Interview with Elizabeth Mastel Fischer
Conducted by Michael M. Miller (MM)
26 December 1993, Bismarck, North Dakota
Transcription by Dorothy Denis
Editing by Mary Lynn Axtman
MM: Good afternoon. It's December 26, 1993
and I'm in Bismarck, ND at the home of Elizabeth Mastel Fischer.
This is Michael M. Miller, the Germans from Russia bibliographer
at North Dakota State University in Fargo.
MM: And first of all Elizabeth, I would like
to say, "Merry Christmas to you."
EF: Thank you.
MM: I am one day late, but it is a real pleasure.
And it's a real coincidence that Elizabeth and I have just met
for the first time and [also] her son, Peter. I got to know Elizabeth
through her daughter who mentioned that Elizabeth knew Lawrence
Welk. But we will talk about how you knew Mr. Welk a little later
in our conversation.
MM: Elizabeth, first of all, could you give
us the date when you were born?
EF: May 13, 1899.
MM: You were born in what community?
EF: In Strasburg, [ND].
MM: Oh, you were born right in Strasburg?
And what was the name of your mother and father, Elizabeth?
EF: My father's name was Kasimer and my mother's
name was Elizabeth.
MM: Your mother was a Mastel?
EF: No, Nenninger.
MM: I see. Now your parents, were they born
over in Russia?
MM: They came from a colony. You don't happen
to remember what was the name of the colony over there in Russia
where they were born?
MM: We'll look that up in the family history
and see if we can find that.
MM: So you were born in Strasburg. How big
of a family did you have? How many brothers and sisters did you
EF: I have 3 sisters and 5 brothers.
MM: You have 3 sisters and 5 brothers. Now,
your father and mother, Were they married over in Russia or were
they married over here?
MM: They were married over in Russia. How
many children did they have when they came over to America?
EF: They had four.
MM: Four children. How old was the youngest
one when they came?
EF: Well, I am the youngest one.
MM: Oh, you are the youngest one? So, were
you born here in America or over there?
EF: Yes. I was born here.
MM: You were born here, but they had four
children when they came from Russia to North Dakota?
EF: Yah, yah.
MM: What did your father do for an occupation,
Elizabeth? Was he a farmer?
EF: He was a farmer.
MM: Where did they live? Where near Strasburg?
Did they live right out of town or where was the farm?
EF: We lived east of Strasburg, and as far
as I know, he was always a farmer.
MM: He was always a farmer. Of course, you
went to school and your mother raised quite a large family. Did
your folks ever talk about the old country?
EF: Oh, yes.
MM: What did they used to say about it?
EF: I don't remember.
MM: Can you remember anything about the old
EF: Well, the neighbors and them, when they
were together, they talked about Russia. But it didn't interest
MM: Did your father and mother speak only
German? Did you ever hear them speak Russian?
EF: Yes, they spoke German.
MM: You never heard them speak Russian though?
EF: No, no.
MM: So, you grew up speaking only German.
MM: When your father and mother would get
together with the neighbors, do you remember who those neighbors
MM: What was the first name? Do you remember?
MM: Ferdinand Kraft.
EF: There were Bosch and Goldade's. They
were all neighbors. Germans.
MM: Now Elizabeth, you grew up in a house.
Was it a wood house or a sod house?
EF: It was a sod house.
MM: Do you remember how big it was?
EF: Three rooms.
MM: And what were those rooms?
EF: Well, they had..., there was the bedrooms
and then the kitchen was in the center and it was big. We didn't
all have a room by ourselves.
MM: There were eight children?
EF: Well, I don't remember because I was
the last one born.
MM: You were the baby.
EF: Well, we had a rollaway bed that I slept
on in my folk's room. The other ones slept in the other room.
MM: What about the heat in the wintertime?
Did they have coal or what did they use for heat?
MM: Manure. What did they call it?
EF: Chips, chips.
MM: Do you remember the chips?
EF: Yes. When they cleaned the barn, it was
all put on one strip. And in the spring, they hitched up a couple
of horses and trampled that down hard. Then they cut it in square
pieces and that was heat. Later on, we had coal.
