Monday, July 27, 2009

Amanuensis Monday: A Language Lesson, Johnny Appleseed, and local villages

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

I continue transcribing the tape my grandfather, Martin Deutsch, and his brother, Ted Deutsch, recorded in 1977. The Deutsch family immigrated to America in 1913, and the brothers are recalling their youth in the Transylvanian town of Almasu or Varalmas - depending upon whether you chose the Hungarian or Romanian language.


Martin: I think everybody has difficulty trying to go back to really know of Hungarian beginnings and how we as a family – how did we ever get to Hungary. I have absolutely no idea and I don’t suppose you have any idea
Ted: I don’t have any idea where we came. We never touched that subject even with Dad. He never mentioned
Martin: He couldn’t explain it, I’m satisfied. Now, we do know there were ancestors, however, grandfathers and great grandfathers still in that country.
Ted: Now I remember his father, he used to come and visit us. he lived in a town called Torda TORDA. Torda. In the vicinity around there. It was past Bucium.
Martin: That was maybe 30 miles aways
Ted: And that was where Pa was born
Martin: And maybe 30 miles away from
Ted: I would say 30
Martin: From where we were
Ted: Exactly, I wouldn’t know
Martin: Now, we talked about Cluj and Kolishvar, but we didn’t live in Kolishvar, did we?
Ted: No.
Martin: Now, do you know what the closest town was, there was a town
Ted: There was a town. If you crossed over the mountains that had a railroad, it was called Hunyad, HUYAD, or something like that.
Martin: That means Great-something. HUN. You know…you’ve read about the huns in the dark ages who overran a lot of Europe and actually gave their name to the word Hungary, Hungarian. This word Hunyad sounds like a Great Hun.
Ted: It was bigger than our town, and it had a railroad stop, and if you wanted to go anywhere you had to drive your horse and wagon to Hunyad, where there was a station. And you could take the train to go somewhere.
Martin: Now would that be say 10-15 miles away
Ted: Well, I would say around that, 10, 15. It was a day’s trip. No matter where you went around that it was a day’s trip
Martin: Well, because it was mountainous
Ted: I wouldn’t know. First you had to go way up, then you had to go way down.
Martin: It depends upon how many valleys you had to cross over the mountains.
Ted: We made many trips. We made trips to a place called Margitta, where mother’s parents lived.
Martin: Now that would be MARGITTA
Ted: Something like that. Margitta. That would take 2 days or three days, it was so far away.
Martin: Maybe 50 60 miles away.
Ted: And we would have to camp on the road outside on the street overnight.
Martin: On the road…In the car (laughs) horse and buggy
Ted: On the wagon or on the side of the road. All the sides of the road had apples, we had plenty of apples to eat on the way.
Martin: There were a lot of orchards.
Ted: They weren’t orchards. They actually had apples growing along the road.


Martin: They didn’t have a Johnny Appleseed. Though Johnny Appleseed for some reason in my mind makes me think of somebody who’s a Romanian. But I don’t know where I got that idea.
Ted: Who was Johnny Appleseed
Martin: Johnny Appleseed you know was famous in this country, I think he was from the state of Iowa. He roamed the state and planted apple seeds. I don’t know what his purpose was, he thought he was doing good for the countryside for the natives to pick apples.
Ted: Maybe he --- somebody was over in Hungary too, because every road I remember they had these white little kilometer signs, so many kilometers to Margitta, and I remember the roads of apple trees along the road.
Martin: Of course some of them were cultivated orchards. Apples. I wonder how they marketed them. Of course, you say there was a railroad.
Ted: In those days of course those apples were – we had a market in our village, they’d bring their stuff to the village and sell it.
Martin: I imagine that was it, there was a public market.
Ted: We had a what they call Pizza…Pizza
Martin: Piza, for Italian, yeah marketplace in Italian I think it’s called…the word Plaza, Piazza
Ted: It’s a place. Piza is a place, that’s all it is. Going to the Piza means you’re going to the marketplace. Right there in front of the marketplace were the city village hall, the church, all the finances
Martin: Banking
Ted: In German. The financiers were not financiers, they were the police. Police department. Finances they would call them. Just like the French word for their police department.
Martin: I’m trying to think of the French word. I know it but I can’t think of it.
Ted: We would call them…they were the guys that collected the revenue, and they would call them finances.
Martin: They were part of the establishment
Ted: They represented not the village but the country…state of Hungary.
Martin: The royalty
Ted: They represented the administration, the crown, that’s right. They represented the crown…Dad, when he was cooking this alcohol, and looking at his permits, collecting
Martin: I just thought of the word – Gendarmes in French
Ted: (pause) We used to call them by the German name...That was in the Pisa
Martin: The marketplace.
Ted: The administration buildings for the village.
Martin: Probably they did have a county seat town which was Kolishvar. They didn’t call it a county, Would you have a word for it.
Ted: The county? Kolosz megye would be the county
Martin: But the word for the organization – I guess it’s similar to a county.
Ted: I wouldn’t know.
Martin: They apparently kept records of births and marriages. And they probably had records of real estate, I’m satisfied of that. They must have had some word.

The language lesson is frustrating. The Hungarian word 'megye' means county, so Ted was able to answer my grandfather's question, even though neither may have realized it. I couldn't believe my grandfather interrupted his brother with the French word, Gendarmes, just as Ted was about to speak again about their father's plum whiskey (slivowitz). I did find it interesting that Ted associated tax collecting with the police.

Naturally, I found the discussion of nearby towns more interesting. Huedin is about 7 miles from Varalmas, and is today the nearest train station. My parents visited it on their trip in 2000. It is most likely the train station from which the Deutsch family left in 1912 and 1913.

Turda is about 40 miles from Varalmas, Bucium is about 46 miles away, and Margitta is 47 miles. I know Margitta is the correct town, as we have letters sent from there to my great grandparents after their arrival in America, and it is further confirmed by cousins. I am only guessing at Bucium and Turda, though they are nearby, and fit the pronunciation on the tapes. It's not clear from the tape whether Ted thought my great grandfather was born in Turda or Bucium.

Johnny Appleseed is associated with Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois. While there is no Romanian connection I can find, the discussion may illustrate the different ages of my grandfather and his brother when they arrived in America. My grandfather was 6 when they immigrated, and perhaps would have been more 'indoctrinated' with the American mythology they taught in the Chicago primary schools than his brother, who was 11. Of course, my assumption he learned about Appleseed in his youth may be wrong. There was a series of postage stamps released in 1966, two years prior to my grandfather retiring from the postal service.

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.

1 comment:

Charley "Apple" Grabowski said...

I love the reference to Johnny Appleseed and how he tried claim him as one of their own.