From 'Guten Tag' to 'Auf Wiedersehen'

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Part Two

By Liz Premo, Atlantic News Staff Writer

Atlantic News, Friday, June 10, 2005

[The following article is courtesy of Atlantic News]

REUNITED --The Steiners and the Holmans enjoyed one another's company for several days before the guests from Germany left to continue their trip into Canada and New York. Pictured were looking over some old photographs are (from left) Artur, Finni, Sissi, Andy and John. [Atlantic News Photo by Liz Premo]
(Editor's Note: This is the second of a two-part article about a "dream come true" for Hampton residents John and Connie Holman, when they were recently reunited with a family friend from Germany. The first part can be found in the June 3 issue of the Atlantic News.)

HAMPTON -- Hampton history volunteer John Holman looks through a stack of color prints which were taken with his digital camera during his recent visit with a special someone from his own personal history: Josephine "Finni" Holtzhuer Steiner.

Picture after picture shows Finni with her family - husband Artur, daughter Sigrid ("Sissi"), and Sissi's friend Andreas ("Andy") Kubis - enjoying the time they spent on their three-day stop in Hampton before continuing their North American journey to Canada and New York.

Broad smiles are on their faces in just about every shot - sitting around a table at one of the Holmans' favorite breakfast spots; outdoors during one of their shopping excursions; in their host's living room enjoying a pizza party with John and Connie's daughter Melanie, son-in-law Frank and grandson Brian; and standing together arm-in-arm on the front steps of the Holman homestead.

The Steiners' visit came 50 years after John first met Finni (then 12 years of age) while he was serving in the US Army overseas in Germany. After about six years of keeping in touch, losing contact for several decades, then connecting once again in the mid-1990s, the Holmans were finally able to welcome Finni and her family to their home.

Left to right around the table: 'Andy', Artur, 'Finni', Connie, 'Sissi' & John.
[Our waitress and photographer was Terri Sliby.]

An itinerary was drawn up prior to their arrival, allowing plenty of time to relax, get acquainted (and re-acquainted), eat out, go sightseeing, and "shop, shop, shop!" exclaims Sissi, gesturing enthusiastically with her hands. To that end, though Sissi admits that "always thinking in Deutschmarks" may sometimes make currency conversion "difficult" where Euros and Dollars are concerned, Connie confirms that the Steiners "are wonderful comparison shoppers."

Take denim jeans for instance (Andy bought himself four pairs of them, as well as new athletic shoes): In Germany, Levi's 501s are 150 Euros per pair, which translates to about $180 US dollars. And the 16 percent sales tax in Germany makes shopping in tax-free New Hampshire all the more attractive.

Then there's gasoline. While it has been hovering around the $2 mark for some time at American pumps, in Germany "gasoline is very expensive," says Sissi - translating to about $3 per gallon. Chocolate, however, "is cheap!" and Finni brought "lots of good chocolate" with her to share with the Holmans.

The Steiners disclosed how driving on American roads is a lot different, too, compared to what they're used to in their European homeland.

"In Germany, the roads are narrow and we drive faster," Sissi explains, much to her listeners' amusement. Andy, who is doing the majority of the driving for this trip, laughs in agreement as Sissi goes on to say how "you feel you have to drive faster" on the wider American roads, but then suddenly realize, "Oh, I'm [going] too fast!"

Everyone there laughs right along with them as the conversation shifts to television programming.

There are obvious differences in comparing the two country's TV listings, but there are several contemporary American TV shows that have turned up on the German airwaves -- "Desperate Housewives" (dubbed in German) and "Sex in the City," as well as one of Sissi's personal favorites.

"I like 'Ally McBeal,'" she says of the show's title character, who also happens to share Sissi's profession as a lawyer. In fact, laughs Sissi, when she first arrived in Boston (where the show is based), she was inspired to look around and wonder, "Where is the house of Ally McBeal?"

Further north of Beantown, Finni and her family joined the Holmans for some sightseeing along the New Hampshire and Maine coastline, making sandy stops at Hampton Beach on up to the Nubble Light in York. More shopping and dinner at a popular seafood restaurant in Kittery were also on the itinerary, and every step along the way was a joyful experience in rekindling a friendship that was all together both old and new.

Just how heartfelt that friendship happens to be was evident in the tears that flowed when it came time to say "good-bye."

"Everyone was crying," reveals John, still contemplatively thumbing through the photographs in his hands.

The two families bid "Auf Wiedersehen" to one another, and the Steiners left Hampton behind to continue their trip, which eventually brought them to the Big Apple. "New York was great, exciting and loud," Sissi told John in an e-mail once they safely returned to Germany. About their stay in the Seacoast area, she wrote, "Special our visit in Hampton was, so great I can not describe it in words (in English it is more difficult, but it is hard to say in German). I think the visit will be in our mind the whole life."

With all the excitement the two families shared, perhaps it is Finni who best sums up their visit with John and Connie Holman with a simple, understated assessment.

"We had," says Finni, "a wonderful time."

[See also, Looking Back to 1951
and, Visit Across The Miles 'A Dream Come True' -- Part One
and, Looking back to 1951 from 2005
Danke Schön -- Thank you!
and, Finni's Pictorial Album.]
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