I Am At Square One, Again

Well, I got my resident Visa for one year. I am at square one, again. And I am very happy that I get to settle in with a clean slate. A couple of weeks ago, I went to an American style bar and had cheeseburgers. The burgers were almost great. The guy who owned the place came out and talked with us, his wife was our server and she is from here. I learned two things that day. Our server mentioned to my wife that she should speak German to her man or he will never learn it. From the owner of the bar, I learned that nothing has happened here in twenty some odd years. He talked about being back in Miami, talked of sun rays and beaches. After three months here I get why he was talking sunshine and the hustle bustle of a big city. The winters here are long and the sun is a hit or miss event. Seems so at least the way my wife talks about how heavy the time can be while waiting for spring.

I feel like many of my past life experiences have trained me for this kind of small town-just settle in and stay at home modus operandi. Back when I was running trains back and forth from Louisville and Nashville I spent many many lonesome hours just waiting for a train at the hotel or at home. The extreme fatigue of the job made it that I didn’t want to do anything in between that work time except rest. My time spent as a watchman at the Belle Of Louisville was all about sitting, watching, and making sure nothing happened. So, maybe that is what I will do here in Lustenau, Austria. I’ll rest, watch and make sure nothing happens.

I started following the Mayor of my new town on Instagram. Kurt Fischer is his name and he is in the Austrian Peoples Party, OVP. Mind my English, that O is supposed to have two dots over it. So far from his Instagram feed, football, dogs and writing old people letters seems to be the platform of the party. The wiki article about the political party says that is close to Farmers, The Roman Catholic Church and Business. Well, I seem to know a little about some of the party platform, my last mayor was Greg Fischer. He was Louisville’s Democrat mayor, was Catholic, a businessman and wrote the forward for a book about the German influence on Louisville from Immigration. I wonder if there is a connection? I am not interested in politics, but writing old people letters is cool, I like dogs, never was into sports. Soon I will be going to Einsiedeln, Switzerland. I have a serious family connection to that town.

Fischers Fritz fischt frische Fische.
Frische Fische fischt Fischers Fritz

is a German language tongue twister and this fishing Fischer and my family heritage is all mixed up and kinda complicated, so here goes …

I have spent many years figuring out who I am, John Paul the musician, percussionist, writer, singer, survivor of manic depression, ex-railroader, union organizer, Father and now husband again. I am pretty well set in my ways and know them well. When I look at the Ancestry dot com printout of my family tree, i feel that coming here to this place is an archaeology dig into the deep roots of my family. My Mother’s side is easy as far as the records show. Kentucky and Syria. My Grandfather Mellick was Malik Assas before his named changed upon arrival. That is as far back I get from that side. My Grandpa Mellick came from Lebanon to the USA, via Ellis Island and opened a bar on east Jefferson Street. Was married twice, had a bunch of kids, got divorced, married my Grandmother, her family was from Kentucky, she died and Grandpa married his first wife again. He fathered something like eighteen children. My Mother was the youngest.

The connective roots to this place begin with my Great-Grandmother. She was a Schneider. Her roots are Austrian and Czech, and she married a Kaelin. Through my Paternal side of that marriage, I find names like Meinrad, Schoenbachler, Grazer, Kalin, Lacher, and Fuchs. All the way to the 1670’s I can follow that path to Einsiedeln. I am sure I will have some weird feelings when I visit like I know something about it. I certainly feel at this age, at this time in my life, a certain nostalgia for what seemed to me to be a lost neighborhood from which my Wright side came. When I tell folks here that I was raised in Schnitzelburg, Kentucky, they look at me funny. My other connection to all this Swiss-German talk is my Step- Father. I don’t know anything about where that side of my family comes from except that my Step Father Bobby was raised in the heart of Schnizelburg and met my mother at the bar right down the street from Check’s Cafe. Shacks Bar was right behind Heitzman’s bakery, right before you got to the chicken house going towards Alexander Street, the street my Mom moved to with my “real” Dad. Somewhere about seven years later she meets my Step-Father and is married into the Krauss family. My Grandmother Krauss was Catholic and very Catholic at that. So was my Grandmother Wright, they both went to St. Elizabeth Church. And eventually I will tell you that many of my most profound memories of youth will center around being an Alter-Boy at St. Paul’s Catholic Church, growing up at the Social Male Chorus Gesangverein aka The German American Club, and singing in the basement at my Grandmother Wright’s house. So, there was a Swiss Hall and there was, kinda still is a singing club, my family is Swiss-German-Austrian and I am now here in Lustenau kinda figuring it out that I am going to write a memoir. One of the things I will write about is being a noisy kid. Being almost driven crazy with sounds and music. I will tell stories about my Mother and her activism. I wrote a book titled, The Table that tells of some of this. That book starts in NYC with me going crazy. I think now would be a good time to start all the way at the beginning. I think I’ll start with … Once Upon a Time.

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