Wie worde ons fuats oppe Städ eenijch, daut wie niemols nijch een Wuat äwa disse Schwienarie jemols velude lohte wudde. Tjeena nijch sull irjendwaut weete, waut doa väajefolle wea, wiels wie kunne aul heare, waut dann pesseare wudd... "Ujujujuj, waut woare de Lied sijch bloos dentjche, waut woare de Lied saje?"
Soo wea daut, enn etj jleew, wie weare sogoa een bät stolt doaropp, daut wie een Jeheemnis haude, daut sesst bloos de leewa Gott wisst, enn sesst tjeena. Oba noh fiewentwintijch Joah lohte de Tjäde enn uck de Strenj, woohne daut Jeheemnis fausthoole, een bät noh, enn wann wie Jeheemnishieta ons hanennwada too seehne tjriee, dann brinj wie aul sogoa eenen tjlienen Schmusta äwre Leppe, aunstaut bloos too hiele enn Triebsaul too blose, enn Kloageleeda, aule Stroophe, veeastemmijch too sinje.
Waut wea? Veea Predjasch enn een Tjrist (enn daut wea natierlijch mol wada etj), haude jeheat, daut'et enne Stäts aul donn enn mol wada doll toojintjch. Toom Biespell, weare Peeta Bruhn, Bruno Wiebe, Johaun Reima enn Jaunzess Willie eenmol tien Doag opp eenmol wajchjefoahre. Enn auls see tridjkaume, koffte sijch Wiebe enn Bruhn fuats jieda noch veea Veadel Laund, während Reima schwind sien Veadel Laund vekofft, enn fe ahn auls Oabeida, Schetjbenjel, enn Pauslocke schaufe musst. Willie, dee Aufkoht, fong zeowents aun auls Bartender too oabeide, wiels sien Jehault auls Aufkoht reatjcht nijch meea too omm seine Famielje too feehde. De eenfache Lied enn uck de Tjoatjevodasch wundade sijch, waut doa woll pessead wea, enn see vesochte dann je uck Kloarheit enn Lijcht enn daut Gaunze too brinje enn too schmiete, oba see kaume boold tridj, enn sommde daut Leed, "Muß ich geh'n mit leeren Händen?"
"Donnawatta enn Schinda em Schiet!" säd dee oola Schwoat, während Ohm Gerstein, ons judscha Stooahmaun bloos: "Daut jefft een Hupe Zorres!" säd, eea hee aunfong too lache.
Enn soo jinje de Predjasch enn etj nohm Johaun Reima, enn fruage, auls wie dee gaunze nijch berädboare Sach, beräde kunne. Oba Johaun rolld sijch eene Zigarett enn säd bloos: "Nie Wada, oba Nie, Niewada!" enn jintjch tridj aune Oabeit. Enn waut de aundre dree weare? Bruhn, Wiebe enn Willie haude daut soo drock, daut see tjeene Tiet haude, irjenwaut too berede. Na, Willie talld sowesoo nijch, wiels hee nijch too de Tjoatjch jeheat - hee wea nijch bie Jemeend - enn soo kunn wie ahm nijch jeleewat nehme, dem Hallota!
Enn soo bleef ons, de Predjasch enn mie, nuscht nijch aundasch äwrijch, auls ons dee gaunze Sach vom Boddem opp too unjaseatje. Nu ess daut Gaunze, soo auls aul jesajcht, aul fiewentwintijch Joah tridj, oba daut ess aules noch soo enn woah, wertjlijch soo.
Enn soo fuah wie fief nohm Siede, noh de Stäts. Medden em Winta. We gauwe onse Frulied enn onse Muttasch Frieheit, Tus too bliewe, enn too besorje, enn Eia uttoonehme, enn uttoomeste, enn noh School toogohne, enn aum Party-line opptooschnacke, enn Hose enne Schlenje too jriepe, enn noh Tjoatj too gohne, enn Spohs too driewe, während wie eene earnste Pflijcht nohjinje. "Noh Kaunsas Frindschauft beseatje," säd wie, daut heet, säd etj, wiels etj goot wisst, woa wie hanfuahre; daut haud Johaun Reima, dee Kanädja mie jesajcht. Jrohds auls wie loosfoahre wulle, fuscheld Reima mie ennet Ooah: "Woarom latst Du de Predjasch nijch auleen foahre? Woaromm wellst Du die de Henj enschwiene? Bitte, bliew hiea!"
