My study tour of libraries and archives in Berlin ended on Saturday afternoon. Our leader, Evelin Morgenstern, took Mark Strattner, Claire Marumoto, and me to Hackesche Hofe, a labyrinth of connected courtyards in the old part of East Berlin. It was a shopping expedition of sorts. I operated on the theory that anywhere Evelin wanted to take us, I would go. Not only would we find shops with clothes of exquisite style, but she would point out landmarks and interesting memorials. It was a treasured moment to see “The Deserted Room,” a bronze sculpture by Karl Biedermann. The image of a hastily-abandoned table and chairs in the midst of a traditional Jewish neighborhood needed no explanatory text.
If I had seriously tried on clothes I could have parted with a lot of Euros. Oska was a cool store. Even if the Euro equaled one dollar, prices would still have been high, but I might have tipped over the edge at some point.
On Sunday morning I wandered among stalls of silver, furniture, furs, and clothes at a flea market, despite bone-chilling drizzle. I only bought some small gifts, but had great fun making other discoveries. I bought some beautiful linen handtowels (somewhat like these); old, but not used. What I didn’t buy, but really wanted to, was a rolltuch, a linen piece that was placed under an item that was ironed with a mangel. (My textile friends will know exactly how this is done!) The loveliest examples were unused, and the damask image of a domestic scene stood out clearly. Those were 100 euros.
I also saw an interesting cleaning item for sale, and I would not have know what it was but for our visit to the Bauhaus houses in Dessau last Tuesday. In the kitchens of the Bauhaus masters (including Paul Klee and Wassily Kandinsky), a hose was attached to the wall for cleaning dishes. Mounted on the wall above the sink was a was a shelf for three necessary dishwashing items – washing soda, soap, and sand. I looked at it and couldn’t think of any clever re-use for the bins, so didn’t buy it, or even ask the price. Now I am SO ANGRY I didn’t buy them to just put on the wall.