DZ: We are ready for our second set of questions in this interview
with Sam Eszlinger. Today is part two, this is the evening of
May 13, 1997, a Tuesday evening.
Sam, you talked about dorfs and chutors (hoot-ders) in the last
interview. You explained what a dorf was, but what is a chutor.
SE: That is what they use, from what I understood, it means like
a colony of little village or something. Chutors, they had different
names. I think it was just like a little village or something.
They used that word. [private country estates with small groups
DZ: So someone lived in this chutor, and someone else lived in
another chutor. Something like a village.
SE: Yes, a location of some kind.
DZ: Now, we will go into a section here on courting, marriage,
and relationships. What did your parents or teachers tell you
SE: They didn't tell us anything. The most they said was, you
better wait for another year. This is a drought year and there
is no chance to get married or even to risk it. Just try to postpone
it, which we did.
DZ: And you did, you listened.
SE: Yes, we had to listen to them.
DZ: What did you learn of marriage by seeing your parents relationship
by watching them? What did you learn of marriage?
SE: We didn't know any better. We thought it had to go that way.
It was the right way.
DZ: That's the right way.
SE: We didn't know anything else.
DZ: So, what kind of marriage life did they have?
SE: Oh yes, they raised a big family in a small home.
DZ: Did they encourage you to do the same thing?
SE: We could do whatever we were able to do.
DZ: How did your marriage differ than your parents marriage?
SE: I don't know what went on in those years. I just don't know
anything about that.
DZ: I think we touched a little on this yesterday, were the marriages
of your parents or grandparents arranged or "koeppeled"?
SE: That I don't know. I heard that word off and on. "koeppeled"
this and that, but really there was nothing going on that I remembered,
nobody got koeppeled.
The talk was this word "koeppled", they used it years
DZ: As far as you know your father, mother, or grandparents weren't
SE: No, That's too far back.
DZ: Now a little bit about family life. What did your parents
tell you about raising children?
SE: Really nothing. That's right. They told us to belong to a
church and to go to church. They pushed church.
DZ: They taught by example. Whatever they did, they figured you
should do the same.
SE: They taught us to do about what they did. Then we had to
follow, we did follow them.
DZ: What were some of the most important traits or virtues that
you learned from them that helped you become a good parent. Some
things they did, that you noticed, that made you a good parent?
SE: Oh well, he always told us to be honest and to keep busy.
If you are put to work, work and satisfy. Even if you don't like
it, do the work the way you are told to.
DZ: Be a hard worker and an honest person. A straight shooter,
and you'll go a long ways. Those are pretty good characteristics.
Did husbands and wives have equal authority or rights in making
major decisions? Were they both the same as far as authority was
SE: Well, I think they all talked about their rights. Whether
to do something this way or that way or that way until they made
an agreement on something, until they were both satisfied.
DZ: Your dad didn't act like he was the boss and, no one had
anything else to say.
SE: He put us to work, I know that!
DZ: When you have a family that large, you have to get some work
out of them!
SE: He was alright. They managed it, I think, very good, for
being all alone on the prairie.
DZ: I think so too. A family of that size; and everybody turned
out pretty good, that's for sure. Everybody was successful.
Were you able to express feelings of anger, sadness, fear, or
criticism as a child? If there was something that you didn't like,
could you express it?
SE: It was mostly kept quiet; we kept it. No argument, no asking,
no anything. Just get over it!
DZ: Mind your own business. Do as you are told.
SE: There is always a brighter day ahead.
DZ: How was love and affection shown in your family?
SE: I think the full way. The way it should be.
DZ: They showed that they cared for you and all that?
SE: Everybody cared for everybody.
DZ: Who showed more direct affection and how? Your mother or
father or both the same?
SE: I would say they both did their part.
DZ: They shared in that responsibility.
In a family of that size, was there confrontations between the
boys and the girls?
SE: In what way?
DZ: Like in your family, you had 14 people, was there a lot of
confrontations between all of you? Or did you all get alone pretty
SE: We had no problems. One for all, and all for one.
DZ: That's pretty good, a good motto. And your parents probably
made sure that's the way it was.
SE: They didn't like arguments.