"Nä," säd etj. "Johaun, woaromm tjemmst Du nijch mett?"
"Mensch, Nie Wada, Niewada!" Enn dann dreid hee sijch enn siene Burrstewle omm, enn jintjch Hei enn Koohschiet stoake. Etj sach, daut hee nijch meea schmeatjcht, sonda een Tähnepoake em Mul haud, enn fe siene Bausse auls een Willa oabeid.
Donn kroop wie enne Koah nenn, enn läde loos. Eascht Schnee enn Ies, dann Ies enn Schnee, oba aum dredden Dach leet de Winta aul enn bät noh, enn auls'ett Owend word, wear'ett aul woama enn scheen, enn wie sage sogoa den easchten Rootbuck; wie haude aul tweedusend Miel tridjjeljajcht.
Woa wea jie? froag jie. Auls wann jie daut nijch lenjst jeroht habe - wie weare enne Sonn enn Sind City!
"Eea wie de Schwienarie Tus enne Tjoatj opprieme tjenn, mott wie ons daut Gaunze opp Uat enn Städ unjaseatje, enn 'hard evidence' saumle, säd 'Tiny' dee Barjchtholscha Predja C. F. Friese.
"Joh, ons blifft nusch nijch aundasch äwrijch," stemmd ahm Predja Hienrijch Peetasch bie; dee jansja woohna ons Jungess emma vemohnd: "Jungess, jie derwe niemols nijch doll woare, daut ess nijch biblisch!"säd hee.
"Oba See woare je uck weens tweemol den Dach doll!" säd wie.
Donn stald sijch Predja Peetasch von Gortiets han, haud de Been aundathaulf Schooh utenaunda, enn dann pompt hee sijch voll Loft, enn leeht sien Wieseafinja enn siene Uage nohm Himmel nohhejcht wrabble, enn säd opp Huachdietsch, "Mein Zorn ist der Zorn des Gerechten!"
Wie weare aunjokohme, enn fonge onsen schwoaren Deenst uck fuats aun.
Joh, enn Predja Korneeljeus Faust, dee emma säd: "Etj heet Korneel-jesus, enn ut goodem Grund," säd: "Dem Jerajchten ess aules jerajcht, dem Reinen ess aules rein," tjreajch de Wrang von dee Spälmaschien mett eene Haund too hoole, enn mett de aundre Haund dretjcht hee doa sass Veadels nenn. Dann trock hee dee Wrang rauf, enn dann fong daut doa benne aun too dreie, enn too turne, enn too kullre, enn too diesle, enn dann wada too dreie, enn dann wea daut Gaunze mett eenmol em Low Gear, em läajen Jedriew aulsoo, enn dann stottad daut Jeschnees, donn veschluckt'a sijch, enn veea straume Arbuseschnäde duckte opp; schmocke Schnäde, fein derjchjeschnäde mett schwoate Tjänatjess opp daut roode Arbusefleesch, enn aule stunde se enn eene Reaj.
