Monday, June 1, 2009

Amanuensis Monday: near Cluj - 1900

Amanuensis: A person employed to write what another dictates or to copy what has been written by another.

In 1977, over a period of two days, my grandfather, Martin Deutsch, his brother Ted, and sister, Bert recorded family history on audiotape - Most of the stories they shared having occurred in the first two decades of the century. I shared a horrific story from this tape in October of 2007. But the transcription was slow, which didn't encourage me to transcribe much more. Then, recently, I discovered the software I mentioned a few days ago easing the process. Here are the first 10 minutes of the tape. (Bert doesn't show up until day two, so in these ten minutes it's just Martin and Ted.) [Note: Cluj was the nearest city. The actual town described is Varalmas, about 25 miles away.]

[Photographs of 'Old Cluj-Napoca' from Razvan Antonescu's flickr feed and released via Creative Commons attribution license.]


: August 22, just the day before that I am planning to leave to go to Chicago and discuss with Ted and Bert some features of on what we can term roots. I had intended to do this with Ted for some time, but never had the occasion. I am hoping we can get together a lot of the stuff that without the input from Ted especially because he was old enough to know and know from experience the family background and since he is the oldest living one that would know. I am hoping that this is a good opportunity to get all these facts together and have them for the interest of the rest of the family.

Now it is a couple days later on Wednesday August 24, and I am in Chicago and sitting here with Ted and we are discussing the background and I am going to have the discussion carry on hopefully for completely and have all I wanted on one or two of these tapes. Now I am going to play this back to see that I am - I am going to check to see I am having it recorded properly.

Now we are on, so what I was talking about before about – I always thought it was Klausenburg, but it's Kolishvar.
Ted: In Hungarian it is Kolishvar, it’s Klasuenberg in German
Martin: It’s Klausenberg in German, so there is a name like that
Ted: And it’s Cluj in Romanian.
Martin: Kluj, or K L U J and I was telling you that I looked at a map recently of Romania
Ted: It’s CLU
Martin: it’s CLU. And On the map I saw CLUJ and in parenthesis it was written Kolishvar
Ted: That’s the Hungarian name
Martin: And it was the Hungarian name I guess on the map which is a fairly late map, a good Rand McNally map it had a lot of Hungarian names. But to me I couldn’t recognize them. I am satisfied if I had it here you would recognize names. I saw the names of a couple rivers. Do you have any recollection of rivers in the area.
Ted: No I don’t know any names of rivers at all. I know rivers. There were rivers in the area.
Martin: The Danube wasn’t too far away. I don’t think we were 100 miles away from the Danube if I read the map right.
Ted: The Danube is the principal river of Hungary
Martin: Now in Hungarian it was called the Duna. We weren’t too far away. We were about 100 miles away. There were a lot of little streams and creeks where we lived. I say a lot of course there was one that really ran through the village.
Ted: Right.
Martin: I have a strong recollection of that thing overflowing maybe once or twice a year. Regular.
Ted: Regularly it floods
Martin: That thing came down like a real cascade took houses along
Ted: Well, I wouldn’t say it took houses along, it
Martin: It may have happened on one time
Ted: I didn’t see any houses flooded and taken away, but flooded, yes. Usually it was limited to the banks, to one of the banks of the river. Because on one side of the river was houses, and on the other side there were mountains.
Martin: Mountains or
Ted: It was mountains
Martin: Were there any houses or
Ted: There were no houses on the other side of the river
Martin: Was there any farming on the side of the mountains?


Ted: Yes there was farms – extended from the creek gradually went up along the flat country and at the end of the flat country the mountains would rise.
Martin: Now you don’t have any sense of direction, North, South, East?
Ted: No I wouldn’t, No I wouldn’t.
Martin: I just wondered. Now I recall the mountains being just right where we lived, just carried gradual
Ted: We had a little farm practically we were renting
Martin: We did have a farm we were renting on the side of the mountain
Ted: The house was along the street, which was the first street next to the river
Martin: It was about a block away from the river
Ted: When the river flooded we would get some of the flood
Martin: In the house
Ted: In the street, in the house. It extended back I would say as I can recall maybe six seven hundred feet back
Martin: The area we were living on rented
Ted: The farm. We had a big barn.
Martin: Who took care of the farm? Who would farm?
Ted: All we had was we had the gardening mostly for our own use. We raised corn; we had cantaloupes
Martin: Tomatoes?
Ted: Tomatoes, potatoes
Martin: Did we have any apples?
Ted: We had an orchard right next to the mountain, we had many trees all fruit trees.
Martin: Plums?
Ted: We had plums, what we call Italian plums now, and we had apples and pears.
Martin: Alright now, I often wondered how we made a living. How dad made a living. I knew he went to the market with some of the crops, and possibly the fruits and vegetables we didn’t use for our own.
Ted: That’s right, we traded.
Martin: Wouldn’t he make a regular trip to some kind of a market far away and a horse and cart
Ted: Dad had a horse and wagon. He had certain kinds of dishes he would pile into the wagon. He would also take some of the produce we had. He would trade people for what we wanted. We wanted wheat or we wanted corn. We didn’t raise much of it.
Martin: It was a real bartering existence.
Ted: He would also trade these dishes. These china.
Martin: Now he would buy that and then trade or sell at a profit I suppose
Ted: That was barter. Other times in the fall he would gather a lot of these prunes that we made, we raised in the orchard and he’d…he’d let it ferment.
Martin: He’d make wine.
Ted: And then…Not wine. He didn’t make wine. He made whiskey. He went, he got a permit, and he went out next to the river where they permitted…
Martin: Like a still
Ted: He actually put up a still, and I used to carry…ride a horse and wagon at my age I was only about 8 years old. I used to drive the fermented stuff in a barrel and put it in the back of the wagon. (Martin: A keg) And he would fill up the still and cook it. And bake this Slivowitz from the plums. Plum whiskey, and he would sell the whiskey. To the….We had a factory over there, a brewery factory, and they would buy the whiskey.
Martin: I’ve heard of Slivowitz, it’s still on the market. I thought I heard it was a Polish drink.
Ted: It’s Plum Whiskey. It’s the same thing in Hungary. They would call it Slivowitz, they’d call it that everywhere.
Martin: And it’s from plums
Ted: And he’d take that and sell it to factories.

I feel I get a sense of the personalities of my grandfather and his brother through the tape. Even though he knew his older brother had the stronger memories of Europe, my grandfather throughout the tape is unable to refrain from interrupting Ted's sentences with his own thoughts and questions. Ted is patient, and even when my grandfather questions his memories, Ted rarely budges. His confidence in his recollections is reassuring, since they are recalling events from over fifty years prior. I'm not sure my recollections from age 10 are as good as Ted's.

Slivowitz is "a dry, usually colorless, slightly bitter plum brandy from Eastern Europe." The word has Serbo-Croatian roots, suggesting its origins were likely in the southern part of Eastern Europe.

If you choose to join me in Amanuensis Monday and post your transcriptions, feel free to add a link to your post below, or in the comments.


Charley "Apple" Grabowski said...

These recollections are pure gold!

Anonymous said...

thanks for that john-interesting to see my dad's words in print