Why History Mustn’t Be Forgotten But Talked About

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“History is History. It’s the Future we should worry about.”  That was a comment one of my students in English class mentioned last year as we talked about the events involving World War II. In a way if the younger generations were not living or haven’t experienced the past of their forefathers, it would be easy to say it’s time to move on and worry about the present.

However, History is History and our history can reshape the future we should worry about- more than ever before.  Germany has had its share of history, which makes it one of the most unique countries to use as reference. It survived two World Wars, 45 years of division with the Wall (or should I say Walls) and with that two different political systems. It went through three revolutions (1848, 1953 and 1989), the third of which resulted in German Reunification and all this time, it went through series of transformation in terms of architecture and infrastructure. It was the forerunner of the Autobahn, it developed the first city underwater canal system, it developed and expanded shipping canals to connect all bodies of water. It even built the finest historic bridges- many of which are still intact despite withstanding war and wear.  It produced the finest writers, like Schiller and Goethe and the best musicians we still listen to, like Bach, Beethoven, Haydn and Mendelsohn. All of these accomplishments but also trials and tribulations were remembered- through the preservation of historic places and the creation of monuments, statues and memorials. Even the Stolperstein- small bricks with memorials of those who perished in the Holocaust, can be seen on German streets today.

Can you imagine pieces of history, like the concentration camps, remnants of the Berlin Wall and the border that used to divide Germany into West and East, statues of controversial figures and the like disappearing from memory?  Many Germans have attempted to try that but the wounds are too deep and the scars still fresh, even though World War II ended 75 years ago and Germany was reunited as a whole 30 years ago. We will never be able to erase history, no matter how we try and do that.

Yet it is happening in the United States right now. Statues of prominent figures who were controversial have fallen, brand names with black people as slogans are being retired, memorials dedicated to the war that had divided the nation are being destroyed. All to protect the black population because they are being considered second class. The paranoia that has come out of the death of George Floyd, who was wrongfully killed by four Minneapolis Police Officers on 25 May, 2020, has brought the issue of racism right up to the forefront. At the same time, the paranoia is destroying the very history that we were taught in schools- how the United States grew up with free states and slave states, that blacks were kidnapped in Africa and shipped to the southern states for use on farms, how they were mistreated. We had a Civil War that put an end to slavery and to a short-lived Confederacy. Still despite being free, the blacks were still being persecuted through segregation and racial profiling. Even the Civil Rights Movement by Martin Luther King didn’t solve the problems of the racial divide. Systemic and systematic racism has been a wound that is bleeding in the United States for centuries. Even when we finally come together to talk about this topic, even in the most uncomfortable way, the scars will never disappear even when the wounds are healed.

It’s July 4th, 2020 and it’s time to think about

The American Question: Who Are We? What have We Done For This Country and The Entire World? How Can We Learn As Americans For The Future?

Based on the German Question that was raised after the end of World War II, we should be raising this question and looking back at our history, not just looking at what we accomplished but looking back at, coping with and lastly, understanding the dark sides. We have had as many dark moments as there are controversial books written about them. The Tulsa Massacre of 1921 is one of those dark events that we never talk about in classroom but is considered a defining moment in the history of racism in the United States. We have controversial figures that also became greats in their times. Some owned slaves but still shaped our country to what it is. Others rounded up Native Americans and put them on reservations and tried assimilating them. We all are guilty of our transgressions but to run away from them and not talk about them is the same as murdering people and then fleeing the country. It’s time we start talking about the most painful parts of the past and come to terms with it. It’s time we teach our generations the real history of our countries and get them to understand why they happened and how we reacted. It’s time to open up to other cultures, whom we’ve persecuted and discriminated for so long and find out who they are and why they suffered all along.

