Stories of the Germans from Russia
Art Freier (AF)
Speaker, Germans from Russia Heritage Society Convention,
Bismarck, North Dakota
July 15, 1995
Transcription by Hope Wald
Edited by Linda Haag
AF: Well you look a heck of a lot more comfortable. I’m glad
for this, but I’m sorry for it. But twenty minutes is not
too difficult to overcome. My name is Art Freier. I took a trip
to Russia last year, 1994, my tour guide was John Klein, and he’s
an attorney in Lincoln, Nebraska. There were ten of us on the group,
we had a beautiful Mercedes Benz bus and the ten of us rode in that,
and I want to say the five of us are here this morning, and I never
planned for that. So would the five stand up? That’s my wife
Lois, Leroy Saffler from Harriet, South Dakota. My wife is from
California naturally, and Leonard Kopp is from the San Francisco
Bay area, oh Portland, oh I missed it by one metropolitan area.
Did we lose Margaret Crawley? She was from Oklahoma and she was
Let me explain that the title this morning is just a little modification
of what I submitted to the convention headquarters. This is my tour
of the Ukraine area visiting my ancestral roots, and we did not
stay all of the time in Odessa, we did stay five nights. I wanted
to, and then I wanted to explain that 1995 on the program. I was
not back in Odessa in 1995, but was in Germany and spent thirty
days just two months ago. This will all come clear as the program
unfolds, but I did find twelve families of first cousins of mine
that I didn’t even know existed. I found them through the
Volgoustin Vig. The last two days, this is still a year ago in 1994,
the last two days we went to the Bugastephan in Stuttgart, 47,000
people were there, they are German form Russia that have returned
to Germany. The newspaper editor for this magazine, Folks on the
Way, I put an ad in there. It showed up in the June issue, and about
the time I got home I already had two letters from relatives that
I did not know existed. From then on we found a total of eight.
On May 10 when we went to Germany to visit the eight, we found four
more families. We have a total of twelve families, and they’re
all my first or second cousin. It kind of completes my research
of genealogy. The only way I can go now is laterally, but going
up, I’m up through my great grandfather on both sides.
Margaret, raise your hand. This is the other gal that was on the
bus. We already introduced everyone Margaret. She was interested
in the village of Troydenpaul also. That’s where my dad came
from, and my mother came from Noithroudinpaul, so we visited them
too. But we found not a single speaking German except one in all
of Russia. So when we got back to Stuttgart, just for the last two
nights, we found all of these other relatives, and they all speak
German but they also speak Russian. They have to; they spent most
of their middle part of their lives in Russia.
Now to get to the presentation. I want to give you a kind of a
gestalt of what we did, and then the pictures will mean just a little
bit more, and then I don’t have to dwell on the pictures very
long. I have a tray and a fraction, about a tray and a half, and
I’m going to ram them pretty fast. But anyway, we went to,
we used thin air, and went to Halphinki, and then we flew to Keeve.
That’s where we picked up our Mercedes Benz bus, the ten of
us and John Klein, and translators. Then we drove to Odessa and
we stayed there five nights. The first day we toured Odessa, and
we got to see the Pupemkin Stairs. By the way I went to Russia for
four reasons. Number one, to visit the ancestral village Troydental,
ancestral village Noitroydental, I wanted to see the Pupemkin stairs,
and I wanted to wash my hands in the Black Sea. This will all come
clear half way through. So we went to Odessa, we toured the city
the first day. The second day we went to Bessarabia and we went
over the bridge across the Limon, and we were in Bessarabia, and
we got up the far, and we got to Artise, Trasma, and Turintino,
and then we came back. The next day we went to Troydental, and on
our way back we hit the little villages, you can’t miss them,
they’re only two miles apart, Peterstall, Maryantall, down
through and here again was a Lusdorf. That’s where you get
catered. Then the third day we went up to Landouworms, and over
the Noitroydental. Then we came back to Odessa again, and the final
day we went back to Piev Casaplane to Moscow, and then we spend
a day there, or night, and then we went up to Halphinki again to
fly to Stuttgart. The reason we went through Helsinki is because
we picked up thin air that way. Aeroflute, the official airline
of the Russian USSR, at that time had a very bad safety record and
so we wanted to avoid it. We avoided it except for one flight, and
that was the short flight. So you kind of get the picture of where
I’m going, but the last frame in the second tray I have always
been saying, that is the end of the story. Well it will be the end
of the presentation here. But I want to tell you that it was only
the beginning. Because from there we uncovered twelve relatives,
so we went back to Germany and all of that but that’s a different
story, and a different set of trays.
