An American boomer meets an English boomer in Germany

There’s an Englishman, a baby boomer, who pedaled into a life of selling bread in Germany. BoomerCafé publisher and co-founder David Henderson found him during a summer vacation. What the story proves is, baby boomers can make just about anything happen.

Interesting how the paths of our lives unfold. We never know for sure what’s around the next corner or where tomorrow will take us. Nothing is for certain. Where we go … who we meet … our fate … it all seems just beyond our fingertips. Many of us work at living good lives but how do things turn out? Well, I suppose it’s a matter of luck … good luck and not so good. The best we can hope for is more good luck than bad.

Ian the bread seller ... at his stand at the outdoor market in Garmisch, Bavaria in Germany.

Ian the bread seller … at his stand at the outdoor market in Garmisch, Bavaria in Germany.

I met Ian the bread seller by chance while my wife and I were vacationing with friends in southern Bavaria. We’d come to Garmisch, Germany, to see the Alps. I had walked by Ian’s stall at an outdoor market in Garmisch and had admired the array of breads he was selling. When he spoke English, it was with an British accent, not German, so I could not help but ask how he had ended up selling gourmet quality organic breads and pastries in Bavaria.

An instantly likable and tall fellow originally from Somerset, England, Ian told me he had been bicycling through Bavaria 30 years ago when his bike had broken down in a remote village. It took a while to get repairs made and during that time, he met a local girl and fell in love.

Ian looked around and found life in Bavaria to be exactly what he was looking for and, for him, more pleasant than England. He and the girl married and before long, he became a father … several times over.

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Finding work as an Englishman in Bavaria required Ian’s imaginative entrepreneurial skills. He recognized that bakers in Bavaria are among the best in the world and Bavarian breads and pastries are made from the highest quality organic ingredients. What the bakers needed was someone who knew how to sell their incredibly fresh baked goods. Before long, Ian’s career was born as a pastry merchant.

Today, he and his family have working relationships with many of Bavaria’s best small bakers. They gather the freshest baked goods and take them to all the town markets that are a way of life across Germany. It’s hard work but fate has given Ian a good business and, he says, a good life.

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I asked, has he seen much change in largely rural Bavaria over the last three decades?

More visitors, more people, he said. And, not as easy-going a life. Even though he lives in a small mountain town, Ian said today’s world is creeping in and it’s not as safe, not as peaceful. He shrugged and said, “But, what can you do?”

While chatting with Ian, I thought of the writing of Scottish novelist William Boyd and his book Any Human Heart. Boyd wrote …

“That’s all your life amounts to in the end: the aggregate of all the good luck and the bad luck you experience. Everything is explained by that simple formula. Tot it up -– look at the respective piles. There’s nothing you can do about it: nobody shares it out, allocates it to this one or that, it just happens.”

The outdoor marketplace at Garmisch.

The outdoor marketplace at Garmisch.

After thanking Ian for his time, I walked to catch up with my wife and friends and thought that Ian is a baby boomer who seems to have enjoyed more than his share of good luck amid all the work. I wish him many more years of prosperity.

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