Interview with Theresa Kuntz Bachmeier (TB) - Part I

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

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


ME: Today is December 2, 1999. My name is Mary Ebach. I'm a volunteer for the Germans from Russia Heritage Collection at North Dakota State University Libraries in Fargo, ND. We are visiting with Theresa Kuntz Bachmeier in Rugby and thank you for taking the time Theresa. We will start off with you telling me your name.

TB: Theresa Kuntz Bachmeier.

ME: What is the date of your birth, when you were born?

TB: I was born April 10, 1909.

ME: 1909 and where were you born, Theresa?

TB: In Blumenfeld, around Orrin.

ME: What was your father's name?

TB: Engelbert.

ME: Engelbert?

TB: Kuntz.

ME: Where was he born?

TB: In Russia.

ME: Do you know the name of the town or village where he was born?

TB: Yah, he was born in Elsass [Kutschurgan District].

ME: They were Elsassers then?

TB: Yah.

ME: When did he die?

TB: He died the 20th of July - I don't remember [the year] anymore.

ME: Where did he die?

TB: At home.

ME: In Blumenfeld?

TB: In Blumenfeld, yah. They lived in Orrin (in town) and he was craving for watermelon. The neighbor woman went to Rugby to town so she brought watermelon and before they went to bed, he craved for watermelon. So they had lunch with the watermelon. He was tired and he went in to go to bed. He put the blanket over and fell on the bed with one hand up to open his [bib overalls] and he was dead. That was a hard death.

ME: That fast?

TB: That fast, yah.

ME: Where is he buried?

TB: In Orrin.

ME: Let's go to your mother now. What was your mother's name?

TB: Elizabeth Duchscherer.

ME: Elizabeth Duchscherer. And what was her maiden name?

TB: Duchscherer.

ME: Her maiden name was Duchscherer?

TB: Yah.

ME: Where was she born?

TB: In Mannheim.

ME: When did she die?

TB: She died in - [pause while she gets her book with the information in it]. Grandpa Kuntz died July 20, 1959.

ME: Your father?

TB: Yah, my dad yah.

ME: July 20, 1959.

TB: Yes.

ME: What about your mother?

TB: Grandma died November 23, 1969.

ME: And where is she buried?

TB: Next to Dad, um hum.

ME: Do you know where and when your mother and dad were married?

TB: That I do not know, but I think it was in Mannheim.

ME: So they were married when they came to America?

TB: Yes, they already had the oldest son.

ME: Oh, they already had a child when they came.

TB: Yah, Sebastian.

ME: How many brothers and sisters do you have in your family?

TB: I have six brothers.

ME: And what are their names? Who is the oldest?

TB: Sebastian, John, Julius, George, Mike and Frank.

ME: And then your sisters.

TB: I got four sisters; we were five girls. There’s Dorothy -

ME: What is her last name now?

TB: Boehm.

ME: Boehm.

TB: She married - the first husband was Senger and he passed away with a heart attack. So she got married to John Boehm from Karlsruhe. After he passed away, she went back to Devils Lake again and is in the home now.

ME: She's older than you are then?

TB: Yah, she’s two years older than me. And then there's Frances, Mary and Rosina. Mary passed away two or three years ago.

ME: Who was Frances married to?

TB: She was married to a Steffan. And Rosina was married to John Brossart. He passed away, so she's single now.

ME: So you still have two living sisters?

TB: Yah, two living sisters. Drei, Dorothy is still alive.

ME. When did your parents come to America, do you know that?

TB: In 1901. They come and they went to South Dakota for the winter and then they moved because the other brothers and sisters came from the old country. They come back to Blumenfeld and that's where they stayed till they passed away.

ME: Do you know where in South Dakota that they came to?

TB: They were in South Dakota with one of my dad's uncles. He took them in and didn't want them to leave South Dakota anymore. But they wanted to go home to the other ones.

ME: Do you know when your folks came to this country, and the name of the ship they came on?

TB: That I don't remember.

