Wednesday, June 3, 2009

An Awesome Teacher

Well, yesterday was another Italian Catholic Federation meeting. We had dinner together first, which was nice. A lady at my table brought a guest. It turned out this woman worked at my old High School from the year before I graduated until it closed down about five years ago. I did not know her, but I could not resist taking the opportunity to ask her about the passing of one of my favorite teachers.
Last week I wrote a post about three of my favorite teachers. I did not mention that Frau Germaine, my German teacher, passed away about six years after I graduated. I found out in the "Rest in Peace" section of the newsletter. There her name was. Hildegarde Germaine. I always wondered....But there was no way to find out. So, at the end of our meal, I asked.
She said it was her heart. Which was pretty amazing, because if anyone had a good heart metaphorically speaking, it was Hildegarde Germaine....She brought such joy into the classroom. She radiated with love for us. In her class we made up skits, learned pithy sayings, read poetry, listened to soap operas, sang songs....all auf Deutsch (in German). She sympathized with our stupid problems (I'll never get a date because my parents are so strict!), she encouraged us when we had real problems ("My mom has been in the hospital for a week, and the doctors still don't know what is wrong..."), and she laughed when our skits were purposely stupid. She even let us get away with minimal infractions (I got my best friend on German class field trips by claiming she was my cousin....). My best memories of High School include Frau Germaine, whose heart was bigger than my body, which is saying a lot. Really.
The shocker came when the lady at my table asked if I knew Frau Germaine was a Holocaust survivor. No. No I did not. I didn't ask the woman how she knew. She just said that no one at school knew until after she died. I didn't ask any questions. If Frau Germaine wanted me to know, she would have told me.
Today I am amazed that my happiest school memories come from a woman whose memories of her own girlhood had to be the most Godawful experiences. I can't even imagine. I won't try. Frau Germaine was a faithful Catholic who inspired me without me even having a glimmer into her own story. How she could have sympathized with our troubles after what she went through is beyond my comprehension. How she could radiate such only guess is that her faith sustained her. My respect and love for her increased a hundred fold since last night...and that's saying a lot.
May her soul, and the souls of all the faithful departed rest in peace. Amen.


Wendy said...

Okay, that just makes me want to cry.

sherri said...

What an inspiring story! You were blessed to have crossed paths.

Anonymous said...

We are not getting out of this depression anytime soon. Its going to get a lot worse for most of us. It didn't have to be this way. Greed ruins everything. If you don't believe it, then ask any professor of economics.

"As mass production has to be accompanied by mass consumption; mass consumption, in turn, implies a distribution of wealth -- not of existing wealth, but of wealth as it is currently produced -- to provide men with buying power equal to the amount of goods and services offered by the nation's economic machinery. Instead of achieving that kind of distribution, a giant suction pump had by 1929-30 drawn into a few hands an increasing portion of currently produced wealth. This served them as capital accumulations. But by taking purchasing power out of the hands of mass consumers, the savers denied to themselves the kind of effective demand for their products that would justify a reinvestment of their capital accumulations in new plants. In consequence, as in a poker game where the chips were concentrated in fewer and fewer hands, the other fellows could stay in the game only by borrowing. When their credit ran out, the game stopped."

Marriner Eccles, FDR's Chairman of the Federal Reserve Bank - 1959

In other words, the first Great Depression was caused by greed. The rich couldn't settle for reasonable pay. They had to have more and more and more. That caused a giant shift in buying power from the majority to the rich. When the majority lost their buying power, they lost their ability to support the economy. Einstein said basically the same thing in 1949.

Its even worse now. Ordinary people havn't only lost their relative buying power. They have also lost their savings, home values, pensions, and benefits. This didn't happen overnight. Its been happening gradually for the last 30 years. Meanwhile, the rich have become super incredibly rich. The richest 500 Americans are worth about two trillion dollars. More than the bottom 40% of American housholds combined. The richest 1 percent are worth about 15 trillion dollars. More than the bottom 98% of American households combined. Thats just insane. I don't care how much work for humanity the rich claim to do. Its nothing but a cover for their own greed. We don't need anymore rich people to create jobs or make donations for charity. We need them to get reasonable about how much money and assets they keep for themselves.

Don't believe their excuse about paying more income taxes. They don't pay enough. For every tax they pay, they get an obscene profit, bailout, or kickback from our government to cover it. We had a progressive tax system that worked for over 40 years. It prevented too much wealth from accumulating at the top. In 1976, the middle 80% owned about 2/3 of America's total wealth. Reagan lowered taxes for the rich. Bush lowered them again. Now, the richest 5% own about 2/3 of America's total wealth. The lower 95% own about 1/3. America's wealth has been transfered from poor to rich again. Now, we have another depression.

