[Cz-L] a memory

From: Lucca <lucca99_at_netvision.net.il>
Date: Sun, 06 Jan 2008 21:38:08 -0500
To: Czernowitz-L_at_cornell.edu
Reply-to: Lucca <lucca99_at_netvision.net.il>

Charles Rosner's story reminded me of my own
experience – and this is a story which I may have
told you in the past, but I'll try to make it

My late husband and myself were tourists in the
renowned university city of Heidelberg. We had
looked forward to see this town so famous through

and music. But instead of finding the expected
romantic atmosphere, we soon found ourselves in
the proverbial tourist trap.

It was raining lightly and we sought refuge in a
crowded café. I spoke to my husband, who was also
born and raised in Czernowitz, in our mother
tongue, our own Bucovinean German.

At a table quite close to ours, sat an elderly,
bearded gentleman smoking a pipe. He listened to
us for a while and then he turned to us and said:

I'm sorry to bother you, but I am, or rather was
a philologist all my life, and I am sure to know
every accent of my mother tongue which is German.
Now I am trying to figure out where you come
from, are you Austrians? Somehow it isn't
quite…or maybe you come from the Slovakei?"

"We both were born in the Bucovina, I tell the
gentleman, Now the Bucovina belongs to Ukraina,
but once it was Rumania. Also Russia But we are
actually Rumanians and we went to Rumanian

"So shouldn't you be speaking Rumanian, or maybe Ukrainean?

"Well you see up to the first world war The
Bucovina was part of the Austro-Hungarian empire,
and that's why we talk German!"

The man couldn't let go and continued:

But you were not yet born before the first world
war as far as I can judge, and why did it
happen? Why did this country change hands?"

Philology yes, but history no.

A young and beautifully tanned blonde got up from
an adjoining table and approached us. With
typical American arrogance which does not accept
other languages she tells me:

"I see a "TIME" magazine on your table! I haven't
seen an English printed word since we started our
tour! Could I have the magazine for a while?"

I tell her she may keep it, I finished reading it on the bus.

The professor approaches us again:

"Your English is so good! How did you acquire this?"

"After the second world war I lived with my
parents on a small Caribbean island!"

"Was it an English island?"

"No, a Dutch one!"

At this point the man gave up. He sat back
quietly and smoked his pipe. We were served our
coffee and cakes which looked much better than
they tasted. The rain had stopped. We left the

I think that we Czernowitzers find ourselves more
often than others in a position where we have to
explain our whereabouts. Sometimes we even enjoy

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Received on 2008-01-07 02:38:08

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