ME: That's okay. And then did they homestead?

TB: Yes, they did. They homesteaded right away.

ME: And where was that again?

TB: In Blumenfeld.

ME: In Blumenfeld?

TB: In McHenry County.

ME: Do you know anything about your grandparents or great-grandparents when they went from Germany to Russia to America?

TB: No, I don't.

ME: That goes back quite a ways.

TB: Yah.

ME: Do you remember family stories that your father or mother told about Elsass in Russia?

TB: Oh, yah. They said many things sometimes, but you know it doesn't all hook together.

ME: Tell us a little bit about those that you remember.

TB: My dad said they had to do everything by hand, you know.

ME: In Russia?

TB: In Russia. When it was seeding time - when there was threshing time when the grain was to be cut, so they had to cut it with their hand.

ME: Sickle?
TB: Sickles, yah. And then the rest of them had to go after that and put it in little piles to let it dry. And then when those little piles would dry, then they took them together and put them into a fence they had made extra because it was a little higher than the bottom. The bottom was solid, and they made the top with some slits in so the grain fell down into that part. And then they’d put the horses on top, you know, when those piles would dry they’d put that in the fence. They’d turn the horses in (they chased them in there) so they stepped everything out from them.

ME: And then the grain fell to the -

TB: Yah, and the grain fell down in those slots, you know.

ME: That was a hard way of doing it, wasn't it?

TB: Well, they knew how!

ME: Oh sure.

TB: You know, I have to tell you a little story. There was a guy that did threshing and he never farmed, but he had a hayrack and he had a box under that hayrack. He had the hayrack fixed like that, had the boards apart, you know, so when he had the bundles put on when he had to haul bundles, then he got on that hayrack and stepped them [the grain] out. In the evening he drove home and he emptied that, so he had some - I don’t know what he done with it, chicken feed or whatever and maybe a few bags for himself.

ME: Sure.

TB: That's what happened!

ME: It's almost like stealing, isn't it?

TB: Well, that was stealing, but he was watched. And then, you know they always had to have supper at the house. So when they had supper, there was two guys stayed out and they took that out what he had in the bottom and he went home. But when he came home, he found out he didn't have it - what he wanted that day.

ME: I guess that shows you that stealing doesn't pay.

TB: No, that didn't pay.

ME: It did for once, but not the second time.

TB: Well, it did more than once. He’d done it before, and he done it again and again.

ME: Do you remember your folks talking about anything else that happened in Russia? Now we've been talking about harvesting, did they ever talk about going to church there, the government, the army or anything like that?

TB: Not that I know. They had to walk to the church. They also had a few cows, and then there was always a guy that would take all those cows in that - they called that Fudder (literally: to fodder, feed), that was like a little village. They all put those cows in the same place, and that guy took them out to the country and herded them out there. In the evening he brought them back to do the milking. The cows knew where they were supposed to go. They went to their homes.

ME. I think there is something that kind of interests me, how did they decide to come to America? Do you know that?

TB: Yah, it was said they was talking going on about war. My dad was pulled in [drafted]. He was a soldier in the old country. He was three years a soldier and he walked home 49 miles. I don't know what they called them, Madrosa in the German. Well, that means the head ones, higher than those when they were pulled into the military as soldiers. He was a good dancer, my dad. So they played tunes for him and he had to dance the Cossack Jig(not sure of the spelling). You don't know anything about the Cossack Jig do you?

ME: Not that name, but you tell me how they did the dance.

TB: Well, you know they acted the dance out while they were dancing - jumped and they stepped on both of the feet.

ME: Kicked their feet out?

TB: Yah, jumped, clapped and slapped their hands behind and, oh, I don't know. It was that Mike Hager (his wife lived here in town yet too but they put her to the hospital now). He just loved to see my dad dance that dance when there was a wedding.

ME: So when he was a soldier he did this dance?

TB: Yes, he had to do this for those guys. They paid him to do this, yah.

ME: When he was in the army for three years, then did he leave Russia?

