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Kurt Karl Doberer, "The Pfennig was the Heart of the Currency" (Retrospective)

Kurt Karl Doberer’s memories of childhood describe the daily life of a lower-middle class family solidly ensconced in the Social Democratic milieu and striving for self-improvement. One can see the growing educational opportunities for those living in the city as well as the growing sophistication of industrial life and technological innovation.

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My earliest memories come from the time when I was five years old, which would have been around 1909. We lived in Schweinauer Straße [Street], which ran parallel to the thoroughfare and then out of Nuremberg from Sankt Leonhard to Schweinau.

The high-wheel bicycle riders could perform on this road. It was there that I was able to see this unusual vehicle for probably the first and last time. But even normal bicycles were still regarded with great suspicion by the city administration. You had to have a real driver’s license, though it was issued upon payment of a fee, without a driving test. The license also listed the number of the bike. My father had such a driver’s license for his bike. The number was stamped out of sheet metal, just as it was for a car; it had to be attached prominently to the front and the back and had to be easily read by the police. I don’t know whether cars also had to have such plates at the time, because I can only remember a single car that once strayed onto our street.

Traffic on Schweinauer Straße consisted entirely of horse-drawn carts – in the shape of delivery carts, garbage carts that emptied the small garbage cans, and the sprinkler cart in the summer. The sprinkler cart, especially, delighted the children. With our pants rolled up and our skirts tucked in at the waist we ran after it, letting the water spray our bare legs and sometimes a little more.

On one such occasion I also had my first amorous adventure. A girl who lived on the other side of the street took me back to her house. Her parents had screwed a swing into the ceiling of a long hallway, and there we swung and swung.

My father was a socialist and the treasurer of the Ambulance Association. He ended up as a civil servant because he was dismissed by the Schuckert Company for stubbornly regarding May 1 as a holiday.

He was a functionary in the party, had a full bookcase, and worked on furthering his education in the Heine Club. He was studying history and English – the latter of which the whole family studied with him. I still remember very clearly my mother saying to me in English: “Drink good milk;” that is how easy this language was.

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