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Interview with Paul P. Welder (PW)
Paul P. Welder

Conducted by Betty and Chris Maier (BM/CM)
9 August 2000, Linton, North Dakota

Transcription by Beverly H. Wigley
Editing by Betty Maier

 


BM: August 9th, the year 2000. I am Betty Maier, a volunteer interviewer from the Germans from Russia Heritage Collection at the North Dakota State University Libraries in Fargo, North Dakota. And it’s a pleasure to visit with Paul P. Welder in Linton where this interview is taking place. And Chris Maier is here too and he’s running the tape recorder right now but in a little while you’re going to hear from him. So we’re going to get started with some of the very first basic questions. What is your name and the date of your birth?

PW: My name is Paul P. Welder and I was born April the 14th, 1912.

BM: And where were you born?

PW: I lived in McIntosh County which would be three miles north of Greenway, South Dakota, but I was born in North Dakota, one mile into North Dakota over the state line.

BM: So did your folks live in Greenway then?

PW: They lived in North Dakota over the state line; three miles north of Greenway. We were in the Berlin township.

BM: And what was your father’s name?

PW: My father’s name was Paul Welder.

BM: They didn’t change it much, did they? What does the “P” stand for in your name?

PW: Phillip, Paul Phillip.

BM: And where was your father born?

PW: My father was born in Russia. Elsass, Russia, as far as I know.

BM: So he was in that village. Did he die there?

PW: No, he died in Zeeland, North Dakota.

BM: And when did he die?

PW: He died in February the 26th, 1947.

BM: Comment: Paul’s looking in a big, thick family book that’s called Joseph Welder Heritage from 1680-1976. And so he’s finding the exact date.

PW: He died February the 26th, 1948.

BM: Okay. And he’s buried where?

PW: He’s buried in Zeeland cemetery, St. Andrew’s Catholic Cemetery.

BM: So you know pretty much the next question I’m going to ask you. I’m going to ask you what your mother’s name is.

PW: My mother’s name was Catherina Welder.

BM: And when was she born?

PW: She was born in November the 10th, 1878.

BM: And where was she born?

PW: She was born in Russia.

BM: In Elsass?

PW: Elsass.

BM: And she died here in the States?

PW: She died in Zeeland, North Dakota.

BM: And she’s also buried there then?

PW: She’s buried in the Zeeland cemetery. Zeeland Catholic Cemetery, St. Andrews.

CM: When?

PW: When? She died March the 26th, 1966.

BM: Now when and where were your father and mother married?

PW: Married? They were married in the St. John’s Catholic Church which is 5 miles north of Zeeland, October 1, 1898

BM: That’s closed now but it’s still there?

PW: Yes, it’s closed but it’s still there. The cemetery’s there and that’s where Grandpa and Grandma are buried, in St. John’s.

BM: Now when you talk about Grandma and Grandpa that’s your mother and…

PW: It’s Welders.

BM: The Welders?

PW: Welders. The Weigels are buried in south North Dakota. Edthun and Carolina Weigel; buried in south North Dakota.

BM: Okay. How many brothers and sisters did you have in your family?

PW: I had eight brothers and seven sisters.

BM: Well, you’d better look up the page where it has them all listed because I want them in order.

PW: I’ll give them to you; you’ll get them in order.

BM: Okay, let’s start with the oldest one then. (Comment: See page 46 of Welder Book)

PW: Caroline is the oldest one. She was born (November) August the 29th, 1899. She got married November 1, 19 hundred and 20; died July the 27th, 1947. She got married to Conrad Mattern, which I haven’t got the date.

BM: That’s all right.

PW: I’ve got the date, November 1, 1920. She got married November 1, 1920. I remember the date.

BM: Let’s just go through the list of brothers and sisters in chronological order and you know what? I think I’ll just copy that page and put it in your file. So, we don’t have to read all that.

PW: Barbara was the next one. Oh, you don’t want you to give them all the way down?

BM: Yes, just give me them in order. Barbara was next.

PW: Barbara was born April the 23rd, 1900. She got married November the 26th, 1923. She was married to a John Welk, a cousin of Lawrence Welk.

BM: Oh, really?

PW: Catherina was born April the 11th, 1903. Got married November the 25th, 1922 and she died February the 28th, 1995.

BM: She was quite old then.

PW: She died in Sun City, Arizona, and was cremated and is buried in Strasburg, North Dakota on top of her husband’s grave, Fred Mattern.

BM: Hm, the ties always come back to North Dakota.

PW: Yeah.

BM: And the next one?

PW: That’s Mary and she was born June the 20th, 1904, got married November the 4th, 1925 (she was still alive at that time). She got married to a Gabriel Welk, cousin of Lawrence Welk.

BM: Two ties to the Welk family men.

PW: And, ah, of course she was not dead yet at that time. Then the next one is Bernhard Welder and he’s got Grandpa’s name. And he was born December the 10th , 1905, got married in 1935, and was still living at that time but his wife was Agnes Leibel and she was born 1910 and died November the 23rd , 1968.

Magdelena Schmaltz, she was married to Ollie Schmaltz born March the 31st, 1907, got married November the 14th, 1927. Anton Welder got married to a Barbara Mitzel and he was born January the 13th, 1909, and he got married November the 17th, 1931. Joe Welder married to Helen who was born October the 19th, 1910, and he died December the 4th, 1943. No excuse me, he got married November the 4th, 1943. He was still alive at that time.

Paul P. Welder was born April the 14th, 1912, and he was married to Phyllis Wald. She was born the April the 2nd, 1915. They were married November the 4th, 1943. John Welder got married to Stella Burmem and he was born November the 2nd, 1913, got married October the 20th, 1942.

And Anna Welder got married to Andrew Schatz. She was born August the 28th, 1915, she got married October the 22nd, 1937. She was married to Andrew Schatz. He was born December the 13th, 1913, and he died May 1, 1971.

Peter Welder got married to Lillian Schatz and he was born November 6th, 1916, got married December the 27th, 1945. Lillian Schatz was born September the 26th, 1918. Frank Welder born April the 5th, 1918, got married June the 7th, 1947, was married to a Pearl Olson. She was born April the 13th, 1925-Norwegian. Mike Welder…

BM: I won’t say anything.

PW: Mike Welder, ah he was born May the 23rd, 1919, and he got married June the 17th, 1946. Barbara Zahn was his wife’s name. She was born March the 1st, 1919. Rose Gabriel, the 15th one in the family. She was born September the 30th, 1920, and she got married November the 4th, 1941. And John Gabriel was her husband and he was born September the 27th, 1914.

BM: My goodness, what a list! Fifteen children and they all lived.

PW: They all lived. Well, Caroline was the first one that died. Oh yes, they all lived.

BM: And they were born between the span of …

PW: Twenty-one years.

BM: Twenty-one years, goodness sakes.

PW: Twenty-one years, 15 and 21 years. And when my mother passed away she was 86 years old and she had 273 descendents and there was not one with a physical or mental impairment.

CM: Great, great.

BM: That’s wonderful. They were well cared for.

