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Interview with Theresa Kuntz Bachmeier (TB) - Part II

Conducted by Mary Ebach (ME)
2 December 1999, Rugby, North Dakota

Transcription by Mary Ebach
Proofreading and editing by Jay Gage, Lena Paris and Beverly Wigley

 


ME: Do you have a relative you really like the best--like an aunt, uncle or cousin?

TB: No.

ME: Do you remember both of your grandparents, your mother's and your father's parents?

TB: Not my dad's, they were gone before I was born. (Go in and get that white envelope with pictures in it). This is my first cousin that died, and these are the ones from Rochester that called me last night. This is the Gosechok dancer.

ME: That's your father?

TB: That's my dad.

ME: Stolz (proud) man.

TB: No.

ME: I mean the way he stands.

TB: He learned that when he was in the army.

ME: He stands like a soldier.

TB: Yes, that was important.

ME: What was your mother's maiden name?

TB: Elizabeth Duchscherer.

ME: She was a Duchscherer, and that was my grandma's sister.

TB: No, not your grandma's sister, she was your grandma's aunt. And this is my grandma and this was my uncle, they are the brothers to her.

ME: Your mother's brothers?

TB: Yes.

ME: Your mother's mother?

TB: My mother's mother.

ME: That is a very good picture, Theresa.

TB: She was born Italian.

ME: Your grandmother was Italian?

TB: My great-grandma was a full-fledged Italian, her mother was a full-fledged Italian; but she married a German by the name of Joe Duchscherer.

ME: Do you know if this picture was taken in Russia?

TB: No, that was taken in Blumenfeld.

ME: Okay.

TB: Not too far from where my folks lived by Schaan's, and this was the baby.

ME: What was his name?

TB: Paul.

ME: And he was a Duchscherer?

TB: That was a Duchscherer, they are all Duchscherers on here.

ME: What was her husband's name?

TB: Her husband's name was Joseph.

ME: Did they just have the three boys?

TB: No, there's one in Canada.

ME: Now on the back of the picture it says Grandma Theresa Duchscherer’s last name was Miller. Her maiden name was Miller?

TB: That's what they said, but her mother was a full-fledged Italian and married a German.

ME: Did they get married in Russia or in Germany?

TB: In Russia. I think it was Russia; they were all not married when they came to our country.

ME: You have some really, really good old pictures, Theresa. It's not everybody that has pictures they can still show. You should have those in a picture frame.

TB: Yes, I just got this. My daughter contacted this relative, Jack, who had a neighbor and was the daughter of his grandchild who had this picture. She put her hands on it and had them made so I have one. I paid $5 for it, but it's worth it.

ME: It is so good.

TB: Yes, this is Uncle Mike, this is Uncle Jack and this is Uncle Paul. I remember how he and my brother used to talk. I can still remember him getting very sick and my mother got the tub from under the bed and put real hot water in there with his feet in the tub and a blanket over his head and over the tub. He had to sit on the bed with his feet in this hot water that made him sweat. He had pneumonia, that's why he died.

ME: How old was he when he died?

TB: I think he was about 17 or 18 years old.

ME: Do you know, is he buried in Blumenfeld too?

TB: Yes he is. He and his mother died within two months. I think he died in November, and my grandma died in January.

ME: Was she sick when she died?

TB: She had a stroke. I was in the house, when two men brought her in on their arms and put her to bed. She took the crucifix and put it in the holy water, stuck it in her mouth. That I still remember. She was sitting on the bed at the time.

ME: Very religious person.

TB: Yes.

ME: Do you know if she was fairly young when she died?

TB: I couldn't tell you.

ME: But she is buried in Blumenfeld too?

TB: She is buried in Blumenfeld. She and her son are buried side-by-side. They had the same crosses on those-

ME: Sometime I'm going to have to go out there and look up some of my relatives, and I know you said that these are Duchscherers.

TB: Yes, they are Duchscherers.

ME: Are there any other relatives that you would like to talk about or anything that we have not discussed?

TB: Yes, there are some Duchscherers that moved from Blumenfeld to Canada. He is my godfather and his name was Jacob Duchscherer.

ME: Do you know where in Canada they live?

TB: Ich weiss das nit nimmi. (I don't know that anymore.)

ME: Are they still living?

TB: No, no, they are gone a long time ago. They were older. They probably was older than my folks.

ME: Is he on this picture here?

TB: No, I think he was related to their dad (pointing to picture), a Duchscherer, yah.

ME: Now when we were talking about relatives, you said you remembered my grandma.

TB: Your grandma?

