Monday, September 12, 2011

Is it a really big sin to steal from a Catholic church?

This afternoon, we took the Rosche Korn distillery tour.  The home of the Korn Queen.  Unfortunately, she had better things to do and didn't make an appearance.  However, our tour guide was the big man himself, Herr Josef Rosche, direct descendant of the founder of the distillery.  This guy should have his own TV show.  He was excellent, funny, charming and knowledgeable.  Trish and I (along with Matti and Wilfried) were with 2 big school groups from Germany and Poland.  If you're asking yourself why German and/or Polish schools take their teenage students to a Korn distillery, let me know if you find the answer.  Damn, why didn't Mason High School ever arrange a tour of a brewery or something for us?  That I would have been interested in!

Herr Rosche very sweetly decided to do the tour in English, and he was absolutely darling as he stumbled over some words.  His wife even came over and shook our hands before the tour started (and the kids showed up).  I was very impressed not only with Herr Rosche's knowledge of his company and the process of making Korn, but with his love of it.  You can tell that he really embraces his heritage.  That, or he was nipping on the Korn.  :)

     This is the distillery just down the road from my hotel.

     That's the boss himself hanging off the sign.  LOL!

     Bottles FULL of Korn!

After the tour was finished, those of us over the age of 18 (I was a bit offended that he didn't check my ID) were invited into the tasting room.  Um, let me simply say that the stuff is STRONG!  Wowsa!  He asked me about being from the USA, and I mentioned Cincinnati.  Turns out that he had an aunt and uncle who immigrated there!  Then I remembered that I knew the name "Rosche."  I had come across it during my ancestry search.  He gave me his card, and I sent him an e-mail with his aunt and uncle's US passport applications.  He also told me that he would like to tour the US at some point looking for distilleries for his Korn products.  I'm imagining bad things--Kerkhoffs and Korn again.  Not a good combo, I'm sure.

We were supposed to take a tour of the town and church after the distillery tour, but we missed it.  I was honestly a little relieved because I had a horrible sinus headache by that point.  Matti and I went back to the distillery to buy some Korn, and then I went back to the hotel.  I needed to rest for a while.

I rested a bit but got really restless.  I decided to take a walk and just be silent with my thoughts (I sound really intelligent, don't I?).  I wandered down the Hasestraße and filmed a video for Dad.  I showed the route Anthony would have taken from his home to the school and church.  Then I started getting weepy.

After that, I did something that I perhaps should not be proud of.  I stole from the church.  More specifically, the church's dirt.  I wanted to bring something back to Casper, Lisette, Anthony, John, Henry and George.  I couldn't bring dirt back since the damn hound dogs in US Agriculture would jump me the minute I stepped foot inside the States.  So I decided to bring back some pebbles that I could bury at each of their graves.  You'd think it would be easy to find some pebbles.  Not really.  A lot of chipped cement.  But not a lot of pebbles.  But I was a Kerkhoff on a mission (kind of like Casper being on a mission to marry an older woman) and finally succeeded.  I also picked up one for Grandpa Joe's grave.

After that, I wandered across the Hase River.  It's just a little river.  Nothing like the Ohio River.  Not even like the Little Miami.  But very calm.  Very serene.  As I was sitting on a bench with Grandpa's pipe in my hand, I understood why Anthony would work on the river for his entire life.  It's what he knew.  What he loved.  The machine shops he worked for in Cincinnati were all very close to the Ohio River, and one of the machinist shops he owned was on Second St. in Cincinnati--right on the river.  With tears streaming down my face and grasping Grandpa's pipe, I couldn't believe how close I felt to Grandpa Anthony.  He carried Haselünne with him every day of his life, even decades after his immigration.  He loved being a US citizen.  He was a proud US citizen.  But he never forgot where he came from.  What a tremendous gift to all of his descendants.

I took a bit of a rest after coming back from my family "pilgrimage" and then decided I was starving.  Trish had a magnificent idea, and I agreed wholeheartedly.  She knows about my "pebble" thing and knows that I also wanted to get stones from Dinklage (where our Vodde family is from) and Meppen (where Elisabeth Keller--married to Joseph Vodde--was born).  Meppen is very close to Haselünne, so we decided to get dinner somewhere and head over and try to find a Catholic church to steal from.

Had a great dinner at a darling restaurant with a great waiter.  Then we were on the hunt for a Catholic church in Meppen.  I have no idea what church Elisabeth Keller was baptized in, so I couldn't go to that one specifically.  We decided to stop at the first one we came to.

There we were, driving through the streets of Meppen with no idea where we going.  Then Trish yelled "There's a church!"  But was it a Catholic church?  Well, it had a crucifix out front.  Good sign.  She stopped the car on the sidewalk and stayed inside the car (with the engine running) while I got out and surveyed the scene.  The church's name was St. Maria something, so I knew it was Catholic (I had suspected it was but needed proof).  Then I saw "St. Vitus" posted somewhere.  Hmmm, where do I know that name?  I decided I'd think about it later.  Two old women were looking at me as if I were a thief (little did they know) and watched every move I made.  Then I found a great spot, bent down, and grabbed 2 pebbles--one for Elisabeth and one for her daughter, my great grandmother (and Anthony Kerkhoff's wife) Johanna Vodde.  And I ran like the wind just in case the old German fraus called the polizei.  After I jumped in the car, I noticed the street name.  Now I recognized where I knew the St. Vitus name!  It's the address of the sweet archivist who gathered all my Kerkhoff church documents.  The man who broke the news to me about Casper the Casanova.

Now I just have to get some pebbles from Dinklage tomorrow, the birthplace of Joseph Vodde (Grandpa Joe's grandpa) and Joseph's father, Franz, and Joseph's brother, Anton.  They're all buried in a Catholic cemetery in St. Bernard.

Tomorrow is a visit to the cemetery in the town.  I think Matti and Wilfried told me that I may be able to see the spot where the bones of the deceased (including my people) would have been put after the "old" cemetery at St. Vincent's was closed.  But my sinus headache was so bad by that point, I'm not sure if that's what they actually said.  Then, after the cemetery "run," I get to meet the mayor.  And then it's off to Dinklage!

1 comment:

  1. I love the pebbles idea, and how lovely for you to make a video for your dad.

    The sinus problem stinks major big time, though -- have you checked with a pharmacist??