PW: And my mother was 86 years old, and three weeks before she passed away I visited with her and she still knew the birthday of everyone of all her descendents plus the names. Of everyone. And then she knew most of the neighbor’s birthdays.

CM: Remarkable, remarkable.

BM: When did your family originally come over from Russia to the United States? Do you know?

PW: Yes, they came to the United States in November the 4th, 1885, aboard the ship Fulda.

BM: The SS Fulda. Then did they land at Ellis Island?

PW: Yes.

BM: I don’t know if Ellis Island was named that then.

PW: It was.

BM: And then where did they settle?

PW: They settled and took out a homestead in Berlin Township, McIntosh County. There they farmed until till Grandpa’s death. He was 76 years old when he passed away and my grandma’s name was Schumacher and she passed away when she was 73 years old and they were both buried in the
St. John’s cemetery north of Zeeland, five miles north of Zeeland, North Dakota.

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BM: Do you remember any stories that they told you about Russia?

PW: Well, ah, Grandpa sometimes did. He talked about horse thieves mostly because horse thieves over there were like bank robbers in the United States. That was one of the biggest crimes they’d commit and horses was their source of power and they were very, very much in demand for stealing. And a lot of them were stolen. Some of the farmers over there had some big chains - they called them “chain dogs” tied to the barns so they couldn’t steal the horses. But they would saw out the back end [of the barn] and steal the horses anyhow. That was a big trade over there.

BM: If they were caught, I wonder what the punishment was.

PW: Oh, they were beheaded.

BM: They were beheaded, huh?

PW: Yah, there was no jail and no penitentiary. They just butchered them.

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BM: Were there any other stories that your family told about?

PW: Well, I can remember him (Grandpa) telling me how they thrashed over there. They would take the grain and they would cut it with scythes and bring it in a pile and then they would trample the horses on there. And trample it out and then they would take the straw off. And on a windy day they would go up even on a little building and kind of threw into the wind. And separate it and let it drop on blankets and separate it and then they put it into sacks. If they had six sacks of wheat they were pretty lucky.

BM: Hm, doesn’t sound like much today, does it?

PW: It sounds like nothing.

BM: But I think they’re a little more frugal than we are today. Going back one more generation, do you have any records of when your family left Germany and went to Russia? (Looking at Welder Family Book)

PW: Yes, yes, I have…I’m going to have to go to the Welder Family Book. “Welder pioneer family families in Russia recently came from the village of Plittersdorf in the district of Rastatt in Baden, Germany.” So they moved about 1808. They left Germany and were in Russian census 1811.

BM: Yah, Plittersburg, Germany. That is Germany then.

PW: In 1600.

BM: Yup, 1600. And R-a-s-t-a-t-t, Germany.

PW: Germany.

BM: And you said that your parents didn’t talk too much about the villages...

PW: No.

BM: …and where they came from.

PW: No, especially they didn’t. Either he was bitter or he just…well, he was nine years old when he came.

BM: Yah.

PW: …but he didn’t talk about it much. Hardly nothing at all. And Grandpa of course, Grandpa and Grandma they were in a little house only about two blocks from the house where I was born and raised in. There was not that much conversation with Grandpa and Grandma. Grandpa and Grandma raised my sister Catherina from the time she was two years old until she got married.

And when Catherina got married and then I lived with Grandpa. We slept in Grandpa’s house but we ate in the big house with the family. So he talked about a few little things but not much, not much. And Catherina already got married in 1922 so I slept with Grandpa in ’23 and in part of ’22. And then in ’23 we built a new home so we moved, Grandpa moved to our new home that Dad built. And, ah, I slept with him there for two years yet. And finally I got too big so I went upstairs with the rest of them.

In 1923 we built the house and I helped to haul all the material, my brother and myself. Joe was a year and a half older. We hauled all the material with wagons. We made four trips a day to Greenway, South Dakota. And we hauled cement, hundred pound sacks and took them home and piled them into a granary until the day that the basement was filled.

They had two mixers and about 14 people and my brother, Joe, and myself hauled all the cement to the site plus the water from the pond. We had six-50 gallon barrels and we would fill them up, the pond was just a hundred feet from the house. And we’d bring them up there and then we’d fill those barrels all the time so the mixers could get going. It was a big house and a big basement. This was the house on the farm.

CM: Describe the house.

BM: This is a two-story house and it’s got a sort of a projection out on one side that’s the front porch.

PW: Sun porch.

BM: I don’t know, what direction is that…it looks like it should be facing south.

PW: South, south.

BM: Okay. And how many bedrooms is there?

PW: There was five bedrooms, one downstairs and four upstairs. Then there was the bathroom upstairs and what we called the porch room.

BM: Is this house still standing?

PW: Oh, yes, somebody’s living in it.

BM: Is it being well kept?

PW: Yes.

BM: My goodness, it’s beautiful. (Looking at photo)

PW: We got married in 1943 and in 1946 I put the running water in there. And we had two full bathrooms and one half bath.

BM: So you and your wife then lived there?

PW: Yes, we lived there from 1943 until 1982.

BM: And the house was built what year?

PW: In 1923.

BM: In 1923. My goodness. That was a lot of work but it’s still standing; that means it was well built.

CM: Beautiful, beautiful home.

PW: Beautiful farm; I’ll get the picture out. The farm where I was raised - the picture was taken from the air. My daughter-in-law is a photographer. (Looking at photo) And there was two pole barns that are not on here. But it was a big yard and we kept it clean with lawn mowers and stuff. We had a lawn mower like the highway department has behind a tractor, one rider, one bagger and one for the shelter belt. And then we had a self-propelled lawn sweeper.

BM: Now, there’s water behind the house that you said you had drawn water from there.

PW: Yah, there was a lake right behind the house, a pond. A nice, big pond.

BM: Does that have a name?

PW: No, it was just a pond that was put in. A creek dammed off. We put a big shelter belt in on the north side.

BM: When you first moved there were there many trees?

PW: Not very many, only right behind the house. The trees behind the house, we put in. They were seedlings from the railroad track and they were put in there in 1924. They were just cottonwood trees. And then in ’26 Dad put in some fruit trees. We had some plums and crab apples but they didn’t do too well.

BM: What language did you grow up with?

PW: Deutsch, German.

BM: German.

PW: We spoke German. When I went to school I could, well, my English was just nothing at all. I hardly couldn’t speak English when I went to school. Of course, my brothers and sisters a lot of them were older. Eight of them were older so I picked some of it up but very little.

BM: I suppose because you always spoke German at home.

PW: Everybody spoke German. The dogs even barked German.

BM: There was one other question I wanted to ask about. Did you ever receive letters from Russia, from family back there?

PW: No, no.

BM: Never did.

PW: No.

BM: Did you send letters over there?

PW: I can recall to where I think they tried one time and nothing happened. No, we didn’t. I know that we didn’t.

BM: So did you read newspapers?

PW: Well, we had the Staats Anzeiger was German and of course, and the Farmer from Aberdeen, South Dakota. Dakota Farmer something. We had that and then of course we had newspapers, local papers.

BM: There was a newspaper, The German Press that kept quite bit news. Did you get that?

