All posts by kleucht

My Trip To Germany: Plauen (Part 3)

Plauen

Last spring, after I spoke at a software developer conference in Berlin Germany, I had the opportunity to take several personal days and I got to see some of the countryside!  It was pretty great!

Plauen Germany is where my grandfather, Kurt William Leucht, lived from about the age of 4 until he left for America at age 18.  Here are some more sights from Plauen as I explored the area and walked in my grandfather’s footsteps.

Johanniskirche (St. John’s Church)

St. John’s Church is located in downtown Plauen, right off the market square that’s adjacent to the Altes Rathaus or City Hall. It’s a big beautiful Gothic hall church sitting up on a rise. It’s been rebuilt and remodeled several times over its lifetime.

It’s the main Protestant church in town and it’s also the oldest church in town. It is one of 716 parishes which make up the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Saxony.

It’s quite breathtaking inside. It feels very spacious and open. This photo was taken from the entrance looking towards the altar in the far chamber. The blue speaking pulpit can be seen on the left.

This photo is the reverse angle looking back towards the entrance and up at the organ in the balcony. The organ is steel blue and gold. This photo also gives you a good view of the intricate ceiling arches.

Here’s a close up of the speaking pulpit. It’s both simple and elegant at the same time.

And here is a close up of the altar and it’s detailed carvings and statues. In the lower left you can see a small opening in the back wall which represents the empty tomb of Jesus and the stone that had been rolled away.

Lutherkirche (Luther Church)

Luther Church is also located in downtown Plauen. It’s another Protestant church just a couple blocks from the Altes Rathaus or City Hall and at the top of the hill from the shopping mall and the trolley station. It’s a relatively small and quaint Baroque style church. The second oldest church in town.

Even small quaint churches in Germany are pretty amazing inside, though. The organ is beautiful. Wish I could hear it play.

This church sports a simple corner mounted speaking pulpit.

The altar room is very well lit and the Gothic winged altar is quite beautiful and intricate. It’s about 525 years old!

On the exterior wall, near the door, is this cool little peek into the historic construction of the Luther Church. The sign says: A look into history: Baroque plaster from the 18th century.

Pausaer Neighborhood

Even though I wasn’t able to prove it till about a year after my trip to Germany, I had suspected while I was there that Pausaer Straße 106 was the address of my grandfather’s family in Plauen. So I checked out that neighborhood while I was in town.

These townhouses or row houses remind me of the brownstone housing style in New York City and surrounding boroughs. 106 is the first one, the far right building with the giant Real Estate and Car Dealer ad painted on the side. Leichtkauf at the bottom of the ad means easy purchase.

Yep. This is where my grandfather grew up! Well, technically I can’t be sure that this building is over one hundred years old. But it looks about right to my untrained and unprofessional eye. If anyone out there among the InterWebs knows the exact age of this building, please let me know. It’s Pausaer Straße 106, Plauen Germany

Looks like 5 mail slots, so I guess there are 5 separate apartments inside. Which is a bit strange to me. Why wouldn’t it be an even number? What is the layout inside? Is one apartment twice the size of the rest? Is there a Zillow equivalent in Germany that can show me interior photos?!?!?

Here is the rear of the building. Very modest.

This is the row of apartments directly across the street. Very similar styles.

This church is only 2 blocks from the apartment that my grandfather grew up in. It’s called Markus Paulus church or parish. It’s an Evangelical-Lutheran church. It was originally called St. Mark’s Church when it as built back in the early 1900s. The building was not open the day I was exploring the neighborhood, so I was not able to see the interior, but there are some photos on the Wikipedia page.

Just a stones throw from where my grandfather grew up, I came across this garden park. It’s laid out into walking paths with a gazillion small land plots off the path where owners put sheds and gardens and trees and such. It’s pretty amazing. On google maps, this little garden neighborhood looks like a bunch of residential houses, but these roofs are actually small garden sheds and small cottages and the roads are actually mostly walking paths.

According to the Internet, where everything you read is true, these little garden neighborhoods, or Kleingarten, are technically called allotment gardens. They are also called community gardens or garden plots or garden colonies. They are designed to allow families who live in cities to grow their own food and to allow children to enjoy a larger outdoor space and connect with the world outside their four walls. Pretty cool idea!

Misc

Remember back in my earlier Zaulsdorf post where I ran into a cool planetary statue thingy in a small village nearby? Well the Uranus statue is located right there in Plauen. Kinda cool that I ran into both Neptune and Uranus in my travels there.

