Corkscrews in Germany

Between Bangkok and Ballooning

September 2000

Corkscrew Time

Sunday, September 10, 2000

These midnight flights out of Bangkok are so convenient; coming to Europe, that is. [Going to the USA is an entirely different pack of cards: they leave at a ridiculously early hour.] Anyway, Thai's Trans-Asian 'sleeper' is just that: a dozen hours in the sky sandwiched between a late, late dinner and an early breakfast ... the extra hours are thanks to the five time zones through which we pass.

Studying Corkscrew Data

Our Bangkok to Munich flight started with a pre-flight nightcap in Thai's lounge.

Followed by dinner on board.

Followed by Watcharee reading up on corkscrews.

"But, what are these things, Alf?"

"You'll see."

This was Watcharee's third airplane flight ... in her whole life ... her first two were earlier this summer when we flew from Bangkok to Paris and then back to Bangkok.

Her fourth flight was aboard a Lufthansa 737 (Business Class) from Munich to Berlin.

"Oh ... so small!"

Tonight and tomorrow night we'll be at The Ritz-Carlton Schlosshotel in Berlin. Its owners describe it as:

Originally built as a private palace in 1912, The Ritz-Carlton Schlosshotel, Berlin preserves the stately dignity of a European Grand Hotel. Meticulously restored under the artistic direction of world-famous fashion designer Karl Lagerfeld, The Ritz-Carlton Schlosshotel, Berlin retains the grandeur of its imperial beginnings. Featuring state-of-the-art conveniences necessary for our guests' comfort, this hotel combines modern sensibilities with an elegant historic ambience - and makes every guest feel exalted.

With only 54 guest rooms, I think that the ICCA controls the place for the next two nights. Some readers will already be familiar with the ICCA ... as we were in Philadelphia together last year; before that, London; before that: France. Anyway, it stands for The International Correspondence of Corkscrew Addicts. This year, 2000, our forum is in Germany.

The list of participants for Bottle Scrue 2000 are:


Monday, September 11, 2000

NEWNES is packed away in my other suitcase. Wescott is smothering at home in Bangkok. The former will reappear tomorrow when we reach the Hotel Wartburg Eisenach in Thuringia. The latter will remained buried until our return to The Oriental on the 27th. That said, one last ministerial detail:

Each day between now and the 17th I'll post the "program" for the day ... the program designed by our German masters. They have done a brilliant job in ensuring that Bottle Scrue 2000 will be one our very best AGMs.

For today:

Monday, 11. 09. 2000

Arrival in Berlin. Take a Taxi (15 minutes) to the Ritz-Carlton Schlosshotel, Brahmsstrasse 10, D-14193 Berlin-Grunewald, Tel. +49-(0)30 895840

(Rooms are available from Sept. 8th for a special weekend rate of DM 495 incl. Breakfast - please make your own weekend reservation at Berlin's No. 1 Hotel or anywhere else)

19.00 Right's reception in the "Le Tire Bouchon" - Bar

20.00 Dinner in the Vivaldi Restaurant (Musik - und Spiegelzimmer)

Out Our WindowLast night Watcharee and I had dinner in the hotel's garden restaurant. Though half a dozen or so "addicts" had already checked into the hotel ... and had planned a mini group-dinner ... we ate by ourselves as we had inadvertently slept through the departure time for the group meal.

We are in room #50. It is located on the top floor of the hotel ... this was, once-upon-a-time, the attic in this at-one-time mansion. The view from our window is of one of the chimneys ... "backgrounded" by trees. The brochure picture hides our room in the mansard style roof.

This morning Watcharee and I walked from our hotel to the Kurfurstendamn. WatchareeThe Kurfurstendamn is the main 'happening' street of Berlin. When I first visited Berlin as a student in 1969 the street was one of the main gathering points for disenchanted youths of the 60's. Rather like the Sorbonne area of Paris at about that time, it was a scene for clashes, both cultural and real, between the generation that 'knew' World War II and the people who were born in its wake. But, it had the added complication of being a 'beacon' or a 'hole' (depending, of course, on whether you were 'west' or 'east') in the Soviet sphere.