TB: Yes, he got home; then the other brother was pulled in. My uncle, Sebastian, was pulled in next to [after] my dad. See, my grandpa lost his wife and he got remarried, and she had three boys or four boys, I'm not sure. And they always went free and the Kuntz side had to go be a soldier - was pulled in [the army], and so then that's why they left Russia.

ME: When your dad came over, did your grandma and grandpa come too?

TB: Yes, my dad's side and my mother's side. They both came.

ME: You said when your grandpa remarried, what was that woman's name, do you remember?

TB: Yes, I remember her. Well, she wrote her name Kuntz when she got married to my grandpa, but she was married before to a Giesinger. My Grandpa Kuntz got married to her, but she brought those boys to the Kuntz home. The Kuntz boys were pulled into being soldiers [in the army] and the Giesingers did not.

ME: Do you know what the names of those Giesingers were?

TB: Yes, there was a Jacob, a Bruno and there was a Joe or John. He was not here, he was in Canada.

ME: I see, well, that's all really interesting. It's good that you can still remember. You've got such a good memory, Theresa. It's good that you can tell us all these things.

TB: Yah, the more we get into it - I believe that one's name was Joseph.

ME: The Jacob Giesinger who lived here -

TB: That was my dad's stepson, and they were good friends. Oh yah! When there was anything going on, Jacob Giesinger came to us. They hired my brother to work for them, yah. They were close friends.

ME: Do you ever remember your folks saying that they would like to go back to the old country?

TB: Oh, they talked a lot about it was better there, in some ways.

ME: In Russia?

TB: In Russia, yah, but they didn't like the idea of what was going on because [of] what had happened there. They didn’t like that.

ME: Did your parents get letters from people?

TB: Yah, they did. Well, you know, this family that stayed back and they had another sister that was there yet besides her and they wrote letters back and forth.

ME: Do you have those letters?

TB: No.

ME: Do you know who might have those letters?

TB: No.

ME: They probably didn't save them.

TB: No, they didn't save them. Well, there was nobody from the family that could read German.

ME: Was it German or Russian that they wrote?

TB: German, I think, but maybe that one was a Russian one.

667 KB

ME: Did your folks ever talk Russian?

TB: Oh yah!

ME: They did?

TB: Yes! They could rattle that just like you guys rattle off the English. That’s the way they talked at their homes. They talked Russian. My dad said that they all talked Russian. I've got an aunt in Canada and she was full Russian talking.

ME: Well, did you learn to speak Russian?

TB: No, no.

ME: When they spoke Russian - when did they learn to speak German then? Or did they speak both?

TB: Well, they had German before they -

ME: German and Russian they spoke then.

TB: Yah, they knew the German before the Russian. Oh yah. They grew up German, but then you know the friends around them were all Russians, that's how come - just like here.

ME: So you never learned to speak Russian, didn't even understand one word of it?

TB: Dobravetcha (not sure of the spelling) that means hello.

ME: Ma never had one word of Russian.

TB: Yah. Oh, my uncle Sebastian and my dad while visiting one another, being just a
mile apart , when they’d get together then they talked gibberish, what it was we didn't know.

ME: Did you speak German at home with your children?

TB: Yes.

ME: Did your children learn to speak German?

TB: Most of them. Well, they knew how to speak it and they could understand it.

ME: They could understand you?

TB: Yah and they still do. They can talk it, if they want to.

ME: What about your grandchildren now, your children's children? Do any of them speak German?

TB: No.

ME: Not even a prayer or a swear word?

TB: That - vielleicht, maybe.

ME: The next thing that we talked a little bit about - what were some of the chores that you had to do when you were little, when you were home?

TB: Milk, rake the yard, get the kindling wood, and pick everything up that burned in the coal stove.

ME: Clean the house?

TB: Clean the house, yes.

ME: Help cook?

TB: Whatever there was that I could do - carried the water.

ME: What did you like to do best?