Okay, this is a reconstruction of a common postal course/milestone marker monument. It basically tells you the distance to a whole list of cities and towns. And which direction they are located. Pretty cool. Apparently these things are all over Europe. Technically they are called “post-Electoral Post Milestones“. Which sounds a bit redundant. And also repetitive.

This was a really cool and really old looking well in downtown Plauen. Basically in the private back yard/patio of a house or apartment. It looks a hundred years old to me, so I took a photo of it. It’s just a half a block from the market square that’s adjacent to the Altes Rathaus or City Hall.

Plauen has quite a rural feel especially with the rolling hills just outside of town. This photo shows some hills but I mostly took it because of the playground. I love the three-dimensionality of it. I mean check out that slide mounted on the side of that little green hill with the steps going up the side of the hill! And I bet the kids roll down that hill too!

This is the Malzhaus or Malt House. It’s just a couple blocks from the market square. You can see the Johanniskirche (St. John’s Church) towers in the background. The Malzhaus is both an old historic cellar-bar and a modern entertainment venue.

The Malzhaus has an outdoor concert stage.

Here were a few of the upcoming shows being advertised outside the Malzhaus building.

While in Germany, I kept seeing lots of these little fences mounted on all the roofs. I had no idea what they were, but I assumed it had something to do with snow. My later research revealed that they are called Snow Guards. They’ve been used for hundreds of years to prevent avalanches of snow and ice from falling onto people’s heads. Snow avalanches can also rip the gutters off a building. These snow guards allow the ice and snow to drop off in small amounts, instead of sliding off all at once. Or alternatively they just hold the snow pack there on the roof until it melts away.

This is something interesting that I noticed while inside Johanniskirche (St. John’s Church). The wooden pews are all installed on top of a raised wooden platform that is a few inches up off the floor. And there are vents running along the entire length of each pew. They actually run heat through this raised wooden platform and heat the underside of the pews! What a great idea!

I’m not sure what kind of tree this is, but it is very common in the area …

… and it was in full bloom when I was there last April.

And there was quite a bit of pollen in the air while I was there. It bothered me quite a bit. This photo shows the pollen buildup on my car after parking it near one of these trees all day.

Somebody please tell me what this is. It’s a plastic box with what looks like cat-box litter inside. Is it for melting snow on sidewalks? The label says “Building and facility management of the city Plauen. Municipal construction yard.”

This is just a cool view looking down a Plauen street with the countryside in the background.

But wait, there’s even more Germany to explore!

Stay tuned because my next blog post from my April 2018 trip to Germany (yeah, I’m way behind on posting, I know) is going to be all about the amazing food I experienced! And you don’t want to miss that!

Thanks for your interest!

Kurt

All the Leucht’s living in Plauen Germany in the early 1900s

When I visited Germany last year, I was able to explore my grandfather’s home town of Plauen. But I wasn’t completely certain of his old street address while I was there exploring . Even though I even had access to an old 1900s Plauen address book.

The reason for my uncertainty was because my grandfather was a minor and his name didn’t show up in the address book. And also because his father, Otto, had a pretty common name back then which showed up several times in the address book!

It took me a while and it was kind of tedious work, but I was able to pull all the Leucht’s from all the Plauen address books from 1903 till 1936 and map out all the households into a relatively simple spreadsheet.

Here is where I found all the old Plauen address books. They have been scanned and loaded into a German library website. Awesome work, German library website folks!!!

Here is the link to the spreadsheet that I created:

https://drive.google.com/open?id=1HwCxxsztr4dIgrO6Mj9_70-jbNg46D5v

The spreadsheet is kind-of sort-of alphabetical by first name. Although when multiple Leucht’s end up living in the same household, the alphabetical order breaks down in favor of keeping households together.

I tried my best to group or section off people that were related or were roommates at some point. The light blue and the light green colors are there to show how I grouped folks together.

Let’s start by looking at Albert. In 1903, Albert lived at Pestalozzistr 22 and his trade or occupation was listed as “hdlgsgeh” which is an abbreviation, so Google Translate had trouble translating it for me.

And then between 1904 and 1914, Albert was living at Wettinstr 86 and his occupation was listed as accountant. Then Albert moved away from Plauen sometime after 1914.

Both of these Albert spreadsheet rows are colored light blue because they are showing the same person. At least in theory. There is, however, a chance that these are two different Alberts. But until we get more information, let’s just assume they are the same Albert.

