This website and Solid Rock Enterprises, Inc. is dedicated to the memory of Susanna Baur Moore 1923-2010. Her overcoming attitude and boundless energy were an inspiration to everyone who knew her.
Chapter 1. BEGINNINGS
I am a native-born German. My birthplace is Rangendingen, which is located in Baden-Wurttenberg, and is also called the Black Forest. It is in southern Germany near Lake Constance, which separates Germany, Austria, and Switzerland. My mother’s name was Hedwig Seelenbinder and my father’s name was Fridolin Baur. My maiden name was Susanne Baur.
Chapter 2. THE ARTIST COLONY
When I was a small child, our parents took us to live in another small town near Berlin. We all had to get used to living in northern Germany: it was a different climate, different food, and the people spoke with different accents. We had to make new friends, and this was not always easy for us kids. But my parents liked living here because they were both sculptors. and this was an artists’ colony There were lots of kids living there about our age, and soon we knew all the other families and made many new friends. We were exposed to many fine art forms, including spinning and weaving.
We lived here from 1925 to 1933 and then moved again. I think it was about my father’s profession. He was often without work and many times there was no money coming in.
CHAPTER 3. GRANDMOTHER’S HOUSE
My Uncle “Rulle” was a doctor and he had a big car to visit his country patients. He came with our cousins and our whole family got in the car with them (four children and our two parents) We drove over the hills, through the woods, to grandmother’s house. We sang German folk songs along the way.
My grandma was the best cook! I can still taste the “roladen” (rolled up meat with gravy), the mashed potatoes, and vegetables fresh from the garden. For dessert we had apple strudel, and café. Also we kids got fresh milk from the neighbor’s cow, and cookies, too. Yum! And after dinner there were lots of exciting games to play.
Grandmother’s house was in a small town across from the church. In the past, the minister had a house with a barn and stables, and a wagon, that now belonged to my grandmother. We children played like we had horses and wagons and were traveling around the country. We played in the barn, too, pretending we had horses and other farm animals.
Grandma told us to go outside and pick some nuts and apples. There was a special tree with German (Boskop) apples and also an English walnut tree.
These were my happiest times, and I wished they would never end!
Chapter 4. MY FATHER
My father met my mother in a very great artist school in Stuttgart/Wurttenberg, Germany. My mother came from the very northeastern part of Germany called Ostpreusser ( on the Polish and Russian border); while my father came from the very southern part of Germany in the Lake Constance area. My parents were both sculptors.
In 1920 they were married and before long there were four children. Times were difficult and my father had a hard time making enough money to support a family with his art. He enjoyed his success with a big statue he finished in 1925, but still times were hard.
When my mother became very sick, my father had to do everything, including making a living, and doing this as an artist was very difficult. He had to be both mother and father to us children, too. It was good that we lived in the artist colony because it was like an extended family and other artists helped to raise children like us in families where there was a need. Later we moved to Berlin, where my father hoped for better times. His working conditions got better but my mother got even sicker and died. Of course, that was very hard on me.
Eventually, my father married again so he could concentrate on his art. My stepmother had a good profession: she was a secretary, and found a good-paying job, which was good for the family. Since she worked outside the home, we girls had to keep the house clean, cook good meals and wash the laundry. At the time we didn’t like this arrangement, but I see now our stepmother saved the family from drowning!
Chapter 5. “ITCHY FEET”
From 1939 to 1945 the war (World War II) made life very hard for the German people. It has always been hard for me to understand why people kill each other. Everyone suffered, and we had to deal with a lot of hardship. When the end of the war came it was still very depressing: there was no food and there was a pilgrimage by train to the nearby farms to beg for any food. We came prepared to pay for food with silver, fine linens, jewelry and other valuables. It was a long time before things got better.
I went to Austria to study Nursing. In 1942 I graduated from the University of Graz in southern Austria. I then worked as a pediatric nurse in Berlin from 1942 until 1955 when I immigrated to the United States. But how did that happen?
