GLOSSARY
Poland glossary

Stanislaw

(POLAND 16)

Sex

male

Age

81

Occupation

retired forester

Location

Miedzylesie

Date

June 1999

 

transcript

Section 1
Yes, please.
Stanislaw Wezik, born on 1st May 1918.

How long have you been living here?
Since March 1918.

And you were a forester and a bee-keeper, werenít you?
Thatís right.

Why did you choose that profession, did you...?
You mean a forester?

Yes, a forester.
You know what? We didnít have... until 1939, you couldnít get any job anywhere at all. There were no factories or anything, so people worked in the forests. There were even some 60-70 women working there. I had a nursery of young trees, I started it when I was young: 22 hectares of that nursery there was. Yes, you could see that, I rode a bicycle through that nursery, a lot of people worked there, I even grew some bramble bushes. You know, they kept pheasants there, so they dug ditches, deep and wide, filled them with water, and they planted bramble bushes on the edges. And trees too - lime trees, or ash. They were usually planted on the sides of the roads. And the forest administration sold those trees and bushes. Anyway, I canít complain, the work was not so hard, I didnít have to work a lot, to make a huge effort.

So you liked that job, didnít you?
Sure I did, why shouldnít I? You know what, if I didnít have this sclerosis, I would still stay in the forest. You know, when Iíd retired, still for some time more, I missed my report case, I was so attached to the job, to the forest. I would go there, even right now. Iíve got two daughters, I ask them what they do. They often laugh. The changes taking place in the forests nowadays are tremendous. Trees are tended differently, the work is different. Nowadays, the forester has little work to do. They go to the forest to receive the work done by others, they sit in the office, do the simulations and thatís all. Back then, you had to attend everything personally, do everything by hand. To this day Iíve kept my abacus, we didnít have any calculators, we had to use abacuses. You know, there was work to be done, fewer people worked in the offices. Nowadays, youíve got some 20 people in the office alone. Back then, it was only four: the head forester, a secretary, the cashier, and one more person, some sort of an assistant. And now, youíve got 20 people, can you imagine that?
Section 2
For some time you were also a bee-keeper. Did you treat that as a job or rather a hobby?
[Pauses for a while, rubbing his fingers against the table top] No, that was just a hobby. Only for my own needs. There were eight of us from Miedzylesie, we went to a course.

So that was your own choice, wasnít it?
Yes. You know, I liked it so much because the bees didnít bite, they didnít sting me. So I did have the bees. Sometimes my friends came along to help me. Sometimes, you had to move them from one hive to another, you know. To renew the old one. And they always stung someone else, not me. Others would smoke the bees away to avoid stinging, I didnít. I would just smoke a cigarette, and I could work in the hive, no problem. To this day, Iíve never been stung by a bee. Yes, my daughter, she was stung in the head once, she couldnít see anything for three days, sheíd got so swollen [smiles].

How did you manage to keep bees alongside being a forester?
You know, I donít think there is a person in the world who does not have a hobby. There are very few who donít. One has this, another has that, you know. In my case, it was the bees. That was my first hobby, there are hives in the field to this day. There are still six of them, but itís more difficult now, I find it difficult to walk, my legs are not the same.

What was your familyís attitude towards your... Were they glad you were working here?
You know what? I must say, my wife or my children didnít have anything against me. I liked it very much when two daughters went to work in the forestry as well. One of them is a personnel officer; the other one works as a sales manager, I mean timber sales. And thereís another one who works for the army, she lives not far from here, in Dlugopole Zdrůj.

Did you notice any changes in the environment around here?
You know what? In the forest it was like this. They planted only spruce trees. Under the Germans, it was the spruce and the beech from time to time. Now, when we came here, you couldnít see a sinle pine tree. Not far from here, in a few places, I planted some six hectares of untilled farming land, I planted it with a chequer pattern: spruce, pine, larch, beech. When the forestry director came here from Wroclaw, director Fila, he said he would hang me if it didnít work. And you know, it did work. Now these trees are so big and healthy. You know, itís you live and learn, and you die a stupid person. Now, what you discover on your own is a success.

