Chapter 3 Peter C. Loewen
copyright Lorilee Scharfenberg and Nettie Brandt 2000
Peter C. Loewen was born on June 17, 1896. He lived his life as a farmer in two countries: first in Riverside, Manitoba, Canada and then later in life in Quellen Kolonie, Mexico. Anna was his faithful partner as a homemaker and mother of twelve. Peter had bright blue eyes and black hair in his youth while Anna was a redhead with soft grey eyes. They were both baptized members of the Kleinegemeinde Church. Peter was baptized July 17, 1917, by Rev. Peter R. Dueck, while Anna was baptized on October 13, 1919, by Rev. J.R. Dueck. They made their first home in the C.D. Loewen summer kitchen. Their life story will be shared in the following writings:
The Memoirs of Peter C. Loewen as told to Anna Kenegy
When I was still a young schoolboy, my father owned many horses. I loved horses! One day all the horses were in the field except one horse who was left in his stall. Because I didn't have permission to ride a horse, I went to the stall secretly, locked the barn door and rode the horse along the aisle. Even though he didn't go fast, I really enjoyed it. All of a sudden, the others came to look where little Pete was staying because they had noticed the barn door was locked. I didn't even get a spanking!
I was always smaller in school than the other boys but I was quick. One time one of the bigger boys wanted to wrestle with me so I quickly grabbed him by the legs and wrestled him down.
When I got out of school between the ages of 12 and 14, my father sent me to the English school for one year to learn the language.
In winter we had to pick eggs shortly after they were laid so they wouldn't freeze. One man joked that eggs froze as soon as they were laid. We had around two hundred chickens and the barn had two floors (levels). We had to warm up the water containers so that the eggs wouldn't freeze. At 5:00 a.m., I would put the light on in the barnyard and shut it off again at 10:00 p.m. because the days were so short in winter and the hens had to have more time to lay the eggs.
In summer I often had to walk behind the horses plowing for three days in a row. One's legs became used to a lot!
When I plowed as a young lad, I always made 34 rounds in one day. At the end of the week I always knew exactly how many rounds I had made. Father didn't know how I could remember so accurately until I explained that 34 rounds a day was enough. The tractors only had one gear, but if the belt ripped it speeded up. The field was one mile long and I always drove thirty-four miles a day. The tractors drove about 2 miles (3 kms) per hour. (Note: Dick B. Eidse (historian) suggests that P.C. Loewen meant the field was a 1/2 mile long and when he=d plowed a round, he=d travelled one mile. Farmers at that period of time usually divided up their fields in strikeouts when they were plowing. A strikeout was an area marked with a stake at 10 paces (30 feet ) by 1/2 mile. The farmer then plowed his rounds till that area was completed, then continued to do the rest of the field in the same manner. Leroy Scharfenberg said that in order for a tractor to speed up when a belt ripped it would have a belt-driven governor. Tony Fast adds that it was likely a steam-engine tractor. Dick Eidse also suggested the one-geared tractor may have been a Bull make. Tena Brandt confirmed they had a Bull! )
One day when I was plowing, the plow hit a rock. I noted that I wanted to check it out the next round. Because I had fallen asleep, I woke with a start when the tractor stopped abruptly. When I looked back, I saw the plow standing straight up in the air. If the tractor had not stopped, the plow would have tipped me over or crushed me. I immediately got a chain and pulled the rock from the field.
Father had bought new land so I drove over there to plow it. At one end was a deep ditch (Ed Friesens?), which I had to look out for when making rounds because I had trouble with falling asleep when driving (I didn't have to do much steering because the furrow was so sharp and deep that the plow went along by itself.) Suddenly the tractor halted abruptly and I woke up. I was at the edge of the ditch and I would have rolled with the tractor if it hadn't stopped. It was clear that God's protecting hand was on me.
For quite a while we had a cow that we allowed the calves to nurse so that they would grow fat. When we weaned the calves, we discovered that the cow produced two large pails of milk at one time!
When the severe flu bug was circulating in Canada, it was very necessary that nurses took care of the sick, because most of the people were sick or dying. An ad was placed in the paper for nurses. Two nurses responded and had to be picked up in Morris in the cold winter. We went to town in a covered wagon so that the nurses wouldn't get too cold. We took along fur blankets. When we arrived, we found two boys: two cousins who were rather naughty boys. They wanted to play nurse and we didn't know whether we should take them along or not. But, because we had driven five miles, we took them along. It was cold in the back seat. One complained his feet were cold and the other that his feet were hot. We wondered - did they have the flu? The boys became good nurses. When the children who were sick cried a lot the boys gave them brandy, wine or beer and then the children would sleep a long time. It seemed to help them get well, though. These boys became Christians when they got older and one of them married a nurse.