MM: Did you have to go out and gather the
chips once in a while then?
EF: Well, it was in the wintertime and they
[the animals] were in the barn.
MM: Of course. The cow chips were used for
heat and your mother had to do a lot of cooking I'll bet, with
all those children?
MM: Do you remember some of the food she
used to make?
EF: Sauerkraut. Sauerkraut and ham.
MM: I'll bet some noodles, once in awhile?
EF: Yah, noodles.
MM: What kind of noodles did you make?
EF: Well, all kinds of them. Out of raised
dough and out of plain dough.
MM: Do you make some of those noodles yet?
EF: No, I don't make them.
MM: Did she ever make plachenta?
EF: Oh, yes.
MM: And cheese buttons and käse knepla?
Did you ever make these?
EF: No. 'Cause I don't like it.
MM: Now, your family grew up speaking only
German. Do you remember if your folk's learned English?
EF: No, they didn't. My folk's couldn't talk
MM: Did they get any newspapers? German newspapers?
EF: Oh, yes. What's that name...? Northwestern?
MM: Did they get the Dakota Freie Presse
or the Nord Dakota Herold?
EF: Can't remember.
MM: You probably read some of those too when
you were younger?
EF: Well, yah. It was a German paper but
I forgot the name.
MM: As you were growing up, how far was the
school from your house?
EF: Two miles.
MM: So when you were 6 years old, you went
off to school? Could you speak English then?
EF: I had to walk.
MM: You walked to school?
EF: Yes. And I was in the choir and I walked
MM: Did the choir practice at the school
MM: When you went to first grade, did you
MM: Just German?
MM: What about the teacher? Could the teacher
EF: Well, she had a hard time getting along
with all of them. They couldn't talk English.
MM: Oh, that was interesting, huh?
EF: Everybody was German there.
MM: So, they insisted you speak English though?
EF: Oh, yes.
MM: So when you had recess, you would speak
German in the school? When you'd go home, you'd speak English
EF: Well, us kids we talked English. But
when we'd come home, everything was in German.
MM: So, how long did you go to school? How
EF: Gosh, I don't know.
MM: Did you finish through the 8th grade
EF: Yah.... No, no. I don't remember.
MM: You went some years. Now, when you went
to school, you went about 6 months?
EF: Yah, yah.
MM: Now, you mentioned the choir and that's
interesting because I had never heard before that they had choir
practice at the school. Was the teacher the choir teacher? So,
there was some beautiful singing then?
EF: Yes. His name was Leopold Kuhn.
MM: And he was the teacher?
EF: He was the teacher and he was the choir
MM: Then when you would practice, where would
you sing? At the school or in the church?
EF: In his house, we had practice. The church
was out in the country.
MM: What was the name of that church?
EF: St. Aloysius. It is still there. There
was a little schoolhouse and then they built the house for the
choir [teacher], this Mr. Kuhn. That's where the practice was,
twice a week.
MM: Now, the songs that you would sing, were
they in German or in English?
EF: German. Oh yah.
MM: Do you remember some of them?
EF: Well, sure I do.
MM: Which one is your favorite? One of your
EF: Well, Grosse Gott.
MM: Can you sing it for us?
MM: But you remember it though?
EF: Oh, you betcha!
MM: Oh, yes. Your prayers were in German
too, weren't they?
EF: Oh, yes.
MM: So, after you had your choir practice,
where would they perform? Like for special occasions, like Christmas
and Easter and so forth?
MM: At St. Aloysius?
MM: That was beautiful, I'll bet. Especially
at Christman time.
EF: Yes. Yes.
MM: Now, we have just witnessed Christmas
of 1993. How do you remember Christmas at your house when you
were a child? What was Christmas like?
EF: The Belzenickel!
MM: The Belzenickel. What did he have to
do with Christmas?
EF: Well, if you weren't good, the Belzenickel
is going to get you.
MM: And when did he come?
EF: One Christmas Eve, my dad had a coat
that was curly [fur] inside and somebody would put that on inside
out and crawl up there and scare you. Oh, I was so scared of that
guy and here it was always one of my brothers. He was the Belzenickel.
