Interview with Susana Miller (née Doerksen) 1.2

Dublin Core


Interview with Susana Miller (née Doerksen) 1.2









Oral History Item Type Metadata


Kampen, Christine, Thiessen, Angela


Miller (née Doerksen), Susana

OHMS Object Text

5.4 Interview with Susana Miller (née Doerksen) 1.2 2005-091-4748 35:05 G23 Local Cultures education health accidents pregnancy siblings Miller (née Doerksen), Susana Kampen, Christine, Thiessen, Angela wav 2005-091-4748.wav 0 Other audio English 0 Living conditions in 1930s, problems at school Miller continued to talk about giving birth to her son. That happened on 17 March, 1939. They were living at Hunger Beware in a shack at that time. That was how the place was called because it was so poor. They didn't have nothing but their one child. They would have starved if they weren't invited to eat. Miller's husband worked at the bush to do cord wood for 25 cents: &quot ; It was more tar on his clothes than what he got for that.&quot ; Miller doesn't know who named the place. Miller's younger brother &quot ; that had all those kids&quot ; wrote them a letter, he wrote &quot ; Jake L. Miller, Hungry Waredee&quot ; . They got the letter at Grunthal, it was 5 miles south of Grunthal. The boys (her brothers) never had much schooling because they had to work on the farm. She herself only had four grades. She went to school seven years and had four grades because of her eyes. They teacher looked at her eyes and said that they look good but Miller couldn't see good. She told the teacher that she couldn't see what the teacher was writing at the blackboard. Then she was pulled out of her seat, that one time she was disobedient. Miller had been put in the very back seat by the teacher, and she was surprised that she would move now when all the damage was done. Miller said: &quot ; There is no way to pull me out of my seat, I will move when I'm good and ready, and not before.&quot ; Miller knew that is was wrong for her to say that but she was upset. She was left alone by the teacher after that. Never again she had any problem, from the top seat she could see the blackboard and could &quot ; write my stuff&quot ; . But she was always put back: Seven years in school, and she was getting to grade 4. Miller did a lot of learning after she was out of school, &quot ; and I still learn, I still learn&quot ; . 49.181667, -97.939722 12 Interview location: Winkler, Manitoba. 217 School life, classmates, games They look at a picture of Miller's school class. She identifies herself in the middle with the white hat on in the picture. She also identifies her twin brother, called &quot ; blondy&quot ; because he was the only one who was blond (he was the one who moved into the hotel). There is another brother in the picture too but she can't see him now. Asked whether the girl sitting next to her was the one who was nice to her, Miller says yes. She recalls that she never had apples at home, and the girl would cut an apple in half and share it with her whenever she had one. The girl is still alive, she was &quot ; very kind, very kind&quot ; . Her name was Tina Penner, and now she is called Katherine Klassen. Miller wanted to make a book with her school pictures and then share it with her &quot ; school people from there but there is only a hand full left, they're all gone. There is very few left.&quot ; The former minister is still alive. (Miller obviously looks at another picture: &quot ; This is my sister's oldest child.&quot ; ) Miller was seven or eight when the picture was taken (they talk about the school picture again). Miller shows a picture of her parents' house on the farm. The school picture was taken at Reinthal, Manitoba, where they lived at the beginning. In Winkler, the school was located at 8th street in a big stone building where now the elementary school is. It was a big brick school at the corner between 8th Street and Mountain Ave. Miller's experiences were much better at Grimsby school she attended before they moved to Winkler. She liked it that in the summertime, they could sit on blocks of wood and have school outside, or they could have their spelling match and read outside. They had a game they played, called: &quot ; Fine or Superfine&quot ; . They counted: &quot ; 1, 2, 3, 4, buzz, 6, 7, 8, 9 fuzz. For every zero, you had to say fuzz, and for every five, buzz.&quot ; If one didn't say that, one had to give some of her/his items to a classmate, e. g. a pen for punishment. Then they put someone behind that person and said: &quot ; Fine or superfine. Fine was the boys, and superfine was the girls.&quot ; Then they would say what they would have to do to redeem that item. Sometimes, they would say that they had to go to the flagpost and crawl like a rooster, or run around the school. She liked that game but all who came from there say that they don't remember that game. She wished she could have played it in Winkler. Asked what she played in Winkler, Miller recalls that she doesn't remember doing much. When she started school in Winkler, they played with all these coloured sticks, making piles. Miller knew a little more German, and her cousin was in there too, and she could help him a little in his work. Miller repeats that she wasn't used to town. Her parents had very seldom gone to town, her father used to go by himself: &quot ; If mother ever went, we couldn't go to town.&quot ; It was too far to walk, &quot ; I guess we could have walked it but...&quot ; Obituary of Katherine Klassen (née Penner), Winkler, Manitoba, 2008. 565 Life in Winkler, MB ; life on the farm prior to 1927 Asked why her parents moved to town in 1927, Miller recalls that her parents had &quot ; to sell out&quot ; . On the farm, they 70 something wild cherry trees, they had goose berries and wild (inaudible), they had currants. They had a big garden with trees where they had a swing, they had an old table there and could do their dishes out there if they wanted, they had a summer kitchen where they cooked in the summer. Miller recalls that it was cool inside in summer when they went to bed. She loved it on the farm: &quot ; Well, things not always pan out the way you want.