March, 1939, Father was appointed "zu einem weiteren Kollektivprokuristen".

On 2nd December, 1939, was the 1st general mobilisation of the Swiss citizen (Generalmobilmachung); during May 1940 the 2nd general mobilisation took place. All I remember about this was that my Father came home with the news that posters had been put up in the city, he had to collect his uniform and other requisites, and by the second day, he had gone to a secret destination in the Eastern part of Switzerland. We could only communicate with him through the "Feldpost", and Mother also sent him small packets of goodies from time to time. I remember seeing him once in full army uniform; as a wearer of spectacles, he was handicapped and was allocated to drive small armoured tanks - a most unsafe place if you were hit. I do not remember when he was back home or at work.

As from November, 1940, when prompted, we had to turn off all lights or cover our windows, so that we were not seen by the foreign airplanes crossing our skies.

In 1940, I was diagnosed by the school clinic in Basel, then at the Münsterplatz, to have tuberculosis, so I was sent away to the Kindersanatorium Bergsonne in Beatenberg, then run by Dr B Miescher. Father took us in a black car, possibly a Citroën which belonged to one of the directors of the Actienbrauerei. I still remember the narrow sharp curves on the way up from Unterseen to Beatenberg (in part still visible in 1997). I stayed there for 9 months; my brother Henri was also staying for a shorter period, during which time I only saw him and my parents once. The regime at the Sanatorium was very strict - I did not like spinach in those days, I was given nothing else to eat for 2 days until I was so hungry that I devoured it with relish; the same procedure happened with strawberries and also with the thick skin formed by fresh hot milk. The Sanatorium had various balconies - one day I was locked out by the other kids, I got so frightened as they would not open the balcony door again, that I broke the window pane with my open right hand, cutting myself deeply near the wrist. I also remember that we had to look for Easter eggs under the hedges, on a slope on the grounds near the Sanatorium. Our parents took us back to Basel in the same black car; on the way back we briefly called at the home of uncle Willy - I remember that he had lots of white rabbits. I was healed by 1941 as an entry in my military booklet ("Dienstbüchlein") reflects.

Early in 1941, Father took me for a short holiday to Davos, probably over a week-end, as a photo in my archives shows, possibly to compensate for my long stay at the sanatorium.

On 21st April, 1941, I started at the Thiersteiner Primarschule class 1a, with H. Richner as teacher.

On 11th May, 1941, my brother was baptised by Pfr. Willy Bremi, at the Zwinglihaus, Gundeldingerquartier, Basel, his god-father being Dr Paul Gmür, Zurich, and his god-mother Renée Gruber living in Paris (I have no record of my own baptism, which may have been in France, except that I know Suzanne Genevois and Alfred Schiesser were my god-parents).

The sisters Renée and Suzanne Genevois with cousin Juliette Genevois at Mont-Roland near Dôle, Franche-Comté, a famous pilgrimage place The sisters Renée and Suzanne Genevois with cousin Juliette Genevois at Mont-Roland near Dôle, Franche-Comté, a famous pilgrimage place

Sometimes during 1941, Mother underwent a big operation in Basel; she then did a trip via Lake Lucerne down to the Ticino to recuperate, as some images in our album show.

In July 1941, being cherry picking time and school holidays, I spent a few days on a farm near Gelterkinden, as this was part of the compulsory work school children had to do on farms at that time. I remember there were a few Polish refugees helping the farmer - it was most likely the farm Junkerschloss Hemmiken which is part of Gelterkinden, as I never forgot the view from the farm.

View onto Hemmiken (©www.gps-tracks.com)

I also remember how I had to climb on the cherry trees, with a basket strapped on my belt, into which to put the cherries - I was allowed to eat some, as long as there were enough left! I also remember the farmer's wife bringing a Z'Nüni basket in the morning. There was a large wooden butter churner being used, and for breakfast, the workers and farmer always had two "Spiegeleier mit Speck" floating on a greasy base, plus thick slices of bread. This impressed me obviously, for at home, we were rather short of food and probably hungry.

