The Brothers Grimm hold a very strong place in German culture. While they didn’t actually write the fairy tales many of us grew up with, Hansel & Gretel, Snow White, Rapunzel and so on, they did compile these folk tales into collections that became accessible to the rest of the world. In 1998, we took our first trip along the Fairy Tale Road, re-tracing the steps of the Grimm brothers. At that time we visited Hanau, where the brothers were born, Steinau, where they once lived, and several of the places which inspired the tales in the first place. In late November, we re-visited some of the places along the Fairy Tale Road.
Two places along the route, which really don’t relate to fairy tales but are noteworthy nevertheless, are Lauterbach and Bodenwerder.
Lauterbach is famous for two things: First, it’s where the famous German gnomes are manufactured. Secondly, it’s the home of the tale of the “Scalawag who lost his sock”. One of the most popular versions of this story is that a young man got a job in Lauterbach working at a factory. The young man however began having an illicit relationship with the factory manager’s wife. The manager ran him out of town so fast that the young man, this “scalawag”, lost his sock and didn’t dare go back to retrieve it. The message on the statue commemorating this scoundrel: “In Lauterbach hab’ ich mein strumpf verlor’n” translates as, “I lost my sock in Lauterbach.” There’s also a tune:
“I lost my sock in Lauterbach, without it I don’t go home.
That’s why I return to Lauterbach, to get back that sock of my own.”
While didn’t sample any of their beer on this trip, Lauterbach also is home to Lauterbacher Bier. The brewery is in town and apparently has been operating since 1889.
Further north, along the Weser River, is the small town of Bodenwerder. This city is noteworthy for essentially one thing: it was the home of the the famous blowhard, Baron Hieronymous Carl Friederich von Münchhausen.
The Baron was famous for his fantastic tales of heroic exploits in battle. I may not be getting this all correctly, but one of his stories concerns him riding so fast on his horse, Bucephalus, that he doesn’t realize until later that the Turks had blown his horse in two. This even is memorialized by the statue here, located in town. Meanwhile, down by the river, someone is retrieving the back half of the horse.
Other stories include the Baron riding a cannonball over the Turkish ramparts to deliver a lethal blow personally.
And, in this story, the Baron hitches a ride with a flock of geese who rescue him from a sinking ship.