PW: Staats Anzeige, yah, um hum.

BM: When did you start speaking English then?

PW: When I went to school, I was seven years old.

BM: You had to speak English then.

PW: Yup, well, we could speak German when we went out of the school ground which we did sometimes during the lunch hour.

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BM: Do you remember your first school teacher?

PW: No, I don’t but I remember some of them.

BM: Some of them?

PW: I definitely remember one by the name of Hunter and he taught us something that I never forgot from up until today. To put the days in the calendar in order down the line like Sundays, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday. I mean like, for instance, Sunday would be the first day. Sundays would be 1, 8, 15, 22, 29. Mondays would be 2, 9, 16, 23, 30. Tuesdays would be 3, 10, 17, 24. Wednesdays would be 4, 11, 18, 25. Thursdays 5, 12, 19, 26. Fridays 7, 14, 21, 28.

BM: And you still use that method today?

PW: Yes, I still do.

BM: How about that. Sounds like good organization. What others teachers did you have?

PW: Well, we had one by the name of Freda, Freda Breitling. And she was only a small teacher but she was a tough one. Yah, but we had one other teacher and he was a real meanie. If we didn’t know our spelling, he would put a little ring on the blackboard and a dot there and we’d have to stand there and put our nose against it. And sometimes we had to kneel on corn. I was fortunate enough I never had to kneel on corn. I was a good boy.

BM: Ah, speaking of language, do you have a prayer that you can repeat for us in German?

PW: I got many of them.

BM: Just one. We’re going to run out of tape today.

PW: The Lord’s Prayer?

BM: Yah, that would be a good one.

PW: Vater unser dass du bist in Himmel
Geheiligt werde dein Name
Dein Reich komme
Dein Wille geschehe, wie im Himmel so auf Erden.
Gib mich heit unser tägliches Brot
Vergib uns unsere Schuld, wie auch wir vergeben unsern Schuldigern.

BM: Thank you.

PW: That I know, I know.

BM: When you say you’re daily prayers do you still do it in German?

PW: I sometimes add them in when I lay in bed and pray. I still say some German prayers.

BM: So, do you use German yet in conversation with some of your friends around here in Linton?

PW: Yes. And when my children come, especially the oldest one and the one that lives in Bismarck, we talk German. They want to talk German.

BM: Oh, great.

PW: And they all talk, we can all talk, we talk German when we get together sometimes. We talk German just to do it. And my grandchildren all can understand German and some of them can speak it.

BM: Okay. You know, I think we haven’t talked about your family. You told us that you married Phyllis Wald.

PW: Wald.

BM: Wald. W-a-l-d. And how many children did you and your wife have?

PW: We had four children. We had one daughter and three sons.

BM: And can you give me their names? The oldest is the daughter?

PW: No. Jim is the oldest and then three years later Bernadette was born, three years later, Raymond, and then three years later, Daniel.

BM: And where do they live?

PW: Jim used to live in Florida for a long time but now he lives in South Carolina but he works in North Carolina. He works in Charlotte, North Carolina. He is a contractor for a big, big concern. Great big, big…right now they contracted ten computer buildings to the tune of $5,500,000 a piece. They’re building two right now, one in Los Angeles and one is someplace in the Carolinas but they’re going to build ten of them.

BM: What’s his profession?

PW: He is the chief over the contractors. I don’t know what you’d call him.

BM: Did he go to college?

PW: He went to college in Bismarck, North Dakota. Not long. But he started many different jobs already, but when he worked in Florida he worked in the banks. He was also in finance there. And he foreclosed things and he contracted things and what have you.

BM: And the second one?

PW: The second one is Bernadette. And she is married to a Norwegian.

BM: That’s okay. Germans and Norwegians get along just fine.

PW: Yah and I like him. He’s a wonderful man.

BM: Ah, and where do they live?

PW: They live in Hastings, Minnesota. Bernadette manages a bank and is the vice president of the bank. And her husband, Lionel Esteson, is the chief over all the federal and co-op banks in St. Paul.

BM: They’re all responsible people.

PW: They are very, very, very successful. They do very, very good and they have two children, a son and a daughter. The son is married. I’ve got a great-grandson and the daughter is going to get married in September the 9th so I’m going to the wedding.

BM: I’ll bet you’re going there!

PW: I am going to Chicago June the 9th to see my grandson.

BM: And son, you’re child number three.

PW: Child, that’s Raymond. They had two sons and they’re both married. And his wife’s name is Anna. He and another guy have a big cabinet business and his wife, Anna, manages labs. She’s a lab technician and she manages four labs for somebody. So she travels back and forth. And her oldest son, Joey, manages one lab under her. And then the next son, is a physical therapist and his wife is a high school teacher. She teaches English.

CM: Where do they live?

PW: They live in Crystal Lake, Illinois, 28 miles from downtown Chicago in a suburb. Beautiful home and beautiful cabin and what have you.

BM: And your last child?

PW: The last one is Danny. He lives in Bismarck, North Dakota.

BM: He’s a close one then.

PW: Yah, he sells insurance. He’s with American Republic. And Danny’s wife is an artist. She does a lot of artwork and works in south Bismarck.

BM: Very good.

PW: And they have two daughters but they’re still both single. And one of them is in Montana right now. In the wintertime she works in Big Sky but she still goes to college. And the other one works in Bismarck in the summer and goes out to Big Sky in the winter. She’s an instructor out there.

BM: My they’re busy people! They sound like talented people.

PW: They’re talented. They’re more talented than their grandpa.

BM: Well, you live in different times than they do. They have a lot of opportunities. And we’ve got a lot more than educational systems now than when you and I were going to school. By the way, where did you go to school?

PW: I went to school in Berlin Township only three-quarters of a mile from where we lived. And I went to the school to the 7th grade and then I had to stay home and help with the chores at home. We had as high as 28 horses and one stud horse all the time and was a lot of work and only one brother at home so I had to stay home and that was it.

BM: What was your favorite chore and what didn’t you like to do?

PW: I didn’t like to pick rocks. And the favorite chore was, well, I kind of liked to do work with the machinery out with the horses. You know like plowing and raking, and mowing hay and stuff. That was kind of my favorite.

BM: If you didn’t do your work, were you disciplined?

PW: Yes.

BM: You were?

PW: Very much so.

BM: How were you disciplined?

PW: Well, if Dad said “go” it was go and if he said “stop” it was stop. There was no in between. And there was no back talk.

BM: Who was the disciplinarian in your house?

PW: Well Dad more so than Mom.

BM: Even with the girls?

PW: Yes, with the girls too.

BM: Oh, really?

PW: Yep.

BM: Were there other nationalities in your school?

PW: No, no.

BM: They were all German?

PW: No, they were all German.

BM: They were all German, huh?

PW: But all different religions. We were the only Catholic ones that went there for awhile. We had Baptists, EUB, Reformed, Lutheran, and Seventh Day Adventists to the south.

BM: My goodness.

