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Interview with Barbara Schneider Risling (BR)
Updated:

Conducted by Bob Dambach (BD)
19 July 2000, Scott, Saskatchewan

Transcription by Beth Freeman
Editing and proofreading by Peter Eberle and Reverend Marvin Hartmann

Prairie Public Collection


BD: Ok. Barbara, why don’t you tell me your name and where we are?

BR: Well, I’m Barbara Risling, born Schneider, and I was born in 1911, and I was born the United States - Towner, North Dakota. So what else was there?

BD: Where are we now? What town are we in now?

BR: In Scott, Saskatchewan. We left the States in 1917. I was six years old, and moved to Prelate, Saskatchewan. After one year there, my father decided to move to Revenue, because there was a very dry year that year. He had cousins in Revenue so he - we moved to Revenue. But when we moved to Revenue, all the land he could get was beside the Tramping Lake, it’s a coulee lake. And the land was prairie, it was not even broke. So my father and my two older brothers, Walter and Lambert, and my oldest sister Regina, they all went up to break up this land during the summer. They just lived in a shack. In the fall they came back and lead the horses and machinery up there, and now we had to get ready to move. And the way we moved was by hayrack, wagon, double back buggy, and single buggy. We had chickens on there. The cattle my father took by train. So we were on the road three days from Prelate to Revenue.

BD: About how far is that?

BR: Well, I have no idea how far it is, you could figure it out. From Prelate it took us three days, and the first night we all slept out under the open sky. Under blankets I guess. The second night, we stopped at the farm, and this lady said, “Well the women can sleep in the house, but we have no room for the men.” So we slept in the house, and we never had mattresses. They had those ticks filled with straw or whatever, that was the mattress. So she had them just filled fresh that day she said. They were nice and high and good to sleep on. So we had a good night there. And the third night we were on the farm. We were in Revenue, and out to the farm. But there was not a farm there, all there was was a shed, a shack. A little shack where they stayed in. So we all slept there. And my brother took the cattle, about ten cattle and his pony, by freight from Prelate to Karrobert. And there was three train days from Wilkie to Karrobert; the train went every three days. So when he got to Karrobert with the cattle, the train was gone. Now he was 18 years old, so he had to decide what to do. So he took the cattle off and took them in the railroad and his pony came with him. And he drove those cattle from Karrobert to Revenue. But one night he had to spend the night out with the cattle. I don’t know where he slept, maybe with the pony. He stayed there overnight. And the next day he drove the cattle to the farm home.

BD: How many people made this trip?

BR: Well, on the trip, my father and my mother, and the boys - well, one of the boys was there, the other boys went ahead, and Lambert was with the cattle, so two of the boys were there yet

BD: How many people were in your family, I guess is what I’m trying to get at?

BR: In my family, there were nine, yah. Nine of us.

BD: Now why did they leave Towner? Why did you leave Towner to first come to Canada together?

BR: Well, I’ll tell you what I heard after. I didn’t know at the time why really. But my father told us later, the war, Second World War was going on and they were all called up to be in the war. And my brother Lambert was 18 years old, and he would have been the next son to be called up into that war. And he said, “In Canada, they’ve not had to go to the war yet.” So he says, “We’ll move to Canada.” And then that’s what they told me. That’s why.

BD: That would have been the First World War, right?

BR: Yeah, the First World War. But the land was not that good in the States anyway. Was sandy. Nothing really grew. We just lived off the cattle, off the - making butter, selling cream and butter. That’s what our living was.

BD: Was it hard for families just to move from the United States to Canada? Did you have to go through customs, or did you just come up?

BR: I was just six years old - see, I don’t remember those things. We went by train. We went from the States to Canada. My father had three freight cars with cattle, horses, and machinery. And the three boys, Lambert, Walter, and Phillip - Phillip was only 12 at that time. They went with the cattle and watered them when the train stopped and stuff. And my father and the rest of the family went by train. We went by train. We landed in Leader first. We were in the dead lands. They were stealing the land. So we had to stay with my mother’s brother, Uncle - that’s - [Mirror A67]. So we stayed at their place for four days.