TB: What had to be done. I had to wipe the dishes and sweep the floor. My other sister she washed the dishes and cleaned the table. Then we carried the water in for the night and next morning. If there was washing, we had to carry all the water in as well.

ME: When you were a bad girl, now it never happened I know, and your brother was a bad boy, did they scold you different than your brother?

TB: No, we got in fights, not lots of times.

ME: I know you weren't a bad girl. Where did you go to school?

TB: It was a mile and a half from our home.

ME: Was it a country school?

TB: Country school.

ME: How many years did you go to school there?

TB: Well, I was in the eighth grade.

ME: You went to the eighth grade?

TB: Yes.

ME: Did you go to school all year, all the while school was in session, or did you have to stay home sometimes and help?

TB: No, the last time, when I was in the eighth grade, I had to go to Anamoose, North Dakota, where I was a cook. I had to get breakfast, dinner and supper. We had a great big new house. It had 49 windows that house.

ME: Where you lived?

TB: In Anamoose and a furnace in the basement, which we did not have that at home. I had to cook for the two boys.

ME: So that wasn't your home, that's where you went to work?

TB: That's where I went to work. My dad had rented the place; so it was mostly half of the summer that we were down there in Anamoose. It was about 20 miles from our home. It took time going back and forth with the horses. At that time we didn't have no cars yet. Then my brother gave me 25 cents, and I had to walk to Anamoose and get a ring of sausage.

ME: How far did you have to walk?

TB: A mile. And then when I walked home, the neighbor man (I kinda knew him) had an old car without a top, picked me up and dropped me off, because the road was just a little bit off from the house.

ME: Then you worked there, while you went to school.

TB: No, I had to quit the school when I was in the eighth grade then.

ME: When you went to school, were the rest of the kids that went there all German or were there some -

TB: They were all German.

ME: They were all German.

TB: All German.

ME: What kind of games did you play when you went to school?

TB: Anti-I-Over, tag, and drop the handkerchief. (laughing).

ME: When you went to school, how did you get there? Did you walk or did you drive?

TB: We walked most of the time. In the winter, they hauled us with the sled.

ME: How far was it from your home?

TB: About a mile and a half.

ME: The teacher that you had, was that a man or a woman?

TB: It was a man in the first place I went. Then we had an old woman. Oh, she was a nice woman, a heavy-set woman. I still remember her.

ME: Now you're a Catholic. And your parents and grandparents, they were all Catholic, going back as far as -?

TB: All.

ME: Do you remember anything about your religion like Kircheweihfeste (church feast days)? Can you tell us a little bit about that?

TB: Yes, I remember that. We had to stay home from school and had to go to the religious school, in April it started. We always had two months of religious school.

ME: Was that taught by the nuns?

TB: No, it was taught from an old man, not an old man but he was -

ME: When you were little, he was old.

TB: Yes, their oldest son was as old as I was, that's how I knew them. Do you know Lena Heintz?

ME: Uh huh.

TB: That was her dad.

ME: Oh, her dad taught you.

TB: - taught yes.

ME: Then they taught you your prayers and -

TB: Prayers and went to Holy Communion and everything, confirmation and everything.

ME: When you went to church were all your prayers Latin or German?

TB: No, it was German.

ME: The Mass was in German?

TB: Everything was in German yet when I left Blumenfeld.

ME: What was the name of the priest that was there mostly?

TB: I think it was Father Miller, I'm not so sure about it anymore.

ME: When were you baptized or confirmed? Now I know you don't remember when you were baptized, but where were you baptized?

TB: In Blumenfeld.

ME: In Blumenfeld. Who were your sponsors, your godfather and godmother?

TB: My sponsors were my aunt, Josephine Kuntz, and an uncle, Frank Joseph Duchscherer.

ME: Did you get a certificate when you made your First Communion or confirmed?

TB: Not at that time. There was nothing at that time.

ME: Were your parents or grandparents there to help when the church was started? Were they there when they built the church?