Now did somebody, oh yeah somebody did come up here and activate
this thing. It’s all down and recording. This is for the North
Dakota State University. All right, so now with my clicker, and
some support with the lights, and I think I lost my chair. I probably
want to sit sidewise because I may want to talk directly to you,
and sometimes I want to look at the pictures, and I hope I’m
not in the way. Alright the first slide is only my focus slide.
This is my focus slide and it gives me a chance to tell you the
other part of my life other than researching genealogy. I am the
retired supervisor of mathematics for the Los Angeles City Schools,
and in my retirement I am helping to share be the eyes and ears
of the sheriff department. This is a volunteer non-paying job that
I do for Purn County, and two of us ride in that car as buddies,
and all we have, no guns nothing, no clubs nothing, but we do have
a two way radio. If we see something or hear something we phone
the sheriff and they’re on us like a bunch of vultures. They
really support us when were out on the road because we’re
volunteers and they do not want us to get hurt. Alright, so much
of focusing I think that is it focus. Here old Ralph Roughwood has
a fit. He said that I will never start a slideshow at an airport.
So we did for two slides I believe.
My wife Lois, you met her, on our way from Helsinki to Kiev we
stopped for ten minutes at Warsaw, and I got out and took a picture,
and, oh man, I thought I had created a sin or a crime, they got
me back in that plane so fast that I got one picture out of the
deal. Now were already in Kiev, we jumped on the Mercedes Benz,
and that is the highway going straight south to Odessa. I took that
slide because all of the streets, all of the roads in all over the
Ukraine are lined with trees. The streets in the cities are lined
with trees. There we are, and five of those that were introduced
her this morning are in that group. The second man from the left,
right beside the man with the red cap is John Klein. He is the attorney
from Lincoln, but he did this tour on his own, and this was his
eighth tour. If you're looking for a good tour guide, John I would
recommend. He’s on his eight trip there, and he goes Volga
as well as Black Sea.
This is something I cannot explain, that driver will drive that
bus and the gas gauge will go down, down, down to empty and he’ll
just keep on going until he runs out of gas. I cannot explain that.
But he has two five gallon cans in the back, he fills it, and then
he has to get on the starter and get the fuel pump to working to
get the gas up to the motor. And you just say, wait a minute he’s
going to wear out his battery, but that’s the way they do
Now for those of you that can read Russian, that’s Odessa.
This is the open market in Odessa right near our hotel where we
walked one morning. Everything is out in the open. All of your foods,
your sausage, and all of that is out in the open, raw chicken what
have you. The most unsanitary conditions you’ll ever, you’d
never stand for it in the United States. Some more of the same market
that the cherries and that are alright I guess.
You see how I’m going to make up the twenty minutes? I’ve
been through this about eight times already and I know where to
speed up and slow down. That was right by the open market, and it
was right near our hotel and we saw that in our morning walk. That
is what? Turkish influence? I think those domes are orthodox, that’s
what I meant. There we’re walking down to the shores of the
Black Sea; we wanted to take a look at the Potemkin Stairs.
There on the left is the intourist guide, and on the right is the
guide that specializes in Odessa. So the two teamed up because the
one on the left did not specialize in Odessa. We got all of our
questions answered through these two ladies. There is the group.
Margaret on the right, Lois with the red cap in the back, and there
were three sisters and they are Leroy’s cousins. The three
sisters came with us, and they’re up front, they’re
taking it all in.
This is that beautiful, beautiful, beautiful opera house in Odessa
that you read so much about. But don’t buy any postcards of
the opera house because they were taken the day that the opera house
was completed and it was brand new. Now it’s under reconstruction
and you can see the scaffolding on the left side, and we couldn’t
even get inside to see it. They were afraid that the scaffold would
fall on us. I might as well say this now, that the whole city of
Odessa is a result of eight decades of decay. It was a grand city
at one time, but everything needs to be repaired, including leveling
the floors on our hotel rooms. But the sheets were white, and the
food was good, so we didn’t mind going up and down when we
went down the hallway. You will find so much under, as the interpreter
said, under reconstruction. Some more of the opera house, some more
of the opera house, and again a closer view of the scaffolding,
and as close to the door as we were able to get.