DZ: Did they ever argue in front of you?
SE: Not really, but they explained things and told us this or
that. This you can do, and this you can both do. This is shaming
if you do this. They always wanted us to be respectful.
DZ: If any of you kids got into trouble, how did they discipline
you? If you did something they didn't want you to do?
SE: It was just all by talking and explaining. There was no fighting
around or anything, just explaining to get it settled as good
as it could be.
DZ: If they set the rules, you knew what to do and what not to.
SE: We really didn't have any trouble, no trouble at all.
DZ: Were there any changes between your generation and your grandparents?
As far as family life was concerned.
SE: From their life I know nothing. I wouldn't know.
DZ: Would you say you treated your children the way as you were
treated for the most part?
SE: I was on that track, and I figured I was gonna do it. Maybe
it wasn't. But we did it pretty good, so far.
DZ: Yes, at least you tried. So you brought them up by the examples
your parents set for you. That's how you grew up, and you were
hoping your kids would do it too.
SE: I told them all when they were in college, I told Julie,
like my dad told me, "If you are told to do something, do
the work whether you like it or not; whether it is too heavy or
not; but do all that you can and try to get it done." If
you don't like it, you can come home and tell us. Don't complain.
DZ: Don't complain about it. I think that's a good philosophy.
If there were any disagreements between family members, how were
SE: I really couldn't say there was any that we had a special
settlement of. We didn't run into that trouble.
DZ: Like you said earlier, you just talked about it and talked
END OF TAPE 1 - TAPE 2 BEGINS
DZ: We just finished talking about settling disagreements amongst
family members and the way that the family got along. There weren't
too many disagreements; and when there were disagreements, they
would discuss them and come up with a solutions of some kind.
The next question is were older family members ever consulted
about matters such as settling disputes, finances, or farming
practices. If there were any differences between family members,
or any financial problems or any differences about how to farm
this or that land. Were some of the older people consulted?
SE: I don't think we ever got into something like that. It just
went smooth all the way. Everybody was on their way; the way they
DZ: Now, when young men and women got a little older and started
dating girls or boys, how were you treated when you or your sisters
dated someone of another religion? Someone that was was not your
own religion? How were they treated? What did you say about that?
SE: There was no discussion about religion or anything. Just
pick the one you like or see the one you like or whatever. It
was everybody for everybody.
DZ: So if you picked someone that was of a different religion,
then your family didn't say anything?
SE: That's right.
DZ: I suppose, your parents figured that the way they brought
you up, you should make a wise decision.
SE: We figured our judgement was close enough to the way we wanted.
We figured we were right, good enough. There was no argument or
discussion about it.
DZ: So none of the young men or women were ever cut off from
the rest of the family because of religion.
DZ: That's good.
Who cared for family members in their old age, when they started
SE: All I can remember, the Salzer, my mother's side, their kids
took care of the folks. On the Eszlinger side, the (Eszlinger)
kids took care of their folks. Always the family members took
in the family, as long as they were living. There was no rest
home or anything like that in those days.
DZ: It was probably the older children who got involved in that?
SE: Not even the older children. It depended on who had the big
enough house, or where they agreed to be, or where they would
like to be. That's the way it worked.
DZ: They never had any problem that way.
Did your grandparents or parents have friends outside of the
family with whom they shared private thought, emotions or feelings?
Did they have friends who they would get together with?
SE: They were far apart, the first years they were here. My parents
got a neighbor who moved close to them, he come from Russia too.
So they were together a lot just as close friends. They were visiting
each other quite often.
DZ: They were together real often, and they got along real well.
SE: They were close friends until they died. They are buried
in the same cemetery.
DZ: Did they ever take your kids along? When they went over to
visit the neighbors, did you get along?
SE: We had to stay home. We bigger ones had things to do; and
there were too many of us to go along.
DZ: What did they do, just sit and visit?
SE: Well, they had other couples to come. Sometimes they sang
or made the appointment to go the next evening or sometimes to
DZ: Would this be on any night of the week or mostly on Sunday
night or when?
SE: During the week in the winter time, too. They did a lot of
that, getting together. Going away in the evening; that was the
way to do it. Now a days they don't do it. There is always something
else to do.
