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The Errand

By Susan Warsinger

The park, which housed a small museum and a caretaker’s cottage, could be entered by walking down a short concrete staircase. It was located across the street from our home and stood between us and the small shopping area of our town. It was a shortcut for me every time my mother asked me to go to the store for some item to prepare our dinner. The errands were of great value for me because they were my first forays into the world. I was doing something that an adult does by having the responsibility of taking care of my family. So it was always with great pride that I strolled through the park, with Phennigs in hand, to accomplish what was needed to nourish my parents, my brothers, and me.

It was a lovely day and many tulips were blooming when I skipped down the steps to the park, on an errand to purchase a loaf of bread at the grocery store. On my way back home, with the bread tucked under my arm, the caretaker approached me with a very forbidding look on his face and told me that I was never to enter his park again. I could not understand this. I told my mother about it immediately upon returning home and asked her to explain the caretaker’s actions to me. My parents always tried to protect my two brothers and me from what was happening to the Jewish people in our town. They never told us why the Nazis were boycotting my father’s store. They never told me the reason why I had to be taken out of the first grade in public school and attend a one-room school with all the other Jewish children in our town.

My mother, I am sure, tried to protect me again from the cruel custodian in the park and told me that the next time she sent me on an errand I was to walk around the park in order to get to the street on which the market was located. This meant that I needed to hike three times the distance to get to my destination.

It was not many days later when my mother asked me again to purchase a loaf of bread at the grocery store. As I crossed the street, I suddenly decided that I was very tired and I really did not feel like walking the great distance around the park to the store. I looked down the steps and there was no one in sight, so I decided that it was the best thing for me to venture through the park. This time I walked cautiously down the steps.

However, as soon as I got to the bottom, the merciless custodian came rushing out of his cottage and began screaming at me. I ran as fast as I could to try to get to the other end, but not only did he catch up with me but also his daughter was right behind him with rocks in her hand. Both of them were calling me a “dirty Jew” and simultaneously throwing rocks at me. I was a little girl of not more than seven years old and it was the first time that I was afraid and I began to understand how difficult it was going to be to be a Jew in Germany. I never walked through that park again.

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