Yesterday The Berlin Marathon 2000 was run ... it went through all sections of the city. Almost twenty years ago I ran in the first (or was it the second?) Berlin Marathon. In 1981 the race started on the free side of the Brandenburg Gate (in the Tiergarten) and finished in front of the bombed ruins of the Kaiser Wilhelm Cathedral. I think it still finishes there. And the cathedral has been preserved in its ruined state as a reminder of the 1939-45 War.

Now, in front of the Cathedral, there is another but more recent reminder of Berlin's confused past. This tiny sliver from the 'wall' still flashes a mocking glance away from its East German builders.

For lunch we chose a Thai restaurant just down the street from the Kempenski Hotel ... but, we saved the desert for an Argentine steak house just off the Europa Centre. Green curry chicken in the former ... ice cream later on.

When we returned to our hotel late breaking news awaited us:

No. 1/2000
September 11th, 2000

Welcome to all ICCA addicts and go-withs at the Ritz-Carlton Schlosshotel Berlin - have a good time, a lot of fun and enjoy our unique association


Today, Monday, September 11th, 2000, this years' Annual Meeting will start at 19.00 hours in the "Le Tire Bouchon" bar with the "Right's Reception." Tie and jacket is proposed. At 20.00 hours we will have dinner in the Vivaldi restaurant opposite the bar.


During the week preferably German wines will be served from the eleven German wine districts in connection with all dinners and lunches (Baden, Wurttemberg, Pfalz, Rheinhessen, Rheingau, Franken, Nahe, Rhein, Mosel-Saar-Ruwer, Ahr, Saale-Unstrut-Elbe). For the Gala-Dinner on Saturday addict Adolpho Rosque has sent 12 bottles of 1994 Vale Barqueriros from Portugal (one bottle being for tasting by the organization committee).


Tomorrow, Tuesday, September 12th, the bus leaves at 9.00 hours for the reception of Manfred Heckmann and a sightseeing-tour through Berlin. Please put your luggage before 8.30 hours in front of your room - labeled with your room number of the Wartburg hotel, the labels to be found in your BERLIN bag. The luggage will be carried down to the bus. Before entering the bus please check any piece which will be loaded into the bus. We will not return to the Hotel before leaving Berlin for the Wartburg.


You may have realized that the editor of the Bottle Scrue Year book has used photographs of Ken Hark also for those members (Richard Dennis) who did not send their photos in time. This does not mean that Ken is an honorary member now (being no longer obligated to pay his annual fees), nor that Richard Dennis looks similar to Ken. The editor also apologizes for all other mistakes and mix-ups, i.e. in exchanging Fred and Sue O'Leary with Fred and Jackie Kincaid - together with Barry and Martha Taylor.


In connection with the inauguration of the Wartburg as a UNESCO world heritage monument on Friday, September 15th, Deutsche Welle TV - the worldwide German Government TV - has planned to follow ICCA addicts and go-withs on their tour through the Wartburg on Wednesday, September 13th. Hessenschau, the regional TV for the state of Hessia will join the ICCA members when touring the Monopol factory in Marburg on Friday, September 15th - keep smiling and well dressed.


Today we will have some clouds and one or another shower in Berlin. The temperature will be above 20 Celsius - around 70 Fahrenheit. The weather improves when we are going southwards from tomorrow probably until the end of the week with more sun and higher temperatures.

Like wallflowers at a small town high-school prom we hung by the door sipping our conspicuously bright orange juices while everyone else had generous pourings of the best that Madame Bollinger could provide. While the refills made everyone else more and more beautiful our childish beverages only drove us deeper and deeper into the protective shadows of the room: only the near iridescent spots of orange proved that we were there.

So went the Right's Reception.

I really like my Sony Mavica. It does all I want it to do, except take flash photographs. For some curious reason its circuitry is convinced that everything that I want to flash is but inches away; so all that is close to me is bathed in light ... everything else is ignored. So, I have wonderful photographs of the food ... and one good close-up of Howard Luterman.

So went the Gala Right's Dinner.