DZ: How did they go, like in the winter time?
SE: Horses and sled. By the time later on when they had cars,
I was almost gone by then.
DZ: Now when they went to the neighbors with the horse and sleds,
did they just tie them up outside or would they put them in the
SE: They put the horses in the barn to keep them warm. They took
the lantern and went out and hitched them up again, loaded the
sled and went home again.
DZ: That took a lot of time and lot of trouble at that time.
SE: Well, it took a lot of time away if you didn't know how to
pass the time. So that took quite a bit of time, hitching up and
driving a few miles then home and unhitching and taking the harness
off. So it made the night shorter.
DZ: Yes that's a lot different than going out in the car, starting
out and taking off. Those were the good old days.
SE: It's different now.
DZ: How did your grandparents or parents view the "freundschaft",
their relatives. How did they get along with their family like
with their brothers and sisters?
SE: There were no problems there. Of course they didn't live
close to us, when my grandparents were staying with the others.
They were usually staying with the others, and they were farther
away. Our parents were never living close to us. They were always
a few miles away, off by the others.
DZ: If the relatives were close and then they moved away, did
your family try to stay in touch with them at all?
SE: My dad wrote many letters to those who were too far away
to go see. They always wrote letters back and forth. They were
sometimes waiting for a letter, because he would answer his letter;
and then he would be waiting for a letter again. They always knew
when it was about time to receive a letter.
DZ: Who made the money decisions in your family: your dad or
your mother or both of them?
SE: There wasn't much decision to make, when there wasn't any
money. The decision was whether it was going to last until the
cream can was full or the egg case was filled to take into town
to buy the groceries. There was no money problem; and it was the
biggest problem, but it was worked out.
DZ: If there was any time when they had a problem would they go
to the bank or did they borrow it from relatives? Did they never
borrowed any as far as you know?
SE: I remember as long as we grew up at home, the money was always
managed from selling the cream. It was a regular deal, so much
a week for a can or two. Take the cream and eggs to town, and
buy your sugar and flour or whatever. That was managed that way.
The rest of the stuff, we raised everything. We had meat and butter
and milk. The dough they started from scratch and made bread.
DZ: So as far as you know there were no serious financial problems
SE: I can't say that we did or didn't have any problems.
DZ: But you always had enough milk and bread and meat?
SE: We always had enough to eat and that is what my dad always
said, "As long as we are warm and have enough to eat we can
be thankful." And so, that's the way we were.
DZ: That's a good philosophy. Now a few questions about family
and the world. What was the most important religious teachings
in your family? As far a religion was concerned, what did you
mother and dad teach you?
SE: Our dad taught us to write the German ABC's, then the "Ten
Commandments" and all the most important things. He would
teach us that at home. We didn't get anything from school, Sunday
school or anything.
DZ: Did you find comfort in all this?
SE: Well, we just went along. We thought it has to be like that.
We weren't born into anything else.
DZ: Were you frightened by these teachings or were you scared?
DZ: There was nothing to be afraid of?
SE: We sat around the table, the four of us; and he taught us.
He made us write the name and then the letters. If you didn't
make them right he would make us do it again. We would have trouble
with the "sc" and the "tc". That "s"
sound meant quite a bit.
DZ: He wanted to make sure you got that right. So religion was
a pretty important part of your family life?
SE: My dad was strict with that. That was first.
DZ: Was there ever anything as far as religion is concerned that
you didn't agree with your dad or that you didn't like.
SE: No. We didn't get far enough for that. By the time they had
a church and everything to go the way it should go, then we were
all bigger and on our own mostly. It was never a problem.
DZ: You never questioned. You obeyed.
SE: Well, that's what we were set up for. We just followed him.
We did this in all ways.
DZ: How did your family get along with people that weren't German
Russians? We talked about this a little bit, about Jews, Indians,
or other Germans. How did they get along with your mom and dad
who were German Russians? For instance, how did your parents get
along with the Jews?
SE: The Jews could talk a little German. They got along; the
little bit they were together.
DZ: Because your religions were different, there was no problems?
