B.O.B. -- The "Best of Banat"

Silkworms and Poppies


Date: Sun, 29 Sep 1996 14:51:00 +0000
From: rpitman (now deceased)
Subject: Raising Silkworms

Hi there, I've been a member for a while but have never posted anything mainly because I'm from Monyorod in the Baranya in Hungary. I have enjoyed all the information. I thought the part about the silkworms was interesting. I interviewed my aunt, Katharina Petz in Germany in 1990 for the book I'm writing about the family. She told a funny story of getting silkworms to make silk back in Hungary where mulberry leaves were plentiful. Those little guys were so industrious she said they practically took over the house including the attic. They had to get mulberry leaves by the wagonful. When they were finished spinning the silk, she took the silk to the factory in Mohacs. Just a bit of Donauschwaben history.

Rosa Pitman (d. 1996)


Date: 30 Sep 96 14:14:47 EDT
From: "Betty A. Smiddy" 103107.3363@CompuServe.com
Subject: Silkworms, Poppies, Hemp

I've never posted to the group before, but I have certainly learned a lot by being a member since Nov. 1995. My grandmother, Margaret Dipong / Dippong was born in Katherinfeld b Aug. 8, 1893 d May 6, 1975. She came to US at age 11. My grandfather came to the US aboard the "Pannonia" through the port of Fiume and entered the US in New York June 25, 1909.

My grandmother told me about raising silkworms...that it was something children and women took care of for extra money. She also told me about the poppies. Sometimes babies were taken by the mothers when they worked in the fields. The babies were kept quiet by mixing the poppy milk with water and sugar and by moistening and twisting the end of a cloth, it became a pacifier. She said this was only done with small children. She had never heard of addiction. She also told me about growing hemp for the fiber and had never even thought that it could be smoked.

Betty Ann Smiddy Cincinnati OH


Date: Mon, 30 Sep 1996 12:58:39 -0600
From: June Meyer june4@interaccess.com
Subject: Opium-medicinal use

My Mother told me that in her part of Hungary, Altkeer Batchka, every family plot grew their own Opium Poppy plants. The plants were carefully tended, and when the time was right, pods would be collected to scrape the sap to make opium water. The rest of the pods were left to mature to seeds at which time the seeds were collected for baking, primarily the strudels made with the thick black swirls of pure ground poppy seed.

The Opium water was used when the family had to go to the fields for a whole day. Babies and toddlers were given the water to make them sleep, in the belief that it was easier to watch them in the field if they were sleeping than running away and getting into danger. Early in the 1900's a new local doctor told the village to discontinue the practice of giving Opium Water to the young babies and children because it would make them "dumb" or stupid.

My grandfather died at age 33 after a lengthy illness during which my grandmother used Opium water to ease his pain. Opium water was also soothing for Menstrual cramps.

P.S. My mother also had stories of collecting Mullberry leaves for the silk worms, and stories of how they processed the flax to make linen for weaving on their own loom.

Regards, June Meyer

See my homepage and Hungarian heirloom recipes!


Date: Mon, 28 Oct 1996 19:15:40 -0500
From: Viki wmv@CAM.ORG
Subject: Silkworks, Stuffed Ducks

<< D.A.P.W. wrote:
Well I have put off working on my research after going back to work and hitting to many dead-ends and no means of answering my questions on my DanuabeSwabian ancestors and my Austrian-Hungarian Ancestors. So let me put some my problems back on the table and see if any one can help.

Does anyone know of people buying silk worms and growing them and have something to do with muleberries?

How about "stuffing" the ducks to make them weigh more before selling them to the Gypsies>>

In reply to your questions, I recall my mother telling me about how her and her brother had to go and gather mulberry-leaves in order to feed the silkworms at my great-grandmother's farm. They did raise silkworms and produced silk. About the "duck stuffing". This is something that is still done to this day in villages in Hungary, Yugoslavia, and I imagine in all the other neighboring countries. The ducks and geese were forced fed dry kernels of corn and then penned, so that they would not be able to burn off the calories. This was done for about 4 weeks.

As a child I frequently visited my grandparents in Hungary, and I witnessed many stuffings. The ducks and geese were not really in distress, and they did not seem too uncomfortable. But when we had those ducks for supper...one can't even begin to describe the taste and texture. As for the reason being for stuffing, they weren't for the Gypsies. They were usually for home consumption or to sell at the market. The Gypsies did not do alot of buying... they were notorious for stealing chickens.

As for the rest of your questions... I'm sorry but I cannot help. For information purposes, my parents both came from the Batcska. My mother being half Schwabian / Hungarian from Verbasz. And my father was Hungarian from Becse.



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