The Bench


Soon Helena was pregnant and happy. Her mother was always available to provide advice and give suggestions on how to handle the hired help inside the house. With experienced maids to do the work and endure the drudgery of feeding a daily work force of dirty men on the farm, there remained lots of time for Helena to sit in the sunroom and knit clothes for her child-to-be. Life indeed was good and she had much to be thankful for.

Nicholai immediately took control of the farm and the hired hands. He had previous experience with such people based on his days in Muensterberg, and things went very well. The neighbouring Wirtschaft was immediately acquired with a loan from Anna, thus placing his combined land holdings on the top of the list of properties in Lindenau. He sought out some of the other full Wirtschaft owners and asked about the Assembly Building. It was their opinion that it only needed an organizer and the volunteers would surely come to finish it. Nicholai promptly volunteered himself. In no time the project was completed and the first meeting was scheduled. Spontaneously, the village men elected Nicholai to be the Schultz of Lindenau so they would have a “mayor” to represent them in meetings with other village Schultzes and to deal with the Russian government officials should the need arise.

Also at the same time, Nicholai set about to rebuild the orchard. Using the sketches he had brought along he found the same trees and shrubs and had them planted. He had workmen bring in cherry, apple, pear and peach trees. Around the yard, Nicholai planted oak, linden, chestnut and lilac trees. He even asked his mother for the bench he left behind in Muensterberg. She graciously granted his wish. The hired hands soon brought it to Lindenau. Although the trees and shrubs were too young to be called an orchard, Nicholai dreamed of again having a space for himself away from the business of the house and barn and the gossip of the women.

But Helena expressed loneliness for Nicholai. Although she was never alone in the house, what with her mother nearby and maids coming and going, she yearned for closeness with Nicholai. She worried about why he never smiled.

“Come to bed with me,” she would say in the evening. “I’ll make you happy.”

And so he did … and another child was conceived.

Nicholai and Helena had 14 children:

Elizabeth, Peter, Kornelius, Nickolai, Dietrich, Abram, Johann, Jacob, Anna, Gerhard (my Father, August 26, 1905), Isaak, Helene.

Elizabeth, as the oldest, was soon given the responsibility of running the household after Mrs. Reimer died. Since Helena was usually carrying an unborn child, help from Elizabeth was certainly appreciated. She learned to be strong and self-confident, following her grandmother Anna as her role model. Elizabeth was well-liked by her siblings and also by her neighbours. At the age of 21, she was married. Her husband, William Martens, joined the Janzen household as part of the family. Since Mrs. Reimer’s quarters were now vacant they both moved in and Elizabeth continued to be the Janzen household manager. William, in the meantime, found enough work to keep himself occupied on the yard. Soon he and the older Janzen brothers managed the two Wirtschafts.

Nicholai taught the boys everything they needed to know and, as they grew to be strong, they along with William ruled over all the activities out-of-doors. Some claimed the Janzen brothers tended to be a little rough while sorting things out with the hired men, but Nicholai pretty much let them run things the way they wanted to. He himself was a soft-hearted man, but since he never smiled, there was the feeling that he also was a man not to be trifled with. Nicholai allowed this image to stand since he preferred to be left alone.

MORE pages to follow: click the page numbers below!
Ed Janzen is the editor and publisher of CANADIAN STORIES, a literary folk magazine that publishes short stories and poems from Canadian writers of every province of Canada. Story Quilt is an electronic magazine similar in content. Ed has written four memoirs. He also writes for the old car hobby and has a column in OLD AUTOS - a biweekly newspaper featuring mostly Canadians events and automotive history.
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