Julius Pedde was my father. In the picture above, he is shown with his four brothers, sometime in the 1930s.
- Left to right, back: Eduard, Adolf, Otto.
- Left to right, front: Gustav, Julius.
My father had no formal education to speak of. He spent one winter in a Mennonite school in Siberia when he was 7 or 8 years old and that was it. He taught himself how to read German using the family bible. I don't think a day passed in his life where he didn't read at least five chapters in a German bible. He was fluent in German, Russian and Polish. He taught himself basic arithmetic and was proud to be elected treasurer of the 'Sterbekasse' in the German church we attended in Port Colborne, Ontario in the 1950s. A Sterbekasse is a system where members pay into a fund every time another member dies, a sort of informal insurance system to help defray burial expenses and help surviving family members.
I think of my father often. He was a man of great patience. I'm not. He was content to live his life without having any far-reaching goals and objectives. I'm not. I'm afraid that my impatient nature and my drive to accomplish come from my mother. What I hope I got from my father was his sense of fairness and his understanding of what was important and what was trivial. He taught his children, by example, that having 'class' was independent of wealth and education. He measured people by how they behaved, not by their social status, title, or bank account. Although he might choose not to willingly associate with people that didn't measure up to his standards, he didn't otherwise pass judgment on or denigrate them. Judging others, in his opinion, was God's responsibility.
I don't know if there is a God. I just know that if He exists, my father will be close by somewhere, accorded the peace and tranquillity he so richly deserved in life, but often did without so he could properly care for his family.
My father was truly one in a million.