Letters from Sonja:  Oma
Hubert's mother with her 4 grandchildren- holding Michy in 1956.

Letters from Sonja: Oma


I am really glad we went home last year.

By Sonja Winklmaier
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First published: April 15, 2007


Click Here: Previously on "Letters from Sonja: The New Immigration Bill"


The year 1964 was more or less a quiet year. We could lead a peaceful live in Uganda two years after independence.

January 10th, 1964 -

Barbara had blood poisoning before Christmas. I don't know why.

There was only a very small thing to be seen at a toe from where two red lines started. She had a high temperature instantly. With the help of penicillin it improved rather quickly.

Gerd came to visit on January 1st. After a long flight from Nairobi he arrived shortly after midday. Of course there were many questions and Hubert and Gerd said that I had arrived at question 8,000 and something. He stayed until January 5th, when he left by car in the morning as he had to start work the next day.

The children are back to school. Michy is in the B class now. His next goal is to get into the A class.

Barbara liked going back to Kindergarten. She has now started in the Kampala Kindergarten School, a pre-school. She did not mind at all when I left her in the new surroundings. Unfortunately she had a small accident on her first day. She fell down the stairs and broke the frame of her glasses. Luckily Hubert was able to repair them. She had a few scratches in her face and arms but she did not take much note of them and just said, that she thinks she has to walk a bit slower in future.

After I had delivered the children, for a change I went to the hairdressers and = after a number of years = had a perm. They used a terribly strong lotion and my whole head was "burning". Today I have blisters on my head and I can hardly comb my hair. I do hope that my hair does not fall out. (Isn't that typical women: The ones who have natural curls want their hair straight und the ones with straight hair have themselves tortured just to have some curls.) 

Yesterday Nyende killed a very long and very black snake in the garden.

Off to school and Kampala Kindergarden

Off to school and Kampala Kindergarden
Off to school and Kampala Kindergarden.

January 31st, 1964 -

There was some unrest here. You have probably heard about it on the

news. Everything seems to be OK again. We anyway did not notice anything. We only heard about it on the radio and from the newspaper. It is really very peaceful on Buziga.

Gerd likes it in Nairobi. He has been riding and flying.

The other day a Mr. Thiele, the director of the Deutsche Welle, paid us a visit. He is a really nice gentleman. In the meantime I have heard that he is a very good friend of Prof. Erhardt and that he is becoming Secretary of State. It is quite surprising, who is enjoying a cup of coffee in our house.

February 10th, 1964 -

We had very bad news from Munich. Hubert's mother had to be taken to

hospital in an unconscious condition. She has lost a lot of blood and Mila (Hubert's oldest sister) thinks that she is suffering from cancer. She could not be diagnosed properly as she is too weak.

These are the moments, when I would rather like to be in Germany.

We are all well. We have a really beautiful day today. The lake is more than blue. We had a very hot and dry spell first, then we had rain for a couple of days and it got really cool. Today we could not wish for a better day.

February 27th, 1964 -

Hubert's mother has been operated upon in the meantime. It was not cancer

but a stomach ulcer that put pressure on a blood vessel. 9 days after the operation she is fine.

Some nights ago thieves wanted to steal our car. The car is parked about 3m from Hubert's bed in front of the open window. We only noticed something when the house alarm went off. At that time they already had broken into the car, opened the hand brake and pushed the car about 2 m. Only after that the alarm went off. We did not see any trace of the thieves. Hubert has now installed a field telephone to the Hitchen's house, which is a great comfort.

March 23rd, 1964 -

We are thinking a lot about what to do regarding schools for the children.

They cannot go to school in Kampala for ever. We were thinking of a transfer to Nairobi, but even there are only English schools. Hubert also wrote to the VW factory regarding a new job. They offered him a job as Service Engineer with Volkswagen of America. Hubert would have to advise big dealers in the US which would involve a lot of travelling. It is a difficult decision. I don't know whether I would like to go to the US. This would not really solve the school problem either. Meanwhile we are really East Africans and I would find it very hard to leave this country.

Michy had a sports-day again last Saturday. This time he was very upset that he did not get a prize. He said this was the worst day in his life. What a big problem! Instead he was praised at school for orderliness and so on. He has earned a yellow ribbon which he was allowed to wear for one term at the breast pocket of his shirt. He is very proud of his "flash" and is hoping to get it again next term. School break starts on Thursday and ends on April 23rd. We have already unpacked all the toys, which I lock away during school time. Michy and Barbara now play very well together. Michy is also reading a lot now. I am sure these holidays will be quieter than the ones before.

The raining season is starting again. We had quite a storm last night. I thought that storm is taking us down the hill together with the house. Now the garden is freshly washed ready for Easter. The air is very clear and the cooler temperatures are a real comfort.

April 23rd, 1964 -

An English friend of mine is working as a secretary for the American

Embassy. As she wants to go on long-leave she had to find someone to fill her position during her absence. She asked me whether I could do that for her.

I agreed and applied for a part-time job at the American Embassy. As I have not been working for 10 years, my shorthand knowledge is more than rusty and I don't think that I did very well at a trial dictation. I have to bring a passport photo. I have already filled in a four page questionnaire. Let's wait and see whether I get the job. It is only for 3 = 4 months. In any case I want to practice shorthand and in case I don't get this job I will look for something else. Otherwise I am afraid that I am forgetting what I had once learned.

May 4th, 1964 -

I have had my first day working at the American Embassy. I am working

mornings only. After work I can go home with Mr. Hitchens. That way I am at home about 15 minutes before Hubert and the children. That works very well. Actually nobody notices that I have not been at home. I do the cooking one day in advance. Potatoes, rice, pasta etc. can be cooked by my household help. The rest he only needs to warm up.

Our Oma in Munich is in a very poor condition. Practically there is no more hope. She is extremely week. She is also quite confused because of the great loss of blood. She apparently does not know anything anymore and this will not change. This is a very hard time especially for Hubert.

May 26th, 1964 =

We have now rented a TV set for a month. This brings a lot of people to our house. First all the children from the neighbourhood come and later in the evening the grown-ups. Specially tonight we expect a lot of visitors. Barbara, together with other children from her class, is appearing on TV. Barbara cannot imagine how this is working. She knows that they have been to the TV studios last week where they were singing and playing, but she cannot understand yet why she can see herself on the TV screen tonight.

I cannot remember when exactly TV came to Uganda, but I am sure it was not much earlier than when we rented a TV set. Hubert was always very interested in all technical inventions and he always was very quick to try them out. That is the reason why I always had modern electrical gadgets in the house. I sometimes even had to stop him from overdoing it.

Oma in the forest with the children in 1963
Oma in the forest with the children in 1963.

Sorry that I am late replying to your last letter, but we have not been in a mood to write letters recently. Hubert's mother died on May 8th, 5 days before her 75th birthday and shortly before the golden wedding anniversary of Hubert's parents. I am really glad we went home last year. This way Michy and Barbara will be able to remember their grandmother.

Next: Aunt Gudrun and Ugandan Television in 1964

By Sonja Winklmaier
more from author >>
First published: April 15, 2007
Sonja Winklmaier moved to Uganda in the 1950s to follow her husband, Hubert Winklmaier, as the German Volkswagen Factory sent him to work with their agent, Cooper Motor Corporation.

Go to: Letters from Sonja