How about the climate, has it changed?
You know, the winters here are so hard, you cannot work in the forest without skis. Thatís how it was some time ago, anyway. The forest workers had to carry all the saws, back then they didnít have chain saws, they carried saws, axes, wedges. They had to carry all that with them. And a spade was indispensable in the winter, when you got to a tree, you had to dig the snow away if you wanted to cut the tree down. When a tree fell down into the snow, you could see only some of its branches sticking out. It was a very unpleasant job. And now, I donít know, perhaps for eight years now, you could wear just low shoes to work. The climate has changed a lot.
Section 3
Has this climate influenced the environment somehow?
I donít know. Well, thereís been some influence. For example, my wife and myself, we planted tomatoes in the garden, cauliflowers, they grew without any protection, any shields. Nowadays, you cannot plant a tomato here for fear it will get frost bitten [thumping the fingers on the table]. You cannot plant anything like that without a foil tent. This is a change, isnít it? Yes, this is a change that I can feel.

How about large-scale calamities, like the flood two years ago?
Yes, the flood was here... two years ago. The water almost reached our flat here. It came through this ditch here. Yes, it was terrible.

Did such calamities happen in the past?
No.

No?
I have been living here since1946, and I havenít seen any. And now, for the last two years, itís been terrible. It damaged all the roads around here. There was no access to the villages of Szklarnia, Goworůw, Nowa Wies, and further on, in the direction of Bystrzyca. You couldnít reach the forest, even peopleís homes got flooded. Right here, in the direction of the Czech border. And here, in Boboszůw, Smreczyna and Kamienczyk (villages) as well. Well, anyway, people suffered a lot. Yes.

And such calamities, do you think theyíve got influence over the nature?
Pardon?

Do those calamities change the nature?
Sure they do. They affected the trees and the farming grounds. In the areas which were flooded, all the soil got flushed away, the water brought a lot of stones, pieces of rock. It will take them more than 10 years now to reach the condition in which the ground will be similar to what it was before the flood. So that they can grow anything there, some crops. Itís awful. This year, weíve been saved, the region of Opole got flooded again, I heard on the TV, on the radio. I donít know whoís to blame for that. It must be some higher force. It comes from above.

Do you think the nature was nicer in the past? I donít know, perhaps you could drink the water straight from the streams or something?
Definitely. I used to go not far from here, to a spring. They said it was curative. However sweated you were, you could drink as much as you wished and it did you no harm. I donít know. People took water from the river, the small river here. My neighbours didnít have their own well, they didnít have water supply at home, so they took this water and they lived. The cattle drank that water, people did, you know...

Were there any moments in your work that you felt like giving it up, changing your job?
No! [very convinced and convincing] No. Until this day, I often tell my daughters that theyíve got their job at their doorstep, donít have to commute, and I tell them to keep their jobs. I mean the two daughters. One, the youngest, and the other, the oldest; the middle one works for the army. I liked working with people, they respected me, I respected them. I had good relationships with the forest workers, it was like a family, you know. Until this day, they remember me. There arenít many left now, most of them have already died. There are two left from my forestry. Two are still alive. Other that that, all the new ones are young people. Others have all died.
[His wife enters] What?
Section 4
Mrs. Wezik: Tadek has arrived.
Itís alright, we are just talking.

