Daut easchte Mol aus etj Ohmtje Peeta Bitjat sach wea etj fief Joah oolt. Daut wea aune '36 biem Erntedankfest enne Tjoatj, enn wiels daut soohn besondasch wijchtja Dach wea, worde aule Sinndoagschooltjinja utem Tjoatjetjalle noh bowe jenohme, om bie de groote Mensche too sette. Daut wea mie meea aus goot, wiels den Sinndachschoolfarsch, den etj utwendijch leahre sull, bie mie nijch Wartel jefoht haud, enn etj haud nijch eene schreftlijche Garantiee jäwe kunnt, daut etj nijch mett dem Farzh toop em Blott steatjche jebläwe wea, wann de Leahra mie oppjefoddat haud, een Farsch-Betjanntnis auftoolaje.
Na joh, etj saut doa manke Oolasch, enn etj leeht miene Uage enn miene Fantasie aulewäje een bät grose gohne, soo auls Tjinja daut dann doohne. Dee Somma wea ferjchtalijch heet enn dreajch jewast, enn de Prädja musst sijch aulahaund utdentje, sesst wea doa too weinijch jewast omm dankboa too senne. Dee Arnt wea eenfach too puperijch utjefolle, weens soo säde de Grootasch aula. Oba de Prädja fong doa veare aun too seie, enn een bät Fertileisa too streie and dann fong hee doa hinjre Kaunzel aun too binjre enn too drasche, bett hee mett de Tiet sogoa een poah Buschel toop tjreajch.
Etj saut doah enn tjitjcht enn felld miene Fantasie Spitjasch, enn aus etj mett miene eajne Arnt foadijch wea, enn aul raufkrupe wull, omm een bät entooschlope, hoof Ohmtje Bitjat mie opp siene Schoot, enn nu kunn etj von eenem hejchren Wintjel noch eenmol aules betjitje. Mie jintj daut goot, enn waut mie noch bäta jintj, wea daut Ohmtje Bitjat wisst, daut mie daut scheen jintj. Mett eenmol lach doa opp miene Tjnee een Dreppekend, enn dann een Zockastetj enn toom Schluss uck noch een gaunzet, blentjajet Fiefcentstetjch. Aus etj mie ommdreid, Ohm Bitjat "Dankscheen" too saje, tjitjcht hee stiew noh väahre, oba hee schoof langsom sien unjret Jebiss rut, enn deed gaunz sacheltjess soo, aus wann hee mien lintjet Ooah aufbiete wudd. Oba etj haud nijch Schizz, wiels etj ahm bäta aus daut tjannd. Ohm Bitjat haud bie mie jewonne.
Na joh, oba wie weare je noch emma enne Tjoatjch. De Prädja kaum langsom toom Schluss, ween's soo haud hee aul eene haulwe Stund jesajcht. Aul daut langet Jeräd wudd uck nijch meea Jeträajd oppem Fletjch enn Jreendfooda enne Schien jäwe, enn etj wisst seea goot, daut hee daut uck wisst, oba nienijch toostohne wudd.
Dann vetald de Prädja ons noch een bät von Russlaund, enn woo frooh enn dankboa wie doch senne sulle, wiels doa weare sogoa de Bibeltjrebbe enn Eidzhe ladijch, oba bie ons weare se bett aum Bähn voll. Dann fong wie aun too bäde enn daut Leed "Muß ich geh'n mit leeren Händen" too sinje, oba eea de Mensche sijch de Halsa rauspelde omm aul de Hocke em Leed opptoosatte, gauf de Prädja bekaunt, daut de Diakoone den Kollatjtetalla rommreatje wudde, enn daut wudd dem leewen Gott aum Ooa weeh doohne, wann doa too väl Selwajeld rommtjlätre wudd; dem leewen Gott jefoll daut Ruschle von Papieajeld bäta, besondasch aum Arntedankfast.
Ohmtje Bitjat enn etj saute gaunz hinje enn aus dee Tala bett ons kaum, wea dee meist voll. Een poah Dohlaschiene gaunz bowe musste sijch aul seea faust hoole enn stiepre, sonst weare see mett dem Tjennitj toop raufjetjeiwelt.
Woo daut soo rajcht kaum, weet etj uck nijch gaunz kratjcht. Vleijcht deed etj daut, ooda vleijcht wea uck Ohmtje Bitjat een bät schlopmetsijch ooda beides. Aus dee Kolletjtetalla bie ons mett eenmol aunkaum, läd Ohmtje Bitjat eenen jreenen Dohlaschien mett dem Tjennitj doabowe gaunz bowe nopp, enn dann klunjd hee dem mett dem Dume dohl bett de Tjennitj bedieseld enn dann foll de gaunze Schiew rauf, enn kaum bie ons unjre Beintj toolidje.