ME: My mother's mother.

TB: Oh yah, Bäsel (Aunt) Magdalene. I still remember her as good as today. When we walked up with the kettle, and I had the kettle and she had her cane. And she was so stooped [over], you know, and she helped me to bring this food up to Grandma, to this Grandma here (pointing to picture).

ME: This lady that we are talking about, her maiden name was Magdalene Duchscherer. She married a Kloetzel, who was my mother's mother and father. It was Theresa's relative too, because this Magdalene Duchscherer that we're talking about, this grandma, she was your dad's or your mother's relative.

TB: My mother's relative, because my mother talked about Kloetzels; but we never saw the people.

ME: This Kloetzel died in Russia, but then Grandma was remarried.

TB: A Linghor, gell (right)?

ME: A Moser. But Grandma had a daughter that was married to a Linghor.

TB: Yah, because she was living in Devils Lake. See, I still remember that.

ME: You have a good memory, Theresa.

TB: Yah, my mother said she baked good bread.

ME: Grandma did?

TB: No, that Mrs. Linghor baked as good a bread as my mother; that I remember.

ME: So it was your father, your father's mother - explain again how we are related.

TB: How we are related? Well, through the Duchscherers. Your mother, your grandma was a Duchscherer - she married a Kloetzel, and her name was Magdalene.

ME: So your grandpa, your grandfather and my grandmother were brother and sister.

TB: Yah, yah. Your grandma and my grandpa were sisters and brothers. Yah, yah, that's the right way.

ME: Then we have it straight. No wonder I like to visit with you so much, you have so much family information to talk about!

TB: No wonder! (laughter)

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ME: Theresa, we're talking now about things that used to be and how they were. When you look at today, do you see a good life or a good future for the world?

TB: No, I don't; the kids got too much right, which is no good. That the parents should ask the kids what they’re supposed to do, or what?

ME: What about the religion? Do you think the kids are being taught religion enough?

TB: I think they are taught enough, but are they keeping it? That is what it is.

ME: Are there any things that you did that you passed on to your kids...like baking or sewing?

TB: Yes, I said already, "You didn't learn this at home. You didn't learn that at home." (laughter) You know my daughter, she made kucha, blachenda, okay? But I told her before she made them what to put in so she gets them right, because her mother-in-law didn't make them right. It was not the right way. They didn't taste like -

ME: Is that the one that brought those in? She made them right, because they tasted good.

TB: Yah. She made them right, because I told her just exactly how to make them.

ME: That's the only way we can learn how to do those things, Theresa, is if you stand there and say, "More of this and more of that or some of this."

TB: And I said, "Now I want you to put onion, sugar, little bit salt in the pumpkin and little bit pepper, what’s supposed to be in there before you mix it. Mix that up."

ME: How did you make the dough?

TB: She knew how to make the dough. See, I used cream and I used lard and flour and milk to mix the dough.

ME: You didn't put any salt or baking powder or anything like that?

TB: No, no. Well, you can put a little, not much, baking powder, just a little bit but not much. You can add a little salt if you want to but it's not necessary; it's in the pumpkin [mixture].

ME: That reminds me, Theresa, we are through with the blachenda now. You told me about your mother teaching you how to make kucha?

TB: Not me, my sister. I and my sister.

ME: Tell us about what happened.

TB: Well, she was going to beat the eggs, and my mother came there in time to tell her that wir sind Essel (we are dummies). (laughter)

ME: Why was that?

TB: Because we don't know that we shouldn't be beating them eggs for use to make a thickening. Because when you beat the eggs with a beater they get watery, most likely. She stopped us and called us Essel.

ME: (laughter) When someone knows what they doing, I suppose, somebody like us that don't know what we are doing, we are -

TB: That's right, and we wouldn't know the difference. We didn’t know the difference that, if we beat them too much, they would get watery. But I know it now.

ME: It makes sense.

TB: Makes sense, right.

ME: So the eggs were used for a thickening, but they were not beaten.

TB: Not beaten. They’re just mixed with the fork, slowly pulled up and down, up and down and mixed with the fork.

ME: Now your kids can all talk and understand German, right.

TB: Yah, yah.

ME: Do they still talk German when they come and visit you?

TB: Oh, the bigger ones do; but the smaller ones, like Carol, she’s not much in German. Helen can talk whatever she wants. She is a gabber (and has a Gosch). (laughter)

ME: Wonder where she got that from?

TB: I don't know. Anyway, she has worked for a doctor for 18 years. Somebody [else] was going to ask to hire her. The doctor said, "You cannot be bought, we need you." His wife is a doctor too, so they need her.