Now let’s look at a more complex living situation. Jump down to Ernst’s row. In 1903, Ernst was a clerk living at Krausenstr 5. Now look in the next row. In 1904, Ernst moved in with Louis the material merchant at Wettinstr 8. Even though Louis and Earnst are not alphabetically adjacent, they lived together so I put them next to each other and color coded them in order to more easily visualize their household relationship.

Looking forward in time, Paul (another hdlgsgeh just like Albert) lives with them for a couple years. And then another Louis shows up. This second Louis is very likely the first Louis’s son! Louis junior sells potatoes for his dad, because by now the address books say that Louis senior is now a potato merchant! Some years later, Karl and Kurt both show up in the address book too as working for Louis senior. Possibly two more sons! Then as time moves forward, these sons each move out on their own. Although it looks like they continue to work for their dad. Also, they live only 2 and 3 doors away from their dad. That’s kinda sweet.

See how it tells a story of this family! Pretty cool, huh?!? Until I put this data into a spreadsheet like this, these relationships and this entire living history were both really difficult to see!

Now jump down to Gustof the weaver! Did that guy like to move around or what?!?!?

Now let’s get to the whole point of this entire exercise. My grandfather and his family’s address!!!

There were 4 separate Otto’s living in Plauen in the years that my grandfather would have been growing up in Plauen. One was listed as an embroiderer. One was listed as a “recipient of agent”, whatever that means. One was listed as a citizen, or no occupation, which could mean retired or just not working at that time. And the 4th was listed as an agent and also listed as a dairy merchant.

By mapping out all the names that entered and exited each household I was able to figure out which of these 4 households was actually my grandfather’s. It was the 4th Otto who was listed as an agent and a dairy merchant, living at Pausaer StraBe 106!

The first reason I know this is his household is that my grandfather’s mother’s name, Ida, showed up in the address book as a dairy merchant during 3 of those years. There aren’t a whole lot of women’s names showing up in these address books at this point in history. I suppose they had to be working in order to be listed. So my great grandmother must have taken up a career for a few years to help out the household. This was about the same timeframe that my grandfather left for America. I wonder if that timing is meaningful.

The second reason I know this is my grandfather’s household is that my grandfather wrote in his journal, titled My Journey To America, that his family moved to Plauen around 1900. Well, the 4th Otto didn’t actually show up in the Plauen address book till 1904, so grandpa was a few years off in his 1900 estimation. But he wrote that forward to his journal later in life so we will have to give him a pass on knowing whether he was 4 years old or 8 years old when his family actually moved to Plauen.

The third reason I know this is my grandfather’s household is that my grandfather also wrote in his journal that his dad was an insurance salesman. And one of the occupations listed in the address book for the 4th Otto was “agent”.

The fourth reason I know this is my grandfather’s household is that my dad told me that grandpa’s parents, Otto and Ida, came to America in 1926. And the 4th Otto just happens to disappear from the Plauen address books at that same time.

Any one of those reasons, or even any two of them might be arguable as coincidence. But when you take into account all four of these pieces of evidence, I think there’s a pretty high likelihood that this is the right household. Now we just need to get to the bottom of this whole dairy merchant thing. That’s news to us!

Please email me using the link at the bottom of the website or leave a blog comment below if you see anything wrong with my spreadsheet or anything wrong with my logic or if you have any more information that might be useful. Or let me know if this spreadsheet I created actually helped you track down your own Leucht ancestors in Plauen! Also, please help me with the translations that I was unable to accomplish and help me fill in the unknowns, like several of the occupations.

Thanks for your interest!

Kurt

Restoration of a vintage 8mm film projector

A few months ago, my wife and I found this beautiful old 8mm film projector at an antique flea market on Florida’s Gulf Coast. And it was very reasonably priced too. We thought it would look great displayed in our living room, and we were right!

This vintage projector reminds me of my grandfather, Kurt William Leucht, who came to America when he was 18 years old from Germany. Grandpa Leucht was very artistic and creative. As an adult, he got really into making home movies with his family and with his friends. So my family has quite a bit of old 8mm film from my grandpa.

This projector is a a Univex model PC-10. There is no manufacture date on the unit. Most online references say that these were manufactured in the 1930s, but I found one site that claims manufacture in 1947. My grandpa was 51 years old in 1947, so he could have actually owned a projector like this one.

The power cord was rubber and in very good shape, so I assume it had been replaced since the original cords were fabric covered. The motor worked fine and the lamp could not be tested since the bulb was burned out. I ordered a replacement bulb (BWY) online and it worked perfectly!