I was fourteen years old when my mother became ill. For four months during this time my youngest sister stayed at someone else's house. She was there from the age of two months till she was six months old. She got diarrhea when she was at home a couple of weeks and died as I was rocking her in the cradle just before Faspa. The people at whose place she had stayed for four months heard (at their place) a child crying in the other room while they were sitting at the table for Faspa! However, there was no child in the house. Later, they heard that exactly at that time our baby had died.
I once told Henry J. Dueck how fast I could get to the city and back while getting parts. "No that's impossible," he said. I took him along and drove quickly without stopping at any stop signs or at any red lights. I was back in time without the police stopping me.
Another time when I drove to the city I saw a lot of prairie chickens on the street but it was too late to stop so I drove right among them. The air was so full of feathers that I couldn't see. The policeman didn't stop me because he was laughing so hard.
The first cars had three pedals - an accelerator, a reverse and a brake. One day my friends and I noticed a man who came driving up fast. He was a large man and the car stopped instantly. We asked him how he had done that and he said that his feet were so large that he had stepped on all three pedals simultaneously. My friends and I had a good laugh.
A man was getting ready to take his chickens to market. The next morning when he got up they were all gone. He heard a rooster crowing and looked up and saw the whole load up on the roof. The boys had brought the vehicle and chickens up on the roof on Halloween night. I'm not sure how he got them down.
Mr. Friesen made a high huge pile of silage and bought an older horse to pack it down. The neighbours wondered how he would lower the horse once he was finished because the silo was very high. He worked diligently till it was packed full. Then he shot the horse and let it fall down.
One day when it was very cold and his car wouldn't start, Mr. P.P. Loewen helped turn the belt with his hand. The belt turned so fast that one of his fingers was cut off. Mr. Loewen took the finger inside and called the nurse at the hospital. She asked, "Where do you have the finger?" He said, "Right here on the phone box."
My parents= neighbours had a cow for sale. While the deal was going on, the wife ran out and said, "No, you're not selling that cow!" The deal got much better!
Mr. J. Petkau put up wind chargers (mills) for others and also for us. His in-laws lived across the road from us. When Mr. Friesen saw that Mr. Petkau was climbing up (he only had one hand) Mr. Friesen quietly went into his house so that he wouldn't have to see this. Mr. Petkau had workers who helped him but he tied all his tools to his belt and nothing fell down when he worked on top. Ours was the first windcharger he erected. Many people were amazed at his bravery.
Johann Barkman=s grandfather was the delegate, David Klassen. One day Mr. Klassen went to Winnipeg with a team of horses to get wood. When he was ready to come home, he noticed that one horse had a lame front shoulder. He took it to a doctor right away and the doctor told him to shoot the horse. Mr. Klassen was not satisfied with that report and so he took it to a vet. The vet and David Klassen both got onto the horse and popped the shoulder back into place. He left the horse in Winnipeg for two weeks and when he returned, the shoulder had healed perfectly. Mr. Klassen went back to the other doctor and made him admit that his advice had been bad and that the horse was in fine shape.
There were many girls around but none that interested me. One evening I prayed to God to show me the right one. The same night I dreamt about Anna Barkman. She was a modest girl but had lots of love and patience. The next night I dreamt that we got engaged. Then the third night I dreamt that we were getting married. Now it was clear to me what I should do - what God's will was! The next evening I walked with her to the store.
Anna's stepfather was nine years older than I was and he was not willing to let me have Anna. Finally he consented and I could have this wonderful girl. Even though we had often driven past the Friesens to go to our fields it had never occurred to me that I would love Anna.
One day when I was plowing in the field, my treasure (darling) came to visit with me awhile. We started dating in June of 1921 and got married in February of 1922. I was 23 years old when I bought my first car. The car was two or three years old and cost me $500.00 (new $1000.00). I didn't have permission to take my sweetheart along in it because of her father. Three times I went to Anna's with my car: other times I drove my bicycle or walked there.
When we were driving around as an engaged couple one evening, a snowstorm came up. We had to stop at a house and ask where we were; we were only five miles from home. We drove with a sleigh to invite people to our wedding and we tipped over and my bride fell out, but nothing happened to her. The snow was very deep.