One day I received a letter from my sister Sebastiana to tell me she had exciting news: she was about to be married to a physicist who was “going to America to catch butterflies.” I had no idea what physicists really do, but I knew that they do not go to fetch butterflies except for a hobby. My sister told me that if I wanted to go to America she would be willing to sponsor me. That sounded exciting to me! So I went to the American Consulate in Berlin and applied for immigration to America. I was accepted quickly because I was an RN, a pediatric nurse.
My sister and her husband (Willi Lehmann) had immigrated to the United States two years before. My brother-in-law was hired by Westinghouse while he was in Germany in a university. He and Sebastiana had an easy time coming to this country. Everything was paid for, including the boat trip and a furnished house when they arrived.
And so, I got busy getting ready for the long journey. I had no idea what to take to my new homeland. I packed all the wrong things: a featherbed, warm blankets, wool sweaters. I would find out when I arrived that New York was very hot and these things I did not need!
(Later when I moved to Staten Island which was cooler than downtown New York, I spent many hours riding the ferry back and forth from Manhatten where I worked, just to cool off.)
Chapter 6. THE PASSAGE
I left Germany April 1, 1955, when I was 30 years old.. From my home town of Berlin I took a plane to Hamburg. This was my first time in an airplane and it was a scary experience. When the steward closed the doors, it was frightening. My heart began to race. I broke out in a sweat. I had claustrophobic sensations. I ordered a cocktail and talking to the steward made me feel better. He told me to watch the movie they were about to show and that got me comfortable until we landed in Hamburg. Now I had to find the ocean liner that would take me to America. My excitement was very high and I wondered if I would ever find the right boat. But I reasoned, I have my ticket, so I should trust myself to find the right pier. I was surprised at how many boats were at the piers going to so many different places in the world. It was so confusing, but after a while I found the right boat, The Italia, an Italian ocean liner that was going to take me to America!
I had never imagined what it would be like on an ocean liner. I had never been on one before, and I was amazed over all the wonderful places on this big ship. There were three large dining areas, several living areas complete with television and music on each deck, all very comfortable. There were indoor swimming pools plus a gym. “How unusual,” I thought. We had plenty of opportunity to get exercise, also, we could walk on the deck. It was simply fantastic, just like a city on the sea. There were also a kindergarten, and of course a doctor on board. I had lived in Berlin and seen many things, but this was all so different!
There were many passengers. Some amused themselves playing bingo, or watching TV in their rooms. There was other entertainment, but I preferred to sit on a lounge chair on deck to enjoy the sunshine or talk with other passengers. I was always most interested in learning about people from other cultures. (I also have always had a great love for children, so I enjoyed those who were on the ship).
The passage took eleven days and on the sixth day at sea there was a storm and many people got seasick. Many did not show themselves for breakfast, and I was glad I was not one of them. It helped me to help take care of the sick ones, wherever help was needed.
Chapter 7. NEW YORK, NEW YORK
At the dock in New York there were more than 100 people waiting for us. I was hoping one of them was waiting for me, hopefully my sister. But instead a stranger walked up and said, “So you are Susie Baur.” It turned out to be my sister’s husband, whom I had never met before. I felt better that someone was there to meet me, as it would be terrible to get to a strange city and not have anyone expecting you.
I must tell something of my impressions of New York. I felt like a country girl coming from a tiny town in Germany to the big country of America. I had lived in Berlin and seen a lot, but this was all so very different! For example, the language . I had taken English in night school in Germany but could not have a conversation with an American in English. The foods were so different, too.
I had lots of determination. I said, “Here is where I wanted to come, so I’ll make the best of it. I’ll work, get a job (which wasn’t going to be easy at all). But first I had to find a place to live.
Chapter 8. SETTLING IN
I found my way to six hospitals looking for work but there were no jobs. Then I got to the seventh one, and I found some kind people there. Lenox Hill Hospital offered me a job as a scrub technician. This was my lucky day! I met a German nurse there who asked me, “You’re just brand new here, do you have a place to live?” I said, “No, I don’t know anything.” So she said, “I’m living in a brownstone house, the landlady is from Hungary, and all the women living there are German nurses. Why don’t you move in with us?” Oh, how wonderful, I thought, and I suddenly felt much better. This all seemed so unbelievable. So I moved into a safe haven it was like being on a safe island in the middle of big, big New York.
