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America

 

As the boat pulled into the harbor in New York, on January fourteenth, 1941, Ilse wished desperately for the ten thousandth time that Heinz was with them. How he would have loved to sail past the Statue of Liberty! And maybe she would have been able to survive the trip better if he had been there. As soon as they had reached the open ocean, Ilse had gotten seasick, and had had to spend the entire trip on deck either walking or sitting in a lawn chair reading. She had also gotten a very dark tan, which was kind of nice.
She helped Eugenie and Robert with their bags. She would have to say good bye to them soon too, for she was going to stay with her parents in Pennsylvania. It would be so nice to see them again, she thought, but how she would miss Heinz’s parents! Oh when would it all stop, she thought desperately.


Seeing her parents again was truly wonderful. Mutti was still a bit pale from the scarlet fever, but they both looked happy. There were not enough smiles and hugs to pass around. Vati took her in his arms smiling broadly.
“My little Schatzi! How was your voyage?”
“Oh Vati, I was sick the whole way, it was really bad.” Mutti looked surprised.
“But you are so brown and healthy looking,” she protested. “You don’t look like you’ve had a terrible time. Well, it doesn’t matter now. Come along and we will take you home. Fredi, take your daughter’s bagsÖ”


* * *

Almost a year later, in September, Ilse was back in New York. A short time ago they had received word from Heinz, telling them that he and Peter were on their way! Finally, Ilse thought, we can get married and live together. It had been nice spending time with her parents, but she just did not feel complete without Heinz.
Her parents worked so hard now. Her father had a job as a door-to-door Fuller Brush salesman. The Fuller Brush Company employed refugees. It was nothing compared to the position he had held in Vienna, but it was a job. He worked long, hard hours and was not very happy, but at least he could put a little bit of money away.
Suddenly Ilse heard the blast of a ship. She jumped up excitedly and stood on her toes, straining to catch a glimpse of her Heinz. It seemed forever until she saw him stepping out. She pushed through the crowds quickly, not caring who she knocked over, seeing only Heinz. Peter spotted her first, and then she and Heinz were in each others’ arms once again, the rest of the world disappearing around them.



* * *


Ilse and Henry, as he now called himself, were married on November second, 1941. Their whole family was in attendance, except for George (as he now called himself), who was still in Australia studying. They were wed in a temple in Manhattan. It was a simple and short, but every one was as happy as one family could possibly be. Following the ceremony, they all came to the apartment where Ilse lived with Henry, Peter, Eugenie, and Robert for coffee and cake. Afterwards, Ilse's parents took a train back to Philadelphia. Ilse waved until she couldn’t see them anymore. She sighed happily and held tighter onto Henry’s arm.
“Don’t be sad, Ilselein”, he told her. “Don’t forget, we still have our honeymoon tonight!”
“Oh I wasn’t sad,” Ilse told him. “I’m looking forward to it every second!” And for their honeymoon, Henry took Ilse to the movies to see "The Little Rascals". When they came back, everything was ready in the little three-bedroom apartment. Ilse had been sleeping by herself, the other two bedrooms shared by Peter and Henry, and Alice and Robert. She now was all moved into Henry's room, and Peter had Ilse's old room. She and Henry entered the room together as husband and wife for the first time. The next morning they got up early and set off to work in the tailor shop with the rest of the family. They were as happy as they believed they could be.


And then came Pearl Harbor on December seventh, 1941. Henry was drafted into the army almost one year after he and Ilse had started their life together. He went to basic military training in South Carolina, and Ilse, who flatly refused to let the war separate them again, came along.
One evening, Henry and Ilse were sitting together. Henry turned to Ilse with a gentle smile on his face.
"You do know," he told her, "that I can't let you stay here while you are pregnant". Ilse felt her face go all hot and then all cold. She had suspected she might be pregnant, but had not dared to hope.
"You mean," she gasped, "that we are going to have a baby?" Henry kissed her gently.
"Of course, Ilselein!" he said. Anyone could tell just by looking at you". Ilse though that it must be the happiest day of her entire life, and sat next to Henry simply glowing.



* * *


Henry went on to serve in Belgium and Germany, and became a second lieutenant working in intelligence. Because he knew German, the army found him useful in the interrogation of German prisoners of war. The Germans never caught on that he was a native speaker because he could fake an American accent. Once, he interviewed two German frogmen, who would attach bombs to bridges under water. The Allies needed to know where the bombs had been planted, and Henry was called in. Henry decided to take a risk and pull a fast one on them. He told them that he knew their whole story and that if they lied, they would get in trouble. Of course, they did not believe him. That is, until he guessed where they had been trained - in a great fancy swimming pool in Austria. That scared the truth out of them, because how would an "American" know about that pool?

* * *


Meanwhile, Ilse gave birth to a baby boy. She was working as a cashier in Shraffts when she heard the news that Heinz was coming home. Finally, five months after the war ended, Henry returned to Ilse, never to be separated again.

 

* * *

"The wonderful thing about life is that it's always spring again" -Ilse Wolf

* * *



With All My Love...

I wish I could express myself
as only you can do
with words that bare your deepest thoughts
which bind my heart to you

We're one in mind and one in soul
in powerful embrace
that lets us weather any storm
we may have yet to face

Through good and bad we always rose
and vanquished every blow
as boundless love empowered does
to make our union grow
To where it's now, as shadows fall
near end of life's long way.

To face with strength and confidence
may happen what there may!
-Henry Wolf, for Ilse on her 80th birthday


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