P.C.L. Diary: January 28th -Engagement party for Annie and I at C.K. Friesens. During the next week we visited my parents, J.K.L. Friesens, Jacob B. Kroekers, David K. Kroekers, Jacob F. Duecks, John F. Duecks, Cornelius Rempels, Mrs. A.K. Friesen, Jacob Klassens, P.W.F., and the C.K. Eidses. On February 1, we were at Annie=s home except for a short visit with H.R. Duecks. 2 - We visited Mrs. Harms, Abram D. Loewens and the J.H. Friesens. 3 - We were in Morris for dinner and then visited the A.R. Duecks, Johan H. Friesens, Abram E. Eidses, John Loewens and Ben R. Duecks. On Saturday the fourth, I was at Annie=s for a while, then at home for dinner and then off to Morris.
We got married in the afternoon of February 5 in my parents' home. It was very cold. Why we got married then, when it was so cold, I'm not sure. We had to make lots of room for the horses in the barn, so that they would
not have to stand outside. I think there was enough room for all of them. Father was the one who took care of that. There were 122 people at our wedding. After the wedding, we were sprinkled with rice. It felt kind of sharp in the face.
In the evening a lot of young people came over. There was lots of singing, also "Ennse Doft" (David Enns) was there with his fiddle. He loved attending singing parties. There were no other musical instruments. This David got to be old, but never married. His violin also got old, so it couldn't be tuned anymore. I'd be interested to know where the violin stayed since he didn't have any descendants.
I sold my car to my father right after the wedding and bought a buggy. However, we did begin our honeymoon with the car. It had only one seat for two people - perfect for us!
A week or so after our wedding we went on a honeymoon for one week to visit relatives of mine (Duecks). We traveled by train to Plum Coulee. My relatives were surprised that I was married because they hadn't heard I had a girlfriend. (PCL Diary)
My father-in-law, C.K. Friesen, helped with the threshing, but one day he had forgotten to make arrangements to go along with someone and all the workers had left. Because Dad (C.D.L.) wanted to go there with his car, my father-in-law finally had to go along too because they were going to thresh for him! Sometimes we joked a bit that he had to go along with a car! Eight years later he finally bought a car also!
One day while I was swathing on the field I cut off a prairie chicken's leg. I pulled off its head and brought it home. The chickens are a bit bigger than bantams so the next day my wife cooked it for me for dinner.
My wife's aunt had an old-fashioned dress and cap that she had received from her mother. She put it on and walked around the house and knocked on the door. When the man opened the door, she asked whether or not his wife was at home. He went to find her but couldn't. She started to laugh and he realized that she was his wife!
One year I made silage and hired a fat, heavy man to pack it since it had a very sour smell. The silo was 14 feet high and we didn't need all the silage. I gave some to the man, who said he first wanted to satisfy his appetite before he would feed it to his cattle. It was still green and wet!
In Mexico, I wanted to close the tap on the bottom of the tractor radiator. Because I didn't hold on properly, I pinched the skin on my left pointer finger between the fan belt and the pulley. Ben took me to the clinic where Tina Friesen pulled the skin together, poured some medicine over it, taped it up and I drove home. We soon had Canadian visitors. One of them said, APeter, you are going to regret that you didn't have it fixed better.@ When I went back to have it rechecked, the nurse said, ASomebody else will have to do that!@ I've never been sorry later.
When our son Frank had an appendix operation in Rubio, another man was there for surgery also. They tied him to a table but he broke away and ran with only his hospital nightgown on. I guess he didn't want the operation.
Stories Grandpa told me submitted by Leona Loewen
With tears in his eyes, Grandpa told me about Queen Elizabeth visiting the city of Winnipeg. People had put flowers on the carpet on some of the steps and she had indicated that people were honoring her too much and gently moved the flowers aside. He was moved by her humility.
Grandpa always chuckled when he told of the time during his teenage years when he and a friend went to a neighbour's place. They had a child who experienced seizures and the child's eyes would roll back and so on. His friend went out because he was frightened. Grandpa got up and followed him. This frightened his friend still more and he began to walk faster and faster without looking back.
A certain man was single all his life and had a store where the young people gathered to visit in the evenings. One time he asked Grandpa to look for a girl for him. Grandpa thought he had enough to do looking for a girl of his own. The man's hair was grey from youth but he consoled himself with the saying ANo grey hair grows on a dumb head.@ A friend of his had reminded him that a donkey was born grey.
My Parents Home in Mexico
Our first home in Mexico turned out to be the permanent one. Mother and Dad took us all to look for a good place to start our farm. Mother wanted a place with trees (like where she grew up) but somehow they settled for a place near a creek and ravines. Mother insisted that trees had to be planted which was done the first spring.
We moved into the house two months after arriving in Mexico. Rough, wide boards lay on the cement for a floor and the ceiling was the same. There was one wall through the house lengthwise. A few walls were made with chests of drawers and blankets to create bedrooms.
In the house, the outer brick walls were plastered and windows and doors were built in soon afterward. I remember our cat stealing in through the window but having to leave rather quickly the same way she came in.
