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Journey 1913 - 6

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  • Martin Votruba
    Below is another abridged part of a 42-year-old Slovak wine grower and farmer s account of his immigration to the US in the late summer of 1913. It represents
    Message 1 of 4 , May 29, 2007
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      Below is another abridged part of a 42-year-old Slovak wine grower and
      farmer's account of his immigration to the US in the late summer of
      1913. It represents the style of the original written shortly after
      he arrived in the US -- if there's an old-fashioned, awkward, or
      practically non-existent word or phrase in English, that's how unusual
      it is in Slovak, too. I also kept his Slovakized spelling of several
      place names and one English word.

      As this passage opens, he has passed through Ellis Island and begins
      the last leg of his journey.
      |

      Martin

      votruba "at" pitt "dot" edu

      x x x
      |

      And then we went to a Large Waiting Room [at the train station], and
      everyone bought food for a Dollar there. It was packed in a paper box,
      and inside mine there was about a pound of Salami, 2 boxes of
      sardines, 1 can of Sheep cheese stuck together with bread. I had
      plenty of food, also about 4 dried Apples and enough bread. I ate
      there, and then we waited till about 9:30 PM and then we got on, and
      right away, we were carried to celebrated America.

      I didn't sleep although I was sleepy, I was curious which way we were
      going! We were traveling north-west, following water all the time, and
      at dawn I already looked out for what one could see in that precious
      country, but I was Surprised when I noticed it! Hilly and stony empty
      grounds, a wooden Shack here and there, several fields only in Valleys
      in places. And when we'd traveled for about half a day, I also saw a
      lot of marshes, there were places covered with only cat-tails, reeds,
      and smaller and larger groves, small Forests. This is poor America, I
      thought, such an America is also on Miligruntsky Hill, in Hruby Pond
      [localities near his home].

      And the train carried us quickly, like an Express Train back at home.
      And After we'd traveled a whole day, we already saw better soil, also
      some towns and about three villages, but not like at home. Everyone
      [in America] builds wherever they like. And after we'd traveled the
      whole of Thursday night, we saw on Friday morning already that one
      could see better Soil again and also farmers, i.e. on September the
      5th. And we also traveled the whole day and night on Friday and didn't
      stop more often than about three times a day, and that was at large
      stations!

      And Saturday morning, September the 6th, we saw only many, many
      smaller and larger Forests again, also marshes, and stones in plowed
      fields here and there, and pickets, farmers' fences of felled tree
      trunks stacked this way and that way, not even nailed together, and
      some used pulled-out tree stumps and their roots formed a fence. The
      cows graze on their own in Clover fields, Plowed fields are fenced,
      and they plant maize the most and Oats, I also saw potatoes, but
      everything was attended to poorly. And they also have wooden houses,
      and they are 1-2 miles from each other, and some are quite close, and
      the soil is mostly like fine outwash. And when we approached C~iga'go,
      Ge'ro Indijana, the soil was such there that even worthless trees
      didn't grow there, pure outwash. The wind blew it about like smoke and
      formed drifts.

      When we arrived at C~iga'go, the capital of Illinois State, it was
      Saturday afternoon, September the 6th. And When we were in Čigágo, I
      noticed many High buildings there, also smoke from the factories can
      find no way out, it is hazy, like Fog, is how it looks on the streets,
      and it smells quite a lot. The train brought us to the center of the
      city, and we waited there till about 4 PM, and from C~iga'go we
      traveled to Milvauky'. I looked out to see the fields there, they were
      quite good in places and also quite poor in places, pure silt and
      large marshes in places. And so I was at the station in Milvauky' in
      Wisconsin State at around 5:30. And Domin already waited for me.
      Because I sent him a Telegram, he knew I was coming. I shook his hand
      with great joy, and we walked together to take the Electric Car and
      reached his Home safe and sound. It was just 6 PM, September the 6th,
      in the year 1913. And as we were approaching his home, about 50 paces,
      Domin's Wife was waiting for us on an elevated floor, about 10 ft up.
      And she said, smiling, so, you're here now?