Toom Jletj gauf daut noch väl vonne "mett ladje Henj rommgohne" too sinje enn doawäjen gauf daut tjeen grootet Opphäwsel auls Ohmte Bitjat enn de Diakoon Buhlasch Fraunz aunfonge daut Jeld tooptoorope enn tooptooschrope mett Dratjch enn Stoff enn een bät Schiet. Enn etj wea een bätje meddemang tweschen Ohmtje Bitjat enn Ohmtje Buhla. Eajentlijch wea etj nijch een bätje meddemang, etj wea kratjt enne Medd.
Aus see endlijch foadijch weare, nauhm Ohmtje Bitjat dee Schiew (hee wea väl stoatja enn uck väl entschlohtna aus dee ducknäsja Diakoon, daut wisst etj uck mett miene fief Joah) enn donn reatjt hee dee wieda, meist soo auls wann ahm daut jankad dee derjch'et Fensta rut too schmiete.
Enn donn kaum daut "Segne und Behiete" enn dann wea wie endlijch unjawäajess noh bute.opptoo. Oba Ohmtje Bitjat leeht de Lied aun ons eenfach vebie gohne. "Etj mott dissem Jung noch de Schooh toobinje," säd hee, enn bleef sette. Aus hee miene Schooh ohp enn tooh bung, nauhm hee gaunz schmeissijch een Tiendohlaschien von unja siene lintjche Schooh enn leet dem enn siene Fupp nennreise, aules enn eenen grooten Boage mett de rajchte Fust.
Von dee Tiet aun, wea wie niemols nijch lang uteneen. Latst kaum Ohmtje Bitjat mie beseatje - hee ess 87, oba hee foat noch emma stohts siene eajne Koah - enn wea doll, daut daut tjeene rejchtje Kommuniste enn Russlaund meea gauf, äwa dee hee sijch oajre kunn. Bett verr kortem haud hee noch onbedinjt noh Russlaund foahre wullt, om doa de latzte von dee Roode perseenlijch opptooreime. De Mensche lachde enn säde: "Bitjat ess een groota Bejchterieta, oba daut ess uck aules." Oba etj jleewd ahm.
Aus Ohmtje Bitjat mie latzt beseatje kaum, schiend hee mie een bät meed enn neewadrijch, enn auls etj ahm fruag, waut ahm fehld, säd hee blooss: "Na, etj sie nijch meea de Jinjsta, waut kaunst du noch von mie velange?" Oba etj wisst, daut hee flunkad, enn dit Mol wudd etj ahm nijch lohte mie de Schooh tootoobinje, bett etj wisst, waut ahm soo neeweedrijch enn vedrisslijch muak. Eascht säd Ohmtje Bitjat, daut'et woll aune jereatjade Foarmaworscht lach, hee kunn nijch meea aus een Kulla Worscht verrem Schlopegohne vedroage, soo seea, enn foaken, hee daut uck proowd. Oba etj gauf mie doamett nijch toofräd enn schliesslijch säd hee: "Weetst uck waut? Nu send mie aul dree Doag lang de Machnowze, dee Anarchiste, em Droom hinjeraun, enn etj hab dee Donnasch aul Joahrelang nuscht nijch jedohne."
"Waut deede See ahn too eena Tiet?" fruag etj.
"Goa rein nuscht nijch - na, vleijcht eenmol een bätje, oba daut tald meist nijch meea, wiels daut send nu aul meist zäwentijch Joah tridj."
"Unja de rejchte Omstend, haud etj vleijcht kratjcht dautselwje jedohne," säd etj.
Hee vesefzt. "Hast een Buddeltje Alpenkreita?"
Etj goot twee groote Jläsa voll enn wie drunke. Nohm easchten langen Schluck wea wie uck aul enn Russlaund aune 1921.
"Aus se mie aune 1918 en Elloag toom Berstaundewajchta muake, heade de Arbuse de Nacht opp spezeare too gohne," säd Ohmtje Bitjat. "Eascht proowd etj daut em gooden, dann proowd etj de stelle Oat, enn dann word etj doll, oba nuscht schiend too halpe, bett etj eene Nacht twee Baundiete too hoole tjreajch, enn etj ahn de Tjap toop rubbeld, enn daut schauft. Daut räd sijch romm, enn von donn aun haud etj emma eenen gooden Job de Nacht em Somma." Donn nauhm hee noch eenen dreezolljen Schluck.