(In the archives of the Canton of Baselland, I found in 2008 the following correlation: "294 Personen sind zur Arbeitsdienstpflicht in der Landwirtschaft aufgeboten. Ausserdern stehen den Bauern 150 polnische Internierte und über 400 Schüler und Schülerinnen für Erntearbeiten zur Verfügung. Dazu kommen zahlreiche freiwillige Hilfskräfte.")

At the end of 1941, a young French speaking Jewish refugee girl between 11 to 14 years old was placed with us through the Swiss Red Cross "Kinderhilfe". Michelle stayed in the "ironing" room opposite our wash room on the top floor of our flat at Gundeldingerstrasse 285 for a few months until the Red Cross collected her. Ever since then, I remember my Mother supporting the Red Cross and the "Salvation Army" with contributions, the latter right throughout most of her life.

In 1942 or thereabouts, I started swimming lessons in the Rialto Hallenbad - I enjoyed the warm water throughout the year; later our class also went to the Eglisee.

In 1944, our Mother started to be very ill, with many attacks of dizziness due to the constant intake of CO2 as we found out later. She used to sleep in her own bedroom over the 13 garages in our building; our dog, a black English Cocker Spaniel named "Toni" slept underneath the bed, and one day he died. I remember Mother faintly calling for help, asking for the doctor to come urgently as she was going to die. My brother remembers that Father went to fetch him to see our Mother. While she was recuperating at hospital, building inspectors found out that CO2 had been accumulating in a huge pocket in the floor, with a leak right under her head! It required many bags of cement to fill the empty space. After this, Mother kept a canary in her room as the bird would apparently sense if there was any other CO2 leaking through the floor.

My brother Henri attended the Primarschule Thierstein from 1944 till 1948, also with H. Richner als teacher.

I remember an American airplane flying over Basel, either in 1942 or in 1945, and the ack-ack anti-aircraft artillery from the Bruderholz aiming at it. One piece of artillery fell near the silo and left a hole in a window sill, and some bombs were dropped on a block in Thiersteinerallee. I also remember the big guns thundering across the Rhine near Kembs and the many times we had to run down to the school's bunkers, when the sirens were sounded.

Times were not easy then, Switzerland was surrounded during WW2 by the enemy. Food was in short supply, I remember that we needed special food coupons to buy food at the local "Konsumverein", and that my mother exchanged clothes no longer needed for fresh food and potatoes from an itinerant farmer from neighbouring Alsace who came with his horse-drawn cart whenever he could cross the border. We also grew our own potatoes (I remember having to hand-pick the Colorado beetles) and vegetables and fruit on various patches in the Actienbrauerei, Basel, where we lived between 1939 to 1950. We were limited in what we could buy; we could only get green coffee beans which we had to roast, we also used to store potatoes and apples on special wooden racks in our cellar; we also regularly used a 3-tier vegetable drier.

To augment our vitamin intake, we were given in winter a daily spoon of horrible-tasting "Halibut" Lebertran (cod-liver oil); other medication I recall from that time was Phillips' milk of magnesia in a blue bottle, and for rubbing sore muscles we got Elliman's Universal Embrocation for horses. And to fix wounds, Father sometimes applied H202 (hydrogen peroxide 3%) on the sores. We were also given extract of malt, a sweet, treacly substance - quite delicious as I remember.

WW2 ended in Europe on 8th May, 1945. I remember Mother always listening in on the short-wave transmitter of either the BBC or "Radio Londres", and when the announcement came through, she could not stop crying from happiness that all was over. She often listened to those radio senders, as the news that were released in Switzerland were always restricted. I also remember that she occasionally got copies of "The Illustrated London News", whenever available. Most letters Mother received from her family in France during the war years had been opened and censored by the authorities and the envelope was stamped accordingly.

Another short excursion with Father sometimes between 1942 and 1947 was to the Schynige Platte, then a long 3.5 hour walk to the Faulhorn where we slept in a Massenlager on straw mats, and the next day to the Grosse Scheidegg, and then another walk down to Grindelwald (I was very tired by then as well over 4 hours), then back with the train to Basel. Shortly before reaching the Faulhorn, we looked from high above into a small very dark lake to our left - Father had to keep me tight, for I was drawn to it and would have fallen over the cliff, a frightening experience I never forgot! Of course, in those days there was no Firstbahn - it was all walk, walk and walk!