&quot ; Asked what her father did in Winkler, Miller recalls that &quot ; my father never did nothing after we moved to Winkler&quot ; . Her brothers couldn't get &quot ; much jobs&quot ; either. One of them had a bicycle shop later on and fixed bicycles. &quot ; The others, they took whatever job they could get.&quot ; Miller did &quot ; by hand washing&quot ; for the Epps, their next-door neighbours. She got three quarts of milk for doing the washing and three quarts of milk for doing the Saturday work, because they bought a cow and did everything they could for milk. And the milk was at that time 12 quarts for a dollar, so I got 25 cents worth for washing and 25 worth for that Saturday work. The milk was used &quot ; for meals and stuff&quot ; . Asked about how Miller felt moving to Winkler, Miller recalls that she &quot ; didn't know nothing&quot ; , she can't say what she felt then. She remembers that there was a crystal hall in Winkler, at the west side of Main Street. She went in there when she was 16, it was a dance hall. She danced there with Ernie Sirluck, (the son of) one of the Jewish people she worked for. He is a big doctor and big chief now, and she thinks he is still alive. She danced with him when she was 16. 49.181667, -97.939722 12 Locality: Winkler, Manitoba. ; pid=166806191&amp ; fhid=11626 Obituary of Ernest Sirluck, Toronto, Ontario, 2013. 748 A trip to Hunger Beware, Manitoba ; a car accident around 1932 Miller's brother wanted to go to Hunger Beware, Manitoba, where one sister was already living there with her husband. Her brother had no children, so he liked to go there. Her mother wanted to go too. They had an old Model T (Ford), there were curtains around. Miller went with her brother and two widows, one of them with four children. They were six in the back of an old Model T. They started out from Winkler on a cool fall day. They traveled so slow because a Model T would go 30 miles an hour, that was the most it could go. Miller didn't want to go so fast. Her brother was sitting up front and had bad eye sight, and Miller didn't want to have an accident. Every time her brother put the lever down to the bottom, that would be 30 miles an hour. She put it back up to 15. The tires went into the gravel, and all of them sat in the ditch. Miller felt like the &quot ; fifth wheel anyway&quot ; , she was the last of 14 in the family, so nobody asked for her. One widow was dropped off before the accident. The other lady asked: &quot ; Where is Susan?&quot ; So Miller climbed out whereas her brother, the driver, was caught behind the steering wheel and couldn't get out. She and that lady lifted up the car, it was a &quot ; power from heaven&quot ; , and they climbed out. They went for help to the nearest neighbours, they brought a car, were very kind and helped them right away. The women and children got into the car, and the men (they brought two men) got the car out of the ditch. They were glad that they were in the car because it was getting cool. They put the car back onto the road. They had no windshield, no top, no curtains, &quot ; we were very bare&quot ; . Then they took off and went to Steinbach, Manitoba. She doesn't know how they got there but they got there at night. Kind people gave them supper. The next morning, they had breakfast, and Miller and her brother went to Hunger Beware for their sister. She was living in the woods, they looked for the roof of this shack which wasn't very tall. Miller had bought a pair of new shoes for a dollar and a quarter before they went there. When she worked for the Jewish people, she always saved her money. They stayed with their sister for a week or two. They hauled the car there, and Miller's brother waited a couple of days and then took off by foot, he walked to Winkler. Then he came back by horse with all the repairs he would need to fix the car. After a while, they started to go home because they had been gone quite a while. There was a drizzle, and it was chilly without a top over their heads. They came to Saint Jean (Saint Jean Bapitiste, Manitoba) and they had to go to the garage a bit. They traveled on what they called the &quot ; Post Road&quot ; , that was &quot ; pure clay&quot ; . The wheels got stuck with clay, &quot ; you couldn't move the car an inch, you couldn't move&quot ; . Again, they had to go to the &quot ; neighbours&quot ; who hauled the car with horses and brought it to their place and kept them for the night, and gave them breakfast the next day. They left on the railroad track because they couldn't walk on the road, it was all clay. They walked to Rosenfeld, Manitoba, and from Rosenfeld to Horndean, and from Horndean to Coulee (Plum Coulee, Manitoba). Miller was already walking on her bare feet, her shoes were all gone (unusable) but she took them along as she wanted to show them to her mother. She wanted to show her that she did all the walking. Miller figured out that she walked about 28 miles on that trip. On the track, it is hard with shoes too, with all that gravel. In Plum Coulee, they had an aunt and uncle, by the name of Jacob and Elizabeth Braun. They left Miller there and gave her 30 cents so that she could came back by train the next day. Uncle Jake would take her to the train so that she could go home. As Miller had no shoes or socks, her aunt Elizabeth gave her a pair of light blue stockings (like the colour of one of that boxes, Miller shows them to the interviewers), and a pair of home-made slippers. That was how she came home by train, and Miller was upset that nobody came to greet her at the train office there, her family could have come. She had rheumatism that she walked like an old lady at the age of 16. When she got