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Letter from Oskar Speck to his sister Emmi

Date: 2 May 1951
Medium: Ink on paper
Credit Line: ANMM Collection Nancy Jean Steele Bequest
Object Copyright: © Australian National Maritime Museum
Object Name: Letter
Object No: ANMS0540[007]

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    Letter from Oskar Speck to his sister Emmi typed over two pages in German and dated 2 may 1951. The first page is typed on one side only, the second page is half a page, but with typed text on both sides. In letter Oskar mentions events happening in his life, fixing his car, renting a room in his house, and how he would like to find a wife.
    • Sydney, , 2 May 1951 Dear Emmi, Thank you for your letter. It’s a great exception for me to write to someone in the family other than Grete. I didn’t expect Mmum to die after she had recovered fromgotten over the stroke. Mum had to put up with a lot in her life and who knows if it isn’t better for her not to be alive today. As things stand at the moment we have to expect another war and that is bad enough for young people, , but for old and frail ladies it must be much worse. To be suffering from hunger and cold again in their old age, , with no hope of seeing good times must be absolutely terrible. I had hoped to make it back to Germany before her death, , but that’s finished now. Will I ever make it back home? Who knows! I have become really entrenched here. First there was the great flat, , and I know I’d never get another chance at such a good deal if I ever gave it up (there is an enormous lack of housing here) and then withby the purchase of the property, , a terrific investment, the like of which I wouldn’t get a second time. It seems ridiculous, , but I’m well provided for in my old age and in the meantime I vegetate along, waiting to get old. If only the two could be combined: Life as we knew it in Germany and the way in which one can provide for the future that is possible here in Australia. If I were back in Germany I could probably find the right person to get married to as well, ; not that I wanted to start a family, as well, but one doesn’t want to sit around all by oneself later. If there is another war, , which is likely to last for many years, , there is no chance at all of me getting back to Germany before I’m old and grey. I’ve got so much to do here with the business and the work on the property. I don’t get athe chance to move in the right circles to find what I’m looking for. In order to find the right person to marry there is always an element of luck involved, , except here the element of luck is diminished. I own a piece of land that is so beautiful no-one could dream of a nicer one, , with enough to do with iton it for the rest of my life, , and also a great source of income in the years to come, , and still one isn’t happy. I should prefer either to become young once again or get old really quickly, , one or the other. And yet they call people of my vintage men in their best years. I must be a real idiotjerk. During my journey in the folding boat, , when I didn’t own a thing, , I wasn’t happy and now that I have more than enough to live contentedly, , I am still not happy. I’d just like to know where all my courage ended up. Wealth does turn people into cowards and makes them anxious. One only takes risks when one hasn’t got anything to lose. I could have been in Germany long ago. Other people take that risk all the time, , with only enough money to pay for the fare. I don’t dare do that because I’m afraid, , and justly so, , that I’ll lose too much. I want to acquire security and in the meantime I turn old and grey. The devil mustshould know what’s the matter with me. I’m very young for my age and still very active and hungry for life. Perhaps it’s the change of life for men. I should get married to a young girl. If only I could find something suitable. Older women, , women of my age, I can’t handle at all. There is a large number of them, , German women and girls around 40, , but utterly hopeless for me. The younger girls I meet, , all Australians, , they are only after my possessions. Perhaps I should turn to the Salvation Army or the YMCA. Our brother Willie should have good connections there. Maybe what I need is a parson’s daughter, , do you think? Best regards to Grete and tell her I’ll write to her in the next few days. I’ll be busy up at the property over the next two weeks. We have received some cement and it has to be used. This autumn, , our Australian autumn, I planted over 40 orange trees. Other fruit and vegetables, , too. It’ll take about five years for the orange trees to bear fruit, , though. The opal business is very slow. I am trying to sell off my stock bit by bit and put the money into the property. My BMW, , a 49 model, , cost me a wadhole heap of money again recently. I had to change the steering over from the right to the left hand side and with those bunglers here that wasn’t easy. It was a lot of bother and cost me £ 200.- . No-one knows what for, , certainly not for labour or materials. Apart from that, they did an awful slap-dash job. What is your husband’s profession? And how is your health? You had to cope with all sorts of sickness, , didn’t you. What is Grete up to these days? Will she stay in the apartment? I expect it will be too hard for her to pay the rent on her own. I might be able to help her in a few years’ time. At the moment I have to tighten my belt myself. And to asking her to come over here would not be in Grete’s favour. She wouldn’t have any friends and she would never in her life be able to cope with the language. She could earn a lot of money here, , though, , since seamstresses make good money here and the Australian women are certainly not spoilt as far as patterns and the like are concerned. Few people here do good work. It’s all slap-dash, , no idea about quality. But if it were any different, I wouldn’t have been able to get my business up and running so easily. I have started to rent out one of the rooms in my flat. One has to be extremely careful in the choice of sub-tenants, , otherwise one can’t get rid of them. I’ve had several pairs lots of two young girls staying here with me. Well, , they can certainly cause a lot of fuss. If I didn’t make sure I cleaned the flat thoroughly every now and then I would have a pigsty on my hands by now. But I receive £5.- per week rent and that’s almost enough for me to live on. There is a huge lack of housing here. My flat is situated in the best and most expensive area in all of Sydney. I pay £2.15 rent per week (a around DM 25.-) and I get £5.- per week for sub-letting one room with two day beds and various other bits of furniture, , without breakfast or cleaning. Tomorrow I’ll have another two new girls move in. Just finished interviewing them. Pretty things, but spoilt and seem to have never cleaned up their own rooms in their lives. Well, , they are going to have to learn. The last young lady I had, (from New Zealand), was carrying on a bit too much with her boyfriend. I am very liberal myself about moral standards, , but I have to respect the other tenants in the building, , otherwise they might cancel my lease one day. Around 6 o’clock one morning I was about to put out the milk bottles and there was a pair of men’s shoes outside my front door, , and the keys of my pretty little sub-tenant still stuck in the keyhole. Any German girl would have just admitted the whole story, , but not my little one from New Zealand. The zipper on her ball gown hadwas supposedly been caught and he had to come into her room to cut the zipper open. He took his shoes off out of sheer consideration for my sleep. As soon as the zipper was fixed, , he must have dropped unconscious or fallen asleep instantly. Perhaps I’ll be able to perhaps write a book about these stories, , a second Decameron. At least it’s all good fun and helps relieve the monotony a bit. Even though they are both from very good families I had to throw him out because he had behaved so stupidly. As the saying goes, , one can do anything as long as one doesn’t get caught. She could have stayed, , but I had offended her by refusing to believe the zipper story. Now she's moved to a hotel, , since she won’t find a room like mine anywhere else. Can’t wait to see what the two new girls have in store for me. Judging by the way they look, , they are likely toshould have a dozen guys hovering around. Pretty as a pictures. There are some incredibly good looking girls here. Thatis will be all for today. I’ve written so much that I must have made up for everything soon. Best regards to everyone, , Your brother Oskar
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