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Blog: Rae Looks Again

Updated: Nov 24, 2018

August, 2018


Woody and I are on our way by train to Switzerland. We flew into Frankfurt and immediately took a train from the airport to visit Freiburg, in southwest Germany, where niece Sarah Richen Jordan played professional basketball for the Freiburg Eis Vogel or Ice Birds. We wanted to see the town where she lived, played ball and enjoyed friendships.

Our train ride from Frankfurt to Freiburg, Germany has been smooth, except for a mix-up about which train car held our reserved seats. That was soon worked out by the train staff. Each train car has a number on the outside. We just didn’t know how to spot that number. The train system in Frankfurt, and many places in Germany, has signs at each north or southbound track telling you where train car 38 should be when it stops in the station. Our 38 was intended to be in the middle of the train near the sign D on the platform. Indeed, it was right by the D, but we didn’t know it. So we hopped on the car that might be correct. The train took off. We made a mistake in the car, but not in the train and direction.

Swiss-built white train with red strip, Very sleek.
Sleek trains are the common denominator of the European Union

So, we ride standing in a full car for a few miles to the Mannheim. By that time, the train staff discovers from our ticket that we should be two cars back, but can’t get there from here because this is really two trains with an engine in between through which we cannot walk. The front half will soon go another way. But there is time to recover from our mistake We exit at Mannheim and walk back two cars. Ta-dah! There are our seats, waiting and welcoming.

Throughout our trip, we find train personnel very helpful. And if the first staffer’s English is not good, and our German too rudimentary, the staffer finds another who might understand our English-Deutch.

“Moment, bitte. Ich suche Amandine fur Englisch.”

Woody and I studied German for several months before this trip, brushing up the ancient studies of high school, and that study already pays off in many places, where people appreciate our efforts. Most Swiss and Germans have learned English, so they save us many mistakes and add useful words to our vocabulary.

We arrive safely in Freiburg, cross the street to the 1996 Konzerthaus, and, next door, our hotel. From our room, we have a view of main street and all the trains coming into town. The area is fresh and busy.

Clean up after the Farmers’ Market is what Mom would call “cleaned to the last dust bunny”.

Freiburg has a daily farmers’ market and craft fair each morning in the plaza at the foot of its beautiful gothic Minster. We enjoy lunch and coffee in a restaurant overlooking the action of the market, including the extremely neat clean-up by each farmer after the one o’clock close of the business day. No one seemed to think “Heck I’ll get that piece of garlic when I return in the morning.” No sirree, that garlic and any lettuce bits are cleaned up today. Tomorrow starts fresh.

This cleanliness habit certainly reminds me of many Richen family members. I feel I know that person with the broom and the dust pan.

Freiburg also is our introduction to Europe’s whizzing bicycle culture. A few bike riders will signal their approach with a bell, but, pedestrians must watch out for bicycles. Pedestrians must stay in the two feet on their side of the path. Bikes have the adjacent wider path with the international symbol for bike printed every fifty feet. On major thoroughfares, cars are not close to the bikes until a bicyclist must cross a street or turn across an intersection.

Bike/pedestrian bridge (next bridge downstream was for lightrail, busses, cars and pedestrians)

Bike helmets can be seen on one out of fifteen bicyclists, so we hope that they are as safe as they imagine. Must admit that we didn’t see many bike riders over forty. Do they die off or take up other modes of transport? Across from our hotel is a bridge dedicated to bicyclists and pedestrians. At its far end, in the newer part of town, is a bicycle garage. Pay a Euro, park your bike in a locked situation.

Outer wall of three level bike garage. Bikers can buy monthly, daily or annual passes to park inside. There were hundreds of bikes inside when we by at ten in the morning.

In Freiburg, we begin noticing what is available for the homeless, so I begin researching solutions to homelessness as we moved about on our trip. I will write about our discoveries in a future blog as we end our tour.

Several times, we cross a square where there is a lovely fountain that marks the foundation foot print of a synagogue that was burned on Kristallnacht, the Night of Broken Glass, the nationwide pogroms against the Jews in November 9-10, 1938. Its moving water is nearly silent. Neither of us takes a photo, but both of us remember its impact. Children are not playing in this fountain, though we understand they sometimes do so. It is a solemn memorial. Nearby, in the same square, is an area where children are kicking a soccer ball.

We enjoy our visit to Freiburg, and know that even though we walked a lot, we have only begun to see this city.

Updated: Jul 3, 2019

by Rae Richen

Ruth Bader Ginsburg, My Own Words, with Mary Hartnett and Wendy W. Williams

As with many reviewers in Amazon, I bought Justice Ginsburg’s My Own Words thinking I was getting a biography. Instead, I received a treasure of Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s thoughts about the law, how it works, should work and especially about the reasons why and how the Supreme Court works to keep our Constitution and our Bill of Rights intact and strong during changing times.

The book includes her speeches, legal briefs and law review articles. Some speeches were given on more than one occasion. The legal briefs had many citations. All of this extranea was ably edited, by her law colleagues and long-time friends, Mary Hartnett and Wendy W. Williams.

The citations and articles can be seen on the website,

Justice Ginsburg’s stories about working with other justices are invaluable views into how people who come from very different backgrounds can build on the ideas they share and create friendship, support, and the ability to hear each other clearly, despite deep divides in interpretation of the law.

Her tribute for Chief Justice Rehnquist gives us all a view into how one justice can create an atmosphere of collegiality among such disparate legal minds. Her tributes to Justice Scalia and to the women of the court are gold mines of information on how people can work together.

Our country needs to see this collegiality more and more. We need to get beyond the hatreds and fears that divide us, learn to listen to each other and understand our neighbors. The Supreme Court has worked very hard at this, and Ruth Bader Ginsburg shows us how it can be done.

Plus, there are all those discussions of the history of court and its work in balancing the other two major parts of our government.

What a treasure trove of historical and personal relationship information this book is! I highly recommend it to any who want to learn from Justice Ginsburg’s experiences.

Access to book here:

Updated: Jul 3, 2019

Sketches of a Black Cat: Story of a night flying WWII pilot and artist
Sketches of a Black Cat: Story of a night flying WWII pilot and artist

by Rae Richen

Ron Miner has done a great favor for readers interested in the Second World War or in flying.

His father, Howard Miner was an artist who joined the US Navy Air Corp.

Ron has given us his father’s collected journal accounts, photographs and drawings from his service in the Pacific theater of the war.

He kept the original straight-forward and fast-paced writing style, but interjected information that was missing with the same storytelling and immediate feel.

The second edition includes much more information from the other fliers who knew his father and flew the same and similar missions. We can imagine that the interviews were cathartic for both interviewer and interviewee...

Howard and his pilot buddies were members of VP-54, the Black Cat squadron of PBY amphibious aircraft. Their planes, painted black, flew at night without lights to scout enemy positions, rescue downed pilots and communicated Japanese fleet and air strip positions to US fighters and bombers.  

Ron and Howard Miner’s history includes flight training, descriptions of the different airplanes used, learning about the Pacific island world, and harrowing accounts of battles and rescues aided by the Pacific Islanders.

The drawings and photographs add wonderful immediacy to the story of this harrowing experience.

A fine read. A treasure to historians. A must for libraries and universities as well as the home reader.

My review on Goodreads:


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