With Mother’s Day around the corner, I’ll write about a great lady, my mother, Frieda, who contributed one of my first two names. She was the eldest daughter of the Swiss watch manufacturer, Alfred Kurth, a jovial grandfather who sent her to London, England, to learn English for his business. English was becoming the international language, and when she had me after her marriage to Emil, she taught me English. It was lonely. I could only talk with my mother, so when I got out into the several acres of garden to play with my cousins, I learned the Swiss dialect quickly.
She had three boys for my father. (He came back to Switzerland for visits from the U.S.) She took care of her ailing mother before launching, with three young boys, the youngest a toddler, across occupied France to Lisbon, where she barely got aboard one of the last, in 1942, ships to the U.S. with U-boats rampant.
She was a literate personality and saw to it that I got plenty of books. She worked part time in my father’s office in the Empire State Building. She enjoyed the women’s club in one of the Strathmores in Manhasset, but lost a good friend when we moved up to the Vanderbilt section. She took it sadly, but was always willing to accept human peculiarities.
She suffered eight years from Altzheimer’s disease. I visited her daily after school, but she didn’t recognize me. I know there’s a cozy spot by a large bay window in heaven for her, with a view of the Alps.