MM: You thought he was the real one?
EF: Why sure. You can't imagine what he looked
like. He looked ugly. That was the Belzenickel.
MM: But did the Santa Claus come too?
EF: Santa Claus never came to my house. That
MM: What about the angels? Did they ever
EF: Yes, we had angels. Whoever went around
to each house. It was the older girls and boys dressed up like
angels. It was nice. Was different then than now.
MM: Your mother used to do a lot of baking
EF: Oh, yes.
MM: What did she make for Christmas, do you
remember? She must have made some special cookies and stuff.
EF: Well, what was special, that was made
out of bread dough. She had a recipie that made a special dough
and then made cookies.
MM: Did they make some pig's feet?
MM: Pig's feet. Golodets. That was pigs feet.
You never had that at your house? I suppose they had ham and so
forth. And then they'd have a Midnight Mass?
MM: How would you get to the church, with
EF: With the team of horses and sled. Yah,
we had Midnight Mass [there].
MM: Who was the priest when you were out
EF: Father Decker. That's the one I grew
MM: That's where you had your First Communion?
MM: You mentioned Elizabeth, later on you
must have gone to Catechism or summer church school.
EF: I went to Strasburg then for 3 months
in the spring before I made my First Communion.
MM: Did you stay in town then?
EF: Yah, with my brother. My brother lived
MM: So, you stayed in town then. How old
were you about then?
EF: 11 years old.
MM: Then you went to school in Strasburg.
Was this with the Ursuline Sisters?
EF: Sisters...? I can't remember what their
EF: Nursula...? Ursula...?
MM: Ursuline Sisters.
MM: So, you went to school for 3 months and
who were some of the other pupils that you were with?
EF: Senger. But I can't remember her [first]
name. But her last name was Senger.
MM: Who else was there? You mentioned Mr.
Welk. You knew him then too?
MM: Did he go to this school too? The summer
EF: Yes. We lived on the east side of town
and they lived on the west side. But they didn't celebrate birthdays
but they celebrated names days. These older people were always
celebrating names days.
MM: You remember some of those, I'll bet?
EF: Why sure. Mine was one of them.
MM: That was a big event.
EF: l9th of November.
MM: Yes, St. Elizabeth. Let's talk a little
bit about your childhood. When you got to be a teenage girl and
you stayed at home and worked on the farm. Then you stayed at
home until you were what age? When did you leave the farm?
EF: I don't remember the year. I was 19.
Nineteen years old.
MM: You went off to another town?
EF: Yah. We went to Kansas City after we
MM: You got married to whom?
EF: Carl Fischer.
MM: Carl Fischer. He was from where?
EF: From right there. He was from the same
place where I was.
MM: He grew up in the same area? So, you
were married at the age of 19?
MM: Then you went down to Kansas City?
EF: He went to the automobile school.
MM: I see. Did you start a family then or
did you work too then?
EF: No, I didn't work. But he had the mail
route for awhile. Then we went to Hazelton, [ND].
MM: You were in Kansas City awhile and then
you came back to Emmons County. Then you lived in Emmons County
for awhile and you raised a family too?
EF: Well, up here. Yes.
MM: How many children do you have, Elizabeth?
EF: Nine children.
MM: Nine children. So you raised a big family.
Do you remember all the grandchildren you have?
MM: Quite a number, huh?
EF: Yes. Quite a number.
MM: And a great-grandmother too.
EF: I don't remember all of them [the names].
MM: Let's talk a little bit about how you
knew Lawrence Welk. You had mentioned earlier that you remember
getting to know Lawrence Welk. How did that happen?
EF: Well, we went to school together and
he was so bashful. When I was down there this summer, I looked
at that corner and I could just see him standing there. You had
to go in the church, and then you turned to go downstairs in the
schoolroom and there was a corner. He would stand there.
MM: This was at the church in Strasburg?
MM: In the church basement?