"Na joh, enn donn kaum de schwoare Tiet. Eascht de Roode, enn dann de Witte, enn donn de Strieptje, enn donn de Machnowze, dee Anarchiste, enn daut weare dann uck de schlemmste. See stetjchte bie Onkel Bearnd enn Onkel Cornelius de Stroohhupes eene Nacht aun, enn aus wie aula noh bute rannde, sprunge see enne ladje Hiesa nenn, enn stoohle aules, waut see kunne.
"Aha," soo docht etj mie, "wann se daut soo doohne, dann woare se dochwoll bie Onkel Hauns de näajchste Nacht Fiea laje, enn etj woa bie dem Hupe oppe Hutt senne. Enn daut deed etj dann uck. Enn donn kaume se uck aul, twee von dee Schindasch enn mett eene Buddel enne Betjzefupp, enn eene aum Schluckat and mett Schwäwelhelta enne Henj. Daut wea Aunfongs Oktooba.
"Oba mett mie haude see nijch jeräatjend. Jrods aus see ähre Komrohde, dee sijch oppe Gauss vestuake, too vestohne jäwe wulle, daut daut Spektoakel aunfange sull, tjreajch etj ahn von hinje em diestren toohoole enn rubbeld ahn de Tjapp soo lang toop bett ahn de Tjäna ute Uahre spretzte."
"Oba woa ess daut Fiea?" wudde sijch je äahre Komrohde oppe Gauss wundre, soo docht etj mie. Enn donn nauhm etj dee twee aune Tjapp unjre Oarms enn schlapt ahn noh eene oole Serai, enn dee stetjcht etj schwind aun, enn leeht de twee Baundiete sijch doa soo lang oppwoame aus see wulle."
Wie drunke dee Buddel ladijch, enn donn säd etj: "Goode Nacht, Ohmtje Bitjat."
Hee wescht sijch de Uage mett dem Schneppelduak auf. "Sesst hab etj dee nuscht nijch aul disse Joahre jedohne."
"Daut mott dann dochwoll soo goot senne, Ohmtje Bitjat," säd etj. "Enn nu tjenne See noh Hus foare enn schlope gohne. Waut bleef Ahn sesst äwrijch?"
"Best Die sejcha?" fruag hee. "Waut haud etj sesst doohne kunnt?"
"Daut ess aules enn Ordnung," säd etj, oba etj wisst uck nijch aus daut soo wertjlijch enn Ordnung wea. Oba von dee Nacht aun, leehte de Machnowze ahm gaunz toch, enn toom easchten Mol noh aul de Joahre schleep hee, soo's hee säd: "soo's bie Obraum aum Bossem."
The first time I saw Uncle Peter Bückert I was five years old. That was in '36 at Thanksgiving Day in church and because it was such an important occasion all the Sunday School children were taken from the basement ("lower auditorium" since 1971) to the upstairs to sit with the big ones. That was more than all right with me because the Sunday School verse which I was supposed to memorize for the day had failed to take root and I would not have been able to guarantee in writing that the half-memorized verse would not have mired me down on the elocutionary path.
Na joh, I was sitting higher up among the old ones and I let my eyes and my imagination roam as children do. That summer had been frightfully hot and dry and the preacher had to think himself out many things, otherwise there was just too little to be thankful for. The harvest had turned out very "pooperig" as all the big men said. But the preacher, he sowed seed with a little natural fertilizer and started bindering and threshing behind the pulpit until he finally managed to harvest a few meagre bushels.
I was sitting and looking and filling the storage bins of my fancy, and just when I had completed my own little harvest and was getting ready to sit down and doze off, Uncle Bückert gently lifted me to his lap and a new round of exploration started. I was now sitting a little higher and received a few new views from my loftier perch. I enjoyed that and what I enjoyed even more is that Uncle Bückert knew that I enjoyed it. Suddenly there appeared on my knee a peppermint candy and then a sugar cube and finally, a whole round shiny five-cent piece. When I turned around just a little to quietly say "Thanks" to Uncle Bückert, he kept his eyes on the business ahead but slowly shoved out his lower denture and pretended ever so quietly that he was going to chomp off my left ear. But I wasn't afraid of him because I knew him better than that. Uncle Bückert had won me over.
Na joh, but we were still in church. The preacher was gradually coming to the conclusion which he had predicted for a good half hour. All that long talk would not produce more grain or green fodder and I knew very well that he knew that too but that he would never admit it.
Then the preacher told us a little about Russia and how happy and thankful we should be because over there even the Bible cribs and mangers were empty while in our area they were brimful to the top. Then he started praying and then we started singing the song, "Must I go and empty-handed?" but before people started clearing their throats to stook all the choral sheaves, the preacher announced that the deacons would pass around the collection plates while we were singing and that it would be offensive to the ear if there was too much ringing and clattering of coins; the rustling of paper money would hurt the ear less and please the Lord more, particularly since it was Thanksgiving Day.
