So, Margrit, and about fifteen other landladies agreed to rent their properties to me for almost the entire 1976 tourist season (late May to mid-September). I was over-confident about the prospect of finding enough clients to fill these facilities; in fact found clients for only about 1/3 of the space reserved. Aware that I had not met my obligations, I went to each apartment-owner agreeing to pay the full amount, but bargaining (successful in all cases but one) for reductions. I remember vividly Frau Winterberger's response: "For the dates you didn't have clients, it's self evident you don't have to pay anything"—or words to that effect. I think it was at that moment that I fully sensed that she and I had a similar perspective on the way economic transactions should be transacted.
For the first few years she was one of my important landladies—not more. As the business began to grow, reserving
apartments, releasing them when we had
no customers, paying for them, contracting for the subsequent year, etc. These things consumed my time. So I found a landlady who spoke English, who I paid a small fee to do this work. This person and I had a misunderstanding which produced an urgent need for me to find someone else. The only person I trusted fully for this important job was Margrit Winterberger. It's not that I distrusted others that could have qualified. Rather I trusted Margrit—trusted her profoundly.
(Margrit Winterberger, Hal and Norma Taussig,
by an unknown photographer, probably around 1983)
Blogs are sometimes thought of as "editorials." I'm tempted to editorialize on the importance of trust in a culture. Rather I intend to let the references in my next blog—a brief account of Margrit's life in her community function as concrete illustrations of how I came to know her as profoundly trustworthy. Then I'll turn to a blogg
about "her and me"—changes that came into both of our lives, partly as a result of the dynamics of our friendship.