The messages about Oma and Opa make me think there are as many difference
experiences as there are German families. My family came from the area of
Osnabrück and were all Low German speaking Lutherans. In our family our
grandparents have and still have been called Opa and Oma, however the children
always called their parents Pop and Nam. My cousins in Germany use the same
names, and my wife and I lived for a while with German family in Landshut in
Bavaria who used Opa and Oma.
I have story written in 1776 in low German by a German relative who
lived in Melle, Kingdom of Hannover. My 56 year old cousin in Bremen, German,
cannot read the story but his father can as it is the dialect he learned in
school. Seems strange to me a father and his son learned in school different
versions of German.
There were a number of families from what is now the Osnabrück of
Niedersachsen or Lower Saxony who came to southern Ohio. Though they arrived in
numbers from about 1860 to about 1900, most spoke their version of German most
of the time and always at home. My father and his siblings where not allowed
by the school until they learned enough English. That was in the period of
1915-1920. At family reunion in the early 1920s it was decided the family
ought to speak English. However an uncle who came to America in 1896 when 19
and died in the early 1940s never did learn any English and spoke only German.
Though I knew some low German from my father and grandfather it forgot
in over the years. I can read and write standard or high German but have a
difficult time conversing in German.