Revisiting Freking Weg

June 18, 2009

Yesterday afternoon, after the visit to the museum in Mittengen, we returned to Damme and Freking Weg. This time it was our intention to find some real Frekings. We drove to the site, parked the car, and sat there developing our strategy (and working up the courage to approach total strangers speaking no English).

Laura had brought two volumes – German to English and English to German dictonaries.  Marilyn had brought her cell phone, and Karl was warned that we might want him to translate. I brought my laptop version of the family tree (and my trusty camera, of course, to record it all).

And we sat.

In a while, a woman approached the car.  She spoke German, of course. Marilyn began to explain, with many gestures, that we are three sisters whose mother’s name was Freking. The woman leaned in, clearly willing to listen and try to understand us.  When she did, she pointed to the house we had been staring at and said that the Frekings lived there. So, go in!  She was clearly telling us to just do it!

So, we did. We screwed up our courage (now it would have been truly stupid to sit in the car, with the neighbor watching us!). We walked up to the door (wondering if we looked like religious zealots), Marilyn knocked, and a teenage boy opened the door.

“Do you speak English,” Marilyn asked.

“Nein,” he replied.

A woman about our age joined him, and Marilyn repeated the routine that had worked pretty well with the neighbor. Before long, we were invited inside, told to sit, and so began our hour-long conversation with Paula Meyer-Freking and her son Heinrich.

Karl helped by phone. Paula used the phone book to find other Frekings. Heinrich poured us a refreshing glass of water mit gas. I took a few photos (after getting a hand-waved, embarrassed permission). We still don’t know whether we have a common ancestor. We do have the phone number for the archives of the church, where someone does speak English and we might find some important records.

The Meyer-Frekings are in the business of laying hens, so we picked up a box of eggs (Heinrich wouldn’t let us pay for them).  The eggs are wonderful. Brown on the outside with deep orange yolks.

As we were leaving, Paula asked us (by this time Heinrich has become comfortable enough to serve as reluctant translator, with his “little bit’ of English) if we had driven through the day before. She had seen us drive by several times!  We were caught!  I’m sure she was relieved to know who had been driving around shooting photos of her neighborhood!


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