by Hans Reichenfeld from Guelph, ON
Sep 8, 12
In 1939 I was sixteen years old and a student at Great Ayton Friends School a Quaker School in Yorkshire, England. There were nine other students like me - we were all Jewish refugees from Germany and Austria.
One of my favourite teachers was Herbert Dobbing. One day Mr. Dobbing approached me with a request. There was a student in his class who would like to have some private lessons in German. She came from another school and was a bit behind.
I’m not sure I was a good teacher. But the student, Anne, was intelligent and it didn’t take her long to master the rigid rules of German grammar.
She was also very pretty.
Then war broke out and I had some stormy wartime and post-war experiences that landed me in Canada and finally to Guelph. I didn’t see or hear from Anne again and had wondered about her occasionally over the years. So it was that sixty-six years later, while researching a memoir I was writing, I decided to try to track Anne down.
I found her email address and wrote, asking what she remembered from our days at the Quaker School.
This is what she had to say:
What a delightful surprise to hear from you. I have just got back from 8 days in Devon, so only picked up your e-mail this evening. And I am off again on Friday -- life is all go when you are 81. I don't have time at the moment to do justice to your request but will do so when I get back. One thing I will tell you, though, is that I remember when you kissed me under the stairs at the entrance to our form room.
I hope to meet Anne again when I go to England next year.
I'll let you know whether I still feel like kissing her.
That story came to us from Hans Reichenfeld of Guelph, Ontario.
Well we’ve had that story in our files for quite some time now and we’ve wondered off and on what happened next.
We caught up with Hans recently and sure enough, he did reconnect with Anne on that trip to England. He and his wife Cathy visited her at her cottage in the South Downs. Anne is now an award-winning poet. She and Hans reminisced about their time at Ayton and, according to Hans, established a two member Mutual Admiration Society. They keep in touch more regularly these days.