We received word today that our Sister Magdalen Schaan died. I am well-acquainted with her from my days as a postulant in Hankinson. I created the title C.S.T.S. for the help that I provided to Sr. Magdalen: Christina’s Secretarial & Transportational Services. (I guess spell-check doesn’t like my word ‘transportational,’ but I’ll get over it – Sr. Magdalen didn’t object :).
I helped her with some letter writing and pushed her around in her wheelchair, which gave rise to this title. Another involvement I had with Sr. Magdalen was interviewing her to get her memories of serving on the different missions recorded.
That’s when I learned about Zwetschgendatsche…
Sr. Magdalen was a baker and a cook. One of the missions she served at was in Chicago, working for the Carmelite Fathers there. Actually, that was her first assignment (1939-47). In this interview, she remembered that Chicago was smoky and had high humidity. She went on to share a memory which brought her to chuckle in recalling it.
Sr. Magdalen shared: “When Sr. Salutaris graduated…got her master’s degree…we had a play for her. And we played everything back what happened to her when she was in Chicago. It was a lot of fun. And she enjoyed it…and I asked her what she wanted for her graduation and she said Zwetschgendatsche. So I made five Zwetschgendatsche and put it on her bed, and she laughed and laughed and laughed. I thought she’d never stop laughing.” After Sr. Magdalen had recounted all this, I asked her: “What’s Zwetschgendatsche?” She told me that “Zwetschgendatsche is something like a kuchen and then you put zwerschge* on top. And sugar and cinnamon.” (*zwerschge = plum)
Sr. Magdalen had baked these plum desserts and put them (still in the pans) on the bed of her fellow Sister as a joke.
Now, that’s a Sister after my own heart. (I have begun my research on harmless April Fools’ tricks for next month.)
Sr. Magdalen and I made a food-related memory of our own during my days of C.S.T.S. One day, we had breaded chicken and it was a bit tough. For weeks afterward, we kidded about ‘crunchy chicken’ with each other.
Sr. Christina M. Neumann