1949 -First Impressions of the Farm Cornie B. Loewen - Mexico Journal
Dad's farm...It is built on the sloping banks near the mountain stream, though to arrive at the stream, you had to hike an eighth of a mile downhill, and to carry two pails of sparkling cold water up, you had to hike at least that. The house was a ranch-type building about 40 feet long and 40 feet wide. It was built mainly of brownish-looking adobe bricks though the roof was constructed of strong ribbed tar paper - Mexican style with sloping sides. The windows were large and handsome-looking in the thick walls which provided for wide window sills. The house was set north and south. On the north end to the east side was the summer kitchen and garage. A hastily erected structure of rough boards to the southeast of these buildings served as a barn and chicken house. Near by was the well-built granary for oats and chicken feed. The farm was soon to boast a big machine shed if all went well as they=d started a foundation of four foot walls to the southwest of the house. The whole yard was on a slope and to start the truck on a dead battery, all that was needed was a push out of the garage and the downhill roll would start the motor readily...
Farming in Mexico by Ben B. Loewen
Before my father had divided his land among us, his children, he seeded six hundred acres of oats. I remember that one year all the oats seed was brought into the loft of the barn. It must have been a very small harvest that year.
Dad also went to work threshing oats for others with his McCormick threshing machine, which he had brought with them from Canada. I can still see him with chaff in his neck and cap when he would walk around the thresher or when he'd raise his head after he had checked on everything. A man never gets used to oat straw between the body and clothes. My Dad and my brothers also threshed corn with the new Minneapolis Thresher from Canada.
What must it be like to be to be hard of hearing? We know to some extent how it is because we had a Dad who was hard of hearing. We'd say it wasn't very easy. Conversing was difficult. In 1957 there was mention of a certain operation that would help. The parents went with J.W. Peters to Mexico City. We began to hope and imagine what it would be like to talk to Dad in a normal voice. To think that he might be able to understand everything when we would speak to each other was overwhelming. It was not meant to be. It was too late for Dad to have this operation. His hearing would only get slowly worse. He remained our Dad nonetheless.
The 1938 Plymouth was purchased brand-new. My parents drove it to Mexico in 1947 when they had their 25th anniversary. Then it made the trip to Mexico again in 1948. Many years later, after Dad had driven it well and had retired it and had bought another car, the 1938 Plymouth was brought out again from behind the sheds. Dad fixed up the fenders and drove it again. In December of 1955 he decided to buy a new Dodge pick-up. It was a thrill for both the parents and the children. It was the only new vehicle that they purchased in Mexico. It stayed in the family for 30 years.
The Allis Chalmers "U" 1938 was brought here from Canada. It drove well and much and worked the 600 acres diligently. After an accident involving a Farmall H Tractor we had a lot of trouble with it. Then Father purchased a D-4 Caterpillar in the United States in 1955. It served us well and worked our fields without trouble for many years. The D-4 still remains in our family as a keepsake.
In 1962 Dad retired from farming and gave the farm over to us, his sons. He still helped out where he could. He hauled grain and helped out with business transactions. We purchased their yard and house and they moved into a smaller house on the same yard. Father still enjoyed seeing us work on the yard and also in the workshop. He often sat beside me and watched when I would build coffins.
When Mom died in 1985 he became more withdrawn. He lost interest in the world and thought more about heaven.
In 1988 when the 40th anniversary of Quellen Kolonie was held, he showed no excitement about attending the festivities. Since he had helped build the colony when it began, I wanted to take him along and show him around, but he declined. He was just too tired. He wanted to go to another Reunion. A better one, where he would never be tired again. One where he could travel by foot on Golden streets to The Throne, to Jesus who saved him and had carried him through the years, the One he loved.
I respected my father highly and I'm sure that he didn't scold us very often. The few times he did it hurt very much. I always thought I had the best mother all through my years. Now looking back it would have been good if she had told me a little more during my teen-age years. Helen Reimer
My father loved to tell stories, to reminisce and to read. My mother was always working, telling stories or singing. Martin B. Loewen
My mother-in-law never had the heart to spank her children because her stepfather had been very liberal and somewhat undiscerning in his use of physical discipline. To my husband Cornie=s chagrin she often wept to get her children to mend their ways. I think he would have preferred the spanking. Obviously her tears, combined with her prayers, were effective since all her children followed the Lord. My father-in-law had a wonderful sense of humor and was not as conservative as Mother in many ways. They were a precious couple and I loved their gentle, quiet ways and the fact that they always opened their home to us. Mother helped us so often with garden produce and taking care of the children. Tina B. Loewen
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