PW: We were almost the last Catholics east of Zeeland. So we were raised with Protestant people and they were wonderful neighbors. When my dad and mom moved to town it was hard, but not as hard to take as when my neighbor moved because we were together every day and he was a good Reformed.

BM: What were some of your neighbor’s names?

PW: Neighbor’s names, okay. One was a Russian, was Yeninsky, and then there was a Bender to the north and northeast was Schnagel and then straight east was Hartze, that was the last Catholic there. And then there was Augermans and Jahraus and Jung and Hartze and then to the west there was, well, there was Solweit and Schermeister and Stern.

BM: My goodness, you have a good memory to remember all those people.

CM: How many children were average in your country school?

PW: It would be maybe say approximately eight to ten average to a family. And as a rule in our little country school which was maybe, ah, 18' by 32', we had as high as 28 children in there sometimes, 24, more all the time, from the 1st to the 8th grade.

CM: One other thing. When you didn’t obey at home, what form of punishment did you guys get from your father?

PW: It was not all that bad but we got spanked on the butt with an open hand.

BM: Did you have discipline problems in school? Do you remember any there?

PW: No, there was no such a thing those days. When the teacher said “sit” it was sit and when they said “you do this” there was very little problems in school. Very, very little to be exact because we were - it seemed like in our school we were all well-behaved children because I think we had stricter parents.

BM: You went to church then that was close by? Was there a church to attend?

PW: We had to go to Zeeland which was seven miles by team but before Zeeland and before I was born, before Zeeland started they had to go to St. John’s which was 13 miles by team. And they went.

BM: And they went.

PW: They went. And Zeeland we went to Christmas Mass many times, Midnight Mass, seven miles went in to the church. The Zeeland church was first built in1904. My brother Ben was the first child that was baptized in there in 1905.

BM: Hm, that’s exciting. Were the services in German then?

PW: The services were in German until 1911. Sermons were German and the reading was in Latin until 1925, ’26 and then the Mass was still in Latin but the sermons were in German and English. Father Greiner was German. And he had a short German sermon and a short English sermon and he started there in 1923. And he first started that English sermon maybe in 1926 or ’25.

BM: And was it English from then on?

PW: Later about ’28 then it was English more so but sometimes still a little German up until the 30’s.

BM: So your family went to church every Sunday.

PW: Yes.

BM: Did you have confirmation out there then?

PW: Oh, yes, um hum.

BM: And holidays? How did you celebrate Christmas?

PW: Christmas was really something we were looking forward to. We were always scared of the Belzenickel and the Christkindl, but it was something to look forward to because there was oranges maybe for Christmas and a lot of cookies and peanuts and nuts and almonds and candy and Christmas was a big thing to look forward to. But we always had a Belzenickel and he was mean. He come sometimes even with chains and he was mean. And the Christkindl was always kind with a sheet over her and you didn’t see much of her face; she was a little better but she was mean too.

BM: Did you have that celebration with your children too?

PW: No.

BM: No, why did you stop?

PW: No, just one time; just one time Santa Claus came and that was it. We didn’t allow it anymore. We had two children, Bernadette and Raymond, and the Belzenickel came and they were so scared that we were out in the barn milking the next morning and they came out to the barn with their pajamas on. So we took them in and we said no more. It was scary.

BM: Were your parents involved in founding the church there?

PW: Yes, my dad. Yes, yes, he was involved in that.

BM: St. John’s?

PW: St. Andrew’s in Zeeland.

BM: St. Andrew’s.

PW: St. John’s no, St. Andrew’s in Zeeland.

BM: Did you have daily prayers then at home with the family?

PW: We had daily prayers before every meal and before bedtime. And down on our knees and during Lent, the Rosary every evening. There was no such a thing as we’re going to miss Tuesday evening. That was it.

BM: And you said earlier, I think, that you did a lot of singing.

PW: Yes, we did a lot of singing.

BM: With all the children I would imagine you had a choir.

PW: We did a lot singing and my brother, Joe, could play the organ and my sister, Rose, still played till the last three years. Of course she played for the German singers in Bismarck. Not [reading] a note. All by ear and beautiful.

BM: So what kind of songs did you sing then?

PW: A book that Rose made up for me. Well, she used it and then they made new ones. And there’s so many German songs in here and English; I can sing a lot of German songs. All kinds of them.

BM: Do you sing German here at the senior citizens…

PW: Yes.

BM: They still do.

PW: I sang songs way before that and a lot of them are in here (in his head) and so I can sing this one all the way down, I mean without even I close the book.

BM: Do you sing with any other groups here in town?

PW: No, no, just with the German singers here at senior citizens.

BM: Who taught you to sing then or who directed you or who got you guys going together in your family?

PW: Well, out in the family, Mother. Mother could sing a lot of German songs and her family and her aunts and what have you and cousins, they sang a lot of German songs. They’d get together and sing German songs.

CM: What other holidays did you observe other than church holidays?

PW: There was none excepting Easter and Christmas and then Pentecost, you know, Pfingste-Pentecost and Christi Himmelfahrt-Ascension. That was about it. Well, no. Those Three Kings from the Orient-Dreikönige. Yah, that was a big day too.

CM: And how about Fasenocht? (Fastnacht-Tuesday before Lent)

PW: That was too sometimes. There was some headaches the next day because they drank that home brew, you know and there were some headaches. There was some hangovers and a hangover is a head that wasn’t used the night before.

BM: So, Names Days?

PW: Names days, yes.

BM: Did you celebrate those?

PW: Even after we were married Names Days were still pretty popular.

BM: Did you guys dance?

PW: We danced, we danced.

BM: Where did you dance?

PW: We danced in granaries and in barns and in those dance halls and in houses and you name it, we danced.

BM: And did the neighbors come then?

PW: Oh, yah, we’d get together you know, at barn dances and we’d play in neighbor granaries, Gutenbergs and some of our local guys.

BM: Well, and you had Joe that was playing…

PW: Well, Joe really didn’t; my brother, Joe, really didn’t play at dances. He just played songs, you know, like the German songs and what have you. He could play them.

BM: Where did you meet your wife?

PW: I knew my wife by the time she was seven years old. She lived only seven miles from our place. But actually when you say, “Where did you meet her?” it was at the dance.

BM: It was at a dance too.

PW: At a dance. And I was only 32 years old before I got married.

BM: I bet she proposed.

PW: Well, I think we both did at the same time. It was World War II and everybody was being drafted. My brothers were drafted. I worked for the highway department from 1939-1942, but three of my brothers were drafted and then I went home and started farming with Dad.

BM: Okay. I want to go back to the dancing. What kind of dancing was it?

PW: Oh, well, waltzes and polkas and what have you.

BM: German dances.

PW: Yah, sure, Deitsch. Then the fox trot came out but that was later and that was about it. Then the two step.

BM: When you got married, where did you get married?

PW: We got married in St. John’s Church which was five miles north of Zeeland.

BM: Tell me about the day. Did you have a just one-day celebration?

PW: Yes, and I’ll tell you why. My brother-in-law died shortly before that. He was buried October the 26th and we got married November the 3rd and we could not have no wedding or nothing. You didn’t dance when a relative died, sometimes for almost a year. So there was nothing. We just got married and went home, and right in the house…

BM: And no dance.