Uncle Bückert and I were sitting towards the very back and when the money plate came to us, it was almost full. A few paper bills on top had to hold on for dear life otherwise they would have fallen, King and all.
How exactly it happened, I don't know, really. Maybe I did it or maybe Uncle Bückert was clumsy or maybe both. When the plate arrived at our doorstep, Uncle Bückert placed a green one with a king on the very top and then he stepped on his head with his thumb and pressed it down until the king fainted and then the whole platter fell down and landed under our bench.
Luckily there was still much singing left about "going around with empty hands" and so it didn't disturb things all that much when Uncle Bückert and the deacon, Bühler's Franz, started scraping and gathering and collecting the money with dirt and dust and all. I was somewhere close to the middle of things, between Uncle Bückert and Uncle Bühler. Actually, I was not "somewhere close to the middle of things" at all, I was in the middle.
When they were finished, Uncle Bückert took the plate (he was much stronger and more decisive than the duck-nosed deacon, that much I knew even at age five) and then he passed it on as if he would have preferred to simply wing it off and away.
And then a "Bless and keep you" benediction and out we went. Uncle Bückert let the people jostle past him. "I still have to tie the boy's shoes, just a minute," he said. When he tied my shoes, he very casually but deftly picked up a ten dollar bill from underneath his big left shoe and moved it right into his pocket, all in one move.
From that time on, we were never to part for long. When Uncle Bückert came to visit me the other day - he is 87 and still gets around behind his own wheel - he was a bit annoyed that there were "no real Communists left in Rossia" to get mad at. He had had until recently had every intention of travelling there and personally cleaning up on a score or more of those dastardly bastards. People laughed and said, "Bückert is a tall tale spinner and there are no limits to the stories he will tell you," but I believed him.
Uncle Bückert struck me as a bit tired and cross the other day and when I asked what was wrong with him he just said, "Na, I am no longer the youngest, so what can you expect?" But I knew he was fibbing and this time I wasn't going to lift my left shoe until he had told me what made him so cantankerous and edgy. First Uncle Bückert said it was possibly the fault of smoked farmer sausage; he just couldn't eat more than one ring of sausage before going to bed, try as he might. But that explanation did not satisfy me and finally he said, "You know what? For three nights running the Machnowze, the anarchists, have been after me in my dreams and there is nothing I have done to them for so many years now."
"What did you do to them once upon a time?" I asked.
"Not a thing - well, maybe once a little, but that hardly counts any more because that's almost seventy years ago by now," he stated.
"Under the circumstances, I would probably have done exactly the same thing, " I said.
He sighed restlessly. "Have you got a little bottle of Alpenkräuter?"
I filled two large tumblers and then we drank. After the first long Schluck, we were in Russia in 1920.
"When they made me custodian of the melon patch in Einlage in 1918, the watermelons stopped going for one-way walks at night," said Uncle Bückert. "I had tried things with kindness, then I tried the silent method, and then I became angry, but nothing seemed to help until one night I got hold of two bandits and rubbed their heads together as if I meant it and that did the trick. People heard about it and from then on I always had a good night job in the summertime." He stopped to take another Schluck.
"Na joh, and then came the hard times. First the Reds, than the Whites, then the Speckled Bands and then the Machnowzes, the anarchists, and they were the worst of the lot. They set fire to Uncle Bernhard and Uncle Cornelius straw stacks one night and when we ran outside, all of us, to extinguish the fire, they jumped into the empty houses through the windows and stole everything they could.
"Well, I thought to myself, if that's the way they do it, then they will probably strike at Uncle Hans's place the next night and so I'll guard the stack. And that's what I did. And sure enough, suddenly there they were, two of them and with a bottle in their pockets and another one by the gizzard and with matches in their hands. That was at the beginning of October.
"But they sure hadn't reckoned on me being there. Just when they wanted to inform their buddies hiding in the streets that their game was to start, I surprised them both and rubbed their heads together until kernels came out of their ears.
"`But where's the fire?'" their buddies on the street would wonder, or so I thought. So I took the two under my arms by their heads and dragged them off to an old lean-to which I quickly set on fire and then I let the two robbers warm themselves up as long as they wanted to."
We emptied the bottle, he and I did, and then I said, "Good night, Uncle Bückert."
He wiped his eyes with his handkerchief. "Aside from that, I haven't done a thing to them all these years."
"It's all right, Uncle Bückert," I said. "You go home and to sleep now. What else could you do?"
"Are you sure?" He looked at me. "What else could I do?"
"It's all right," I said, even though I didn't know if it was. But as of that night, the Machnowze left him totally alone for the first time and Uncle Bückert slept, as he said, "like in Abraham's bosom."