SE: I don't know even if they got into that or not. There was
a Jew with a little dog there. He and my dad talked a lot about
the Bible. This was a Christian Jew. Whenever they got a little
bit of a chance they would be talking about the Bible. They got
along very good.
DZ: Yes. You told me that story about that dog But you just as
soon not say it here.
SE: No, I don't think so.
DZ: That was a good story!
There weren't any Indians living around here at that time was
SE: No Indians. It was in 1937, when I made my first trip to
California with the truck. I took some furniture out for some
those who left here in the drought years. There was this Jew in
the store. He told me if I had room, I could buy two cases of
oranges and bring back to the store. I told her alright I would;
and you know what happened while we were out there, the second
day, the guy who went with me; he called home. He said two people
died in Ashley since we left. I can mention the name?
SE: It was Fred Hansen and the store keeper, Ben Mendelwitz.
The one who wanted the oranges. So he told me I had better not
take the oranges along, so we left them.
DZ: So you left them?
SE: Yes. We didn't bring them back.
DZ: Was he an older man or what?
SE: He was old enough to retire. He was about to quit at any
time. But he said I was to bring him those oranges. I would have
brought them. As soon as we were out there, there was a call that
these two people had died.
DZ: How about your family. You have no problem with Jews or Indians
or anything like that? Were you afraid to say you were German
at that time?
SE: No. I was never afraid. At that time when I started to school,
it was mostly Jews and Irish there.
DZ: Talking about speaking German. Have you felt comfortable
expressing your German Russian background? Does it bother you
talking about the fact that you are a German?
SE: No. We have never stopped for anything. We have just kept
talking. We listened to the little Jews talk Jewish. I said when
we come home from school I told my parents they laughed at me.
I said those little Jews are so small, yet they know how to talk
DZ: Have you been proud of your German Russian heritage?
SE: Yes I am, we got along good.
DZ: What about World War I or II? Were you afraid to speak up
at that time?
SE: At World War I, I was pretty young yet. There was talk about
this and that, but we had no problem. We didn't get around during
World War I, but during World War II we had no problems.
DZ: Did speaking German effect your relationship with others
in school or in town or church?
SE: No. We shouldn't talk German, but we did; off and on we did
anyhow. We slowly talking English, and we got into.
DZ: Was there anybody in your company or any of your friends
who could only talk English, they couldn't talk German, or was
everybody in the same boat?
SE: There was nobody who could talk German. They talked English
and Jewish. We were the Germans.
DZ: So there never was any problem between you kids.
SE: Of course, when we talked in school, us kids together. The
German words or the Jewish words, of course they stopped us, and
we had to get in the corner. They wanted us to talk English; which
was the right way, I think.
DZ: Did they do the same thing to them? Tell them to talk German
or to talk English?
SE: We didn't do nothing. We listened to the teacher. When she
wasn't around we used our language anyhow, but it was against
the rules. It didn't make us any trouble, but it was teaching
DZ: How do you feel about a German brogue, speaking with a German
brogue, speaking and sounding like a German? When you are speaking
and the "G" sounds kind of like a "K". We
have no problem with that?
SE: We have no problem with that.
DZ: What do you think about the survival of the German language
in our German Russian community? We have a German Russian community
here and some still talk German and some don't? What do you think
about that? Is it a good thing or not?
SE: I think if we get along and like it, I don't see anything
wrong with that. They don't hurt anybody. If they enjoy and like
it, I think it's ok. It's their business.
DZ: I'm sure you feel like I do. I'm glad I can talk German.
SE: Yes, and if I would know another language, some of them take
Spanish now or whatever. Wouldn't another language be worth so
DZ: That's right. Do your children or your grandchildren speak
SE: No. The grandchildren are completely English, but they take
lessons at school, some of them.
DZ: Your children both speak German don't they?
SE: They can speak German.
DZ: Did you teach them to speak German or did they just catch
SE: They just caught on and talked it?
DZ: They learned it from you. Now a few questions on education.
I think we talked a little bit about that yesterday on the other
tape. How available were your educational opportunities? You said
none of your family went to the eighth grade. What school went
past the eighth grade?
SE: The school went up to the eighth grade.
DZ: What if somebody had wanted to go to high school?
