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Interview with Barbara Weigel (BW)

Conducted by Dale Davis (DD)
16 July 2004, Aberdeen, South Dakota

Transcribed by Amanda Swenson
Edited by Linda Haag


DD: Can you tell me your name?

BW: Barbara Weigel, it was Barbara Senger. My maiden name was Senger.

DD: Senger, and where are we at today?

BW: In Aberdeen.

DD: Okay. Because what I’m doing is trying to check the sound here. So it won’t blow out the sound. So, can you talk a little bit about what you were doing today, before?

BW: I was finishing Barbara Canyon’s afghan. Now I have to clean house.

DD: Okay.

BW: Friday.

DD: Okay. Now I’m going to play this back and tell me how your voice sounds. This is something that we try and get. I’d like to get information on your mom and dad. And I’ll ask you again what your name is, and you tell me it is Barbara Senger Weigel. Then you can say that you were married to.

BW: Frank.

DD: Your husband’s name. Then you can say well for the last so many years, your father was, your mother was, that type of thing. This afternoon, I, my name is Dale Davis a graduate student at Northern State University. My graduate program is to interview the people from Germans from Russia Heritage that have ancestors that are Germans from Russia. Today I have with me, Barb Weigel. Barb could you tell me who you are?

BW: Barb Weigel. Senger.

DD: Your name was Senger.

BW: Yeah.

DD: Who was your, who did you marry?

BW: Frank Weigel.

DD: And when were you married?

BW: In 1936.

DD: And when were you born?

BW: 1914.

DD: What was your birth date? The day?

BW: May 23rd.

DD: 1914. And what was the name of your father and mother?

BW: Ludwig Senger, and Mary Senger-Schmidt.

DD: Your mother’s maiden name was Schmidt. Was that S-c-h-m-i-d-t? Do you remember when your father was born?

BW: In 1889, December the 8th.

DD: And when did he die?

BW: That I couldn’t tell you. That’s a shame.

DD: Do you kind of remember?

BW: No, I’m, we were growing up, and we were moving the hay roller. But I just can’t think of it, it was in August. I just can’t think of the year.

DD: What about your mother, when was she born?

BW: The same [?032] she was born in January and he was born in December.

DD: Okay, so your mom was a year apart.

BW: December, January the 8th, 1889, and he was December the 8th, 1889.

DD: 1888?

BW: The same thing, 1889.

DD: Okay, so she was born in the beginning of the year, and he was born in the end of the year. Okay. And do you remember when your mother died?

BW: In April, but I just can’t think of the day and year. What a shame. Neither one. We lived down here and over there. My husband was dead already.

DD: Where was your father born?

BW: In [?41] North Dakota.

DD: Where was your mother born?

BW: In Russia, Odessa, or whatever they call it.

DD: Odessa.

BW: I think she was 21 when she came over, and he was born here.

DD: Okay, so your mother taught you a lot of things?

BW: Oh yeah, yeah, she did.

DD: Okay, where was your father buried then?

BW: He what?

DD: Where was your father buried?

BW: In [?046]

DD: Where was your father and mother buried? Do you know what the cemetery is? Mary’s, St. Mary’s? Is that a Catholic cemetery?

BW: Oh yes. We were up there this fall, this spring or whatever.

DD: When did your parents get married?

BW: In 1910.

DD: Do you know where they were married?

BW: St. Mary’s. She was the first one with the long dress on and stuff. They got married in November, they came over in April, and she got married in November. They were hired out right away you know. And she was hired out to my dad’s brother.

DD: And that’s how they met?

BW: Yeah, I think so. He never said anything to much about that young stuff.

DD: Okay, that’s probably all he had was when she was hired out, that’s kind of how my grandmother and grandfather got to know each other by working out.

BW: Oh, yeah. They all, I think, worked out earlier at age, or whatever it was. When we grew up we never worked out. We all lived on the farm, they need us. We always had so many cows and [?059].

DD: How many brothers and sisters did you have?

BW: Two brothers, but they were so young.

DD: They were the youngest in the family?

BW: Yeah, see, I was the third one to get married in June, and I was [?064-065]. And they had none then until 1918.

DD: So four years difference?

BW: Yeah. And they had four more.

DD: Would you be able to name your sisters and brothers?

BW: [?068], Theo was one, she lives in Bismarck. Ella, she was married to a Wolf, but she’s dead for a long time. And then it’s me, Eva, fourteen to eighteen, then Rose was born. Then the twins, then Mary then Mike.

DD: What were the twin’s names?

BW: Sebastian and Dorothy. They were named after their Godfathers and Godmothers in the earlier days. They had such ideas. And then you got baptized.

DD: Were you named after your grandmother?

BW: I was named after my Grandma. They had things like this too, either you were born or baptized by Grandma’s or something, or like your mother.

DD: So you were named after your?

BW: Grandma Senger.

DD: Grandma Senger. Interesting. You wouldn’t happen to know what her maiden name was?

BW: Schumacher.

DD: Schumacher. Yeah. What would be her husband’s name? Did you know his first name?

BW: Michael.

DD: Michael Schumacher. Okay. When did your, you said your father was born in this country, but your mother was born in Odessa. Do you know when she came over?

BW: 1889.

DD: How long, you were telling me earlier about the story of when they came over, could you tell that to me again?

BW: She say’s they left in February, and I think it took about the whole month until they got to it. And then Grandpa Schmidt, I don’t know how the country was over there; they must have had a nice place. They talked about reva, or grape vines and all that stuff. He spit on the floor and stamped his feet and said this is where we both lived. Well, he was just starting to grow up. There used to be jobs there, the railroad, and grocery stores and stuff, hardware stores. Now there’s nothing anymore, those little stores, the little towns, I think, are vanishing out.

DD: Yes, that’s the sad part about this area.

BW: Yes, they built that new church in 1929, and the other one burnt down. It was one of the nicest churches that was there,

DD: It’s still there today?

BW: Oh yes.

DD: St. Mary’s?

BW: Yeah.

DD: Do you know, or have any idea where your ancestors came from in Germany? Or you don’t know that for sure? I’m not sure what ancestral village Odessa, or the area, you know it’s from Odessa there. Okay, you were talking about your father and not wanting your grandfather about having the grape vines and stuff. Did you say, could you tell a few more things about what your mother had and what your grandparents had? What life was like over in Russia?

BW: Oh, I think it was rough, yeah. They hired out; she was hired out, three months hired out. She said the hired help stamped the wheat up and then thrashed it out. She says they came home, the hired help, and they had to wash out in the [?099] to get into the house. They got milk and if it was sour, all they got was bread. And that’s how they turned into being mean. That’s what they said once. I don’t know if it’s all or not, but that’s what I heard. They were the hired help, got to be mean.

DD: So they hired out two Russians?

BW: Yeah.

DD: And they worked for the Russians wouldn’t they?

BW: She did, my mother did, yeah.

DD: Okay, when you were (interruption). In your childhood did you speak English at all or was it German?

BW: German.

DD: When did you start to speak English?

BW: Well. We went to the country school, and I don’t know if you knew what they were. The country school had sometimes 27 in one room and one teacher.

DD: It was out in the country, close to where you live?

BW: We go off in the winter time, we’d go in the sled, and in the fall and the spring we walked. It was a little over a mile and it was not too bad.

DD: Do you remember what your teacher’s name was?

BW: Oh no. We had quite a few teachers. I know one was Katie, and I actually don’t know any other.

DD: Did you have more women teachers or more men?

BW: I think we had more women teachers.

DD: Do you know where some families would board the teachers? Do you remember who boarded the teachers?

BW: Oh yeah. She got married to the son.

DD: And what was their names? Lipp?

BW: Howard. Katie, she was a Lipp. She was our teacher and she got married to Howard. That’s his name. Raymond Howard.

DD: Raymond Howard. That was the [?120]

BW: They had about three children, I think, some girls and two boys. Some of the boys lived in Bismarck. We have to go to Bismarck this week. Uh, that seems like a long distance. You don’t get up there too much, when you were much younger than I was.

DD: So she was a fairly young woman when she was teaching?

BW: Katie was a young woman. She married that Ray Howard, and they was the richest people there because they only had two kids. They had quite a bit of land and stuff.

DD: Did she continue to teach after she got married?

