A centenarian from Mannheim-Seckenheim, born 1909.
Interview of November 3, 2009 with Dr. Birgit Teichmann
Mrs. Erny, we would love to hear a patent remedy on how you managed to get 100 years old- and be so spry at it. Is there such a remedy?
I always say: Do not eat too much, don’t drink too much, foremost no alcohol, don’t smoke and always work a little. And a lot of exercise. I like to work in the garden to this day!
Will you receive a birthday card from the president on your 100 birthday?
Yes and not only from the president, also from the town. Although, those things you get already at your 80. and 90. birthday
Can you tell as something out of your life?
I got married in 1929 and on the 1. October 1930, the day Seckenheim was incorporated- there was a big celebration- my son was born as the first Mannheim citizen. Such small special things one must remember!
My husband was a carpenter and took over the business from his father. At the beginning, things did not go so well because there were three carpenters in Seckenheim and there wasn’t much to do. The brothers of my husband, Georg and Karl, went to war in 1914 and both died. My husband was a trained lathe operator and did not really want to be a carpenter but he had to retrain. In 1932 my father in law asked if we want to take over the business. So my husband made the exam for the master’s certificate and we had work. And I also went to work. In 1952 we build the sawmill and I had to take care of the paperwork and offers. My mother-in-law was a competent woman. She had 14 children- back then it was normal. I had 3 and saw how much work that is. And back in the days there were no machines. And still she cleaned for other people!
I am sure you also have a big family?
Oh yes! I have 7 grandchildren, they are all very well and I also have great-grandchildren. Philipp is 7 years old and he comes here often. I always get the “Junior” magazine from the pharmacy for him, those are really interesting, you can learn a lot and we always read it together.
Was there at one point, a role reversal so your children took over the role of a mother?
We were an extended family, at one point with 4 generations in the house. So it was a flowing change. That had a big advantage. Because there were always younger ones, you always noticed everything and were demanded. Sometimes I feel sorry for an only child. One story I have to tell. It was about 1917, my father was still in the war and my mother said: This year I can’t buy a Christmas tree, we don’t have enough money. Not far from us, a family sold Christmas trees about 2 to 3 weeks before Christmas. When the trees were delivered, branches always fell down. And there my brother said: I have an idea. I am looking for a stick and when the trees get delivered, you stand on one side and me on the other. Then you run fast and we pick up the branches. And this is how he build a tree himself. In the stick he made holes and stuck the branches into the holes. And then the woman that sold the trees came and called for us. We were afraid that we had done something wrong and she said: I have seen what you did. Come with me, behind the shed I have something for you. So we ran along and she gave us this little Christmas tree and said: Nobody wanted this one, I could not sell it, you can have it. My brother carried the real tree under his arm and ran home and called: Mother, Mother, I have a tree. My brother is 2 years younger than me and always had good ideas. He was clever!
How is it with future plans? Do you make plans?
My daughter makes plans. But when I stay healthy, I will continue to go to my sport, the SV98/07. The club house was build by us- the members- with our own strength. We had a good committee, without them it wouldn’t have been possible. We were all workers- an absolute workers society. Every year we made a union trip and everybody was happy. The social club was and is an important social factor. We lived with the social club and even now I still go twice a week to gymnastics.
How did you get to your social club?
1914 my father went to war. He left on the 3. August 1914 and came home 1918. I really don’t know how my mother managed it all alone, where she got money from to feed us three children. When my father returned, he told us that a division for gymnastics opened in the “Deutschen Hof” and asked us if we would like to go. There were about 20 children, big and small. We did all kinds of sports. Long- and high jump, on the parallel bars and high bar, the vaulting horse. The working singing society was there also and the conductor taught us songs. Our young days were nice- even though there were bad times.
Which sports did you like the most?
I liked apparatus gymnastics the best. I liked doing it. I received many prices there and also a first price at the county championship.
Does music play a part in your life? Has your music taste changed in the course of your life?
I had two girls and a boy and when we washed the dishes, we always sang. My oldest daughter and me always sang the first and second voice. And when I wake up at night and cannot sleep, I think about what songs we sang and then start singing at night.
Today we don’t sing at gymnastics anymore, the cassette player is running. In the past, we had a piano player- he really liked coming and always kept an eye on us to see if we stayed in step and he played slower if we didn’t. Now we actually have music in the house. A house-music regular table every four weeks with folk songs, beat music etc.. Sometimes I turn on the radio and sing along. My mother still sang along with the radio at the age of 98.
Really, the washing machine was important, the gas stove and light. We had to do our homework at daylight because otherwise we could not see properly. When it got dark, we went to bed and my father told us stories or we did guessing games.
We always went to the “Seckenheimer Wald” with our father. And sometimes I went to Ilvesheim with my father, across the Ladenburg bridge to the Strahlenburg in Schriesheim. We picked lilies of the valley and sweet woodruff and the bouquets I brought to the neighbours. With the ladies from gymnastics, I make a trip every year. When my children were little, we always went on trips. We had a car and we went to the Gardasee in Italy, later to Spain. I also flew, the first time in 1970 to Bulgaria, after that to Mallorca, Israel. The gymnasts also gave me a trip as a gift. That was nice. And we travelled a lot on the bus. The longest one was to the north cape.
Is there something that really upsets you?
I am the type of person, when I get upset about something, I just swallow and then it is okay.
No, not really. We don’t go into other countries anymore. We just have been invited and there were also younger people with a small child and the mother told us, against how many diseases her child as been vaccinated. I said: That child is poisoned and told her about my children: My daughter was born in 1942. On the 31. August at 9:30 pm she was born, so she was able to go to school in 1948. Such little matters of luck, those two and a half hours, one must remember. In that night, the bombers came and I got so nervous that I developed a fever and had no milk. I was not allowed to go into the cellar because I had a fever. When I was able to go home and went home with the OEG, I stopped at a pharmacy and asked for dried milk. But for that you needed coupons and I did not have one of those. And the pharmacist didn’t want to give me the milk without the coupon. I told him that my child would die without milk- so he gave me a can after all. I then went to the doctor and he prescribed it to me. That I told the woman: This is how it was when my children were born. They are still nature!
If you would be able to choose a life, would you choose yours or do you think that some things could have been different?
No, no, I am content with my life- my life was nice!
Are you afraid of the swine flu?
Did you like to travel?
From your opinion, what are the most important inventions of the past century?