Gene Janssen: 1956-1957 Exchange Student
Janssen's year in Crailsheim changed his life
Franz/Charlotte Hanish; Rudolf/Wally Stoll; and Rudolf/Marie Thierley
Retired church musician
Fondest memories of my year in Crailsheim:
The kindness and care of so many people, specifically, Emilie Krauss and family, Ernst Roll family, Isolde Matthes (advisor and teacher) and Erika (Raddatz) Schumm, as well as Dr. Fritzmartin Ascher, the director of the Albert Schweitzer Gymnasium (High School) in Crailsheim.
Soon after arrival, I was asked about my interests, and I mentioned that I had had some organ lessons. Isolde Matthes then took me to meet the local Cantor at the Johanneskirche (Günther Mühlichen), and he gave me weekly organ lessons for the year on the 1730s pipe organ at the church. That became the impetus for my future career as a church musician (organist and choir director) with full-time positions in Lutheran churches in DeKalb, Illinois; Albert Lea and St. Paul, Minnesota.
Other fond memories include hiking in the Alps with my school class for some days soon after arrival in Crailsheim.
Christmas time — Christmas trees lit with real candles
Hiking trips with the Schwäbischer Albverein, a hiking club.
The wonderful Volksfest — a fall fair and carnival in Crailsheim.
Free tickets to a concert series and to the local movie theater
A new bicycle provided by a womens' club, which was used by several succeeding students from Worthington.
Trips to other towns and cities at the invitation of various people — such as a Lehar operetta staged on a lake in Stuttgart; visit to the cathedral at Ulm; visit to the city of Nürnberg including the Albrecht Dürer house as well as the huge stadium where the Nazi rallies had been held; a trip to Augsburg, Germany, with a tour of the city of Augsburg and a performance of von Flowtow's opera "Martha".
The trip over to Germany on a ship departing from Quebec, Canada (was supposed to have left from New York, but the itinerary was changed prior to our departure). And then the return on a ship from Naples, Italy, to New York. We were driven over the Alps in the official mayoral car with the city chauffeur and the mayor and his wife, so we saw Milan, Rome, Naples and Pompeii.
How the year abroad changed me:
Because of the year in Crailsheim, I learned to speak German fluently, which allowed me to bypass language school when I went back in1962 to study organ (with Helmut Walcha) and church music at the Hochschule für Musik in Frankfurt am Main, Germany. Also, since becoming affiliated with the Ostfriesen Genealogical Society of America, I have translated numerous books and articles for the organization.
Even after 66 years, I am in regular contact with Crailsheimers: Inge (Krauss) Schmalzried; Waltradu Krauss, widow of Manfred Krauss; Renate Roll, cousin of the Krauss family; and others. Additionally, my youngest daughter, Ingrid, met her husband during her junior year abroad and has been living in Germany for about 22 years. The first city where she was assigned to a Goethe Institute (German language school) was in Schwäbisch Hall, where Manfred and Waltraud lived and she was taken into their family and is counted as one of their children along with Andrea, Christiane and Martin.
Copies of the book "Worthington & Crailsheim: 75 Years of Partnership" are available for purchase at the Nobles County Historical Society in downtown Worthington .