BD: Now your mom and dad, where did they come from?

BR: My mother and father came from Russia, from Mannheim, Russia. Yeah, beside the Black Sea, they tell me.

BD: And do you know about when they came over?

BR: The came over in 1902. My two oldest brothers were born in Russia. I think Lambert was four and Balzar was two when they came to the United States.

BD: So in your family of nine, where are you?

BR: Well, in the states, we were eight. Alvin was born in Canada. The baby, Alvin. Yeah, he was born in Revenue, Saskatchewan.

BD: You have other sisters, too?

BR: Well I have four sisters. We moved after living four years in that little house in the Muddy Lake there. The Tramping Lake I should say, I’m sorry. And then we bought a section of land in the Revenue area, and then we had to build a new house. Then we build new house, I was eleven years old. And while they were building this house, it was a very, very dry summer. In July, this nice storm came up. But it was lightening and thunder, very very severe electrical storm. The little house where my oldest brother was married in and they had a baby of six months. They lived in a little house. So they all went over to the little house, to his house, because the storm was very bad. And Lambert said, “Yah, I’m coming, I’m coming.” And the carpenter was there and was working. And he stood - the windows were not in the house yet, but it was all done. And he leaned on the windowsill and watched the storm come because it was going to rain. And the lightning struck the house and killed him. He was leaning on the sill. And he was killed.

BD: How old would he have been, then?

BR: He was, I think, 22 years old.

BD: So just a very young man.

BR: Yeah, Christine - she never saw her father. Then we had this big farm, but it was very sad to see this brother go to die in this house. We never forgot that window. That house is still on the farm where my brother Alvin lives. He has stayed on the farm, and his son built a new house there now.

BD: Once you got on the farm, how was life? Was life very tough? What sort of things did you do?

BR: Well, it was - first off the boys helped to work and all that. We used the binder saw, of course, like anybody else. And then the older boys - Lambert got killed, Walter married, Phillip got married. There were three girls, only three girls left. So we girls had to help on the farm. And I went to school until I was 15 years old. In Revenue we had four miles to school, so we didn’t go to school. For four years, we went - in November we stopped, in April we started again.

BD: Wait one second. [Fixing camera] Ok, tell me about school again.

BR: Well, when we went to Revenue, we didn’t get no school for four winters and then our father taught us in German the school years. But when we moved to the new house, we went to the new school, and I had lost four winters. I was eleven I guess. But I passed my graduate anyway when I was fifteen. And then it was out in the field. I worked with four horses, six horses in the field. I harnessed them, I unharnessed them, I watered them, and I took care of my team until I got married at 19 years of age. And that was my home with my parents and the farm.

BD: You said your dad taught you in German. Did you speak German?

BR: We all talked German. Our children when they started school they couldn’t speak English they talked German till they started school.

BD: Did you know English from living in Towner? Or did you learn it up here?

BR: Oh no. We didn’t know [English]. You know what my sister said when we went on the train? I was a little girl, and she was fifteen, and she said, “If somebody asks you where we’re going, you understand it, and you say ‘Up to Canada.’” That’s all I knew in English, “Up to Canada.” And when we start school, then we start to learn English.

BD: You said your dad taught you for those four winters. How much education did he have?

BR: Well, in Russia? I don’t know. He was a bright man. And a good worker, too. But my father was limping on one leg and he had to use a cane for the rest of his life. When he was just a young man, he was the strongest man in the colony of Mannheim. So they made him lift weights, how much everybody could - who could lift the heaviest, and he could lift the heaviest, and he fell and he hit his hip. There were no doctors in Russia, so it grew together like that, and then he was walking with the cane the rest of his life.

BD: Did that make it difficult for him in the field?

BR: No, he went and he worked in the field everyday, with his cane and he sat down. He was ok. He got to be 98 years old, but he died, yeah. 98 years old.

BD: How about your mother?

BR: My mother was 80 when she died.

BD: So your mother came from Mannheim as well.

BR: Yeah, they were both [from Mannheim].

BD: Did they have any relatives that were left behind in Russia?

BR: Oh yeah, my father left two sisters over there.