BW: I don’t think so. They had five children.

DD: Do you remember any of the other teachers now?

BW: If you’d say, my mind is gone today. But uh, I just can’t think of their names, who they were.

DD: What do you remember best about country school?

BW: I liked it.

DD: What did you do?

BW: Oh we had all kinds of arithmetic and everything. Then I remember they said a state, you had to run up to the blackboard, point to it and name the state. I made it every time,
except once. Washington D.C. I missed, that I didn’t know. I was sitting way in the back.

DD: There were students there from 1st grade to 8th grade?

BW: Sometimes 27 kids and one teacher.

DD: Did you have any kindergarten?

BW: Nah, uh.

DD: Some people say they did?

BW: Primary or whatever they call it, yeah.

DD: Did you, the older students treat the younger students pretty good, or did they pick on them a lot.

BW: No, I think we all played different games, the older ones and the younger ones.

DD: Do you remember some of the games that you played?

BW: Tag, and what was that, you had to run behind the building, and they had to catch you.

DD: Any games different than that, in the winter time, versus when the ones with snow on the ground? Different games being played then?

BW: No. Then we had to stay in and we didn’t go out.

DD: When it was too cold, you’d stay in.

BW: Yeah, it was too cold. Too much snow that time.

DD: What was the inside of the school house like?

BW: It was a general country school.

DD: Oh yes, I’m just asking.

BW: Yeah, there was nothing but desks, and when you came in there was a big stove.

DD: Was the stove in the middle of the building, or?

BW: No, right by the door. There was the library, and here was the stove. It was a big round stove. When you came in the morning, you all stood around that stove.

DD: Would it burn wood, or coal?

BW: Coal, it was hauled in. I don’t know if they got much money for it. The county or whatever they would get the money for the um, coal.

DD: Did you teacher stoke the stove, when you got there, or did everyone do that?

BW: No, she was there, before we all came. I think we always had nice teachers or whatever. I guess they have a job or something like this. Nowadays, I don’t really think it went. The teachers would haul the coal in. Well the coal was here and the stove was here.

DD: What, did you have to go up to the blackboard and write like detention or [?160] a lot of stuff on the blackboard?

BW: Mhm. Right here there was a blackboard. One time I stood there for two minutes and tried to get that subtraction written, and finally got it. I had always good grades.

DD: Do you remember some of the other subjects that you had?

BW: Spelling, you had to do reading, and I don’t know what for, but you had to do reading. You had history and geography, and all that kind of stuff.

DD: Did you read out loud a lot?

BW: Oh yeah.

DD: Did the older students like those in 7th and 8th grade, did they help kids in 1st, 2nd grade?

BW: Nah uh, not too much.

DD: They didn’t help them much; they had their own studies to do?

BW: Because there were a lot of kids. Earlier days I think people had more children than now.

DD: Families were always bigger back then.

BW: Yeah. Because we had eight, our uncles that lived, they had 8, and we all went to the same school. In [?172], their mother died. I can’t tell you how. The children didn’t get to school much. And they came in the morning late. They got caught in the wire. Then there were [?175]. Their dad was a drunk. They got out of the window and came to school. Their grades dropped. If you remember that stuff you know, [?177]. Well nobody was that rich anyway. But they were so many children, and like I said, all the boys pick on the girls. Oh, were those boys [?179] and in a three room house. Nowadays, they would be, but I don’t know what they would do now, in a three room house, with so many children, where they would all stay. They didn’t have a bed each one, I’m sure they didn’t.

DD: Did you raise the flag and stuff like that and say the “Pledge of Allegiance?”

BW: Mhm.

DD: Did you have any prayers you said in school?

BW: Well sometimes, because there was so many different religions in our school. The Heaps, they were Non-Catholic, and most were Catholic.

DD: Then you can’t say the prayers.

BW: Yeah, and Heaps, I think it was strict, their religion.

DD: Is there anything else you can remember about the comings and goings of the country school?

BW: Mm. No. I remember we walked, not always in the winter time. We had a sled and one horse. The little kids had to sit in the back and they were covered up. Helen was the driver, and I knelt there. The snow was blowing up my knees and I was cold. But we made it and we liked it.

DD: Can you tell us some of your chores as you were growing up? What type of chores did you have? You said you were the oldest, and then the boys came later, so I’m sure you had some chores.

BW: Clean the barn, get the hay. Everything, what a boy used to do.

DD: So did you do chores in the house and help your mother?

BW: The ones that worked outside didn’t help mother in the house. Two had to work outside. When you were done with the milking, you took it in and separated it. We had the separator in the house. During the summer we didn’t. They took the milk out again and gave it to the calves. You ate breakfast, and then you let the cows out.

DD: Did you do all of that before you were going to have breakfast?

BW: No, you separated and all of that, but you didn’t let the cows out until we were done eating.

DD: So you got up, did the milking, the chores, separated the milk and then you went and had breakfast. What was the typical breakfast for you then?

BW: Oh gee, always sausage, homemade sausage and stuff like that.

DD: Did you have the separated milk too, or did you have the whole milk?

BW: No, we drank milk, the whole milk and coffee, too. We were glad when we got to drink coffee.

DD: That was more of a treat then?

BW: Yeah.

DD: Did you have sugar and cream with it?

BW: Oh yeah, always cream.

DD: Always cream.

BW: Now days, that’s not the thing anymore. That wasn’t how it used to be. You would set the sugar on the table. You did not have to put it by a sugar cup or a sugar drink.

DD: When you were a child?

BW: Yeah.

DD: What were, could you explain the routine of the milking? What did you have to do? What you did when you got up and you went out?

BW: We went out and I don’t know, they were in the barn and all night, the cows.

DD: They were in the barn all night?

BW: All tied up, with the chain you know, and then just lock them up or whatever, I did it so many times. Then you clean off the board, and then you milk. Then you take the milk in and separate it, and then you take the milk out and give it to the calves. And what’s left over you tear down to the pigs.

DD: So got the calves separated milk. Did you pour the milk in a big trough or a barrel?

BW: Barrel, and then seed or feed and you know grinded up feed. In the evening and they got that in the morning. In the morning you made that mashed up, they got that in the evening.

DD: I’ll bet it smelled by the time you were all done.

BW: Yeah, but we were quite a ways from the barn. We had no trouble. Because we lived on the side of the creek and the water was running, springs through. We had a well just next to the kitchen. One where you know you had to pull up and one went down and one came up.

DD: So you had a rope and pulley system for your well?

BW: For the pigs. But for the drinking water we had a pump. You know then we had made Janice, they were called. She had many children; they didn’t know how to water. Nowadays I don’t know how people would live. And we were so glad when they came over. Everyday they came over and got water, and we all went down to the pump.

DD: Where did you keep the separated milk from the whole milk?

BW: We had a cement cellar, and it never dries out, it never soured.

DD: So you separated in the?

BW: Morning and the evening.

DD: In the cellar.

BW: And then we carried the cream down the cellar, and gave the milk to the pigs. Yeah. And uh.

DD: Is that where you saved the cream too? Or did the cream go into the well house or something like that?

BW: No, no, down in the cement cellar.

DD: It was pretty cool?

BW: Yeah, see we lived so close to the water, so it never dried out. Like my uncle, they all had cellars too. But the potatoes started to grow and everything, but ours didn’t. So many came and got the water to wash and clean. We always ran around the water, took our bath or whatever you would. Went off and had a box and went down and took a shower, or whatever you would call it.

DD: Okay, so you had pump in the house, or outside?

BW: Then you would pump your water and carry it inside. How long does it take a pail to, if you watered two chickens or so, to go and get another pail full? We usually had two pails filled. When you were bigger you got to carry two pails. We had one here and one for the pigs here.

DD: And that’s also how you watered cattle then?

BW: Yeah.

DD: How did you, do you have a pretty good sized barn?

BW: Oh yeah.

DD: [?272].

BW: We had more than one. The barn was in the middle, the big barn. And here was a shed where the cattle where we milked. And then here was the shed where feed went.

DD: So you had several buildings on the farm then.

BW: Oh yeah. A little house and a big barn.

DD: So you had a [?276] house then?

BW: For the horses. And then we had another big barn for the left over cattle, they were the milkers. There was another barn. And another was for the bull. You didn’t get to go around or fool around with him. He was tied up. Not tied up, but he was separate. All year long.