PW: That was it.

BM: Did you have any contact with all the community people? Did you get together at socials and what was the center of the community that you grew up in?

PW: On, the best socials we had was when we had those Names Days. Sometimes three, four of them would get together. And then we would have a big party in the hall in Zeeland and we had a lot of people that attended. And we had “red eye” and of course we gave them lunch and always a pretty good orchestra. Somebody that played the accordions and what have you, like the Jung brothers played the accordion and different instruments.

BM: Did they have any games going?

PW: No, not after we got out of school.

BM: Did you have some in school?

PW: Oh, yes, we did.

BM: What did you play in school?

PW: Well, pump-pump pull away, and fox and geese and then, well, we had different games and then we jumped the rope and different things. Oh, we had many things. And we had a lake right close to the school so there was water there. We’d go skating sometimes but not too long because noon hours we had to go down and come back. We did different things at school. We had games. And at home we played checkerboard and dominos and cards and we had puzzles that we set together. Made things out of wire and they were quite unique.

CM: Did you have a neighborhood baseball team?

PW: Oh, yes. Out of five neighbors, we had enough boys to make a full baseball team. Five neighbors that we’d get together; we had a lot of baseball teams out there in the pastures. And sometimes you slid into something what you thought was third base and it wasn’t.

CM: I wonder what you’d find as third base in a pasture?

BM: How did you get from school and home to school?

PW: We walked most of the time. We were only little better than half a mile. We walked most of the time. On a stormy day they would take us with the sled but other than that we walked. Rainy days they’d take us with a team with the wagon.

BM: Do you remember being sick when you were younger?

PW: Yes. I remember that real well when we had the measles and even when we had the flu. I wasn’t so bad off but my sister and one of my brothers were not expected to live. But they made it through in the flu.

BM: Did somebody come to help?

PW: Dad was kind of sick but didn’t go down and one of my sisters, then the neighbor came and helped sometimes but the rest of us were all sick.

BM: Was there folk medicine being used?

PW: Yes.

BM: It was drank; Albekreiter (a liquid high in alcohol with herbs?)

PW: Well, Albekreiter was one that they bought but then you know, well, it would be like, homemade things. Well, chicken soup was one of the things that you got and, of course, for medicine, well, there was liniment, two different kinds of liniment. One you could use for rubbing your sore and the other one was that you would take internally and mix it with water and take it, red liniment and white liniment.

BM: Do you think there’s more sickness today than there was then?

PW: Pardon?

BM: Do you think there is more sickness today than there was then?

PW: No, no. When there was sickness, it was bad because there was no doctors, nothing. When we had the measles it was in the summertime and it was hot. And I remember we had to go into a room and all the shades pulled and what have you and it was hot. It was 100° outside and it was really bad. I was not all that sick but two of my brothers really were sick with the measles. There was a lot of times when you had the flu but in 1918 it was bad. I was six years old then and it was bad. A lot of people died then.

BM: And it went through the whole family then?

PW: It went through the family. My dad and my sister, one of them didn’t have it, the rest of us all had it.

BM: When somebody died, as you said your grandfather had stayed with you. Did he stay with you until he passed away?

PW: Yes, he passed away in the big house that I just showed you. Yep, in the bedroom, and of course it was - we grieved more then, I mean it was a sad thing. And there was a lot of praying going on. We’d pray the rosary many times during that time and it was just different.

CM: Where was your closest doctor?

PW: Eureka. For a while, then later, at the time that Grandpa died, well, we had a doctor in Zeeland, seven miles - Dr. Grace. He was in Zeeland. But for long, long time before 1921 the doctor was out of Eureka, Dr. Gurtis. And there was very many of the children born around there with midwives, very, very many of them.

BM: That was general rule, wasn’t it?

PW: Yep. Um, hum.

BM: Was the midwife paid?

PW: Oh, yes. They would maybe buy her some material for seven cents a yard, three yards and she could sew herself an apron. That was big something like that, yes.

BM: Maybe some food?

PW: Well, everybody had chickens and cream and butter and food. Everybody had that I mean. Food was not a big treat then because everybody had it.

CM: Ah, how about farm accidents and so forth?

PW: Ah, actually, there was not that many that I can remember that were real [bad]. Well, my dad was bucked off a horse and was in bed for about a week. And that’s about the only accident that I can remember in a farm accident in our area.

CM: Did you have broken bones and so forth?

PW: Well, not too many of them. I broke my big bones right below the knee in 1948. Yah, I broke my leg and I had to go to Eureka to the doctor and I was in a cast but, ah, it didn’t heal up quite when spring work started; I got a hired man and it didn’t work out so I was out there on the Minneapolis Moline new tractor. I left the crutches in the gas tank and took that tractor and went out there and plowed from 5:00 in the morning until 10:00 at night. If I had to get off out in the field, I had to roll myself. But I plowed. I was standing on one foot all day long. The Minneapolis Moline was new and had a nice big platform back there and I didn’t have to sit down. I couldn’t because I was in the cast from my ankle to way up to my hip. Twenty-one days. My brother seeded then and dragged and what have you but I plowed, I did the plowing.

CM: In your childhood did you have any saddle horses?

PW: Yes, we had saddle horses. You know the big bigger the better. I had a real good saddle horse, a real fast one. We had saddle horses.

CM: And were there Sunday afternoon races with the neighbors?

PW: Well, there were so many boys sometimes you had to use some of those that you had at the plow before, but that was all right too, we got them. Sunday afternoon races, you’re right.

BM: Do you remember when you went from horses to mechanized farming?

PW: Oh, my gosh, yes! I do, I do. I plowed with horses from the time I was nine years old until 19 hundred and well, up to Dad bought the first tractor in 1940 that we used to plow but we had big tractor to drag and to plow. Yah, and I used that, I started plowing then you know with a tractor and a plow.

CM: What kind of a tractor was it that you had, the first one?

PW: It was 1530 International, with a three-bottom plow. And that’s what we used. And then in 1943 when I got married I bought an M-114 tractor (note: International), brand new M tractor for $1,385; I got a barrel of oil with it yet.

CM: Then that was the first rubber-tire tractor?

PW: That was the first rubber-tire tractor.

CM: And from there on how did you progress?

PW: Well, then in 1942, I bought that tractor I went back to farming. My brother-in-law and myself bought a combine together, and we started combining. I had the first combine in ’43, I bought my own combine, and we separated. But I had the first combine in that area. I did custom work, $4 an acre. They had to haul the grain and furnish the gas, and I did real well with it. Then in 1944, I bought a tractor, brand new, $1,680, and a Baldwin combine that combined up from Nebraska for $1806. I had two combines and two tractors. I did custom work. Could do about 100 acres a day, $4 an acre. They had to furnish the gas and haul the grain. Made good money. Paid for my equipment.

BM: I guess one thing that impresses me is that you were so willing to work.

PW: I worked day and night almost.

BM: You know there was those family values of working that seemed to come through.