Daut roode Lijcht opp daut Jeschnees blitzt opp enn dreid, dee Maschien word läwendijch enn juhld, enn schreajch, enn tjlinjad, enn fong aun too bromme, enn donn leet dee too, enn buscheld Veadels. Dee Veadels spretzte, enn ruschelde, see fluage enn see rollde, dee schoowe enn see buchelde, see dreide enn see dreide, enn see tjlätade, enn schnurrde, enn wulle bloos wajch, wajch von dee Maschien, enn kullade bie de Dusende noh ons opptoo. Biem Buschelvoll. Toom Jletjch haud ons stellsta Ohm, Predja Netjel, vonne ooltkolniesche Sort, lange, schwoate Steewle aun. Een Rucks enn dann haud'a dee uck aul enne Grauje, enn leeht dee voll ranne. Toom Jletjch haud uck etj onsen Meddachsätebiedel mett Reatjaworscht, Zipple, Koffe, Kuffels, Reeschetweeback enn jekoakte Eia enne Haund. Etj schmeet daut gaunze Mettbrinjsel opp dee Ambulance-Maschien nopp, enn hilt den Sack unja. Enn noch emma stritzt daut enn stritzt daut; tien Dusend Veadels schnerzte doa rut auls wann daut gaunze Jeschnees een groota Gaunta wea.
Dann word mett eenmol aules wada stell. Twee von onse Predjasch lage oppe Tnees enn lause de Veadels opp, enn schmeete dee bie de Jappsvoll enn mien Sack, enn dann weare aule Stroopfe von dem scheenen Leed too Enj, enn de greiwa Auldach läd sijch wada äwa ons. Etj wull noch een bät Spohs moake, enn fong aun daut Leed "Von der Erde riet mie loos, enn fell ons voll een jiedret Kroos" oba donn tjitjcht Predja Peetasch mie mett sienem Brush-cut enn mett sienem Pauss-Opp-Finja aun, enn säd: "Silentium!" enn dann word mien Leed soo stell auls dee meede Maschien.
Dann jinj wie loos enn wajch. Wie veleehte dee hollbuckje Maschien mett aul de sauftje Arbusestetja doabenne enn begauwe ons noh onse Koah. Veropp jintjch Predja Faust mett siene utjebuhlde Fuppe, enn hinja ahm drebbeld Predja Peetasch mett volle Betjse enn een Opfavoll-Selva enne Japps, enn donn kaum Predja Friese mett weinijch Boajeld; hee haud aule Henj voll sijch selwst too beweaje, wiels hee een seea jestuckta Bibeforscha wea. Hinja ahm jintjch Predja Netjel boaft; siene Footkoddre weifelde ahm ute Fuppe, oba siene Steewle druag hee soo auls Drangamasch volla Veadels. Etj jintjch auls latzta mett dem Meddachsbiedel volla Jeld hinjeraun, während de Worscht enn dee jekoakte Eia und so weiter und so fort enn miene Windbreaka Fuppe mettreisde.
Predja Faust hohld de Koareschlätels ut siene rajchte Betjsefupp, schloot daut Koareklotje op, tjreajch eenen heltanen Eiakauste toohoole enn säd: "Na, enn nu häa mett mien Jeld!"
Sien Jeld? Sien Jeld? Bloos Predja Faust sien Jeld? Aule tiendusend Veadels jeheare Predja Faust? Enn bloos ahm? Wie stunde verrem Hinjarenj vonne Koah mett tjeen Wuat opp onse Leppe, soo auls een Jespaun Osse verrm Aumboaj.
Etj wull jrods mien Sack Mammon enn Predja Faust sien Eiakauste nennschedde, auls Predja Nejtel, dee stella, mett eenmol säd: "Du, Korneeleus, Du wellst aulso nuscht nijch tjristlijch deele?"
"Waut mient ess, ess mient. Waut redst Du hiea von endeele? Enn nu jicha doamett!" kommendead Predja Faust.
Dann säd de ooltkolniescha Predja Nejtel too mie: "Du pauss opp miene Steewle opp, enn loht nijch een Veadel rutjleppe. Wiels waut mient ess, ess mient, enn daut meent uck volle Steewle. Enn nu goh etj mie niee Schooh tjeepe." Enn donn talld hee sijch tachentijch Veadels enne Haund. Na dann kaum wie ons soo väa aul eenem sien Schwoaga Harry, dee bie soohne Sache emma säd: "Na, dann mott wie dochwoll niee Seiden oppe Reemschiew opplajen."