EF: No, we didn't belong there. We had a
country church, [St.] Aloysius. But I was out there going to school,
to the Sister school. Because my folks wanted me to go to a Sister's
school. I stayed with my brother. Of course, Lawrence Welk, they
lived on the west side of town and we lived on the east side of
town and we all went to the same school then, for a few months.
MM: So, that's how you got to know him then.
Through going to that school there in the spring?
MM: Did you keep in touch? Did you get to
know him or see him after that?
EF: Lawrence? Oh, yes, yes.
MM: How did that happen then?
EF: Well, they celebrated names days and
they were together in town when they shopped. His uncle had a
general store and everybody shopped in that store. It was groceries
MM: The Bazaar?
EF: The Bazaar was Baumgartner's.
MM: Now, did Lawrence play the accordion
at some of those names days?
EF: No. He was too young yet.
MM: But later on, do you remember some of
EF: Well, he went to Yankton, South Dakota
and we got him over the radio. It was just like now. I won't miss
a Lawrence Welk show. That's the way it was then, when the radio
MM: Do you remember a time when you didn't
have a radio?
EF: Well, ah...
MM: Do you remember the first time you heard
EF: No, that was too long ago.
MM: But you remember hearing Lawrence for
the first time on WNEX, huh?
EF: Yah. I can remember, but I don't remember
MM: Right. That was in about 1924 to 
EF: I think it was earlier than that.
MM: Well, he left the farm in 1924. He was
21 when he left the Welk farm. Did you ever get over to the Welk
farm where he lived?
EF: I don't remember.
MM: What about going to some dances where
he would play?
EF: I don't remember.
MM: So, you left the farm and went down to
Kansas City and then you came up to Hazelton and then you moved
MM: About what year was that?
EF: About 1933, 1934.
MM: You raised a lot of your family here
in Bismarck, huh?
MM: So now, when you think back to those
early childhood days. Your folks came over from Russia and couldn't
speak any English. What do you think about those early days?
EF: I can just see everything.
MM: What do you think about sometimes? I
know it's hard to talk about it.
EF: Well, I get lonesome.
MM: Do you think those things?
MM: What do you miss the most about those
EF: Well, I used to play the accordian, no,
the pedal organ and we sang. The whole family would sing. And
after that, we played cards. There was only one paper. What was
the name of that paper? In German...? Staatsanzeiger?
MM: Der Staatsanzeiger, yah. Came from Bismarck
here. It was wonderful that your folks got a newspaper and they
would read it. Bet they could hardly wait until that newspaper
would come in the mail. They enjoyed getting that newspaper, I'll
EF: Once a week. Once a month, maybe.
MM: It is interesting Elizabeth, you mentioned
that you played the pedal organ. So there was a lot of singing
in your house? Did your folks sing a lot too?
EF: We all sang.
MM: Primarily in German?
EF: German. And we had good neighbors, Kraft.
That man would come every day to visit. He would read the paper,
whatever. I get kind of lonesome for those days.
MM: Oh, I'm sure. Was your family quite religious?
Your parents quite strict about religion?
EF: Oh, yes.
MM: Did you have prayers in the evening and
EF: Yes. And before meals and after meals.
MM: And then you went to school in town.
To go to the Sister's school before Communion and so forth. Did
you have to say the Holy Rosary in evening?
MM: The church was very important in your
EF: Oh, you bet. Always. And still is.
MM: Those days, when you think back, do you
remember that everyone had their chores? What were your chores
when you were growing up as a teenager?
EF: Yes. I milked the cows.
MM: You had to milk the cows? Did you ever
have to work out in the field?
EF: We had a lot of cows to milk.
MM: And then your ma would use that milk
in the house, or would they sell the milk?
EF: Oh, yes, yes.
MM: She did a lot of baking and cooking with
MM: She made her own cheese and everything?
EF: She made her own cheese? Did they ever
make wine or beer or anything like that?
EF: Yes, wine. No beer.
MM: What about a wedding? Do you remember,
when you were growing up and then some of your older brothers
and sisters got married, I bet that was a big event too, huh?
EF: Oh, you betcha!
MM: What was the wedding like? Was it just
a one day affair or was it more than that?
