Interview with Susana Miller (née Doerksen) 1.4

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Interview with Susana Miller (née Doerksen) 1.4


illegitimate children
labor (work)







Oral History Item Type Metadata


Kampen, Christine, Thiessen, Angela


Miller (née Doerksen), Susana

OHMS Object Text

5.4 Interview with Susana Miller (née Doerksen) 1.4 2005-091-4750 34:35 G23 Local Cultures illegitimate children labor (work) photographs autobiographies childbirth Miller (née Doerksen), Susana Kampen, Christine, Thiessen, Angela wav 2005-091-4750.wav 0 Other audio English 14 Family relations, eating candies Miller recalls that she has written a book about her life. She states that it is important to her to record her life because after her death she expect her children to &quot ; throw almost everything out&quot ; . Asked why she had such a small wedding without her own family, Miller recalls that she &quot ; didn't have much family&quot ; , and her family wasn't near then. She had her parents there but where would they have the wedding? Their house wasn't big enough, and they didn't go to church at that time, so &quot ; that's the only way actually I guess we could have had it&quot ; . Asked why she was already living with her husband prior to her marriage, Miller hesitates to answer: &quot ; I lived part of it out&quot ; . At home, she had five brothers, &quot ; and they were always picking on me&quot ; . They wanted her to leave so that they would get her bedroom. Miller got pregnant and had her oldest child in Winnipeg in the hospital. She was living with her future husband after that, and they got married after people came back from threshing in the evening. She never got anything from home. Her older siblings got a cow, and a horse, and 10 chickens when they got married. She never got anything because her parents didn't have anything left. Two of her brothers never got married. All her siblings passed away. When her family moved to Winkler, she was the only girl in the family, with five brothers. Her brothers didn't have a permanent job and did whatever they could. Her brother Henry would help at the auction sales and do the writing. Her brother Blondy was in service for a while. Her brother John used to dig graves for others. When he passed away, he had dug 1,500 graves by hand, even in the wintertime. Her brother Peter had &quot ; this kind of epileptic fits&quot ; . They were always told not to get him upset. He could get very angry and ferocious. Peter worked on motors. Her brothers would also go threshing further west if they had the opportunity. Her brother Abraham worked in a canning factory, and on the side line, he cut hair for 10 cents a hair cut. Later on, it was 25 cents. Miller herself also did whatever she could, including cleaning in the synagogue. She also attended Sunday school at the Enns' place, the parents had passed away and the children were living there. Later on, they built apartments there, and they called it the Enns Court (in Winkler, Manitoba). Elizabeth Enns was her Sunday school teacher, and 11 or 8 people attended. Miller recalls in more detail who of the Enns family passed away. Elizabeth was her school teacher, she had a picture of her. Miller talks about her family pictures: She gave a lot of them to her children who were allowed to pick out from her albums whatever they want. Her children make memory books for their children. Miller wrote a memory book too and just put in what she can remember. When she was still on the farm with her siblings, her brothers would go and hunt bumblebees by the caraganas. They ate the stomach, that was honey. The tobacco can had a very sharp edge on the lid, and they used it to open the bees up and get the honey. They ate the caragana flowers too, as well as tea leaves. Miller did not want to eat that kind of honey. She was never that hungry for candy. They used to watch when they needed coil oil, they would loose the screw on the pipe (on the spout), and they would put a gumdrop on there so that it would not spill on the way home from town. At home, they would get that gumdrop. They did that on purpose, &quot ; it was naughty&quot ; but, sometimes they did that. 49.181667, -97.939722 12 Interview location: Winkler, Manitoba. 601 Identity Miller asks what the interviewers would like to hear. They ask Miller about her cultural identity. Miller states that &quot ; I don't really know what identity is, I'm not that well schooled&quot ; . The interviewer explains to Miller that they are interested in what role being Canadian or Mennonite play for her. Miller never thought about anything like that. She mentions a doctor in Ontario who told them that Miller and her husband were &quot ; Holland-Dutch&quot ; but they are called Mennonites. It does not really matter to her as she never thought about it. She asks the interviewers how they would answer something like that. The interviewers tell Miller that the way she did was fine. It is a valid answer that not everyone thinks about identity. Miller feels uneasy: &quot ; How is that an answer?&quot ; She explains that it is not that she did not want to answer it. The interviewers ask how Miller would identify herself in the census. Miller recalls that her father came from Russia, her mother was Canadian, and her mother-in-law was from the United States but she is not sure. Miller states that she is &quot ; not highly educated&quot ; . But she &quot ; did a lot of learning&quot ; . She has written &quot ; a couple of songs&quot ; and about 100 poems. She has done volunteer work in things she thought that were good. She visited the sick and went to the hospital with her bible or hymn book, she read to them and sang to them. The question of identity makes her uneasy: &quot ; I always thought of myself as being nothing, the fifth wheel&quot ; . She was the last one in the family, of 14 children. Her family would say that she &quot ; is just put together from all the left-overs&quot ; . She was &quot ; not really appreciated much&quot ; . Once, she said to her son-in-law what she was born for? Is she not good for anything? She can't do anything perfect. Her son-in-law told her what she was doing for her family, &quot ; and he was just going on, and on, and on&quot ; . When she made anything for her children, she told them in advance: &quot ; If it's perfect, you know I didn't make it because I can't do nothing perfect.