A beached sperm whale, 1001 bottle messages and the orange light district

My maternal ancestors were from Duisburg and lived in Meiderich for a long time, were my mother and her siblings were born and educated. All my uncles, my grandfather and later my father worked for August Thyssen-Hütte and Phoenix Rheinrohr, and so I spent my first school years at primary school in Duisburg Meiderich and Beeck. I grew up with the stories of my grandpa, who was a very good storyteller. His stories mostly were about his time as an active soldier during world war I and about his long march to Thüringen, were his wife and the younger children were evacuated, during world war II. He told, that as a boy he had fished salmon in the river Emscher, a river that I know as a river that had a concreated riverbed and was used as a sewer since the beginning of the 20th century. But the stories I loved the most were about the buiding of the harbour, when he was a young man, and about Ruhrort, were he spent a lot of free time in a fishermen’s pub called „Zum Anker“. In my days „The Anchor“ was one of the backgrounds for a very popular TV series „Tatort“ and the commissioner Horst “Schimmy” Schimansky, played by Goetz George. Ruhr035.JPGort and it’s stories; my grandfather had a bag filled up with tales about that – unfailing and often repeated. But often I saw in his face that there was more behind the stories, told to a child and later to a teenager. I suppose that he censored his stories to make them more suitable for me as a younger listener, but nevertheless he striped an adored, busty waitress serving drinks in „The Anchor“. And so I found his real ambitions between the lines of his stories… Walking Ruhrort’s streets and alleyways, I’m always accompanied by grandpa and his tales and my own memories of growing up in Duisburg. 057a.JPGThere was this strange story of „Moby Dick“, the white beluga whale, that caused headlines in 1966, when Rhine skippers reported a whale swimming in the Rhine 300 kilometers from the ocean and thousands of kilometers from the usual habitat of this animals in arctic waters. It swam till it reached Bonn, then turned around and reached the open sea at Hoek van Holland. Who wonders that I listened electrified to a reportage, broadcasted last Friday evening in the local TV, about a sperm whale, beached dead in Duisburg Ruhrort! In the course of the report it became clear, that the beached whale was part of a performance due to „Duisburger Akzente“. Nothing could stop me to have a look at it next day! 151.JPGAnd as I was just there, it was a short walk only to the German Inland Waterways Museum, which is situated in Ruhrort’s former indoor swimming facility, an Art Nouveau building, which had been built in 1910. One more story of me and Ruhrort is, that I have learned to swim there. This time I didn’t need a swimsuit, the goal were the museum and a temporary exhibition „tausend und eine flaschenpost“ and – to be true – to have a look what has remained from my old pool. It was spectacular; the old feelings were back immediately. Later in the afternoon I 303afinished this day’s walk with the exhibition „Orange Licht Viertel„. In a former Karstadt Supermarket artists of the studio community „hafenkult“ took up the theme of red light district, fishermen and their amusement in harbours, prostitution and alcohol. The exhibition is softly lit only; enter and you feel like beeing in a gloomy, dark dive. When darkness falls, the large display windows serve as projection surfaces for animated Silhouettes. I think my grandpa would have enjoyed it very much. And as ever: the pictures I have taken at my walk you can find here.

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