As I Remember

As I Remember

As I Remember

As I Remember

Excerpt

The one memory I retain of my early childhood in Berlin is of a doll with red hair. I can see her plainly as she reposed in my arms when I sat on the sofa in the drawing room of my grandfather's house. It was not her blue eyes or her pink dress which held me, but her radiant hair. Such was her effect upon me that red hair has always fascinated me. Even today my friends tease me because of the way my eyes kindle when I see it.

At the time when I was born, my father, Hermann Genthe, was professor of Latin and Greek at the Graues Kloster (Gray Monastery) in Berlin, one of the oldest gymnasiums in Prussia. I was not yet three when in the summer of 1871 my father was called to Frankfort-on-the-Main. My first recollection there is of a bronze cat on his library desk. When I was taken in to say goodnight, if I had been a good boy, I was lifted up and allowed to pet "Moepe" who had been named after my grandfather's cat. This was the beginning of my love for cats. It is told that at the age of four, when I was taken by the nurse to look at my newly arrived brother Hugo, I seriously remarked, "I'd like a little kitten better." I am fond of dogs, but cats have always meant more to me, and they have been the wise and sympathetic companions of many a solitary hour.

A third preference of mine also goes back to Frankfort. Not far from where we lived was the Baron Erlanger's estate where he kept a stable of fine horses. Often, when my grandmother took me out walking, we would go there. These visits were forbidden by my mother, but I could always wheedle Grandmother into letting me have my way. I used to wander from stall to stall petting the horses, and I still have a sense of the smoothness of their glossy coats and the fragrance of the well-kept stables.

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