home, she wrote that whole story down. She wrote a few stories. Tillie (one of her daughters) is re-writing that story and putting it into a heritage book. Miller showed the shoes to her mother and told her that she (her mother) never could have made that trip and that she should be glad that she had let her (Miller) go instead of herself. Miller recalls that she had &quot ; been in nine car accidents, mind you&quot ; . They moved to the States for 12 years, and when they moved back, they went to Amazon for coffee from time to time, and once, they had an accident as their car was hit by another car. None of the accidents were her husband's fault. Miller recalls the various accidents and the people that caused them: One was suffering from bone cancer, another one was looking which way to go or was looking for something in the glove compartment. Miller states that &quot ; everybody seems to be smacking into us&quot ; when they were on the road. Miller describes the accidents in more detail, including the fact that the bumper of their car was damaged. 1407 A photograph with her sister, health issues and last pregnancy They look at a picture depicting Miller with his sister who was just married then and had one daughter. Miller does not remember when it was taken. One day, they decided to take a picture to look who looked more than their mother (obviously, she shows a picture of her mother). Later, they took another picture wearing their mother's clothes. Miller thinks that she herself looked more like her mother than her sister who was 12 years older than her (the oldest girl in the family). The second picture was taken on her 80th birthday (eight years ago). The interviewers again ask when the first picture was taken. Miller recalls that she got the material (of her dress in the picture) from her brother John. The picture was probably taken in the late 1930s on the veranda of their house. Miller explains another picture from her 80th birthday, depicting numerous family members. Asked if she was close to her sister, Miller says yes but not as close as to her other sister that passed away (two other sisters passed away). Miller's sister in the picture was &quot ; picking on me&quot ; : Miller had to learn catechism to become baptized at the age of about 17 to 18, and her sister told her, if she was going to be baptized, she had to &quot ; get rid of my boyfriend&quot ; . Miller recalls that her sister was the only one she could ask as she would not talk about something like that with her parents. Miller did not want to leave her boyfriend, so she was not baptized until 1973 when she and her husband moved back from the US. Her sister was &quot ; rather picking on me but in the last years, she was very nice to me&quot ; . Miller recalls that she had &quot ; a better shape, a better figure&quot ; than her sister, and could wear smaller clothes. In the last years, Miller would frequently visit her sister in Winnipeg. Her husband worked in Winnipeg at Burns but she would not move there. She was afraid to lose her son because she could not keep track of him there. Her husband worked at Burns, he was a beef boner in the first place. When he stuck a blade into his body and almost bled to death, he would quit that job. Her husband would also work as a carpenter. In 1951, they moved to Ontario, and worked &quot ; in the fruit&quot ; . In 1956, they moved to Michigan. They had seven children then. They were asked: &quot ; Have you just come?&quot ; Miller recalls that she did not understand what they meant because &quot ; we weren't immigrants&quot ; . Miller did &quot ; housework for people&quot ; there, she used to bake a lot of buns, she baked them &quot ; in these little meat pie dishes&quot ; . She sold them &quot ; for a nickel a piece&quot ; , the neighbours would come for fresh buns. She loved to bake although the flour in the US was different to that in Canada. She also did house cleaning. The lady she worked for had &quot ; a fever where she can't do everything&quot ; . Miller also worked for a doctor's wife. She liked that &quot ; but when my children got married&quot ; . Now they are living 1,200 miles from here. One child came back from Alberta to care for her, and helped her out and took her to the doctor today. Miller recalls that she maybe needs a blood transfusion. She had a lot of surgeries. When she was young, she had a bad cough and ear aches. When the doctor said that she might need a blood transfusion, she replied that she had had one in 1961 when she was pregnant. The doctor did not believe she was pregnant then but she felt very weak, and although the temperature was 80 degrees Fahrenheit, she had to put on a coat. She was freezing sitting with her husband on the porch. She went to a clinic with her husband who said to the doctor: &quot ; If you can help my wife, I will pay one, but if not, I won't give you a cent.&quot ; Her husband told the doctor that he spent all his money on his wife's treatment but she did not get better. The doctor told her husband that he would find out what was wrong with her. She told the doctor she was pregnant but it could have also been a &quot ; 15 pound tumour&quot ; . Miller recalls the blood transfusion she underwent in great detail: &quot ; And then, when I came home, I was like a new person&quot ; . When she got a call to return to the hospital, she was baking buns. She did not want to throw the dough away, so she took it to her daughter, and she baked it. Miller was suffering from anemia. Her youngest child was ten years old then. When her last child, a daughter, was finally born, the people in the neighbourhood could not believe it. A neighbour who had a baby too and who was better off gave her some hand-me-downs. As her daughter was born in Michigan, she could be either Canadian or American. No transcript. audio 0



“Interview with Susana Miller (née Doerksen) 1.2,” Local Cultures, accessed February 6, 2023,