A bridge to celebrate the friendship
By Ute Sch?fer, Hohenloher Tagblatt Crailsheim Editor's note: This story was translated by Johanna Andrejew, the current Crailsheim exchange student to Worthington. It was originally published by Hohenloher Tagblatt Crailsheim on Feb. 14. CRAILSH...
By Ute Schäfer, Hohenloher Tagblatt Crailsheim
Editor’s note: This story was translated by Johanna Andrejew, the current Crailsheim exchange student to Worthington. It was originally published by Hohenloher Tagblatt Crailsheim on Feb. 14.
CRAILSHEIM, Germany - 2017 is the 70th anniversary of Worthington-Crailsheim’s Sister City Friendship. What would be a better occasion to introduce Axel Huss, the designer of the bridge sculpture in Worthington’s Chautauqua Park and his twin sculpture in Crailsheim? Back in 1986-1987, Huss was Crailsheim’s exchange student himself and appreciated as well as enjoyed the sister cities’ exchange program. Now, 30 years later, the sister cities have their reasons to appreciate his work.
When Huss plans a new project, he visits the future construction place to make sure that it “feels right’’ because if he sets his mind on something it has to “fit’.” Fortunately, it “fit’’ in the area in Crailsheim where Axel Huss designed the German part of the “friendship bridge“. As he realized that Bob Demuth Alley was running directly next to the area he had laid his eyes on (the McKee Barracks in Crailsheim), Huss had made his decision. This would be the perfect place to mark this unique sister-city friendship.
Flashback to the year 1985, when 17-year old Huss was preparing to apply to be the Crailsheim exchange student.
“I remember giving a speech in front of the whole committee and waiting outside the doors to hear their decision,” he remembered. “I was so nervous!’’
Part of that was because he has never been on such a big and especially long trip before. School did not play a very big role for him - “but one day, I woke up.’’
Huss graduated with his GED and found himself shortly before the end of his mechanic apprenticeship in front of the committee. He doesn’t exactly remember how it worked out, but knows it did. That’s why his credo is: “If you really want to achieve something, you can do it.’’
Huss made his time in Worthington a lifetime experience. It’s an experience he shares with former and future students who make the exchange between Worthington and Crailsheim, which began in 1947, something special and vivid.
“I was part of the football team at the high school,” Huss said. “Ever since, I have never gone through such an intense workout. I could feel my muscles for seven weeks.’’
But giving up was not an option for him, and that’s one of the reasons why Huss enjoys his exchange student year in Crailsheim’s american sister city. He has a good relationship with his host families, and a highlight is the wedding of his host sister.
“I was one of the ushers,” he said proudly.
After Huss returned to Crailsheim, he graduated from college and started working. But he soon realized that he wanted to run his own corporation. He worked as a janitor and manager of a tenement block and finally became a real estate investor. Twenty years later, in 2012, he stood in Crailsheim’s McKee Barracks - where the sculpture stands today - and had a flashback to his year in Worthington, remembering the Americans in Crailsheim and all the friends on the other site of the Atlantic Ocean he made during his year overseas. Standing there, surrounded by old memories, Axel was sure it was the right place to tell the story of Crailsheim and Worthington - and to make a creation that connects the two cities.
Now, the McKee Barracks have a permanent exhibition about Americans in Crailsheim; the so-called bridge sculpture is located in front of the building. By the way, Huss’s last trip to visit his old friends in Worthington was with his family last summer.
“It was great,” he said. “I sat down at the table, and it was as if no time has passed.’’