My roots are set in the rich farm lands of the Pomerane section of old Germany, up along side Poland.  Luedke means, "little people" but my family tree shows differently.  It shows craftsmen and farmers, able to build farms and towns for the "Von's" of the region.  It shows a strength and courage to build a better way for the family by leaving EVERYTHING behind in 1891and striking out for the new land of America.  So much was unknown, it is hard for me to understand just how they felt ... their motivations ... their determination, and all my grand parents were just toddlers when they came so not much was passed down.

With them they brought their regions roots.  A very strong work ethic, strong protestant religious beliefs, strong family ties and a willingness to work together to build their futures.  After a lot of searching, I found the card that my great grandfather Herman Luedke signed, indicating his denouncing Whilhein and his German citizenship in favor of United States citizenship.  Wow, think on that for a moment!  

All the children had to learn to speak and write the English language and it only took one generation to convert and assimilate into their new country.  Sure my grand parents all spoke German, especially when they didn't want us grandkids to know what they were saying, but they learned to read and write English.

Some found their way to Milwaukee and the labor jobs available there and others to the rich farm lands a county or two to its north.  But come October, the city and country folks gathered to celebrate.  After all, it was the custom in Germany to have an OCTOBERFEST and as I heard about it, it was in their blood.   So the clans gathered with large bond fires, outdoor cook stoves and mounds of fresh vegetables, freshly slaughtered beef, chickens, pork and corn right on the cob.   Also home made cheeses, ice cream, breads, sauces, berry preserves, pies and cakes, and dill pickles were every where.  A fiddle or accordion later in the day topped it off.   The time to celebrate the harvest was worth hooking up the wagon after dawn chores or firing up the old Ford.

Times have changed ... but only in the details.   October is the time to start celebrating even though November is where we find THANKSGIVING DAY.  Invite your relatives and friends, fire up the grills for a simple remembrance of days gone by and extend some gemütlichkeit (it means warm friendliness; the notion of belonging, social acceptance, cheerfulness, the absence of anything hectic and the spending of quality time amicability).


I was lucky to have family and relatives who believed in hard work and a hand shake ... their word was gospel.  They took responsibility for (stood behind) their deeds and actions.   Should my grand father agree to buy lumber from one yard, he stood by that agreement even though a third party might later offer it for less ... he had given his word, his hand shake was a verbal contract that he was morally bound to fulfill.  He was responsible for living up to his word as was the owner of the lumber yard.   Business was personal, eye to eye between two responsible people.

It's hard to think in those terms today, especially when daily dealings take us across the city, state and country.  Internet purchases and auctions are widely accepted.  I can still remember a time when I was staying with the Grandparents and I decided to not do something I had said I would.  Grampa was more upset with me for that than the time I took a nickel from his dresser top.  Both were serious but grampa later explained very carefully that a man is no better than his word  and he was very disappointed.  That hurt more than mom's beige wedgies!   He also added that "I did my best is not an honorable substitute for success."    More on this next month.

I am very disturbed by many of my countrymen.  It was the day after the announcment about the fungus in Spinich, that the first Class Action Law Suit was initiated.  Sad ... very sad!  But we as individuals can stand to and show how RESPONSIBLE folks go about their days, simply doing what is right!

Ted Luedke

First Copyright 2004; All rights reserved by Box LT Publishing

Created : 1/28/2004.   Update : 10/1/2006

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