Keeping memories alive By Thomas...


April 22, 2001|By Special to the Sun


Keeping memories alive

By Thomas Dorsett

"Business or pleasure?" asked the official at the British passport control. I wanted to say "both," but answered, "pleasure."

I hadn't been in England or Germany for years. I came to meet friends in London and Frankfurt and visit Berlin in between. First, I had to see some of my old haunts in London.

I headed for Trafalgar Square. How good it was to again see the undersized dome of the National Gallery and the oversized column of Admiral Nelson's statue.

In the National Gallery, where I had visited so many times, unexpected tears came as I stood before Leonardo da Vinci's famous drawing, the Burlington House Cartoon. The tears were the result of standing before a masterwork, but also from the realization that I was no longer a young man.

That night I met my friends, and we had a delightful evening over a home-cooked meal. The next day I was in Berlin. I hadn't been there since the mid-'60s, and the city had changed. Cranes and construction crews were everywhere. Berlin might not be a beautiful city, but it is vibrant and interesting. During my five days there, I attended the theater three times and the opera once -- all memorable experiences.

The last part of my trip was spent in Frankfurt. I had been invited to stay with a friend with whom I had been in correspondence after an article appeared in a Frankfurt newspaper about a collection of poems I had translated from German.

The poems had been written by Ruth Rosenfeld as a teen-ager in Frankfurt before she escaped the Nazi terror in 1939. Ruth raised a family in Baltimore but never wrote again, despite the promise of her poems.

Ruth's daughter, Susan, and I strongly agreed that Ruth must not be forgotten, so we met with a German editor. Would he be interested in publishing a German edition of Ruth's poems that appeared in Baltimore in 1996?

The answer was "maybe." I hadn't expected a yes -- we're talking about poetry here. But a grant from a German Jewish organization that will cover about half the publishing costs may help turn that maybe into something more positive. I was very pleased.

The highlight of my trip was putting stones on two of the 11,000 markers on the wall around an old Jewish cemetery. The markers commemorated Ruth's mother and father, both of whom died in the Holocaust.

Thomas Dorsett lives in Baltimore.


Traveling companions

David Stern, Annapolis

I took a three-week vacation to Nepal, Tibet and the Kingdom of Bhutan, a small country tucked in the eastern Himalayas. On the way to a Bhutan dance festival in the courtyard of a monastery, I passed a man with his cow on the side of the road. The cow put his head up, and I took this picture.


Stingray City, Cayman Islands

Patricia Wainland, Ellicott City

"During a Caribbean cruise, my family made a stop in the Cayman Islands, where we toured Stingray City. We all got in the water, and the stingrays swirled around our feet and legs, brushing up against us. Our guide showed us how to 'hug' a stingray. As they start moving around, you move with them. It is like a dance where the stingray is leading."

Sorrento, Italy

Joan Ports Baltimore

"On the Gulf of Naples in Italy, the peninsula of Sorrento features limestone rock formations that descend sharply to the shore. A marina nearby offers boat excursions to the Island of Capri. This beach was wonderful, relaxing and absolutely beautiful."


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