Mrs. Wezik: Yes?
Well, you know, people living around here, I canít complain, I have survived a lot. If it wasnít for the illness, perhaps I would... I got ill. You know, there was an accident, a fire in the forest. And back then, there werenít so many people to fight it. We were fighting the fire, and I stayed for the night, to keep an eye on it, because there were places where the fire burst out again from time to time. You know, if itís dry, itís extremely difficult to extinguish the fire. So I stayed in the forest, I was wearing only my overalls. It was a cold night. And you know, now I regret it. I got ill, I went down with tuberculosis. I spent six months in hospital. And you know what? From among 33 people with TB who were in that hospital in Bystrzyca Stara, only four people are still alive. Four, I think. Those who went down, and I was quite seriously ill, I would spit blood... And you know, I didnít drink vodka, didnít smoke cigarettes, and Iím still alive. And those who liked to drink - the end, no life left for them.

What did your everyday life look like?
Pardon?

What did your everyday life look like at that time?
Well, you know, I canít complain. My wife wasnít much of a nuisance [laughs]. Weíve been together for 53 years now. Itís quite a long time, isnít it? And until this day... Well, my wife is a bit worse now, sheís also ill. Sheís got those lapses of memory. Sheís alright, she walks, she works and all, but itís sometimes difficult to communicate with her. She wants to say something but she doesnít know what it is. Now Iíve got used to it, itís been about a year now, so I can guess a lot, when my wife tries to explain something to me, want to say something, I often guess, and Iím often right at my guesses [laughs].

And back then, when you were a forester and a bee-keeper, what did your life look like?
We were leading a peaceful life. My wife often helped me with paperwork. You know, some time ago, the farmers had a quota of timber that they could take for themselves. So she often helped me with preparing the receipts - if I couldnít manage. We were a good couple, we didnít quarrel. I canít complain. And the children, they also have quite good lives. Two daughters are married. The youngest and the middle one. The oldest just wonít get married. Sheís alright, sheís living with us. And the other two, theyíve gone away. One of them lives in the neighbourhood. Not far away. And the other one - in Dlugopole Zdrůj. She has to commute, cause she works for WOP (the border guards)... Thatís all Iíve got to say, really.
Section 5
And back then, what was it like? Did you go to the forest first, and later to the bees or the other way round?
No. With the bees, you had to wait for a proper day. You know, you canít go to them whenever you want. If the weatherís like today, you canít go to them lest you should wake them. You mustnít wake them. Or move them, or disturb them at night or anything like that. Thatís not good for the bees. And when the weather is nice, I just wonít believe that bees will attack people. I just wonít believe it. If you donít disturb them, you could lie down to sleep next to a hive, they will walk over your face, everywhere. Nothing will happen to you. There was this forester from Bystrzyca, he once came and asked me to bring a couple of bees so that they would sting him. He thought it would help him get sober. You know, they stung hime so much on the arm, both arms. Well, the bee died when it stings, but he hoped it would help him.

Did your job influence your family relationships? I donít know, perhaps your wife didnít like you spending so much time doing all that?
You know, I started my job before I got married, so my wife knew. I got married in Ď46 and I came here. I left my wife behind cause she was running a shop. And she knew she had to share it. Anyway, she knew we had to adjust to one another somehow. Well, and my wife also worked for some 15 years in a shop. At the grocery, at the butcherís. They moved her from one place to another, the shops belonged to GS (Cooperative). She founded a slef-service shop here, she was the manager. Well, you know, we had to adjust somehow, and we had children to look after, and we somehow managed.

Were there any other occupations you were busy with, apart from the forest and the bees?
Well, I was also a hunter. You must have seen some of my trophies in the hall.

So it was your free time occupation, hunting was...?
Yes, you had to have a lot of free time for hunting, unfortunately. I didnít like to go and sit there at night. Waiting for the game, the way other hunters do. I donít like it. I like going out to get a specific one. Usually it was a wild boar. The best time is at dawn, at daybreak. You had to walk along the forest edge, from the side of the field. You could meet a fox or a wild boar or a roe-deer - on their way back to the forest from the field. You met them early in the morning. You could get a fox especially in the winter, when itíd been plundering the fields at night. So, when it was still in the field, you could throw a stick or something, and it would run to the forest. And there I was. So the fox came to me, as if to say good morning to me. Thatís how my life went anyway.

