Frank & Susann: Lovers, in a Dangerous Time

My father and mother both wrote memoirs, which they’ve given we children. Mum’s are rougher than my Dad’s, she dictated, he typed them, and not very carefully.  My daughter keyed his memoirs into a computer and I’m figuring there is a way to get them posted on the web, and available for download as an epub. Same with my mother’s whose memoirs. Stay tuned.  If it ever happens, I’ll promote them here.

Frank’s older brother, the doctor, told my dad to take his shirt off when he was working in the fields to clear his acne. Gossiping neighbours claimed to be shocked.This didn’t didn’t stop eligible young women from passing by. The photograph was taken by my mother, always the early adopter.

I wrote an 84 page novella called The Dead Mother riffing on D. Barthleme’s The Dead Father a couple of years ago as part of the Three Day Novel writing contest.  And I have plans for a novel  and a biography or a hybrid something like Susann, or Against the Grain. 

Her first photo portrait, and wallet sized.

I’ve found a  number of photographs besides those of headstones and dead people in graves in old b & w photo albums with the black corners holding the photos onto the black construction paper pages. In fact both my mother Susann Klassen and my father Frank Enns were hot by the standards of the day. I’m putting up some photos I’ve found of them as young people, some clearly from the time they were courting. Nor am I the first Enns male from our particular narrow lineage that wrote poetry to his wife, or wives in my case. So here are a few pictures from somewhere between 1936 and 1942.

Mum was happiest going to school when the weather was fine and the dirt roads dry enough to cycle the four miles to high school instead of walking.

This picture of Susann on a bicycle is one of the earliest I’ve been able to find. Despite family resistance after the death of her father when she was 14, Susann insisted on getting a high school education.

It wasn’t easy, and she has often told the story, usually in Low German about how Altona Dr. Tony diagnosed her as being malnourished, shaming her mother and older brothers for not making sure she was getting enough to eat when they lived on the farm and there was enough food, even if it was more scarce than usual.

My poem“Sardines and Carnations” in Correct in this Culture is a transcription of a story she told me when we were having lunch at Dubrovniks about how she would go to the Chinaman’s café and have a 5 cent tin of sardines for lunch when she was going to high school. She stopped going when he offered her a free slice of pie.


The next issue issue of Rhubarb has Sex as its theme, and though we heard precious little about this as kids, it’s clear from these pictures, they saw themselves as sexual and erotic creatures, at least as far as they were able in their day. I’ve misplaced a photo of my father in a three piece suit with a watch on a fob in his vest, and a fedora leaning against a mailbox on a post in a farmyard, which I hope to add here later. These pictures I’m putting up today are mostly of my mum, I hope to add more of my dad in the future.

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