SE: I wanted to go to high school, but there was no money to
go. We had to stay home and work, and so I didn't go. I was going
to go to tractor school.
DZ: How about some of your other brothers and sisters?
SE: I don't think they ever tried. All the younger ones, but
they were the ones who lived in Danzig. I had a book ordered from
Omaha, Nebraska; a book which you used with all the pictures.
All the boys in the building there about my age and size went.
I wished I could have gone with them.
DZ: Were you very interested in tractors?
SE: Those years they started with those little tractors in farming.
I thought that would be nice if I could do a little bit of engineering,
but Dad said there is no money to go. He always hired us to work
to earn money to keep going. If I had gone that way he'd had to
scratch it out of this end to put it into the other end.
DZ: It kind of reminds me of my dad. You know my dad said he
wanted to go to high school. His dad said (GERMAN DIALOGUE 264).
That's the answer he had when he wanted to go to high school.
So there weren't too many who went to high school at that time
SE: Well none of us. From our family, none of us went.
DZ: From other families did you know of anybody who did?
SE: There were some who went high enough to be able to teach
DZ: Where did they go to high school? Where was there a high
SE: Ashley had a high school that time.
DZ: Did your educational experience influence your own children's
education? The schooling you had, did that effect your own children?
SE: It effected me so much that I thought if they wanted more
schooling, I would go along with it. I wanted to farm and I told
Kavin before I sold the farm out, "I will leave everything,
and you can take over when I leave."
He said, "I'm afraid I can't handle it."
So, he wanted music. He had his way, and Julia had her way. She
was nine years old. She had rheumatic fever, and she was in Bismarck
in the hospital. She stayed up there by herself. When we went
up there, she was happy, she liked it. She said then that she
had made up her mind. She was going to get big and go to school
and what ever. "I'm going to be a nurse," she said.
That stayed with her, and it went with her to the end.
DZ: So just because you had an eighth grade education didn't
mean you were going to stop your kids from going past the eighth
grade? That probably helped you push them.
SE: No way. I know what I went through. When I was still going
to school, they had a little band in Danzig. They called it the
Bluebird band; and all those my age were after me to join them,
so they could get a bigger band. I told my folks that I should
have an instrument and get me lessons, because I want to play
in the band.
At that time it cost something like $35.00 for a trumpet or a
baritone or whatever you want to call it. When I told my parents
what it cost, they said we can't afford to buy that now. That
was the end of that.
DZ: So you didn't do it.
SE: I sure would have liked to have joined that band. There were
a bunch of boys my age.
DZ: You couldn't scrounge up the $35.00 though.
SE: My parents thought maybe if they gave it to one of us, then
the others would want this and that. We didn't break the ice.
I just had to turn down a good job.
DZ: Anyway, you encouraged your kids to go to school, and they
encouraged their kids.
SE: To do whatever their wish was. We would go to tournaments
or music festivals or whatever there was, when one of them was
entered, while they were both in band and Julia was a cheerleader.
When the team played in a tournament; and they had to go, we were
gone. They had no bus at that time. Everybody found their way
there, and Julia was after us to go.
DZ: So you went to a lot of their activities that they participated
SE: The basketball games, I saw enough in those years. When they
were done, I was done.
DZ: You were done too. Now if you had more education, how do
you think your life would have been different?
SE: It would have been different; but, maybe, not as good as
it has been this way; I can't complain.
DZ: So if you would have gone to school, it might have been different,
but not necessarily better. You know, I think that is right.
Anything else about education you want to talk about?
SE: I should have had more education, but that is too late now.
I settle for what it is now.
DZ: We learn every day now, don't we?
SE: Yes! It went alright, I guess.
DZ: Yes. You bet.
Our last subject is on politics. Were your parents interested
SE: No. None of us kids were interested either.
DZ: They never attended any political rallies or anything like
SE: We go voting and everything. We follow that. We go along
with it, but we don't work on it during the campaigning.
DZ: At that time they were probably, there was during the probation
years and women suffrage. Did they have any opinions on any of
SE: I don't think so. Around us, it was kept quiet.