TB: Yes, when our church was built in 1906. I'll never forget in my whole life - I don’t forget that because it was put on a concrete foundation.

ME: Which church was that?

TB: Blumenfeld.

ME: What was the name of it?

TB: It was known as the Blumenfelder Karch, Blumenfeld church.

ME: Was it in the country?

TB: Yah, a country church.

ME: Your parents and grandparents helped build it?

TB: Yah.

ME: What did your dad do to help build it?

TB: Well, I suppose what he could.

ME: Did he bring horses in?

TB: That I couldn't say. Well, they didn't dig no foundations at that time, but they had dug one [before]. That was the last time I saw the country church. Then they moved the country church to my grandpa's land that he had homesteaded when he come to the Blumenfeld country. They moved it across the lake and it just about went down. And there were so many people who were against the moving part, but they finally got it out.

ME: Why did they move it?

TB: Well, they thought they had it long enough in this corner over there and there was hardly nobody left there, so they moved it further in, as not very many had cars. But then there was a split, when some of them were mad and went to Orrin; and some of them stayed.

ME: Is that church still there?

TB: I think it burned down not too long ago.

ME: Do you remember when you went to the funerals, what some of the songs were they sang?

TB: No, about the same as here.

ME: Do you know anything about these iron crosses in the cemeteries?

TB: Yes.

ME: Did your relatives help make any of the crosses?

TB: My grandma and this Paul, they had iron crosses in the cemetery.

ME: Who made them?

TB: They were made in Orrin; I think it was a Kessler, I'm not too sure.

ME: Do you remember any of your relatives, whether they had to make the coffin for them or were they all bought?

TB: They were all bought.

ME: You don't remember anybody having made a coffin? Now we are getting into Christmas. How was Christmas celebrated in your home, when you were home with your parents?

TB: There was a Christkindel, there was no Santa Clauses. Anyway, she [Christkindel ] came in the house with a rod, a branch.

ME: The Christkindel?

TB: The Christkindel, and with the rod you received a few slaps on the back.

ME: Why?

TB: Well, if you was mean -

ME: If you were bad -

TB: If you were bad.

ME: The Christkindel, wasn't that a good one that brought you candy or presents?

TB: Yah, but you know the Christkindel had to say, "Where are the bad girls and boys that didn't listen to their father and mother?" That's what the words were.

ME: When did you get your present and candy?

TB: Well, then they put it on the floor and when you went to get it, they were going to hit their fingers, but you got it. (laughter)

ME: What do you know about the Belzenickel?

TB: Not much of that, there was no Belzenickel.

ME: What do you remember about Easter? How did you get ready for Easter?

TB: As far as I know, we had a little path going across from the house where we went to school. That's where the Easter rabbit laid our eggs.

ME: Were they colored eggs?

TB: Yes, they were colored eggs.

ME. Did you have candy then too?

TB: Yes, colored candy, those long ones -

ME: What about Holy Week, did you go to Stations of the Cross?

TB: Oh yah. We went to Stations of the Cross.

ME: When you were still home, did you go to church on Good Friday and Holy Thursday?

TB: Yes, we did. If there was snow we had little overshoes on; when the snow got deeper, we stepped into the snow with the overshoes.

ME: And then you went to church on Good Friday in the afternoon.

TB: I don't remember anymore, but I think it was in the morning.

ME: What about Easter Sunday? Did you get all dressed up in new clothes?

TB: Oh yes, what do you think -

ME: You wore hats and nice dresses.

TB: What we had nice, everything good - the best we had.

ME: Was always first -

TB: And when we got home, we had to take them off and put other clothes on.

ME: When you got married, did it take place in church?

TB: Yes, in Orrin.

ME: Then after you got married, did you have a meal or did you start in dancing right away?

TB: No, we had a meal.

ME: And then you started dancing?

TB: No, in the evening we went up to Fulda, and then there was the dance and the supper.

ME: And the supper?

TB: Yah.

ME: How many days did that go on?

TB: Two full days. (laughter)

ME: Did they sing any German songs?