&quot ; Miller recalls that she always felt pushed aside so she does not know what she should feel about herself. But she knows that &quot ; the Good Lord loves me&quot ; . She has tried a lot of things to help people. She has provided a lot of help, also financially but she can't do that anymore. She is just on pension. She talks about the prices for her pills. Her children figured out that she should live a long time yet. Her son living next to her is afraid that she is &quot ; overdoing&quot ; . Miller states that she is not doing anything. Told that she should &quot ; take it easy&quot ; , Miller replied to her son: &quot ; How much easier can you take it when you do nothing?&quot ; She does still making meals because her son lives next door, and instead of both making a meal, she prefers to make a meal together. Her son buys the groceries, and she does the cooking. She makes perogies and bakes bread. Miller laments that she is &quot ; not a good cook&quot ; . The interviewer adds: &quot ; But you're certainly a good storyteller&quot ; . A girl from the high school, Lisa Wall, came to interview Miller. Then she wrote her a nice letter how much she enjoyed interviewing her. Miller states that &quot ; the Lord&quot ; gives her a good memory for her age. 1139 Chasing gophers, weasels killing chickens, a turkey gobbler ; delivery of her 4th child Miller recalls that she used to go and &quot ; drown out&quot ; gophers with her little dog. She took her tools and her mustard can with salt to put the tails in, because she sold the tails. Her dog would know in which hole there was a gopher. When her dog found a hole, Miller came with a pail of water to drown the gopher. Then she would cut off the tail. Miller recalls that they could not drown out the weasels. When they ordered 300 chickens, and 29 of them were left when they took them to the slaughter business. The weasels sucked out the blood of the chickens and planted them under the woods. Once they &quot ; saved&quot ; a chicken that was being attacked by a weasel to cook it the next day but the weasel had not gotten enough blood and took another chicken during the night. Miller explains that she once killed a turkey gobbler. She felt very bad about that. They lived around Emerson, Manitoba. The people they were renting from gave them a turkey gobbler and two hens, so they could raise turkeys, so eventually, Miller had 80 little turkeys. There was a turkey gobbler visiting them all the time, &quot ; a rotten one&quot ; . The children could not play outside. When a pedlar came along, Miller told him about that turkey gobbler. Miller was taking her husband's big shoes, so every time the turkey gobbler attacked her, she would throw the shoes on the gobbler. When she didn't have any shoes anymore, she took a stick to hit him, and the turkey gobbler was dead. Miller thinks she &quot ; hit him right&quot ; . When her husband came home, he told her to drag the dead gobbler to the road so that they would not have to pay for it and it would look like an accident. Miller said she killed the animal &quot ; in self-defence&quot ; . A neighbour told her the next day that the turkey gobbler would not bother anymore because he saw him by the road, &quot ; somebody ran him over&quot ; . The man took the gobbler's ring from the leg and hung it at the house, as they were living in a haunted house. The neighbour took a spade and buried the turkey gobbler. Some time later, Miller was in the Emerson hospital, and was told that there was &quot ; somebody in here you know&quot ; . It was the owner of the turkey gobbler, and he asked her why she had not eaten it. They didn't have a fridge then. Miller admitted to killing it but said she had no idea whose it was. The owners of the turkey gobbler owed them money, and when Miller had her fourth baby, they offered her help with the delivery (the lady was a nurse). They had a bad ice storm then. Miller and her husband were looking after a farm, the owners had gone to a warm country for the winter. When a calf was going to be born and it wasn't coming the way it should come. Both she and her husband stayed in the barn with the cow, and when the calf was finally born, Miller went back to the farm house to look after her children. The house was quite far away from the barn. The had some baby-pigs, and one of them was sick and had to be fed with a spoon. She had them in an apple box in the house. When she came in, the pigs had gotten out of their box and were running on the waxed hardwood-floor. In this moment, Miller felt that her baby was coming, and she told her husband to call the hospital. Her husband called twice but there was no connection. The night before they had repaired the telephone line to make sure they would be able to call the doctor, and the line had worked the night before. There were party-line phones, every time somebody called, the others were listening in. A female doctor and a minister who were stuck in the snow came and took the baby into the kitchen. She had delivered the child on her own and was very scared. Miller felt that there was something wrong with her baby. It turned out that her daughter was born clubfooted. The doctor advised her how to get the foot straight. Miller didn't have much time to hold her baby because there were threshers coming in, and she had meals to cook, and to look after her other children. Miller had bread fever (milk fever) at the same time. Pus was coming out when she did the breast-feeding. She had a very hard time because she could not get any rest. The lady that was supposed to help her would come only a few days later. When she was asked who her baby did look like (suggesting that it was not ours), she told her baby could even look like Adolf Hitler. Miller states that she hopes &quot ; I was some use to you&quot ; . No transcript. audio 0



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