The life of pioneers was exhausting and full of endless work but somehow they alway made time for fun. Weddings were as much a celebration as an excuse for a party that would go on for days. Tom Banda recounted some memories from his youth in the 1930's and 1940's as part of his contribution in the book, Land of Promise.
No Recorded Music
If you were going to hold a dance you needed music. Being able to play pre-recorded music was a rare and expensive thing in the early part of the century and certainly it wasn't what we might call "amplified" by today's standard. As a result everyone knew how to play a little on various instruments and every event had people creating their own live music. Of course when you wanted to hold the best dance, you would invite the best musicians.
Tom does a wonderful job of describing the importance of the musicians and the singular excitement of attending!
Land of Promise
On pages 96-98 of Land of Promise the author Ion Longin Popescu captured a lovely story as told to him by Tom Banda, an accomplished storyteller. Tom recounted the joy of Kayville-area parties including a peek at some traditions of a wedding celebration. Read more about Romanian Wedding Traditions. Below is a direct quote from the book.
Good Evening, Honourable Guests! The Story of Tom Banda
“There was a large Romanian community in Kayville. The few Germans and Jews who lived together with us also spoke Romanian.
The Bucovineans were the most numerous ... Mighty joyous people they were; fond of songs and parties. They used to assemble on Sundays in a barn of Vasile Ritcu’s, where they used to dance until their shoes broke. Everybody was bringing snacks and drink. When the dancing stopped, they used to assemble round one of them who had books of Romanian poems or stories... And would say after every story: ’Let’s have another drink, boys!’ Until police would come and confiscate their booze.
We had two horses, Pegy and Molly, which we would ride only when we went dancing; we wouldn’t use them otherwise, not even on carrying the manure from the barn.
In winter time we used to get in sleighs, 18-20 girls and lads and ’let's go dancing!’ ...We would go away From home. While Costan Ursu’s grandsons lived on the farm we also took them with us, for the music... We took them in our sleigh, ’Let’s go to the Hall in Kayville! Boy, let’s go dancing!’ The frost was killing. We would come back in the morning singing and having fun The prairie resounded with our voices... As soon as we got home we run to the stable, to feed the chicken and the animals... Then made the fire. Man, we were moving as if pulled by strings until we would fall, dead tired and replace in the bed the younger brothers who would wake up because of the heat.
In those good old times one didn’t choose the time to pay a visit ... be it meal time or bed time ... Sometimes one found them eating and then one sat down by the table and ate ... If they had corn mush and milk, that’s what one ate, corn mush and
milk ... And the wedding parties! ... Pricochie Siminiuc or Nicuţă Moscaliuc and their bands played ... Boy, mighty good they were! ... Both used to fall asleep while playing ... Nicuţă would snore with the dead cigarette between his lips ... But his fiddle never stopped, not for one moment ... They were playing and sleeping, ‘cause they hadn’t time to rest. Who would let them? A wedding party lasted for two or three days People would ride home in the bogie, feed the cattle or something, and then, back to the wedding party ... Both fiddlers used to play at the large wedding parties: Nicuţă was playing inside, for the relatives of the bride and bridegroom, and Pricochie outside, for, the young ones ... But the old folks, too, danced to the music of Nicuţă and his old woman ... After the eating was over, all tables and chairs were cleared and the kitchen old women too, started dancing ... Well, well did they jump and shout! When the time came for sweet glass, one shouted: ’Good evening, good evening, honourable guests! The glasses are painted, please have a glass, and present with what you can the groom and the lass!' Then, ‘Mr. So-and-So! ... Joe Dobra, big farmer, a relative of the newlyweds’ ...Has 100 horses and 100 oxen, 500 hens and 500 roosters Farms two sections and speaks English ...’ And one kept quoting also other merits of the man, to make him generous ... I was really very adept at announcing the presents or ’the sweet glass’ as the old folks called it...
After a week the wedding party at the bride’s place followed. The bride’s parents too, paid fiddlers and prepared food. And the guests remained there for another 2-3 days, especially if it was winter time and people didn’t have much to do at home.
And more parties on the name days; every person would celebrate his or her saint’s day. They called Pricochie ... Give him dumplings and brandy and he would play for hours on end He would play with no other pay, a good man he was ...One would pin a dollar to his breast and he would play and play! He had a darkish complexion, like a gipsy ... Tall like Mike Juravlea, even taller… And the songs he knew! ...When he sang the bride’s song with his voice, oiled with brandy, he made the bride and her mother cry…“