We need to discover all aspects of history and not just the few we preach about in class. History should be a requirement during all of the time in school and history teachers should be well-trained to talk about the hardest of topics, critically, objectively and simplistically, so that we all understand and can think about them. Statues and memorials should be back in their places but talked about in detail- not destroyed or desecrated. We need the Stolpersteins on America’s streets- sidewalk memorials for those whose lives were wrongfully taken- this applies to not only victims of repression and discrimination, but also social tragedies including the school shootings. Books banned from the libraries should be read again so that we all need to understand the history of our country as a whole. And lastly, extremist media- especially those from the far right, should be taken off the air once and for all. In the past four years, there have been too many prominent racists who have stoked hate and division for our country and have degraded all of America’s minorities as well as the country’s neighbors. It’s time to send the likes of Rush Limbaugh and members of One American News Network, Fox News and all of the Trump family packing. In this country, there’s no place for hatred, racism and all kinds of division that has brought the country to the brink of another civil war. Instead of just judging people based on the color of the skin, their socio-economic background and the like, we should be sitting down and talking about the history our country and our identity.

The American Question- Who We Really Are?

And hence, returning to that quote the student said: “History is History. It’s the Future We’re Talking About.”  It’s one that can be interpreted as letting go of the past and looking ahead. Yet with all the problems facing us, we need history more than ever so that we can learn from our past mistakes and use them to shape our future. So in this case, history is history. It’s the history we need to embrace now more than ever before so we can tackle the issues that are important for future generations. It’s one that goes beyond the upcoming elections on November 3rd that will bring change to the country- hopefully for the better. It’s one that will shape our country for years to come.

Enjoy the 4th to my fellow Americans at home and abroad.

 

Yours,

Jason Smith

 

Fl Fi USA

 

Genre of the Week: A Tribute to the Swing

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This week’s Genre of the Week pays a tribute to some of the greatest soul and R&B (rhythm and blues) singers who have passed recently. One of them happened to be the predecessor to Elvis Presley in terms of fame during the infancy of rock music, Little Richard. Known as the Innovator, the Originator and the Architect of Rock and Roll, Little Richard was known as the person who created rock and roll with its combination of piano, brass and swing, and set the foundation for other artists of his time to follow suit, namely, Buddy Holly, the Everly Brothers, Eddie Cochran and especially, Elvis, who later became the King of Rock and Roll. While Little Richard provided the swing, especially with his smash hit, Tutti Frutti (released in 1955), other musicians experimented with instruments which led to rock music splitting into its many forms later on during the 60s, 70s, and 80s, such as heavy metal, R&B, dance (including disco) and pop music. Little Richard continued his career in R&B and soul music, thus leaving 73 years of legacy for many generations to listen to and learn about how rock music was born, raised and fanned out into the forms we listen to today. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1986. The Swing died on May 9th at the age of 87.

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One of the first things that came to mind upon hearing of his passing was a mixture of swing and rock, where Tutti Frutti was paid a tribute. In 1989, Jive Bunny and the Master Mixers created a mix of techno, pop, jazz, classic rock and swing with the release of Swing the Mood.

Little Richard’s masterpiece was included together with what other pieces of music? Hint: One of them was a song by Elvis, another was first used in a TV sitcom Happy Days. There are two versions. Listen to them and try to figure out who sang what song and in which year. Enjoy this one as we pay tribute to Little Richard.

Short Version:

 

Long (12 Inch Record) Version:

 

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Jive Bunny and the Mastermixers also had two other songs that were released, paying tribute to classic rock and swing, That’s What I Like and Let’s Party. They too were released in 1989 and all three of them reached Nr. 1 in the Bilboards. The group from Yorkshire, England later became known as Mastermix DJ Music Service and to this day, produce music and dance mixes for radio and for online streaming.

 

Fl Fi USA

 

Guessing Quiz on American Football: The Answers

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After challenging yourselves in the Guessing Quiz on American Football, here are the answers below.

Exercise 1

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Exercise 2

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Exercise 3

GQ 4

 

Exercise 4

GQ 5

To learn more about the Sport, click here and you will be taken to the Wiki site, where the history of American Football and the NFL can be found.

Now enjoy the game and root for your hometeam. ! 🙂

Fl Fi USA

American Football: History, Facts and Anything Passive about it.

