In her own words...
About the filmmaker
Lydia Stinnett talks about what it was like moving from Germany to America:
“I married an American soldier in July of 1962. I came to the United States in September 1962 with my three children, ages 8 years, 4 years, and 7 months old. We boarded an airplane and left Bietigheim, Germany, and my family, behind, landing in New York 12 hours later. This was my first time in America and I did not know what to expect. I remember my oldest daughter surprised that there were no cowboys and Indians outside…this was all she knew of America from the TV. My husband met us there and we drove to North Carolina, his hometown. The one thing I remember is all of the advertisements [billboards] lit up along the roadway. This was very different from Germany. My husband received orders to Fort Knox, Kentucky, and we lived there for a year and then moved back to North Carolina. We moved to Lynchburg, Virginia in 1966 and this has been my home since.”
Erika Barker is a student at Christopher Newport University.
A reflection on documentary work
Working with my grandmother—Lydia Stinnett—on this documentary project really allowed me to grow closer to her. I have heard many of these stories before, but listening to them with a camera between us created a filter. I was not just listening to my grandmother’s stories, I was listening to the childhood of a woman who had experienced ultimate hardships. Her childhood was very different than what I have experienced, and from what anyone I know has experienced. While I was playing outside with my friends, reading books, or playing video games, my grandmother grew up working long days in the fields and factories. She became a surrogate mother to her youngest sister at 8 years of age and had to grow up extremely fast. I have not always appreciated my grandmother for who she is, but this project allowed us to reconnect with each other and continue to foster a loving, mentoring relationship.
Lydia Stinnett and son, Joey.
"Growing Up During World War II'"
film by Erika Barker
Lydia Hilde Schill—my grandmother—was born in Bietigheim, Germany in 1935. She grew up, the oldest of four, during World War II. She spent most of her childhood working in the factory, going to school, or working in the fields. That is, when she wasn’t helping to raise her siblings. Her parents were Henrich and Martha Schill. They were strict, but loving parents. She grew up with a very set way of doing daily chores and to this day is the same way. She came to the United States when she was 27. She brought her three kids with her, none of them knowing very much English. She and her daughters learned English by being immersed in the culture.
"Growing Up During World War II (5:28)