To go back a minute to my job. I went to all the hospitals in New York City in hopes of acquiring a position as a pediatric RN or any nursing position. I found out that without a New York license I would not be able to work as a nurse so took the job at Lenox Hospital. I began as a blood bank technician, I learned to draw blood and did it from early morning to late at night. My work as a scrub technician was drawing blood, doing blood tests, doing blood counts and EKG’s and several other tests. I found with my nurses’ training I could do many other things besides nursing. But after three years without any free time I thought “It would be very nice to have just a little vacation.”
I ate a lot of healthy food, and one day I found a magazine in a health food store with an ad for the Papaya Health Resort in a town near Guadalajara, Mexico. And I thought, “This might be just for me; so I applied to go there.
Chapter 9. VIVA LA MEXICO!
I was accepted to the Papaya Health Resort and soon bought my ticket for the airplane and flew from New York to Los Angeles and then to Guadalajara.
Before I knew it I was there. It was another new world. I loved Mexico and the people right away. I had to learn Spanish because I couldn’t get along without it – the people spoke so fast I couldn’t understand a word. So I attended a very famous school, the Mexican-American Institute. Here Mexicans came to learn English, and Americans came to learn Spanish.
I learned many new things here besides the language: about hot springs, cactus and different tropical plants; and the Spanish and Mexican cultures. I also made many new friends. There were some other young women who worked at a bank and they invited me to join them at parties. It was such fun!
Every six months I had to report to the Mexican-American border and show my passport, because I was still a German citizen. I rode the buses to do this, which was another experience. Whole families would ride the bus, with all kinds of belongings including chickens and chicken cages.
Chapter 10. OLD TUCSON
I had read an ad in the newspaper in New York for a governess. When I called the man said he was an author who also needed someone who could type. He told me to look him up if I ever reached Tucson. Then one day I rode the bus from Guadalajara to Tucson, Arizona. I discovered I still had the ad with me, and from the hotel where I was staying I called. The family still needed a governess for their eight-year-old daughter. It was like a miracle! I met with him and he asked if I’d like to have the job. I said, “I’d sure like to try!” So I went to work for the author and his family.
Their home was on East Speedway and I was furnished with a car as part of my pay, a Carmen Ghia! I was certainly happy to have this luxury!
The first morning I lived there the little girl came to my door and said, “Susannah, wake up quick! It’s snowing! Can we make a snowman?” I thought this was a good idea , so we did, and it was wonderful! Yes, everything here was going to be to my enjoyment.
Chapter 11. ROMANCE
After about six months I decided to go to a hospital and try for a job as a nurse. When I arrived at St. Mary’s Hospital I was met by a German orderly who asked, “You’re just newly applying? That’s wonderful! I’ll take you to Mother Superior.” He bragged to her about my license and training in Germany, and she took me right away. I got a job as a scrub nurse for deliveries in the OB-GYN Department. I’m so much in love with children and babies, so I loved this job – in fact, it was the best job I ever had!
In the meanwhile, I wanted to meet new friends. I also thought I could refresh my Spanish a little bit. I was very good talking to people in the street or in the store, but it wouldn’t hurt to get better at it. So in my spare time I went to the YMCA and joined the Spanish Club. I remember the teacher said, “We’d love to have you in the Advanced Spanish class!”
There was a young man attending the class who was very interested right away (in Spanish, too!). His name was Stewart. The teacher told him, “There’s a very nice young German girl in the class – you’d better come and look her over.” So Stewart and I became good friends first and later fell in love.
We did all sorts of things together, and didn’t really study much Spanish. I especially remember going to Mt. Lemmon.
After a while, Stewart asked me to marry him – another new thing in my life! And I thought, “I never accomplished this in my own country, so why not try it here?”
Stewart’s mother lived alone and far away and couldn’t come to our wedding; and my parents were dead, so we got married by ourselves. Our Spanish teacher was also a Methodist minister so he married us. And I had met a lot of German people and they arranged a nice reception for us with food, and one girl came with a camera and took pictures.