BD: Did they ever stay in contact with each other?

BR: Well, they couldn’t go back anymore. But he sent money to Russia to bring two of his nieces over here. One from each sister. And they stayed here. One worked right at the hospital here in Scott, and she became a nun. And the other one married, [Ben Herrider A134]. Yeah, I think that’s his cousin. And that was my cousin Helen [Hornstien A134].

BD: I was wondering, how about your mom? Did she have family left over there?

BR: My mother. Oh, my mother’s family all came to the States. That’s where all my uncles are, in United States. Grandma, Grandpa had died. So this Grandmother here in the picture, she came with her sons and daughters, 12 of them. They all came to Canada. And they’re all in the States or they died there now. And children’s children are there and whatever.

BD: Did your mom or dad ever talk about living in Russia and growing up in Russia?

BR: Oh yeah, Father talked about how nice it was. The fruit they had was so nice until they said, “There’s a war coming up and it’s going to be real bad.” So they thought they heard it was such a nice country in America and not settled at all. They got a lot of people, and they started migrating over, and they all came over to America. They landed in the States.

BD: That would have been 18…what?

BR: Well, they landed here in 1902. We came to Canada in 1918, but flu broke out that year at the same time. It was very bad.

BD: Did you lose any family members in the flu?

BR: No, we didn’t. We were all sick, except Father , but he couldn’t bend his knee, that was the week he was supposed to do the milking, everybody else was sick in bed. I don’t even know how he managed with his cattle. We were all so sick, but we all pulled through.

BD: Did some of your neighbors come?

BR: Our neighbors came, but they didn’t have it yet. They came to the window, to talk to the window. They were scared to come into the house because it was so contagious and so many people died. So they just came to the window and talked, and I think this man maybe milked the cows, because Father couldn’t bend his knee. I was one that could help him put on his shoes in the morning. “Barbara, come put on my shoes.” When he got up, he couldn’t bend his knee. So I put on his shoe for him.

BD: So you remember the flu then?

BR: Yeah, I remember the flu, how sick we were, yeah.

BD: Were you scared?

BR: Well, maybe we were all scared. Because Mother was the last one to go down, she made us soup and stuff we ate, but Mother got it, and it was Father that had to make a little bit of food for us.

BD: Did it last a long time?

BR: I don’t remember how long it lasted - maybe a week or so? I don’t know. The doctors said, “Eat garlic, eat garlic.” I don’t know if we did - I guess we had garlic. But that was the only medication they had was garlic to recommend to the people that would help. But some people would die anyway.

BD: What’s your favorite memory of being a girl out here on the prairie? What’s your favorite memory? Before you got married.

BR: Well, I liked to sing. I played my organ, andI was talented with that. And drawing, I was really good. I still draw, I just made a picture of a nice bird with my hands and showed it to my friend, she said, “Now with your hands you made that bird?” I said “Yes, I did, it was me.” And I keep on drawing. My hands are still steady, and they’re good.

BD: You’ll have to show us some pictures when we’re done.

BR: Yeah, you can see the pictures that I made.

BD: Now when you were a young girl, you said you did the farm work. What was the thing you liked to do the least? What was the thing you just hated to do?

BR: Well, I didn’t like to go out in the field, because it was hot. I had to harness the horses, but I had to do it because the boys were not old enough. Joel was my brother next to me, but he was not old enough. We hauled sheaves to the threshing machine till we got enough help, and we stooped in hot weather. I worked hard in my life.

BD: What type of crops did your dad grow on the farm?

BR: Good crops. We were so poor, so poor. And when we bought that land; everything just turned out so good. We had good crops. Dad paid that land out in no time at all. Everything went good.

BD: And what did you raise? What type of crops?

BR: Oh, we only raised wheat and oats. But we picked all the weeds by hand. There was no such a thing as spray. And from the beginning there were no weeds. All were gone because we started when the land was so new, there were no weeds there. Up and down the five of us. We took up one strip up, put it all in the piles, down the other, and up and down the field we picked them all by hand. I worked hard all my life. And my sister’s ninety-one, and she was with me, we all worked together. It wasn’t just I that worked hard, you know, we all worked hard. The whole family worked hard.