Photo by Torsten Bolten [CC BY-SA (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)%5D
American Football: a national past time. Every year in the Fall, we would flock to the football stadiums and watch the two teams, each consisting of 11 men, dressed up in football uniforms and helmets, move the ball to each other’s end zone to score. There are spectacular catches by the wide receivers; just as many deep throws by the quarterbacks or pushing the linemen back by the running backs; just as many as clean tackles by the defensive linemen; but also just as many boos and cussing by penalties that are debateable, just to name a few. 2019 marked the 150th anniversary of the first game of the sport of football. As it developed over the years, rules and regulations were refined and equipment was reshaped to make the game safer for everyone to play. The most popular foot league in the world is the National Football League, which celebrates its 100th year in the 2019/20 football season. The most popular game in the US celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2017- the Super Bowl.

Despite all these facts, what do we know about the sport? This is where the Files has a cool activity series  for you to try out. Consisting of a guessing quiz and some exercises in connection with English grammar, this guide will give you a chance to test your history of the sport. At the same time, it will also test your skills involving active and passive verb forms in English.

To better understand how they work, a table below shows you how they function:

Passive voice Table

A more detailed version can be found with some activities involving the history of street lamps, which you can click  here.

So without further ado, have a seat and try these exercises out. Good luck! 🙂

EXERCISE 1: Use the verbs in parenthesis and complete the sentence in the lined blank. In the dotted blank, choose the correct answer in the multiple choice below.

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EXERCISE 2: Look at the following sentences below and determine whether they are active or passive. Mark with an A or a P, respectively. The verbs have been marked in bold print.

  1. In today’s game of football, only 11 players per team are allowed on the football field.
  2. The team that has the ball is given four chances (downs) to gain 10 yards.
  3. The offense (team that has the ball) gets another set of downs if they get 10 or more yards.
  4. The defense tries to stop the offense from getting the downs.
  5. If the offense fails to get 10 yards or more, they are forced to turn the ball over to the opponents. !: Two answers here.
  6. If the offense gets the ball into the end zone of the opponent, it’s a touchdown and they are awarded six points.
  7. Points can also be scored by a field goal (3 points), two-point conversion or an extra point kick after the touchdown, or when the defense stops the offense in their own end zone for a safety (2 points) !: Two answers here.
  8. The team with the most points after four quarters wins the game.

 

EXERCISE 3: HYBRID This task has a combination multiple choice and verb formation. Complete the sentence by: A. choosing the correct word from the multiple choice and B. Formulating the sentence using passive or active. !: Please pay attention to the verb tense that is expected per task.

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EXERCISE 4: GUESSING QUIZ

 

How many states did the original teams represent when the NFL was created in 1920?  a. Four               b. Six              c. Eight

 

 

Which of the cities were NOT the founding fathers of the NFL?

a. Canton, OH        b. Chicago              c. Green Bay            d. Cleveland     e. Pittsburgh

 

Which NFL Team in the present-day is the oldest?

a. Arizona Cardinals      b. Green Bay Packers       

c. Cleveland Browns    d. Chicago Bears               

e. New York Giants             f. Detroit Lions

 

Prior to the first Super Bowl, which NFL team won the most number of championships?  

a. Cleveland Browns        b. Green Bay Packers       

c. New York Giants          d. Chicago Bears             

e. Minnesota Vikings       f. Detroit Lions

 

Between 1920 and 1969, which NFL team did NOT relocate or fold? 

a. Akron Bulldogs             b. Buffalo All-Stars        

c. Green Bay Packers       d. Pittsburgh Steelers      

e. Chicago Bears                f. Cleveland Browns

 

What was the highest number of points scored ever in an NFL championship prior to the first Super Bowl?

 

And since the Super Bowl started?

 

Which NFL Team(s) has made the Super Bowl the most number of times? 

Which NFL Team(s) has won the most number of Super Bowl Championships? 

 

Which NFL Team(s) has attended the Super Bowl the most but has yet to win one?

 

The answer sheet can be found here. Have fun! 🙂

 

Fl Fi USA

Home Alone: 30 Years Later

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Keeping with the trend of revitalizing films from 30+ years ago, I have one worth showing. Home Alone was released in 1989, with its sequel showing in theaters two years later with MacCaulay Culkin as the main character, Kevin McAlister.  In honor of the film’s 30th anniversary, Google released a Commercial of Kevin, home alone- only 30 years later. In his 40s and showing age, Kevin uses Google Assistant to order his famous cheese pizza and guard his house from the likes of Marv and Harry. Have a look at the Video:

Ironically, the character who played Marv (Joe Pesci), produced a counter ad of his own:

Honestly speaking, I have a question for one and all: Do you really think a network like Google or Amazon will be able to do what is shown in this ad alone? And while you are watching TV and enjoying Mac and Cheese?