Surprisingly, this projector came with the original price tag from the manufacturer, Universal Camera Corporation! Universal Camera Corporation was founded in 1932 in New York. It manufactured still cameras, film, movie cameras, and binoculars until 1952, when the company declared bankruptcy. If we assume 37 bucks was the 1947 price, that would make the 2019 price close to $420.

This projector is actually pretty simple to understand. The sprocket at the top pulls the film off the reel and the sprocket at the bottom feeds the film into the temporary take-up reel. In between those 2 sprockets, the film is fed into a spring loaded gate which guides the film past the lens and the projector light. The film gets fed past the lens using a finger like gear that flips the film quickly to the next frame and then pauses while a rotating window opens up to let the projector light through.

It’s really cool that the lens is only held in place by spring friction. This allows you to twist the lens ever so slightly while pulling it away from the film or towards the film to change focus. This design also allows the lens to be removed easily for cleaning.

The internal gears were basically locked up due to aging and thickening of the original grease. But a single cover revealed the gear box and so I took apart each gear and cleaned and oiled them thoroughly.

Once the gears were all cleaned and oiled with a light machine oil, the projector worked perfectly! The two belts that run between the motor and the gearbox and take-up reel were made from flexible steel springs, so they were still in perfect shape. Had they been rubber or some other material, they wouldn’t have lasted 70+ years.

A complete instruction booklet came with this projector, although the pages were all separated from each other. My favorite old-timey phrase from this instruction booklet is “Read carefully the simple instructions which follow and you will add immeasurably to your pleasure.” Love it!

Another cool item that came with this projector was an old order form from 1946 that was used to order 8mm and 16mm films. That probably dates this projector to 1946. The film distributor was Castle Films, and the form just says to fill it out and mail the form to your local dealer. I’m assuming that local camera dealers probably kept the most popular reels in stock and ordered the rest as needed. Apparently Castle Films was pretty popular back in the day. My favorite old-timey phrase on this order form is “Remittance Enclosed Herewith”. Awesome!

These film reels were all black and white except for a small selection of color cartoons.

These Castle Films reels cost $1.75 for a 50 foot headline reel and $5.50 for a 180 foot complete reel. That’s more than 22 bucks and 71 bucks in 2019 money! Castle Films are still popular today and you can buy them on eBay for reasonable prices. Although depending on storage, the condition may be far from ideal. Film that was stored in a hot attic for 50 years will be brittle and will completely fall apart on you.

Thanks for your interest!

Kurt

Turn an old antique hand saw into wall decor!

A few years ago I bought an old rusty vintage hand saw at a local garage sale for 50 cents. I figured I would do something cool with it someday. What I decided to do was to make a welcome sign for our house. Using craft paint, I painted “the Leucht’s (est. 1998)” across the rusty blade. Right now it’s hanging in the garage, but we’re thinking about a couple other possible locations for it.

Before painting, I needed to sketch it out and figure out the size of the letters that would look good. So I started with chalk, which is easy to erase and try again until the proportions were just right.

The next step was to create a pattern or template, because painting letters freehand is not for the faint of heart. So I got on my computer and tried a few different fonts to find ones that I thought looked pretty good. It took a few cycles of trial and error before I got printouts that were close to the correct dimensions.

Once the templates were ready, I used chalk again to transfer the outlines of the letters onto the blade. I just chalked up the back side of the template pretty good and then used a pencil to outline each letter which transferred a thin chalk outline onto the saw blade. Then I just painted between the lines. Easier said than done, I know. It takes a pretty steady hand and a lot of patience.

These old antique saws almost always contain stamped metal medallions or label screws that identify the manufacturer. These medallions can also sometimes be used to determine the age of the saw. Here is a close up photo of the medallion on my saw.

It says “H Disston & Sons, Philada” which is Henry Disston and Sons, a highly regarded handsaw manufacturer in Philadelphia. A quick Internet search revealed that this particular medallion design was used between 1896 and 1917! This saw is over a hundred years old! That’s pretty cool!

Here are a few links that I found helpful or interesting:

Thanks for your interest!

Kurt

Christmas Presents: Do you know these people? Are they your relatives?

The people in this video are opening Christmas presents probably in the 1940s or 1950s! Do you know these people? Are they your relatives?

We bought this old 8mm film at an antique flea market in Central Florida recently. I thought it would be fun to publish the video online just to see if anyone noticed their relatives in there. Feel free to share this video!

Click the Email Us link at the bottom of this website or add a comment below and tell me if you think you may know who this old 8mm film belongs to!

Thanks!
Kurt