      When morning came it was God's day, my first Sunday in America. It was
      September the 7th, a beautiful, pleasant day. After we had breakfast,
      we washed ourselves clean, feet as well, and shaved closely, but I
      missed one thing, I didn't have a fine suit, and I couldn't go to
      church in the one I was wearing, because people would shout at me,
      Grinhold! Because I didn't want to miss church, Domin lent me a suit
      he had, so I went to church after all. The organ in the choir played
      quietly, similar to a harmonium, and school girls sang. Oh! how truly
      sweet it was to hear Slovak voices, and I'd have liked to sing, too,
      but here in America they used words from another hymnal than what I
      knew from home. The church was pretty, but small, about twice as large
      as our Chapel, but the Main Altar, with St. Stephen on the right and
      St. Cyril on the left, consisted of three spires, similar to ours.
    • Gergely
      Martin, The winegrower s impressions of his first views of America are fabulous. His apparent surprise that there was poverty in America. His description of
      Message 2 of 4 , Jun 3, 2007
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        Martin,

        The winegrower's impressions of his first views of America are fabulous. His apparent surprise that there was poverty in America. His description of the split rail fences, farming methods, homes being far apart in the countryside, factory smoke in Chicago are a snapshot of history. This guy was really observant and very descriptive.

        I particularly was impressed for his perceived need for a "fine suit" to attend mass. He certainly would have been appalled to walk into a Catholic mass nowadays with the much less than casual dress.

        Keep up the good work.

        Jack Gergely

        Newport News

        ----- Original Message -----
        From: Martin Votruba
        To: Slovak-World@yahoogroups.com
        Sent: Tuesday, May 29, 2007 11:15 AM
        Subject: [Slovak-World] Journey 1913 - 6


        Below is another abridged part of a 42-year-old Slovak wine grower and
        farmer's account of his immigration to the US in the late summer of
        1913. It represents the style of the original written shortly after
        he arrived in the US -- if there's an old-fashioned, awkward, or
        practically non-existent word or phrase in English, that's how unusual
        it is in Slovak, too. I also kept his Slovakized spelling of several
        place names and one English word.

        As this passage opens, he has passed through Ellis Island and begins
        the last leg of his journey.
        |

        Martin

        votruba "at" pitt "dot" edu

        x x x
        |

        And then we went to a Large Waiting Room [at the train station], and
        everyone bought food for a Dollar there. It was packed in a paper box,
        and inside mine there was about a pound of Salami, 2 boxes of
        sardines, 1 can of Sheep cheese stuck together with bread. I had
        plenty of food, also about 4 dried Apples and enough bread. I ate
        there, and then we waited till about 9:30 PM and then we got on, and
        right away, we were carried to celebrated America.

        I didn't sleep although I was sleepy, I was curious which way we were
        going! We were traveling north-west, following water all the time, and
        at dawn I already looked out for what one could see in that precious
        country, but I was Surprised when I noticed it! Hilly and stony empty
        grounds, a wooden Shack here and there, several fields only in Valleys
        in places. And when we'd traveled for about half a day, I also saw a
        lot of marshes, there were places covered with only cat-tails, reeds,
        and smaller and larger groves, small Forests. This is poor America, I
        thought, such an America is also on Miligruntsky Hill, in Hruby Pond
        [localities near his home].

        And the train carried us quickly, like an Express Train back at home.
        And After we'd traveled a whole day, we already saw better soil, also
        some towns and about three villages, but not like at home. Everyone
        [in America] builds wherever they like. And after we'd traveled the
        whole of Thursday night, we saw on Friday morning already that one
        could see better Soil again and also farmers, i.e. on September the
        5th. And we also traveled the whole day and night on Friday and didn't
        stop more often than about three times a day, and that was at large
        stations!

        And Saturday morning, September the 6th, we saw only many, many
        smaller and larger Forests again, also marshes, and stones in plowed
        fields here and there, and pickets, farmers' fences of felled tree
        trunks stacked this way and that way, not even nailed together, and
        some used pulled-out tree stumps and their roots formed a fence. The
        cows graze on their own in Clover fields, Plowed fields are fenced,
        and they plant maize the most and Oats, I also saw potatoes, but
        everything was attended to poorly. And they also have wooden houses,
        and they are 1-2 miles from each other, and some are quite close, and
        the soil is mostly like fine outwash. And when we approached C~iga'go,
        Ge'ro Indijana, the soil was such there that even worthless trees
        didn't grow there, pure outwash. The wind blew it about like smoke and
        formed drifts.

        When we arrived at C~iga'go, the capital of Illinois State, it was
        Saturday afternoon, September the 6th. And When we were in Čigágo, I
        noticed many High buildings there, also smoke from the factories can
        find no way out, it is hazy, like Fog, is how it looks on the streets,
        and it smells quite a lot. The train brought us to the center of the
        city, and we waited there till about 4 PM, and from C~iga'go we
        traveled to Milvauky'. I looked out to see the fields there, they were
        quite good in places and also quite poor in places, pure silt and
        large marshes in places. And so I was at the station in Milvauky' in
        Wisconsin State at around 5:30. And Domin already waited for me.
        Because I sent him a Telegram, he knew I was coming. I shook his hand
        with great joy, and we walked together to take the Electric Car and
        reached his Home safe and sound. It was just 6 PM, September the 6th,
        in the year 1913. And as we were approaching his home, about 50 paces,
        Domin's Wife was waiting for us on an elevated floor, about 10 ft up.
        And she said, smiling, so, you're here now?