Now were approaching, that’s the Black Sea in the background,
were approaching the Potemkin Stairs. This was right there, this
was the King’s, the King or some ruler, and I don’t
think they would call them Kings at that time, the Czars. He has
a nice building there, and then he had a home, and I think I have
the home next. Kids on the streets, and if you want to know something
to take over to these kids its bubble gum. They don’t know
German, they don’t know English, they know a little Russian,
but they all understand bubble gum. The next shot I think I’m
giving it to them. There were unloading our bag of bubble gum and
some of them didn’t know what it was, but the others knew,
its right above the Potemkin Stairs. This is overlooking the Potemkin
Stairs right there in the center. That’s another shot with
Lois in it. There are the Potemkin Stairs looking down, and I’ll
show you the stairs looking up, well I’m not through looking
down yet. There, the stairs looking up. Now somebody told me that
there were something special about the stairs, and I thought something
entirely different than what I found. Here’s what is different
about the stairs, the stairs come down nineteen steps and then there’s
a twenty foot flat part, nineteen more steps and then a twenty foot
flat spot. From the top looking down all you see is the flat spot,
and from the bottom looking up all you see is the stairs, you don’t
see any flat spot except that one at the very bottom and that was
because I was sitting high up on the tour bus, and I got a peek
at that. But if I was down on the ground you would not see any flat.
Now that’s what’s different about the Potemkin Stairs.
I had it all different, and I won’t deliver the topic here
by telling you how I was wrong. Now there is a wider view of that
same building. I don’t know who tended to these flowers but
they were beautiful in June.
This is the Harbor. It turns out that Odessa is not the major harbor
in that area, the major harbor is down closer to Lusedorf. Here
again the cranes are sitting up and we have never seen them move
in five days. Nothing is happening there, the cranes are there and
the construction cranes are up and nothing is moving. I think the
Ukraine was trying to separate from the USSR, and they got out on
their own and they ran out of money, and none of this stuff is happening.
This is what we call the mother-in-law bridge. The ruler at that
time had his mother-in-law living on the north side and he lived
on that south side, and he did not want to go down that deep reveen
and come back up again to visit his mother-in-law. So he had this
bridge built so he could stay level. So we walked across it. Don’t
you wish you had that kind of money? Now were right at the center
of the bridge looking down at the intersection underneath it.
This is the Lutheran Church in the Lutheran community or the Lutheran
region of Odessa. Again, you can see the sky through the roof, only
the outside shell looks presentable, but the inside is totally gutted.
Nothing is being done about it, but there are Lutheran movements
in the United States that may get over there to restore that church
in cooperation with Germany. But that may is underlined. Now there
are some more of those. That is the steeple of it; at least the
steeple is not bulldozed off. Well you heard the story I believe
of the Noitroydenthaul Church, the steeple went down a few years
before the whole church went down. Now this is the German region
right close to that German church. So were walking through where
the German merchants and they were rich people, and they built beautiful
homes, and they were importers, exporters, or what have you. But
the Germans were rich people in this region. Now this is one of
the rich people’s buildings that is now the consulate for
England I believe it is. It’s one of the ambassadors of England
I believe because the words on there are English.
This is a rare thing, at five o’clock in the afternoon the
two-wheeled wagons come out on the street and they sell beer on
the street. They share their glasses with each other, hey you drink
out of it when you’re though with it give me the glass and
we’ll fill it again and we’ll drink beer and then we’ll
go home and eat. Needless to say we didn’t have a drink of
beer. But 5 o’clock every afternoon, this is in Odessa, you
can find those wagons.
This is the entrance to the University of Odessa. An in tourist,
who is the travel agent for all of Russia that set it up, did not
get a clearance for ten of us to go inside that door. I think we
saw a young girl, yeah there’s a student but there are the
doors and they told us we could not go in. So it’s all in
what in tourist gets clearances for.
Now were on our way to Bessarabia and were crossing the bridge
that goes over the Limon, and that’s the Neasterlimon as the
river comes down, and then it widens and then hits the Black Sea.
Well right here the bridge is almost built on the beach of the Black
Sea, and that’s the shortest way to get to Bessarabia. That’s
a familiar scene. Now in Russia there are goats, the cattle, the
sheep, or what have you, are either tied on a leash or an old grandpa
is sitting there herding them. But they are entitled to all the
grass in the road ditch, but don’t let that animal get on
Now here we are, were already getting close to our seat, anyway
it’s an old church that is good on the outside, but you can’t
get in to see anything. That’s a street scene, but not too
interesting. Now this is the Arsis, Carl Marx’s statue, now
is this the one that had the library made? Well we will see the
library. Over there we were naturally interested in the cemeteries
because we wanted to find the names our German forefathers on there,
but we found nothing. The headstones and a lot of the intendment
concrete covers were bulldozed out, and where Lois is standing now
there were graves under her feet, but there were no headstones there.