PW: Well, as long as we worked with the horses, we’d get up at 4:00 in the morning and brush those horses down and feed them and get them ready and by 6:00 we went out in the field. We, my brother and myself, we had to harness about 24 horses because we sometimes worked four teams. And sometimes five teams. We had harnessed 28 horses.

CM: So, 28 horses and how big of a herd of livestock did you have?

PW: Well, we would have the horses and maybe at the very most 12 milk cows as long as Dad was still operating and then some stock cows but not too many stock cows. It was horses. The horses got the good grain and the good hay. And my dad bought one stud horse in 1921 for $2800 and in 1922 - the first one my dad and the neighbor bought together - but in ’22 Dad bought one for $2200.

CM: That was more than a tractor.

PW: That was. I remember when we would breed as high as 120 mares a year and if a colt was born and stood up and walked they had to pay for it. It was $25.

BM: That was big business.

PW: Oh, that was big. My dad used to sell a lot of horses and he’d sell some for $325- $350 a piece. We had as high as 12 to 13 colts a year.

BM: What kind of horses were they?

PW: They were mostly Belgians. The one stud horse was a Percheron. We didn’t have him long when he died on us. But he was insured, we had life insurance on him.

BM: When did your dad start selling insurance?

PW: My dad started selling insurance - I’m not too sure but I would say maybe in 1924.

BM: Oh, really.

PW: Um, hum.

BM: Do you remember the company that he worked with?

PW: Yes. Northwest Mutual Insurance Company out of Eureka, South Dakota.

BM: They are still in business?

PW: Oh gosh, yes!

BM: Did you sell for them then?

PW: I sold insurance for them for 27 years. I was a director for them for 24 years and I was adjustor for them for 22 years. I had three titles at one time.

BM: Like I said, you were a worker!

PW: And many a time I would start driving from home at 5:00 in the morning and go to Dickinson, North Dakota. They’d still be in bed up there because they were an hour later. But I got paid by the mile and by the hour, with an open expense account. I made hay when the sun was shining. I had many, many, many weeks in the summertime with 70 some hours.

BM: Well, what was your first car?

PW: My first car was a Model A, a 1930 Model A, bought in it 1933. I got it from Aberdeen, South Dakota, and it cost me $285. It was a real good car.

BM: Did you furnish your car then for your business?

PW: Yes. I refused to drive company cars because it would’ve been a hassle and I made more money driving my car and getting paid by the mile.

BM: When electricity came and your family built that house in 1923, was there electricity in it?

PW: It was wired for electricity and the plumbing was roughed in. No, no appliances. But in 1925, no, 1924, Dad bought a light plant, a 32 volt light plant and in about ’26 Mother got the first electric washing machine. So we had electric lights from 1924 on until REA came. When I farmed, I still farmed with the 32 light plant. We had milkers; we bought milking machines in ’47. We had milkers with the light plant, with the 32 volt light plant too.

BM: Oh, you did?

PW: Um, hum.

BM: When did REA come in then?

PW: ’49.

BM: In 1949. How about telephone?

PW: Our telephone came in a little later. But years before we had telephones on fence wires and from neighbor to neighbor. We could call in to central because we had go to a farmhouse then we’d get to Greenway then we could call any town. And then that kind of wore out then. It didn’t exist, then for a while we were out of telephone. But telephone came later; it was after REA that time we got telephone.

BM: One of the important things that I forgot to ask about was water. You said you had that pond behind the house. Did you have wells that you had dug?

PW: We had real good wells. Dad had a well before and then he dug one in 1920, let’s see, 1922 I think, nope, it was 1924. He dug a well, real good well and then when we got married we put in running water into the place in 1948. We plumbed it and put in everything.

BM: Did you have windmills out there then?

PW: Yes, but the windmill was before my time, that was long before. Windmills were a necessity and they were in there long before my time.

BM: But you maintained them through the years.

PW: Yes. And then when we got our running water we put a system into the well and then later we drilled another well and so I had two water systems and a peddle pump in the pond for the wife’s garden. And she had the best garden in the county.

BM: Did she have an irrigation system?

PW: Well, yah, we could use whatever you wanted.

BM: Did your mother do any outside work?

PW: Yes, she did some, you know, but not after I was born. What she did that I can remember is she would stack the haystack.

BM: Did she milk cows?

PW: Oh yes, oh yes, Mother could milk cows. Oh, yes, she milked cows.

BM: And I suppose you had chickens?

PW: Chickens and turkeys and geese and ducks. I remember one year we had 124 ducks, and about some 30 or 40 geese and then always only a few turkeys. And we had pigs. And we would butcher and we would cure our own hams and our side pork and we had hams and side pork till the new butchering time came again. Enough cured. Had a big smoke house and we smoked and cured.

BM: And did you have a root cellar?

PW: Yes, we had a beautiful root cellar. We kept a lot of stuff in the root cellar. We maintained it yet after that; finally when we got our deep freeze and our fridge and then we finally bulldozed it in.

BM: Yes, with a large family like that you had to have quite a supply.

PW: Oh yes, it was in 1923 when we built the house it was all donated labor. Dad was the carpenter. He had somebody to help him a few days but not many days. My sisters and my mother used up 5,200 pounds of flour in 1923.

BM: Baking?

PW: Baking bread and noodles and cakes and pies and all kinds of dumplings and strudels and you name it. All those used all that flour.

BM: And feeding the volunteer help.

PW: Feeding, and, of course, the big family. We were 13 in our family.

BM: What were some of your favorite foods?

PW: Oh boy, oh boy. Favorite foods was maybe, well, I liked chicken very much and fried chicken which I don’t have no more. I can’t have anyhow, and cookies and pies and there was a lot of chocolate pie and lemon pie baked in those days, not too many apple pies. But a lot of chocolate pie and lemon pie and you name it. And Mother baked a lot of Kuchen and what have you, I mean, it was different. It was mostly raised dough. My sister, Mary, when the year we built the house she did most of the baking. She would bake; she would maybe bake bread three times a week, as high as 18 loaves at one time. Three loaves into one big pan and then there was six pans of it. And she would bake that. And you know what they used for fuel? Cow chips in the summertime. And if it rained it was sad but we always had enough cow chips picked and in storage for rainy days.

BM: What kind of stove did she have?

PW: She had just a range.

BM: Just a range stove.

PW: And that was in the summer kitchen in the summer, but in the wintertime we had the range and we had a coal stove - potbellied coal stove.

BM: Now, I’m skipping around a lot I guess. Did your sisters go to school too? Did every member of your family go to school?

PW: Up to the, well, the oldest ones I don’t know whether they went to the seventh grade but then Lena, and I’m sure she went to the seventh grade, eighth grade maybe even and then four of my brothers went to high school and to college and four of the brothers farmed. See, my brother that was just older than I was, he went to high school and then I had to stay home. And then my oldest brother went to high school and to college.

BM: You know I just think of the logistics of raising a large family like that. The laundry that must have been - and food I can understand, you know you can spend time on that but clothing, did you wear hand-me-downs?

PW: Yes, there was hand-me-downs and of course Mother sewed a lot of our overalls…

BM: Did she sew?