DD: He’d been separate?

BW: Yeah, but he got loose sometimes. And then they had a big shed where the [?283] and you never.

DD: So you had an [?284]. Can you explain that? Some people might, may not know what a [?284] was for.

BW: Oh that was a big car. And with the, we had a bucket too, a nice bucket. I know for Easter once, we went to church with a bucket [?288], or whatever. And you know they came home, and at 10:00 they went again. I don’t know.

DD: In the winter time did you go?

BW: With the sled. And they covered you up with blankets; they covered you up over the head. And we went to church with the sled 10 miles away.

DD: Ten miles? Is that the only time you drove the gasoline in the summertime when it was nice out.

BW: When there was that much snow.

DD: Let’s get back to the chores part. You said the cows were in the barn, so they had to be fed in the barn. Where did you get the hay from?

BW: Oh we had a lot of hay. We had a big lake and it would dry out. That wasn’t a barn upstairs. This side was the cattle, and the middle was the horses, and this side was the feed. You know they grinded the barley and oats, they grinded on this side.

DD: Help get the hay into the barn then?

BW: Oh yes, you got out to the hay stack, load the wagon and go down to the barn. You drove the horses to the barn, and then you put a rope over the hay. You hitched the horses on the other side, and then you unloaded it.

DD: So when you took the wagon and the horses out to the hay field, you had what was called a sling?

BW: Mmhmm.

DD: That’s what those ropes were?

BW: Haul it home, and.

DD: Pitch the hay on top of that, haul it home, and then you hooked up the ropes to other ropes, pulleys, and the other horses pulled it through the barn and this went up into the hay loft.

BW: Or the hay stack. That was some load to like it. We had a big lake, and it dried up sometimes, a hay lack. And sometimes we had always a lot of hay.

DD: You mean, you girls cut any of the hay?

BW: Oh yes. Ella my sister she was a year older than I was.

DD: Do you remember how they cut the hay?

BW: With that machine you know, there was a knife going up this way and when you started cutting, you stepped on a button and it went down and it cut. Did you ever see it?

DD: Oh yes.

BW: And the rake was.

DD: Okay, did you have a tractor for the mower?

BW: Not when I was, but later they did.

DD: Oh, that was with a horse drawn mower. When you bring it up, ready to cut it stripped and fell down and it was mowed. What happened if the horse stopped?

BW: Actually I never cut hay. I hauled it.

DD: You did the hauling.

BW: Loading it. We stayed, once stayed out and took the box home and would come with another box.

DD: How old were you when you started to help with that?

BW: I was at least 14 or 16 years old.

DD: Okay, so you didn’t do any haying when you were younger, until you got older. So was it your dad that did all the haying?

BW: And my mother.

DD: You mother did help with it?

BW: Oh yeah, she was out in the rake, raked it in rows. First day I seen her rake it in rows, and then the next day they came and raked it into piles. I don’t know the people, and they ate three times a day too. Nowadays you get it done. You wouldn’t think you would get it.

DD: So your mother [?344], do you remember?

BW: She didn’t get up when we were growing up. My folks didn’t get up until it was breakfast. It was cooked and everything already, when they got up.

DD: So who did the cooking, or whoever?

BW: You put it on, and went out milking. If you didn’t go milking, you had to stay in, watch it, and set the table and everything.

DD: And your folks got up after that?

BW: Then he hitched the horse up for us to go to school, and then he ate breakfast. We always drove in the winter time, with our sled with one horse on it. Us kids.

DD: So all of you kids went out and milked cows, and dad and mom were still in bed.

BW: Mmhmm.

DD: When you’re older.

BW: When we were getting.

DD: So they were getting worn, they probably had to do that all the time before, so they got to sleep in a little bit, [?368].

BW: Yeah, he got up and he got the horse ready for us to go to school.

DD: Do you know how many cows you normally milked?

BW: Twenty-five.

DD: Twenty-five.

BW: Twenty-five was the most.

DD: All year round?

BW: No, no, no. But we always milked.

DD: You only had some cows milked.

BW: We were one who sold the most cream at the cream station, not that I’m bragging, because we had the most milk.

D: Well you had quite a few cows.

BW: See we had four quarters of fence, you know what that is? And well there was some land worked up, but not too much. The Beaver creek ran through like this, and we never had trouble with water. And there were a lot of trees, you name it: apples, and plums and cherries. In the south field, when we were up here this summer, it was bare, not a tree.

DD: Does it make you a little sad when you go by your old farm?

BW: Yeah, if you had a sod house, you know what that is? That was the first main house.

DD: Is the house still standing?

BW: Falling down.

DD: But it’s still there? It’s still distinguished.

BW: Oh yes, I was going to go upstairs, but I thought maybe the steps would give out. You know there was a smoke house up there, in the upstairs, in our sod house. It was built right off the [?387] the stove where we heated one front room with coal, and where we smoked meat or sausage. Not too many brought their meat from town to have it smoked. My uncles, about 15 to 20 miles away, brought their meat from town and we smoked it.

DD: Okay, what time of the year did you do that?

BW: In the fall.

DD: In the fall. After harvest was all done?

BW: Yeah, in the fall. Around I think Thanksgiving, we started to butcher. And I don’t know if you ever saw the meat into big barrels. Then they salted it for so long and then smoked it. They hung up the meat all year round. Never spoiled or nothing.

DD: What did you salt with, fine barrels, and?

BW: Garlic.

DD: Garlic.

BW: Salt, pepper.

DD: And then when you took the meat off they started out with [?405].

BW: Yeah. Put it up in this little cup. And then it was smoked. It was smoked through a heating stove, smoked through the heater. And you couldn’t burn no coal, you had to burn wood or [?407]. Yeah. And that’s how it is smoked, and it took about three or four days.

DD: Smoking was a pretty long process, so when they started to smoke the stuff, it was still not cold enough where you had to worry, but then not warm enough where you overheated the house. Was it comfortable?

BW: Oh yeah. Because then my uncles, who were about 15 or 20 miles away, brought their meat, because they liked how it was smoked. It wasn’t smoked too fast or whatever it was. I don’t know they brought their meat. And we smoked it.

DD: Do you remember if they brought their own wood too?

BW: No, we had more wood than we should.

DD: Okay, so there were trees around?

BW: Oh yeah, yeah, yeah. You name it.

DD: Father cut the wood. Do you remember what some of the trees were?

BW: Oh there were box celdar, the plum trees, the cottonwood, cherries, and also buffalo berries. They were sometimes so loaded and we were right by the creek. The two berries they were the first ones.

DD: So when you were kids and younger did you have to do a lot of the other stuff or did you have to go and pick berries a lot?

BW: No, no.

DD: Did your mother make up quite a good amount of preserves and that?

BW: Jelly, oh yeah, we made a lot of jelly. Chokecherry.

DD: And some of the other?

BW: That was it.

DD: So you, what would you have [?434] you said you had sausage for breakfast. Did you have homemade bread?

BW: Homemade bread and sausage, and homemade butter and homemade jelly.

DD: Who got to turn the butter?

BW: The one that was next to oldest.

DD: Okay. (laughs) So you all kind of had.

BW: Had a job.

DD: Then you kind of took turns and?

BW: I know Saturday, I remember, first you made the butter, then you did the coffee drop. Beans you know, coffee beans, you name it. You grind it before you put the bean in. And then you look in the little box, and if you’ve got a lot of it, then you’ve done pretty good. Oh yeah.

DD: Now, what were some of the German names of some of the dishes that your mother made? Do you remember those? Did you have kugle?

BW: I had kugle, oh yeah we had kugle, we had [?451].

DD: [?451].

BW: Uh, all kinds of stuff, you know we didn’t buy too much.

DD: [?453].

BW: My dad didn’t like it.

DD: He didn’t like it.

BW: He didn’t like, and I liked it. So we didn’t have it too often.

DD: How about strudel?

BW: Nope, we never did eat it.

DD: Well your mother made some [?458] didn’t she?

BW: No.

DD: No, she didn’t make any of that.

