It was common for musicians to take their girlfriends to the dance events. Although Mathias knew many pretty girls but he did not have a solid presentable girlfriend. Among some conservative Swabian families with marriageable daughters, he was considered an interesting marriage candidate.
Many of the Swabian women had found work in a poultry business in the mid-fifties. Chickens had to be slaughtered and plucked under adverse conditions in this establishment. The workers were sitting in a dimly lit room on low chipboard boxes where fruit or vegetables were kept. The walls and the floor were gray. It was not possible to determine whether mold or lack of color caused the gray tone. Due to the cold in this room, the women wore several thick garments on top of each other and almost down to the ground water-repellent aprons. Her clammy hands warmed her by the freshly brewed chickens.
We Schwabenkinder visited our mothers and grandmothers from time to time at their workplace to listen to their conversations. Anyone who wanted to know what was going on in the Schwabengemeinde could find out about this place.
Special attention attracted the following facts.
In a neighboring village lived a Swabian family. The patriarch of this family, an imposing tall woman with assertiveness, was widowed, as was the household-based daughter. The daughter had a partner, who also belonged, as her daughter still underage to the household of the patriarch.
The patriarch had determined that it was time for her granddaughter (about 12 years) to seek a husband. She had found out for herself that the selection of husbands in the Swabian community was not so extensive that one could have waited a long time. That’s why she decided to act. She dressed carefully. At this time, especially older Swabian women still wore the usual Schwabentracht for widows. It consisted of dark shiny multi-layered skirts (the upper skirt pleated), a richly embroidered high-gloss black apron and a likewise black embroidered high-necked top. A black cashmere – often also silk scarf – as well as black stockings and well-groomed shoes with the same color complemented the ensemble. She looked in those clothes,
Said woman knew the poultry farm and knew that all messages were exchanged between the women of this group. It did not matter to her that the talks held there were not treated confidentially.
She hoped the choice of her clothes would give her the appropriate respect. So she spoke in this factory and asked to speak the mother of Mathias.
Justina (mother of Mathias) was remunerated for performance, so she could break off her work only with loss and besides, she could not imagine what the little-known person wanted from her. So it happened that the patriarch openly talked about her request to marry her granddaughter to the son of Justina. The Swabian women were speechless and they pricked their ears so that none of the other words escaped them. The answer of Justina, who had not lost her voice a bit, came promptly.
First, she would not know what her son’s intentions were in marriage. Neither she nor her husband – and she knew for sure – would tell him whom and when he should marry. In such questions they would adapt to the circumstances of the time and situation and that is what she recommends to her.
As an unintentional listener, I could not have envisioned a shabbier location and situation for initiating such a vital decision, but for the old lady the time had stopped in the pre-war years. For them, only the place had not changed their world view.