While I was having a half-day trip down memory lane a few weeks ago, last Saturday I went for a shorter and closer-by walk with my Mum, a walk that took us to places filled with memories for both of us, although for different reasons.
After many days of rain and cold, Saturday began sunny and bright (although still very chilly), and we decided to walk from our town across the fields to the nearby smaller town of Kornwestheim. That picturesque place has featured on my blog once before, last year in April.
If he was still alive, my grandpa (Mum's Dad) would have been 99 years old on that day. And although we did not go to the cemetery to "pay our respects" (to us, a person's memory is not kept alive by a piece of rock somewhere, but by us remembering them in our hearts and minds), it was a good reason for going there and giving our walk a purpose.
At the cemetery, these beautiful azalea were just a little past their best, but still looking glorious:
Leaving the cemetery, we had three more stops in mind before making our way back to Ludwigsburg: First, I asked to walk through the Stadtgarten ("Town Garden") and look at the small fountain by the wall, the place of one of my earliest childhood memories. Second, we wanted to try and find the house were the painter of the beautiful sunflower painting used to live (more about him later). Third, we intended to have a drink and maybe a piece of cake or a snack at the small café that is our preferred stop whenever we are in Kornwestheim.
There were several roads we could take to reach the Stadtgarten, and we decided to explore a path not even my Mum was familiar with - and that is saying something, since she spent a lot of time in this town as a child and teenager, with her grandmother and many other relatives living there in those days.
The narrow public foot path took us along the stone wall at the back of the old (disused) cemetery. Those of you who have been reading my blog for a while know that I do have a thing for old, more or less neglected places, and so I couldn't resist taking a few pictures across the wall:
In the background, you can spot the spire of the old church that I showed you in my older post about Kornwestheim, mentioned and click-linked above.
We came out of the path still in the oldest part of town, with some beautifully restored timbered houses:
It wasn't far (nothing in Kornwestheim is really far) from there to the Stadtgarten, and we sat on a bench in the sun for a while, close to the fountain with the frog that I remember from the time I was about 2 or 3 years old - my great-grandmother was still alive then, living in the road next to the park, and I was taken there often by both my Mum and my Grandma when they were visiting.
For my Mum, sitting on that bench brought back memories of many a day spent at that very spot, reading books she had borrowed from her mother or from her Onkel Otto, books such as "Gone With The Wind" (which I have never read myself, by the way).
When the sun hid behind clouds and it became too chilly for our liking, we went to the café. On our way there, we tried in vain to find the house where the painter used to live, but we couldn't be entirely sure where it was according to the rather vague description my uncle (Mum's brother) had dug from his memory and sent her by email when she asked him what he remembered about the painter.
Of course, a lot has changed since Mum and her brother were children, but this is what we managed to piece together:
As mentioned in the post where I showed you the sunflower painting (click-linked above), the painter's name was Fritz Hartnagel. He was my grandfather's colleague; their workplace was a foundry in Kornwestheim (the company ceased to exist in 1981). Mr. Hartnagel's wife had cancer, and he quit his job in order to take care of her full-time. That was VERY unusual for a man to do in those days (we are talking the late 1940s or early 1950s here), and my Mum's parents were greatly impressed by that. Of course, back then, not working meant almost no money; the benefit system was not what it is today. To pay bills, Mr. Hartnagel sold paintings to friends and former colleagues; two of these ended up in my grandparents' possession: the sunflower one and another one of the Watzmann, a mountain in the Bavarian Alps.
We think that "our" Fritz Hartnagel was a relative of (most likely not identical with) Fritz Hartnagel, friend of Sophie Scholl and later husband of her sister Elisabeth. But we don't know exactly how the painter fits in; the area is right, and so is more or less the time frame. You don't know who Sophie Scholl was? She was a student (went to school in Ludwigsburg and later studied at university in Munich) who actively (but without violence) resisted the Nazi regime. For her resistance activities, she was convicted of high treason and executed in 1943, when she was 21 years old. She and the "Weiße Rose" ("White Rose", the resistance group) are very well known in Germany. You can read about Sophie here on wikipedia.