Today I picked up a small volume imprinted with my grandmother's maiden name, Rudi Stojetz, and the date 1898.
But she clearly didn't use it. It is filled with German shorthand, which I cannot read, but the handwriting is unmistakably recognisable as that of my father. And the year in which the little diary was used was forty years later. 1939. Father, aged 27, was teaching at Bishop's Stortford College, on a PE teacher's wage, but he had 3/6d to spare for a Good Friday treat. Tucked inside the front cover, with lists which look like his school sports teams, was this ticket stub ..
What did he see from the gods at the Albert Hall, I wondered. So I looked.
The Royal Choral Society in -- well, it was Good Friday -- The Messiah. Conducted by Malcolm Sargent. Soloists: Isobel Baillie, Muriel Brunskill, Walter Widdop and William Parsons.
Thirty years later, I sang in a New Zealand choir under Sargent. It was a group made up of all the choirs in Canterbury and I qualified as the current soloist with the Männerverein Liedertafel. The concert was quite an affair and a magazine carried a full double spread of the Choir singing "Blest pair of syrens". Every chorister's eyes were glued to the conductor and his baton. Except one teenaged basso on the top tier. He was deep in his ill-learned score. I never sang in a choir again.
The last page of the diary illustrates a key period in the life of Fritzl Ganzl (now Gallas). He was apparently planning a yachting holiday on the Norfolk Broads. But more telling are a handful of addresses ..
K Roth, c/o the Rev W H Bardeley, Barton Vicarage, Preston, Lancs
Mr V R P Bonsoon (?) 15 Mark Lane, London EC3
O Schmidt c/o Mr Abel, Bulawayo, Southern Rhodesia
Kurt Krieser 10838 Deering Avenue, Cleveland, Ohio
He was networking. Planning his escape. Within three months of Good Friday he had the offer of jobs in Canada and New Zealand. And weeks before the invasion of Poland he was on his way. Just weeks. The diary stops on 22 July 1939.
I had better see whats in all the other volumes.
Addendum: Well I guess I found Kurt Erich Krieser in the US in 1940. He was from 'Austria', jewish of course, a tailor, a couple of years younger than Fritz ... married to a nurse names Elise Scheiner ... arrived in December 1838 from Vienna .. no obvious connection. I guess just a friend of a friend. And as far as I know Dad never went to Ohio anyway.. Kurt died 4 May 2010 aged 97.
And oh goodness! Here is a tiny envelope, full of tiny photographs ... the voyage of Fritz Ganzl-Gallas from Southampton to Auckland ... next episode coming up!