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Frank goes west

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  • Helen Fedor
    Frank left Chicago in 1885, three years after he d come to America. It took him 8 days on the train to get to where he was going to work. When they were
    Message 1 of 35 , Oct 2, 2008
      Frank left Chicago in 1885, three years after he'd come to America. It
      took him 8 days on the train to get to where he was going to work. When
      they were passing through the "wild country" (South and North Dakota),
      they saw millions of hectares that had never been put to the plow and
      thousands of buffalo, with no one guarding them. Two days later, they
      saw wild people ("dzivich ludzi"), Sioux Indians, who rode/ran (flew) at
      the train screaming. Where the station should be, soldiers were lying
      in ditches to protect the station and the railroad from the Indians
      because sometimes they robbed the train and killed white people. Six
      days later, the workers came to the mountains, compared to which, the
      Tatry and Carpathians "are as nothing." At the end of the line, about
      1,000 men got off the train and were settled in wooden barracks that
      were already built there. Some 45 to 50 men were assigned to each boss.

      There was a big company store where you could buy things (blankets,
      boots, underwear, etc.) on credit [nas~ekeru]. Frank paid $5 for a pair
      of boots, $5 for two undershirts and a pair of underpants, and a pair of
      rugs for $6, all so he could stay warm (they were in the mountains).
      This left him with a debt of $16, but since the others were buying on
      credit, so did he. He asked a couple of fellows how far it was to the
      ocean and they told him 450-500 miles. He found that he'd outsmarted
      himself and couldn't get to the ocean on foot after all: no companion,
      where to get food, and how could he walk through the mountains? He had
      no recourse but to work on the railroad. The beds in the barracks were
      bunkbeds and his was on the bottom. Every time the fellow sleeping
      above him moved, several large lice fell on him.

      Frank was stronger this time than the last when he worked on the
      railroad, so he got used to it after a couple of days. The pay was
      $2/day, but the men had to pay $5/week for food. The workday was 10 hrs
      long: 7am to noon, a break for dinner, then 1-6pm. Again, he was often
      asked if he wanted to work overtime, so sometimes he worked later and
      sometimes even before breakfast. The boss liked him and gave him easier
      work. Frank had a box cigars left from his time in Chicago, so he'd
      sometimes treat the boss to one because cigars were very expensive here.
      "One cigar cost 50¢, which in our money comes to 1 gold piece and 20
      grajcar-s [jedna zlatufka a 20 grajcare]". Whiskey was sold only on the
      sly. It was forbidden because otherwise the Indians would drink it, get
      crazy, and kill people. Frank had bought the cigars in Chicago for 5¢
      each and this was how he bribed his boss. One time the boss signed off
      on 4.5 days' [which he hadn't worked] pay, earning Frank $9. Frank
      sometimes shirked his work, but because of his bribes, he wasn't afraid
      that the boss would fire him. Frank worked under this boss for 2
      months, but then the men had to move to another location, where they got
      another boss.
    • Martin Votruba
      ... I agree, Ron, they do (from an etymological perspective, few Slovaks would think of them that way casually). What I wondered about was the source of
      Message 35 of 35 , Oct 4, 2008
        > the idea that Eastern Slovak and Czech had a closer resemblance
        > than Central Slovak.

        I agree, Ron, they do (from an etymological perspective, few Slovaks
        would think of them that way casually). What I wondered about was the
        source of information that some argued during the negotiations in the
        1840s (or possibly at another time) that, therefore, Eastern Slovak
        should become Standard Slovak.


        Martin
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