BW: When you baked the dumplings from the bread dough, or the [?461] you fried them in shortening and they were about the [?462]. Then we rolled them up with garnish and ate them. Oh I think they were good. I wish they had something like it today. I could make bread too, it was good, you just had to take a loaf and you wouldn’t have to make the bread dough, just buy a loaf and thaw it out. You could make some muscles. But then you heat up the shortening for fried dough. Did you make that a lot?

DD: Yeah, we had some. It just depended on the time of year also.

BW: Mhm.

DD: And then I remember [?472] because my mother would make strudel and uh it would be so thin. If the humidity was high, it was always tougher. The weather made the difference. Whether it was good or not so good.

BW: How many were there in your family?

DD: There was five boys and four girls. They’re all almost [?478]. Now did any of your sisters or brothers go through 8th grade and graduate?

BW: Oh yeah.

DD: And did um.

BW: Not my oldest sister, she had to stay home, I think at the 6th grade.

DD: Did any of them go farther on into high school? So the farthest in your family went up to the 8th grade. And then we had uh, finals and had to be tested before you got your certificate?

BW: Mhm.

DD: Do you remember any of that?

BW: Yes, I had 88. My point was 88.

DD: Okay, that’s pretty good.

BW: Mhm.

DD: Do you remember some of what the?

BW: I know who she was and everything. And none of the kids could come to school that day, except the ones that had to write this.

DD: So the ones that weren’t through the 8th grade they were the only ones that weren’t there. Do you remember some of the questions that were asked?

BW: No. I didn’t want to.

DD: But it means geography that you had and grammar that you had?

BW: And one state I missed.

DD: So you had your English and did they allow you to speak German in school, or not.

BW: Some of them didn’t and some of them did. And we’d go out with [?504] or whatever it was called, fox and the goose during the winter time. I don’t know if it’s still allowed or not. (laughs). Yeah.

DD: But you weren’t punished for speaking German?

BW: No, I don’t think so.

DD: Now is there any memories that you have of your mother telling you how she was raised in Russia. She was twenty one when she came over here. Do you have any of those stories that she told you?

BW: No, she said, I think, you think, each kid has his own bed. Nowadays they’ve got such ideas. I didn’t know they had so many kids, and I didn’t know. A three room house or whatever they said, and they lived in the front and the horses were in the back, because they had to watch someone because they were stealing horses.

DD: Okay, so someone over there was stealing horses?

BW: Yeah.

DD: Do you remember was, it was all one building then?

BW: Yep.

DD: Okay. And so the family in the far end of it, and the.

BW: The barn was in the other end.

DD: Now did she ever say anything about a summer kitchen?

BW: No.

DD: She never said anything about that.

BW: She just said when she worked outside, how it was hired help. Now I sometimes think, they had it coming. The hired help when they came home from the fields, they had to wad and stem the weed out. And they came home and they had to wash themselves off by the trough by the well. And they got milk or sour milk. That was their food. And here we do our best for the hired help. And she said that’s how it started. One man was driving home from town and he got killed because he was so mean to the hired help. That started it.

DD: Is that a Russian, or?

BW: Russian.

DD: So someone killed the Russian because he was mean to the?

BW: Help. So uh.

DD: Did she say anything about [?550]. Did she ever say anything about the way the family life was, like on Sundays, go to church?

BW: Oh yes, oh yes. Well I think what they’re

End of tape, side one.

DD: Did she ever say anything about how the family life was, like on Sundays, go to church?

BW: Oh yes, oh yes. Well I think what they’re I think they lived not far from the church or whatever.

DD: Now were they a Catholic family over there?

BW: Oh yes.

DD: So on both sides of your family they were all Catholic.

BW: Mhm.

DD: Okay, so they had to have come from Catholic villages.

BW: My dad was born in America, but.

DD: But his ancestors did.

BW: Yeah, I see. I never heard too much from them. How they grew up. But my mom’s side came over here with so many kids. Grandma and grandpa lived in a little house. They cut some meat on Saturdays. We never ran out of meat or something. Cut a piece off for grandma and took it in. I don’t think they had too much after they came over here. They had two beds. Well, nowadays you didn’t each have to have your own bed. But nowadays each has its own bed.

DD: Do you remember much of your grandmother’s family?

BW: Oh yeah. Grandma Schmidt, Grandpa Schmidt, they used to take care of us, while my mom worked outside. You know [?014].

DD: Yes.

BW: She was one who made the stags or something. And then grandpa and grandma were watching us when we were smaller. I still remember when we had a big house. Long, big house, a sidewalk, and a fence and oh it was all trees to the fence. When the chickens came on the sidewalk, my grandpa got so mad and always got after them.

DD: Because they left something on the sidewalk.

BW: Yeah.

DD: We were raised that way too with chickens running around. They’ll leave something on the sidewalks.

BW: You know nowadays I don’t think too many farmers have too many chickens.

DD: Probably not.

BW: Like earlier days you raised chickens from a cluck. I don’t know if you remember it.

DD: Oh yeah, I remember handling the eggs and all of that.

BW: Yeah, chickens, and then that’s all, we had 100 chickens for the year.

DD: Did you run out?

BW: Well we never ran out of meat. We always had.

DD: So you always had quite a few chickens laying eggs.

BW: And laying eggs, and pigs, and we always had enough. Remember how they made the smoked ham.

DD: How’d you make it?

BW: In barrels. When it was butchered, it was put in barrels, then water, salt and garlic was put in. I don’t know how many days it has to be in that salt water, and then it was smoked. See, here was our front room and there was a hole like this upstairs. There the smoke came up and.

DD: So it would go upstairs.

BW: In that smokehouse. It was all made of mud. I should have gone up, but I was afraid when we went through there, if that smokehouse is still up there. And a lot of them brought, plus my uncles brought meat over to smoke, and oh, I hated it. We always had to carry it otherwise it burned.

DD: [?035].

BW: Or wood.

DD: Or wood. Okay, do you remember how the manure was used?

BW: Well now the fence would get it.

DD: Okay, well did it smell real bad?

BW: No, no, no. Not after it was dry.

DD: Well some people would think, well it’s going to smell. But when it was completely dried you put it in the stove. And that was.

BW: And you know you had a coal stove. Do you remember that?

DD: Did you always have water? Did your cook always with water?

BW: A tank in the back. And you could cook and have hot water, and you could bake and everything on one thing.

DD: That was one big stove.

BW: And oh my, I remember you had to polish them. With black polish, and but that’s long, long before I was born. Then they got an enamel one. Enamel and chrome. Oh yeah, yeah. They came for the parties. And all came out to see that stove. There was so much chrome on it that you had to work hard to get it shining. And it was sixty-five dollars.

DD: That was a lot of money back then.

BW: Yeah, it must have been. But we had that stove for a long time. But it didn’t have it in our old stove, I remember it had a thing in the back you could put water in and you had hot water all. This one did.

DD: You did have any so many burners on it and a big oven?

BW: Oh yeah.

DD: Did it have a separate bread oven?

BW: Nah uh. The oven was right underneath here. There was a time when on Name’s Day’s,
they had parties, and the people came over to see the new stove. And we had electricity too.

DD: Do you remember when you got electricity?

BW: Oh yeah. Now I remember but I mean.

DD: So your folks always had electricity?

BW: Oh yeah. But they had to run the motor to charge up the battery.

DD: So they had a wind charger?

BW: Nope, the motor was down in the basement, and the batteries were next to it, a whole table.

DD: Then you got to change the batteries.

BW: Then they charged them up, otherwise it was all wired to the barn and everything.

DD: The barn was pretty fancy? And the barn lit up too.

BW: Oh yeah.

DD: That wasn’t that common in those years.

BW: Years ago with the lantern before we start milking. We milked, I think, we milked twenty-five cows by hand.

DD: You didn’t have any milkers; it was all three or four of the girls milking? What about the boys, when did they start to milk?

BW: Let’s see they came so late. The youngest one was a boy. They first had three; then it took four years before they had four or five more. They had twins. And about that we all grew up, we ate three times a day.

DD: What did you have for supper most of the time? Was it pretty much the same stuff, or does it vary? Like nowadays there’s so many variations.

BW: Ham was mostly, and we had head cheese, I remember [?074] made head cheese. I wasn’t very fond of it, but it was something different. Then we had chicken, we always had a lot of chicken. We ate a lot of chicken too. We had an outside celler where we put our canned pork and beef. See some had cellars that could not keep cold. But we were so close to the water, so our cellar never dried out.

