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From a Letter from Muriel in USA to Richard in UK  - 1993

When we were young children we knew of our Grandparents, Aunts and Uncles through letters our mother received from England. Occasionally photos would accompany them, all of which my sister Ursula and I share today. I longed to meet our relatives as we were just mother father and we two girls. I wanted a Grandmother’s loving arms, a Grandfather’s lap to be bounced on or an Aunt or Uncle to Spoil me. – but I really wanted cousins probably the most! As I grew older it bothered me terribly but I was busy raising a family so it wasn’t until 10 years ago or so that I seriously started research locally, however limitedly. My husband and I made a trip to England and I spent a great deal of time at your fabulous record halls but found very little. Grandmother’s will and marriage names of her daughters were about all. Armed with all the family names and a phone book I started making calls – no luck. I visited a house in Croydon 130 Addiscombe Road which was a house Aunt Vera and Grandmother shared at one time and spoke to someone living there., again an dead end. In all I travelled to England 3 or 4 times always coming away empty handed. ON one of my trips back to the states I had purchased the London Times and I noticed a death notice in the paper with a family name ( can’t recalled who’s right now) . I wrote to the Funeral Director who answered by saying that he could not furnish their address but would send my letter along to the family . Never got a reply. Just before my last trip over ( this time with Ursula) I met a coupe who lived in Kent and were returning home in a few days.

I furnished them with family names and miraculously they made contact with Marie and Yvonne. You can image how overjoyed we were with the news! This of course was just a few years ago. My sister is now a stroke victim and has been bedridden for 2 ½ years. So we haven’t been back to England since. I feel such strong roots thee and hope one day to go back again.

As the family was quite large and people travel so frequently these days I wonder how many have been to the states or in Florida. My husband, who passed away just 6 years ago, and I moved here 23 years ago. Ursula retired and moved here 13 years ago. My children all followed us here, so we are all living quite nearby one another in Florida now.

A little bit about mother: { Dorothy Heinrich nee Fleuss daughter of Henry Otto Fleuss}

She was a wonderful mother with great gifts. As a young woman I know she did a little nursing which showed her compassionate side. She also appeared on the stage in England as a dancer in Max Reinhardt’s famous “The Miracle”. She also worked at Royal Doulton’s factory painting on china. Here’s where the artist came out in her, however I never saw her draw, hold a paint brush or dance. Her other talent was Millinery work. She excelled in it, but only for her or the family’s pleasure. She was a remarkable cook, but an amazing pastry and desert maker. If my father had permitted her to work she could have made her fortune at this one talent.

Much could be written about her. She was rather a complex person not unlike Aunt Vera by what Yvonne and Maria say. Quite dramatic and theatrical in a way. Fainting at will or going to her supposed “sick bed” if things didn’t always go quite right. I must say it stopped with her. Ursula and I did not inherit it. It served her well in the early years and being obedient children we always buckled under to “keep the peace” at all costs. As we grew into adulthood we could see through a lot of it.

The treat of marriage by one of us was almost impossible. I was the youngest but first married, leaving Ursula to deal with the situation at home. Then Ursula married a few years later. Mother was devastated as she no longer had a child to lean on. My marriage lasted almost 50 years, Ursula’s only a few as her husband passed away a few years after marriage with lung cancer. Ursula returned home to mothers and Dad’s with the thought of one day remarrying, as she was still in her twenties, but it never happened.

She once again became the strength of the family, which saw them through to their last days. Both of them lived to 90. In all fairness to mother, I must say as I have grown older and looked back on her life, I have come to realise the enormity of the trauma she suffered. She grew up surrounded by a large family and I’m sure lots of love, married a German, war broke out and they were forced to leave the country. Dad was quite wealthy and they lived very well I believe, servants etc. Then England told him  to leave, as he was a German, they also froze all his assets. I believe Grandfather { Henry Otto}, had to pay their passage to the States. He never recovered his money from England. He made a modest living but never recovered his wealth.

Little did she know when she recovered she said to her parents and brothers and sisters that she’d never see any of them again and she’d never see England again.

The early years were a struggle and I am sure she hated every day in the States. But the later years were kinder to her. The copy of the letter you sent to me written by {to} her mother amused me, quote “It is such a wonderful country” rather surprised me as she always acted as though she didn’t like it and there was only “Dear Old England”.  We had such an in depth education about England while growing up that I feel as though that was my country.

The first time I crossed the Atlantic and suddenly England came into view from the plane I cried – I felt as though I was finally coming home. Perhaps this early childhood training is what makes me feel such deep roots. What caused the rift in the relationship with the family ? I have no ideas. I think it was to do with the will and perhaps it did. Grandmother passed away in 1926 and I can remember mother thinking her brother in law Arthur Baines who was the executor of the will had created her. It so happens, he didn’t as I read the will and she got everything stated. After that she only wrote to Audrey although Margaret must have bee in touch as her letters to Audrey state “I have just had a letter from Margaret”. We, as children or even adults, could never broach the subject of our relations as it would be so upsetting, Mother would take to “her sickbed”. Dad too would never talk about anything. We wee left completely in the dark about family matters which was perhaps the custom for those days.

Dad was an only child, his parent died when he was quite young. Raised by an uncle and Aunt – he graduated from University in Leipsig and a year or two of pre-med schoolHe would never discuss his youth, again maybe painful memories. He loved the US right from the start. Opportunities were plentiful but he being German and US at war with Germany, must have been difficult for him.

Thus the name change from Heinrich to Rich. It probably helped some. He was a brilliant man with much knowledge of many things. His endeavours could fill another letter.

 Ursula and I grew up with the average education, but no college as times were bad and we had to help support the household. She took an academic course and I took an art course. She worked in an office until retirement time. In later years she was Treasurer of a Holding Company, a very responsible job. I changed my mind about becoming a commercial artist after school but never worked after being married. I still love art and a few years ago studied a little again, but since Ursula’s illness my time has been so limited as I run two households. She has round the clock nursing but much else is involved.

One of my great desires has been to see some art works of Grandfathers or his parents. Mother always said it was so beautiful. Does anyone in the family own one ?

In the will it says Margaret got a painting of Grandmother and Grandfather. …..