A third trip with Father that I remember was to Kandersteg, walking up to the Oeschinensee, seeing the Blümlisalp, and walking down again, seeing also the Blausee, and back to Basel.

After the Primarschule Thierstein 1941/45, I went to the Realgymnasium in Rittergasse 11, Basel, 1945/46, class 1c. Our class was on the ground floor, left side, when viewing from the street (years later this building became the "Zivilstandsamt" where our son and his wife had their civil marriage!). I remember two events in particular: we had one tall blond teacher who was either German or very German-friendly, he gave me a bad nick-name reflecting on my French background and problems with the German language; we also had a student in our class, an orthodox Jew who did not come to school on Saturdays - his family name was "Tannenbaum", so we always broke out in the Christmas song "Oh Tannenbaum ..." - not very kind we were.

After that, I went to the MNG (Mathematisch-Naturwissenschaftliches Gymnasium), 1946/48, class 2b/3b. In the final year, I struggled mainly in German, maths, geometry, history and thus had to move into another direction. I remember nothing from this period, neither about the education, nor the class mates, nor the teachers, only that I really enjoyed gymnastics!

We spent the winter holidays 1946 in a farm house in Goldiwil, and the previous year, we were in Heiligenschwendi above Thun.


FFH in 1947

At about this time, I tried my hand at rowing on the Rhine - I joined one of the clubs in Basel on a trial basis and practiced on land and then went twice on a double rowing boat with moving benches onto the Rhine, but I did not fancy this type of sport.

As from 1947, winter holidays were spent at Grindelwald, at the home of Christen Inäbnit, "Auf der Halten Mettenberg", near the Lower Glacier. As this was the first time we came to Grindelwald, the Inäbnit's, an elderly childless couple, came to fetch us with their big sledge, a "Hornschlittel", on which we put our luggage which had to be pulled all the way through the village and down towards Halten, by hand. Over the years, we found out that they farmed various small plots of land, most of them at some distance, as was usual in those days. During all those years, we had to make use of an outside drop-down wooden toilet, rather freezing during winter as I remember!

A photo in my album shows my brother Henri being hugged by a friendly Ice bear - to the left of the image, one can see the famous "Grindelwald snow bicycle", the Velogemel, from 1947!

On 30th December, Henri was going to send a card from Grindelwald to his primary school teacher, but it does not seem to have been posted! Amazing how much snow there was in those days.


FFH in 1948

I used to collect all the columns that appeared in the newspaper in pure "Baseldytsch", published by Robert Christ under the pseudonym "Glopfgaischt" - I kept these for many years, it was fascinating and a special way to learn the dialect (no "Umlaut" in pure Baseldytsch)!

From 1948/49 I was as an interim solution at the Knaben-Realschule im Haus zur Mücke, Basel; during June, 1948, my class went for a two-day excursion to the Bernese Oberland - Lucerne, Brünig; we then walked to the Brienzer Rothorn where we stayed overnight, next day we walked down to Brienz and travelled back to Basel. The photos I took on this trip are the first in my photo album cum diary! The teachers seem to have been very lenient with the interim students, as I had very good to top marks in most subjects. I remember in particular our science teacher who had lived in Java for a number of years; he was short and for whatever reason the class did some dirty tricks on him, such as having a bucket full of water hanging from the door, so that once, when he entered the class room, he got all wet.

In July, 1948, Mother, Henri and I spent our holidays in Erquy, Bretagne. I remember that we reached this fishing village by slow train, alongside the road, up a hill and down to Erquy. It was so slow going uphill, one could almost keep up with it walking! At that time, the film "Pattes Blanches" was being shot at the harbour over a period of three weeks, and we could watch a night-scene, where an actor/actress was thrown overboard into the water - he/she actually fell into a net so never got wet! I also remember being caught by the incoming tide, and that we had to quickly climb up the side of the "falaise".

1948 Cap Fréhel, Bretagne - FMLH with FFH + HRH

We did a number of excursions, such as to the Cap Fréhel, la Plage de Carroual, Paimpol, Perros-Guirec, Quiberon and I also remember the small island near Erquy, called St Michel Erquy. Once we took a small fishing boat to one of the smaller islands, the fuel stank so much that I got very sick, not only sea-sick!