PW: …and shirts and stuff and underwear was bought, long johns and you had two pair of jeans every week. That was it. And you had your overalls you wore to school. Well, later they were bought but earlier I remember where Mother sewed our overalls.

BM: I wonder where she got the fabric?

PW: Fabric was easy.

BM: Did she mail order?

PW: No, no. We had general merchandise store right over three miles from home and one in Zeeland, seven miles.

BM: Oh, okay.

PW: When I worked in the store in 1924, if a family got a baby they’d come and maybe buy 10 or 15 yards of flannel at seven cents a yard. And then they would make diapers. There was no throw aways, no nothing. They had to be diapers and they were made from flannel. They had striped and dark flannel for everyday and then on Sundays they had some white flannel ones. And the good material in 1924, like that the women made their dresses from, was maybe 27 cents a yard. Gas was 12 cents a gallon. And butter, there was no butter for sale and no bread. They made their own butter, but cheese I remember real well came in five pound blocks and it sold for nine cents a pound.

BM: Did they make cheese too, like cottage cheese?

PW: Oh, yes, a lot of it, a lot of it. They also made cottage cheese and then they made one - they let the cottage cheese ferment then they cooked the cheese which was real good. I mean, it was almost like boughten cheese only a little softer.

BM: Hm

PW: And what I liked the best was the crust that was in the pan.

BM: Oh! Could you beat all the others to it?

PW: Well, it was divided.

BM: Oh. What other kinds of work did your mother do?

PW: A lot of knitting

BM: A lot of knitting.

PW: A lot of knitting and a lot of reading. And, she made a lot of shawls. See, they would buy that 16 ounce French serge, black serge and make big, black shawls and she made those tassels around the outside, buy that thread and make those tassels. She would tie them and there was little squares and all those tassels hanging down then. And everybody that got married got one, not just in our family, other families too. Well, everybody had to have one of those shawls. That was the thing.

BM: Does you daughter have one yet?

PW: No, no but my wife had one but I don’t know what happened to it.

BM: You don’t know what happened to it?

PW: She, ah, I think she had her mother’s or somebody’s, but we had one in the house for a while. Yep.

CM: How did your families dress when you went on sled rides to church or wherever you went to town - on Sundays when you all went to church, the whole family?

PW: Well, you know in the wintertime we probably only eight of us went to church. And we were dressed, we were warm; we had blankets in the sled and what have you and we had good horse blankets and we had some ropes made from horsehide and then some from cowhides and there was a lot of blankets there and stuff and we had good sheepskin coats and overall shoes, and caps and mittens and we were dressed warm.

CM: Did you ever heat any rocks and stuff like that?

PW: Yes, but not too often. Yes, um, hum. I remember well when they heated rock when Dad and Mom went to Names Day party on January the 20th. And that was six miles. And yes, they would and other times George Schumacher and Sebastian Wald, they had “red eye”. Didn’t come home until it was light and time to do chores.

BM: Did you have a lot of rocks on the farm?

PW: Yes, we had rocks; picked a lot of rocks, we had rocks.

BM: Was your soil for farming pretty good?

PW: Oh, yes, we had good soil, but we raised a lot of cattle and horses. We needed pastures; our land was pretty much 50-50 uncultivated and also the land that I’ve got now is still the same. I rent out pastures, my dad at one time had 14 quarters of land.

BM: My, it was a big farm!

PW: Well, see, he had six quarters in all, in Dewey County in South Dakota; Glencross and Trail City. We had two farms over there. Two of my brothers lived over there.

BM: Of your family members, who do you respect and sort of use an example?

PW: Well, an example you might say, Tony was older, but I think John was the one that was younger. We were kind of raised together, brought up together. I think we were together the most. I think I treasure him the most. He’s still living. He lives in Utah now. Joe was older but he went to high school right away so I mean he was out of the picture but we two used to chum around together and what have you. I mean we were together. Tony was older and then he was already gone.

CM: So when your mom and dad would go to town and so forth, would they come back with any treats?

PW: Oh, oh, oh, always candy!

CM: Always candy?

PW: Always candy! And then the sacks were so large you got so many candy, I mean each one got. They would maybe bring two ten-cent little sacks of candy and that was pretty big sacks you know. And, of course, I stayed with Grandpa then and I even got apples a lot more time and I got candy too up there and we’d run to Grandpa’s house and he had candy too! Yes, we were pretty fortunate. I must say that, compared to some of the families around there. We had more candy and more better clothes and more things and my dad was real successful. And we had better things than some of the families around there, more meat and more chicken and more what have you. I mean we just had more of that stuff.

CM: More than any others?

PW: And we had, you might say, I almost shouldn’t say it but almost better dress clothes too.

BM: Is there something else now that we didn’t ask that you would like to share with us?

PW: Well, I can tell you, I mean if you want a little bit of my life history where I started and went through it. I can put it out pretty good. When I started going to school I was seven years old. And, of course, by the time I was in the seventh grade I had to stay home from school. And I had to be the hired man for the neighbor a lot because they didn’t have no boys. So I worked up there a lot. They were just three quarters of a mile from us and they were Hartzes and I was there a lot.

And then after I grew older, I mean, during thrashing time and stuff like that, well, once I was big enough to work the thrashing machine, I helped my dad run a thrashing machine and we did custom work for 23 years. After that we quit custom thrashing, I still ran a thrashing machine. I had a combine and I still thrashed for the neighbors. We’d still binder later and then we thrashed, you know.

But then the time came along, the 30’s came and I put in the crop for myself already but I stayed with Dad in the same place. But I couldn’t harvest. I put in three crops, never took one off. So we would go West. We’d go out to California and we’d start in Modesto and then we’d go up to Stockton and then we would pick cherries and then we’d work for a big outfit. It was Speckmann and I run the first RD2 Caterpillar tractor that was on track, on the experiment farm; and almost the first swather.

And then from California we’d go to Washington and we would work in the harvest fields there. I was a field boss for two years for a big outfit that threshed peas. We would mow with the mowers and bunch them and then we would haul them to six-header boxes and take them to a threshing machine that had automatic feeder and one would feed up, to feed them in there and then they had some sacks sewers that sewed the sacks.

But one year I drove, I pulled a combine by Colfax, Washington, south of Spokane, 72 miles. I had 21 horses on there to pull a combine on the hilly area but then later we only had 16 on there, two-12s and one-four but before it was three-six and one-three. And up the hill the land was so hilly that sometimes I didn’t even see the horses, just the ears in front of me. Those combines that - everything was sewed into sacks. And when we went round the hills and round and round, when we got way up, when they opened that shoot they’d always have five sacks in a shoot then they’d open it. Some of them rolled a quarter of a mile down the hill. That’s when the sack haulers picked them up down by the bottom of the hill.

BM: The lower part.

