The illustrious Carlina La Salle was born Carlina Adel on January 16, 1900 in Berlin, Germany.

My name wasn’t always Mrs. La Salle, or Carlina Talbout. It was Carlina Adel. In school, having a last name that started with the letter A, as in Adel, put me in front of everyone, and that was good for someone like me. When I was eleven, there were tryouts for the swimming team at my school, and I was the first person called.  I knew how to impress. Some kids would be too shy if they were first, but I used it to my advantage.  I walked slowly past the judges, kept a big smile on my face, and gracefully took a deep breath before hitting the water.  Those who stayed under water the longest always had a better chance at being selected for the team. Strangely, this is the sport—swimming—that opened my mind to a harvest of deeply hidden talents, namely singing and dancing.

“I made it! I made it!” I shouted to my mom in glee.

“I knew you would, Carlina,” mom replied.

“Where’s dad?”

“He’s staying late at the theater,” she explained. “It’s a big show, and someone has to make sure the doors are locked after rehearsal.” 

“Well,” I said, smiling to myself a little bit, “he’ll be missing your biscuits because they’re all mine now!” 

“Don’t eat them all, Carlina,” mom warned. “You won’t be able to fit into your dress for the show.” 

There may have been a little truth to that—just a little truth—so I agreed not to eat all the biscuits, but to leave one for dad. But in truth, I can lose weight just by walking to the theater because it’s nearly a mile from my house. 

“So,” mom asked, “when is the big day?”

I asked if she was talking about the upcoming swim meet.

“No,” she said, “I’m talking about that boy, Samuel Talbout, the one who’s always so quiet.”

“He is very quiet,” I admitted.  But then I looked away so that my mom wouldn’t notice how embarrassed the topic made me feel.

“But he really likes you,” she pressed on, brushing her shoulder into me.

At that point I simply told her that I was finished with my dinner and that I would help her clean up. 

“Okay, Carlina,” mom said—but then quickly added: “He reminds me of your father.”

“Oh? Samuel? Is that so?”

“Yes, that’s so,” mom smirked, as we began to clear the table.  

 The next morning the light that shone through my bedroom window was enough to wake me up, but my loudmouth friend Samantha began tapping on the glass bright and early.

“Samantha,” I asked, “how did you pass the rose bush without getting stuck by a thorn?”

“Well, Carlina, half of it is gone,” Samantha explained.

 I rushed to the window to look, and it had indeed been chopped down, probably stolen by that miserable old lady down the road. I decided that I would tell my dad, and the two of us would probably have a word with her.  The window pane had a small crack in it, and that’s how I spoke with Samantha—through that tiny little crack that let our words go back and forth with ease.  To tell the truth, they were sort of strange words, because what Samantha told me was that Samuel was drawing some unusual sketches in class, and that one of the sketches looked like just like me. 

“I think Samuel likes you, Carlina,” she said. “More nonsense in the morning,” I replied, trying not to show any kind of emotion or reaction at all.  “Samantha, please don’t come inside in my house blabbing everything you told me this morning. If you do, I’ll chase you out.”

“Okay, Carlina,” she said—and then completely changed the subject. “Do you have any biscuits?” she asked.

Let me take a moment to share mom’s recipe for Vanillekipferl biscuits—in her very own words. I’m sharing this now because I often shared it with Samantha, also in these words:

  1. A great amount of flour
  2. Just one little egg
  3. Many, many, many almonds
  4. Whipped butter
  5. Pinch me with salt
  6. Caster sugar

“Well, well, Carlina,” Samantha said, after I had repeated the ingredients to her, “I presume a guest in your house gets only the recipe, not an actual biscuit!”

“Okay, close your eyes Samantha.  Now open them. There! It’s a Vanillekipferl biscuit.”

“I love you, Carlina,” she gushed. “It’s so light! Let me eat this real slow because it’s so delicious.” Samantha enjoyed the biscuit very much. She stared off into space while she was eating. Then:

 “So, where’s your mom and dad?”

 I told her they were at The Deutsches Theatre, and that they had to go early because of the upcoming Christmas show, which always required a lot of extra work.

“It’s amazing how you have to start arranging that show so early,” Samantha said.

“They actually start rehearsals in late September,” I explained.  

Sam asked me if I had received my uniform and swimwear, both of which have the school logo on them. I told her I hadn’t, and also that I was to start a part-time job at the doll factory that evening.

“Tonight, Carlina?” she asked.

“Yes, right after school I’ll go to the train station. Near the entrance of the station is the A. C. Reine Dolls company. My dad knows the owner because he supplies dolls for some of our shows.  The company’s been very nice to me. They even gave me a week’s pay in advance so that I could buy the school uniform.  Isn’t that nice?”

“What are your job responsibilities there, Carlina?”

“I feed the hair into a machine, and the machine punches holes into the doll’s head.” 

“Disgusting!” Samantha yelled, making a funny face.

“No, it’s not disgusting. It’s actually funny to see. But you could lose your innocence watching those little arms get pulled apart at the rejection bin.”

“Lose your innocence?” she asked, looking entirely confused.

“Just let me know when you notice bags under my eyes, Samantha.”

I changed the subject by telling her that we couldn’t be late for morning exercises.  “Mrs. Engel makes us run around the school six times,” I reminded her.

“I know,” Samantha replied. “You know what I remember from last year? I remember hearing your swimming team run around the school. But it was the boys who were noisy, not the girls. The boys actually made more noise watching from the windows than you were making when you were running around the school!”

“I know. It annoyed me that the boys could see us all sweaty like that. But the workouts kept us in good shape, and our school did win.”

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Read the entire novella by visiting this novella comes with a digital copy of The Lost Interview of Carlina La Salle. 



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