Stewart had a place to live and I had a place to live, so we looked around and found an apartment, and after a year, I had a baby. She was delivered at St. Mary’s Hospital. Soon afterward we found a better place to live, a wonderful little rented house in Tucson. It had green grass in front and a swamp cooler – very comfortable.. Our lives were gloriously happy!
One day my little baby got sick all of a sudden and I thought, “My goodness, she must have picked up something at the hospital.” Because of my education about babies, I remembered what to do: I cooked carrots, strained them, put them in a bottle, and fed it to my daughter. Sure enough, she got better. I was nursing her at the time, and it was discovered my milk was too fat, which was the cause of the problem.
Stewart had no job, no money, but I didn’t care, and I was working at the hospital. If I had a father behind me he would have said, “What? No job? No money? What’s this?” He was a poor man but I married him anyway. I was in love!
We lived in Tucson about two years and things were going beautifully. We had our cute little house, our wonderful baby, and Stewart had a job working in a nursery. Then just when all was good, we received a letter from my mother-in-law. She said, “Oh please, come home (to Virginia) – I need you here!” Her husband had died not too long ago and she needed help because she lived alone on a sheep farm. My husband said, “We better go.” I didn’t know what to expect, but I knew I had to go along. And so began another adventure.
Chapter 12. SHENANDOAH VALLEY
We traveled from one side of the country to the other, with a little newborn baby. Thank goodness I was nursing, so I didn’t have to prepare any bottles or formula for the baby. We drove and drove and it seemed like forever. We stayed nights in motels. Finally, I asked, “Where are we now?” And we had just entered the state of Virginia.
There was snow and ice everywhere – shocking! There was six inches when we finally got to my husband’s mother’s sheep farm, and I didn’t like it at all. Being with my mother-in-law in the same house, that didn’t work out at all. She would ask, “What did you do? Why did you do it?” My own mother was so easy going, so wonderful…Stewart thought we’d get along eventually.
My mother-in-law smoked all day long, and I was supposed to give up smoking. I couldn’t even open a window because … “We can’t do that, the house will get cold.” I was so upset over the whole thing. And the snow, and no friends, I didn’t know what to do. So Stewart took me to his church, which was Presbyterian, and I wasn’t really happy there, either. I was really just plain unhappy. “What can I do?” I thought. I finally got used to it, but it was never really good.
Finally, my mother-in-law said, “I’ll move over to the other house.” (Because it was a big farm, they had tenant houses.) I thought, “Well, that’s a blessing, at least something to look forward to!”
The move went great. The tenant house was fixed up perfectly for one person, with a nice living room downstairs and a porch, and upstairs a bedroom and one bath.
One day my husband said, “You probably want another child, and not to raise one alone.” I didn’t yet see any glory in that, but he persuaded me and we had our second child. We had a boy this time. When my labor started I asked Stewart, “What shall we do now?” We started counting my contractions, called the doctor and he said to wait awhile. (The hospital was in another town, ten miles away.) The doctor said to wait until the contractions were five minutes apart. Suddenly, I knew it was time: I could feel the contractions every minute. Stewart packed me into the back of a Volkswagen “bug” and I thought for sure I’d have the baby in that tiny, crowded space.
We got to the hospital at the last minute and I asked, “Where’s my husband, I want him with me!?” The doctor wasn’t there either and I was very upset. They put me in the delivery room and put a mask over my face. I couldn’t stand the mask and was fighting it. I couldn’t talk, and they strapped me down. But luckily, that baby came very fast! And so began our son’s life.
I remember when spring came to the Shenandoah Valley, what a comparison a desert. I said to Stewart, “Look the trees are so green!” The grazing meadows with the sheep was very nice and I always thought the scene would be fun to paint. But it wasn’t until I came back to Arizona after 40 years I began to paint the desert scenery.
Chapter 13. THE SHEEP FARM
In the winter in the Shenandoah Valley I didn’t want to go outside. I’m scared of falling in the snow! But when the snow melted in the spring, I began to enjoy the farm. Underneath the snow I found beautiful green meadows. The farm was very big, 200 acres, with a wooded area and a creek running along one side.