What do you do at the moment?
These days, Iíve got only a piece of a garden. I plant tomatoes, cucumbers, onions. Iíve got my own vegetables. And beetroots and all. My tomatoes grow this big [shows with his hand] under the foil. And it brings me joy. I often see people who will just sit in front of the house, sit there all day, gossip and do nothing. And in the evening, they will go to the garden. I see such people around here. As I say, as long as I can walk, I will grow something. Iím glad I can do that. You see, Iíve got a piece of an orchard here. I used to have 60 fruit trees. Some of them got frostbitten and died, now theyíre about 40. Every year, I work there as well. This year, I grafted some trees. I grafted two apple trees, two pear trees. They grow quite nice, Iím glad they do. I donít have much work, itís not difficult. But I have to do something, if I didnít, there would be no life for me. As I say, as long as I can, I will not leave my garden.
Section 6
So, youíre no longer a hunter, are you? Donít you hunt these days?
I canít walk that much. If my legs were alright, [but] they arenít. Other than that, I feel alright. But this is no flatland. Elsewhere, from where I come, the region of Kielce, the land was flat there. I could ride around the whole forestry on a bicycle. Here, you have to walk, use your feet. Some people drive their cars, they travel to places, but, in my opinion, the forest is not a place for a car.

Can you see any difference between what it used to be like when you were a hunter and now? I mean, for example, were there more animals in the forest back then?
You know, it depends which district youíre looking at. Some forestry districts have a lot of game, in others, where thereís a lot of poaching, the game has been decimated. It depends on the forestry district. We would go to various places, hunt various kinds of game. If we wanted to hunt the hare, we would go near Wroclaw, Strzelin. And if it was the wild boar, the roe-deer or the deer we were after, we hunted around here, in the mountainous areas. Well, if you wanted a hare, there are very few of them around here. They were very few in the past as well. There were lots of foxes, though. But the hare will keep to the fields rather than the forest.

And the conditions for bee-keeping, were they better in the past than they are now?
You know what. Now the climate is colder, the springs are colder. And if the bees cannot gather the pollen in the spring, all that is left for them is the raspberry. Rape is not planted around here, so you canít have proper income from bee-keeping. Some of my friends have 20 - 30 bee families, but what of that? They donít have proper income from that. I listened to the radio today, they donít have rape. Recently, Iíve heard they have some 16 kilograms.
[His wife enters] What is it now?

Mrs. Wezik: Will this be long?
About 16 kilograms of honey from one family.

We can make a short break if you want to.
Close the door [to wife]

Mrs. Wezik: What?
Close the door! Go away!
Section 7
How to put that in order? Did you wait?
Yes, I waited. (?)

Tell me about tourism, was it better developed in the past or...?
You know what? Tourism... My daughters would go on holiday, they were girl guides, all three of them. Other than that, some ball playing or something, it will have been some five years now, that they started playing some ball... Yes, last Sunday they played volleyball. Other than that, there wasnít any.

How about people coming here, to hike the mountains?
You know, itís started only recently. People come from the towns to those small villages. The villages around here were small ones, like Kamienczyk or Smreczyna. Now there are visitors coming and they build houses, buy old ones, and they convert them into summer houses.

Did the tourists have any influence over the environment or not?
No, I wouldnít say that. You know, there werenít many tourists around here, no trips or large parties. Not far from here, in Miedzygůrze, yes. The only thing I can say about those visitors, tourists, is that they littered the forest. You know how it is, the same way it was in the past: they use something, have a bag or a tin left - the easiest thing to do is to throw it away in the forest. So that was the only thing. They didnít cause any serious damage to the trees or anything. Ah, there were also sheep breeding areas. And the sheep keepers often damaged the forests a bit, mainly the deciduous trees. Other than that, there were no people who would do any harm to the nature.

How do you find living here, in the mountains?
I canít complain. Iíve got used to the forest.

