Ingrid Carter has come a long way from the young German bride who could not “boil water” to the owner and chef of Gasthaus Edelweiss, an authentic German restaurant in Weber City, Va.
The journey that would bring her to the United States started one day as she walking down the street in Berlin. Ingrid, with her blonde hair piled up in braids, caught the eye of a 24-year-old serviceman, Edwin Carter, from Hiltons, Va. Edwin (Eddie) was stationed in Berlin during the Korean conflict.
The generally quiet and reserved serviceman approached one of Ingrid’s girlfriends. Ingrid spoke no English and could not understand what Eddie was asking her friend. The friend explained to the 15-year-old Ingrid that the young serviceman wanted to take her on a date
“No way was I going out with a GI,” Ingrid recalled. “Dating a GI was not proper for a young German girl.” Eddie just kept standing there waiting for a reply. Curiosity got the best of Ingrid and she agreed to a date.
During this time of the early 1950s, Ingrid explained, it was tradition for Berliners to take a walk on Sunday afternoons. With her girlfriend interpreting, Eddie and Ingrid made a date to meet on Sunday for an afternoon walk. When Ingrid arrived at the given time and place, there were several servicemen standing there.
“I didn’t take a close look at him the first time so I wasn’t sure which GI was Eddie,” she laughed. Then Eddie spoke to her and she recognized his voice.
After that first date, there would be many more Sunday afternoon walks and the occasional movie for Ingrid and Eddie. At the time, curfew was 8 p.m. in Berlin and everyone locked the doors to their homes. One night, Ingrid was running a few minutes late and her mother spied her walking down the street with her GI.
“My mother had come to lock the front door, and she saw me on the street with Eddie. She came running down the street and wore me out right in front of him.”
Ingrid explained that her father had been killed during World War II and her mother had a huge dislike for American GIs.
For the next two weeks, Ingrid would not speak to her mother. Finally, her sister interceded and begged Ingrid to reconcile with her mother. Ingrid agreed only if her mother would allow Eddie into their home for a meeting. “Eddie was different from the run of the mill GI and, by that time, I was in love with him.”
Ingrid’s mother relented and invited Eddie into their home. She immediately took a liking to the young GI who would soon become her son-in-law. The couple tried to marry before Eddie was discharged from the Army, but it didn’t work out. Eddie returned home to Hiltons and made arrangements to make Ingrid his wife. He returned to Germany on Dec. 21, 1954, and the couple wed on Dec. 30.
“My mother created a miracle in just a few days. We had a dream wedding with a white bridal coach and four white stallions. The church was packed because I was marrying an American GI,” Ingrid said.
Eddie was Ingrid’s first and last boyfriend. And the couple has worked side-by-side for the last 57 years – first as owners of a German delicatessen on Market Street in downtown Kingsport and then, following Eddie’s retirement from Eastman, at Gasthaus Edelweiss.
After their last son graduated from high school, Eddie built Gasthaus Edelweiss adjoining their home on Meadowlark Lane in Weber City. Today, he handles the restaurant’s grill while Ingrid does the remainder of the cooking.
All dishes served at Gasthaus Edelweiss are original German recipes, prepared with authentic German meats and spices. Much like a traditional German restaurant, Gasthaus Edelweiss provides a small, intimate setting with only eight tables. Guests are required to make reservations and, once they arrive, the table is theirs for the remainder of the evening.
Gasthaus Edelweiss is open Thursday through Saturday, and on weekdays for large groups with reservations. Since Gasthaus Edelweiss is a small, family establishment, Ingrid does not take credit nor debit cards. For reservations, call 276-386-3724.
(Editor’s Note: This article was written by Pam Cox, director of tourism, Scott County for the Sunday Stories of “The Kingsport Times-News.”)