MEMORIES OF BOLLENDORF BY WALTER (WALLY) MAYER
[Recorded and transcribed by Wally's wife, Rosalie]
The summer of 1936
I went to my Grandmother’s house for summer vacation, as I always did. But
this time was the very last time! Summertime in the little town of Bollendorf has nothing but pleasant
memories for me I remember the river that went through the town…on
one side of the river was the little country of Luxemburg and that part of town was called “Bollendorfer Bruke” (which means “Bridge”) On that bridge were two huts with scales for weighing. One
hut was manned by Germans and the other side of the bridge was manned by Luxemburger Border Guards. Everything that was brought
into each country (merchandise) required that you pay the tax for it and people needed passports too in order to go from one
part of the bridge to the other (or from one country to the other). Sometimes
we swam in that river which was pretty shallow. I think my Uncle Dany went swimming
with us sometimes to smuggle papers or other valuables across the river because my Grandma had some property on the Luxemburger
side and I know he often hid things by the trees on that property and came back later to get it. When I say we” in this narration, I refer to my Cousin Freidel and Cousin Renee, Cousins Fred and
Kurt sometimes and Cousin Helen and I. We went shopping with my Aunt and she
bought some lettuce at the market in Luxemburg (where the prices were less than
on the German side). The Duty Officer wanted her to pay the “required tax” on it….and she started to argue
with him and I remember starting to cry and told him to please not take her to
jail!. But she used to smuggle all the time (Aunt Hedy did!)
There was a mountain
in back of Grandma’s house with some apple trees on the hill. I got sick
once eating “green apples” there. Up the side of the hill above the town was a “burg” (a castle).
There were also some Roman ruins there and a Roman bath with an aquaduct going to it and it was still full of water and there
was a small pond and a brook going to the river and there were trout in that small brook.
We used to drink the water from it and it was crystal clear.
Grandpa died in
1932 and I saw the funeral…it was my first! I remember a hay wagon being pulled by about 6 horses and a casket on the
wagon and the town band playing as it followed the wagon to the cemetery. My
Grandpa was one of the Town Elders and was well respected by all. He was the local horse dealer and my Uncle Max worked as
his Partner. My Grandma also had a small business which she inherited from her
family. It was selling clay and slate roofing.tiles. She kept the inventory on the bottom of the hill in and around an old barn where we
used to play. That barn contained also a large sleigh that was pulled by horses
and an old “cutch”. (This was like a two wheeled surrey). We often
played in that old barn. The memories I have of Bollendorf are “like a
dream” and I often think of them in a pleasant manner.
There was a small
synagogue next to the house and all the Jews in the town used to go there for services on Saturdays. Next to the synagogue and up the hill was the Catholic cemetery and further up the hill was the large Catholic
church which overlooked the entire town. Down the hill from Grandma’s was
a Blacksmith shop and I used to spend much time there. I helped the Smitty and
worked the bellows while he worked the red hot iron to make horseshoes and tools, etc.
He had a large stone for sharpening tools (called a “schleifstein”).
And I liked to play turning it as it was a big wheel.
The river was down
the hill by the main street near the old barn. We often played right there. There
were places with flat stones for washing clothes and sometimes I had to pull Fred and Kurt out of the river. They were always “wet” and their Mother scolded
them. They would run away and she would chase them and Kurt would run up the hill to the large barn where the horses were
and he would run under the horses and shout “You can’t get me”. These were very large Belgium horses with enormous hoofs and everyone was afraid to go after Kurt there. Aunt Hedy ( his Mother) would say “wait till I get you home” and he would reply “I’m
never coming home”.
Down the main street
were a bunch of houses on one side only because the river ran on the other side of the street. There were some Jewish families
that lived there and I remember one young man whose name was Leo. He had large
pop eyes. There was also a hotel down that street
and one evening there was a fire in the hotel and the entire town came to help with buckets to put out the fire.
was called the “bach”. This means “brook”. An old Uncle of my Mother’s lived there and he always used to give us some of his little green lozenges
which he always seemed to be eating. My Aunt Hedy and Uncle Max, along with Fred
and Kurt lived at the end of this bach and they enjoyed a nice house with a garden in front and along the side.
Not far from the
bridge was a school and across from that school was Fabrie's store. Their sign
said “one thousand and one items for sale”. Boy…they had everything! Groceries, hardware, furnishings, clothing, you name it…they had it! Not far from there (nothing was far from anything else!) was
Levy’s Bakery. They were relatives of ours and they were my Aunt Renee’s Parents.
The bridge crossed
over the River Sauer and on the other side was Luxemburg. This is where you had
to pass the border guards to cross. The Luxemburger side had a group of small
hotels with restaurants and the railroad station and a market. There was a road going to Eshternach. It was the next town
and was much larger than Bollendorf. We would walk there lots of times and go
through the woods sometimes. And sometimes we would go there to pick strawberries
and blueberries (both were wild).
some cousins …one was Julius who had a small travel agency and he used to take tourists on trips through Luxemburg,
which was also called “The Eifel” or “Little Switzerland”. We had another Cousin who had a tavern
and hotel and he would give us some very good “ginger beer”. There
was a café in the center of town where you could sit ouside and have hot chocolate with whipped cream. The fruit we would pick and put in little tin buckets in the forest was “delicious”!!!
Uncle Moritz who
lived in Witlich (a little town on the Mosel River) had a dry goods store and he bought me a “silk suit” with short
pants and a hand embroidered top. It was made in Palestine. Fred Mayer, my Cousin later inherited it when I outgrew it. Uncle Dany brought us a leather soccer ball to play
with in Bollendorf.
I have wonderful
memories of that little village and its people!Enter content here