In my humble and honest to Jesus Christ theory, I don’t think so.

It would ruin the fun of doing that all by yourselves.  No computer network program can scare burglars away with a filmmed gunning, a shot in the balls with a BB-gun, race cars at the bottom of the stairs, a nail in the foot, paint cans in the face, and all.

So go away from the screen, get off the couch and get it done. 🙂 We can do it better- and genuinely! 😉

 

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Christmas Lights Poem by Keith Darnay

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There are many poems that have been written about Christmas lights over the past half a century. Some tied in together with the Christmas trees, some deal with the struggles with decorating them with lighting. However, this poem, written by Keith Darnay, puts the Christmas lights in the forefront, as they represent the color, love and true meaning of Christmas.  This video and poem were released 35 years ago on a TV Station in Minot, ND, as Mr. Darnay was starting his promising career in broadcasting, which has been 40 years and counting. Enjoy the video but especially the poem. 🙂 ❤

 

The Files has a quiz on Christmas lights and ist history. Feel free to challenge yourselves and click here.

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Thanksgiving Genre: A Garfield Thanksgiving

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When we think about Thanksgiving, we think about not only giving thanks for what we have and accomplished, we also take pride in two things: feasting and sports. It is a known variable that we enjoy our dinner with a good football game with the Detroit Lions or any professional NFL team. If we’re not into football, there’s the Thanksgiving Parade and any Hallmark films.

Yet for the young and old at heart, there are children’s TV specials that bring the family together, let alone some great friends. During the 1980s, I remember many specials being televised for Thanksgiving and it set the precedent for an even larger number of holiday specials that came 1-2 weeks later.

The Garfield Thanksgiving Special was one of them. Produced 30 years ago after the Fall of the Wall, it was one of the last specials where Lorenzo Music played the voice of Garfield (he died in 2001). He played Garfield from 1982 to 1994 mainly in the TV series.  The plot of the 23 minute show is in a City where the Jon Arbuckle, Garfield’s owner, took the cat to the vet to check him out, but also check out the vet herself, Liz. All on the day before Thanksgiving where themes such as food versus dieting, romance, and even the role of grandma are presented. The Special may be 30 years old, but it’s great for all ages and it’s an excellent example of how Thanksgiving is celebrated, both the wrong way as well as the right way. 😀

So enjoy! 🙂 ❤

 

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Garfield was created in 1978 and first published on June 19th of that same year. It holds the world record for having the highest number of newspapers that carry the series. It has had 12 TV specials, two movies and two TV series with a third one on the way. Its main home is at Paws Inc. in Muncie, Indiana. Its creator: Jim Davis.  To read the comic strip or visit the website, click here.

 

Fl Fi USA

Frankenmuth’s Christmas Market: An Interview with Dietrich Bronner

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In connection with the article on the City of Frankenmuth (which you can click here to read), the city known as Little Bavaria is famous for its Christmas Market.  Created in 2005, it is one of the youngest of the ten festivals and events taking place annually in Frankenmuth. And despite its small size, it is one of the most popular of markets in the city. Shortly after the visit in July, 2018, I had a chance to interview Dietrich Bronner, who is the grandson of the late Wally Bronner, who founded the world’s largest Christmas store, Bronner’s. He is the catalogue and product manager of the store who was also one of the driving forces behind creating the Christmas market in Frankenmuth.

The interview unfortunately happened right after the Christmas market ended in December. It only takes place on the first Advent Weekend, about the same time as Thanksgiving. This year, the interview is being posted in hopes that people wishing to see the market can do so, as it takes place November 29th- December 1st 2019.  Details of the Christmas market can be found here.