BD: How big a farm did your dad have?

BR: Well, we only had one section of land. It was enough for three teams of horses to work that land.

BD: Ok, when you got married at age nineteen, did your life becomes easier or harder?

BR: Well, when we first got married - we got married in ’30. And in ’30 it got so bad. We lived with his parents for two years. Well, nothing grew, there was no rain. Everybody tried to move someplace else - a lot of people left. We had the 1930s. You heard about the food rush - the rationed, had ration cards to get food and everything. No, it was bad. And then we moved on our own, and then we had the children. My parents gave me two cows with two calves, they gave me chickens, see my parents are well-to-do. And they started us out. And they helped us all along.

BD: You did have a little bit of land, then?

BR: At that time when we moved on our own, we had two quarters. Two quarters, his father let us have two quarters but we paid him back for the land slowly. That’s the two quarters. And then after the [import line A206] in ’49, we had a flood. We were just about drowned out. It was an old place, and it was so cold that nothing melted. All at once it got warm in April, and everything started melting at once, and the water just came running through our yard, and we were surrounded, with no telephone, nothing. It ran through the barn where the cattle lived - right through the barn, out the other end. And here we sat with no telephone, and the basement was already filled to the brim of this little house. And then we said well, we have to get on tables, on chairs whatever when it gets worse, but it just filled the basement, and then it broke through [Aboginies A214] Dam, about three miles - two miles I think from our place. And then when it got broke through, then it started going out. But it was three days we were living in - surrounded by this water. And with the little children, and no telephone.

BD: And where was your farm?

BR: This was about four miles out of Revenue on the farm.

BD: And this is the family farm you were talking abut you lived on?

BR: No. And then Rochus, my husband said, “We’re going to move. This is enough here. It could happen again.” So two miles north of our place, that’s in the Revenue area, this farm was for sale. It was a Ranger off of the main one, moved to the States, and he wanted to sell. So Rochus talked to this man, and sure enough, he sold us this section of land. It was only two miles north of our house. So we moved there. That’s were we are - this is the farm. And we thought we were city people. There was a telephone; there was a well with water there. We had to carry the water maybe - it was not a quarter of a mile, it was a little bit closer from that well. We had a well. We had an upstairs, downstairs, a furnace in the basement. We couldn’t believe that things went this good. And then it went good, and in no time we had this land paid off.

BD: So it was a lot different in the -

BR: Seventeen years we lived on this farm.

BD: How many?

BR: Seventeen years. And then this other little boy was born - the last one that’s talented, Gilbert was born. And he was raised on this farm. I made up the song of him on this farm, from this farm. And then Hutterites started moving in. And there was a lot of people that were tired of farming, because the year was quite bad. It was a bad year. We were not allowed - I shouldn’t say we were not allowed. They asked us not to seed. The government paid so much for our quarter - I forgot how much - not to seed because we did not move anymore. So the government paid people not to seed that year. So a lot pulled out. We were the only ones left in the end. So we had to sell too. We were surrounded by Hutterite people.

BD: And this was in the 1970s?

BR: No, that was in 1971, then we gave up and let them have it.

BD: And then you moved to town?

BR: Then we retired, Rochus was already - how old was he? I forgot now, but he was in the age when he should be retiring. And then we moved to Scott and bought seven quarters of land west of Scott. And then we had three boys come. Roy lives over here, one son. He got two quarters, and the other one got one here and two out there, and Bill got some, this one, and Rochus had one quarter left, until he died, he didn’t want to part with it. When he died, I paid out for it. But in that, in ’78, this one son that was living downtown, he was a school bus driver and what not, and he drove to North Battleford one evening in ’78. And it was ground drifting, a little bit but it was not that bad. And he drove to North Battleford. And just about a quarter mile out of North Battleford, he was killed in his car. He was 44 years old. They said they thought the lights were further away and they could cross the road in front over to another farm. They thought they had time enough. And they were running, he went fast - they were not hurt, he hit the bag of the car, but I guess he hit - the steering wheel got his chest and he lived long enough to get the ambulance to the hospital. There was a priest there and gave him last rites and everything. And he’s buried in Scott Cemetery. And now his father is buried there, he died in ’89. He was 79 years old; he would have been 80 in a short while.