Jenuag, wie musste ons nu dochwoll irjendwoo eenje. Predja Faust stiepad sijch, enn wea jäjenaun, enn hee haud tien Bibelfarzh reed omm sijch too rajchtfoadje, während Predja Peetasch kratjcht soo väl auls Jäjenred reed haud, während etj oppem Bompa mett twee Steewle enn ons Ätesbiedel volla Selwajeld saut.
Boold wea je dann uck Predja Netjel wada tridj enn hee säd seea ruhijch, "Enn nu reatjcht daut too. Wann daut hiea soo wieda jeiht, woa etj boold seea lud 'Schiet!' saje. Wann wie nijch fuats oppe Städ ons opprejchtijch eenje tjenne, dann woat mien Steeweltjnajcht enn etj daut gaunze Jeld doa hinje enn de Rie nenndompe. Brooda Kornusch, wellst du daut doohne, ooda wellst Du daut nijch doohne?"
Predjasch Peetasch enn Friese säde doatoo Amen. Dann fong wie aun entoodeele. Twintijch Minute lohta haud een jiedra tweedusend Veadels, ob tachtentijch weinja fe Predja Nejtel, enn eene Stund lohta haud wie daut Selwajeld fe Papieajeld enjetuscht. Predja Faust behild siene Veadels.
Dann vebeet wie ons een bät, enn dann noch eenmol, enn dann hild wie Meddachschlop noh de mennonietische Oat: enne Koah.
Joh, joh, enn dann fuah wie wada tridj noh Hus, noh Jrienthol enn Kanada. Oba nu goht nijch fuats loos enn vetalt dit aulewäaje wieda, nä? oba dee Eensja, woohna mett ladje Henj Tus aunkaum wea Predja Faust. Dee Veadels haude ahm jedretjcht, enn bedretjcht, enn oppjedretjcht, enn ahm jebaudat, enn ahm jepiesackt, bett hee daut nijch lenja uthoole kunn, enn hee Medden enne Nacht oppstund, dee Koah veleeht, enn auls hee twee Stund lohta von dee Arbuseberstaund tridjkaum, haud Korneeljeus weens tien Pund aufjenohme.
Auls wie Tus aunkaume, gauf daut boold wada eene niee Tjoatj, enn dee heet dee "Gerechtigkeits Gemeinde" enn doa word väl jäjen Späl enn Daunz jedonnat. Dee Eltesta von disse niee Jemeend wea Korneelius Faust.
Wann Predja Faust mie jefroagt haud, haud etj ahm väajeschloage, daut dee Jemeend Niewada haut heete sullt. Jie uck?
We had reached agreement and promised each other that we would absolutely never ever tell this whole messy tale to anyone. Not even to half of one of anyone if it gave such a thing because it was it was nothing but pure mischief and bad in any case and also shameful and if the whole thing ever came out one would hear, non-stop, "Ujujujuj, what will people say? What will people think?"
Yes, we had all promised to commit the matter to utmost secrecy at the time, pledging that we would never breathe a single word of it, but after twenty-five years the chord of resolve tends to loosen a bit and one can already manage a bit of a smirk again - even if not yet a full-blown smile - instead of always breaking into sobs or lamentations.
Well, it is like this. Four preachers and one Christian (and I was that one of course) had heard that already then things in the States were going hard and heavy. For example Peter Braun, Bruno Wiebe, Johan Reimer and Janzen's Willie were gone for ten days in the middle of winter. When they came back Wiebe and Braun immediately bought themselves another section of land while Reimer quickly sold his quarter and started working for them as a hired hand. Willie, the lawyer, started working evenings as a bartender because his wages and salary and income as a lawyer did not reach far enough to feed his own family. The common people as well as the church fathers were wondering what was wrong but when they started into the whole matter they soon returned humming the song, "Must I go and empty-handed?"
"Thunderations and bullshitzky!" said old man Schwartz, while Gerstein, our Jewish store-man, only said, "That will give a stack of Tsorres!" (misery) before laughing.