Without further ado, here’s what you can find at the Christmas market and how you can contribute to its ongoing success:

  1. Why did the City of Frankenmuth introduced the Christmas market? Who was the driving force behind this?  The Christkindlmarkt is hosted by the Frankenmuth Farmers Market.  We started the Market in 2005 and that year we added the Christkindlmarkt as a winter-time extension of the market.  This is the 14th year we are hosting it.  Frankenmuth is very much a Bavarian-themed town that attracts up to 3 million visitors a year.  The market is a nonprofit 501c3 organization.  A board of directors were the volunteers that started it originally with a paid market master.  Laurajeanne Kehn was the paid market master for 12 years and she is the one that had the driving force to start it.

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  1. How is the market in Frankenmuth plotted out- is it along the streets of Downtown or is there a certain spot where the booths are put up and arranged like in a typical German Christmas market?  Our Christkindlmarkt is in a large heated tent downtown.  We put the tent up just for the Christkindlmarkt.  Vendors have booths inside and outside of the tent.  We would love to have various booths outside more like a traditional German market, but we don’t have the funding or ideal storage to have those booths.  We may in the future.  In 2015 we built and opened a $2.1 building with a vendor pavilion outside.  Inside the building is a Gathering Barn for events, a Farm Store for year round sales of local products, an office, conference room, and a fully licensed commercial kitchen or incubator kitchen (Artisans Kitchen) which can be rented to make commercially sellable foods.  I am the chef there and we cook many various dinners, meals, and experience meals there.  The building is at the north end of town about 1 mile away from the downtown.

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  1. What do you offer for Food, beverages and Gifts at the market? Are there some German products sold there- if so, which ones and in particular, which one is the most popular? We or the vendors have offered sausages, baked goods of all sorts, specialty Germany treats (lebkuchen, stollen, pfeffernusse, springerle), popcorn, kettle corn, pasties (a Dutch/Michigan item), sauces and condiments, teas, coffee, fudge, roasted/glazed nuts, local chestnuts, salsas, and much more.  The German treats sell very well, especially the lebkuchen and springerle.

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  1. Many German Christmas markets have their Season during Advent, yet yours runs from Thanksgiving to the first Advent. Why is that? Ours coincides when we have the most visitors in town, which is the day/weekend after Thanksgiving which is a huge shopping “holiday”—Black Friday.   That weekend, on Friday night, we have a holiday lighting ceremony where the Chamber of Commerce hosts a program that thousands of people attend.  This is like the start to Christmas.  There is a singing program by the Gemuetlichkeit Club (I’m the president of that, too) and then local church choirs and the Christmas story is told and then the Christmas lights are turned on.  This weekend and the next weekend, there are thousands of visitors, so we run the Christkindlmarkt these two weekends.  It takes many volunteers to run it, so we only have it two weekends.

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  1. What Special Events does the market offer? We have carolers, a Christmas angel made a proclamation last year, we have live musicians that play Christmas music, we have meet and greets with Santa, but the main attraction is shopping because we want to support our local vendors.

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  1. How many People have visited the market each Christmas? We have about 20,000 visitors over the six days.

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  1. If there were some improvements to be made for the Frankenmuth Christmas market, which ones would you point out and why? We would love for it to be larger and have more vendors and a wider variety of products.  However, we are limited on space, the event requires much labor to manage it, and renting the tent is expensive.  We carefully select and screen our vendors and we only allow local vendors to support the local economy.

 

Author’s Note: A special thanks to Dietrich Bronner for supplying the photos and for the interview. Hope your Christmas Market is a success this year and beyond. 🙂 

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Frankenmuth, Michigan

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All photos taken in July 2018

From the Series On the Road in the States

If there is a stereotype that holds true for most German-named towns in the US, it is this: It has to be German no matter what. This applies for language, culture and tradition and especially architecture. And furthermore, one has to stand out in its identity. The city of Frankenmuth in eastern Michigan is one of these communities that fulfills both stereotypes. The city is located in Saginaw County, approximately 20 miles south of Saginaw and another 25 miles west of Lake Huron. The city is seven miles (14 kilometers) east of Interstate 75 and another five miles away from neighboring Bridgeport, home of the State Street Truss Bridge. The community has over 5,500 inhabitants and if adding Bridgeport and some communities in the township, the conglomerate has over 12,000 inhabitants.

