Guest Author - Marianne Spitzer
My knowledge of Gypsies is limited to what I learned from my mom, and from what I have seen in old movies. The only research I did was to check my ancestorís last name against a list of known Gypsy clans. I didnít find it.
My paternal ancestors owned a traveling carnival in Bavaria. I was unable to do research about our family due to the fact the city hall was destroyed in the WWII bombing of the town they lived in. My momís memories of stories her mother and grandmother told her were all the facts I had, but it was enough.
I also, had a great-uncle Andreas. I met him once when I was nine. The fact that all of my motherís relatives lived in Bavaria and we lived in the United States made visits a luxury. Uncle Andreas still worked at the Oktoberfest each fall. He ran a game booth, and one room of his home was filled with the stuffed animals he used as prizes. His memories were fading with age.
What stories I did hear were incorporated into my book. There is a scene where Annamarie has her mom use her ďdream cardsĒ to tell her the meaning of a dream. My mom owned an identical set of cards, and her grandmother taught her how to use them. I found them when I was cleaning her home after she passed away. She never taught me to use them, but I remember she had a special way of laying out the cards, removing some, and ďtellingĒ you the meaning of your dream.
My mom loved to tell me stories that had been passed down from generation to generation. She told me how her ancestors danced around the fire for entertainment. They sold herbs and plants as medicine. Many country folk knew as much about medicines as the doctors of the day. My mom used some of those old-fashioned remedies until she passed away.
She never heard any stories about crystal balls, fortune telling, or curses. Momís stories were bright and happy. The stories ended abruptly in 1930 when the carnival was disbanded after her father died. My mom was six at the time. Her memories were not all that clear of what she saw, but her grandmother and great-grandmother filled her in with their memories and stories.
Whether we were what is referred to as Gypsies or just a traveling circus is lost to history, but there are a few tell-tale pieces of evidence that make me wonder. My mother was blessed with a bit of fore-telling ability. Sheíd know the phone was going to ring before it did. Sometimes, she knew about a family event before it occurred. I also have a bit of that ability, but not as strong as my momís.
That is where I learned all the information I needed for my book. I also used names of my relatives for authenticity. Magdalena, Josef, and Georg were my relatives. The one thing I wish I could know for sure is what happens in the first chapter of Gypsy Spirits and carries over into Annamarie and Magdalena. The first scene in the book actually happened between my ex-husband and me. The curse I rattled off worked on him, but was it real or mind over matter? Your guess is as good as mine.