TB: Yes, they did.

ME: Do you remember any songs they sang?

TB: No, I don't remember any songs but Pete Bischoff, old Tony and Adolph Gerger played at the wedding.

ME: Accordian?

TB: Accordian and fiddle, the geige.

ME: Do you remember what kind of meals you had? What did you have to eat at the wedding? Was it just roast beef or chicken or -

TB: I think it was chicken for dinner at our house, my folks' house, and the supper was at Bachmeier's.

ME: Did they have schnapps?

TB: Oh yah, und bier (and beer).

ME: Was the beer home brewed?

TB: Yah.

ME: What kind of wedding gown did you have? Was it a long white one or a dress?

TB: No, it was a light lavender one.

ME: A dress?

TB: Yes.

ME: That was your wedding dress.

TB: Yah.

ME: Do you know anything about a Liebsband sash?

TB: A what?

ME: Liebsband sash, that I don't know either -

TB: No.

ME: How many bridesmaids did you have?

TB: There were two.

ME: Did you have a flower girl?

TB: No, huh uh.

ME: Did they take pictures when you were married? Do you have a wedding picture of yourself?

TB: Yah, I had one.

ME: Who took the picture?

TB: Hanson's in town here.

ME: Where did you meet your husband?

TB: At my brother's wedding in Fulda.

ME: So it wasn't arranged by your folks?

TB: No.

ME: It was something that just happened. What kind of music did you play in your home when you were home with your folks yet?

TB: We had a phonograph at home; and my brother could play the mouth organ (harmonica). He could play that for hours.

ME: Did anybody play the accordion, clarinet or anything else?

TB: No.

ME: Did you sing?

TB: Yah, we sang.

ME: Can you sing any songs now?

TB: No.

ME: Oh, just one.

TB: That's gone.

ME: Oh, just one.

TB: No, I cannot do that. We had to sing for old man Lacher, or was it Lena Heintz' dad, and he thought I was a good singer.

ME: That's why you should sing now.

TB: I forgot all about that. There wasn't always singing time.

ME: Where did you go when you went to parties or dances? Did you go to town or somebody's farm?

TB: Yah, we had an old place where my uncles lived. There was dancing on Sunday evening, but only till 12 o'clock then we all had to be home.

ME: Sure.

TB: My sister had a birthday and they had a dance in our summer kitchen. That was a full one!

ME: When you got sick, cut yourself or burned yourself, what kind of medicine did they use? Do you remember? Did your grandma mix up some medicine or - ?

TB: They did what they could, what they knew to put on, tied it up and put some salt on.

ME: Salt?

TB: Yes.

ME: What did they use salt for, when you cut or burned yourself?

TB: To quit bleeding.

ME: Did they use Chamomile Tea for anything?

TB: Yes, when you had a swollen foot or hurt somewhere they made Kamille Tee (chamomile tea).

ME: And they used that too. We were talking about the white liniment, what did you do with that?

TB: If there was something swollen or hurting, we would rub it on. And to this day I'm using it, yes.

ME: And where did you get the white liniment?

TB: From this lady up here.

ME: Was it Watkins?

TB: Yah, Watkins; I got a bottle of it now.

ME: Then did your mother ever give you, if you had an upset stomach, some sugar with a little bit of peppermint in it?

TB: No.

ME: You didn't do that.

TB: She never found out, when we had a stomach ache.

ME: When you had babies, were there women that came over to help you? Were any of your children born at home or were they born in the hospital?

TB: Two of them were born at home.

ME: The lady that came over to help you, what was her name?

TB: Margaret Jundt.

ME: Did your parents ever get any German newspapers?

TB: No.

ME: They didn't.

TB: They couldn't read German.

ME: Your folks couldn't?

TB: No.

ME: Did you get like the North Dakota Herald?

TB: No, I didn't get it.

ME: Okay.

TB: Not German.

ME: Do you remember when your family first got electricity and the telephone?

TB: No, I do not remember; but they had the telephone already when I got married.