PW: The lower part. And then of course after we’d finish combining and threshing beans and stuff, peas, then we would go to Yakima and pick hops. And then after hops we’d pick apples and we’d pick apples, maybe start in Yakima and Dryden and Chelan and then we’d come back to Montana and I had a beet contract with old Bouxbaum for three different seasons and we’d top beets. I was the chief, and I had a contract. And then I had to cook for 12 people sometimes. Well, we changed off but I was the chief cook and I was the contractor and but I topped beets also. And we contracted them. Then we’d come home around November. We hauled the beet tops to the farm for the cattle and then we’d come home. Then we’d spend the winter at home and do the same thing next year.

BM: Now you made money at that.

PW: When I picked apples, I picked 2,600 boxes of apples, 624 boxes in the carload so I picked over three carloads. I got five cents a box; I made $8.00 a day and better. That’s more than the governor made out there at that time. That was real good wages. In the harvest fields we only got $3.00 a day to pitch header box or what have you all day. In 1933 we had a real short crop. We went up to Harvey, North Dakota, to work in the harvest fields because that’s where all my relatives are you know, in Harvey, the Weigels and what have you.

And I worked in the harvest fields up there for $2.00 a day I started, but I was fortunate. My boss’s son got sick. He run the threshing machine and the engine and so I had to do that and I got $3.00 a day but I pitched headers box too but I got $3.00 a day. And after we finished up there and came back to Linton, North Dakota, I went into Petrie’s store and I bought an overcoat, which is called cashmere now, and I brought Brownbuilt shoes what are Florsheim now and I bought a felt hat and either hankies or socks for less than $14.00.

BM: My goodness.

PW: So after that…

BM: Things have changed haven’t they?

PW: Yah. After I finished being a bum I came home and in ’39 I started working for the highway department and I worked four years for the highway department. I first lived in Wishek then I moved to Ashley. I lived and worked out of Ashley. I used to run the snowplows through Linton here and I was in the maintainers and then I was, well, they called me an assistant district engineer for a while because I took care of the snow fence crews and of the guys that had to mow the ditches with horses then see. So I was kind of the chief there, made a little money. The first month I worked the highway department I made $172.00, at the same time 80 men at Ashley worked on WPA that got $82.00 a month.

BM: Now what year was this?

PW: This was in 1939.

BM: 1939.

PW: And then I started making more money and I worked, well, I worked six days a week. I went south of Ashley which was only a half a day to the state line then went east to the Dickey County line was 18 miles, that was until 3:00 I was back home. But when I went to the Emmons County line, that was 26 miles. I would leave Ashley at 6:00 and come back at 6:00.

BM: Hm. When did you retire? Did you ever retire, have you ever retired?

PW: Well I, yes, I did retire in 1980; I only did part-time yet. I did part-time yet but I retired. I took full Social Security and I did part-time.

BM: And how old were you then? In 1980 you would have been 68.

PW: I was 69, going to 69. And then in 1981 when we built the home in here (Linton) and then in ’82 we moved in here and I still did part-time but not too much. And then I quit. And we built the home in ’82, moved in January the 29th and in ’84, October the 6th, the wife passed away. So we were only in that new home for a little better than two years.

BM: And you lived there until…

PW: Until ’94 and then I sold. Then I moved to Bismarck for four years, but I came back the day after Thanksgiving last year.

BM: We were sure glad to see you come back here.

PW: Well, I’m here!

CM: Ah, let’s go digress a bit here and go back to some of the olden days when you say, “I remember when…”

PW: Oh, okay. I remember when some of the boys were drafted into World War I. They would come to our place. We were only one mile from the railroad crossing, the Milwaukee and Sioux railroad. They called it Madra, South Dakota. That doesn’t exist for a long time already. The last thing was moved out already in 1933 and that was the elevator and the rest was all gone. And ah, but when those boys came from the Napoleon, Wishek, Ashley area, they would have to stay with some farmer around there by Madra because they had to catch the train to go to Minneapolis the next day. So they would come, and the Napoleon boys and my dad was well-known in the area so some of us came up to the Welders. And then they’d stay there overnight and I remember some of those guys staying there.

I can remember one’s name, Lawrence Gridel. He came there to our farm. Lawrence was his brother. And he came up there and stayed there overnight and the next morning he helped to clean the barn, you know, and he was a big boy the way he could throw that manure. And I remember that. I was standing out in the barn, six years old. And then I remember Dad hauling them to Madra with the sled.

And I remember when I was four years old when my Uncle Frank Weigel died. And my neighbor, Joe Jung came riding into the yard with a gray horse and Dad was standing by the windmill. And I was standing by Dad. And when Joe told Dad that Uncle Frank died, see they could call to Greenway and then he came on horseback. He was our neighbor. And when Joe told my dad that Uncle Frank died, Dad said “Lieber hat Gott im Himmel” (“Oh, my God in heaven”) and this is why I remember that. And then he went to the summer kitchen and started whining and I remember that like yesterday. We went in and told Mom, yah, 1916 and I can give you the date. It’s in here (the Welder Family Book).

BM: In that wonderful book.

PW: Yes, in that Welder book. Okay! What have you here, okay. Catherina Welder got married October the 29th, 1900, and her husband died in 1916. Frank died July the 16th, 1916.

BM: So that’s the day.

PW: That’s the day.

CM: Then when you were working in the grocery store, what were the prices of some of the things there?

PW: Okay. The best thing I remember is like a big box of corn flakes was 27 cents, a small one was 11. A pound of cheese was nine cents, gas was 12 cents and, well, like in dry goods…flannel was seven cents a yard. And then the better cotton was maybe 11 cents, 17 cents was some of the better stuff already. And I remember getting some dress shoes in (it was a general merchandise store). They were nice gray shoes with a long strap that wound around the ladies ankle and they were $4.00. And then one of the ladies came in and said, well, she saw some in Mobridge, South Dakota, they were almost the same but they were higher price. So my brother-in-law said, “Well, I can get them too.” So he took them and set them aside. So a few days later she came and he sold her the same shoes for $6.00 ($5.95). That was top price. Overcoats, real nice overcoats for $11.00. And nails were six cents a pound.

CM: Nails were…

PW: Nails were six cents a pound, staples six cents a pound. And eggs were 12 cents a dozen. And on a Friday, Thursdays and Fridays, I had to set in the basement of that store and I would nail egg cases together as high as 30, 60 dozen cases. I had to nail them together. They came in great big packages, wood packaged together. And then they had a form to set them in there and I’d nail them together and I’d have to have as high as 30 and 32 boxes for Friday and Saturday business that came in because they bought eggs in the store. And they bought cream as high as, well, 28 and 30 and maybe more, 10 gallon cans of cream a day.

CM: And what were they paying for cream in those days?

PW: Cream, that I don’t know, but I know they got between $3.00 and $4.00 a can. I don’t know exactly what the price was for a pound.

CM: How about a ton of coal?

PW: A ton of coal, a ton of coal that we bought, that my dad bought that was Montana Round-up coal, $6.00 a ton. And lignite was cheaper. In 1940, I rented a truck from Greenway, South Dakota, from the elevator and I went over to haul coal over there for my brothers-in law and the store and for some of the people that I knew there and I got $6.00 a ton, laid in the basement. I think I paid $3.00 out there, something like that, for coal in Firesteel, South Dakota, about 20 miles from Glencross.

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