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P U B L I C A T I O N S  >  R E M I N I S C E N C E S

bullet Preface
bullet Foreword
bullet Grandfather     Dictated by Ary
bullet The Village     Dictated by Ary
bullet Supplement to the Village
bullet Vilna     Dictated by Ary
bullet Supplemet to Vilna
bullet Coming to the United States     Dictated by Ary
bullet Back of the Store     Dictated by Ary
bullet Omaha     Dictated by Ary
bullet Ary in New York - 1919
bullet Ary in Paris
bullet Ary Comes Back to the United States
bullet Ary's Marriage
bullet Summer Cottage in Harmon
bullet The Studio on Fifty-Ninth Street
bullet We Return to Paris
bullet Cuernavaca-Houston
bullet Ary and Music
bullet Ary and the English Language
bullet Ary Stillman - Thoughts on Painting

The Village (1891-1905)
Dictated By Ary

Hretzk was not a picturesque village — not a bit. As you drove into the village the first house to the right side is where my brother Eli was born. It was the most northerly part of the village and consequently it was very cold. The wind blowing from the north would practically freeze up everything around the house. Not very far away was the mill. There were several roads converging, and on one road coming from the village called Roseweh stood our one mill. Father used to run it and it was when they put in machinery that Father was killed by the machinery. He was only about 34 years old.

The very earliest thing I remember is that we were driving from Hretzk to another village, Starobe, for a wedding — my father's younger brother was getting married. We stopped at a Kretchma overnight and it was a very dark room that I was to sleep in and I raised hell that there was no light. I was so unhappy that it was dark; I made such a rumpus that I upset the whole wedding. I remember so well that Kretchma and how scared I was in the room without light. I was afraid of being in a dark room — I saw ghosts. But how could I remember — perhaps this thing was reinforced by their talking about it later.

Now there is another memory that goes back probably just as far. The house where I was born was quite remote in the village — I knew about where it was and in later years I thought of going to see it but I never did. One thing I remember about it is that for Succoth they would make a Succoth. Somehow or other I had in my hand a little mirror. Where it came from I don't know —a tiny little mirror. I remember the Succoth was fixed up and I had such a desire to put something to decorate it, and I fixed that little mirror in a corner in the Succoth and that gave me such satisfaction. It was only a clumsy little corner. I stuck the little mirror in a corner of the primitive Succoth, probably just a table and a few chairs to sit there.

At the same period, a little later we moved from that little house to Grandfather's house. He had a big house that he had made himself, and evidently things weren't very good for my father and we moved in, and behind the stove there was some space where it was hot and that is where we children slept. When we moved I wanted to be of use in moving and I held the lamp as we walked from one house to another. There was no street, we had to walk through gardens, past some peasant houses and vegetable gardens. Father walked first and Mother carried something and I carried the lamp and I held it until we came to Grandfather's house, so firmly they couldn't take it from me.

Now my uncle with the big black beard found me lying one day in a field, fast asleep, and he picked me up and brought me over to the house and he gave a tongue lashing to my mother — ''How come you don't look after your child?" because I had disappeared, and I would fall asleep, so he picked me up and carried me home. Now, do I remember the fact that Uncle was angry at my Mother and talking harshly, or do I remember that they talked about it. I am sure I remember Uncle's big black beard with a few gray hairs.

The house itself I remember vaguely. A log cabin, small. The place where we lived with Grandfather had a big stove and behind the stove there was a place fixed up for the children to sleep. It was good and hot for them, but it was suffocating — very little ventilation — only what came from the door.

There was one large room and part of it was like a separate room with a door between and that is where they kept the cow. They would open the door to feed the cow and milk it. There was a sort of opening, a window without glass. The cow would stick out her jaw and would look out if someone was there and would moo. Especially she always recognized Father. One evening it was dark in the fore-house, and suddenly I saw something moving, and I became so frightened; a cold sweat broke out. There was a living ghost in front of me, moving in space. Suddenly Father opened the door and came in from the outside and as the door opened I saw the cow with her mouth through the opening. The mouth was a different color, a light yellow, while the other part of her head was in shadow. And then I realized my ghost was the cow.

Above the bed of my Grandfather there was a portrait of the Czar, Alexander III — a chromo. It was unusually quiet, early in the morning. We children were sleeping in the back, behind the big stove. All of a sudden we were awakened by a noise, and a crowd of peasants unceremoniously walked in to talk to Grandfather — peasants followed by some women. They stopped, all of them, to look at the chromo above Grandfather's bed. "Oh yes," said one, "look, how it has turned yellow. It looks deadly —" and they kept peering at the chromo. "So he's dead," said Grandfather. "Yes, he's dead — look at the color of the picture, you can see he's dead." Then the peasants began to talk to Grandfather about the new Czar. Shortly afterwards we heard that Nicholas II had succeeded to the throne.

News traveled very slowly in those days. But Grandfather would get the news somehow — I don't know, how the news traveled was a mystery. I believe there were a couple of people in the village who got a newspaper from Moscow.

In that part of the country the language was similar to Russian, but a patois. Now it is a White Russian. Between Ukrainian and Polish —very crude.

The higher officials in that section were Poles. My father could speak Polish with them. There was one school in Hretzk, which accommodated 200 children, for the entire district and one teacher — for the peasant children.

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