DZ: If they did feel strongly about something, they kept it to
SE: There was nothing they could do or try to do. They thought
they would just wait and see how it would turn out.
DZ: But you did go and vote when you were voting age?
SE: I was on the election committee a number of times.
DZ: Was there a president, which your parents felt strongly about?
SE: No not really.
DZ: What about you?
SE: I never really had one. I couldn't do any changing by talking
to them anyway.
DZ: Do you remember what they were politically, Democratic or
Republican, or NPL?
SE: No, I don't know what my parents were. We didn't pay much
interest to that.
DZ: I think you answered this already. You were never involved
in certain political parties or issues?
DZ: But you are interested in everyday things that happen and
SE: Not everything, but things interfere with us or comes up
for us like farm programs and this and that. I watch it pretty
closely how it turns out.
DZ: You try to keep up with that. You do have some interest though.
SE: Oh yes. I still have some interest in farming.
DZ: Somebody has to stay on top of things right? Is there anything
else we should talk about in politics?
SE: No, if it go through politics then, that is where I come
to the end.
DZ: Isn't there a saying that says, "Politics is what makes
the world go around?"
SE: It still go around without it, or me. Where it stops, nobody
DZ: That's good that you are interested enough to go voting and
express your opinion.
I jotted down a couple of things that we should have probably
have talked about some other place, but there weren't questions
here on the paper.
Your parents were quite religious, and they went to church on
a regular basis, and they went to the homes. Did your mother or
dad hold church offices. Were they deacon, deaconess, ushers,
or trustees or anything?
SE: My dad was a deacon for many years, until he got sick; and
then he just signed off and said, "I can't do it anymore."
Mr. Wallace took it over. He was the beginner of this church.
He worked hard to get the church going.
DZ: Another thing I was going to ask was, what are some of the
things that you do now that you are retired. You were a trucker,
farmer and now you are retired. What are some of the things you
are interested in now?
SE: Well, I wouldn't know. Just keep on living as long as I am
able to. Hope for good health.
DZ: That's the main part. I know one of your hobbies is the train.
Do you want to tell us about it?
SE: It may be too small of a deal. I don't know. I got it out
here in the shed. Sometimes in the summer when I sit out there
and have it going. There is a church right across the street;
the preacher from the church across the road comes a little early
until the services start. He comes over and watches the train.
The other day he was at the cafe. I knew him, but I didn't know
where he belonged to. He knew me. I said I can't think of your
name, but I know I know you.
"Yes I was there twice in your little shed, and we had your
little train going. You still got it?"
I said, "Yes, and I got it in better shape than I had it
at that time. I got a tape now to play with it, and it toots and
DZ: Do you have any other hobbies?
SE: I have those little tractors I collect.
DZ: Do you read a lot?
SE: I did read a lot but I had to give it up because of my eyes.
They are just tired. What I do is a lot of puzzles. I do a lot
of them. I do them once and when they are done I put them away.
This is what I do now. I bought this little book, and I find the
DZ: Words circles. Those are fun games. Words that are diagonal,
horizontal, and vertical and then you pick out the words. That
is good to do something like that because it keeps you young and
SE: Your mother does that; but she doesn't keep her lines straight,
so I got her a ruler to help her get used to making her lines
I don't quit until I've got the page done.
DZ: Do you watch very much TV?
SE: Not very much unless there is something that I want to watch
like something special. Otherwise, all those junk stories I don't
DZ: Are you or were you ever a fisherman?
DZ: A golfer?
SE: No, but I like to watch it on TV.
DZ: So you have enough things to keep you occupied and make the
time go by.
SE: Yes, sometimes I should have more rest. I'm going here and
there, and this and that.
DZ: Another thing I wanted to ask you about. You have a senior
citizen center here, are you pretty active in that.
SE: Well, we just go there. Have our meals. I don't hold an office
DZ: Are the meals on a daily basis or what?
SE: Three a week. On Monday, Wednesday and Friday.
DZ: Do they have some activities at night sometimes?
SE: Yes. Sometimes on Friday nights, they go rather late. They
have bingo, sing, play pool, or visit.
DZ: So, there are some activities here for elderly people.
SE: Yes, we'll be up there tonight.
