Interview (Part 2) with Magdelena (Maggie Eszlinger)
Zimmerman Eisenbeis (ME)
Conducted by Delmar D. Zimmerman, Interviewer
Wishek, North Dakota, 31 January 1996
Transcription by Margaret Templin
Editing and proofreading by Linda Haag
DZ: We are going to start interview questions for
part two which talks about courting, marriage, relationships,
family life, and family in the world, education and politics.
The first question is what did your parents or teachers tell you
ME: Yes, my parents told us about marriage. My dad
says when you get married, you are young, yet marriage is forever.
It is until someone dies.
DZ: Did the teachers say anything?
ME: The teachers never mentioned anything about
DZ: What did you learn about marriage seeing your
parents relationship or the way they
lived? What did you learn?
ME: Well we learned everything
at home, whatever we had to work with them and do things. They
taught us how to cook and how to milk the cows. We had to work
with them and we did just that.
DZ: Did they do things together?
ME: We did things together. I think we were well
satisfied when we did. We never had any trouble getting along.
DZ: Were they both the boss or was your dad the
boss? How did that work?
ME: My dad and my mother?
ME: That was the dad’s business. Whatever
he told us, it just would be like that.
DZ: The man was the head of the household then.
ME: Yes, man of the household. He had to arrange
the money so there was enough for
everybody to live. We had very little income from the beginning
so we knew there
wasn’t much left.
DZ: Now when you got married, was that different
from your parent’s marriage or about the same? Was the father
the head of the household?
ME: Well, yeah he was the head of the household
as long as we were married. What he
w anted us to do we did? I think that was the only way to work
DZ: Should it still be that way?
ME: If it would be like that it
would cause fewer troubles that would be amongst the families.
DZ: There would be fewer troubles,
fewer problems today if the man was the head of the household.
Were the marriages of you parents or grandparents arranged or
ME: No they went together. I know
that. They weren’t "coupled" together. I don’t
know how they say it but we did not want to be "coupled",
DZ: They went together and dated and then got married.
ME: Anyhow, those "coupled",
I don’t know, if you know a person who got "coupled"
and got married. That doesn’t work.
DZ: What did your parents teach you about raising
ME: They didn’t teach us anything. We had
to do it on our own.
DZ: How did you know who was supposed to do what?
ME: Well, they had to work for
us, for everybody. I don’t know what to say for that. Raise
the children and raise them in a way so they do the right thing.
They shouldn’t go out to everything and have parties and
they should stay home more.
DZ: And do their work?
ME: Yeah, do their work. I think that has a lot
more to say than if they run around and don’t listen. We
are raising a good family, I think and we have no trouble.
DZ: And then you kind of carried that over to your
ME: Yeah. That’s the way we learned at home
and that’s they way we taught you.
DZ: Did husbands and wives have equal authority
or rights in making major decisions? We probably talked about
this a little already.
ME: Yeah well, there are some things that the mother
knows better than the father, about what to do. And I’m
sure they got along with that.
DZ: So even though the husband was the head of the
household when there were other problems, they talked things over
and decided them together.
ME: Yes there were no arguments, except for the
money. We never had any money. We were too big of a family for
doing things like others did.
DZ: Were you able to express your feelings of anger,
sadness, fear or criticism as a child?
When you got angry, sad, mad, or afraid, could you go to your
folks and tell them?
ME: About getting angry, I don’t know.
DZ: Were they good listeners? Did they listen to
you if you complained?
ME: They did but the only trouble that we had was
with the milking. We had a lot of cows. We milked about thirty
cows at one time. That’s where the trouble came in. There
was only me and the other two or three children and we had to
milk all thirty cows. That was not for one family, it was too
DZ: So what did you do then?
ME: Well we had to do it that way. The boys were
hired out and all they earned was ten
dollars per month. That was not worth it.
DZ: Even though you didn’t like to do it,
you knew you had to do it. Your parents made you feel like that
was part of your job, part of your upbringing. How was love and
affection shown in your family?
ME: We had that before didn’t
we? Well, I think we all got along good. We worked together and
played together and we ate together. So when we had our new house
then it was different. We lived down in the basement. We lived
alone more. The kids got the basement and the folks were upstairs.
DZ: But everybody got along even though they whole
family was in the same house.
ME: Yes we got along.
DZ: Was there competition between the boys and the
girls in the family?
ME: That I don’t know if there was. The boys
were gone and the girls grew up by themselves I guess.
DZ: How were the children disciplined if some of
the kids did something wrong?
ME: Well, they didn’t get the car to drive
for a few days.
DZ: That was when they were older. How about when
they were younger, before driving age?
ME: No, they never got it before driving age.
DZ: Did they get lickings or anything?
ME: No, didn’t get a spanking, but a talking.