And so the preachers and I went to Johan Reimer and asked if we could discuss the whole undiscussable matter. But Johan just rolled himself a cigarette and said only, "Nie Wada, but Nie, Nie Wada!" and went back to his work. As for the other three? Braun, Wiebe and Willie were so very busy that they had no time at all to discuss the matter. Well, Willie did not really count anyway because he did not belong to the church and so we couldn't manage to corral him at all; we just couldn't lay the inner hand on him, that rascal.
And so there was nothing to do but for the preachers and I do try and investigate the whole matter from the bottom up. Now everything is already twenty-five years old but it is still all so and true. Joh, joh.
So we five drove south, to the States. In the middle of winter. We permitted our mothers and wives and the little ones to remain at home to do the chores and gather eggs and manure-out and go to school and listen in on party phone line talk a bit and snare rabbits and go to church and have their fun, while we took off in the line of duty. "To Kansas to visit relatives," we said, that is, I said, because I knew very well where we were going; that Johan Reimer, the Kanadier had told me. Just before we started out, Reimer whispered to me, "Why don't you let the preachers go alone? Why do you want to dirty your hands in their business? Stay around, please!"
"No," I said. "Johan, why don't you come along?"
"Mensch, Nie Wada (never again), Nie Wada!" Then he turned on his own axis in his Burrsteewle-boots and went to pitch straw and hay and cow shit. I noticed that he was no longer smoking but had a tooth-pick in his mouth and he worked for his bosses like somebody gone wild.
Then we piled into the car and were on our way. First snow and ice, then ice and snow but on the third day winter let up a bit and come evening it was beautiful and spring-like in the air and we even saw our first robin, or "Red-paunch" as the Old-Colonier Preacher Nickel said, when we had two thousand miles behind the rear tires.
Where were you? you ask. As if you didn't know - we were in Sun and Sin City!
"Before we can clean up the mess in church back home we have to look around here and gather hard evidence," said `Tiny,' the Bergthaler Preacher C. F. Friesen.
"Yes, we have no other choice in the matter," agreed Preacher Heinrich Peters, the one who always admonished us when we were boys, "Boys, you should never not get angry, that's not Bible-like!" he said.
"But even you get angry at least twice a day," we said.
Then Preacher Peters from Chortitz moved his legs apart a foot and a half while pumping his front full of oxygen and then he said with his eyes and his watch-out finger pointing up, "My wrath is the wrath of the righteous!"
Joh, and Preacher Kornieljeus Fast who always said, "I am called Korniel-jesus with good reason," stated, "To the just all things are just, to the clean all things are clean," and grabbed the crank of the gambling machine while throwing in six quarters with his other hand. Then he pulled the crank down and it started turning in there and turning and spinning and turning some more, then it rolled into low gear, stuttered and choked as four choice watermelon pieces, carved up right through the middle with black seeds against the juicy red and all alike lined up behind the glass.
The red light on top of the machine now blitzt and spun; the machine came alive and howled and screamed and then rang and started growling and busheling quarters. Those quarters splattered and rang, and rattled and rustled, they flew and they rolled, they pushed and they shoved, they turned and they rolled and they clattered and purred, busily fleeing and escaping that machine by the thousands. By the bushelful. Luckily, our quietest preacher, Nickel, was of the Oldcolonier type and had long, black boots on. These he whipped off in a flash and filled with quarters. And fortunately, I had brought along our lunch sack with smoked farmer's sausage, onions, coffee, stale buns and boiled eggs. I heaved these supplies on the stationary ambulance machine and held the sack under it. It was pouring and pouring; ten thousand quarters squirted out like so much goose shit.
Then everything became still again. Two of our preachers were kneeling in front of that quarter-dispenser, gathering up the last of the quarters and throwing them into my sack and then all the verses of that beautiful song were over and the greyness of everyday silence settled over us. I wanted to have a little bit of fun and started singing the refrain, "From the earth, oh tear me loose, make my sack, fat as a goose!" but Preacher Peters gave me one look with his brush-cut and his look-out finger and said, "Silentium!" and my song became like the muted machine.