BD: Why don’t you tell me a little bit about your husband now, how did you meet your husband?

BR: My husband - we went to school together. At that time you know, we were just kids. But later at that time, people, the younger generation, they didn’t get no place. They didn’t get out of the district. So they all intermarried each other, with whoever wasn’t, and then finally, I had other friends before, but then Rochus came. We gave it two years, and then at 19 we got married. And he was a good husband, I miss him very much. I miss him very much.

BD: Was his family German-Russian, too?

BR: Yeah, they came from Fronsfeld. He came from a different [village]…but they talked the same language as we did. You saw Rochus’s picture on the table there. Yes, he was a nice young man.

BD: Now, did his - did he have a similar background? Were his parents born in Russia as well?

BR: Yeah, they came from Russia, they came a little bit later then my parents came. I have it all in the Revenue book when his parents came. I think they came in 1905, direct to Revenue. And he was born and raised in Revenue all his life. I came from the States. (But so we lost this one son)

BD: How many children did you have?

BR: I had eight children. Six boys and two girls. And this little one came seven years after the other ones. That is the talented one in the family.

BD: So how much range is there between the oldest and the youngest? How far apart were they?

BR: All two years apart - not quite. Not even quite - all down, until this one Bill here, he was the baby. And then seven years after, then this little Gilbert was born. Yeah, he comes home quite often.

BD: And you said three of the boys are farmers as well?

BR: Well, Bill is farming right out of town, that’s where we moved his house for him. And Roy got back trouble and couldn’t keep farming anymore. Roy, he’s 60 now. He moved over in his acreage now, kept one quarter of land, made his own. Built a new house that he lives in. He’s the one that looks after me. When I need him, Roy is here. Last night he did the lawn and everything. I pay him a little bit, then he looks after Mother. He’s the one that looks after me. Or else I couldn’t stay here.

BD: Why don’t you tell me about some of your other children, what they’ve done?

BR: Well, Leo was a salesman, and he was from Saskatoon, and he moved to St. Paul, Minnesota. And then he died two years ago, that’s the second oldest son. We buried him here. He’s buried beside his brother and his father.

BD: And how old was he?

BR: He was buried on his birthday at 66 years of age. He had a heart attack 20 years ago, and then he was ok until - he died in his sleep, his heart gave out again. And then next was this Albert, he got killed in the car accident. Rosemary, she’s living in Saskatoon. She’s working with old people, taking care of old people. But she just retired the end of June. She is 65. And then [Ree - Ree’s A313] the marathon runner that worked in a university, and Roy’s a farmer. And Dorothy lives in Mission, BC and she’s in bad shape. She walks with a cane, and they don’t know what’s wrong with her. She’s got something in her bones.

BD: You were telling me a little bit about your marathon runner. Tell me a little more about him.

BR: Marathon runner? I have all this right up there. He started running at 42. I have him on tape, they taped him in Saskatoon. Then he was 42 when they taped it, the tape I have. Then he said, “I’m good for running another 10 years,” and he ran until he was 62 years old and he made his hundreth marathon. Now he’s in Saskatoon and he’s retired.

BD: A hundred marathons’s a lot, isn’t it?

BR: Yeah, well, oh yeah. He ran in marathons - he ran in Bismarck, he ran in Boston, Chicago, Hawaii, all those big places. He ran all those marathons.

BD: And he holds a record?

BR: Yeah, I have awards and stuff of his. Framed and everything in there. Yeah, he’s the one that - he’s in the states right now, every summer he goes to the States for about a month, just to travel. And then Roy, who lives next on the farm, and then there’s Gilbert. He started out with a radio announcer in [Lodeminster A337] and then he already put him in television up there to say the news. And then he moved to Swift Current in 1970. He got married in 1973, and he acted in 1974. He was a radio and TV announcer, and on weekends he played, a one-man band, all over the area. Then he wanted a change. So he moved to [Salmon Arm, BC A343]. And he’s been there for six years. He started out in the newspaper, which he didn’t like. They hired him with the radio again. He’s with the radio again now. He sells things out for the radio though, he’s a salesman for the radio now.