        When morning came it was God's day, my first Sunday in America. It was
        September the 7th, a beautiful, pleasant day. After we had breakfast,
        we washed ourselves clean, feet as well, and shaved closely, but I
        missed one thing, I didn't have a fine suit, and I couldn't go to
        church in the one I was wearing, because people would shout at me,
        Grinhold! Because I didn't want to miss church, Domin lent me a suit
        he had, so I went to church after all. The organ in the choir played
        quietly, similar to a harmonium, and school girls sang. Oh! how truly
        sweet it was to hear Slovak voices, and I'd have liked to sing, too,
        but here in America they used words from another hymnal than what I
        knew from home. The church was pretty, but small, about twice as large
        as our Chapel, but the Main Altar, with St. Stephen on the right and
        St. Cyril on the left, consisted of three spires, similar to ours.





        [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
      • Martin Votruba
        ... I m glad you find it interesting, Jack. I understand what you re saying in general. In his specific case, it probably wasn t that his suit and shirt (he
        Message 3 of 4 , Jun 8, 2007
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          > his perceived need for a "fine suit" to attend mass.

          I'm glad you find it interesting, Jack. I understand what you're
          saying in general. In his specific case, it probably wasn't that his
          suit and shirt (he bought a new one in Bratislava, just hours before
          he departed) weren't good enough as such. Even without comparing it
          to people's "Sunday best" typical of those times, his outfit must have
          looked (and smelled) quite terrible. By the time he got to Milwaukee,
          he'd been wearing that same suit, shirt, underwear for three weeks.
          He first walked and ran in it for several hours on a hot August day to
          catch the train at the border in order to avoid a police check, then
          waded a brook in it, wore it day and night during the train journeys
          both in Europe and the US (no A/C), and, of course, on the ship (no
          showers). It must have been a look (and smell) we probably never
          encounter and can hardly imagine today, and quite out of the ordinary
          for him then, too.


          Martin

          votruba "at" pitt "dot" edu
        • Gergely
          Martin, Absolutely, everything you said. The old photos of people in the immigration lines and other similar places are most interesting for the same reasons.
          Message 4 of 4 , Jun 8, 2007
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            Martin,

            Absolutely, everything you said.

            The old photos of people in the immigration lines and other similar places are most interesting for the same reasons. Today, it isn't unusual to see someone on international travel with an "I'm with stupid" T shirt. In those days, one would travel with a suit, the best they could afford, and likely their only suit. Those old immigrants were a great breed - thank goodness. I wonder often about how they endured the travel, especially with a minimum of travel money, and little worldly knowledge.

            At this exact time at my house, we are waiting to pick up a friend to at the local airport. He just called that this flight may be delayed an hour in Philly. That is a major inconvenience, with the airport only 15 minutes away, and I can monitor the flight's progress in the airline's web page. Things sure have changed. Those old immgrants sure were tough characters.

            Jack Gergely
            Newport News



            ----- Original Message -----
            From: Martin Votruba
            To: Slovak-World@yahoogroups.com
            Sent: Friday, June 08, 2007 7:21 PM
            Subject: [Slovak-World] Re: Journey 1913 - 6


            > his perceived need for a "fine suit" to attend mass.

            I'm glad you find it interesting, Jack. I understand what you're
            saying in general. In his specific case, it probably wasn't that his
            suit and shirt (he bought a new one in Bratislava, just hours before
            he departed) weren't good enough as such. Even without comparing it
            to people's "Sunday best" typical of those times, his outfit must have
            looked (and smelled) quite terrible. By the time he got to Milwaukee,
            he'd been wearing that same suit, shirt, underwear for three weeks.
            He first walked and ran in it for several hours on a hot August day to
            catch the train at the border in order to avoid a police check, then
            waded a brook in it, wore it day and night during the train journeys
            both in Europe and the US (no A/C), and, of course, on the ship (no
            showers). It must have been a look (and smell) we probably never
            encounter and can hardly imagine today, and quite out of the ordinary
            for him then, too.

            Martin

            votruba "at" pitt "dot" edu





            [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
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