Traveling on the bus to college most days I get to see many things, but rarely have the time to get out and really explore them. Today we decided, the weather being almost acceptable, to drive out of town and visit some of these places and get to see them from close up for a change. I’m not sure that my selection of images really impressed, my choice seems to have come as something of a surprise, but these are things which I have seen, which may not be there for much longer.
Everything is constantly changing: we have plans which are made and then, for various reasons, laid to one side; we have visions and hopes which gradually fade. I can imagine that the owner of this old Mercedes once planned on repairing it, a major job since the rear axle seems to be broken amongst many, many other things, and never got around to doing it. Now it stands, forlorn and abandoned, on the side of the road providing a home for various other animals, a memorial to things past, to plans, hopes and dreams unfulfilled.
Likewise my second image, an abandoned bakery – stretching far back from the road, the bread was baked on the premises – brings a reminder of the days when a small family concern provided almost everything a village needed which they couldn’t make or grow for themselves. Now we have a wealth (for want of a better word!) of supermarkets and few, if any, family shops and businesses. People travel to buy their daily needs where once they would have walked to the corner and met up with friends and acquaintances. The shops are impersonal and cold, the social aspect has gone forever.
And it is almost as if the owners of this bakery, clearly a specialist in baking cakes and pastries, which is on the site of an old Kolonialwarengeschaft (general store) envisioned coming back and opening up again. There are dried and canned goods still on the shelves, piles of unopened mail, old newspapers, a few chairs and a table where customers might have enjoyed a good conversation over a cup of coffee. The dream, though, seems to have faded and died many years ago; the shop hasn’t been open for more than a decade.
It stands right on the main road, an ideal place for a business, but there is a supermarket just a few yards away, with a small bakery and a large car park. The center of this small town has moved, probably as the main road was expanded to cater for increased traffic towards Bremen. Now we see only banks, business houses rather than shops, supermarkets, a general store struggling to make ends meet and a stream of commuter traffic which rarely stops.
Even in the new center of town, hidden behind a tunnel under the main roadway, is gradually fading into history, with closed shopfronts and empty windows. The people travel to the supermarkets, buy their mass-produced products from all corners of the world at all seasons, and return to their closed society within four secure walls.
I had to include this just to show that the past is still there, that tradition is still present in some parts of Germany. This is a model – from the Domherrenhausmuseum in Verden – of a Wandergeselle (a traveling apprentice) in full uniform. Traditionally handworker apprentices, those who had passed the first phase of their long training, traveled through the entire country, stopping off a smaller towns or in major cities where they would knock on the doors of businesses according to their trade and ask for work. It was understood then, as it is today, that they are casual workers, merely there to learn their trade. For up to three years these men – and women today – would be free of all their familial ties and travel on foot, unless they could get a free ride, with no set income, no set place to sleep, no guarantee of a meal each day.
Of course, times are better. It is possible today to arrange a set route of work, to find a place to sleep off the streets, but the tradition remains and the education these handworkers gain as a result of their travels cannot be surpassed by any other system, simply because of its variety and scope. A tradition many scoff over, but which should survive all the educational and training cutbacks forced through by government and big – money saving – business.
Love & Kisses, Viki.