EF: Well, it would start on a Sunday, and
on Mondays there was the wedding. Sunday night it started. I don't
know why, but it was always Mondays.
[Comments from Peter Fischer]: That's when the
beer joints opened. When they got married, they went from Hague,
Strasburg, or Zeeland to get the beer. Where did you get married?
EF: St Aloysius. In the country. That's what
my church was.
MM: So, you had a big wedding. I bet you
remember your wedding day?
EF: The 6th of November. After that, a couple
of weeks, we went to Kansas City. My husband went to school for
MM: And of course, by then, you spoke good
EF: Yes. When you are in the big city, you
couldn't talk German.
MM: How did you get down there? Did you have
a vehicle by then? You had a car?
EF: We went down with the train.
MM: With the train from Strasburg?
MM: You didn't have a car yet?
MM: I bet you got homesick?
EF: Yes, I did. Very homesick. You couldn't
go out alone. Well, I do a lot of handywork.
MM: Still do today?
EF: Yes. I'm always busy.
MM: Wonderful. Did you learn that from your
EF: Yes. Some of it.
MM: I know our German people from Emmons
County have always been known for their handywork.
EF: My mother did a lot of knitting. She
knitted stockings and scarves for the boys and the girls. That's
where I learned it.
MM: Did your mother and father bring many
things over from Russia? Did they bring any pictures or any kind
of scarves or anything like that?
EF: I don't remember any. I don't think so.
Well, I got my dad's picture downstairs. A big one.
MM: Now, did your folks, when they'd sit
around sometimes at night and the neighbors would come over and
EF: They would play cards.
MM: When they would have some maistub or
talk, did they ever talk about the old country? Did they talk
about how beautiful it was in the Ukraine with all the vineyards
EF: Yes, yes.
MM: But, why did they come over to America?
Did your folks ever say why?
EF: Why they came over? I don't know. On
account of the war.
MM: Now, you were born over here already,
but you said 4 children came along with your parents, on the ship
when they came over to North Dakota. And of course, they came
probably to New York, and then they came by the train. Did they
come by Eureka, South Dakota? By the train to Eureka?
EF: I don't remember. I think it was Eureka.
MM: When you were a young child, how far
were you from Strasburg? How far in miles?
EF: About 8 miles east.
MM: Did you get to town very often?
EF: About once a week or twice a week. We
had to take the cream in.
MM: You got to go along?
EF: Sometimes, yah.
MM: That was always a treat?
MM: Where did you go in Strasburg? Did you
always go to some of the stores? The Bazaar?
EF: Yah. Just walked around.
MM: But you never went to school in the town?
Always in the farm school?
EF: Well, like I said, when I made my First
Communion, I went to town for three months. That's where I was
with Lawrence [Welk].
MM: So, you went to the Sister's school,
but did Lawrence Welk make his First Communion with you?
MM: Oh, he did? Evidently, Lawrence made
a his little later because Lawrence was a little bit younger than
EF: Oh, yes. I made my Holy Communion out
in the country church and he made his in Strasburg.
MM: Right. Did you ever get to know any of
Lawrence's brothers and sisters?
EF: Oh, yah. Not real good, but I knew them.
MM: And you knew the parents too then?
EF: Yes, yes. They were in the store there
all the time.
MM: So, Lawrence was a very shy young boy?
EF: Oh, yes. Very shy.
MM: Did you ever get to see Lawrence in life
perform with the accordion? The orchestra?
EF: No. I hadn't seen that man for years
MM: When did you see him last?
EF: Oh, I don't remember.
MM: But you did see him perform with the
show? You still watch him today?
EF: Oh, yes.
MM: What makes you watch Lawrence Welk? Why
do you like that show? What do you like best about it?
EF: Because I like his type of music and
that I knew him before. He was just like one of the family. Those
people were all different than they are now. They celebrated names
days and played cards.
MM: You'd be there and the kids would get
to go along to those names day parties?
MM: Lawrence would be there too with his
folks. Then you guys would play too? What did you do?
EF: Played cards. We got to play our own
MM: What were those?