That helped them. But when they were gone all day long you didn’t
want to give them the car to chase around.
DZ: When your family members had disagreements,
how were they settled? You said there were no real big problems.
ME: No, there were no problems with the farming
practice. Well, the girls had to go into the field and the boys
were gone. So there was no way of saying no - we just had to do
DZ: Everybody knew that it had to be done.
ME: Father couldn’t do it
alone. We had to go out into the field and do the work. We worked
as much as we could and then came home and would milk the cows.
DZ: How were grown up children treated when they
had conflicting religion and marriage decisions? Let’s say
the boys and the girls married into different religions.
ME: They all joined the church
where they belonged. Lydia, she joined the Lutheran church and
Rose, the Evangelical church.
DZ: How would they know where they belonged? How
did they decide that?
ME: They went to church before.
DZ: But did they go on the man’s or the woman’s
ME: On the man’s side.
DZ: And your parents approved of that?
ME: Well, they didn’t have anything to say
DZ: They never complained about it either.
ME: “Go to church”, they would say.
DZ: That was the main thing, just so you go to church.
They didn’t care where.
ME: I think everybody went to church. Everybody
had a church. There were Lutherans:
Emma, Eugenia, Lydia, Edwin, and Pauline. There were five.
DZ: They were all Lutherans. And the other religions
of the children?
ME: They stayed with what the parents was, Evangelical.
They belonged to the same church as Rose did, so they went and
said they are still going to the United Methodist. I think they
all go to church. Jake went to the Assembly of God Church, that’s
what Art said.
DZ: Any others?
ME: Well the others went.
DZ: What are the other churches then? You went to
ME: The Baptist church in Lehr
and then I joined the Baptist church in Wishek after Reuben died.
DZ: So the boys and girls, if they got married and
they wanted to go to a different church, the parents were just
happy that they went to church.
ME: Yes. And they all are still
going to church today.
DZ: Was anybody ever cut off from the family?
ME: What do you mean by that?
DZ: When somebody ever did something way off, was
he ever cut off like you are not a part of this family anymore?
ME: Oh, no. That they would never do.
DZ: Who cared for families in their old age? Like
you mother and dad or their grandparents?
ME: Well, my sister did. My brother did first. He
lived in the farm there, so my mother stayed there for a while
then she went to Rose and she died there.
DZ: Son and daughter.
ME: Son and daughter took care of her.
DZ: Did your grandparents or parents have friends
outside of the family with whom they
shared private thoughts, emotions, or feelings? If they had any
secrets or anything did they share that with anyone?
ME: Well, I’m sure they did.
They had friends like the Walz's, the Wetzels, and the Doblers.
DZ: They were mostly neighbors.
BREAK IN DIALOGUE
DZ: This is tape two of the interview
with Mrs. Maggie Zimmerman Eisenbeis, Wishek, North Dakota.
We were just asking about people moving out of North Dakota and
you said that some
moved to South Dakota and California. Did you stay in touch with
ME: Oh yes. I did a lot of letter
writing and I always had a return. There were five of them who
moved to South Dakota, one moved to Sioux Falls and the others
moved to Aberdeen. They went job hunting. There were no jobs around
here so they worked for the city and they are drawing good retirement
now. One of my sisters, who died, lived in South Dakota, died
two years ago and the other one is quite sick with a stroke.
DZ: Who made the money decisions in the family?
I think you have already answered that.
ME: I think the men should do that. I think that
is the men's business. In our family most of them did it.
DZ: Were there other ways of borrowing money other
than from the bank?
ME: Oh yes, if we needed some we would ask some
of the sisters and brothers if we could borrow so much for so
long. Then we would pay it back again. So that is what we did.
DZ: You worked that out amongst
family members, now the questions on courting, family, and relationships,
in the family and the world. What were the most important religious
teachings in your home?
ME: Well my father, every evening at supper time
when we were done with eating, he read the Bible and would read
the Bible verses. He did that most every evening from the beginning.
DZ: You said earlier that you attended church.
ME: Yes. We attended church more than we do now.
I think the church was one of the leading interests at that time.
DZ: Did you find comfort in doing that?
ME: We liked to go along. I went along with the
bumps and horses and all.
DZ: You weren't frightened by all the religious
ME: No. That didn't bother me, what I learned at
that time I still remember.
DZ: So you would say that you were encouraged not
discouraged by them?
ME: Encouraged by them. I appreciated all the things
they did for us. I think if you don't learn from the time when
you are small, you don't learn at all.
DZ: If you had any questions about religion did
you ask your mother or your father?
ME: I suppose that we did discuss it but as I said
he would read the Bible and would ask us to remember the chapter.
I wouldn’t remember anymore. We had to learn Bible verses
in Sunday school too.