On 20th July, 1948, Mother sent a card of Ploumanach from Erquy to our Father at Gundeldingerstrasse 285, Basel. She mentioned that she was going on the 26th to the Pardon of Sainte Anne d'Auray, crossing the whole of Bretagne by bus, that Henri was staying at home. It was costing 1500 to 2000 ffrs per person, but that it was unforgettable (that is when I saw Carnac with all the menhirs, just South of Auray and Vannes).

On 17th August, she was visiting or staying with Yolande and asked Father to send sugar and coffee, as Renée would charge her for this. She thanked him for the 1000 ffrs he had sent and was awaiting the remainder. She also mentioned that there was no milk, and that the butter was not good and very rare in the region. Her card was signed "Nandy", her nick-name then.

On the return trip from Bretagne, I stayed for two days in transit in Paris, together with my brother Henri and our Mother, with her family (probably with Renée Gruber in her apartment at Blvd Beaumarchais). I had the permission to look around the city by myself, the first time that I was allowed to be alone in Paris. On the first day I visited the Sacré-Coeur and the Notre-Dame Cathedral, and in the afternoon the Champs-Elysées, the Palais Chaillot and the Eiffel tower (only to the first level as I walked up and down not having enough money on me). Next day I also saw other parts of the city, such as the Louvre, the Tuileries, the Obelisk of Luxor, the Jardin du Luxembourg, the Catacombs, the sewers of Paris, the Roman amphitheatre, the cemetery of Père Lachaise and so on - I took many photos during my stay in Paris - there certainly were not many cars to be seen in those days!

Henri avec Jean-Jean Brun au Jardin du Luxembourg, Paris (1948)

I also remember my Godmother Suzanne taking me one day with her in her new little Simca 5 1948 to visit somebody in the centre of Paris - she was driving along a main road near the Seine, through heavy traffic, and in front and behind her car were two big busses or lorries - I panicked as I thought we would get squashed, but she was used to it and told me not to worry!

Our Mother's own mother, Nany Dautrey, stayed with us in Grindelwald during the spring or autumn holidays, as a number of photos reveal.

Grindelwald 1948 Nanny with her daughter FernandeHenri and brother with grand-mother Nanny in Grindelwald, 1948

At the end of one's compulsory scholastic period, pupils had to pass a gymnastics test required by the army, the results of which were recorded in an official "Leistungsheft". This I did on 14th September, 1948 (and again on 22nd September, 1950, and finally on 30th May, 1953).

We spent the winter holidays again with the Inäbnit's in Grindelwald, one of many holidays with them over the next few years, over three seasons!

FFH in 1949

My earliest passport I still have was issued on 1st February, 1949, in Basel, a few days after my 15th birthday.

On 28th March, 1949, Henri visited the new Basel-Mulhouse airport with his final class from the Thierstein Primarschule. They were invited by Swissair to do a round trip with this very plane, a DC-3 Dakota! 

WW2 having come to an end recently, Mother could travel to France more frequently, to see her family. I crossed the border at the French Station, Basel on 14th April, 1949, had my pass also stamped on entering St. Louis station and again coming back on 19th April. From memory, we travelled by train in 3rd class wagons, via Belfort, changing either there or in Besançon, down to Auxonne. I remember part of the trip being in coaches that did not interconnect, i.e. you could not walk along the coach to another one. The ticket conductor walked along a gangway outside the coach, opened every door to check our tickets. There could have been a problem if you needed to go to the toilet, but the train stopped for a few minutes at almost every station.

On 22nd April, 1949, I joined the Kantonale Handelsschule (Maturitätsabteilung), class 1z, at the Andreas-Heusler-Street (later renamed "Wirtschaftsgymnasium"). I remember from that time that I befriended Pierre Hersberger and that this friendship remained, with interruptions, throughout our life. I also never forgot the sgraffito panel at the entrance of the school, and that twice I had to speak from the podium in the hall to the classes - once in particular where I had to take the position of being for or against introducing the right to vote to Swiss women (this required specific research and I called on some women's organisation for supportive data). I remember however that though I had practised my speech at home, it was a total flop as I was forgetting my words (no wonder I could never speak publicly in later years!). Of all the courses we attended, the only one that I remember, thus enjoyed, were the lessons where we learned converting metric to English measurements, volumes and the like - nothing else, not even any of the teachers!