BD: Now who’s the one that does the music?

BR: Well this is Gilbert. Gilbert is the musician. He started singing when he started talking two years ahead of him [Alia A340] taught him “Little Doggy in the Window” and those little songs. And he sang it. By seven he played the guitar by ear, and then he was on his way. We bought him a good guitar, and when he moved to Salmon Arm he had all his equipment in a little trailer he took behind. Away he went, and the first year he lived out there, when he came out one morning the trailer was empty; everything was stolen. So he had to get all new instruments. But he got better instruments then he had before. So, yeah, he was here in Scott in June. He came in all the way with his daughter, she’s the lead singer now. And so they played for the Scott Days. They call it Scott Days; he played here - we went over.

BD: So then he must have got the music from you, you told me you were musical?

BR: Well, I played the organ and I taught my children on my knee to sing. In the evenings there was no radio. No nothing. In the evenings after supper they were on my knee on a big rocking chair, one had the lap, the other two were sitting on the side, and I sang to them. I sang to them.

BD: You told me earlier you wrote a little song. Could you sing that song for us?

BR: I have it on tape…

BD: Sing a little bit now.

BR: Well I can sing it too, but I - it’s not….

BD: Sing it; go ahead sing it for me. Go ahead.

BR: Ok, it’s a - see I sang it for him, and he’s supposed to… but then I did that in ’71 already, this tape. [Singing] I was born and raised in Saskatchewan
Where the golden fields of grain are grown.
Where a herd of white faced cattle
Roam the pasture of Father’s farm.

I’ll always be a farmer’s son
Although I’m many miles from home.
I’ll never forget those happy days
I lived with my parents on our farm.

Those school-bus days are memories now,
That took me 14 miles to school.
Come to meet me every evening
Was my faithful dog named Pell.

I’ll always remain a farmer’s son
Although I’m many miles from home
I’ll never forget those happy days
I lived with my parents on our farm.

[more speaking voice] I remember so well coming home from school.
I’d rush into the house and call out, “What’s for supper Mom?”
She’d always smile and say, “Hungry son?”

But farmer’s life is not all roses, [end of side]

BD: [Beginning of side B] Verse again about the city life? What did you say?

BR: Ok. Can I start?

A farmer’s life is not all roses,
But nature surrounds you at all times.
That’s more then a city can offer
With noise and pollution at all times.

I’ll always remain a farmer’s son,
Although I’m many miles from home.
I’ll never forget those happy days
I lived with my parents on our farm.

That’s it.

BD: I’ll give you a little applause [clapping]. Very good. So obviously you like the farm life, you think farm life is good.

BR: Oh, I wouldn’t change it for anything. This is like living on a farm here. The grandchildren come, “Let’s go to Grandma on the farm.” It’s quite and peaceful. My son came home one time when he still lived in Swift Current, and he said, “Mother, you live in a little paradise and you don’t know it, or don’t realize it, that you live in a little paradise here.” It’s quiet. I love it peaceful and quiet. I love my home and I love to be in it.

BD: Now when you were growing up as a child, did you sing in your household? Did your family sing?

BR: When I was six years old, Father had all those records from Germany. The German records that we had that gramophone with that big horn on there, and he had all those German songs with the yodeling. When I was seven years old, I sang those songs on that gramophone and I yodeled like they did. When we got people to come to visit, they asked little Barb to come in, and I had to sing for them. And they gave me money - ten cents, twenty-five cents. At that time….

BD: Do you remember any of the German songs? Can you sing a little German song for us, too?

BR: We start forgetting the German songs.

BD: Yeah, you probably remember a little bit though. Think for a second.

BR: What was the one they sang not long ago? Alvin knows it too. If Alvin comes back we could sing it here, but then it will be put away because you won’t be here. What was it - the return of - see, my mind is getting all dead - I get mixed up.