ME: What were some of your favorite radio programs that you listened to?

TB: I wouldn’t remember anymore.

ME: When you first saw television, and saw Lawrence Welk, for example, was that pretty exciting for you?

TB: That was exciting for me, and was always turned on. But my dad was interested in the early morning radio.

ME: There is one thing that I want to ask, before we get too far away here. You had a relative that built a radio and an airplane. Tell us what his name is and what he did?

TB: Matt Duchscherer, not Tuchscherer.

ME: How is he related to you? Is he your uncle?

TB: Yes, his dad was a brother to my grandpa.

ME: To your grandpa. Tell us about this radio and airplane, because I think this is really worth talking about.

TB: He came and hired me. The first thing you know, he went and got a piece of wood and started cutting out a radio and by morning it was "talking."

ME: He built that all by himself?

TB: He built that all by himself, by bending a little wire he put on himself. But when he made the airplane I wasn't there, so I don't know about that.

ME: But you said it flew.

TB: But it flew, yes. It went up and fell down on the wagon box.

ME: But he did get it up in the air?

TB: He got it up in the air, yes.

ME: And he built all that from scratch?

TB: All by himself, and that was Matt Duchscherer. His mother couldn't believe that he had all this knowledge in his head.

ME: We had some pretty smart relatives, didn't we?

TB: We sure did, we sure did! Yah, he was one, and he explained it to me.

ME: For the radio?

TB: For the airplane and where electricity comes from and everything. He said, "Take those clouds, take the electricity from the sky, that's where it comes from." And he explained it but I don't remember everything anymore.

ME: No, of course not, but he was interested in it.

TB: Yes, he worked with the priest; and they had built the new church in Karlsruhe. They did the entire church, including the electricity. The priest had the key too.

ME: But you were there when he built the radio, weren't you?

TB: Yes, I was there, and I seen it myself. I was going to go to bed; but he didn't want me to, because he said, "It's going to play yet."

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ME: What do you remember about the German foods that your mother or grandmother made?

TB: Oh, everything that was good.

ME: Now you still make, I know you do.

TB: Kucha, Blachenda, und bohne Suppe, baked bread with loaves this high. Yes, and Grumbera (potatoes) und Knöpfla.

ME: Borscht?

TB: Borscht suppe.

ME: And holuptsi?

TB: Holuptsi, yes, holuptsi. Lots of them!

ME: So you learned to make all this from your mother then?

TB: Yes, yes.

ME: Now, do you still make all of those things?

TB: I used to make them all.

ME: Did you teach your kids how to make it?

TB: Yes, some of them they know it, and some of them wasn't very interested, so they have to ask each other now.

ME: Sure.

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ME: You said your mother taught you how to make Käsekuchen, when she said -

TB: It was Kucha, yah - and it was making the topping. My sister, she was going to beat the eggs and mother said we were Essel. (literally: donkey; dummies).

ME: Why did she say that?

TB: Because we didn't know that the egg yolk makes the thickening if you just mix it up with a fork. Pull it up and down with the fork, instead of not beating it, yah.

ME: Instead of beating it. Why is that better than beating it?

TB: Because beating the eggs makes it watery, I found that out! If you will take the beater and beat the eggs, they get like watery. Yah, I found that out.

ME: And your mother already knew that, so she was going to tell you.

TB: My mother already knew that, yah.

ME: So you were Essel?

TB: We were Essel. (laughter)

ME: When your daughters make all these things, do they turn out pretty good? The way you made them?

TB: Oh yah, they had to make them a few times; but they learned more and more. There’s some of them they make good kucha.

ME: That's good. It's good they learned how, and that their husbands and their children like it.

TB: They all like the kucha. I heard somebody down by Selz say they ate some of Theresa's kucha. (laughter)

ME: That's pretty darn good that they can make it similar to what you made. Did your mother crochet or knit?

TB: My mother crocheted, she knitted and sewed. She was a good sewer and everything.

