My parents both grew up in Hamburg, Germany, but didn’t meet till they were living in New York. Friends who’d rented a summer house on Fire Island introduced them. Although my mother was initially reluctant, the romance must have moved quickly because they married a year later in June, 1940. By then, according to my mother, she just had enough money left for a wedding dress. She was an accomplished seamstress so I’m guessing she bought fabric and made the gown herself.
My father was a handsome, worldly man, son of “industrialist” Julius Schindler, who, in 1920 had founded a successful petroleum and oil tanker business (Oelwerke Julius Schindler) that still exists today. I would give a lot to know how Julius shifted the assets of that business out of Germany since he left the country in 1933 as soon as Hitler became chancellor. There must have been a lot of wheeling and dealing. He spent the next several years in France, emigrating to the States via Canada in 1939 with his wealth intact. The Nazis took over the business the same year. There are rumors of an undocumented family relationship between Julius and the man who ran the company after his departure; indeed I’ve found numerous photos of a handsome blond man who must’ve been very close to the family and whom I haven’t been able to identify. A better researcher than I could probably learn the truth, but I’m not sure it’s a truth that should ever come out, even after all these years.
My parents had a backyard wedding in a beautiful garden at the house of a relative. In photos of the event they both look ecstatic. But it must have been a great sadness to my mother that her own mother, a refugee in Cuba, was unable to participate and that the future of those left behind in Europe was so uncertain.
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