By: Dr. Bill
 
President Lucky Sandhu (“Can he or can he not?”) called the meeting to order.  Did you know that RI President this year is Ian Riseley of Australia or that his motto is “Rotary, Making a Difference)?  Well, now you know.  The Greeter was Priya Jhingan, one of our newest Rotarians, offered the Thought of the Day from the Dalai Lama who opined that we can never achieve world peace until we have gained inner peace.  To that end Priya led us in a short Meditation Moment to cleanse our minds. (Random thought: try to imagine what is going on in the minds of fellow Rotarians – Patty Hennigan?  Chris Gallagher? Fred Nevarez?) Priya is a member of a close family here in the Bay Area.  She works in product development and has participated for several years in a program at South by Southwest in Texas. Participants from different locations travel to the festival in Austin by bus and work up a business plan for a start-up to present once they arrive.  She recently took the bus from New Orleans where she met her now fiancé, Evan. Hermann Welm led us in “My Country ‘Tis of Thee” which melodically sounds a lot like “God Save the King.” Our visiting Rotarian was John Lau of San Mateo Rotary.  Other guests were Carol Rowley, former mayor, and Juliet Grace Jones, who had to sit with her grandpa, Don Jones.
 
Announcements:
Glen Weber says we have collected 240 items for the auction, still under last year’s 400.  We need to get them in during the next week.
Chris Gallagher will lead a hike on Sunday, September 10 in the hills.  Karen  Mac Namara will have the GPS and rescue vehicle.
nced our six-club meeting will be Wednesday, October 4; October 5  Lucky announced we will be dark.
 
Oktoberfest:
Carol Rowley invited us all to the San Ramon Forest Home Farms Historic Park fund-raiser on October 14, 11:00 – 4:00 p.m. at 19953 San Ramon Valley Blvd.  The event will feature live music (Olympia Fields Brass Band), polka (Golden Gate Bavarian Dancers) and a German-inspired lunch with brats and beer.  There will also be a tour of the old Tractor Museum and the Glass House.  Best of all, there will be a dachshund race! Tickets for lunch for adults (with one beer and a stein) is $25; Youth is $15 (but with root beer) and kids only $10.  Those under 6 are free!
Buy your ticket at www.SRHF.org or be prepared to pay more at the gate.
Video:
Lucky showed another video of last year’s auction marketing only this time without the sound.  Reading the presenter’s lips, it seemed to be an impassioned plea to save the whales or perhaps to report elder abuse.  Hard to tell.  Chris Gallagher asked if we might obtain outtakes of Lucky’s frequent video efforts for next year’s demotion party.
 
Recognitions:
Fred Nevarez took Valerie for their anniversary to Japan Town and watched a  Japanese film festival.  (Nevarez always sets the standards for husbands!)
Marv Remmich had an anniversary and can’t remember much about it.
Colette Lay shared a picture of her and her high school flame, Surfer Boy Brad, who have been married for 30 years.  Go Grizzlies!
Lucky then pointed out that the last Crow’s Call had been scribed by Priya    Jhingan.  There was general agreement that it had been filled with scurrilous gossip, indiscreet inferences and lots of non-sequiturs.  In other words, up to the high standards of San Ramon Rotary Scribe Corps.       Thereupon, he recognized this correspondent for encouraging Priya’s transgressions. Plus the fact that I had a birthday.  Still, sad!
 
Program:
The speaker today was Hermann Welm who told the remarkable story of his parents whose resourcefulness and resilience helped keep the family together in war-torn Europe and got them to a new life in the United States.  Unlike many people facing a crisis, Erich and Lena Welm did not wait for someone else to save them but rather took the initiative for their salvation. 
 
The Welms descended from Dutch Protestants who fled religious persecution in the 16th Century and settled in East Prussia.  The family name is unusual; it was probably the result of a misspelling.  Hermann’s family lived in Zopot on the Baltic coast.  His grandfather, Albert, was an Army X-Ray technician during the First World War and lost his arm due to damage caused by repeated exposure to that crude technology.  Erich, Hermann’s father, as a young man immigrated to the United States and worked in an ice cream plant in New York with his brother, who had come to the US a few years earlier.  When the Depression hit, Erich returned to Germany to help his family.  He married Lena in 1938 and worked as the overseer of an agricultural estate.  Hermann arrived soon after, and by 1942 was a cute little blonde baby as his photo shows.
In the late 1930’s Germany was a militarized society.  Hermann was named for an uncle who had been killed during a bombing raid over Britain in 1940.  Erich was soon drafted and sent to the Eastern front in Russia.  There he suffered from a medical emergency and was sent back to Germany for hospitalization.  When he was released, he was reassigned to an artillery unit in Italy.  Erich and Lena had already realized that their home in East Prussia was in danger of invasion from the Russians.  They found an obscure village on the map in Western Germany and vowed that if they were separated, they would meet there.  As the threat grew Lena was able, with help from her family, to get two of the children to the safe village.  Erich, back in Italy, tricked his commanding officer into signing a special leave so that he was able to get back and take Hermann to safety.
 
At the conclusion of the war Erich walked home from Italy, using his knowledge of American English to cadge rides and escape detention.  He arrived at the safe village, a tiny hamlet of only four farmhouses, in late 1945, to the astonishment of his family.  A kind woman had taken the family, as well as two other families, into her farm home.  By 1947 Erich had a job as a translator for the British occupying forces.  By 1950 once again worried about the threat of Russian invasion, Erich built bicycles for the five of them and taught the kids how to ride in case they needed to make a dash again for the border.
 
The Welms applied for entry into the United States under the Displaced Persons law.  The family met the criteria:  (1) Their former home had been absorbed into Poland; (2) Erich was never a member of the Nazi Party; and (3) they had an American Sponsor, Erich’s brother, who thereby accepted all financial liabilities for the family!  In 1951 they were granted permission.  Erich had his brother in New York send him want ads from the local papers before they sailed.  He saw that there was a need for machinists in industry on Long Island.  So he volunteered at local machine shop in Germany until they shipped out to the U.S.  He picked up enough knowledge and technical language so that when they arrived, Erich as able to pass as the “German machinist” and get a job.  Within a year Erich was the shop’s foreman and the family bought their own home.
 
Hermann told us that he never heard his parents argue.  They had endured so much but survived and finally thrived by their own self-reliance.  They both died in 1996 and their ashes were buried in Berlin in the new free German republic.  It was an inspiring talk and with pictures too!
 
Raffle:
Sergeant-at-arms, Naim Katiby, introduced a new way of announcing the last three numbers, by their cumulative sum total.  Several Rotarians had their heads explode as a consequence.  When the dust settled, Chris Gallagher won $20 (although he demanded $30) and Jeff Disch (complaining about the quality of the marbles) drew blue to everyone’s relief.