The drinks are my moan for this evening ... a thread into the next venue. For dinner Watcharee and I switched to a less eye-catching beverage. DessertEveryone else had those wonderful label filling offerings from the Nahe River region of Germany:

The four courses were equally long of consonants and vowels:

[from the International Herald Tribune]
1900: False Alarm

WASHINGTON - A rumor of an attempt to assassinate the President was spread throughout the city. It created considerable excitement until it was discovered that there was nothing more in it than a scene made at the White House by the demand of a Russian woman who had insisted upon seeing the President, and getting him to interfere in some of her fancied wrongs. Her screams excited the President and it was with difficulty that she was removed by the police.

Tuesday, September 12, 2000

From the organizers:

9.00 Departure from Hotel to Manfred Heckmann who is giving a reception and show his corkscrew collection in his antique shop Fasanenstrasse 13.

11.30 Sightseeing Tour "The new German Capital"

13.30 Departure to Thuringia (360 km)

18.00 Arrival Hotel Wartburg Eisenach (Tel. 03691 797-0)

20.00 Dinner Hotel Wartburg (Landgrafenstube)

[from the International Herald Tribune]
1900: Wireless Feat

LONDON - Still more wireless wonders! An exposition on telephone is followed closely by a much more wonderful one. It is a system of wireless telegraphy which distinctly threatens the subject. Herr Rosenberg, the latest rival to Signor Marconi, has invented a system by which the electric current will find you at your club, spring on you at your stall in the theatre, or disturb your repose at sermon time in church. Herr Rosenberg can transmit messages forty miles and more, with the aid, of course of the vertical pole and wire.

He has been in the same location for more than 35 years. I stumbled into his shop in August 1981. It was quite by accident. I was staying at The Kempinski Hotel ... just at the corner of the Kurfurstendamn and some 'strasse,' or other. The 'other' turned out to be Fasanenstrasse. By chance (and, probably while looking for something naughty), I passed a shop with corkscrews in the window ... really old ones ... antiques. At the time I had been a member of the ICCA for only a few years, so my eye was really keen and yet unjaded ... but, still very naïve. Manfred was not behind the counter when I went in ... a woman who spoke no English was there. I pointed to myself and to the display of corkscrews. She figured out what I meant and went to fetch the owner. And that was it!

After that I don't think I saw him again, or his shop ... until today. But, he hosted us this morning at his Fasanenstrasse shop. Yes, the place has changed. But, so have we. If I ever get back to Florida I'll compare these photos with my August 1981 photo album.

Watcharee looked in at the 'flea market' ... but, not for corkscrews.

Before we left Berlin for Wartburg we stopped near the Brandenberg Gate. Within it's shadow lies the last bit of the infamous 'wall' ... as well does the German-Russian Museum. Parts of the building have been left in its immediate post July, 1945 state ... walls pockmarked with bomb shrapnel and decapitated statues being just two reminders of the last days of the Third Reich.

Wednesday, September 13, 2000

NEWNES has been unpacked. Being a sloth with my luggage caused me to miss this important September 12 anniversary:

Since today, the 13th, is so boring in the eyes of NEWNES, I want him to linger a bit longer in Tuesday:

The 13th did see two great Army births: one killed, one cured:

Dearest reader, though displays of ancient German cutlery and a chance to see Martin Luther's rooms were the promised highlights of this morning's tour through Wartburg Castle ... Who Is This Man?though we queued anxiously in the rain for the moment when we could walk through the halls that St. Elisabeth knew so intimately ... though the history of this place was about to unfold before us ... well, all of this was totally eclipsed by the appearance and sudden disappearance of a man who none of us knew. Who is this man? What is his history? If any viewer can identify this man let he or she come forward!

In the photo he is the one standing at the right side ... trying, I think to look official ... he is wearing a burgundy shirt ... also, a black belt. A nametag and a regulation hair cut suggest that he would like others to think that he has nothing to hide. He was born (and worked!) in what was once East Germany. Little else is known of him.

Other things we saw during this morning's walk through the place ... well, they just plain pale by comparison:

  1. A German TV cameraman (just doing his job).
  2. The obligatory "Last Supper" scene (no kangaroos present ... also, only one Christ).
  3. The obligatory Christ on a crucifix (crucifix rotted away ... Christ not much better).
  4. 'Now' (today) 'and then' (in a painting, a long time ago) of an arched door in our castle.
  5. Watcharee looking like a Buddhist had painted her.
  6. A nice head of a man dressed for battle.

