A Bun in the Oven - by Jack Thiessen © 1998

Most of the people who came from Jantsied (west of the Red River) to Grünthal were even poorer than the Grünthalers. Some of them went to school only in summertime. In winter they "saved their boots" - they had none.

But one day in the fall of the year, a whole family arrived from Jantsied with decorated names like Ruby and Henrietta and Dickie and Philip and then there were a few others with normal names. Another thing with them was that the boss of the family K. K. Reimer - or KaKa - was a Bergthaler and he had beautiful, well groomed and sprightly horses, with red, blue and yellow rings on the harnesses and little bells on the leather straps and hames and collars in the wintertime. And still another thing was that KaKa and his little "KaKakakas" (that's what Janzen's Herbert called them, not I) were very pious. But rich people from Jantsied, everyone thought, what did they have to sniff and poke around in our parts?

One could even have gotten a little angry at that pious pack. A few of the boys in my grade, including me, had just started adding a little garnish to our vocabulary, like the big boys, and now the KaKakakas came in between everything, both boys and girls, and started admonishing us and our language had to became Sunday-like again.

Once in March we played snowball on the school yard. When Julius Friesen's Heina received a snowball right on the nose, he dug the snow out of his mouth and eyes and started swearing, "Peter, you shameless pig-dog, if you throw another snowball anywhere close to my private parts, I'll pull down your pants in front of everyone and then the July sun will shine on your ass for the rest of the week." We laughed ourselves silly but then Dickie KaKa surfaced and sauntered up armed with the New Testament. Small and pale of nose, with sucker teeth lining his mouth and with a yellow lock of hair curling over his virgin forehead and with a slanting home-made smile, he started sermonizing. He didn't stop at that, no, he reported the whole incident to Miss Suderman, the spinster lady teacher who delighted in using a horse-whip to improve the manners of the class.

The fact that Dickie KaKa got his sitting quarters thoroughly groomed behind the first bush right after four o'clock that day, helped little. First he bawled, and then he promised that he would not behave himself in future, but then he took off as fast as he could before turning around and announcing that from now on he was a Christian martyr.

That's the way it was with KaKa Reimer and his nest of killjoys. And it wasn't long before Bishop Schulz from Jantsied came around with a few other sugar-beet millionaires. They all spoke with a nasal "arr" but they did say their docks, aggs and bons as we in did in Gruenthal, even though the Steinbachers and some other born-againers in the language insisted on ducks, eggs and buns. They were eager and ambitious but laugh or even smile? That they saved up for their other side: eternity. Whatever. A year later there stood, close to Spencer and closer to the creek behind Grünthal, a new church.

The fact that the Sommerfelders and we Russländers were not pious or even good enough for them was said by no one but known to all. Hell and damnation! We all felt a little vulgar and coarse but there was nothing we could do about it. No one forgot what was going on and from then on even the backward Sommerfelders appeared to be more human than these Bergthalers who had built a nest in our quarters.

The days passed but KaKa and his gang stayed. And when the time came that Grünthal and its bush-rabbits and farter-starter farmers became rich, these fellows started using their elbows on the streets and in society and most of all in church. Most of us did not like this state of things at all but a few took up the new tune of the evangelistic trail. It was not long before there were some eighty KaKas and Kakakakas in our parts.

Old Reimer had been a preacher for a long time already and he always invented something new to become even more pious. For example he had a bumper sticker which read, "Guess who's dropping in for a visit pretty soon? We Bergthalers know!"

There was another matter: Wherever Preacher KaKa Reimer stood or walked, he duckered, he swayed. From one leg to the other. In front in church whenever he had something to say or to pray or to sing, he duckered. When Preacher KaKa was not sitting he was duckering.

Well joh! They had come to stay and meddled and had themselves pious and spoiled whatever little fun we and the churches ever had. But they stayed.

When one day Old KaKa Reimer, Brother/ Preacher/ prison chaplain and even almost-bishop died, his children were grandparents themselves and retired and senior citizens. Everyone thought that old KaKa Reimer must have been close to ninety when he preached his last sermon. But then we boys got together and were surprised and startled as we read again, "KaKa Reimer has been called to higher service by the Lord over life and death in his seventy-eighth year."

Blacksmith Friesen's Icebrand started laughing a little in Low German and then said, "Now the dear brother has stopped duckering!"

But then Icebrand's nephew, Willy, who knew the Reimer clan and congregation a lot better and who knew exactly how old each one was and enjoyed tracing dots, dashes and dates, said, "Aha, that's why they rode into town fifty years ago. And that's why they were so devilishly pious all these years. When KaKa got married he was barely sixteen. I'll bet you boys a case of beer and a bottle of rye, when they got married Mrs. Preacher Reimersche already had a bon in the oven!"

© 1998,2007 Jack Thiessen