Thursday, May 26, 2011

Going Home

“He thought of all his years away from home, the years of wandering in many lands and cities.  He remembered how many times he had thought of home with such an intensity of passion that he could close his eyes and see the scheme of every street, and every house upon every street, and the faces of the people, as well as recall the countless things that they had said and the densely-woven fabric of all their histories…”    Thomas Wolfe, You Can’t Go Home Again

The Redwood City, California Chapter of AHSGR (American Historical Society of Germans from Russia) met on May 15.  The program was to hear readings from three books and then discuss topics such as:    What does it mean to go home?  Can you go home?  Is home a place or state of mind?   The three books are:

The Horizontal World, 2006, Debra Marquart –
Mennonite in a Little Black Dress, 2009, Rhoda Janzen –
A Stranger to Myself, 2009, Judy Frothinger –

An interesting question was from a gentleman in the audience.  “Has there ever been a book written about a man going home to “find himself or to heal”?  And his follow on comment:  “I think men are expected to make it in the world and do not have the luxury of going home to get back on their feet.”
This question and comment prompted the following responses:  Perhaps men do not afford themselves the luxury or necessity to be vulnerable or reflective. There is a difference between men and women, and cultural aspects play into it.  I did a search at my local library and found the following books: 
Feel Like Going Home, a film by Martin Scorsese
Going Home, Richard S. Wheeler
Going Home Again, Howard Waldrop
Books by Thomas Wolfe:  You Can’t Go Home Again, Looking Homeward, Angel, Of Time and the River, The Lost Boy

One gentleman said that he would like to see more books that told of the traditions of the Germans from Russia.  I took this to heart because this is my passion.  I want to pass on my rich, interesting culture to my children and grandchildren.  

As we discussed the books, it became clear that the audience could relate to all three books.  Some shared memories about the “odd” foods they ate.  Remarks were made about the need for respecting our elders.   We may joke and laugh at our parents and grandparents, but there will always be admiration and respect for a strong, hardworking people who are grateful to be citizens of this country. 

I am happy to have been a member of the panel.  If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to email me at