DZ: Or it would be golfing, if the weather would be nice; you
would be there also.
SE: Golf, I never tried it. Sometimes I watch them, and they
miss it, and I think I could do better than that. But if you are
there, I'm sure it's different.
DZ:I think so, yes.
Is there anything else you would like to add about your family
life, or your relationships or how your family felt about this
country or this community? How your kids feel about the community?
SE: The kids were raised here, but they left and went to California.
They thought we should go out there too. I told them I would never
move out there to live. I was here all those years, and I want
to stay here.
DZ: How about the Minneapolis area?
SE: I don't like there either. I don't like that town.
DZ: That's a big town.
SE: When it's winter, it's cold there. At least in California
it's warm. When they go to see the kids, Junior wants to take
us along for about a week. We could go next week. It's alright
to go but we don't want to stay.
DZ: You used to go to California and spend some time in the winter
SE: Just once.
DZ: Did you ever go south to Texas?
SE: We drove around there. We were in Texas just driving around.
We talked about it the other day in the coffee shop about the
driving with their trailers and fifth wheelers.
When we drove the most miles it was in the 60's, me and Esther.
We took the car, just me and Esther; and we made a lot of miles
and a lot of towns and a lot of states. In the 60s we made two
long trips, which were over three thousands miles in thirty days.
We did that twice.
Seven of the kids moved to California, and in 1974 we went over
there the first time in a plane. From then on, we would fly. The
car we are done with; we don't travel like that too much anymore.
DZ: Boy, I bet, with all your trucking and vacations that you
have taken that you have put a lot of miles on a vehicle.
SE: Oh, gosh. I traded trucks every other year, there for a while;
and they always had 90,000 to 110,000 miles on them. I just traded
it off, and I had new tires and all.
With the four years I was alone, I was driving around a lot to
Aberdeen to see the kids; Edwin was there. Ivan was living there
yet; no, he was dead by then.
Anyhow I spent a lot of time chasing back to California. One
year, I was to California and back, three times in eight months.
Julia was my ticket buyer. She lived close to a friend who sells
the tickets. She always calls her and tell her when a bargain
is coming up, and says do your folks want to go someplace? You
had better buy it now. So we always did that.
DZ: I had better give her my e-mail address or my phone number
so she can do that for me! In the trucking business, what was
your best truck a Chevrolet or a Ford?
SE: Chevrolet. Always a Chevrolet. I tried a Dodge two year,
it was alright. I hauled a lot of gravel too, and a lot of machinery,
and horses, and cattle.
DZ: You hauled a little of everything.
SE: I hauled a lot of cattle to Fargo. At that time, the Armour
plant was new and built; up and now, it is completely shut down,
DZ: I used to work at that Armour plant at West Fargo in the
summer time when I went to school in Valley City, ND. When I go
through there now, it disappoints me, you know, that it is in
such bad shape.
SE: The exchange building was built, when I was hauling. When
they opened up, they had a little shack there to do your book
work. The stock building, the exchange building was three stories
high with six commission firms in there, so then you do your work
in there. I saw that building go up from scratch; and a few years
ago, Julia and I drove over there. We went down to see that building,
and it was completely locked up. I went to the door, and she took
a picture of me; the picture is someplace. A nice building locked
up. They rushed through so many years, and then it was over.
DZ: What is your favorite make of car?
SE: It is still Chevrolet. This is the first Buick I'm driving
now, and I don't like it.
DZ: The next one might be Chevrolet. What's your favorite food?
SE: Oh, I guess pizza.
DZ: Pizza. Well, that a wrong food. I thought maybe you would
say dumplings or .....
SE: That old already.
DZ: I'll bet you have eaten a lot of dumplings and knefla.
SE: I can see our mothers working the dough almost every day.
We made ice for a number of winters for the father-in-law in
Danzig for his meat market. There was no electricity, so they
had to have ice for summer cooling. There were two winters we
could hardly get any ice, because the lakes were so low. When
you cut the ice, it couldn't swim, so it went down; and you couldn't
We fooled around at all the different dams they had and pasture
reservoirs. They were dry, so we had to go over to Cold Water
Lake and find a spot were it was deep enough. In some places,
it was eight feet deep. So we would cut ice, me and Otto Hays
and the crew. We hauled about 60 tons to Danzig.
