The Bench


Nicholai went home to gather his remaining personal items and to give the Paraguay immigration documents to Elizabeth. Good-byes were brief as Nicholai took his leave and walked over to Sarah’s place. Nicholai Janzen’s children never saw their father again.

Nicholai never wrote to Gerhard, nor to Dietrich. John soon joined Nicholai in California and made a meager living working for fruit farmers. Nicholai, on his own, established a market business and sold meat to Mennonites. Photos show he liked big black cars and had a beautiful orchard. This orchard was personally fashioned after the garden he had sketched for the Lindenau Wirtschaft. Again, it was fabulously rich with oranges, apples, cherries, peaches, plums and pears. In the center, a bench was placed where Nicholai could be found meditating for hours with his eyes closed and his head in his hands and his elbows on his knees. Sarah thought Nicholai was pining for the old country.

Sarah said Nicholai died of a broken heart. He was 78. She did not know about Lenchen.

Nicholai Peter Janzen (1869 – 1947) is buried in the city cemetery, Reedley, California.

Susan and I made a trip to Reedley California to search out (alone, with no help from the Sarah Janzen clan) grandfather’s grave stone around 1970. The step-Janzen family never made an effort to get to know Nicholai Janzen’s family. I never met my grandfather Janzen.

The Nicholai Janzen family immigrated to Paraguay but never forgave their father for deserting them in China. My father at the age of about 75 visited Paraguay and found his family living in poverty in primitive villages.


The Bench


Ed Janzen is the editor and publisher of CANADIAN STORIES, a literary folk magazine that publishes short stories and poems from Canadian writers of every province of Canada. Story Quilt is an electronic magazine similar in content. Ed has written four memoirs. He also writes for the old car hobby and has a column in OLD AUTOS - a biweekly newspaper featuring mostly Canadians events and automotive history.
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