Roman, Ferdinand

F. ROMAN  STORY

by Adeline Zenko

Most of us today sit all relaxed in our own livingroom, watch T.V., listen to news from the far corners of the globe that took place during the day, warm and comfortable from the heat of fuel we probably received from the Arctic. The homesteaders counted their blessings if they had home grown vegetables and fat pork to tide them over the winter. Their two-page newspaper was probably two weeks late. Our parents had a lot of faith and courage, hope and determination when they left their homeland, their families and came here. But no way could they have foreseen such a future for their children and grandchildren in just a little short of half a century. I know that every man and woman who settled here and persisted through the years all experienced the same hardships. I was quite young but old enough to have shared in some small way a part of those experiences.

Mrs. Roman with daughters Adeline and Erma, 1929.

My parents were born and raised in a small German village in Poland. My dad was born in 1898. He arrived in Bruderheim, Alberta in 1928. In 1929 he and another family each with a team of horses and wagon arrived in Elk Point where he purchased N.W. 21-57-7. He built a small log shack with a tar paper roof and no floor. He helped another farmer here, who in return broke twenty acres of land. The following winter he started another larger house; but could not finish it beyond the logs, because of a shortage of money.

I don't know what my mother's expectations were or what she thought of her new home. She and two girls, Erma and I, arrived in the spring of 1930. She had a frightening experience the following morning when a snake greeted her. It had crawled out from under the logs and raised up before her. So plans were made for a floor. It was made of rails and mud. She caught cold and landed in hospital a week later. The next thing that was most needed was a cow for milk. Both mom and dad brushed some land with an axe and grub hoe for a neighbor for six weeks to obtain that cow and calf.

Roman family celebrating 5Oth anniversary of Ferdinand and Theresa at Amaranth Man., April, 1973

STANDING, Left to Right Adehne, Otto, Alma, Rudolf Erma. Julius. Ida. SEATED. Theresa and Ferdinand. 

The following year, 1931, Alma was born with the help of a midwife. I started school in 1932 and walked two miles. The class consisted of about twenty children and in later years dwindled down to ten pupils, grade one to nine. Some of the teachers were Miss Nelson, Miss Jean Valentine, Mrs. Lazuruk (Andrishak) and Miss Caskey. One of these teachers was not much older than us pupils. During recess on cold days we played ball in the school and quite frequently the ball touched the ceiling. The ceiling couldn't have been very clean as it left marks where the ball hit. When our school inspector visited us he asked us how we managed to make footprints on the ceiling. Of course none of us knew, neither did the teacher.

Our mother kept us with a good supply of knitted socks and mitts. She'd buy a sheep fleece, wash it, and then spin it into yarn on a spinning wheel. She also made most of our clothing. In those days nothing was thrown out; it was either patched, made over for a younger member of the family or kept for patches. I got my knitting and sewing experience from those days.

In 1933 Otto was born and two years later Ida. In 1935 the Elk Point area got hail. It was a hot July day. Our parents had gone haying four miles from home and I was home looking after the four younger children, the youngest five months old. The hail stones started coming through the window. We hid in a corner but forgot about the baby sleeping on the bed opposite the window. Then I remembered and ran out amongst the hailstones and glass but she wasn't hurt. The folks came home later to find a bunch of frightened children.

In the next three years my two youngest brothers were born, Rudolf and Julius, which completed the family of four girls and three boys. We all pitched in with the farm chores but bringing the cows home from the open range was the worst. Many evenings we didn't find them, I even got lost at times. But as long as I could hear the cow's bell and find them, the cows would take me home.

The cream cheques came very handy for the groceries and necessary clothes as that was the main source of steady income. We also sold cattle, pigs and grain. The prices were very low during the depression years. In spite of it all there was never a shortage of food. There was always lots of meat, eggs, dairy products and a large garden which we all learned to look after. The flour was milled at the St. Paul Flour Mill. In the summer we all picked berries of all kinds which mother canned.

In the 1940's all prices on farm produce were boosted so all people in the Elk Point area prospered. Since the boys were the youngest members in our family, dad needed extra help on the farm, so he hired some and this is when I met John.

In the fall of 1945 my mother had a bad accident. She was trying to help to burn some root piles and used a mixture of gas and oil to start them. Apparently the mixture had too much gas and it exploded and she got burned about the face and hands. She was hospitalized for quite some time but came out quite well, though she still has the scars.

In 1952 my parents and the four younger children moved away from the Elk Point area to farm in Amaranth, Manitoba, where they are now retired. In 1973 they celebrated their Fiftieth Anniversary. All the children were present and most of the grandchildren. They are still enjoying fairly good health. They have a total of twenty-one grandchildren and four great-grandchildren as of now.