And they bulldozed them all over into a pile, and stacked them up
like a bunch of rocks. They’re using that now as a pasture
for their geese and the cattle and what have you.
There’s a sad looking scene. That’s how good they take
care of our forefathers. You have to know that the Germans in Bessarabia
were chased out of there in 41’ with that long long long wagon
train. Then during the war the Germans came in, and when they took
this region then they turned it over to the Romanians for occupation
troops. The Romanians did a bad job of that, they couldn’t
even occupy. So then I think it went back to the Germans again,
and they Russia took, beat Hitler out of the country. So in that
long scenario our grandparents, or our forefathers, had very little
meaning so they piled them up there.
One guy used those coffin covers for his water trough for his cows.
Talk about an insult, that’s enough to make you sick. But
they had a good garden there.
This is the town of Krasna, and one of our tour members, Leonard
Kopp from Portland, was interested in Krasna, and are there any
then words or less that Leonard you’d like to say? Well anyways
they found somebody over there that was an acquaintance and they
stayed while we went up to Turintino, and then we picked them up.
Now there’s the cemetery after all the headstones are bulldozed
out. The geese will eat grass just like a cow, you know that I guess.
We did find a couple cemeteries where there was a real interest
and they are keeping it very very nice. Now that’s the one
when somebody realized that all of these German graves had been
demolished, somebody came over and made a memorial, that right there
for 1814 to 1940 for the Dutch settlers. This was a kind of a combined
cemetery for all of the German settlers from 1814 on.
That’s the church that was made into a library. They didn’t
have much use for the churches. They used them as granaries, or
libraries, or what have you. But most of the time they called them
a cultural center. There’s the library, and look at the librarian.
I think that’s a hot water tank in the back. That’s
the original heating. Thank you.
Now this is the, we are in the hands of a German neighbor that
we met when we jumped off of the bud, and he was going to show us
where the German cemeteries were, so he lead us. Now there we found
somebody with some graves with names on them, but born in 1929,
and died in 1929, that’s about the only one that we could
So now we come back to Ackerman. This is the Turkish fort before
Katherine the Great took over the Ukraine and the Bessarabia from
the Turks. This was a Turkish fort, and I have a few slides of that
that I’m going to rapid fire through it. You know what that
is? That’s the mode. Were inside with Margaret, you meet her.
That’s Herman’s brother. Now were back, now were going
east across the bridge and were headed for Odessa. Now were looking
out to the black sea on the right side of the bus.
There, next day, we go to Troidental. For you people that know
Russian, you will know that that says peaceful valley. But that
is the name now of Troidental. That’s where my dad was born.
My dad left there as a 17 year old boy in 1909. I’m going
to approach that water jug here, Lois would you help me? This is
where my dad left as a 17 year old boy and he came to Tyndall, South
Dakota, worked his ship fare off. He worked for three years and
reimbursed the farmer who paid his ship fare. Then he worked three
more years and had enough money to go to Box Elder, Montana, which
is south of Havre. He homesteaded there, and that’s where
he lived until he died, and that’s where I was born, educated
etc. I didn’t know anything about his dad or his granddad.
Now I know everything thanks to Ralph Wiseman.
That’s still the street sign over on the right. This is the
German houses, the German houses they last. Somebody once told us
on the trip that they tried to demolish one of them and they couldn’t.
The walls were so thick. They tried to get it out of the lot and
they couldn’t do it. These are Russian people that are doing
their gardens, and it’s just like Ralph said, “If it
wasn’t for their garden, these people would be starving”
because there’s nothing in the stores to buy except those
Another shot, and you know it rained there so it’s going
to be muddy. But anyway these are the German yards, occupied by
Russians. Now that looks pretty good like a German house. I was
looking for the mischt pile. My dad always told me about a couple
things, the stork on the chimney, and the mischt pile in the back,
and I found the mischt pile. Why, I would go all the way to Troidental
to take a picture of a mischt pile. Can I stop long enough to tell
you a quick story? The guy, the guy had the wagon and the horses
and he’d go down the alley and he’d pick up the mischt,
and he’d take it out into the garden, or out in the fields
and spread it out. This man was called the mischter. So he comes
to the United States, goes through customs, and he left one of his
little handbags on the counter and the guy says, “Hey mister”.
He turned to his wife and he says, “Can you believe that Martha?
I just got on the shore of the United States and he already knows
what I did”.