Don't believe it when the rich claim to be getting poorer. Property values have gone down for everyone. Thats because of the concentration of wealth and income. When the economy slows down, property values tank. So when rich people complain about lower net worth, its a trick. They still have the same buying power on average.

Everything that is happening with the economy is happening because too much wealth has been taken away from the majority and concentrated into the private vaults of rich people. The same ones on TV telling us how much they want to help the world. Its a big lie. Just another way to promote their own business and get more of our money. Rich people don't want to help the world. They want to own it.

Now, the economy is ruined. Obama can't fix it because the rich won't let him. There will be no bailout for the people because the ones with all the money won't settle for less. They want more. Its going to get a lot worse. Say goodbye to the American dream and hello to the American nightmare.

Helen said...

Anonymous, I feel as if I have been spammed. And that bugs me. On the off chance that you actually read what I wrote, and feel that somehow this is an appropriate response, I will leave your comment up. For now.
I will say that greed is one of the seven deadly sins. Sin is not limited to the rich. We can be greedy or generous with our means whether we be rich or poor, and in this country, most of us are rich when compared with the rest of the world. I am not rich at all if you compare me to a millionaire. In comparison, I am quite poor, but if you compare me to the poor in Africa, and yes, even in America, I may as well be Midas. I am done comparing my assets to anyone's, and seek only to be grateful for what I have, and to learn to become generous with it. What the rich have is none of my concern.

Candace Jean July 16 said...

I totally forgot what I was going to write after reading "anonymous." Whoa - he/she's a distraction to a beautiful story of a woman with a heart for God. How blessed you were.

And much kinder to "anonymous" than I would have been. But then, I've know from the get-go that you always take the high road.

Anonymous said...

The issue is not a shallow one like you suggest. Its not about who has more, less, or the most. The issue is about what works for the majority and what doesn't. The wealth within this country and most of the world is now so concentrated, that economic stability has become mathematically impossible. Its also made world prosperity impossible. If you want an equal distribution of wealth for all people worldwide, then pursue that cause with all of your might. But if you want to discredit the issue of wealth concentration or its incredible downside with the simple argument that one always has more or less than another, then you'll have to learn a thing or two about economics first. A top heavy economy can not be sustained. Its mathematically impossible. Therefore, the 'humanitarian' who promotes top heavy economics or the obscene concentration of wealth is either a moron or a fraud.

By the way, how do you like those rising gas prices? How high should they be allowed to go? As high as the market will bear? What about food, shelter, health care, ect? See? Its not a shallow issue like you suggest. C'mon. Do you really think that Einstein was motivated by jealousy or any shallow thought for that matter? Give it some thought critics. You'll have to do much better than that 'I, he, she has more or less' crap. Thats a cop-out.

katdish said...


Okay. Focus, Kathy.

What a wonderful woman. I only hope she was able to share her story with someone. That's an awfully heavy burden to carry on your own.

Very nice tribute, Helen.

Beth said...

Helen, lovely post. You have known some amazing people! We have a Holocaust survivor museum in Terre Haute and I've met the lady who runs it who was a survivor of a concentration camp. She is a very amazing woman as well, although she loves to educate children about the holocaust.

And if you need any economics lessons, I can always ask my brother for help. He's going to be a top notch economist when he finishes his doctorate, he's a wonderfully compassionate Christian, and he generally uses his name... ;)

Helen said...

I think I am just going to let you know who talk themself. My post was on my dear teacher, not economics, and I am not going to be sucked into letting someone else hijack my blog.

My friends who commented on what I wrote in this post, thanks as always for your encouragement.

Wendy said...

I think anonymous just wants to post something on a blog that people actually read since no one will read his blog. Moron.

Yeah, I went there.

Marni said...

What Wendy said...both times.

Helen, this was a great post. What a remarkable woman she was!! You tell such great stories :)

love ya,


jasonS said...

That was a beautiful tribute. I'm very confused why Anonymous felt their comments were appropriate. I would have to agree that you have been spammed.

Thank you for the heartfelt memories.

Gabrielle Eden said...

That is a blessing!

"Bigger than your body" - you are so mean to yourself!

Gabrielle Eden said...

Oh, I left that comment and then read the comments and saw the anonymous stuff, and my comment sounds like I'm saying anonymous is a blessing!

No. Not!

Your post was a blessing Helen!

Steph @Red Clay Diaries said...

Wow! I take a day off from reading and miss a wonderful post.

And a bizarro anonymous contribution.

This is why they say "don't feed the trolls"

Annie K said...

Helen, I think I sent you some 'quotes' today that would be relevant to 'anonymous'. Take that to the bank.