Lunch today was orchestrated by our Germans ... Watcharee could find no words in Thai to describe it. But, marching consonants and long vowel strings from The Rights Gala wine labels carried over into the buffet offerings:

After Lunch

Sulze vom Spanferkel und Heringshappen in Zwiebel-Sahne-Sauce (Jellied meat of suckling pig and herring in onion-cream sauce), to be washed down with Juliusspital Silvaner QbA trocken and Chateau La Mourelle rouge Bordeaux AC. Followed swiftly with Schweinenacken in Zwiebelrahmsauce (Neck of pork in cream of onion sauce), to be washed down with more of the same.

After lunch Watcharee had to unbuckle her jeans.

Opps! I forgot to put the horse in front of the cart. The official word for today is (was):

10.00 Visit and Tour through Wartburg, Cutlery Collection, Martin Luther's room etc.

12.30 Lunch Hotel Wartburg, Landgrafenstube.

15.30 Departure for Eisenach, Sightseeing, Joh. Seb. Bach house.

18.00 Organ Concert in Stadtkirche Eisenach St. Georgen.

19.00 Dinner Hotel Kaiserhof Eisenach, Weinrestaurant Turmschanke (Tel 03691 203343)

Opps, again! Watcharee just reminded me that I forgot to post the photo that Bert Giullian took of us after our visit to the Wartburg.

Really Opps!! We thought we were supposed to meet at 3:30. That's what the schedule said. What happened? Oh Lord, we've missed the Bach house.

But, all is not lost. I phoned Mike. He is on the road with CB3. In a little less than three hours the Screwmaids will arrive. We'll try to hitch up with my balloon crew for dinner.


Apparently, even the token traffic on these tiny twisting Thuringian roads slowed Mike's CB3 convoy to near speed-limit speeds. Used to designer designed French auto routes, my British drivers seriously under-judged the gratuitous bends and needless grades that the East Germans had cleverly built into their motor paths. Thinking that invading NATO tanks would be least served by turns and hills, Eric Honniker's road engineers accidentally created ideal picturesque lanes for meandering tourists.

Supportless, we opened the menu.

By now we were used to the strange vowel/consonant combinations ... the loopy fonts with their 'wingding'-like strokes (having the feel of a rich Catholic bible) even looked recognizable, if still unreadable. And, surely, the options offered by the print were focused, and whatever mistakes we made would not be critical; it's not as if we had to choose between elective surgeries or we had to make a hasty read of hotel fire escape routes.

The first scrambled type probably talked of soups and salads; the next went on about pork, beef and chicken; the last must be for sweet things? Right?

We pointed.

We got!

All of it was good.

Thursday, September 14, 2000

The morning part of 'the Program' is mercifully wordy; from lunch onward it reverts to brevity:

9.00 Departure to Steinbach-Hallenberg (corkscrew workshops of Norbert Holland-Cunz, Rainer Usbeck, museum of the former workshop of Ernst and Richard Recknagel with forge in work order, museum Heimathof, (Tel. 036847 41065)

12.30 Lunch in Steinbach-Hallenberg, Restaurant "Bergbaude", Tel. 036847 42891

14.00 Visits to be continued

15.30 Departure to Schmalkalden individual sightseeing (City, Schloss Wilhelmsburg. Ofenplattensammlung, Herrenkuche)

18.00 Return to Hotel Wartburg

20.00 Light Dinner in Hotel Wartburg (Landgrafenstube)

NEWNES, heralding the under-recognized:

'Events' are worthier:

Dear reader, if the fog burns off and if the wind stays still, the Screwmaids will take to the sky sometime after 5PM tonight. This will be the first time that they have flown in Germany. Up to now their overflight territory has been French speaking. My multi-lingual Holy Cards may be useful tonight ... though I am not sure if Lutherans acknowledge the good works of Luceja and Ethelreda.