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Oma’s Restaurant on the grounds of Bavarian Inn

When looking at Frankenmuth from an outsider’s perspective, it looks like a typical American community with rows of houses, large yards, a Main Street with business district and a river with some bridges over it. Yet, not all villages with German names are typical American towns that follow the tradition of farming, local festivals and events and American traditions that we are accustomed to. This one is typically German, going from names down to tradition and language. Settlers first came to the region in 1845. Consisting of Lutheran missionaries, the settlers crossed the Ocean on the ship Caroline before taking the Nelson Smith from New York via Detroit to Saginaw, going along canals and through the Great Lakes.  Records revealed that most of the settlers who founded Frankenmuth originated from the region Mittelfranken in central Bavaria and the shield representing the city features a combination of Bavarian and Franconian elements, including a falcon. Despite its creation, it took 59 years until the community was officially incorporated in 1904. The origin of Frankenmuth consists of the first half the region itself and the second half, “muth” representing courage- the courage of the Franconians who wanted to settle down in a new region and convert many nearby into Christians.   Like at the beginning, Frankenmuth today represents the largest of the German enclave in the region, which include Frankenlust, Frankenhilf (Richville) and Frankentrost, plus other communities, like Bridgeport. They all have the following common traits: the Lutheran faith, German language and Franconian tradition.

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Main Street in Downtown Frankenmuth

Frankenmuth would not be called that, let alone become a magnet for tourism and tradition had it not been for the following families that put the city on the map: Bronner, Fischer and Zehnder. All three families were of Franconian blood, All three of them knew the ways of marrying tradition with tourism.  Theodore Fischer and family started a restaurant and hotel in 1888 under the family name. Their son Hermann and his wife Lydia made their mark for their “All you can eat family style chicken dinner.”  In 1928, another family, William and Emilie Zehnder Sr. founded the restaurant bearing their name. Their son Tiny was a farmer and would collect the leftovers to feed the hogs. Faced with financial difficulties and a choice between expansion and sale, Elmer Fischer, who had acquired the family business from his parents, sold his business to Zehnder in 1950. Tiny quit farming to take over the restaurant and hotel business together with his wife Dorothy,  and the rest was history.

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Bavarian Inn’s Schnitzelbank and Biergarten

Despite relapses in earnings due to recession during the 1950s, Tiny untertook a half-century drive to expand and convert the restaurant into one that is a resort complex decorated with a taste of Bavaria.  The restaurant and hotel became known as the Bavarian Inn Restaurant and Resort Complex. The new addition boasted an authentic Bavarian exterior-stucco walls, woodcarving, flower boxes and other German accents were blended with the new German entrees served by “Bavarian” costumed servers. A week long celebration with German entertainment was held in 1959 which today is known as the Frankenmuth Bavarian Festival. In 1967 the stunning 50-foot Glockenspiel was added, topped off with a 35-bell carillon. It became an instant Bavarian Inn landmark with its revolving figures that depict the legend of the Pied Piper of Hameln. During our visit in 2018, the Bavarian Inn, which features two restaurants, a hotel and resort complex and also ferry service along the Cass River, was well-received with hundreds of guests being served by waitresses dressed in their best Oktoberfest outfits, serving the best beer and Bavarian entrées. And yes, the all-you-can-eat Chicken dinner, invented and patented by Theodore Fischer, is still being served there and the taste is unbeatable- crispy with a little spice in there, but really good together with mashed potatoes and homemade sauerkraut! You can also find this at Zehnder’s Restaurant and Complex, located in the city center on the Cass River.

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Frankenmuth’s Covered Bridge

Tiny’s restaurant and hotel expansion did not stop at the Bavarian Inn. He was known as an expansionist with a German traditional flair and because of his successes at the Bavarian Inn, Tiny encouraged other businesses in Frankenmuth to revamp their buildings to include the Bavarian architecture that went all the way down to the lamp posts. Even a covered bridge with a Bavarian style architecture was built in 1979 and is still in use. In addition, many of the historic buildings that had existed since the establishment of the community were preserved as museums. Traditional Bavarian goods eventually replaced the common American ones. Frankenmuth eventually became Michigan’s Little Bavaria. Until his death in 2006, Tiny Zehnder continued to make the community the attraction for German goodies, yet there was one more person who came up with a business idea which resulted in Frankenmuth becoming the world’s capital, and that is Christmas ornaments!

