Thursday, November 13, 2014
The Great War: Vol 1, Chapter 2-2
At 1:00 PM the lunch bell rang. The workers at the Meyer Cycle Works stepped away from their tools and began to disperse for the midday meal. Out in the street, food carts and stands had set up offering sausages and cabbage soup and other midday fare to the workers in the district’s factories. Some workers hurried home for lunch, others went to carts or taverns. A number of the women, whose salaries did not stretch to buying hot food, sat in the workers’ room knitting and eating pieces of bread they had brought from home.
Walter took the streetcar home, the cost of getting there and back quickly enough to see his mother and brother at the same time. Soup was bubbling on the burner in the kitchen when he entered. Frau Ilse Heuber was already dressed in her best clothes, the ones she only wore when teaching piano lessons or if she went to service on Sunday. She had put on a large apron to preserve her finery and was bustling around the table putting out three settings of china.
It was already becoming stifling in the flat and sweat glistened on Frau Heuber’s forehead, but Walter left his jacket on when he hung up his cap by the door. Mother did not believe that a gentleman should eat in shirtsleeves. “We may live here among the poor,” she would tell her sons. “But we do not have to live as they do. Never forget that your grandfather owned the best saddlery shop in Eickstedt. He sent all six of us children to school, and we girls had music lessons.”
Erich arrived a few minutes after Walter, and their main meal of the day commenced. After the initial exchange of pleasantries, Walter told the news of his conversation with Herr Meyer.
“Will this mean a raise?” his mother asked. “How much?”
Walter felt his triumph checked. There would be more money. Certainly there must be more money. Meyer had said there would be, hadn’t he? He tried to recall the exact words spoken rather than his own impressions. Perhaps it hadn’t been said, but surely he wouldn’t be made a foreman without getting a raise. He felt his pride suddenly checked, and as a result a flash of anger towards his mother.