Bernadette’s Take #12

Bernadette’s Take #12

The girl who wanted to be a seaman

Maria Logan from Vancouver

PhotoChristelEigenmannMaria Logan with a Canadian friend at the Swiss Club’s
President’s Conference 2012.  Maria did not give away her secret
for looking so young at 95 but I will find out!
(Photo Alfred Eigenmann)

Maria is a Swiss-Canadian icon!

I mean, she is 95 years old – five years younger than the other Old Lady, the Swiss Consulate in Vancouver – and she travels to Switzerland every year.

She might be a Switzerland aficionado but she loves Canada from all her heart.

When people became Canadian citizens in Vancouver, she was there at the celebration and held a speech on behalf of the Vancouver Citizenship Council.

And then she started singing “O Canada!”, the national anthem ( I never get the high notes in there, do you?). Maria did that until last year!

In her living-room you will find a treadmill. Right now her knee is bad and she walks with a cane. But she is determined to get up on that treadmill again.

Photo UrsBoxlerI found Maria’s secret to eternal youth: singing in the Swiss choir! And wearing a “Tracht”, a traditional Swiss costume! (Maria Logan is in the first row on the very left hand side) (Photo Urs Boxler)

She is always elegantly dressed and open to talk with everybody.

Maria`s claim to fame:
She was the first nurse who was hired on the then new B.C. ferries in 1960.
Imagine, a girl from Gersau!

In Canada, a dream came true that she could not realise in Switzerland.

When she was a young girl, Maria née Müller often stood at the landing in the town of Gersau on Lake of Lucerne where she was born. She waited for the steam boats and had only one thought: to work one day on one of the steamers.

An impossible wish for a Swiss girl around 1930.

IMG_0171 - CopyI went to Switzerland to check: Today women are allowed to
work on steam boats on Lake Lucerne. There is
progress in Switzerland! (Photo B. Calonego)

But fortunately, there was Canada.

She emigrated as a nurse to Canada at the age of 32, against her family’s protests. She became a nurse for the passengers on the Alaska cruiseline – the only woman in the crew! That was a good thing because she met her husband Clem there, the ship’s cook (he died in 2000).

Well done, Maria! A woman should always marry a cook, it saves a lot of time.

IMG_7085 - CopyThis is not the B.C. ferry where Maria met her husband! I was
not even born then… (B. Calonego)

I had to place an UPC (Urgent Phone Call) to Maria Logan in Vancouver.

Maria, why on earth are you traveling to Switzerland again? You are 95 years old in August!!

Age is not a problem. I have already booked my ticket for July. Since my husband died 13 years ago, I have traveled to Switzerland every year.

You must be a creature of habit!

Yes, I always stay in the same hotel in Lucerne, the Waldstätterhof near the train station. And I always have the same room #308. My nephew lives in Kriens, not far away, and he always picks me up in the morning at 9.15.

I hope you don’t mind me asking: What does a 95-year-old do in Switzerland?

When it is a nice day, we climb the mountains in Central Switzerland, like Pilatus or Rigi – in cable cars and trains of course. I am not afraid of heights! My cousin owns the hotel at Rigi-Scheidegg. We do this every year.

IMG_7263 - CopyMaria still climbs mountains in Central Switzerland, thanks to her train pass. There is a train or gondola on almost every Swiss mountain.  And a restaurant because Swiss people are always hungry. (B. Calonego)

I am glad you don`t have to hike – or do you??

No, I usually have a Swiss Pass which is a train pass. But my relatives have cars and drive me around. We are a big family, I had eight siblings. Sometimes I have to ask whom this niece or that nephew belongs to!

The city of Lucerne is famous for its jewelry and watch stores. Do you do any shopping?

No, at my age you don’t need anything. You get rid of things.

Do you get a ride on the steam boats on Lake Lucerne?

Of course! I love boats! I liked to be a seaman. I travel to my birth place Gersau on Lake Lucerne on one of the steamers because my family celebrates my birthday on August 25. It takes place every year in the Hotel Schwert in Gersau with about 30 people attending.

IMG_0158 - CopyThis is the Hotel Schwert in Gersau but I did not see Maria
Logan because it was September. (Photo B. Calonego)

On your birthdays, do you eat “Rahmschinken” (litteral translation: ham with cream), the famous speciality of Gersau?

Yes, we had “Rahmschinken” one year. When people told me about it, I thought I will not eat ham for dessert! Not even with whipped cream. I did not know at the time it was the local name for a delicious sweet biscuit roulade with a very special filling! I was very surprised.

IMG_0160 - CopyI am sure that some of these people eat the delicious
dessert of “Rahmschinken” right now and I am left to suffer. (Photo B. Calonego)

You had to become 90 to find out what “Rahmschinken” really was?!

Yes. There is always something to learn about Switzerland – even for me!

P.S. from Bernadette

The recipe for “Rahmschinken” from Gersau is secret, more secret than anything in Switzerland.

I am not surprised.

I love “Rahmschinken”, love it, love it, love it.

Before I die, I would want to eat “Rahmschinken” one more time. It is soooo good. And – can you believe it- it does not even have chocolate in it!

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