Stories which have been passed on to us

Life in Bakowa as told by Karl Lowas (1972)

Karl Lowas spent his life in the Banat. He has relatives in Germany and the United States.

In each person's life there is a novel, I always say, but not everyone writes that novel. I am writing mine now; I started in march and I add something to it each day. In 1969 my second wife and I were 80 years old, and then I said, that's enough now! Quit! I was a clerk at the mill, treasurer for the funeral society, and retired to boot; that is too much. Then I quit everything. But then other things happened: in May of 1970 my son-in-law, Karl, died; in November Niklos Zetto, my stepson died and in February of 1971 my second wife died. Now it was hard for me; it was so hard for me to get used to being alone in my room. What should I do all alone? Well, then I started to write my novel, our family history. I certainly had the time but the energy was not always the way you'd like, once you're past 80. So, and then I reminisced a lot about all the things that happened earlier among my friends. I heard very little about my grandparents and how they lived, and so I thought to myself that I would write down everything that I know, put it down on paper for those yet to come. It might be boring for some to read, but since it revolves around most my important life experiences it is a lot of enjoyment for me. Perhaps others might enjoy it too.

My grandfather left Upper Hungary and come to the Banat and colonized here in the 1790's. He could speak only broken German. He and my grandmother had nine children! But my grandmother died in childbirth already at the age of 42; she and the baby were buried in the same coffin. My grandfather married again, but the second wife concerned herself only with her own children and he had to look on while his were ignored.

John, his oldest boy, became a farmer, he inherited the land. The second son, Karl, my father, was a farmer too, but he was more interested in business, and he also gained half interest in a threshing machine. There was no more land for the third son--he left the village and became a drayman in Lugoj.

My father had it good with the threshing machine; people came here from the neighboring villages to have their alfalfa seed threshed. Threshing wen on day and night here, the whole yard was full of wagons, and they were lined up on the streets too. Sometimes the people had to wait here for two days until it was their turn. My father also had a license to sell wine by the bottle---a Butellerschank. And the farmers who waited here would drink, sometimes they were lying all over each other out in the ditch. At night they would be threshing by lantern light.

My father and mother had 10 children; three boys and seven girls. My mother was often sick and my father always said: "Susie, take care of yourself so you don't leave me here with a bunch of kids like happened to my father!" I was the eighth child, and my mother did not have enough milk so I was raised on a Schluzer. The Schluzer was a white cloth and they put different sorts of nourishing food in it, sugar too, and they stuck it in my mouth. I didn't want the stuff, so then my sisters rocked me back and forth in the crib until I was satisfied. They told me about this later.

Then when the two youngest were a little older, there wasn't enough room for everybody at the table so the three of us had to eat on the bench by the stove. I had to bring the food to them. And once I asked for another helping, since we were still hungry. Then our father gave each of us a small piece of bread and boxed me on the ear because I had the nerve to ask.

Sleeping was also a problem with such a house full of children. Father and Hans,he was the youngest, slept on the head-end of the bed and I slept at the foot-end. In the other bed my mother and Elizabeth slept; the other five sisters were in the other room, in the Kammer. Joe, the oldest, he slept in the barn by the horses. During winter evenings in bed, when he was in a good mood, we would sing with my father. He taught us this one:

Hop Marutza vor dr Tir
Pope Nikolaje!
Kumm hei Nacht un schlof bei mir,
ich kann ne 'lonich leije!

Then I started school, six years. But in the morning before we left for school we had to curry the horses every day. And once my father brought me back to the barn by my ear lobe, the next time I had to do it alone. In the spring of 1902 a merchant from Temesvar, his name was Lorencz came looking for apprentices. Gyuri Wolf and Jani Wolf signed on, but my father said he would not let me go. There wasn't anything I could do; I would so much have liked to become a businessman! I had to stay with my father's business. The next year I wanted to learn to be a musician, but there was a catch there too; the instrument was too expensive! So nothing came of that either. I also toyed with the idea of going to America, to get rich quick! But all that was quickly set aside. I first had to go to work for my brother as a hired hand. My service there lasted four years! Joe had been inducted into the Hussars and their horses had to sparkle. He was too strict and precise! I was a hired hand but I had my mind only on music---I wanted only to become a musician---everything else was too boring for me.

To be continued.


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