My brother Henri attended the M.N.G. (Mathematisch-Naturwissenschaftliches Gymnasium) from 1949 till we left Basel end of 1950.

My god-mother Suzanne Genevois had invited me to stay with her at her holiday place, Guéthary in the Lower-Pyrenees. I crossed by train into France through St. Louis on 18th July, 1949, to reach Paris where I had to change station to take a train from the Gare de l'Ouest in the direction of Bordeaux - a two-day trip. Mother had duly pre-warned me that I should never talk to a stranger in Paris - I still remember that I had a problem avoiding some old guy at the Gare de l'Est who waited for young chaps at the end of the platform - I ran as fast as I could to take some transport to the other railway station!

From Guéthary, I went on a number of excursions, one being in August to the Cirque de Gavarnie via Pau and Lourdes, seeing on the way Orthez. Other excursions were to Biarritz and Bayonne, also to Hendaye-Plage.

Le Cirque de Gavarnie, la Chute du Gave de Pau, le Pic de Marbore (3253m), vue prise par FFH en 1949

A further longer excursion was by bus to Spain. On 9th August I got a visa in Hendaye to go to Spain. Finally, on 11th August, I crossed the border over the Pont de Béhobie to go via Irun to San Sebastian, where we had a 3-hour stop-over. The bus carried on along the coast, then turned left to reach Loyola, where we visited the Jesuit monastery of St. Ignatius of Loyola, then returned over the Régil Pass and Tolosa to Guéthary.

According to the "Handelsregister" of 22nd July, 1949, our Father's current collective "Prokura" at the Actienbrauerei Basel was now also extended to allow him to dispose of or bond the properties.

I started learning Italian from August, 1949, in class 1z at the Kantonale Handelsschule, Basel (Maturitätsabteilung), and attended lectures held by the Società Dante Alighieri. This came to an end in September, 1950, when the family left for St. Gallen.

There is another stamp in my pass on 4th and 14th September, showing that I crossed St. Louis to and from France (having visited my grand-mother in Auxonne with Mother and seeing Michèle Gruber as photos show). We must have come back with cousin Daniel Gruber from Fauvernay near Dijon (eldest son of Paul and Suzanne Gruber) who according to records visited us during this month. We went with him to the Lake of Lucerne, up the Hammetschwand lift to the Bürgenstock and on the return looked around Lucerne.

There is another pass entry showing that I had crossed St. Louis on 8th October. This is probably the trip I did with Pierre Hersberger, when we hitchhiked down to my god-mother Suzanne in Cannes (Pierre told me in 1998 that he remembered he felt not wanted by her, so he carried on to Barcelona where he decided to learn Spanish, as French was not understood in Barcelona!) - I do not recollect how and when I came back to Basel.

The family again spent winter holidays in Grindelwald. Every year we would first go to the Skischule to do refresher courses, then as from 1947, up to the First with the old Sesselbahn. Mother never went on skis.

During this period, I also did a series of b/white photographs of Basel: Martinskirche, Münster, view towards Kembs, Alter Rheinhafen, Neuer Rheinhafen. I also often went to Sunday morning cultural film matinees in town, in a small cinema between Fischmarkt and Marktplatz in Basel.

I also corresponded regularly with a pen-friend in Friesland; he was the son of a Protestant priest living in some small village around Hilversum. I remember that he visited us either at the end of 1949 or early the following year, with his family - I had never seen a photo of his, and had difficulty in understanding his language, so I broke off all contacts with him after this visit! At the same time, I was also corresponding in English (one of our study subjects at the MNG since 1947) with a young female pen-friend living in Alexandria, Egypt. She sent me a photo of herself, most stunning she was, I just could not believe it (years later, after our return to Basel, she contacted me a few times at our gallery in Basel; she was an artist, had married an American, lived in the French speaking part of Switzerland and wanted to show her works with me! I left it at that!). 