You used to live in the Kielce region, can you compare your life there and here?
Yes, I can compare, even now. People lived there, there were no jobs. Well, here people wouldnít go to work in the forest as much as they did back there. A lot of people worked in the forest back there, planting trees, a lot of women as well. Men would go from one land owner to another working at the harvest, with the scythes. They would dig out potatoes as well. The owners didnít hire any machines or anything because it was cheaper by hand. Men would go and scythe the crops, women would tie the sheaves, thatís the way they worked. And here, now, if they donít have a combine harvester, they will not as much as touch a scythe. This is a change. This is what they have come to, the farmers. As I say, these days, the farmers lead a totally different lives. They wonít touch a scythe, they wonít harvest with mowers that you had to collect the crops and tie into sheaves after. People donít get interested in them any more, itís all gone to scratch. There are a lot of changes.

How long did you spend in the Kielce region?
Well, I lived in Germany for five years, I worked on a farm. It was a hard job. No freedom, you had to work very hard. But I survived it. And I know why I survived. Even the hostessís daughter, the one at whose farm I worked, has visited me twice here. I donít know, if there had been a bit more freedom, maybe I would have stayed, found myself a job, but there was something inside telling me to come back here. So I came back from Germany to where I come from, and then I arrived here. I participated in the foundation of the first forestry administration. The office was in the castle that you can see near the church over there. And so, I have lived here until this day.
Section 8
What did you do in the Kielce region?
Well, I worked there, as I said. I administered the work in the forest. Tree planting, timber cutting, selling. I was a young man, started working at the age of sixteen, so farming was too little for me. And I had to find myself a job, but when I stopped liking it, I ran away to the west, and so I am still here. As I said, if it werenít for the legs, I would still be working. I will not allow anyone to say a bad word against the forestry.

What were the reasons why you moved here from the Kielce region?
Well, the reasons were, my cousin from the east came here and settled in a village. And I came to visit him, and I knew... I had been working in the forestry before, there was a job to be taken here, I applied for it, I was here for almost a year without my wife.

Do you think living in the mountains is better or...?
For me itís much better here, you know. It was better and still is. I donít complain that Iím so unwell, although Iím already a pensioner, but I donít drink vodka, I donít smoke cigarettes, so the money Iím getting is enough for me, you know.

Would you say that the mountains have changed in all those years?
Well, I can say that the kind of trees have changed. There are different trees now. Under the Germans, there were not so many different pests, so many different bugs destroying the trees. All the spruce trees have been as if eaten up now. Now theyíve started planted mixed forests, that is much better, and it looks better. No bug will eat the larch or the pine.
[daughter enters]

Daughter: Hi, granddad.
My daughter, the oldest one.

Did you travel a lot, or didnít you travel at all?
[daughter leaves] You know, since Iíve been here, Iíve been three times at the seaside. I liked it a lot there. I worked at a tailorís shop. Other than that, I havenít travelled anywhere. Oh, Iíve been on a trip to the Czech Republic. But, as the saying goes, when you grow old, you stay in one place.

Would you have liked to travel more? Perhaps not now, but when you were younger?
Well, you know... Itís the work that keep you in one place. When you have a job, you donít think about travelling from one place to another. Well, when I was working in NEL, I was in the trade unions, and then I organised trips. Two trips I organised. And people liked it, had a good time. Yes, we went to Czechoslovakia, and we went to the seaside. Other than that, I didnít travel anywhere. Once, I went on holiday with my children. That was the only time since the war. They took me as a guide. I took 10, almost 10 children to look after. I escorted them there, and then had to go and fetch them. Yes, so that was my travelling. I donít know. I keep on living, I donít know for how long more.
Section 9
Letís hope as long as possible. Thank you very much.
Thank you.

Is there anything you would like to add?
No, no. What could I possibly add? I can only say that I like it here, and I would like to live a long life, and thatís all. Thank you.

Thank you.