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"Wiesenmarkt" Memories
My sister Annemarie's memories of her childhood in the travern “zum Baeren” around the time of Wiesenmarkt (the traditional annual fair held in Erbach at the end of July):

Wiesenmarkt in Erbach more than 50 years ago

Still today the time when Wiesenmarkt is held in Erbach is something very special, this is felt and experienced by all people truly from Erbach. My thoughts take me back to these days of my childhood, which I experienced in my parents' house, located in the center of Erbach, the travern “zum Baeren”.   The time was separated into before and after Wiesenmarkt, the strengths of businesses were measured the whole year according to the number of guests as much as 1st or 2nd Wiesenmarkt, and all preparations, thinking and action were aligned with the expected peak in the number of guests to entertain.  Relatives from Darmstadt and the Rhineland were invited (however, by no means to party, but to help with the work). It was thus, that my beer-drawing uncle once was approached by a guest of a tourist party. “Sir, you look exactly like the major of our neighbour town in the Rhineland.” He answered: “This is quite possible, it is me!” Just like that back then the guest workers were hired and the farthest journeys put up with, just to be a part of it. Beds were shared and improvisational sleeping places built out of everything available. All rooms, not used for sleeping, were cleared, rearranged, filled with as many tables and benches as possible and  run as additional dining area, just like what is being done nowadays in so-called Häckerwirtschaften.

Meanwhile the rush had also reached our affiliated butchery. My father and some of his temporary butchers (they were also only ordered for the time of Wiesenmarkt), under steam and the rattling of dishes, produced the most important Wiesenmarkt food, the “Fleischwurst” (= pork sausage), which then infused in a kettle of hot water and hung from smoking poles by the hundreds.  Still today the scent of smoke and sausage lingers in my nose. Sometimes a small sausage was especially made for me, and was mine exclusively. The smoked rings of sausage waited in the cold room for their buyers.
By this time I was also mentally prepared for the upcoming feast, because over at the brook next to the box office of Eckerlin's cinema, the first organ grinder ground his recurring potpourri. By then at the latest the subservient spirits have cleaned the house, especially the windows, and the flag (patriotic in red-white and non-committal due to possible guests from Michelstadt) until then dormant in a nook, had its annual debut. Washed, starched and ironed it bestowed – after having been brought into the correct position with the help of poles and the shouts of helpful neighbours -  dignity and noblesse on our house.

The putting up of the cloth was not always a contemplative act, but by all means a spirited undertaking with respect to the tightening of the linen and panels. At this point in time the retired, but still very lusty great uncle from Darmstadt arrived, who in these days took over the services of a concierge, taking care of all sorts of odd jobs: arranging tables and benches in the yard to an agreeable beer garden, which by no means was allowed to trespass the boundary to Neighbour R. . Every once in a while I would sneak to the Seedamm out of curiousity, just “to see what has arrived yet”. Back then, just as nowadays, it was possible to watch the erection of the industrial fair, the roller coaster, the Sciorshäuschen (where the products of the traditional, family-owned distillery were served) and the swingboat.

A further climax of the domestic preparations was the felling of the birch trees. With our car, Opel Kadett built in 1936, and the cattle trailer father, uncle and I drove towards Eulbach, to get the trees allotted by the forester, which then, adorned with crepe tape, placed into the town plaster, gave our beer garden the necessary festive ambience.

By this point in time I was degraded to be on the margins of the working bustle, and the turbulence of  Wiesenmarkt took its course. Meals were consumed on the edge of the bed or while standing, as chairs were for the guests.

These by now poured out of the train station into the market place and, thus, into the town centre and its guest houses. The backer brought clothes baskets full of rolls (also on Sundays) and the mandatory Sausage-Roll-Meal was consumed with oodles of beer. Temporary waitresses, supporting Adam, our factotum of the house, carried trays up- and downstairs, and whenever an excessive beer was ordered, one simply drank it oneself. Even without computer, service wrench and event gastronomy there was a really festiveness, as travelling musicians, for example the guittarist “Zack-Zack” from Darmstadt, many a times a day came by and arranged for a racket. To calm my childish complaints of wanting to go to the Wiesenmarkt, 2,- DM (former german currency) were pressed into my hand. With the instruction not to spend it all, I was allowed to join the festive hype.

Upon returning home, I had to present myself to the currently arrived VIP's, who partly benevolent, or slightly assessing, mustered the changes in my size and body stature since the last Wiesenmarkt. My parents unfortunately had no time for the celebration, except for Wednesday morning, when my stressed out mother visited the children's party. Dressed up as daisy, butterfly or penguin one wandered through the town, which was bursting with heat, to the sports field, where under the torrid sun following the song: “Zum Tanze da geht ein Mädel” (= A girl goes to the dance) meanwhile more or less flabby dance performances were given. This mandatory school event was rewarded with tee from the DRK (German red cross) and free tickets, as well as, good-humoured teachers.

Long-standing childhood wishes, like horse riding, showbags, lebkuchen hearts, a glass of the yellow broth (a sherbet like drink with orange flavour from the glas aquarium corner stall located at the stairs of the middle pathway), soft ice cream with chocolate sprinkles and a steel wristwatch were fulfilled on this day.

At the end I was given (without any racist implications) a Negro-shaped ballon, which unfortunately abandoned his earthly existence on the way home close to the pharmacy “Hofapotheke” and floated skyward.

The remaining week one noshed the macaroons, almonds, candy cane brought home, played with the already slightly deranged toy purchased on the market and was contend.

By the way, as a child I was told that on the 2nd Saturday and Sunday the Wiesenmarkt is reserved for foreigners exclusively.

And I believed it! Today my motto is: Trust is good, control is better!

Annemarie Pohl, Erlenbach