As with Barbara and Milly, Augie is not the woman’s real name.
The character of Augie is the blending of the lives of two women. The ‘first Augie’ gives a brief glimpse into her mother’s life. It was the 1800’s. Her mother was born into an impoverished farm family. The wealthy land owner’s son offered them food and fuel for the family until the child was of age. The parents did not quite understand this was a bargain. The man returned. When they married, he was in his forties, she twenty. She went on to have eleven children. Not all of them survived. The youngest child, a girl, she named her after herself, Augusta.
Years passed. After Augusta’s siblings left home and after WW11 when Germany was divided into East and West, Augie stayed back to look after her mother. After her mother’s death, she left for West Germany where three of her sisters lived. She found a job, a room of her own, and was her own woman. Augie never married. She once said, “I have choice. My mother never did.” As of this post, Augie is still alive, very elderly and living in a nursing home.
The ‘second Augie’ was a beautiful red-haired young woman. As a child she was the typical white-haired little German girl. When she was around four or five, she became desperately ill with diphtheria and whooping cough and when she recovered her beautiful blond hair was now strawberry blond. As an adult, Augie was a tiny, almost fragile-looking woman. She cleaned houses, worked in gardens, and learned to become a seamstress for well-off women in the village.
She left Germany in 1928 landing in Montreal. She travelled to Windsor to cross the Canadian border into the United States where her sister and brother lived. Her papers were not in order and entry was refused. She could remain in Canada and if there was no sponsor, would be returned to Germany. She arrived with a cardboard suitcase and a few dollars in her purse. A former resident of her village was located and she took her home with her.
Augie’s first couple of jobs in Canada as a housekeeper/maid were lessons hard-learned. She was not well treated and was constantly on call, usually sharing a room with a child and eating leftovers. Augie finally found a placement where she was truly valued and stayed there for ten years.
Later in her life, Augie met a German man, moved to his city and married him. She went on to have one child and died at the age of eight-two of cancer.
The life of the now fictional Augie begins with the character’s move to Kitchener. It is, however, interwoven with other stories of immigrant German women.