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 interested.
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 it.
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 the street.
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 find.
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 open markets.
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 in it.
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 not Russian.
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 the counter.
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 the railroad?
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 Pupemkin Stairs.
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 food.
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.