BD: Sure. Let’s talk about something else. Lee did a documentary about German-Russian food a year and a half ago. What are some of the foods you remember your mom making for you and then you passed on to your family as well. Tell me about some of the foods.

BR: Yeah. A German meal is [shelza B25] - in English - cabbage, beet, and potatoes. In German is [kraut, rumverrer, croush B25]. That was a main German dish. And then the noodles, then they [shplitten the noodles]. They’d make [shplittennoodles B27] and dompf noodles, all these - all German things that they made. Some I don’t even know how to say it in English because it’s just German food.

BD: What was your favorite meal your mom would make for you?

BR: Well she - whenever, she made that knoepfla soup and a [pass ipfa B31] that is crocus with cheese - those we loved when she made those. And Kugler. Kugler is good, and blodchenda - they baked them with pumpkin. I still make those, and I still make the Kuchen. It’s cream Kuchen. I had it last week when my children came with my grandchildren, they loved it.

BD: What is the grandchildren’s favorite?

BR: Well, they love that Kuchen, for one thing. I didn’t tell you I had 25 grandchildren, and 29 great-grandchildren. Yeah. And my oldest grandchild is already 26 years old.

BD: You’re much too young for that.

BR: Yeah, well, I got married at 19. But he lives in the States, the oldest one. He’s in the army. He’s in Florida right now. He’s the oldest great-grandson. Yep. Even a grandmother to two black children, and one Indian little girl that are in the family, yeah.

BD: Do you get to see relatives? I mean, I know you have a lot of relatives. Do you get to see a lot of relatives?

BR: Well, they are just about all gone. One time I went to Saskatoon, that’s Lambert’s mother, Lambert [Schnasha B44], she’s 94. I see here whenever I go down. And my brother Joel lives in [Colona, BC] but I don’t - Seminar is not far from Colona.

BD: You said your sister lives close by, doesn’t she?

BR: My oldest sister lives in Calgary. We see her once or twice a year. This Elwin, my brother - we’ll be going in August 23, going for her 98th birthday. My sister, yeah. Her memory’s good, you could talk to her about old things like that. She remembers everything, but she walks with a walker just to protect her because she fell again not long ago. Um, this is her right there.

BD: I thought you said, maybe I heard wrong, but I thought you said we were going to meet your sister this weekend. Who are we going talk to?

BR: That’s the one in Unity. She’s coming to Tramping Lake. That’s my sister Philippina. She lives in Amer - like, she left her home in Tramping Lake and moved in there.

BD: Now when you two get together, what do you talk about?

BR: Oh, about everything. She was here when the Schneider boys were here. My two cousins Schneider were here, and she came with her daughter - her two daughters, my two nieces. That’s about two weeks ago she’s here, yeah. And we had a nice visit and talk about, everything from old times mostly.

BD: You talk about when you were growing up at all? When you were young girls?

BR: Yeah, about when we moved, talk about stuff like that. And when we moved from - this is a little bit of a funny thing to put in there - when we moved from Prelate to Revenue, when we stayed at that house, the lady said we could stay at her house overnight. Years later our mother told us, she said, “You know what that lady said to me? She said, ‘There’s one day in your life that you don’t know what you’re doing. And that was the day when I married my second husband.’” [Laughing] Oh they were both - I don’t know, but our mother told us this. It’s a little funny thing.

BD: Now who’s the fellow that you said would sing with you? Who sang? You said there was one of the fellows here that would sing a German song with you?

BR: My brother Alvin, yeah.

BD: Is Alvin here?

BR: He’s a cowboy. He sings cowboy songs, and he’s a good singer. See, it’s in the Schneider - my father was a good singer, and Alvin, oh, I wish he could sing you a song.

BD: Is he here? You said he’s here today?

BR: I guess he went to the store with a bunch.

BD: I think they’re just standing outside.

BR: No, I think he went to the store.

BD: Oh yeah, I saw him come back.

BR: So he came back.

BD: Maybe we could walk outside and say - I have a few more questions, but…

BR: He wouldn’t have his guitar with him anyway.

BD: I mean you could just sit there and sing like you sang for us. Maybe the two of you could sing a little German song for us.