After a bilious ninety-minute bus ride we reached the town of Steinbach-Hallenberg ... Watcharee and Alfthe home of the unfortunately named firm of Uhren & Schmuck ... but, also the home of the legendary corkscrew workshops of Norbert Holland-Cunz and Rainer Usbeck.

We saw dozens of clever machines that cranked out corkscrews almost non-stop. We saw thousands of raw unfinished corkscrews. We saw little hands making raw corkscrews whole. We saw thousands of whole corkscrews.

Watcharee, understandably, found a Smart car much smarter.


Now it is time for corkscrew ballooning. Mike picked us up in Steinbach-Hallenberg shortly after lunch and we drove back to Wartburg. The balloon was ready.

We flew.

Over highways.

Over trees.

Over fields.

Friday, September 15, 2000 (Battle of Britain Day)

This day made NEWNES' day (after an unusually 'dry' spell in history):

It's fitting that there were some very heavy German births today; not, of course, because it is 'Battle of Britain Day'…well, we ARE in the very heart of Germany, and that is important.

And, their names (for the most part) do sound very German.

The 'events', on the other hand, are quite British (and they 'ring' of the things that the British like to remember):

Somewhat of a mixture of Britain and Germany (though, probably an anniversary neither relishes):

The official 'Program' for today is here for the 'record'. Since CB3 is in town ... and because flying is so dependent upon the weather ... Watcharee and I will not be able to follow it to the letter, if at all.

7.15 Departure to Marburg to visit Wilhelm Usbeck and Monopol factory.

13.30 Lunch Hotel Hohenhaus, Herleshausen (Tel. 05654 9870).

17.00 AGM Wartburg, Jagerzimmer.

19.30 Punchmaster's concoction, Kaminzimmer.

20.30 Dinner, Landgrafenstube, where members of Verein Korkenzieheerfreunde will exhibit German corkscrews.

We ignored everything 'official'. Well, almost everything; in the early evening we visited the official punch bowl ... John Morris prepared the official punch ... which was tasted by the current and former (but, not yet dead)1 official RIGHTS:

But, a couple of hours before this time honored quenching ceremony Watcharee and I took CB3 up for a flight. Several Mavica mini-clips show bits of the inflation process. Each one illustrates a small segment of procedure that we have to go through before we are ready to lift off. The stills were taken from the air.

1 Former holders of the office of RIGHT (but, now cruelly referred to as "DEAD-RIGHTS" if they are dead…though a, d, g and h are surely still alive) are (were):

  1. JUST RIGHT, Brother Timothy Diener
  2. START-RIGHT, Bernard Watney
  3. ALL-RIGHT, Dr. Homer Babbidge
  4. MOR-RIGHT, Donald Morway
  5. NU-RIGHT, Robert P. Nugent
  6. HOW-RIGHT, Perry Howland
  7. SPEND-RIGHT, Richard Dennis
  8. TRY-RIGHT, David Bradshaw

Saturday, September 16, 2000 (Jean Marks' Birthday)

Stormy weather! But really quite lovely.

NEWNES records the passing of two 'men of God' ... without commenting on whether, during life, they shared trade secrets. But, perhaps it goes without saying.

Another name from my days at Boalt:

A seminal moment in British history:

With a nod to the "B" team:

The official 'Program' for today:

10.00 German Corkscrew Exhibition Wartburg, "Show and Tell Session" - Talks by members of ICCA (Watney: My first corkscrew, Paradi: Corkscrew Classification, Kincaid: Corkscrew CDRom, Hark: AGM 2001) and Verein Korkenzieherfreunde, Tagungsraum.

13.00 Buffet Lunch.

14.00 Auction Viewing.

15.30 ICCA Auction.

19.15 Reception, Kaminzimmer.

20.00 Gala Dinner, Wappensaal.

As is my want, I'll deviate from the schedule when necessary. Today is one of those days. Annie and Paul will arrive in Frankfurt at about nine; they flew from Seattle via Cincinnati. Stephani and Robin are expected to arrive in the early afternoon. They left Miami last night.

I made the 10AM meeting ... all of it.

Watcharee and I were late for lunch.

I looked in at the pre-auction viewing.

Now it is time for Paul to take over.

Next: Paul's Scandinavian Journal

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