By 1898, Carlsbad’s population had really suffered from the long economic and real estate downturn (sound familiar?). With just twenty families still in town, the local school was at risk of closing due to a dwindling number of students. And then a miracle happened. The Kreutzkamps came to town with their brood of seven children. With enough students to justify the teacher’s salary, the school remained open and Carlsbad’s educational system continued and grew!
This past weekend, I had the good fortune to be invited to join the Kreutzkamps as the family gathered at the Ocean House on Carlsbad Blvd. Cousins, second cousins, grandchildren, great-great grandchildren took the afternoon to reconnect with each other and meet new family members. About forty or so relatives traveled for the event from as far away as Oregon (why move too far away when you’re from Carlsbad?!). The oldest family member at the reunion was ever-popular Louise Carpenter Williams, coming in at 96. Always happy for a hug and willing to share a family story, she chatted and gave kisses to young and old alike. Sartorial flair appears to be genetic, as she and a great-great granddaughter discovered they were both wearing leopard print clothing.
The youngest of the bunch was Jackson, who is just three months old. However, he lost his place as the youngest Kreutzkamp overall as an announcement was made during the reunion that Kreutzkamp twins had been born that morning. Louise, although the oldest, was not alone as the only nonagenarian; her cousin Lena Kreutzkamp, 91, flitted around in her wheelchair smiling and squeezing hands.
The Ocean House provided a really excellent buffet for the hungry crowd. As the food disappeared, stories were shared with the larger group through the use of a microphone. An opportunity to teach the younger Kreutzkamps about their ancestors, Charles “Chuck” Kreutzkamp started off by telling of his father’s job at the Twin Inns circa 1916 washing dishes, as well as his place on the first high school football team. The Twin Inns, now the Ocean House, was built in 1887 for Gerhard Schutte’s family, but is better known for its sixty plus years as that restaurant under the care of Eddie Kentner.
Charles Kreutzkamp had immigrated to the Unites States from Germany in 1869; Magdalena Roediger came with her family in 1872. They married in New Jersey in 1875 and began their journey as parents and as travelers. After trying out the South, namely Alabama, they headed west and the rest is history. Commonly referred to as Grospapa and Grosmama, the reminiscences of them were fond and joyful. Charles Kreutzkamp, a cobbler by trade, was also something of a walker. The younger generation was amazed at the fourteen-mile round-trip made for the sake of getting his newspaper from Oceanside faster than the horse delivered copies. I marveled when another of the older generation informed me that Grospapa even walked to San Diego for any legal business he needed to address.
The elder Kreutzkamps’ house was located on the corner of Roosevelt and Carlsbad Village Drive (Elm to locals) where the public parking lot is now. Later moved to Laguna Avenue, Grosmama’s house was apparently the perfect stop on the way to and from the beach or any other trips made around town. She enticed her guests by making a special type of thin pancake for visitors, day or night, in the shape of any animal requested.
The Ocean House was a perfect location for the reunion since two Kreutzkamp daughters had married two Schutte sons. As family members began to depart, Louise Carpenter Williams told me that she believes that she is the oldest native Carlsbad resident. Being the oldest at a family reunion is a big deal, but being the oldest native in a city of 105,000 people is something else entirely! At 96, she hasn’t slowed down either. She continues to volunteer at St. Patrick’s Church in the church thrift store, even after nineteen years. Reunions are always fun for family tales, bonding, and…a little measuring up!