Stewart had invested in sheep when we got there, so now we had 30 sheep, and that was a lot to take care of. When people would say, “Isn’t it nice to have little pet sheep?” I would reply, “These are not pets, this is a sheep farm!”
It was lots of work. In the spring, my husband delivered the babies for the ewes, so we had little newborn lambs. I had to go out and help feed them. Sometimes the mother sheep don’t accept their babies, especially when they have two or three. So we had to feed them with a bottle. And, sometimes, the shivery little things got cold and we had to keep them in the “nursery” in the barn under a heat lamp, or even take them into the kitchen and pamper them in a warm box. I was upset sometimes over these little lambs, because I fed them and then two days later they died. They get pneumonia very easily and die very fast. That was sad.
I got to like the farm better and better. When the neighbor said, “I have to go out and pick a bushel of peas and can them, “ I asked, “A bushel, how much is a bushel?” I didn’t believe they picked that much and put it up all in one day. I didn’t possibly see myself doing this all in one day, but I did!
Stewart planted a big vegetable garden and he didn’t think I needed to deal with it but I was putting a lot in the freezer for winter I also canned tomatoes.
With spring comes the sheep shearer. He can shear up to 100 sheep a day and his pay is $1.00 per sheep. He usually uses this money for his vacation or starting a new business. The wool was put into a big sack. We started with 30 sheep but later had 100 sheep. I had to figure out how to make more money from this wool: it was selling for .$ .20 per pound and I thought I will do better than that.
I then asked myself, “What else can I do to be useful on the farm?” I remembered living in an artist colony as a child and seeing weaving and spinning galleries. I thought I’d love to learn that. So I went to a seminar there in Virginia where I learned the whole process: The wool must be washed in five different containers; then hung on the fence to dry in the sunshine. I also learned how to “card” the wool by hand (and later had a drum carder which I didn’t like at all). Then the wool can then be dyed with natural herbs, such as marigold, onion skin, or walnut.
To this day I still work with wool and spin, dye, and weave it, and make felt, too. I was so happy to have the knowledge I gained while living in the Shenandoah Valley and brought it back with me when we returned to Arizona, 40 years later. We had named our business in Virginia “Goose Creek Sheep Farm” and still use that name today.
Chapter 14. THE FRONTIER MUSEUM
Many people from Ireland, England, and Germany had settled in the Shenandoah Valley in Virginia due to the famine in Europe following the War. Queen Anne of England sent many people to Virginia, both English and German. These settlers came to the Shenandoah Valley first, (in the early 1700’s) and later to other places like the Ohio Valley.
A museum (the Frontier Museum) was established here. One day an ad appeared in the paper that said hey were looking for native German people to work in the museum and be interpreters of the German culture, how they ate, dressed, lived. I applied and got the job.
The farms were brought to the museum from Germany. The buildings were disassembled first piece by piece (they were adobe) and then reassembled in America. We even watched them rebuild the farms.
The farm had chickens, pigs, cows, and a barn. We had to explain both the farming and the old-fashioned cooking. I found at least one thing my own grandmother used to cook! We wore authentic German costumes and we had to sew them ourselves, by hand.
The museum staff was instructed in how the early Germans gardened, cooked, and did all things necessary to keep up the farm and household.. We were taught all cultural details especially the ethnic cooking, which was not easy in these circumstances. I also did spinning here.
When we needed to cook, we cooked on a large rock stove and sat our cooking pots on a “trivet.” We also had to start fires for cooking from tiny pieces of kindling, to get fires going to heat the “trivets.” It was all very primitive and authentic.
The Mennonites were very interesting people who settled in these areas, too. They had very big farms and did a lot of quilting. They dressed all in black and rode in horse-drawn carts, so it was always easy to tell who they were. They made everything by hand. They had their own church, school, and warehouses full of home-grown produce and cheese. They started little stores and sold chocolate candies; and baked goods; and cheeses. It was like today’s farmer’s markets, with all kinds of produce. They also had nursery schools for children.
The Mennonite farmers did everything by hand: They plowed, harvested, chopped wood; and did spinning and weaving. The women sewed all the garments by hand, so each child usually had only one thing to wear. And even little children when they were three years old worked on the drop spindle. All worked very hard.
