I'll take the girl, I have a house full of boys.
My mother in law, Ruth, was one of the children that Hitler sent out of Germany before the start of the war to try to preserve the race. If you have ever seen the movie, The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe, where the kids were sent to the middle of nowhere during the war and all they had was a bag and a tag on their clothes that told them where they were supposed to go. Ruth experienced that. She says that when the kids all showed up at the station the farmers were all asking for boys since they wanted strong helpers in the fields. Ruth was the only one left. When the Oma (grandmother) from the Zohrer family came she said that fateful sentence, "I'll take the girl, I have a house full of boys."
When Ruth first got to the Steirmark, Austria she couldn't understand what they were saying. She spoke German as it was written and they spoke with a thick Austrian accent. This didn't keep the spoiling from beginning though. As the first girl in a household full of boys, Ruth had special privileges. When the meal was served all of these farmer folk would sit around a square table, grab their fork or spoon out of the special drawer in their space, and then dig into the single bowl or dish on the table. Ruth just sat there. Oma asked why Ruth wasn't eating. Ruth replied, "I don't like eating out of the same bowl." Her separate dish was always on the table from then on. When dinner was being prepared she would ask what was being cooked. If she explained that she didn't really like that, they would make whatever she wanted. (This was a luxury that didn't continue at home.)
The people of the Steirmark thought Ruth was such a great kid, they invited her back every year after the war had ended. She was part of the family.
This family of farmers took her into their small home, they welcomed her back when they added a second home to the property, and she watched as yet another house was added to the farm. As the many many years went by, Ruth cried as the people she grew to love grew older and passed on. She celebrated as new members of the family were born. One of those members was Roserl, the grandaughter of the woman on the platform who would "take a girl."
Ruth left Germany to see the world but before she left she visited the Steirmark. She noticed that Roserl only had brown shoes. She wanted her to have something special. They looked all over the bigger towns in the area and found a pair of red shoes. A luxury that Roserl had never had before. When Roserl was getting ready to go to her confirmation, Ruth sent a satin white dress for her to wear. This type of dress had never been seen in this rural community, Roserl was thrilled. Roserl still talks about those shoes and that dress to this day. I think the deep sense of gratitude for being made to feel very special by Ruth, plus her natural generous nature, make Roserl treat Ruth like an honored guest in her home. (I am more than willing to ride on Ruth's coattails and accept her hospitality!)
The farm went from modest beginnings to more elaborate. The land and the operations have been passed down from generation to generation. There were different crops, and different objectives. They have gone from selling fruits and vegetables and schnapps to focusing on one crop and doing it well. They, and most of the other farmers around them, have found their niche in growing and selling apples by the truckload. While we were outside playing with the great-great-grand kids of the woman on the platform, two tour buses full of tourists drove by to see the heart of the apple country in Austria. (Down the road a piece they will stop and buy a bottle of schnapps to take home...the Zohrers have decided that they want to focus mostly on growing and harvesting apples. (If a batch or two of schnapps happens to make its way into the cellar for personal consumption, so be it!) Ruth was there to see it grow.
If you search on the Internet for any kind of a familial connection between these two families, you will be disappointed. There are no Bibles in the town church that have the Gasteiger branch listed as part of the Zohrer tree (apple tree) but from what I have seen, they are as much a part of the family as any other person related by blood. I am glad that I was able to be part of this reunion.