Willie and Kurt Weinlaub

Anatomy of a Family Feud – Act 2

To recap where we left off at the end of Act 1, Lily’s recent return from her six week sabbatical back home to Hannover was not a happy one. First she was greeted with the news that Kurt had lost what remained of their savings because of some bad investments he’d made. Then she learned that her trip back to Hannover did not sit well with her mother-in-law, Gertrude, who accused her of turning her back on her favorite son, just when he needed her support the most. … Read More

Anatomy of a Family Feud – Act 1

feud | fyood | noun: a state of prolonged mutual hostility, typically between two families  Take a fistful of jealously, add a  share of resentment, some greed and mistrust, then inject a mother’s suicide, wrap it all in a cloak of secrecy and you have the makings of a full blown family feud. And that’s exactly what I discovered when at age 50, I suddenly learned the truth behind my father’s firmly entrenched secrets, beginning with the fact that our family was Jewish. … Read More

Living with an Insane Parent

Life with an Insane Parent – Part 2

 Part 1 introduced the notes I took in 1993 regarding my mother’s mental state nearly fifty years after she’d been institutionalized. That’s when she finally revealed to me the secrets within the netherworld that she had created inside her head. Part 1 also introduced the “Heroes” or “Good Guys”, who were some of the inhabitants of her secret place. In Part 2 we get to the “Villains” or “Bad Guys”, the other inhabitants. It would have been so much easier to believe that my mother was NOT insane, just seriously … Read More

How Genealogy Solved the Mystery of My Grandpa Adolph

 Adolph a Bad Word As a kid growing up during WWII, the only Adolph I knew of was Adolph Hitler. So, you can imagine both my surprise and embarrassment when I learned that we had an Adolph in our own family. The middle initial, “A” in my father’s name – Curtis A. Vanlaw – stood for Adolph. The German custom – I later learned that it was really a Jewish custom – that the son takes on his father’s first … Read More

Channeling My Grandmother

I doubt that any of you have ever channeled a dead person, or even had the opportunity….or ever gave it a thought. Well, read on because I did it. And now I invite you to learn all about my weird experience. But first, I have to say that the line between comedy and tragedy can be very narrow. And this was the kind of event that could prove it. Looking for Help Back in 2001, I was still feeling like … Read More

Jealousy, Feuds & Family Secrets – Part 2

When my father’s New York employer went bankrupt, he accepted his mother’s offer to rejoin the family’s business back in Germany. So, Kurt and Lily returned despite my mother’s vehement protests. They arrived in Hannover on June 1, 1932, and moved in with Kurt’s parents. But that was not a good choice and proved to be short lived because the antagonism between my mother, and her mother-in-law was almost immediate. Within three weeks my parents moved out, and into their … Read More

Jealousy, Feuds & Family Secrets – Part 1

When I was seven or eight, Mom told me in very hushed tones that Dad had a brother, Willi, who lived in England. But because he didn’t like his brother, he never spoke of him, nor wanted anything to do with him. With a child’s logic, I assumed that Willi was a very bad person. Otherwise why would Dad dislike him so much? So, from then on, I carried a picture in my mind of Willi as a shadowy figure, … Read More