Heidelberg t-shirt

In Attire
White T-shirt with "Heidelberg" on it.
White T-shirt with "Heidelberg" on it.

I choose this T-shirt from my grandmother, Omi. According to legend, she bought this shirt back in the 1970s when she and my grandfather visited her town-of-birth, Heidelberg, Germany. At some point in my youth, it came into my possession, and to my own surprise, I did not treat it like any ol’ shirt. Throughout the 20+ years that I’ve cared for it, I’ve worn it infrequently, concerned that a rogue drop of ketchup – or my own sweat – would stain and ruin it. 

When I see or think about this shirt, I think about Omi. It's thick cotton - hardy, but soft - and has been a constant throughout the many changes in my life. My grandmother had moved to the United States at some point after my father’s birth on an American military base in Landstuhl with my grandfather. She often spoke highly of the Americans she encountered as a child. She grew up poor, often stealing turnips from the neighboring farms for her family to eat, but you can see the glint in her eye when she told tales of American troops, who would throw candy to her and her friends as they rode through the town. When she and my grandfather visited Heidelberg, after more than a decade away, she was struck at how rude – as she described – the townsfolk were to my grandfather, who only spoke English. After that trip, she vowed never to go back, and the only token from that visit was this tee shirt.

I am not sure why she held onto it. Maybe the softness of the fabric reminded her of good memories from her youth. Maybe its sturdiness reminded her of how far she's come. Or maybe, it’s just a really good T-shirt. 

Place(s): Heidelberg, Germany

– Heather B.

Relationship:  Grandchild of im/migrant Grandchild of im/migrant