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On Sunny Lane: Tripping the Life Fantastic

When I was a little girl, my mother would tell me stories about the “old country.”

Her ancestors and my dad’s ancestors migrated to the United States at the turn of the 20th century. They entered at Ellis Island New York and became citizens.

I don’t know if Mom actually knew her grandparents or if she was repeating stories that were told her, but I heard them anyway.  She told me about one person who picked edelweis on the slopes of the Swiss Alps when she was a little girl.

Another person picked the reeds along the creek banks that her parents used in making baskets to support the family. My great grandfather said, “She was a genuine French woman and there was nothing she couldn’t do.”

Mom said some of our family lived in Alsace-Lorraine, but she didn’t say

much about our German wing of the family, even though it was predominant. As far as I know, my father’s family was 100% German.

When our family was young and I was not yet born, Mom used to make sauerkraut. She cut the cabbage, put it in the crock and salted it. Then she put the oldest child in the crock in his bare feet to stomp it, according to custom. She stopped that tradition by the time I came along and we bought sauerkraut in a can.

I picked it up again with my children and continued it until my youngest child was a teenager and had hair on his legs. So, I got a sauerkraut stomper and used it. Why didn’t I think of that sooner?

Well, you’d think that I would have gone to an Oktoberfest at some point in my life, but I never did. I believe that I am an American and my heritage is a thing of the past. Well, last week, I decided to go to the Oktoberfest in town, just for the fun of it.

Of course, there was lots of beer there and German food. There was German music and dancing. A dance group came from out of town and did some traditional Bavarian dances. There were contests.

Well, German heritage or not, I love to polka. And Sweetheart does not polka. I didn’t know anyone there who could polka. So, I asked a young fellow from the dance group if we could polka together and he readily agreed.

In fact, he started off like a racehorse leaving the gate. We went round and round, like a spinning top. He lifted his arm for an underarm twirl. That is when the centrifugal force propelled me to the floor and I landed on my knee.

I wanted to stay there and rest for a while, but my partner, after inquiring about my physical welfare, helped me up and off we went again. It was glorious.  When the song ended, he insisted that we dance another. By that time, I had my equilibrium and was able to keep up.

We were the only dancers on the floor at the time, so I was happy we could provide the entertainment.

The whole experience was more than I had bargained for. He was, at least six inches taller than I am and decades younger, but I wouldn’t have changed it for the world.

I guess it helps to look back on our heritage from time to time. It helps us to get where we’re going if we know where we’ve been. It might even help us get on the right track.


Dorothy is the author of two books—“Miles and Miracles” and “Getting It All Together “. You can purchase a book or make a comment by emailing her at

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