Overview - Actienbrauerei Period to 1950

Sometimes towards the end of this period, I took regular violin lessons with Erwin Maurer-Birrer at Steinenvorstadt 69, Basel. I remember that I had reached the stage where the teacher suggested that as I had advanced sufficiently he felt I should consider joining a youth orchestra, which frightened me so much, that I did not want to go back for lessons. In addition, I always had problems with my studies, particularly geometry and algebra, besides German, and Father got so desperate trying to help me with these subjects, that one day he blurted out that I had to make up my mind if I was going to carry on with music or study those subjects, and he decided for me that I should give up music - at least that is how I remember. We had then 3 sizes of violins hanging on our living room wall, next to each other, the smallest being played by my brother Henri who also took lessons with Erwin Maurer. My problem playing the instrument was that I had difficulties in quickly grasping the notes above or below the normal scale, and whenever the teacher was accompanying me on his violin, I got my bow moving in the opposite direction!

During that time - about 1949 - Father took me to listen to Yehudi Menuhin playing his violin, giving a concert at the Basler Stadtcasino/Musiksaal - an experience never forgotten! Over the past few years, we often went with Father to the Zoological Gardens in Basel, a few times to the old Kunsteisbahn (once we saw an international ice-hockey match Switzerland/Canada). Henri and I do not remember ever having been to a tennis match, the theatre, a soccer match or visited museums or galleries during these years in Basel, nor did Henri ever attend a concert then. I do not remember our parents ever going to Church, except possibly to our confirmation, nor did they ever read the Bible. Father was listed as a Protestant, mother had no confession (documents filed in Rüeggisberg).

On Saturdays, I had to do athletics at St. Jakob, it was rather a long walk from the Actienbrauerei to Dreispitz and down to the fields at St. Jakob!

I also remember vividly seeing once, if not twice, the "aurora borealis" appearing over the sky in Basel, towards the West, it most likely was in 1948 or 1949. I never saw this awesome spectacle again in my life.

Father took the family a few rare times to eat at the "Helm" Restaurant in town, upstairs at Eisengasse in town (where "Märthof" Interdiscount is). I remember it well, as the interior was all in wood, and on the way up to the first floor was an aquarium with some trout swimming about - if you wanted to eat fish, you had to point out to the Chef which one you wanted to have - it was still there on the way out! The restaurant belonged to the "Actienbrauerei Basel".

Father used to get the malt and hops required for the Actienbrauerei from Steiner Hopfen in St. Gallen - I remember Mr Steiner giving Father on a number of occasions some presents when he called in Basel, such as once a lovely ceramic jug by Géza Gorka, some bottles of wine from the Tokaji area in Hungary, and once also some "Troika" brand cigarettes that tasted like straw!

On rare occasions, Mother would use some of her beautiful and complete Minton China service from 1903 which she had received as a wedding present.

Minton China cup from a complete service from 1903 the last Minton cup Mother had till it broke in the 1970s!

We also had lovely Baccarat cut crystal wine glasses and cut crystal knife rests. We kept our serviette in an engraved silver serviette ring; 60 years later I still had the one's belonging to father and mine from my confirmation days. From that time, I also remember we had an imposing and heavy bronze incense burner supporting a two-tier pagoda on its back which Mother had acquired on an antiques flea market in Paris when I accompanied her, most likely in 1948 (I never forgot the bronze "bobbles" hanging on its side, some missing; Mother probably sold it with so many other collectables when we left Basel for St Gallen, at the latest when we emigrated in 1954).

Japanese Bronze Incense Burner (Meiji Period 1868-1912), caparisoned elephant with raised trunk supporting two-tier pagoda (similar to this image from web)

While studying at the Kantonale Handelsschule, I did a "Schnupperkurs" at the Basler Ruderclub, training on land and then on the Rhine - I did not carry on for long. I also remember that we used to swim in the Rhine, starting at the Birskopf and going ashore on the left side of the Rhine, below the "Mittlere Brücke", walking back to get our clothes. 


For further family images, see also: http://www.haenggi-basel.ch/Actienbrauerei_02.htm, http://www.haenggi-basel.ch/Actienbrauerei_01.htm and also http://www.haenggi-basel.ch/PDFs/ABB_Archivbilder.pdf

End of period