EF: Well, I don't remember.
MM: Later on then in your life, did you speak
primarily German or English?
MM: Do you speak some German today?
MM: So, if we talked a little German today,
you would understand me though?
EF: Oh, yes.
EF: Me? ______________________________________348.
MM: I wanted to talk a little German because
I wanted to hear your dialect. That is interesting to me, if they
EF: Well, it isn't high German.
MM: No. It's of course, our Schwabish Deutsch.
Did you have your First Communion in German?
EF: Yes. We had a German priest that came
from Germany. His name was Father Decker.
MM: He came from Germany?
MM: He spoke only German?
EF: He was out in St. Aloysius, on the farm
where I was raised. I was one of his... pets.
MM: So, you had to do a lot of work at home,
of course. There was a lot of work to do in the house? Do you
think your mother had a real busy life, a hard life?
MM: Did your folks retire in Strasburg then?
EF: I was down there not too long ago and
I was sick a whole week afterwards. Homesick.
MM: Is that right? That's interesting.
EF: I saw the house and church.
MM: The church is beautiful, of course?
EF: Oh, I was in the church and my friend
Father Ekren, he was one of my friends when I worked down here
in the parish house. He was assistant [priest] there at that time.
He comes up once in awhile.
MM: Father Leonard is real good to the community
and they are so fortunate to have him because he is really interested
in this German-Russian heritage. And Fr. Leonard, he also serves
on the board of directors for the Welk homestead. We work together
quite closely. He still has relatives in Germany that are German-Russians
and they have come back from Russia.
MM: Let me ask you this Elizabeth, before
I forget. As far as you know, did your folks ever talk about any
one of your relatives who didn't come over from Russia? Did anybody
EF: Oh, yes, yes.
MM: Would they be on the Fischer side or
EF: Mastel. On the Fischer side, no.
MM: But on the Mastel side. So there are
some that didn't come over? Did you have correspondence with them
through the years?
EF: I don't remember that.
MM: You were too young.
MM: Did you ever remember hearing of letters
that would come back and forth?
EF: Oh, yah. Yah.
MM: You wouldn't know of their names or anything?
EF: No, no.
MM: That's something we have to discuss with
your family. Because that's why we're doing a lot of work is with
trying to find those relatives. Because they are writing to us
and they are looking for the names. In fact, we have a name, we
have had a letter from a Mastel and they don't know exactly any
information from over here. So we have to put this together in
EF: Well, what Mastel did you hear from?
MM: Well, I would have to look up the first
name to find that out. But I made contact with some Mastels in
North Dakota to find out and they weren't the same relatives.
But we'll have to check into that. That's why I'm interested in
your family history.
EF: There were 2 different Mastels down there
where I was living. They were related from a distance.
MM: I forgot to ask you. Your grandparents
on your mother's side and your grandparents on your father's side,
did they stay in Russia? They never came over? You never knew
EF: I never knew them.
MM: They stayed over there. Did your mother
ever say if she had any brothers or sisters that stayed?
EF: Not over here.
MM: I mean, that didn't come over from Russia.
She had some brothers and sisters that stayed?
EF: Yes. They didn't come over here.
MM: But your father's, they all came?
MM: So probably, if there are any relatives
over there, it will be on your mother's side? Children of her
brothers and sisters. It would be your cousins that probably came.
That could be.
MM: Do you remember your mother saying that
some of her brothers and sisters didn't come to America?
MM: Was she the only one that came?
EF: I guess so.
MM: You never heard? Did you have any uncles
or aunts over here? Down here in Strassburg? Did your father have
any brothers or sisters? Remember?
EF: No, not over here.
MM: Your mothers side either? They came alone?
That's very interesting.
MM: Did they ever talk about when they came
over on the ship?
EF: Oh, yes. With the neighbors, the Krafts.
That Mr. Kraft, he was reading the paper, the German paper. What
was the name of it? We got the Staatsanzeiger.
MM: Der Staatsanzeiger.
EF: Yes. And he would come in the evening
with that paper. Once a month I guess they got it, or once a week.
