A Remembrance of the Past; Building for the Future." ~ Eve Eckert Koehler

Remembering Our Danube Swabian Ancestors

All Kinds of Things

Translation by Brad Schwebler

   Much wool and hemp was still spun in Beschka until the turn of the century.  Some hemp was also spun in World War I and again in World War II sheeps’ wool was spun, because one received nothing to buy.  The spinning wheel was used for it.  The sheeps’ wool was “geschlumpft”? for the spinning.  This was done with a steel roller of about 1 meter diameter and about 1 meter long.  This roller was densely covered with needle-like teeth.  This rotating roller was supplied with wool which was “gehechelt”? with it and combed in thin sheets between the teeth of the roller until the whole layer was about 10 centimeters.  Through it the wool threads were aligned and cleaned of burrs as well as other dirt.  When the roller was full the wool was torn off.  Now it hung beautifully and cleanly together as a pad and lighter for spinning.  The “Kunkel”? on the spinning wheel was called a “Rockgestell” (skirt stand) by us.  It was only used for hemp.  The name Kunkel itself came from “Rotzkingel”.  Rotzkingel was what one called the boys whose snot hung down just like the surface of the Kunkel.

   The hemp was roasted (gerötzt) in the pond, after which it was dried and broken with the “Brech” (break?).  Through this the fibers were detached from the wooden part of the hemp and this was called “Brachhangeln”.  This was burned.  The hemp fibers came in the grater (Ripp).  After the grating came the “Hecheln”?  There were specialists for this and for the grating.  Everything else the farmers made themselves.  However the weaving was also skilled work.

   Until in the ‘80’s of the past century the lard light (candle) was used in Beschka.  The lard lamp was technically designed as the eternal light of the Catholic churches.  After that kerosene lamps were used.

   The first steam threshing machine was used in 1880.  Before that one threshed with the Göppel? (scythe, sickle?).  Flails were never used.  Until the invention of the Göppel threshing machine the grain was stepped on by the horse, hence the name “Trepplatz” (better yet, stepping place).  The first colonists only mowed the grass with the scythe.  They cut the grain with the sickle.  First when the scythe bow? Was invented one also mowed the grain and indeed was always in the wind direction and with it the grain was beautifully arranged “stain?”, that is, it could be gathered.  The mowing machine sprang up already after the turn of the century.  However their use was forbidden for social reasons during the world economic crisis (1930 to 1936).

   The corn was “gereibelt” (grated) (geriwelt – from reiben?) in colonial times by hand.  In each period much less corn was grown than in the time after 1890.  At the time the vineyards were destroyed by the Rebläuse (lice?) while one could devote more to the corn cultivation.  In the time from about 1880 to about 1910 the corn was grated by machine which was driven by manpower and the machine was the size of one to four men.  From 1922 on, that is, with the invention of electric current, the grating machine was gradually introduced which was driven with an electric motor.  For the sunflowers (rebeln?) one used again the gas driven motor independent of the main current.

   The grain was ground with the horse mill until the turn of the century in Beschka.  There were two to four of these in the whole village.  One of them was at No. 3 Pavelic Street.   There were no windmills in Beschka.  It’s incomprehensible to me why windmills were not used in Beschka like they were in the Batschka.  There were also two water mills in Beschka of which one belonged to Hemler and the other to Varicak.

   Besides them there was a large mill built before World War I according to writings, which burned down in 1916, and then purchased by Philipp Kniesel (vgl. Reg. No. 1023) and rebuilt again.  It had a day’s capacity of 200 double hundred weight of grain and was driven in the beginning by a steam machine, then with the diesel motor.  The Kniesel’s mill was a farm supplier.  On the Danube there was at the time, even yet in the 30’s, a water mill on the Danube.  It’s owner was named Oppermann.  The mill had no great purpose for Beschka since the farmers did not want to drive 5 kilometers to the mill.

   To separate the grain from the chaff the windmills were used until the invention of the threshing machine.  Everything that was lighter than the grain was blown away and the rest was sorted through the sieve.  Allegedly the people of Bulke invented and created these windmills.  Already around the turn of the century this work was done better with the “Rattelmaschinen” (from corn campion).  This “Rattel” or Radel machine was the forerunner of the selector?, which was invented after World War I by Andreas Truro (vgl. Reg. No. 2050).  This also stained and until today it is the perfect seed cleaning machine.  

   In the year 1922 electric current was introduced in Beschka.  The power station was in India.  The current was relatively expensive there because of higher taxes, so it was only used for lighting in the household but was not used in the kitchen.  The current for the household cost 10 Dinar per kilowatt and for the purpose of power cost 1.5 Dinar per kilowatt.  The movie projector? was introduced in Beschka about 1939.  Vacuum cleaners and washing machines were unknown in Beschka.

   In colonial times plows made of wood were used and only the (Schar?) was made of iron, which was (eingekeilt?)  The farmers always took a hatchet with them for this purpose.  Iron plows came about 1860.  At the time the people fled two (scharige?) iron plows were already used.  The most popular plow came from the Eberhard Company in Ulm.  The “Dornenschleife”? (thorn bow) was also used for field cultivation still during World War I, which after that was replaced with a bow of iron.  Seeding was done by hand exclusively in the 1900’s.  After that a sowing machine was used,  although occasionally it was still sown by hand.  The wine grapes were formerly stomped with the feet.  Later there were naturally mills and presses for this.  Sauerkraut was shredded in each house and stomped by the children with clean washed feet.  It was all covered with clean linen and weighed down with a “Kraut” stone laid on a small board (about 10 kg).  Later a manufactured turning wood screw was used for this.

     In each house they made noodles themselves.  The dough was rolled out with a wooden roller “Wäljerholz ausgewäljert” on the noodle board.  Then it was left to dry for about an hour and then finally cut with a sharp knife.

   They also baked the bread themselves.  To dry the dough a sourdough basket was used.  It was a hand deep, round basket with about a one meter diameter.  After each bread baking a handful of dough was mixed with bran, dried, and finely grated.  That made housewives independent of yeast, which was called Germ or Zeuch by us.

   For the preparation and the kneading of the dough the baking “multer”? was used.  The small baking basket.  The small baking basket was made of corn husks (Liesch).  In it about 5 kilograms of hard loaves of bread were laid.  The baking cross served to set up the finely meshed sieve to filter the sourdough that was softened with water before the bread baking.  The sieve was also formerly used to pass tomatoes through.  Later a tomato strainer was used which the radio broadcasting specialist Konrad from Szabadka (Subotica) patented after World War I.  With this tomato strainer the tomatoes were crushed with the wood roller with the hand grips in the appropriate container with the perforated aluminum sheet and the tomato pulp was squeezed through the holes of this sheet.  The tomatoes were called “Paradies” (paradise) by us, just like Paradies apples.

   Naturally people also did the slaughtering themselves.  The slaughtered pigs were hung up to be gutted on the “Hasenholz” (rabbit wood).  Almost every farmer could do this.

[Published at by Jody McKim Pharr, 2005]