Everyday we had to cut a new section open. You have to take it
all out or it freezes overnight, and you can't use it. So we finished
up one day went home in the evening and unloaded in the morning.
I had Fred to help unload.
I drove on the ice, and there was fresh snow on the place we
cut out the day before. He moved to a different location, and
I drove over that spot. As soon as I stopped, I was right on that
spot that we cut out the day before. The ice started cracking,
and the truck was breaking through. Fred jumped out on that ice.
He was lucky he didn't break through. It was hard enough to hold
the truck moving; and if I hadn't stopped, I would have gotten
over it. I stopped and looked around where the rest of them were.
Just doing it that fast the truck went over and laid completely
DZ: Did you get out?
SE: I got out. I jumped out on the right side and Fred jumped
out the left side. They were across the lake waiting for us to
come. They saw us standing there. This was at Cold Water Lake.
The truck was down, we had to get it out.
We had to go to Ashley to get block and tackle and timbers. The
whole crew until evening to get the truck out of the ice. We fastened
it to the other truck and dragged it home. It dried about four
days here in Ashley. We had about three loads of ice left and
we hauled that.
Then I loaded some furniture, and we went to California, on a
wet truck. I thought we are going to have trouble with water and
everything in that truck.
I filled it with gas, when we went through town; and because
the tank was full, it didn't take nothing. No gas problems! That
was our first trip to California. That was in 1937. We stayed
out over New Year and came back in 1938.
We were gone nine days. The truck worked for WPA at that time,
and we had only so many days, and we had to have the truck on
the job. So we had to hurry home, and we did.
DZ: Did you work for WPA too?
SE: I couldn't work, the truck worked. I couldn't even drive
it. From the beginning, I drove it just so...It was my truck,
so I thought I would drive it. Then they came up with a truck
driver gets 5 cents an hour more. One of these men should drive
the truck, so they can get the 5 cents more an hour; otherwise
the 5 cents were lost. They couldn't give it to me.
So I kept my truck on there. That was when the new school house
was built. My truck and Bob Hanson's, they used it for a scraper.
They drove down and pulled off the scrapers, got most of it out.
With the truck I was busy.
DZ: You said you did that for eighteen years.
SE: Then when I was done, they didn't let me go. I said I haven't
got my license, and I don't know how in the world I can do it.
So I went to Jamestown and traded it, just to see how I could
trade, for a pickup.
So I got a new pickup. I had no truck and that ended that. The
salesbarn had two semi-trucks and no drivers. One of them he sold,
and one he had different drivers on. They never come home or there
was always something. So he went after me, and I drove that truck
for about ten trips to St. Paul, MN. It was late fall, and after
that I said this is enough.
In the summers with truck driving, combining, and swathing, I
kept going anyway.
DZ: I see you have got an American flag in the corner there.
When do you put that up?
SE: We do it every summer. Me and Schroeders. We got one there,
and we got one here. We heard, at the meetings, that it would
be nice if people would show more flags. There are some who have
got them here and there. I just open the door and put it on the
side there, outside.
DZ: Is there anything else you would like to mention.
SE: I think I have mentioned too much already!
DZ: Well, that was a good interview.
SE: I don't know how they'll listen to it. What will they think
of us old guys?! I can't think of anything else. I think I'm done,
unless you've got another question. You got me into a lot of stories
here with all this puzzle stuff. This is how I kill my time now.
DZ: Well, at least, you have a nice past time. Keeps you going
on those long winter days.
SE: When I go to the doctor, he says,"At you're age, you
should have more rest." I feel it too. At any time, I could
just go lay down and rest.
DZ: There are a lot of people who can't rest and can't sleep,
so if you are able to sleep then; that's good. Are there any more
words or words of the wise.
SE: No, I think I said all of it. I could just say thank you
for the trouble.
DZ: It was no trouble at all. It was a lot of fun and honor.
Ok, I want to thank you my uncle, Sam Eszlinger, and this concludes
our interview. Thanks again.
SE: You are welcome.