It was too long ago and they would read it.
MM: And they would talk about it then a little
bit. How it was coming over [to America]?
MM: The children, of course, your brothers
and sisters, the older ones. When they came over, they were still
babies when they came on the ship, I bet? They were pretty young
MM: How many are still living in your family,
EF: Just me.
MM: You're the only one that's still living?
Your the last one? Did they all get to live such a full, long
life like yours to the age of ninety-four ?
EF: Pretty good, yah. I'm the last one.
MM: So, you have fond memories of those earlier
years east of Strasburg there, near the school and the church?
I bet sometimes you can just see it like it's just yesterday,
EF: Yes, yes. I was down there this last
MM: You were down to Strasburg?
EF: Well, out there where I lived.
MM: Oh, at St. Aloysius? You went to the
EF: The farm is gone. The Fischer farm is
almost gone too. But the church is there and the house is gone.
Everything. The school is gone.
MM: But the memories are still there. You
can see it as if it were just yesterday, huh?
EF: Oh, yes. They had a little store there
when I went to school. By the name of Mastel. They were distant
relatives of my folks.
MM: What was the first name? Do you remember?
MM: Thomas Mastel. What was your mother's
maiden name again?
MM: Did she have relatives that came over
EF: No, no.
MM: She was all alone?
EF: She was alone here. Well, yes. She had
MM: That came?
EF: By the name of Fettig. A weird name.
MM: What was her husband's name?
EF: Frank Fettig.
MM: They lived down in Emmons County too?
MM: Do you think your mother got homesick
for the old country once in awhile?
EF: I don't know.
MM: She never shared it with you?
EF: She did a lot of reading.
MM: She did a lot of reading, huh? Wonderful!
EF: The Bible. I got the book down in my
trunk. She had a big book. During Lent, she would sit by the lamplight
and read out loud for us kids.
MM: Oh, beautiful.
EF: Yah. It was different than now. There
was no TV.
MM: No TV, no radio and you had kerosene
EF: And no radio.
MM: And there was no lights either? There
was no electricity, right. What about the bathroom, did you have
an outhouse? Did you have to go outside to the bathroom?
MM: Got a little chilly in the winter time?
MM: Anything else you'd like to say Elizabeth?
What we're going to do after our conversation is, I'd like to
look at a photo or two. If you have any of those old photos and
we can reminisce a little bit about those. That always brings
up some memories. Let's do that.
MM: Elizabeth, we are going to end our conversation
today. It was a real pleasure to visit with you. And for me, it
was very interesting because, as I mentioned to you earlier, I
grew up in Strasburg and left Strasburg to go off to college in
1961, but of course that was way after your time. But I grew up
remembering Lawrence Welk when he would come home to visit his
sisters and family in the 50's and 60's and that's how we got
to know the family. And then later on, I got involved with bringing
the Lawrence Welk collection and all of his archives from California.
Perhaps you know now that everything has been brought to the University
in Fargo. We are also interested in memories and memorabilia,
and items. And even the people that knew Lawrence Welk. This is
probably the first time that I have ever talked to anyone that
went to school and went to the Sister's school with Lawrence Welk,
so it was real interesting for me. We always heard that Lawrence
Welk was a shy boy [when] he was young and now I know it for sure,
because you told me that.
EF: Yes, it is so. He would never get into
trouble or anything. He was always kind of by himself.
MM: But you would talk to him once in awhile?
EF: Oh, yah.
MM: Would you talk in German then?
MM: Not much English?
EF: No, just at school. But when we visited,
we talked German.
MM: I want to thank you for our visit today
on December 26, 1993 and I'm in Bismarck at the home of Elizabeth
(Mastel) Fischer who grew up in Emmons County and has such fond
memories at the age of 94. And I'm hoping that you're going to
have a wonderful 95th [birthday] coming up pretty soon.
Thanks so much, Elizabeth.
Transcription by Dorothy Denis
Germans from Russia Heritage Collection
North Dakota Institute for Regional Studies
North Dakota State University Libraries
P.O. Box 5599
Fargo, ND 58105-5599