DD: Did you have a good size garden then?

BW: Oh yeah. Good size garden for the whole town. They came and got stuff. We always had to work so hard, and they came and gave you maybe a nickel or so.

DD: Do you remember some of the stuff you made in the garden?

BW: Watermelon, pumpkin, [?82],cucumbers, tomatoes, and oh, tomatoes. You can’t believe it. And that’s what we mostly used at that time. What would you think of raising it?

DD: Oh I was just wondering, you know, today you raise a lot of different things.

BW: And we pickled a lot. Fifty gallons of watermelon we pickled.

DD: Pickled crocks?

BW: Yeah.

DD: Do you remember how that was done?

BW: Oh yeah. That’s all water, onions, garlic and the old red peppers.

DD: Put the cucumbers in there and filled it up?

BW: See we had an outside cellar; this side was nothing but jars, and the corner was the watermelon barrel, this side was nothing but cucumbers and tomatoes. We kept ten gallons of this tomato stew in the jars.

DD: Pots.

BW: In the pot, in the barrels. And this was potatoes. They never grew or never in the spring dirt, we had to take them in and put them in the house under the pot to grow.

DD: So the potatoes were they in a sack or were they in a pile?

BW: In a pile. It was fenced off. Yeah.

DD: And carrots?

BW: Oh and beets.

DD: And those stay pretty good in your cellar?

BW: Yeah, and see nothing, yeah. And the meat was, canned meat of your own and you got shortening or fat that never molded. Some you couldn’t use during spring or summer because it was too warm, it got soft. Our cellar didn’t. Not that I’m bragging but you can’t go up. But I’m afraid to go in, you never know with the holes nowadays or what, I’m afraid to step in there. Then once in a while there was a snake or a lizard.


DD: Well we’re going to take a break here; I’m going to switch the tape here, so just hold on.

Tape ends. [Side two]

Tape Two: Counter started over

DD: Okay, we’re going to start again now. This is the second tape. With my interview with Barbara Weigel. You were talking about the family being Catholic, now when you were growing up and going to St. Mary’s, you said, what was Catechism like? When did you have Sunday school?

BW: Every morning, Sunday morning before Mass. We oh, geez, they gave you something to know by the next Sunday. We sit in the barn in the morning, and see if we knew it.

DD: So when you were milking and stuff like that, you were practicing your stuff for Sunday school.

BW: Yeah.

DD: Did you have nuns then?

BW: No, no, no, Father Nickel.

DD: Father Nickel, he was your priest. What was, did you read services in German?

BW: Oh yeah.

DD: Do you remember how long they were?

BW: Oh Father Nickel was long, he was hard to understand. He came from overseas.

DD: He came from Russia [?013].

BW: He went home to many years ago, he was, and I think, 39 or 36. He went home to the country where he was born, and he died, dropped dead at the depot. That isn’t too many years ago.

DD: Oh. Okay, so he went back to visit where he came from, somewhere in Russia, and then he died there. Now what were some, what were the burying services then to today, what is the difference, what was a typical mass like back then?

BW: Long.

DD: Oh it was long; it wasn’t any 45 to an hour. You wouldn’t get out of church.

BW: No, no, they wouldn’t, go to church now, anymore. Tell you how our church was at St. Mary’s. First the Catechism down in the basement, then the rosary, then mass, then benediction. And then you left. That’s long.

DD: So you probably had three hours worth of church in the morning? And then when you left, it was definitely time to have breakfast, or.

BW: Lunch. Every Sunday, we didn’t miss one.

DD: And the service was in German?

BW: In German.

DD: Could you say the Hail Mary in German?

BW: I knew it real good.

DD: Do you remember it?

BW: Yes. [?027]. Didn’t you ever learn it?

DD: Oh, I learned German in college, so I don’t know.

BW: Oh, were your folks not German?

DD: Well my grandmother was. My father was half German. But uh.

BW: Well they, do they speak?

DD: Well they would speak, but my grandmother never wanted to teach us children. Why I don’t know. That’s part of the reason why I make documentaries. I want to learn more about the heritage, and what comes from the Russian area. So what was it like, when I remember a Catholic service set in Latin?

BW: Yeah.

DD: Now when did it go from German to Latin in your church?

BW: I don’t know.

DD: You don’t remember, okay.

BW: They were Latin. Uh, it was Latin. We had Father [?036] for thirty years.

DD: Now while he was still there, was it still set in German, or while he was there, did it change to Latin.

BW: I don’t know. He was still there when we left.

DD: So when you left to get married, it was still set in German?

BW: Yeah.

DD: Okay. And when did you get married?

BW: In 19 uh, 1936.

DD: In 1936 it was still set in German then.

BW: Mhm.

DD: When you were married, you were probably married in St. Mary’s church there?

BW: Evolved to St. John’s church, but it was all the same.

DD: Can you describe your wedding? Your wedding day?

BW: Oh I guess it was just like any ordinary day. (laughs) I think we went to church, and Mass was at 10 o’clock in the morning. Then you went home and [?048] long and stuff. And then in the afternoon there was so much sitting around and gabbing. At 3 o’clock you had coffee and cake. Now they didn’t believe in coffee then. Then you had a big supper like chicken and all that stuff. You went to the dance and after dance you actually went home.

DD: Now during all that time, when did you get married?

BW: I think at 10 o’clock in the morning.

DD: So you got married during the Mass.

BW: In the morning, yeah, the Mass, yeah. Then you went home and you made breakfast, then you had lunch. Soup and all that stuff at 10.

DD: Did you get married on a Saturday, or a Sunday?

BW: Oh, no, no. A Tuesday, Saturday’s seem you have to clean house.

DD: So most the time you couldn’t have anything done in the church on Saturday and Sunday, because of the church business.

BW: Yeah.

DD: So you got married on a Tuesday.

BW: Nowadays it’s all because of [?057] if they get married always on a Saturday. But at that time, you usually got married on a Tuesday, not usually on Thursdays, because that was too close to Fridays. See we didn’t eat meat on Fridays.

DD: Did you still have to fast all on Fridays?

BW: Yeah. No, we didn’t eat no meat otherwise.

DD: You’d eat fish.

BW: Whatever you had.

DD: Did you have to fast before Mass, how long did you have to fast before Mass? Do you remember that?

BW: Well, we never, we went to communion, we didn’t eat breakfast.

DD: Now, is communion different than it is now?

BW: See at that time, they didn’t give communion at high Mass. And here you get communion at high mass, and everything. At that time you had to go to the early Mass, and by the time you had to count all, it was always too late to go to communion, so you went to the later Mass.

DD: Okay, so you only did communion...

BW: Certain times of the year, you know, yeah.

DD: Now did you have summer bible school at all?

BW: Mhm. Well we lived 10 miles out of town.

DD: You just went all through the year to Sunday school, like now they have it, summer bible school. When I was growing up they’d have summer bible school.

BW: Yeah, we did too. Then you went to communion, got your veil and all that stuff. Otherwise, we didn’t go to Catechism school, and all. Fourteen days, it was not good, you got to go away, see we lived 10 miles away from town. We never got to go to town. That time we were about to stay in with out aunt. She does Catechism for two weeks, and then we were educated.

DD: Okay. In two weeks time, you were to know everything about Christianity.

BW: Yeah.

DD: What did your parents say about change from the old, or didn’t they talk much about that?

BW: I don’t know. I think when they were in Russia, it was stricter than when they were over here. So she was kind of.

DD: She didn’t talk a lot about the services.

BW: Nah uh. I think that they were a lot tougher over there than they were over here. Or more religious or whatever it was. It was different I think.

DD: Do you think it was because everything is more spread out here than it was then?

BW: Yeah, for me it seems like they live in they hay with the horses they lived here, all in one.

DD: Everyone lived in a village.

BW: Yeah.

DD: Instead of individual homes and stuff like here. So that’s probably part of what they had to adapt to.

BW: I think that’s what you, she didn’t say too much about, she said it was tough. I mean, they were mean to their [?088]. She said where she worked, she was hired out. Well I don’t know, if they didn’t have anything. But she was hired out, for three months. She got 90 dollars in three months. She said when the hired help came home, they didn’t get to go in the house, had to wash at the well. They got separated milk, somewhat sour. She said, no wonder, it’s no wonder they [?092] didn’t start to kill.