There are those, tree covered/tree lined streets again. They couldn’t
speak German, but through the interpreter, the interpreter didn’t
want to get in the picture. Lois had the sewing kit with thread
and needles and stuff like that. It doesn’t take much to make
them very happy. She had a brown envelope there with thread, needles,
maybe even a piece of bubble gum, same guy. You don’t find
pickup trucks in Russia, so they used the tractors in the fields,
and then when they want to haul something to town or haul something
from farm to farm they put a four-wheel wagon behind the tractor.
That’s the way we would use the pickup.
So this is right in the center of Troidental. Now that’s
the main street of Troidental, but there was no way that we could
find the friar house because it was bombed. But I didn’t know
that until just two months ago when we were in Germany talking to
the people who lived in the friar house because it was bombed, I
didn’t know that until just two months ago when we were in
Germany talking to the people that lived in the friar house. So
we didn’t take too many impressive pictures of any of these
villages. Now there is the hammer and sickle, that’s right
by the post office. The post office is in the back. They had a letter
drop out in front, and if I even wrote a post card I’d never
drop it into that thing because I had no confidence of that drop
box. I’d go inside and I’d ask for the postmaster and
oh she went down to the store, she heard that there were fresh chickens
butchered. So they’d close they post office to go down to
get some chickens. “Oh she’ll be back when?” “Oh
I don’t know, when she gets, you know the line may be long.”
You do that in the United States and you...
Now as we were leaving Troidental we went through Peterstal, Mariantal,
all of those kind of rapid fire. And an old church, we came to almost
stop at the old churches, but there was no industry, modern industry
to look at, so we’d take cemeteries and old churches. There’s
another one that looks good on the outside but you can’t get
Now that woman has her chickens and a muddy street. Then the garden
in the background, it’s the gardens that are keeping these
people alive. Now this is Leroy, he’s the one doing the other
media there. Leroy we did get inside of the house to see what the
inside of a German house would look like, although it was occupied
by a Russian, the house hasn’t changed that much. Here we’re
cramming into another room. There is the lady talking to the interpreter
about some pictures of family, as were looking around one of the
sisters in the back, and the tour guide seated. Everyone has a sewing
machine, and it wouldn’t surprise me a bit if that was a Singer.
They make all of their clothes.
I guess that’s my nostrils in here isn’t it? That’s
what that groan is in the speaker. When you stop the bus, you’ll
always get a pretty good audience, and they’ll always be women.
Like Ralph Ruff said, “The women are up, their either milking
cows or their hoeing the garden or something while the husbands
are in town with liquor on their breath, the women do the work.”
Now this is a town, Lusdor, which is very close to Odessa because
here are the street car tracks coming out of the town of Odessa.
So you know were only about five miles out. Now this gal, Leroy
do you have something to say about this one? And you have a connection
with this town? With your four fathers?
Now this is the next day already, we’re on our way to Landouworms,
and Noitroydental, and we got into a road construction project.
Let me tell you about this road construction project. You can see
how much of a cut they had to make there, well let me tell you there
was one loader, one little skip loader, that would load a truck
that would haul a ton and a half of rock. Then he’d shut that
loader off and he’d sit there. That truck would go a mile
down the road and dump the dirt and then come back, and then he’d
start that loader up again. So here was a road construction project
with two men on it. When will it get finished? Your guess is as
good as mine. We took a detour, and we got stuck in that mud. The
bus driver would not let us out of the bus the help him push. So
he’d run out, he’d get his shoes muddy, because if he
let us all out, look at all the mud we would track into the bus,
and he would have to clean the bus. You got to have a goose or you’re
We’re approaching Landau. This is Leonard. He’s here
today. Leonard’s grandparents were married in that church.
That’s Leonard’s brother in the red cap. We called them
the Kopp brothers. Anyway, what will make you sick to your stomach
was, there is a technical school where they learn to overhaul machinery,
right to your right. Well they used the alter of this church that
had an old tractor setting up there and the motor was out of it.
The motor was over on the work bench on the side where the pews
were. I looked around that church and I said how did they get that
tractor up there? It had to go up the stairs. Now there’s
the technical school, which is quite modern. They needed the room
for their auto mechanics or their tractor mechanics so they used
the church next door.
This is an older building, but in there they had film processing.
They had the people that were snipping and cutting the film and
putting it together. What do you call those guys in Hollywood? Editors,
film editors. There was film on the floor, and reels of film on
John Philipps from California, Landau, he’ll tell you more
about Landau than I will know. Did you work in this college John?
You attended four years. Well isn’t that great.