DZ: How did your family get along with people that
were not German-Russian? Were there any Jews, Indians or Germans?
ME: There were Jews. We had Jews as neighbors. We
got along well. I think they were good people. I remember them.
That's the way the Indians are, at my brother-in-laws in
Aberdeen. He says all he has to do is give them the snow blower.
They come over and he gives them the snow blower and they open
his drive way. They open up everything when it snows. They like
to do it for him. He told me on the telephone the other night
that they told him, "Stay in when it is cold. Don't go out,
we'll do it for you.”
DZ: Do you feel the same way about Jews today with
your own family?
ME: If you treat them right they are just as nice
as other people.
DZ: Were you ever afraid to say you were a German?
ME: No. You still can talk German can't you?
DZ: Yes, I can talk it.
ME: Does Delore talk?
DZ: No, not very much.
ME: We should not forget that. At least once in
a while we should. They are both German and they both could help.
DZ: Delore is one of the grandchildren
that she is mentioning here.
ME: And the great-grandchildren could learn if they
were taught at home and talked to. They would be glad later on
if they would know a few words and they could say that their parents
DZ: Have you felt comfortable expressing your German
Russian background? When you talk to someone you are not afraid
to say you are German Russian.
ME: No. I still talk German when I am among other
people. They always talk English and every once in a while I put
the German in there. I don’t think its fair not talking
DZ: So you are very proud of your German expressions?
ME: Yes, I think that's good.
DZ: Did speaking German effect your relationship
with others at school, town, or church? I think you said that
you didn't talk English until you went to school. Did that affect
your relationship with others?
ME: I don't remember, but I think
it was 1954 when they changed the church to English. We couldn't
talk German in school, we had to talk English.
DZ: Could any of the other children talk English?
ME: There were some but they couldn't talk much
either. We first learned when we went to school because the folks
didn't know English. Most of them were German; they couldn't do
anything to help us. The night school was as where my dad went
and learned English. That is where the neighbors got together.
DZ: How do you feel about a German brogue?
ME: What is that?
DZ: That is when you talk you kind of sound like
a German. When someone has a German brogue it makes no difference
to you, even when someone has quite a brogue.
ME: No, I don't think so. Oh, they talk different,
and it sounds different.
DZ: I, myself think brogues are kind of nice. What
do you think of the survival of the
German language in the German Russian community? You probably
answered that a while ago when you said you thought your grandchildren
should be able to talk German, because it would be nice to have
that carried on.
ME: Even if it was only a few words that they
remembered. That would be nice. I know they get a kick out of
saying it, when they talk with one another. When Ian and Rachel
talk they have fun with it and still they know their German.
DZ: Ian and Rachel are grandchildren. So that
would kind of answer question number 27. Do your children or grandchildren
speak German? They don't but you think it would be nice if they
ME: They should learn, if only a few words.
DZ: How available were your educational opportunities? You said
you went through the eighth grade.
ME: I had the privilege and chance of going to high school and
learn, but I didn't want to be away from home. If they would have
gotten me up in the morning and taken me there
and got me in the evening and brought me home I would have. I
didn't want to stay there all the time. They were really our boss
who rented our house to us, and wanted me to stay with them.
DZ: I remember what our dad told us when he wanted
to go to high school, what his dad told him. [GERMAN DIALOGUE:
His dad told him, "Du Kriegs hoch Schul im Schtall.] (He
wanted to go to high school but his dad said he was going to get
his high school in the barn.)
ME: That was the main point. They had to farm to
make a living and there was no money for school.
DZ: Did your educational experience include your
own children's education? What do you think about that now? You
went through the eighth grade but your children had more.
ME: You all had good schooling, you all have good
jobs and you all have a better retirement.
DZ: Why do you think that is? Why didn't your children
stop at the eighth grade?
ME: I didn't let them. I told them
they had to go to high school and you went on your own. You went
to Valley City during the summer months and taught in the winter
and earned some money. Bob went to school in Wahpeton. Gail was
the last one, he had it rough. He was only eight years old when
Reuben got sick the first time. He fought for himself while growing
up and still does.
DZ: He went to Wahpeton Trade School and learned
a trade and still does it today. Right.
ME: Yes, and he cooks as good as a woman. He learned
at home and I worked in the café when he was still in high
DZ: So you figured you had a eighth grade education
and you wanted your kids to have more.
ME: Yes, I figured they should have schooling. I
had a little money and they did. I am thankful for that.
DZ: If you had more education how do you think your
life would have been different? Let's say you had gone to high
school and to college or at least finished high school. Do you
think your life would have been different?
ME: Well I guess I wouldn't have
had to work in the cafe for that small amount of wages, for thirty-five
cents or fifty cents. The most I got was $1.49 in 1969, when I
quit. I always got under $1.49.
DZ: You think if you had gotten a high school education,
you would have gotten more?