BR: German song? Well maybe if he remembers.

BD: Come on, we’ll see. Maybe he remembers and then we’ll tape you.

BR: If something doing like those people from the States were here and from Germany, we had a party there. And we had our folks with the old songs. We sang. Alvin and I and a few nieces, and we sang for hours for those people.

BD: When you were growing up, was the church very important for you and the family?

BR: Oh yeah, when we didn’t know - well still, Sunday is church for me. If I don’t get to church, I’m not happy. Yeah.

BD: Being from the Kutschurgan you’d be Catholic, I’d think.

BR: Yeah, our parents were Catholic and we were raised and we carry the tradition. As long as I’m alive, I’ll go to church. And I love going to church, and it - there’s somebody there - oh yeah, she’s bringing Alvin in. This boy…was it a girl?

BD: Boy.

BR: A boy, you can’t tell these days, they have different hair….

BD: Unless they have haircuts like me.

BR: Yeah, yeah. Is it your son?

BD: No, he’s a young student.

BR: Sang me the choir for five years, from 14 until I got married. Then I couldn’t sing anymore with children. You know now, we have a nursing home in town, and I sing with a little group of the ladies that sing, and I’m the old one. I sing in every - once a month, we have a lay mass, and then I sing, I still sing in the choir, yeah, a group of us.

BD: The church in town, is that still active?

BR: Oh yeah, the church is still. I sing along in church, but I don’t go out to the choir, but in my seat, I sing along, full voice. I sing in church.

BD: What is the name of the church in town?

BR: St. James.

BD: And what church did you go to in Tramping Lake?

BR: St. Michael’s.

BD: Is that still down there?

BR: Oh, St. Michael’s, oh yeah. It’s a mission. And Revenue was, uh, I wrote it down.

BD: It’s ok.

BR: [Skip in tape directly to singing in German]
Barbara and Alvin singing in German [B93]

BD: Very good.

BR: Yeah, there’s a few more.

BD: One more. See if you can think of one more. That was good.

[Many voices, confused]

BR: See she can’t think of, we don’t do it that often, so we don’t - we get away from everything.

BD: Do you want to do that over again? How about we do that.

BR: That’s the only one, you know. But we could start maybe [German B103]. That’s where it starts again. How does it start?

[Someone, not Barbara or Alvin, sings a few bars in German]

BR: No, that’s a different one. Let’s do this one over again.

[German song]

BD: Thank you, very good.

[Another skip in the tape]

BR: We were there two, three times in this place.

BD: We need a light on in here.

BR: This is 83 years old. And this, there was a school fair…when I went to Revenue school I was about nine years old, and there was a school fair and we had to draw a picture. I drew this picture here, and I took first prize for it.

[Flipping through pages, looking through an album]

BR: This is all the drawings I have. This is just pressed flowers. This was for my birthday. These are from Scott. These are from Banff. These are from Banff.

BD: Where are these pictures from that you had here a minute ago?

BR: The pictures? Did you get this one? I just made this one. This is where I sit when I draw. This is my desk where all my things are. Let me get some - I drew first with pencil and then with this. I’ll have to get some paper out of my drawer. This is a good one here. Took my chair in there, so I have to sit on this one. This is my old way of working. [Drawing for a long time.] See, I do it in pencil first, and then if it is not too good, then I rub it out and do it over again until it’s what I want. The rabbits, I…. [More silent drawing] See this is a bad one too, that was a nicer one then this was here.

[Skip in tape]

BR: A cat, ok, I’ve had cats.

BD: Ok. Good, that’s good, yeah.

BR: So that’s a drawing. And my writing I do at the same table here. I have a chair here and I - see. I’ll just do one piece. [Autoharp strumming, halting, then “Just As I Am” plays] It doesn’t sound right, it needs to be fixed. [“Just As I Am” again, with Barbara singing]

BD: That’s good, yes.

Permission to use any images from the GRHC website may be requested by contacting Michael M. Miller
North Dakota State University Libraries
Germans from Russia Heritage Collection
Libraries
NDSU Dept #2080
PO Box 6050
Fargo, ND 58108-6050
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