That’s another building looking a different way. We were
lost. So the bus drivers out talking to somebody that wanted to
milk their cows, but hey came over to help him with directions.
Let me tell you we were so lost trying to find Noitroydental because
a German map was no good to the bus driver, but the German names
was all we knew. He was working off of a Russian map, and so we
had three languages there. Do you want to know who saved the day?
My wife. She took flying lessons as a pilot, and one of the things
that they taught her well was, pay attention to the railroad tracks,
and the rivers below you in case you get lost you can retrace your
steps. Well we knew that in Noitroydental there was a railroad track
that came northwest and then turned and went straight north beside
the town. When we were looking at the Russian maps the bus driver
and the tour guide had us going to another town. She pounded on
the dash of the bus and says no, that’s not it, where’s
We told you that was for North Dakota State University. All right,
here we go. That is Worms. There is a man in this convention that
is interested in Worms, but we didn’t take too many pictures
there so he’s not going to do much research based on our slides.
There, Ralph Wiseman, there is the cement slab where the church
stood in Noitroydental. We’re in Noitroydental, and we went
according to that map that you saw yesterday, where the church was,
we drove right to it, a great big cement slab. We didn’t find
out until we were in Germany two months ago, that that church was
demolished in 1941. Lois still doesn’t believe it’s
gone. She said “maybe we are looking at this map upside down.”
This is the school right south of where the church was. This is
the new church being built, but it’s again under the reconstruction.
It wouldn’t surprise me a bit if the rocks they were using
didn’t come from the old church. But that’s their construction
technique over there. They put bricks like that and then they plaster
it. If it’s all finished it looks beautiful, but this way
it doesn’t. I don’t quite know how it would pass earthquake
inspection here in the United States. This is the guy cleaning the
yard around this school. Now there is the only German lady that
I was able to talk to. She was in Noitroydental; as a girl she left
for fifteen years, and she pointed on that map to Deladlinger Heigh.
That’s where I lived, and when I came back fifteen years later
that house was occupied, so I came down to the Burkhart house and
she’s sitting in the Burkhart house. So two months ago I showed
these slides to my German relatives, and low and behold the guys
jumped up and said, by the way his name was Frederick Burkhart,
he jumped up in this family group where we were having the reunion
and he says, “That’s my house”. He told us about
that house, and tears started streaming down his face because he
had an awful lot of sad memories associated with that house. When
we showed this he went up and he said, “Yeah I remember that.
That’s the way the windows were, the door”.
Now this is the cemetery up north on the right side of the church,
the church cement slab is on your left. But again all of the headstones
were removed. You couldn’t find a thing. But I did run into
Carl Wagner here in this convention, and he has a beautiful cemetery
picture of his grandparents. Carl Wagner, some of you may know him.
Carl are you here? No. Alright there was a beautiful headstone with
his grandparents buried in the Noitroydental church cemetery. There
the goats are having fun, and the cattle, in the cemetery. Now this
is a panoramic view of the village of Noitroydental. We drove out
west, there’s a valley that goes down the middle of the town
from north to south. We took the west bank up there, and we were
high up and we took a panoramic view. This is the first view on
the left. This is the second one. This is the third one. Should
be the fourth one, and there might be one more; no. Then we went
back to the map. Of course the Philippe family, Philippe was my
grandfather; we went to the houses that were labeled Philippe. There
were three Philippe house right there. When we were in Germany two
weeks ago, in May, we found the Philippe’s that lived there.
As grandsons of course of the man who built it. That’s the
second Philippe house. That’s the third Philippe house, and
then you know Philippe married Rosita Springer my grandmother. This
is the Springer house. We have a Springer here in Manango, North
Dakota. She married a Rempfer. Mike Rempfer is a village coordinator
for this organization. So the Springer’s came from there too.
We visited a Springer in Hanover when we were there.
This is that valley, and it’s all with water in it. It doesn’t
look like a river, just like seepage of some kind from a well. Maybe
there’s a windmill that’s running all the time and the
water is overflowing just that much. It is a ready supply of water
for the geese. I don’t know how these people can turn the
geese and get them all mixed up and then at night they go and they
get their own geese back.
See there’s that pickup I was telling you about. Now were
on the north side of Noitroydental and this is the school and the
dormitory for the faculty members. Then were looking back on the
town as we exit to the north. This is the way the fields looked
in June. But the fields in North Dakota look this way right now.
