Interview with Susana Miller (née Doerksen) 1.3
Interview with Susana Miller (née Doerksen) 1.3
Oral History Item Type Metadata
Kampen, Christine, Thiessen, Angela
Miller (née Doerksen), Susana
OHMS Object Text
5.4 Interview with Susana Miller (née Doerksen) 1.3 2005-091-4749 31:46 G23 Local Cultures religion labor (work) tradition Jewish law clothing marriage Miller (née Doerksen), Susana Kampen, Christine, Thiessen, Angela wav 2005-091-4749.wav 0 http://18.104.22.168:8080/lcp/2005/2005-091-4749.wav Other audio English 7 Building a " ; snow plane" ; , building furniture, the " ; Red River Flood" ; in Morris, MB Miller takes about another picture (obviously depicting the parental home of her husband and a " ; snow plane" ; ). Her father-in-law made " ; Bennett-wagons" ; and pick up-trucks. The house had some kind of shelter at the front door. They decided to build a " ; snow plane" ; . Most of the work they did inside in the kitchen. The " ; snow plane" ; was constructed with parts from old cars. When it was finished, they were very eager to try it out. They almost froze because they never had many clothes to wear. Her husband never had any warm clothes or any underwear, just a pair of pants and a shirt and a open suit jacket. It took them several months to work on the " ; snow plane" ; : " ; If they would have had money, they would have put a cab on it." ; Miller tells the story of a gifted young mechanic they called " ; Henry Ford" ; . The snow plane was not a plane but would drive on the road. Asked why it was called a " ; snow plane" ; , Miller recalls that it was also called " ; snow flyer" ; . It did not have wheels but skis like a sleigh. It was like a snowmobile. Miller recalls that three families were living in the house in the picture: Her husband's brother with his family (his wife is still alive and lives in Ontario), his parents, and she and her husband. Miller never took a ride with the " ; snow plane" ; because it was too cold, she would not even try with the clothes they were wearing in those days. But she knows that it went fast. The winters were a lot colder than now. They took a picture of the " ; snow plane" ; right by the house. She did not have a camera then. Later, when she got a camera and took pictures of her grandchildren, she " ; beheaded" ; then in the pictures. When she was living with her husband in Ontario, they built a lot of furniture just in their kitchen. They did not have a table saw but just made the blades coming through the plywood, and that is how her husband built furniture. For one Christmas, her husband built 18 pieces of furniture, " ; with really no tools at all" ; . They built a big dresser for one family. They also made closets and double dressers: for the man on one side and the woman on the other side. They made a lot of kindergarten furniture. They would go to any place in Michigan and measure up, and then install the furniture. Before they were living in Ontario and Michigan, Miller's husband worked in Morris, Manitoba, where the flood was. Her husband helped to clean out the houses after the flood. There was a dry cleaning place where a horse lie in there. Her oldest daughter worked in a grocery store then, and they just put papers on the dirty shelves so that they the people working there could get some food. Miller herself stayed in Winkler then. (Obviously, Miller is talking about the " ; Red River Flood" ; of 1950.) 49.181667, -97.939722 12 Interview location: Winkler, Manitoba. http://www.rmofmorris.ca/community/flood/flood-pictures-2/historical-floods/ The " ; Red River Flood" ; of 1950, Morris, Manitoba. 447 Living with her husband's family ; a sketch of Winkler, MB ; working for Jews Asked how it was to live altogether with her husband's family, Miller recalls that it was " ; good" ; . Her father-in-law had a sister, and they had a butcher shop, and she would get some bones. For a while, Miller cooked on her own on a little stove upstairs in their little room. Later, they ate together. Her husband's father was a thresher, he arranged threshing for people. Whatever he earned, they spent together so that they could all live. Miller recalls that she had a " ; wise father-in-law, he never scolded me ever" ; . Miller explains how she used the soup bones. Tillie (her daughter) asked Miller to make some sketches of Winkler, she is interested in genealogy too. Miller complains that she has two bad knees, and one is particularly hurting. She shows the sketches she drew of Winkler, Manitoba (e. g. of 6th Street). Miller explains her drawings in detail. She recalls who lived on that street and what businesses were there. She mentions a lot of names. There were 14 Jewish families in Winkler: She recalls several names. Fleshman was a pedlar, he did not have a store. Miller would spend the night with his wife as she did not want to stay on her own. At 8 o'clock, Miller had to leave to go do washing at other people's places, and the lady let her out and went back to bed. Miller enjoyed staying at that place, as her family was pretty poor, and the lady always had fruit and cinnamon buns. Miller recalls that she liked all Jewish people, she got along with them well. She earned 10 cents an hour when she went to that lady. Only one lady always cheated her on the time. The lady kept asking her if Miller did not find some money, Miller said no, otherwise she would have given it to her. One time the lady said: " ; I am sure I dropped a penny" ; . Another time, that lady said that she would give Miller " ; a little present" ; , and she gave her three pennies. Another lady, Mrs. Mitchell, would give her the change. She recalls that she does not know why the second lady was mistrusting her. Once, Miller had to make her an embroidered apron out of a sugar bag. Miller recalls that she never thought that there was " ; anything wrong" ; with Jewish people. 