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Inside Bronner’s Christmas Store

The visit to Frankenmuth is definitely not complete without a visit to Bronner’s Christmas Store. The store was founded in 1945 by Wally Bronner, who had just finished high school and was helping his parents with a local business. Wally discovered the talent of creating metal signs which later expanded to include Christmas ornaments. An avid Christian who enjoyed Christmas, Bronner would later expand the store, which would include a Silent Night Chapel and over ten acres of Austrian and Bavarian-style architecture, each building and section representing a country, holiday and even the American nostalgia that had their sets of ornaments. A detailed history on Wally Bronner, his life and the creation and expansion of the store can be found here.

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Inside Bronner’s Christmas StoreInside Bronner’s Christmas Store

Today’s Bronner’s Christmas Store is indeed the world’s largest Christmas store, housing tens of thousands of holiday ornaments from over 70 different countries, including Germany, Austria, parts of Asia and the Middle East and the US. Whatever a person is looking for, Bronner’s has it. If a person is an avid Christmas fan, like Wally, you can expect to spend hours in that store, stocking up on Christmas lights and ornaments. It was the case with our visit in 2018, where even some of the nostalgic Christmas lighting that I grew up with as a child were found there. They included bubble lights and C-7 glass lights, which we picked up- together with dozens of other ornaments to be decorated on the tree back home in Germany.

If one spends time in Frankenmuth, a day is needed at Bronner’s before doing other activities that the small farming community, well-known as Little Bavaria, has to offer.

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Frankenmuth has the taste of Franconian culture and tradition in itself. There are lots of activities to enjoy both in town as well as along the Cass River. Yet one needs a lot of time to spend in the community in order to understand how it was created, how it was marketed and how three families left their marks in the town’s history books. In comparison to the other German-named villages visited so far, including Minnesota, Wisconsin and Iowa, Frankenmuth is considered one of the most German of communities, growing together, while maintaining their Bavarian heritage, and providing a magnet for tourists to stop by to shop and to visit.  Especially around the time of the festivals, like the Bavarian fest and the Christmas market (a separate article with an invertiew is enclosed and can be read here), will a person find Frankenmuth at its best- Little Bavarian in the middle of America’s heartland.

 

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Info:

For more Information on Festivals and other celebrations in Frankenmuth, check out ist City Website by clicking here.

There is a Bridge Guide on the Frankenmuth/Bridgeport Region via sister column, The Bridgehunter’s Chronicles. Click here and have a look. Three of Frankenmuth’s Bridges can be found there.

Fl Fi USA

 

 

 

 

Speed Limits in Germany: Should they be enforced nationally?

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Entering the Autobahn in Hamburg. Photo taken in March 2017

It is one of the main anchors of German culture. It is a place where you must try when visiting Germany. It is also one where if you don’t know how to take care of yourself, you could end up endangering yourself and others too. It’s the German Autobahn. Introduced over a century ago and expanded during the 1930s, the Autobahn became the quickest way to get from point A to point B. It also became the shortest way to get to your destination. With its famed unlimited speed limits, as seen on the signs, you can get from Munich to Berlin in five hours without any traffic jams; seven when going from Cologne to Dresden. In some cases, travelling by the Autobahn is faster than traveling by train, especially when the Deutsche Bahn (DB) has to handle delays and cancellations on a daily basis. 70% of all Autobahns in Germany do not have a speed limit, whereas speed limits are enforced in blackspots, construction areas and in big cities, and they limit based on the density of traffic on the highways.

Sadly though, it is one of the deadliest places to drive because of reckless driving, disobeying traffic regulations, disregarding other road-users and sometimes, poor conditions on the pavement themselves. In comparison to other European countries, the German Autobahn has the highest fatality rate of all the member states, plus Great Britain. The rate of deaths on the Autobahn per 1000 kilometers is 30.2%, according to data provided by the European Union. The European average is 26.4%. Per billion kilometers, the fatality rate in Germany is 1.6 is double that of Great Britain’s. Comparing that with the US, the fatality rate per mile is still less but the rate may become on par with the Americans in a few years. On 25 of the most dangerous interstate and federal highways in the States, the average death rate is 0.62 per mile. Along the six deadliest, the rate per mile is 0.9!  Given the increase in cars on German Autobahns, combined with distracted driving and even reckless driving, the statistics are sobering.