Every field is tree lined, and they grow what you would expect,
wheat, barley, oats, and rye. Wheat for flour, oat for beer, and
no, barley for beer, and oat for feed, and the rye I guess for rye
bread because it makes lousy cattle food.
Now were coming back to Odessa. There’s the hotel that we
stayed at, and this is called the Casna Naya. That’s me over
there with my big belly. Out the window, and Lois took the picture
from the street. Now it was an acceptable hotel. I told you the
floors were uneven but that was our sleeping quarters, and that’s
kind of very acceptable, let me tell you that. The food was good,
the food was oh I guess we Americans might say it was monotonous
because three times a day we had cucumbers and tomatoes. But we
drank our bottled Pepsi cola. It was great in Odessa; Coca Cola
is great in Moscow.
Now I’m approaching the fourth thing that I came to Russia
for, and that’s to wash my hands in the Black Sea. We’re
getting down there. The ladies didn’t want to wash their hands;
they said the tradition is to wash your feet.
Now this is a reenactment of a story that goes back to 1952. My
dad came over, he left Lebou, it’s now Lepatgia in Lafia,
he crossed the North Sea, the Baltic Sea, and went to London over
to Liverpool and then he came down the St. Laurence River to Chicago
etc. Let me tell you the North Sea was rough and he had stomach
problems. The North Sea was rough. The Atlantic was not smooth either.
So I graduated from USC in 1952, and he says I’m gonna go
down to his graduation. So when we were down there we asked him,
“Well pop what would you like to do?” and he says, “Let
me tell you something. There’s one thing I have in mind. I
sailed the Atlantic and the North Sea and the Baltic Sea, and it
was the roughest damn ocean I ever saw, but I have never made contact
with the Pacific. I want to make contact with the Pacific.”
So we pitched a picnic lunch and a few guys were acquainted, we
went down to Manhattan Beach. At the beach there we spread it out
and my dad with such strong determination, he walked down to the
water and he washed his hands. Then he shook them off like that,
and then he says, “Now, let’s go home”. So this
is the reenactment, and I did this for my brothers and sister who
remember the story of him coming to California.
This is a good place to tell you the story, I should have told
you back at the Pupemkin Stairs. In 1909 my dad went down those
stairs. You couldn’t get the horse and wagon down there so
the grandparents, my grandparents, brought him in with the horse
and buggy eight miles from Troydental and they went down the stairs
and the grandma, being a good grandma, baked a chicken and put it
under this arm, and baked a long loaf of bread and put it under
this arm of my dad and his brother two years older that was supposed
to come to America with him. So up the gang plank they go. Henry
turns around and looks back and he sees his grandparents crying.
Now why wouldn’t they be crying? They’re saying goodbye
to two of their sons, never ever to see them again. So the parents
were crying and Henry says, “John, look at that. I can’t
go. I’m going back.” All my dad said was “Give
me your god dang chicken.” He got a loaf of bread too out
of that. But anyway, I missed that when I was talking about the
They were generous with the samples. That’s just the roadside
stop half way from Odessa to Keeve. The hotel Ruse is where we stayed
in Keeve; it was a nice hotel too. That’s a look at the parking
lot. This is the entrance to the Russian hall. We found some words
in English believe it or not. Then there’s the table setting.
We always ate at the same table. That way it wouldn’t confuse
the waitresses I guess. There in front of you you can see the cucumbers
and the tomatoes and the head cheese. We had no complaints of the
Now were in Moscow and this is Red Square. This is the Gum, Gum
department store, the biggest department store internationally known.
It has catwalks across up on the second floor up. Those are catwalks
so that you can go from this side to the other side. It’s
very very big, but very very expensive. That’s the outfit
that was our host in Russia.
That is the University of Moscow. Here’s where the 1980 Olympics
were held. This is Moscow, and the stadium in front of you. I think
this was a ski jump or something starting up here because there’s
a big drop right to your left. Now we went to the newspaper office
of Noislaven and we put in three ads, I put in three ads, looking
for my Friar family, my Philippe family, and anyone who knew anything
about Troydental and Noitroydental. Those ads cost me thirty bucks
each. But when I got to Stuttgart and put them in the German paper
everything was free because they were under eight lines long. Good
hospitality here. There’s the editor himself, and we got one
letter as a result of it. Now let’s see, one, two, three,
four, five, six, it says Noislaven in Russian. So this is a building
where there were an awful lot of newspapers then. Noislaven is only
one of them. But it is to Russia what Vugouskin Bag is to Germany.
