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The World of Franyo, Part 12: A Bit of a Mystery

Nicole Jeffords 7 months ago

My parents traveled a lot when I was a child. They would go off for as long as six weeks at a clip, and during that time I felt what I can only describe as a terrible homesickness. My heart seemed to perpetually live in my stomach. Franyo would hug me hard and promise: “I’ll be back before you can say Jack Robinson,” which was of course untrue and a very odd phrase for a German. The worst was when they went by ship, and I’d get to see them off in their stateroom for a few moments that went by too fast, amid a flurry of guests and well-wishers, the pop of champagne corks, the thick scent of perfume and flowers. Those were painful moments because here was the room they’d be traveling in and I was staying behind.

Now I wonder why they went away for such long periods of time, and particularly, why by ship which made the trip even longer? I suppose it was the fashionable thing to do back in those days, though people used to get very dressed up to fly, too – ladies in suits, heels, gloves, with done-up hair.

I know my parents returned to Germany in the early 50s, probably on business. For certain they were in Hamburg in May 1955, when the oil tanker, Julius Schindler, named after my grandfather, was launched. My mother had the honor of christening the ship.


I am sure it’s a matter of public record what happened to the business, Oilwerke Schindler, that my grandfather had founded in 1920. Julius got his family out of Germany in 1933, the year Hitler became chancellor. In 1939 the business was taken over by the Nazis, and at some point in the 1950s it was bought by BP. My question has always been: What kind of wheeling and dealing was going on that enabled Julius to emigrate to the US with his wealth intact? He had close friends in the petroleum business in England, so part of the answer lies there. But what makes the question so intriguing are the many photos of this man:


I don’t know his name or who he was, other than that he must’ve worked for my grandfather and held an important position in Oilwerke Schindler. This may be total misinformation, but I did hear recently via Vivi that Julius for years had an affair with his housekeeper, and that there was a son rumored to have gone into the business. My sense is, this was the man.


It’s interesting to note that the tanker, Julius Schindler, had a huge spill in the Azores in November, 1969.




**An episode from this memoir is published every Thursday for those following!

**Need to start at the beginning? Find Part 1 here!

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