Benutzerspezifische Werkzeuge

Many Happy Returns, Falk - Ida von Herrenschwand, 1887 - 1961

Artikel aus dem Magazin "The Guider" (Nr. 39/1952, 7. Juli 1952, Seiten 135ff)

To those who have known her that name conveys so much; to those who have not, it must be a queer name belonging to a Swiss Guider who has run Our Chalet these last twenty years, but little more. And how impossible to try to portray the real Falk for those who have not had the stimulating experience of knowing her. 

Few of the Guiders who have been to the Chalet ever know her real name - Ida von Herrenschwand - and would have a job to pronounce it if they did. To those who know anything of Switzerland, though,it stand for a centuries old Berne ancestry, the family having had property in that Canton as far back as history relates. 

Ida’s father was responsible for the forestry round Berne, and he must have been a remarkable man, with a genius for understanding and training children strangely akin to that of B-P himself. He would tell his children to be at a certain spot at a stated time. He would then go into hiding near and woe betide them if they did not appear at exactly the prescribed moment – neither a minute before nor after. He had the forethought to arrange that Ida and her two brothers talked only French until they went to school, and that is why she speaks it as naturally as she does that incomprehensible dialect known as Schwyzer Dütsch. To these Falk later added English (almost the Queen’s, but with a few eccentricities such as: ‘Form quick horse -- march!’), Italian and Swedish, and so is a linguist who puts us Britons to shame. A great love of music (Falk is no mean pianist herself) undoubtedly helped her to acquire these languages, but a lot of hard work has gone into it as well. 

Seeing Falk, as all of us do, in her busy life as Guider-in-Charge and as reigning, though as yet uncrowned, Queen of Eggetli (our village) and Adelboden, we can hardly imagine her in any other setting. Yet between times, in the flat she had in Paris, or at her present one in Berne, she becomes the sophisticated (more or less!) town-dweller, and revels in parties and social life; she is the centre of a coterie of artists, musicians and members of the Diplomatic Services. Her intense interest in people, as well as in all sides of life, and astoundingly quick wit make her the ideal companion whenever the party spirit is in operation. 

It is this vital interest in everything and everybody which makes her so delightfully unconscious of herself -- she just has not time to bother about that. If she has not been to the hairdresser recently and rather straight strands of hair are blowing in an unruly way, she will say with bright complacency: ‘Tant pis--c’est Shirley Temple comme ça’. Or if her spectacles are more smeary than usual with oddments from the kitchen and elsewhere streaked on, and someone wipes them clean for her, she will ejaculate with mock impatience: ‘Voila que tu m’abimes les yeux; je suis toute éblouie!’ The very way she got her name is significant. She was given the choice of ‘Adler’ (Eagle) or ‘Falk’ (Falcon). She chose the latter as, she said, Adler was far too noble for the likes of her. 

When that smiling figure, with penetrating eyes under exceptionally strong eyebrows, comes to meet us at the door of the Chalet, as though it is just us she has been waiting for (although we  may well be the three hundredth that season), we feel at once that here is a personality of a very vital kind. As we get to know her in the ensuing days we are not only enchanted by the quick wit and obvious delight in any humorous situation but also stimulated by the depths of her experience and mind. And because she is more interested in others than in herself Guiders are wont to pour out all their troubles to her and no one knows how many young women Falk has not helped. With an utterly selfless generosity Falk  gives herself as well as her possessions and spends hours in the early dawn, before we come down to our jobs, writing to Guiders in all corners of the world. 

Probably the memories which linger longest when we have left the Chalet are of the campfires, with Falk and Cigogne automatically harmonising in any of the French, German and English songs. But it is when they come to their own Swiss ones that we are utterly enchanted and many of these are now sung (with strange modifications, we fear) in camps from the Hebrides to the tip of India; from California to the Hook of Holland. And is there anything which binds people together more than a love of song? So much of what we find at the Chalet we take for granted at the time, and it is only when we come to think about it afterwards that we begin to realise all that has gone into making it such a unique experience. The order and beautiful way in which the house itself is kept – the Swiss are a shining example to most of us in that – is the result of ceaseless care and toil. Yet with this order goes a wonderful freedom. Do you want to go on an excursion? Falk is there to show you the way on the map and to see you have sandwiches. Or a day in the sun? She is there with deck-chairs and luges for the feet. Is someone hurt ski-ing? No trained nurse could give more skilled care than Falk. And after the staff have sung ‘Les clartés de la nuit’, or the Wiegenlied in three parts, when we are all in bed, Falk will still go downstairs to see that all is well in the house which is her care; and while we are still asleep in the morning she is writing, writing letters in the ‘dog-kennel’ or cutting sandwiches in the kitchen. 


Falk has given herself utterly and completely, and she has, too, something which she shares with our Chief Guide – the love of young people scattered all over the face of the globe. And on July 24th, either at the Chalet itself, or wherever they may be, a great wave of love and gratitude will be directed to that figure standing at the door of the Chalet. God bless you, Falk! 




Der Text stammt aus der britischen Zeitschrift "The Guider", Nr. 39/1952 (7. Juli 1952), Seiten 135 - 149, und wurde uns freundlicherweise von Benigna Blondel zur Verfügung gestellt. Abschrift: Doris Stroppel-Lutz. 


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