DD: Well did your mother ever say anything about how they handle death and funerals?

BW: Nah uh.

DD: Well, how when you were growing up, how much different is a funeral than it is today?

BW: I don’t think there is too much difference, do you?

DD: Well did you go to a funeral home?

BW: No. They usually were brought to the house, at that time. And then they came and said a rosary and stuff. They sat up all night because nobody would take them, but they sat up all night anyways. The next day he was carried.

DD: So let’s say a person died on Tuesday.

BW: Then maybe was buried on a Thursday.

DD: They were put in the coffin, and now did the doctor or a coroner come out and have to verify the death, or?

BW: I have no idea. How was it at your place?

DD: Well, I’m a little bit younger than you are, so some of the changes you know. They put the body in a casket in the house, or in the living room or the biggest room probably. And then they let them view the body for a while. What did the Paul bearers do, do you remember?

BW: Just to me it seems, just got them and that’s it.

DD: Do you remember did the Paul bearers dig the grave? Some places that are what happened and that’s what a Paul bearer was for, was to help dig the grave, but organize cemeteries and stuff like that.

BW: You know who dug the grave for my mother? My two brothers.

DD: Your brothers?

BW: Yeah. But I think it isn’t like this anymore.

DD: Oh no. It’s completely different.

BW: I think St. Mary’s has got a grave digger now. To me it seems like it.

DD: So you don’t think too much of what was done in Russia that your mother or your grandparents would talk about.

BW: [?114] in Russia.

DD: Right. But you’d always remember a lot of what they said about, and a lot of that stuff?

BW: Nope, she said the hired help was treated so mean, that’s why they chained around.

DD: Is that where a lot of your ancestors came from? Did they make a lot of wine?

BW: I think they did.

DD: Certain areas of the Black Sea area were better known for that.

BW: Yeah, and they lived this end, and the horses were in this end. Because they had to watch out because there was so many horses stolen.

(phone interruption)

BW: Like my mom was 21 years old. She knew a lot was different that was over there than over here already.

DD: Did your mother ever speak or learn English? She always spoke German. How about your dad?

BW: He went to school.

DD: He went to school and he did learn English.

BW: Yeah, he went to school, and was in the 5th grade. There was a bridge not far from the school. They went over there skating.

DD: Oh. So it was more fun to skate than it was to go to school. Okay. But your mother never did learn English? So you always talked German to your mother?

BW: And to my dad. But he could read, but not the sentences like I or you could.

DD: But he preferred to be spoken to in German?

BW: Yeah.

DD: Okay.

BW: He was the youngest of all, and he was born in 1989, and they got married in 1989, so.

DD: [?133]. Okay. Do you remember the early newspapers, the [?135] or the....

BW: Oh, we had the Aimes County Record once a week.

DD: Is that a, in English, or was that in German?

BW: In English, but my mother got, oh what was it called? She got a German paper. But I could read good German. But now you don’t do it anymore. You should practice or never give it up or something, then you wouldn’t forget it. But I could read pretty good. Well we had Catechism in town in church, and that was in German.

DD: Now was your Catechism, like when your Baptism, your Confirmations, your 1st Communion, was that all in German, or was that in English?

BW: No, I think that was a German [?143] once.

DD: But you would have that? Your birth certificates, you still have those?

BW: I think so.

DD: Okay. Getting back to the newspaper that your mother had to read, from the North Dakota Herald.

BW: Yeah, I think they published it. Oh they could [?147] Thursday comes to read.

DD: So you got the North Dakota Herald, and that was all in German, and you really looked forward to it.

BW: I don’t know what it’s called. We got the Aimes County Record then. [?150-151]. Once a week.

DD: Now were you born in a hospital?

BW: No, they didn’t, I don’t think there was no hospital. I think you would have had to go to Bismarck or Linton maybe.

DD: Just like a young person watching this today, or sitting here listening to this, they know that everyone goes to the hospital when they are born. Can you explain what it was like born out there?

BW: I have no idea. We had 8 kids, and I think they were all born at home.

DD: Oh yeah. Did the doctor ever help your mother?

BW: Not the first three of them. They had midwives or whatever they call them. But I don’t know how it was done. I haven’t got any idea, nobody ever said anything. But from then on they had doctors; they had to come 10 miles. And at that time, I think he was busy.

DD: Well it was a large family I suppose he’s needed all the time.

BW: I think so, but I don’t know how much he made, how much they would get. I think 10 dollars was the most, I think. I haven’t any idea.

DD: Now, when the midwife would come would she come from a distance, or was she a local?

BW: I haven’t got any idea about that. I mean, midwife. Because my three [?167] and Dennis were born at home. And Olivia was in the hospital on July 2nd.

DD: Who helped you with the birth of your children?

BW: The hospital. Oh, you mean the first two?

DD: Yeah.

BW: The doctor, we had a doctor in town.

DD: Now how about if you got a cut, or burn, you couldn’t run to the doctor all the time, like today. Did your mother or grandparents have any old German remedies or anything?

BW: Not that I know. I don’t think that as long as I was home they never went to the doctor.

DD: Would it be a type of save, or any type of potions you would make or, that? Or when you got an upset stomach?

BW: We took raindrops.

DD: What were raindrops?

BW: Peppermint drops. Did you ever have them? We had peppermint, and we had one that was called green drops, and that was [?179]. That’s all we had until [?180] came around.

DD: Did you have the [?181].

BW: Mhm. And I think I still have got one.

DD: You can make any most type of [?183].

BW: Mhm.

DD: Do you remember any, oh like if you had a toothache, or something like that, any remedy for that?

BW: No, but I had a toothache, oh, and then I couldn’t go until spring work was done. When it was done, they took me to the doctor and I had [?186] and two pulled. It cost 20 dollars.

DD: The dentist had all that done.

BW: Yeah.

DD: And you were about, how old were you when that happened? Do you remember?

BW: Maybe I was 14.

DD: So you were.....

BW: But I still remember laying on the table, and my cheeks getting cold [?191]. Well when the spring work was done we went to the doctor. Well we had to go I think 20 miles. We went to [?193-195]. Did you remember? Did you ever have your teeth pulled or something?

DD: Oh yeah, I’ve had quite a bit of dental work done.

BW: And they took an arm and a leg at that time.

DD: Close. Do you remember anything about any other type of folk medicine? Does the term [?200] mean anything?

BW: What was it made of?

DD: Well did your mother or your grandparents ever mention [?202]?

BW: I think when we grew up we had [?203 and 204]. And I still have some. [?202].

DD: What was a typical Christmas like? I’m not talking like today when everyone goes to the store and buys gifts and all that. What was it like when you were growing up?

BW: Maybe you got a doll, candy, and that was it. But it wasn’t like nowadays, and you have an arm and a leg.

DD: Do you know what I’m talking about when I ask about the [?210]?

BW: Yeah [?211].

DD: Can you explain that?

BW: He didn’t come to our house.

DD: How come?

BW: I don’t know. He was upstairs, and they had a chain up there, and he rattled it and that was Santa Claus coming. Go out on the front porch there he left your stuff out there.

DD: How about Chris Cringle?

BW: Oh yes, my sister was Chris Cringle. Oh yes, I remember you taken old straw hats, you wear summers, at that time you didn’t want to get brown, remember? And you had these thick hats on, and she put some [?218] and stuff, and ribbons all the way down. Oh it was nice, and here comes Chris Cringle. And I was bigger already, I didn’t play the game. The five younger ones, she brought it in and set it down, and supposed to give it and she had a whip. They were going to come and get it, and then she my brother said, and he was the oldest one, and he was the only boy we had. He went and got it, and by the time she looked, they had it on the table, the whole box to see what was in it.

DD: But you knew it was your sister doing that?

BW: Yeah.

DD: Okay, that was a nice time wasn’t it?

BW: Yeah, that was. Well we were first three, and then four years later they started new. My older sister, and then Aunt Helen and I were just a year apart, not even. So they did it for four years, then the twins started.

DD: Did they have chivalries and things like that? Well like when you got married, did you get chivalries?

BW: A dance, at 8.

