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Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Family Memories

Two weeks ago Leroy's family got together to record their memories of home. They filled about two hours of tape which were given to me to transfer from tape to print. I finally got started on the job yesterday. It can be a little challenging to try spell the sound effects and PA German phrases but I'm doing my best. Even though I have heard these stories over and over, I still sat here laughing with myself as I typed. The goal is to preserve these stories in writing so they do not fade from memory or change in the telling in years to come.
Here are a couple (unpolished) samples from the 1950s narrated by Ed. Berks County was still very German back in those days. The neighbors spoke PA German as well or better than the Mennonites and were not overly concerned about safety or etiquette.

Earl Troutman’s car was about a 1941 Chevy. The throttle stuck on his car. He had rheumatism. He’d come in our driveway and couldn’t turn around because other things were sitting in the way. So he’d back out on the road and then pull away. He always rode the clutch when he pulled away, even if everything was working fine. So he’d back out on the road and put it in forward. It would go Errrrrrr, erk, erk, erk, and up the road he’d go. This time the throttle stuck because he stepped down on it so hard to take off. So he reached down to try unstick it. While he was trying to unstick the throttle, the car was rolling backwards down the road. He went off the side of the road, sat up, turned the steering wheel straight, went down to get the throttle again, and the car ran off the road again. That’s how he kept doing until he got to the creek at the bottom of the hill. There he finally unstuck the throttle. Sal and I were laying in the yard rolling laughing at him while this thing was running wide open. He finally got it unstuck at the bottom of the hill, and then up the hill he went.
He used to chew tobacco like everything and spit out the window. Whenever Leroy and I would go with Pop and Earl to some kind of a farm meeting, Leroy and I had to sit in the back seat. Of course, in the summertime the window was always down. Leroy would always make me sit behind Earl. There was a good reason for it. Earl would be going down the road talking to Pop and chewing away. If he turned his head toward the window, you had better get behind the seat RIGHT NOW or else you got a shower. In the winter time he needed to turn down the window to spit. He’d be there talking to Pop getting all wound up about what he’s saying and then he’d crank the window down and spit out the window. One time he went to spit out the window and forgot to turn it down and just went Plewww all over the window. The whole side of his car was always all splattered up with the stuff.
We often worked for Earl Troutman. Pop and Earl bought a New Holland baler and elevator on shares. "Speedy" (Earl Troutman) paid for the equipment and we had to earn our share off by working for Speedy. Well, you know who the “we” was. I was one of the “we” that worked for Speedy. We worked over there to put hay away, do the combining, and that type of thing. Many a day we’d milk the cows, go over to Speedy and work all day, and go home and milk the cows again. One day when it was especially hot and an especially long day, Speedy said, “I’ll give you a little schpritze wexel (spending money) for the carnival.” We weren’t allowed to go to carnivals but I was going to take some schpritze wexel anyway. He got his pocketbook out, which was in the pocket on his chest in his bib overalls. The poor old guy could hardly see, but he opened the change purse, reached in, and pulled out a coin. He held it up, looked at it, and saw it was a quarter. He said, “Sell iss a wennich viel fer an yunga wie dich (That’s a little much for a youngster like you).” He put it back in his change purse and got out a nickel and a dime, and gave me fifteen cents for a day's work. That was my schpritze wexel for the carnival, which I wasn’t allowed to go to anyway.

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