ME: Is that your daughter?

TB: That's my daughter, Helen.

ME: How many children did you have?

TB: Nine.

ME: You had nine. How many boys?

TB: Two.

ME: Two boys.

TB: Seven girls.

ME: Are any of them still living here in or around Rugby?

TB: Just one girl is living in Rugby.

ME: What's her name?

TB: Cecilia.

ME: And what's her last name?

TB: Heilman.

ME: Heilman, I see. Do you know if any of your children or grandchildren have done anything like this? I mean have they asked you a lot of questions about your past?

TB: We had talked about it; if it meant anything to them, I wouldn't know.

ME: Did anybody make a record or tape of it?

TB: No, huh uh.

ME: Theresa, you've got so much history that I could sit and listen to you for hours talking about the things. Things come to mind for you and some of them are funny and some are sad, but that's the way life is.

TB: Right, right but I still know what I'm talking about.

ME: That's what's so amazing, is that you're 90 years old. I see on your picture over there, you're 90 years old. Your memory is excellent and you get around well.

TB: Oh yah. Well, if my feet would carry me better, it would be better.

ME: Well, maybe you can sacrifice your feet, as long as you have your memory yet.

TB: That's what I thought too.

ME: You had a hobby, and that was crocheting, wasn't it?

TB: Crocheting, and I could sew if I wanted to.

ME: In your crocheting, you never used a pattern, you just looked at the picture and then you could do it.

TB: Yah, by counting.

ME: That's amazing too. I've seen some of the beautiful things you have crocheted, and it's wonderful.

TB: But my mother, she could crochet, she could knit, she could sew. She could do everything she wanted to do. And what got me, we had a sewing machine, and she didn't have anything [a design] to put on so she made [created] it. And she made a beautiful pattern [design], that’s what really got me. And she crocheted onto the curtains about that wide [on the bottom] a zigzag.

ME: Does anybody still have those?

TB: My sister asked me, if I know what happened to them. I said, "No, you was home longer than I was. Why don't you know it?" (laughter) So I never found out what happened to it. And I and her, each one, crocheted about that wide on the bottom of the bed sheet. We used them on top of the bed, those heavy white sheets we had on our bed where we slept. We made it about that wide and we had nice flowers on it.

ME: Did you embroider?

TB: No, we just crocheted.

ME: There are so many things that are so interesting, because I know you said my mother baked a lot of good bread. That's something that nobody does anymore either. Do you still make your own bread?

TB: I bake it yet, but I buy the frozen dough, but I still could. My mother told my older sister, and my older sister told me, she said in German, "Theresa bakes better bread than she did".

ME: That's a compliment!

TB: (laughter) Yah, that's the truth.

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ME: That's a hard thing to do. It sounds simple to make bread, but to make good bread is something special.

TB: You have to work that dough down in time and you got to know how many times you work it down.

ME: How many times did you work it down?

TB: Well, you know I got up during the night. At that time we made the dough in the evening and then got up during the night towards - after midnight and worked that dough down. Then in the morning the dough was raised big again, you worked it down again and then after that it was raised again. Well, then you could put it into loaves; and sometimes, if it wasn't quite right, you worked it down in the loaves and let it raise again.

ME: When you put it in the pans, did you let it raise again?

TB: Yes.

ME: Just one time, right?

TB: Well, but if it needed raising, working down, you worked it over again.

ME: About how many loaves of bread did you bake at one time?

TB: Well, that was about six or eight. Well, we put two [loaves in a pan]; or maybe if it was a long pan, we put three in.

ME: Now on the day that you baked, did you make kucha or anything like that?

TB: Yes, kucha, bean soup, or potato soup. Yah.

ME: What did you usually make on Fridays, when you didn't eat meat?

TB: Oh, all kinds of things, like blachenda and soup, something like that. Or noodles, potatoes and Nudla and Dampfnudla, that's the raised ones. If we baked bread, a lot of times we had Dampfnudla and milk to drink.

ME: Sounds like good eating, Theresa. (laughter) On the day that you butchered a pig, for example, did you do everything in one day? You made the sausage and -

TB: Most every time we made the sausage.

ME: Did you help with the blood sausage or didn't you make any?

TB: Yes, yes. We made blood sausage too. As much as I didn't like to do it but -

ME: Schwardamawa? (jellied meat or head cheese)

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TB: Oh gosh, I liked that Schwadamawa.

ME: How did you make the Schwadamawa?