ME: Did she knit clothes for you or was it just -

TB: She didn't knit clothes; but she could knit anything she wanted and she crocheted without a pattern, which she did in the old country. I cannot understand how she could do that. We had a sewing machine; and she made a big part of it. The opening was about so wide (she shows with her hands) and was made that with flowers on it. It was so pretty, and for years and years and years we had it, and she didn't have a pattern.

ME: But you crochet and you don't use a pattern.

TB: No, I can take it off by counting every stitch; and that's what does it; and that's what she remembered.

ME: Now, when you were a child you said your mother sewed. Did she take the older girls' dresses and make them over for the younger girls?

TB: Sometimes.

ME: Or did you all have your own?

TB: We had our own. I couldn't wear my sisters’ dresses, because I was smaller. I was the smallest in the bunch.

ME: Did you do any sewing yourself?

TB: Oh yah, I sewed everything for the children. Sometimes I was sitting until 4 o'clock in the morning and was sewing.

ME: We didn't talk very much about your mother. We did talk about your dad and his family. What was your mother's maiden name?

TB: My mother's mother? Theresa.

ME: It would be your grandmother that we talked about. You said she was Italian?

TB: Italian.

ME: What was her name? You said her maiden name was Theresa Miller.

TB: No, that (pointing to a picture) was Theresa Miller.

ME: And that was your grandmother?

TB: That was my grandma, and I don't remember her mother's name. My mother said you couldn't talk with her.

ME: Why?

TB: She said she couldn't understand her Italian language. I remember Grandma Bachmeier said, "You know she was down in Harvey at the home, where they had Italian nurses and nuns." She said, "All you could hear was (cackling sounds), and there was nothing to understand."

ME: I thank you, Theresa, for taking the time to talk about this. It's always interesting for me to listen to it and it's important that it be kept up because maybe your children don't think about making a tape of you. Maybe your grandchildren some day are going to say, "I wish we had talked to grandma about this." So what we are doing today is really very important, because I can't ask my mother or grandmother anymore. I'm sure they would have had some good stories to tell, because life wasn't always hard; it was fun too.

TB: Oh yah, they had their fun days too.

ME: Oh sure, we need to know. I'd like to ask my grandma some things, and I can't. But now your grandchildren have it.

TB: I remember your grandma.

ME: See, I don't.

TB: I remember your grandma, how we carried up the supper or dinner to my grandma. To this grandma (pointing to picture) she was in bed. I remember that we had it in the little blue kettle.

ME: Do you remember what my grandma cooked or weren't you around that much?

TB: No, I wasn't there.

ME: What can you tell me about my grandma that you -

TB: What I remember from your grandma (Bäsel Marion): they made those good doughnuts, the
kind with raised dough. They let them raise a little bit.

ME: Was it bread dough?

TB: It wasn't like bread dough, well, something like bread dough but it was different stuff. They put eggs in and they put lard into that dough. I don't know if they put any lemon in the dough. I'm not sure about what they put in. But oh, were they good!

ME: Did grandma visit very much?

TB: Oh yah, she knew a lot. Sometimes your grandma was a whole week at our place.

ME: She had a few relatives. By the time you get all these Duchscherers and Tuchscherers together.

TB: I suppose, she didn't like it very much in some places. They didn't have very much company. I don't know what it was, or didn't have enough room. Anyway, she and my mother always slept together.

ME: Well, grandma was a little person too; wasn't she?

TB: Oh yah and heavy. Well, you can't say she was that heavy; but she was kindof stooped over because of her back.

ME: You said she was bent over from working so hard?

TB: You know what she did? She carried that water so far on both shoulders using two wooden pails.

ME: Do you know of anything else that you would like to talk about that you want to be remembered by? We talked about so much already haven't we?

TB: No, I think we have it all down.

ME: I thank you; and I know it's time for your lunch, so I'd better let you go. Thank you again.

TB: I got some coffee now.

Permission to use any images from the GRHC website may be requested by contacting Michael M. Miller