DD: Did you have a barn dance?

BW: No, in town.

DD: It was in a regular dance hall?

BW: Mhm.

DD: Can you explain a little about your wedding dance?

BW: Oh it was the same as any other, they had [?234]. Church was at 10 o’clock in the morning, then you went home and had breakfast, and then at 1:30 or 12:30, you had chicken and all that stuff. And then in the evening, you had a big dinner, sausage and all that stuff.

DD: And then you had a dance in the evening, and that went on for quite a long time?

BW: I don’t know, it was 1 or 2, but, we were in a hurry to get home.

DD: Oooh.

BW: I don’t know. But it snowed and it was slippery and icy. I was October 21st. We lived ten miles from town. You had to be careful when we went to town. There were no grades or, the roads like nowadays, I don’t know how they made it then with these little cars and stuff, but they made it to church. But [?241] he was the first one to have a car, my dad.

DD: Is that right.

BW: Mhm. 1914.

DD: And you said the car was a?

BW: A Ford, unless he put the things on the sides, because you could kind of snag them together if you got cold or something.

DD: So if you closed the car, they had leather [?262] that would snap together.

BW: Haven’t you got no idea about that?

DD: Well I’m trying to have you explain it for the people that are watching this will know what you’re talking about.

BW: What year were you born, or don’t you tell me?

DD: Oh, I was born in 1952.

BW: Oh, you’re just a kid.

DD: Yeah, I’m just a kid. But when they went to college, now, did they have a heater and an air conditioned room?

BW: No, no, no, no, no.

DD: None of that stuff.

BW: No, no, no.

DD: Okay, could you explain that car a little bit more?

BW: Oh it was a [?273] yeah, it was a 14 model. So you don’t remember too much of them.

DD: Well I’ve seen pictures of them, and stuff like that.

BW: And then when it was so cold they snapped some curtains on the side, and uh, this side where he was sitting my dad, because we had no boys, he was the only one who drove. He had to jump over it and it was strangling him. Grandma said, hear it, unless he went in before she did, that was the way it was. We had to sit in the back.

DD: Okay, how fast did the car go?

BW: I don’t know.

DD: Not very fast though, did it?

BW: I actually don’t know. But I think it went faster than a horse and a buggy.

DD: Yeah, it went faster than that.

BW: And then we had a [?283] after that, a [?283], that was a big, big car.

DD: Do you remember about when your dad left that message?

BW: Oh yeah, and was it, I remember when they carved an all over to see the car, they went over there to the house and they looked at the car, and it only had 2 doors, but it was such a big car that the back could pile 5 kids, we usually had five that went to church, and then we usually had cream pails.

DD: So your dad put cream pails in there and took them...

BW: Town.

DD: Did you do that every day, or did you do other?

BW: No, we usually went, let’s see 10 gallons. We usually went on a Wednesday, Saturday we always went to church, or to town, and took the cream and the eggs. But sometimes we ran out of cans and stuff, so we had to go to work in the afternoon, hurry up and come home and eat and then take the cream to town. Three 10 gallons, you know at that time it was 10 dollars a gallon, 10 gallons got a lot.

DD: That was quite a bit of money back then though.

BW: Yeah.

DD: Did anyone in your family play musical instruments?

BW: No, I don’t think so.

DD: Not your dad or mom or grandparents?

BW: Well she came from Russia in February and she got married in November.

DD: How about songs, was there a favorite song or anything like that? I’m guessing your mother didn’t talk a lot about what it was like growing up in Russia.

BW: Oh yeah, I think they had quite a few children, like 8 or 10 or whatever it was. And they lived to me, like the house and the farm were all in one. It was the house, and to me it seems like there was so many horses stolen that they had to watch them.

DD: Now did she ever say that there were one or two people having, when they’re done milking their cows in the morning, they would let the cows out and they would go out to the pasture and they were just herders that would go and herd them and get them. Did she mention anything about that? Or like...

BW: I know when she said when they cut their wheat they had to stand it out, there was no machine, and I think it was terrible.

DD: So that’s all, that’s about all you remember, you don’t remember her talking about something or other stuff. Okay.

BW: And they must have had, and the horses were stolen a lot they had to be careful.

DD: Did your mother or your grandparents bring any photographs from Russia? [?326]

BW: Just their pictures.

DD: Now, pictures of your parents?

BW: Oh yeah.

DD: [?330] of your brothers and sisters. Did you have any special clothes that you had for going to church? Did you wear special clothes for church, or?

BW: Oh yes. I still do. Not like they do now. That put them on, and come home and takes them off.

DD: So you had special Sunday clothes.

BW: Oh yes, Sunday hats and shoes. I remember that when the ladies wore hats, my mother and the neighbor lady never did [?339] they always wore a shawl and did tied here, and I got the shawl. And they had them made by a certain lady.

DD: Now was that shawl made over in Russia?

BW: No, there were ladies here that made it.

DD: Now would you have any clothing or anything of your past relatives that came from Russia, or don’t you know?

BW: Nope. Never. I don’t think we ever did. She never showed us any clothes I think. When they all, they said when we got over, and [?349] is where they landed. But her brother had a butcher shop already; he came a couple years earlier. She said when grandpa saw that, and he said, he stamped on the floor and he says, [?353] he call it [?354] I don’t know whether that’s trim or whatever it is. He said this is where we supposed to be.

DD: So your grandfather, your grandparents probably never learned English did they?

BW: I don’t think so, because he died fast, he dropped dead. Grandma was 91 years old. But from this sister, they had her. She never was alone.

DD: So then after your grandfather died, then she [?362]. So did she live with you? For quite a while then?

BW: Not that I knew when I was small, and it was 1921, so.

DD: When your grandmother died?

BW: When grandpa died yeah.

DD: When grandpa died, then. Do you remember when your grandmother died?

BW: Mhm.

DD: Now this is Grandma Schmidt right?

BW: Yeah. She was old. She got married again.

DD: Do you remember who she re-married?

BW: Yes, I remember now, I was just going to say well I don’t know it, but I was at their house when they lived at Strasburg. They weren’t married to long, then they died too. I think they just got married for somebody to talk to, or.... go to church, that’s likely.

DD: Now does your grandparents [?374] too?

BW: Uh huh.

DD: So most of your ancestors that came over here are [?376] unless he marries you, or.

BW: Yeah, and the [?378] is the first cemetery in North Dakota I think. It was with a little church and august this summer they burned it down. A prairie church, do you remember that?

DD: St. John’s Prairie Church? And that’s where your father’s family is buried?

BW: My husband’s folks.

DD: Oh your husband’s folks.

BW: Michael. Yeah, but my folks are [?385] we went to the cemetery this spring. And another thing I got a niece who works in D.C. She wanted to go to all the cemeteries around. We went all over the prairie that day.

DD: So it was an enjoyable day?

BW: Well, it was just something to do.

DD: Did it bring back memories?

BW: Yeah, she wanted to go see all of the grandparents. She went to Hagg, where there is a big cemetery; she walked all the way around. I sat in the car. But I knew that everybody is it, so.

DD: It brought back memories for you then.

BW: I think she should become a [?399] she would be better at a house or at a lake.

DD: Now, are there any other special memories you remember about growing up, that you would like to talk about?

BW: No. That was so many, earlier days, they always made moonshine.

DD: Oh.

BW: Oh yeah, we always did. But not selling it, just for our own use they made it. Well they came and they heated it up some, and you got a teaspoonful.

DD: So they made your liquor and they made your wine.

BW: Oh yeah.

DD: How about beer?

BW: Oh yes, beer we made [?410] and set the other one. And wine, I don’t know how that was made, but we made wine. And liquor we always made our own liquor; it sits in the kitchen for three days. Did you ever make that?

DD: No, I never did. My grandparents talked about making beer, wine, and so many things.

BW: I don’t know how they made the wine, they [?417] the grapes first, and they squeezed out juice for so many days, I actually don’t know how it’s made, not that I want to make some.

DD: No?

BW: No.

DD: But they would use when they have that wine for a meal, or special occasion wine, or have a glass of beer or wine.

BW: I think so. I don’t know about the wine, but I know, beer, when you haul hay, your so, my dad usually had a, it was always in a bottle. He had a bottle; we all drank out of one bottle.