Sometimes there were “lantern tours” given at night. These were extra nice. Everyone carried lanterns and walked together to see the crafts demonstrated in the dark.
Eventually the Museum added an American farm, too.
We had to wear a uniform which we stitched by hand.. One Year I was in a newspaper article; and I had my own little booth.
Once a year the Museum held a Fall Festival and everyone was invited to demonstrate arts and crafts.
Every year for the 4th of July the Statler Brothers performed in the nearby town of Staunton. People came in caravans from all over the United States to celebrate the Holiday They also brought home-grown plants and produce, like a Farmer’s Market. I would show the inside and outside of the German farm home to the visitors who came to the Frontier Museum.
I worked at the Museum for more than one year. My main job was to interpret for the visitors, who came from all over the country. I loved being surrounded by all the people. A television station came and did a tape of my presentation of the German Christmas tree
Chapter 15. A TAPESTRY WOVEN
Elizabeth Kubler-Ross had a farm not too far from ours in Virginia. She also raised sheep. One time a friend came over to my house and asked, “Would you like to meet Elizabeth Kubler-Ross?” I said, “Who’s she?” Then the she explained that Elizabeth was a world-famous author and lecturer so I said, “Yes, of course.” (When I learned how important she was, I thought she would think of me as a little flea, but we became friends). So I went to her house. Elizabeth told me to “…Bring your spinning wheel along, I’d like to learn how to spin.” I did, and I taught her spinning on a drop spindle. Then my husband also taught her to knit on a knitting machine.
Elizabeth Kubler-Ross lived way out in the country in a beautiful house she helped to build. She had a barn and sheep; that’s why she was interested in learning about spinning and weaving. She also had a St. Bernard dog.
She took us to her garden, and it was wonderful. She had her whole heart in this home. She wanted to start a home for children with AIDS and her neighbors were all against it; they were afraid of getting AIDS People from all over the world sent her toys for these children – she had a room full of them. But she said, “These don’t do me any good here,” so she opened up a store and sold them, thinking the money might do the kids more good than the toys. I bought one of them because I liked it so much.
Elizabeth Kubler-Ross went all over the world and gave lectures on death and dying, and people came to her if they had problems with dying children or relatives or friends. She went to Switzerland once, and when she arrived home to the airport she was met by a friend who told her, “Don’t go home!” She said, “Why shouldn’t’ I go home? I love my home, especially now that I’m tired from my trip.” The friend said, “There is a big disappointment there.” But Elizabeth went home, and what a disappointment! She found her home that she helped to build had burned down to the ground. It was never determined how it happened, but she had a big hired staff, and also all the neighbors were against her having a home for AIDS children that she had planned to have.
Her son in Phoenix asked her to come to his house and stay. Elizabeth’s two children supported her but her husband left, he didn’t want to get involved in everything. And, she was so independent.
I tried to contact Elizabeth Kubler-Ross when we returned to Arizona (Green Valley) but she had several serious health problems, she had had a stroke. She couldn’t understand her own illness and had a hard time dealing with it. She had contact with one woman friend in Green Valley, and this friend told me Elizabeth had taken a boat trip for people who want to be healed, but, she had removed herself from society and was very bitter. I really don’t know where she is or what she is doing now.
Chapter 16. RETURN TO ARIZONA
After 40 years of living in Virginia, I was homesick for the Southwest. I had nothing in common with the farmers there; and my children also had difficulty adjusting. And so, we decided to return to Tucson, because we remembered how beautiful it was. But it was so changed, so built up, it just wasn’t the same.
We moved to Green Valley, Arizona in 1998. Stewart and I both volunteered in several different places. We worked in the Matchmaker Program, an after-school program for children that included computers, gardening, arts, etc. We taught spinning and weaving to the children. This was through the public school system and the children were bussed to the old Continental School.
While we were still in Virginia I taught beginning German and how to make sock dolls to home-school children. I love to spin, and demonstrate spinning at the Farmer’s Market on Saturdays in Amado, just south of Green Valley. My first love is, and has always been, children and teaching them.