TB: Oh, we used the head and some of the bottom of the belly from the pig, you know, like some skin. Not too much though, not too much skin. And the head and some red [meat] -

ME: You cooked the head?

TB: We cooked the head.

ME: Then you cut the meat off.

TB: And we cut the meat off and whatever [other] meat we put in yet, we cooked that too. Like ah, if we had some red, some dark meat to put in, we put some dark meat in, boiled it and cooked it and ground it up with the others. Oh, that was good.

ME: You put it in the stomach?

TB: Oh yah, you had to clean that stomach.

ME: Cleaned the stomach and then you put this ground meat in the stomach and then you boiled the stomach?

TB: Then you boiled the stomach and everything and then you press it. The next day you can eat it. That Frank, my brother, he's a good Schwadamawa one. Don't forget to put garlic in.

ME: And you put some spices in there?

TB: And spices.

ME: Which spices?

TB: Salt and pepper and garlic.

ME: Did you put bay leaf in?

TB: No, no. It's a little bit too loud [strong]. (laughter) No, but that is good stuff, that Schwadamawa. Somebody is still making it in Esmond and Ambrose; Betty brings me some once in a while.

ME: And when you ate it, you dipped it in vinegar?

TB: Yup, dunked it in vinegar.

ME: Well, one day we brought in some horseradish for you, Theresa.

TB: Oh, I got mine just about done.

ME: And you said we didn't make it right. We ground up the horseradish root and then you said - What do you do with it after that? How did you tell us to do it?

TB: When you got it ground and then you make boiling water and put that on. After so many hours you rinse it, pour that water off, and then put your vinegar and sugar on, yah.

ME: And then put it in small jars and -

TB: And seal it.

ME: And when you eat it, you get tears in your eyes.

TB: Yah, right.

ME: You get tears when you grind it too, Theresa, I’ll tell you!

TB: I know how that is, because my brother had it out in front of my door here when he ground it.

ME: That will clear up the cobwebs (laughter) but it's good. Everything that you've talked about, most of it I ate myself. Most of it, maybe in today's standards, wasn't the best food, but there were 12 in my family and we all lived!

TB: Yes, that's what at our place was too.

ME: So if it wasn't the best according to some cooks, it was good for us.

TB: Yah, it's just like this lady said, she said she gets meals on wheels too. I said, "Yah, I do too, but it's not the best." (In German - "My cats get it sometimes.")

ME: (laughter) So your cats are going to live well of what you didn't want.

TB: I said, "It's always flat. What you get, it's always flat." She said, "Isn't that the right!" She said, "I can do better." And I said, "I know I can do better too, than make it like that."

ME: If you make potato soup, it would be better?

TB: You know, yesterday I got a potato. It was as big as my fist, bigger, and hard--not cooked soft. The cats wouldn't even eat it. When they’re soft, they eat the potatoes, but when they’re too hard, they don’t want it. I took the knife and I cut it and they gave me cream to put on. I didn't put it on, because I couldn't eat that hard potato. I wasn't going to waste the cream, after I had cut it up.

ME: There is one thing that I thought of, Theresa - When you lived on the farm, did you sell cream or eggs or anything in town?

TB: We sold cream. Oh, once in a while we had some eggs, but not too often.

ME: Where did you sell this, in Rugby or -

TB: No, it was in Berwick or Balta, mostly.

ME: When they talk about [you] in the future, when they talk about their grandma and their mother, what would you like them to say about you?

TB: Yah, I don't know. What I heard was from my sister when she said, "Mother said that I baked better bread than she did."

ME: Well, I can add my own. There's a lot of things that we can remember you for; and that you are such a happy person; and you’re still a tie to my mother and that's -

TB: That was for sure. You had a good mother.

ME: Yes, do you know if there is anybody else that you can think of that maybe remembers some things that we could ask them, like we did with you?

TB: I don't know.

ME: I think we'll just end it for today. I want to thank you for your time and for sharing with me and for all the future people that are going to listen to this tape. All the things that you said that people are going to get some information from. They’re going to be glad that we did this, Theresa, because there’s so many things that die with people that nobody knows about.

TB: We covered a lot of areas.

ME: Yes, we did. I thank you again for your time. I thank you for the time you spent when we did the video tape here, when you made Käseknipfla.

TB: You know, we never was that close and we know each other for a while now already, but we didn't know what we were, what's behind us or -

ME: Maybe some people think she's just a little old German lady; but when you talk to that little old German lady, there's a lot of things that we recorded. Thank you, Theresa.

TB: Yes, you're welcome.

ME: Tell them goodbye.


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