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Could Crystal Road Yield a Long-Lost Cousin?

Terry, from A Rendezvous to Remember, Epilogue: Dare We Relive History? May 7, 2014, Frauenau, Germany:

“Through a downpour, we navigate the ‘Crystal Road,’ a two-lane highway that shadows the Czech Republic border from the south at Passau to Neustadt an der Waldnaab in the north. This was the heart of Bavaria’s hand-blown glass industry. We’ve cruised small towns, scoured crystal shops, showed them our eight-by-ten photos of the blue vase Jack had bestowed on Annie in 1964—and the matching bowls he gave us as our wedding present. ‘Where did these pieces come from? Who made them?’ we’ve asked. No one knows.

“At WaldKristall guesthouse, we show the owner, Michael Kaphammer, our photos. He’s fluent in English; he’s been to Las Vegas, the city we’ve called home for fourteen years. ‘Leave the photos with me. I’ll ask my father,’ he says.”

Invitation into a Secret Vault Hidden along the Crystal Road

“The next morning, Michael greets us, ‘My father asks if you would like to look at his work.’ We dash a half-block in the rain to Michael’s personal residence. He leads us to the basement, into a sixty-foot-long rectangular storeroom, shelves four high on every windowless wall, every shelf filled with gleaming crystal—a bedazzling array of vases, bowls, stemware, decanters, flaçons, tumblers, goblets in a rainbow of colors, all hand-blown and cut by master artisan Siegfried Kaphammer, Michael’s father.

Siegfried Kapfhammer: Could he be the master artist we’ve searched for?

“Siegfried sweeps his hand around the room, gestures at the full shelves. ‘This is my life’s work,’ Michael translates. ‘You are welcome to look.’

“The shelves hold few blue pieces, but Annie spots a pair of slender Palatinate-blue vases, with vertical rows of the same transparent silvery ovals as Jack’s vase, topped by filigree designs in the flared rim, delicate as spider webs. ‘Will he sell these?’ she asks.

“‘Ja,’ Siegfried says, nodding. ‘Ja!’”

“We select a matched pair of banana-boat bowls, replete with silvery ovals and swirls, heavy as . . . well, heavy as lead crystal. And a tall, cylindrical vase, artful as a totem pole . . .

Welcome to the Select German Crystal Road Fan Club, Terry!

“Outside in the car, Annie and I realize that our quest is over. Siegfried is a surrogate connecting us to a time and place that no longer exists. He has given us an indelible memory of how much his art—so much of it now languishing in a dark basement—means to an artist of his talent. Moreover, he has drawn me into that intimate circle that links Jack to Annie and her summer of ’64. That summer is now my summer, as well as theirs.”

And our journey along the Crystal Road has yielded more than I ever expected.

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