DD: So it was more about having something liquid to drink, verses having a beer, it was more of that type of tradition.

BW: Yeah, and I don’t think that’s it anymore.

DD: Yeah, nowadays you go and have a beer, where as you were growing up, your parents, beer was more of a.

BW: Thing, when somebody came, on Sundays, we usually had Sunday Company where we cook and stuff, and then we had a beer or something.

DD: So did you have a lot of visitors? A lot of family visitors?

BW: Oh yeah.

DD: A range of people you didn’t see very often come on Sundays, or?

BW: No, like my dad, my brothers, my husband, my dad’s couple of brothers, they came on Sundays. They sat out and like now it would be nice. Our yard had 400 trees. It was a side road way out there. They had maybe a bottle of beer or something. But I think the sidewalk was still there when we walked up there this summer.

DD: You had a cement sidewalk?

BW: Well, see the place was a sod house, and the ropes were 20 to 25 pounds, and it was all fenced in with wood. Big with all trees and we used the house.

DD: So you had a wooden fence around the whole tree area. Can you describe the house a little bit more?

BW: Here was the folk’s room in the big sod house. There was another where you put the pies and stuff, another one you walked through, and then there was the one we slept in, it was 25x25. Then there was the kitchen, it was nothing. Here was the cupboard all filled in. Here was the table with a bench here and a bench there where all the kids and folks sat.

DD: Okay now, could you actually see the sod?

BW: Oh no.

DD: You said you could see the cupboards, how were they in the sod?

BW: The outside was sided and the inside was papered. Just about every year your kitchen was papered. The front room was papered every two years.

DD: So you moved up next the sod, and clean that, and put the paper out.

BW: When the catalogs came, oh man, there were three different kinds of Sears, Montgomery’s and some other kind. Then you had to cut it out the side, with some, one side you had to cut off and one side you painted over it. Not every year we painted the front room or stuff, but the kitchen was painted every year. But towards the end, it was wash-clothed towards the bottom, and the top, was pop, painted.

DD: How was that house in the winter time?

BW: Warm, not bad, not bad. Well they were about that thick, and here was some month’s mail here, because when you could sit in the window sill, you could sit in there.

DD: So there wasn’t just one put together, there was two blocks.

BW: Yeah.

DD: And in the summertime was it?

BW: Cooler. You leave the doors open and closed, you know it stays cooler. We had electricity. We had our own, you put it in, [?504] time, not towards the last, I think we got them. [?504-505].

DD: Okay.

BW: We had the barns and everything.

DD: What about telephones?

BW: Oh yes. It was too long, or too short.

DD: What was the reason for that?

BW: It was our telephone, instead of ah...

DD: Like it is now...

BW: No, we just had two longs and two short.

DD: And where was the telephone at in the house?

BW: On the wall.

DD: On the wall.

BW: A big box, brown. [?516].

DD: That’s [?516].

BW: Yeah.

DD: And that’s when you were going to call someone, that’s whoever had three shorts and a long.

BW: No, no. You had to have the number. We had two shorts and two longs, but somebody else’s was different.

DD: Right, so you would pick up the phone and what would you do to call someone?

BW: Whatever their number was. If theirs was a long or a short, or a short and a long. You had to dial their number.

DD: Did you ever have to talk to an operator? A local operator?

BW: I think uh, where we were on, there was nothing to see, that was the doctor, so when you had a baby, you call doctor, and then he called [?533] and then they came out. It’s all together different. One doctor is [?535] and my other doctor, and they decided maybe he wasn’t and maybe he was. Our neighbor’s last name was Dockter.

DD: Oh, so their last name was Dockter.

BW: Yeah, so you had to call them, and they called [?540]. But it was nowadays, you [?543]. All a big family and they all got along. Did you come from a big family?

DD: Six.

BW: Oh yeah, you said it, six, well we had eight. Twins.

DD: Now how many of your brothers and sisters are alive?

BW: One brother, I only had two, they were twins. Dorothy is alive. [?550] is dead. Ella and Mary, there were three of them. I think, that would be eight. My oldest sister, she’s no, [?557]. And there was Ella a year older than I was.

Tape Stops. Counter at 560

Side B of Tape 2- restarted counter

BW: Then they didn’t have none for three days, the [?002] the twins, the Mary is dead and Mike is alive.

DD: Now to a little sense of, you said you don’t speak German ever, now, when you get together with your sisters, do you speak some German together?

BW: Very little, I think. They live in Bismarck, both of them.

DD: Did you speak German to your kids?

BW: No.

DD: Do your kids know how to speak German?

BW: They kind of know what it’s about [?007]. My dad could, he went to school over here, but my Ma, see, she came from Russia, and she was 21 years old.

DD: So she never learned how to speak English.

BW: No. See my aunt; she was next to my mom. She got to know, but she lived in town though, but the kids you know go to school, she learned how to understand stuff like that.

DD: Was there any, was there anything you want to particularly talk to me in German a little bit about.

BW: What would it need to be?

DD: Well I got some questions I would probably ask. Um, this is something, we talk about, and I’ll ask you in German, so we can pick up on the dialect and [?017].

BW: What is that?

DD: [?018]. [?019]

BW: Well, what’s that? Say it again.

DD: What’s your name?

BW: What’s your name? [?019].

DD: [?019]. Like I said I learned German....

BW: Differently.

DD: In College.

BW: Oh.

DD: [?020].

BW: Where I was born? In [?021] North Dakota. May the 25th, [?022] 1914.

DD: [?023].

BW: [?023-024]. Schmidt Singer.

DD: [?025].

BW: What?

DD: [?026]. Your brothers and sisters and father and mother.

BW: My oldest sisters name is [?027]. The other sister was Helen [?027] but she’s dead, and then it’s me.

DD: How do they say your name in German?

BW: [?028]. (laughs)

DD: Alright, that has a little bit more of a roll to it than it does in English.

BW: And then my sister Rose, well it’s [?030]. Well then the twins were Sebastian and Dorothy [?031]. Then was my sister, Mary. She’s dead too [?032], and then Mike was my, grandpa’s name, always, [?034] was my grandpa Singer. That’s what you have to be named after grandma or grandpa. I was named after Grandma Singer. That’s not anymore. You would name your children, not that I’m saying there’s nothing wrong after your folk’s, your mother or you dad. It’s just as nice as anybody else.

DD: Okay, they had a, to keep a family name, the tradition going, that’s all. Okay, well, I want to thank you very much, I really enjoyed your time, visiting with you, I always do. I’m sure we’ll come up with more stuff to talk about in time.

BW: And I think the earlier it is.

DD: And this clock here, could you explain this clock here.

BW: What.

DD: You said it was your mother’s?

BW: My mother said when she got married, [?045-046], and they got married in 1910.

DD: So you think, but you’re not sure, but you think this clock came from Russia, right?

BW: I don’t know where it came from.

DD: But it’s been hanging around since at least 1910.

BW: Yeah, Grandpa Singer, I don’t know he came over from before. In 1915 they got children from [?050]. I don’t know if he, I actually don’t know if he was one of [?051] or not.

DD: Okay. This is the end of the twelve minute tape that’s left off of the interview in Bismarck on 7/22/04 when Filamina, Rose and Barb were being interviewed on the couch. This is the last 12 minutes of tape; it actually goes on tape number 3.

BW: I couldn’t read the paper but I could read the....

RS: I could read like the North Dakota Herald, I could read the names of the towns, but everything else [?061].

DD: So your parents had that?

RS: Yeah, my mom could talk or [?062].

BW: That’s why we had to walk.

RS: This [?063-065].

BW: You know I could read the Catechism sheet, both of them.

RS: Yeah, see well when you went to Catechism you had a teacher. [?065].

BW: Yeah. I took two weeks.

RS: Huh?

BW: Two weeks.

RS: See when I went in we didn’t have it, so all we had to learn was the prayers. [?066-068].

BW: And then they went to school.

RS: [?069]. You know they went to school there, and they talked.

DD: Anything else?

RS: That’s it.

DD: Thank you very much.

RS: Don’t say girls, say grandmas. (laughs)

DD: The [?075] girls. I guess it wasn’t twelve minutes long, but according to the tape; I had that much on video. But this finished off the interview with the three singer girls in Bismarck on July 22nd 2004.


 

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