Our Trip to Germany 2009

 

Day 4, Tuesday, September 6

 

Back in the saddle again !  After letting Gerdi know that the Monday schedule just wouldn’t be happening we arranged to meet Gerdi at her home Tuesday morning and we would all travel the few miles from Höchst to Rimhorn where we would meet with Wilhelm and Ella at their home. From Judy’s journal;

 

We met Gerdi at her house where she was waiting at the door to take us to Ella and Wilhelm’s house in Rimhorn, another small town just a short distance away and through gorgeous forested land.  Ella and Wilhelm were waiting in their driveway for us to arrive.  Wilhelm had the American flag hanging from an upper window. He went inside and I saw him peeking through the window.  As soon as we started walking up the driveway, we heard The Star Spangled Banner playing through the window! 

The Gieg home in Rimhorn with the American Flag and the National Anthem that greeted the visitors from abroad..

We went into what was formerly the stable – Ella had transformed it into a bar/party room.  She did all the work herself.  They also had an American flag in her flower garden outside the stable.  All the shelves in the bar were lined with liquor bottles.  All were gifts brought to birthday and other celebrations.  Since they don’t drink hard liquor they’ve just saved them all.  Quite a testament to the number of friends they have and the number of celebrations they’ve hosted.”

The un-opened liquor bottles in the Gieg party room, previously a stable that adjoined a small barn outside of the house..

We talked for awhile in the party room then exchanged a few gifts.  The Gieg’s and Gerdi very much liked our American made presents and we, our German pewter cup and spoon, and a handmade porcelain heart [left]  and many papers and pictures that had been gathered for us in advance of our visit to Germany.  We discovered that Ella had been a long-time postmistress in Rimhorn and Wilhelm a journalist with the local newspaper. Wlhelm has also authored a non-fiction book the “Ghost” airplane, a WWII story.

Discussion and the gift exchange in the Gieg party room.

We left the party room and went to Ella’s office in the main house.  She explained that it once was the Rimhorn post office and when she retired they let her have all of the furniture and the old safe.  Ella, of course, had the “gift” in writing so there would be no later misunderstanding. Ella showed us her current project.  She discovered an old book written by Hieronimus Gieg in the early 19th century which contained apothecary formulas for various local illnesses.  Hieronimus had gathered them from the area over a long period of time.  She is formalizing the work as a historical reference. She also showed us a German Bible printed in 1691 [bottom] she had found in a neighbor’s trash.  She had asked the neighbor if she could have it and was told that would be fine.  Again, the transaction in writing.  Years later, the neighbor wanted to know if she still had the Bible.  She said yes, but, “never will you get it !”

Ella and Scott K. in her office. The bookshelf contains her many years of published genealogy work.

We left the office and went upstairs to the living room.  Gerdi showed me the genealogy work she had done and let me have a copy. On the wall hung a coat of arms for the Giech family and Ella let me know, as she had done before, that this was the “rich” family to which neither they nor we were at all related.

 

It was time to leave. 

The Giech family coat-of-arms

We had not only found our relatives in Germany we had made new life-long friends.  We promised to keep in touch via email, “Danke Gerdi”.  Since we left Germany we have been regularly sending emails, sharing pictures and information.  We are planning for our return.

For the rest of the day we had planned a brief visit to Darmstadt about 30 miles to the north and west of Höchst to see if we could do a little shopping.  Our navigation of German roadways had vastly improved in the few days we had been “in country”.  Getting to Darmstadt was easy, finding where to shop wasn’t “blipping” on our radar. So, we stopped for gas in town.  I went in and used my “Sprechen sie Englisch” line.  The response .... you guessed it ... “a little bit”.  “Where can we find shopping?”, I asked.  Two minutes later we had a concise and accurate map as to the “primo” shopping in Darmstadt, complete with instructions about where to park and what floor to exit from the elevator. Whoa ! And, the shopping plaza rivaled anything we’ve seen in the good ole’ USA.  In a highly rushed one and a half hours we visited about 10 of the hundreds of stores and came away with gifts for friends and family back home; made in Germany of course.  In fact, we saw no “Made in China” items at all !!

 

On the way back to the Hotel and just to the east of Darmstadt we saw a sign, “Burg Frankenstein”. Castle Frankenstein, THE Castle Frankenstein? We made a short side trip. Up a fairly sizeable hill via a really winding road we arrived at the parking lot and joined two other parked vehicles.

We followed a short path with great “overlook” views to the main Castle gate [right].  During our visit we discovered the Castle was first recorded in 1252.  We also discovered that Mary Shelly first visited the Castle in 1816 and based her book on one of the legends told about it.  According the Shelly’s step-mother the Castle’s most notorious inhabitant was Johann Conrad Dippel, a physician and theologian.  Dippel had tried to construct a new human being out of body parts and had used the Castle’s dungeon as a laboratory for this and other experiments.

Once inside the walls we discovered partially re-constructed Castle grounds with a really nice Chapel and restaurant.  The Chapel contains the well-known crypt of Philip Ludwig of Frankenstein. In the picture left from the tower windows you can see two of Dippel’s creations; Ryan and Scott Keith von Frankenstein.  We’re still not sure if this is THE Castle Frankenstein but we discovered they throw a really terrific standing room only annual Halloween party.  All-in-all, a really neat unexpected side trip.

Another great and busy day in Germany came to an end with a “super” supper at Hotel Jakob.

The Gieg descendents

Group photo, Gerdi took the picture.