Saturday, 18 May 2013

Maiden in the Tower

Old Water Tower

MissUnderstood Lighthouse
I have been asked to write about what it is like to live in a water tower, and how I came to live in a water tower in the first place.

I was visiting Tempelhof in 1939 with an travelling variety show from the United States of America as a dancer. I am British myself, I was 16 at the time and frankly was desperate for work and was scouted out while the tour was in the UK as one of the dancers had suffered a serious illness (this is what I was told at the time, actually I think she got pregnant). So I joined the tour naively, not politically aware and not really paying attention to where it was going to go.

So here I was finding myself in Germany at the beginning of the Second World War... the show was allowed to continue on it's way as at the time there were no hostilities between the US and Germany, but I as a British Citizen was detained by the local Commandant.  Unsure what really to do with me,  they did not really want to shove me into the cells, but nor did they feel I could run free, so they quite literally locked me in the tower, a disused water tower that was converted into living quarters, as although quite comfortable, it was virtually impossible for me to escape from as there was only one door in or out, and getting out the windows was impractical.

Cover of Frauen-Warte featuring Miss Lighthouse
As the war rolled on and moral on the Island lowered the owner of the local theatre convinced the Commandant to allow me out of the tower under supervision to help put on shows to help keep spirits up.  Quite shockingly my performances got the attention of  Frauen-Warte where I made the front cover.

After the former regime left the Island I have been given my "freedom." I use the word freedom reservedly as I obviously am unable to return to Britain while hostilities continue, and frankly we are all effectively prisoners here as we are cut off from the main land at present. I was however with my "freedom" offered a job here at the paper and a new residence. I turned them down.

You may ask why I would choose to stay in my "prison cell."  Well as you can see from the following photographs the Water Tower is actually quite luxuriously furnished and has some of the spectacular views in Temeplhof.

While the Circumstances under which I ended up living in Tempelhof are quite unfortunate I have come to love the place and the people here and my prison cell has become a real home.


1 comment:

  1. Clyde Barrow here,

    Miss, I thoroughly enjoyed reading your story. As an American stranded in Tempelhof I have mixed feelings about the situation. On one hand I don't take kindly anyone telling me where I can and cannot plant my feet. They got big guns and shiny buttons, but they aint got souls, so the devil take 'em! On the other hand, this is Tempelhof, one of the most beautiful coastal towns on God's green earth. I have cultivated endearing friendships with a few of the locals. If the tides changed and we were free to leave, well, I just don't think it would be such an easy decision.


    p.s. I have a copy of that very same Frauen-Warte pinned up in my office :-)