Recollections of My Life and Reflections on Times and Events During It: A Memoir by Father W. J. Howlett

Page 68

family married they built another story to the original home, and as styles changed they built to suit the times. The big iron gate used to close the street at night is still in place, and woe to the Jew who was not within the prescribed limits at eight o'Clock every night. Now the gate is a curiosity and never closed and the Jews have the same freedom as all others.

          We spent the New Year with a priest, a friend of Mr Deppen, a Father Hilpisch at a village near Wiesbaden, and we took occasion to visit that famous resort while in the vicinity. For New Year's Eve we were invited to a Wurtzsuppe [Wurstsuppe] (Sausage Supper) at the home of the Burgomeister (Mayor). Soup made from sausage was served, and new wine which took on a straw color if not drunk quickly, which was an indication of duty done or not by the guest. As the wine was fresh from the press it was not intoxicating and the guests generally did their duty. This was an old custom in Germany. We sat up till midnight and welcomed the New Year with the hymn: Gnosser Gott, ete.

          Going by the National Monument to Victory we reached and crossed the Rhine in a skiff and climbed to the ruins of the Castle of Rheinstein and its gothic chapel, the best reserved of its ancient proofs of grandeur. At Mayence we took the train for Mannheim, the American city, as it is called, because it is laid out in squares like a checker-board. Next we went to Worms, famous for its great monument to Luther and the tree called the Lutherbaum, which the legend says grew from the walking stick he planted as a proof of the truth of his doctrine. A storm had blown the tree down, but pieces of it were being sold as relics. I bought one as a paper cutter for curiosity.

          The fame of Worms may or may not be enhanced by being the Birthplace of Mr Jerry Kahn, the Jewish merchant of Lebanon, Kentucky, from whom I buy some of my raiment, and who takes pleasure in telling my friends that I was in his native town when he was four years old.

          From Worms we went to Speyer to see its famous cathedral, in which I said mass, and after a short tour of sightseeing we went to Heidelberg. It was the Christmas vacation and the university was idle. A visit to the old Schloss was interesting, with its great wine cask holding 300,000 bottles and its ballroom floor built on top of it. A stairway leads up to it, and we climbed that to stand where princes and their ladies were wont to disport themselves to the music of the witching waltz. Three times, it was said, the cask was filled and emptied by the Lord of the castle. This ended our tour and we returned to Wuertzburg.

          These days were the days of the May Laws, which oppressed the Church in Germany under Bismarck, but I managed to say mass in the Prussian territory when we were at Eltville, and my mass was served by the Burgomeister with whom we took our old year supper.

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