In response to the comment below, I have removed incorrect and potentially hurtful material regarding the tragically premature deaths of my high school buddy and intellectual sparring partner Menno Bachmann and his little brother Udo. Menno was a funny guy, whose signature comedy routine never failed to reduce me to tears of guilty laughter. In the manner of John Cleese (but a few years pre-Python), he would pace back and forth, hands clasped behind back, and begin “Welcome to Auschwitz….”, with an outrageous “German” accent, and then list the many guest amenities afforded by the Butlins from Hell. I can’t remember how it would end, but it’s sure to have been wittier than, say, “Und, of course, vee alvays cook mit gas”. Speaking of feeble wit, my mother and sister thought it was a helluva joke – original, too – to nickname him “Paws”.
I googled Menno and Udo, but the only result I got was their mother’s obituary. Naturally, as a snotty adolescent, I’d dismissed her at the time as just another wizened, nagging old bat. At that age, all one’s friends’ parents were Nazis, regardless of ethnicity.
I quote from the Winnipeg Free Press:
“Hilka worked very hard as an immigrant. She was an assistant librarian and a polio survivor. She helped students in the two libraries at the University of Manitoba [so, colleague of my dad!]. She had a love for opera music and sang beautifully.”
Even if she actually was a Nazi, she has just been instantly rehabilitated in my memory, and henceforth is a gorgeous and pure delight of a woman, and one I wish I’d got to know.
Oh, and on greeting our school’s two token bused-in-from-reservation boys, Delmar Cameron and Johnny Two Shirts, Menno would sing, to the tune of a Beatles’ ditty of the time, “Ojibwa, Ojibway. life goes on…”. They appeared to take it in good spirit, but then, Menno did die mysteriously while canoeing on an ancient lake…