 

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Attempts were made in January 2019 to introduce a “blanket-style” speed limit on all German Autobahn to ensure that people obey the speed limits. The reason for the proposed enforcement is to ensure that drivers stay within the limit and not race with speeds of up to 250 km/h (in the US: 155 mph.  While this proposal was dead on arrival in the German parliament, it doesn’t mean that it cannot be resurrected at a later time. There are several arguments for and against a nationwide speed limit:

Proponents for the Speed Limit Opponents of the Speed Limit
Other countries in Europe have them: Poland has the 140 km/h limit (85 mph). The Czech Republic, France, the Netherlands, Sweden, Denmark, and Austria, have the 130 km/h (80 mph) limit (which had been proposed by the German government) Belgium and Switzerland have a 120 km/h (75 mph) limit.

 

A map of the countries with the speed limits can be found above.

The enforcement of the speed limit would increase the cost for mobility in Germany, especially with the subsidies involving e-cars, tax hikes for gas, introducing incentives to replace old diesel cars with newer ones conforming to standards and enforcing a ban on diesel cars in big cities.
“Reducing speed limits would bring down the number of fatalities, which is one in four-“  an argument presented by Michael Mertens, Chair of the German Police Officers Union in an interview with the Süddeutsche Zeitung. Money should be spent on expanding public transportation services, such as trains and busses, as well as bike trails for they provide healthier choices.
He adds further: “By even reducing the speed limit to 130, it would help prevent serious accidents and tailbacks (traffic jams)” To add to his argument: A report showed that 2018 was the worst year regarding traffic jams as over 745,000 were reported, an average of 2000 per day. This was a 3% increase since 2017. The Autobahn is a tourist trap and visitors to Germany would like to experience driving the Autobahn and stop at well-known rest areas and eateries along the way.
Speed limits would reduce carbon dioxide emmissions- in 2017 alone, 115 million tons of CO2 released in the atmosphere in Germany came from cars. The rate has increased steadily since 1990. Reducing the speed on the Autobahn would hurt car sales, especially with the likes of BMW, Audi, Porsche, Volkswagen, etc.

 

A report on mobility was expected to be released at the end of March, outlining the details on how Germany can reduce carbon dioxide emissions without being penalized millions of Euros by the authorities in Brussels. Already the government has come under fire for admitting that its goal of reducing emissions by 8% by 2020 would not be reached due to several factors, including weening itself off of coal by 2038, lacking support for European measures to tackle climate change and the like. Yet the report is expected to include the enforcement of speed limits on Germany’s Autobahn system. While a general speed limit already in place on most streets and two-lane roads, the question is why not introduce it onto German highways, just like in every other state?

This is where the question between culture and conformity come to mind- Are we ready to rein in speeding at the cost of tradition or do we have bigger environmental issues to tackle and speeding “…defies all common sense,” as mentioned by German Transportation Minister, Andreas Scheuer?

 

 

Questionnaire: Should Germany enfore its speed limit on its Autobahn system? If so, what speed is acceptable?

Feel free to vote and also write your thoughts in the comment section. Click on the highlighted links to read more about the speedlimits. 

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fast fact logo 16131_tempolimit_130_km_h_zulässige_höchstgeschwindigkeit:

  1. According to German Traffic Laws, drivers are allowed to speed up to 100 km/h on all roads and 130 km/h on expressways and designated stretches of the German Autobahn. When in town, the speed limit is 50 km/h unless posted. Some speed limits allow for 60 km/h.

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2. Beware of the magic number! The 60 km/h limit is the most commonly used speed limit in Germany, used on many different occasions. One will find it inside the city,  on speed limit signs designated for trucks (although the maximum speed is 80), and in construction zones- even on Autobahns.  The second most common speed sign is the 70 limit, which is found in cities but is required at all highways intersections.

3.  Blackspots are defined as areas that are most proned to accidents. They can be found construction sites as well as areas along the highway- curves, intersections, built-up areas in the city and other dangerous spots where accidents  most often occur.

 

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