Then we departed. We left the hollow-bellied money machine lonely with all the dripping watermelon pieces still inside and made for our car. Leading the way was Preacher Fast with his bulging pockets while behind him tripped Preacher Peters with his pants full and an offering of silver in his cupped hands and then followed Preacher Friesen who bore but meagre change since his body engine had its hands full with the holy man's considerable weight. Next came Preacher Nickel barefoot - his foot rags were waving from his pockets - but with his boots in his hands like slop-pails full of quarters. I formed the rear guard with the lunch sack full of money and with the sausage and the boiled eggs and so on and so forth in my windbreaker pockets.
Preacher Fast pulled his car keys from his right lower pant pocket, unlocked the trunk of his car, grabbed a wooden egg-crate and said, "Na, now let me have my money!" His money? His money? Only Preacher Fast's money? All ten thousand quarters belong to Preacher Fast? And to him all alone? We stood in front of the back of the car without a word on our lips, like a team of oxen before the steepness of the hill.
I was just about to dump my stack of mammon into Preacher Fast's egg crate, when Preacher Nickel, the quiet one, suddenly announced himself, "You, Kornieljeus, you intend not to divvy anything at all Christian style?" he asked.
"What is mine, is mine. What do you mean, divvy up? Now, on the double!" commanded Preacher Fast.
Then the Oldcolonier Preacher Nickel said to me, "You guard over my boots and don't let a single quarter slip out. Because what is mine, is mine and that means full boots. And now I'm going to buy a pair of new shoes." Then he counted himself eighty quarters into his hand.
Well, then we all felt a little like one fellow's brother-in-law Harry who used to assess new situations by saying, "It's about time we put new belts on the pulley!"
Whatever, we now had to come to some kind of consensus. Preacher Fast resisted and was contrary and had ten Bible verses to support his case, while Preacher Peters had just as many counter verses at the ready, while I sat there on the bumper of the car with the boots and sack full of silver.
Then suddenly Preacher Nickel was back and he announced, "Now it's enough. If things will keep on going like this I will soon say `Shiet!' aloud! If we cannot immediately come to an acceptable agreement, and I mean an immediate and full agreement, then my boot servant and I will dump the whole stack of quarters into that back creek. Brother Kornusch, do you want to or do you not want to?"
Preachers Peters and Friesen also said amen to that. Then the dividing started. Twenty minutes later everyone had two thousand five hundred quarters (minus eighty for Preacher Nickel) and one hour later three of us had exchanged the change for paper bills. Preacher Fast hung on to his quarters.
Then we noshed a bit and then some more and then we had a nap Mennonite style, in the car.
Joh, joh, and then we went home again, to Grünthal, to Canada. Now don't go around and tell this story all over the place, understand? But the only one of us who arrived home empty-handed was Preacher Kornieljeus Fast. Those quarters had pressed him and oppressed him and depressed him and bothered him and pestered him until he just couldn't stand it any longer and then he got up in the middle of the night and left the car and us and when he returned some two hours later from the watermelons machines, Kornieljeus was at least ten pounds lighter.
When we returned home, it did not take long for another Mennonite church to be built. People brought sacrifices and hammers and saws and soon the new church was standing bright and ready. This new church was called `Gerechtigkeits-Gemeinde'," (Church of Justice) and in this church there were frequent and mighty thunderations against "Gambling and Dance." The bishop of this new church was Preacher Kornieljeus Fast.
When I saw Johan Reimer again he was a bit more lively; he seemed to have enough kopecks again to afford cigarette tobacco. But he still worked for Braun and Wiebe (Wiebe had also become a preacher) and his talk was a little less inhibited.
"I have a new deal," he said, "Another seven years and I am a free man. But do you know what I think they should call Fast's new church? `Lost Wages, Nie Wada!'" and then he smiled and rolled himself a cigarette and swivelled around in his old Burrsteewle-boots and set about forking hay.