ME: Well, sure. Maybe not, I don't know but they
didn't pay as much as they do now. I'm sure I could have gotten
a lot more.
DZ: I don't think you told me this before, but you
were a pretty good speller when you went to school, weren't you?
ME: Yes, but I did miss one word. I went to the
county contest at school, with Esther
Weber and John's Esther. Just by not being able to spell Esther.
I spelled it E-S-T-E-R. I won the school championship, though.
I went on to the county, and remember that
day. I couldn't figure out why I couldn't remember how to spell
Esther. That's an easy
DZ: Your mind went blank. That happens to everyone.
You think it is an easy word, you think its right, but it is wrong.
Now a few questions about politics and were your parents interested
ME: Yes. My dad was very much interested
in politics. He would go to meetings and donate money. I was going
to mention the governor that was in, Governor Sorlie. He worked
for the Republican Party very much. So we all had to go and vote
when we were old enough. He stressed to go and vote.
DZ: Did they go to political rallies or political
ME: I don't know. Dad might have but I don't remember.
DZ: Do you remember some of the political issues
that your parents were interested in? Did they ever talk about
prohibition, the days of liquor or the women's right to vote?
ME: Oh yes, the women's right to vote in 1920. I
remember them talking about it. Yes he was a politician, all right.
DZ: Did you vote often?
ME: We went to all the elections including the school
elections and all others. This is the first time, this year that
I didn't vote.
DZ: It's by mail this year.
ME: Bob brought it but I think I threw it away.
DZ: We can pick one up for you at the post office.
You can still vote.
DZ: They changed it this year. You vote by mail
and that is the only place you can vote.
ME: We were steady voters, where ever the vote was
there was an election or something.
DZ: Was there a president that your parents felt
strongly about? Do you remember what president this was?
ME: President Eisenhower, he wasn't
president at that time. That was during World War II. Before that,
they mentioned President Harding.
DZ: This next one you answered it already. What
political party were your parents interested in, which was the
Republican? Were you ever involved in certain political issues?
ME: Yes. We are Republicans, we went to represent
DZ: You haven't gotten into where you stressed farm
programs, abortions or anything like that?
ME: No. We didn't do anything like that.
DZ: Is there anything else you would like to add
concerning your family life or your
relationships? Is there anything we have forgotten? I think one
question I forgot yesterday is number 56 part one. How is your
family history and culture being passed on to the next generation?
How are we passing that on from your generation to our generation?
ME: We haven't anything to pass on.
DZ: You have a lot of scrapbooks, haven't you? Didn't
you keep an everyday diary?
ME: Yes, I have about 5 diaries.
They aren't interesting to me anymore. I don't find anything in
them when I look at them. Do you know where they are? Those books
are right here. You go back and you don't know what year you are
DZ: You have the dates though.
ME: Yes, the dates and the years are in there. I
look through those scrapbooks every once in a while.
DZ: Now on your mother's side, your mother's family,
you have a history book too, right?
Not a jubilee book, but a family book, an Eszlinger book?
ME: Yes, my mother.
DZ: The book you have here is from 1844 to 1980,
from Europe to America.
ME: Yes, she is in there too.
DZ: Do you know if somebody has extra copies?
ME: No, I didn't ask yet.
DZ: You ask and we'll try to get one and give it
ME: If not take mine.
DZ: You should have an extra one.
ME: I remember the time when we
had school when we moved on the farm. The school house burned
down in Lydia District #4. Do you remember that? You were too
small to remember that.
DZ: Why? What happened?
ME: I had sat you in the high chair. The teacher’s
bedroom was in the back of the house. We boarded the teacher that
winter for ten dollars a month. Being that the school house had
burned down school was held in our upstairs in the house. It was
kind of cold and you were in the high chair in front of the stove,
and you fell down. That was something!
DZ: How long did they have school at your place?
ME: That was when school started
in October until spring. They had school board meetings there
in the house every month. That was interesting, I fixed them lunch
and coffee and they enjoyed that.
DZ: Is there anything else?
ME: Yes, there is a lot more.
DZ: This concludes our interview.
BREAK IN DIALOGUE
DZ: We are back. You said you wanted to add something
else, one more thing.
ME: I would like to add my children
and grandchildren. They are Delmar and Deloris, they have two
children: Delore and Delette. There are two grandchildren who
are Ian and Rachel Zimmerman and then are Bob and Verna near Roeszler.
They have one daughter: Zuezan. Two grandchildren: Ben and Marchanna.
Then there is Gail and Cheryl Zimmerman near Okerland. They have
three children: Wendy, Christopher, and Dustin. Three grandchildren:
Taylor, Callie Zimmerman and Amanda McGann and four step children.
DZ: Thanks again.
ME: You’re welcome.