Phillip Martin Art

The Europe Collection

Chimney Sweep

My motherís grandparents were from  Alsace - Lorraine.  According to family legend, grandfather was too short to get into (or out of) the military.  He would have probably not survived because the German military didnít really tolerate those vertically challenged.  One of the things he never would have been able to do was run up behind a horse, place his hands on its rear, and jump on to the animal.  Instead, his family sent him off to the USA.  As the story goes, he joined up at the dock with a family that had a whole lot of kids.  One more didn't matter.  He never saw his German family again. 

Now, his wife, my great grandmother, was apparently a different challenge altogether.  She got caught with her sisterís fiancť and was promptly shipped off to America.  I think I would have liked her.

My mother wanted to explore her roots and we headed off to Europe together.  In one of the little German villages we explored, we met this chimney sweep.  Of course, it made sense that they were still needed, but I didnít know they still dressed like Dick Van Dyke.

We knew there was a Roth family home in the little town of Gundershoffen.  It made sense that it would most likely in the town center because it was built so long ago.  However, we just didnít know where to look.  I thought it made sense to check things out at city hall.  Well, it was a good idea, but they were closed.  I had no other options. 

I failed.  

My mother, on the other hand, went to the local bar (probably for the first time in her life) and looked for the oldest man there.  I don't know how she communicated.  She spoke no German and the old man didn't speak English.  But, he understood we wanted to find the "ROT" house.  Germans don't pronounce that "h".  And, he gave Mom the directions to the house about two blocks away.   

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