That’s the Volga River with a barge or crew ship. I had to
take a picture of that. I already told you coke was big in Moscow,
and McDonalds now has two stores, but I don’t think I got
near them. You know circuses are big. Ukrainian dancers, big circuses
are big, and operas are big in Russia. The admission fee is practically
nothing to any of these. So were in the circus area now. Where ever
there are Americans there are peddlers. Beautiful stuff though.
That’s the entrance to the circus. This is another way to
make a buck; another way to make a buck. Now were inside of the
building. You know that all Russian circuses are one ring circuses.
You know Barnum and Bailey here in the United States have three
ring circuses where there’s something going on in all three
rings and your head is going like this. Well in Russia everything
is in front of you, but let me tell you the rapid fire, you just
don’t wait for the next act. There we are; that’s Leroy.
Look at Leroy. It’s like I focused on you Leroy.
Now there’s the show on ice; beautiful costuming. That ice
floor moved out hydraulically, and the dirt floor moved in hydraulically,
and we hardly even knew what was happening. Then the horses come
running on the dirt. It’s amazing. We hardly knew it was happening.
We did not have to get permission to take pictures. Cameras wide
open in, you could not in Lenin’s tomb, but we’d been
in Lenin’s tomb so I just knew we weren’t going to take
any pictures of that.
Now were in Stuttgart. This is the other, other organization. There’s
this lady form Stuttgart now talking about the Lundsmanship, Lundsmunshoft.
This is the Bessarabian house there. We went to that. It’s
four floors, and it’s a museum just about like GRHS headquarters
here on the central avenue in Bismarck. That’s the museum
pieces. I guess maybe that’s where I got the idea of moving
the model. They had a lot of church models there, smaller ones,
and some in glass cases. Maybe that’s what’ll happen
to the one you saw yesterday.
There’s the old friend. That’s the stork. What is their
main diet? Somebody told me at this convention that gophers, oh
brown squirrels that’s right. Hey I need one in my yard. Looking
at exhibits. Now were back at the Stuttgart hotel, and talk about
luxury. They really know how to put on a feet bag I tell you. I
even forget what the hotel was, but when you got into Germany the
world just changed. That had to be breakfast because I see the cornflakes
up front here.
This is why we went to Stuttgart, and Michael Miller told you about
another one that’s coming up in 96’ and that’s
why he is organizing a tour for the 25th annual Vundifesin. Well
that’s where all of the Germans from Russia come for one day
to see if they can find their friends that they used to know back
in Russia. Well I went, and I went there and I went to the Troidental
table, sat there for quite a while, and never did see any of my
relative. But I could have been there at the time that they were
over at the Siberian table or the Kazetkan table, or the Novisabuse
table, or what other one. So there are all kinds of ways to miss
them. But five of the people that I visited in May of this people
were at this at the same I was there. I was talking to somebody
and she thought she knew somebody but I think she was talking German
too. Boy did I have to relearn my German. You know that’s
all I knew when I was born until I went to the first grade. Then
I flunked the first grade because I didn’t know any English.
Then after a second try at it I finally got though it. But you know
sixty seven years of forgetting German, boy it was tough, but I
had a ball, it was so much fun. They were very helpful. If I’m
struggling for a word they’ll give it to me. Now wouldn’t
that have been something if one of my relatives was standing there
behind me and I didn’t know it. Well I showed this to my relatives
and they knew some of the people, but none of them were the relatives
that I found.
Boy they sure looked over these pictures when I was in Ouksburg
because that’s where the biggest group came from visiting
last year. This was the program in the auditorium. This is where
Michael Miller presented an American flag to the Lundsmanshauft.
That’s where the president of the Lundsmanshauft spoke after
the orchestra left. This is not the total 47,000 people that were
at this gathering, but his is all that could get in the auditorium.
I made a speech and told them who I was. There’s Michael Miller
on the right. I believe Margaret Freeman is the gal sitting closest
to me. She’s the one with the glitchstell, are you here Margaret?
No. I said it in German the best I knew and told them what I was
looking for. This is Mike Millers production here and next year
it’s going to be much bigger because they’re going to
get a bigger room and they’re going to get more man power
there because they said they were just swamped with questions and
answers. So they are going to increase their man power and get a
bigger room. Now the editor of this Mocowtenbag is sitting right
here. I had to point to that. This is what I have been calling the
end of my show. But as I told you at the beginning, it was only
the beginning. Because when I put those ads in the paper, when I
put that ad in the paper and I have a shot of it, I mean I have
a copy of my ad in that paper, I got eight letters from relatives
that I didn’t even know were alive. I found four more. So
I have a total of twelve.