I’m always amazed at how intertwined things can be so as to become a braid of events that become larger than the sum of their parts. One of them came together just recently that left me pondering many, many things, but I have to leave some details to my special guest author. You’ll understand why in a moment. But first, the strands themselves:
- A couple of weekends ago, we said goodbye to our beloved grandma for the last time. It caused me to look back a bit, at the 94 years of her life, and the lives of those around her.
- This last weekend, I went through a stack of 4 x 5 transparencies, some 50 years old, some older. Some had color as bright as the day they were taken, some were black and white. And while I was searching, a picture came up that hadn’t seen the light of day more than a couple of times in the last few decades. And it caused me to look back, both figuratively and literally, a bit more.
- Then last Sunday there was an article in the paper about the 50th anniversary of the 1962 World’s Fair, in Seattle, Washington, but most importantly, there was a story about Belgian Waffles.
- And that reminded me of a story my mom told, and wrote, about those very Belgian Waffles, which were an absolute hit at the fair, and which made a lasting impression on her.
And over time, hearing those stories, and seeing the pictures, made me realize that history, and we can call it that, wasn’t dull and dreary, faded black and white images. It made me realize that life way back then was just as full and vibrant as it is today, with real people, living life as best they could, sharing responsibilities and joys just like we would…
…and then I saw a connection between all of those disparate thoughts, those strands of the bigger braid being woven together up there that I hadn’t seen before.
See, in 1962, the grandma we said goodbye to a few weekends ago was younger than I am now. She babysat my sister and me so a young couple could have some time off and spend a whole day away from the responsibilities of raising two young children. That young couple was my mom and my dad, and while my grandma watched us, mom and dad headed north, to the Big City of Seattle, to see the World’s Fair – and – well, actually, let me introduce my guest writer for today, telling the story of the beginning of that braid, the very story of the Belgian Waffles mentioned in that newspaper article, not as a historical event looking back 50 years, but through the eyes of a young woman, only in America for a few years, still learning about the country, the climate, and the culture.
Oh… And the waffles.
Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome my mom.
A memory of the 1962 World Fair
By I. Roush
The pictures I saw in the papers reminded me so much of the equally famous Fernseh Turm (TV tower) in Stuttgart, in the area of my home town in Germany. The two looked like twins, and that alone made me want to go to see it at the Fair.
I didn’t have the foggiest idea of what to expect at the Fair.
Was I ever surprised!
My dear mother-in-law volunteered to take care of our two little ones, our 3 month old baby and a toddler, which gave my husband and me a chance to make a full day of it, a very welcome treat from full-time parenting.
At the Fair we walked from exhibit to exhibit and marveled over new inventions from all over the world. It was not only inventions but also people from all over the world. This could be clearly seen in their faces and many times also in their clothes.
It was fascinating, and a tremendous amount to take in. New gadgets for the household were demonstrated in one building, in another was an enormous rotating oven that was almost hypnotic to watch as it churned out hundreds of the well-known scones at a time. But even so it seemed they could not be produced fast enough to satisfy hungry Fair-visitors.
In another building was the art gallery. I remember one painting of a seascape which was so realistic that I felt the need to stay back for fear I might otherwise get wet. (I decided right there and then, that’s the way I wanted to learn how to paint water.)
Then we saw something special.
It was the Belgian Waffles. I never had heard of those.
By this time my tired feet reminded me that it was time to take a break and my stomach was in total agreement with them.
There was quite a large crowd standing in line already in front of the raised platform from which those waffles were handed down. They looked so inviting with that generous helping of luscious ripe strawberries and an even larger portion of whipping cream on top.
My husband and I looked at each other, and then realized this wasn’t such a hard decision to make, so we joined the waiting throng to be served. We hadn’t been there very long when the lady, who was handing down those yummy looking waffles, stopped and looked right at me. I’d never seen her before, and couldn’t imagine she had anything to say to me, so I looked left and then right, but there was nobody else who seemed to feel singled out by her. But then she pointed her finger right at me and with a loud voice announced:
”You probably have to go back to your booth, so I better serve you first”.
My Dirndl had given me away.
I realized that she had seen the Dirndl and thought I was one of the people who was actually part of the fair, but of course I wasn’t. There was no booth or exhibit I had to hurry back to.
Then again, I couldn’t argue with a person who was in the process of doing her ‘good deed’ for the day.
As I stood there trying to figure out what to do, the crowd helped make the decision, parted, and graciously made a path for me to receive the waffle the lady was offering me.
My dear husband didn’t wear any ‘Lederhosen’, so he could not pass as my Bavarian escort but she was gracious enough and served him also.
Happily carrying our plates, we looked for the nearest bench where we could sit down, I could rest my tired feet and enjoy those wonderful Belgian Waffles to the fullest.
That memory of the 1962 World Fair still brings a happy smile to my face and a warm feeling to my heart.
Thank you Belgian waffle Lady!
So – the strands of the braid come together with a thank you to the Belgian Waffle lady, a belated thank you to my grandma for babysitting my sister and me those many years ago, making this trip, and this story, possible – and a very special thanks to my mom, who wrote the story you just read. (You can see her below wearing the Dirndl in a photo taken around that time, also in a photo taken a number of years later, when she discovered that making dolls wearing Dirndls was fun, too, and one of her and dad, taken a few years before the story happened)