1029 Jewish customs & ; laws Miller is asking the interviewers if they " ; get any use of me at all" ; . The interviewer says " ; yes, absolutely" ; . Miller states that she knows she is talking too much but she can't help herself. Asked whether there was any friction between the Jewish and the Mennonite community in Winkler, Miller replies: " ; not that I noticed" ; . The Jews thought that it had to rain at certain times, and if it did not rain, the men had to dress up in their Sunday clothes (suits). They had a little shack right next to the Jewish synagogue. In those days, they didn't have hoses, and Miller's father had to haul water with pails and to pour it onto them. So, the Jewish men were sitting in that shack and they got wet, otherwise it was not kosher for them. Her brother Jonny had to kill the chickens for Jews but he had to do it in a particular way: " ; Moses hat es verboten: nicht zu stechen, nicht zu stoßen, nur zu schneiden hin und her." ; (in German: Moses has forbidden it to stab and hit, only to cut back and forth.) The pipe had to come out in a particular way, otherwise it would not be kosher. In that case, they would sell the chicken or give it away but not eat it. They slaughtered the chicken in a kosher way at the Jewish synagogue, and Miller would see them as they were living next door. She also would hear the Jews when they had their " ; Jewish church" ; , they made " ; big noise" ; but Miller couldn't understand anything. Miller recalls that she could " ; talk Jewish" ; (Yiddish). When Miller wasn't married yet and waited until her boyfriend would have finished his work, she stayed with a Jewish family on a farm. Some other Jewish people came to have a look at the farm (maybe they wanted to purchase it), and the Jewish farmers didn't eat kosher. Miller was told not to give the guests chicken for dinner because it wasn't kosher. Her boyfriend was afraid that the guests would be aware that they weren't offered chicken while they themselves had it for dinner afterwards. Miller says a sentence in Yiddish: The guest asks for a thread to repair his pants as he had been working in the woods. Miller recalls that she worked long enough for Jewish people to understand them. 1353 Meeting her husband, wedding in 1935 Miller is asked how she met her husband. His name was Jake Miller, he was born " ; right in that house" ; where the interview is taken. They went to school together but she got to know him better when he came to her parents' place and visited her brothers. Her father was very strict, she was not supposed to stay out, she was supposed to stay in at 9 o'clock, when it was not even dark in the summertime. They look at a picture. Miller cannot remember where it was taken. They lived on 12th Street (in Winkler, Manitoba) at that time, so it must have been taken there. Miller states that her son hated the way she had her hair (obviously in the picture). She talks about her dress in the picture: She went down to Harry Gladstone store on Saturday night. They had that on sale: three yards for a dollar. It had a yellow background and flowers. She bought herself two pieces: the yellow and the navy. She made the navy dress herself, she would wear it for work. She used it a lot in Ontario when she worked " ; in the fruit" ; . They didn't go to church at that time, it was a long way to go. One Sunday morning, her husband said: " ; Today I'll make you a dress." ; It was " ; out of the blue" ; , he never sewed anything. Her husband worked a long time to get that dress (she is wearing in the photograph) made. Her husband thought that long dresses look Hutterite. Whenever they went anywhere, she had to wear that dress. Her husband was a Mennonite. Miller recalls floods she lived through with her husband. She talks about a family called Miller they are somehow related to them. She used to work for them too. Their son Matthew Miller was blind, he used to look after the cemetery. He was very smart in recognizing voices and knew her and her sons by name when they greeted him. She is very proud of the picture they look at, " ; because he made me that dress, and he had never sewed before. I couldn't have done it" ; . He husband did not have much more than she did. Before they married, she bought him a pair of jeans, black jeans for a dollar and a quarter. She also bought him a light green shirt for 79 cents, it was on sale. Finally she bought him a felt hat for a quarter. Her mother would wash her future husband's shirt and iron it and get it ready for him. It was the only shirt he had that was wearable. It doesn't last long when you wash and wear it all the time. Miller and her husband got married in 1935. She recalls that she " ; didn't have much of a wedding" ; because she was already living with her husband's parents. They had aunt and uncle across the street, they were Lutherans. Miller and her future husband just went over there and uncle Mat served as witness, and the reverend was rev. Ehrthal, a Lutheran minister. They had their wedding after they got home from work, and " ; we never had no honeymoon" ; . Miller was wearing a wine-coloured celanese dress, the material was called celanese. When Miller asks now what celanese material feels like, people don't know, so maybe it's outdated. They didn't have the two dollars for the marriage certificate, so they wouldn't get one. After that, Miller's husband worked at the Burns meat boning plant in Winnipeg. Miller didn't move to Winnipeg because she was scared to lose her children. Her husband came home every weekend by train to bring his family some meat from where he worked (only later they would have a car). Her husband met the reverend on the train and said: " ; Here is the two dollars" ; . That's how they got their marriage certificate. 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“Interview with Susana Miller (née Doerksen) 1.3,” Local Cultures, accessed October 7, 2022, https://localcultures.ukrfolk.ca/items/show/571.