Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Halloween, a favorite of Leif's

I suppose Leif and Peter Anthony were like most brothers. Sometimes they were good companions, and sometimes they competed. Sometimes Peter teased Leif and Leif got mad and went on the attack. I used to tell Peter that he was lucky Leif was six years younger than he was, because he was to big for his age. I think that in the years after Peter left home, when Leif was twelve, they grew apart and forgot all the good times they had together when they were younger.  This photo is an example. It was Halloween and Peter, who was nearly nine years old and in third grade, was a classy vampire with a ruffled shirt. He was already in costume way early, as we were having a party at our house for him and his friends. His dad dressed up as a sort of swami fortune teller. I looked ridiculous in a true 1970s tie-dyed dress, leopard print hat, and fish net stockings, or at least that's what I think I wore.

Look at the expression of pure delight on Leif's face, the cute body language as the vampire leans over to bite and Leif expects it will tickle. Yes, Peter did bite, and yes, it did tickle. There was a lot of laughter.

Leif was only two-and-a-half years old then and not really old enough to understand much about Halloween except that he got to go beg for candy at a few doorways in the stairwell, but he certainly understood the idea of having fun with his brother.

When Leif was grown, Halloween was one of his favorite times. He loved to have parties and was devilish and cute. I wish he was here this Halloween with us.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Leif - August 1977 in Nurnberg

I so wish I had more photos of Leif as an adult, but I've posted nearly all of the good ones, and many that are left are so similar (taken at the same time) to something I posted before. I find myself going back again to the old family albums to find pictures that are "new." Here, too, the best ones have already been scanned and posted in the four-and-a-half years since his death, since I began this blog, but I keep finding little parts of photos to scan. This is a good example. It's not really a very good photo in terms of focus or lighting, but it's a cute one of him.

It was taken in our room at the Bavarian American Hotel in Nurnberg, Germany. We stayed there for a month while waiting for quarters to move into. Peter W. was working, and I was "stuck" there with the boys. In some ways, it was ideal. The location, across from the train station and near to museums, and within walking distance of the historic downtown, was great. There were wonderful restaurants and shops all over the place. We were good walkers, so we ventured quite far from the hotel, to a terrific park, the castle, and more. We often ate lunch at a German restaurant, not in the "American" restaurant in the hotel, because we thought it was awful.

The hotel was built for high ranking Nazis and opened in 1936, bombed by the Allies in 1944, and confiscated by the US Forces in June 1945. After that, it was maintained as a hotel for servicemembers until it was returned to the Germans and was rented as flats. I believe that it is now unoccupied. We saw it when we were in Nurnberg last June and were surprised that it still looked the same and still had what appeared to be the same sign on it.

No matter how much walking we did, Leif was still only two-and-a-half, and even though he was willing to fall asleep in his umbrella stroller, it was usually important to spend enough time in the room to be sure he got a decent nap. We didn't have much to do in our room, but the kids found ways to amuse themselves. Leif had this cute little plaid backpack he liked to stuff his few toys and stuffed animals into and parade around with it on his back.

It's hard to believe he was such a little blondie at that time. Both my boys were blond when they were small, as their dad was, but all three of them had hair that darkened to a deep brunette as they grew up.

One good thing about looking at the photos of Leif as a child is the happy memories they bring. Not universally happy, but mostly so. I just have to smile at most of the photos. They were good times. Not always easy ones, but good.

In this case, although it wasn't particularly pleasant living at the Bavarian American for a month, a place that those who stayed there were wont to call the "Barbarian American," it did give us a chance to get to know the city. I wish we could have taken Leif back with us in June. He wouldn't have remembered anything, even with his phenomenal memory. He was just too young when we left there. But we would have had a good time reminiscing and telling him about his life there when he was so small.

I don't know whether we took a photo of the building in 1977. If we did, it was probably a slide that we didn't print for our album, since I didn't find one in there.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Leif and the Plaque for Timothy

Back in the days when I had time to make homemade gifts and thought they would be appreciated, I used to paint, sew, or needlework gifts for the family. I wasn't a good enough artist to come up with my own paintings for most purposes. When some of my nieces and nephews were born, I painted plaques for their rooms. This was one of them. I painted it in June 1978 for my nephew, Timothy, when he was a baby and had Leif hold it so I could take a picture. He looks so beautiful and sweet.

At the time we were living in Fuerth, Germany (Nurnberg), just before we moved to the village of Sachsen bei Ansbach. Leif was three-and-a-half years old. He was bright and curious, persistent and unstoppable. He had been attending a Montessori preschool which was excellent for him, but from which I have no photos.

Like so many of our photos from that time period, this one had fading and chemical staining. I've tried to rescue it.

Our boys did not have "professionally decorated" rooms, just as they didn't have professionally decorated birthday cakes. What they had on their walls was likely to be either things I had made out of needlepoint, posters, or things they had made or colored themselves. They had inexpensive, plain bedspreads, and quartermaster plain furniture, except for a toy box, which was mostly filled with things like Matchbox cars.