Wednesday, October 19, 2011


It's such fun when you dig back in history past the point when the languages still used the now lost yers and yats and so on which are no longer used in the south anyway except in ultra archaic forms like in my own surname.  There used to be a  place called Halych–Volhyn.  Volhyn.  Wet.

I mentioned earlier that I was born among the Mvskoke.  I am not Mvskoke and so I do not have any tribal rights associated with them, nor am I a citizen of their almost invisible state in the middle of North America, but I do understand their history a bit.  Hehehe, my father had an unwitting impact on their "traditional" music, bless his heart.  Wet.  Mvskoke = Wet. So many words in Mvskoke jezik talk about "wet": a fast running creek, a slow running creek, a boggy creek, a dry creek, a river, a pond, a lake, a big lake, cold water, hot water, etc., etc., etc., each has its own word to describe it so there is little need for adjectives to attach to one of the "water" words.  Volhyn = Wet, but not on Mvskoke, on Volhynijan.

Volhyn was situated in the Buh river basin, a sometimes wet place and a major obstacle to the migrations into Europe.  Over the years the region was under a number of administrations including that of Małopolska and Krakova.  Among others, Aelfred the Great of Wessex mentions us.

The Germans and some of the tribes traveling with them moved through the Volhyn area on their way west.  A vast horde of them the old songs say.  With their great wagons, they wanted no part of the marsh lands so we stepped quietly back into the forests and into the marsh lands out of their way and let them pass.  They would be gone soon enough, and they were.  When the most of them had emptied out to the west we came crawling out of the marshes like so many cockroaches of a Texas coastal summer's evening back into our own land.  Haraldr harðráði's chronicler says in the Heimskringla: "Tryggvi ok Tvívívill höfðu komit 12 skipum: Læsir hafði skeið ok alla skipaða með köppum" which is to say: "The Laesir, they have arrived on the large, and long-ship ..."  Hmmm Maybe I've heard a story like this put another way: "Sju tusen 777 sjösjuka sjömän,"  (seven thousand seven hundred and seventy seven sea sick seamen).   Ok, say that three times fast on Croatian and see how your mouth feels:  "sedam tisuća, sedam sto, sedamdeset sedam morsku bolest pomoraca"  This was the moment when Haraldr harðráði, the last fierce Viking, encountered the Hrvats.  

The Laesir, as the Swedes called the Bielo-Chorvats or "White" Croatians were on the move too.  Some modern historian types wonder what happened to them.  If they were to listen to the old songs they would know.  When the time came, they loaded their wagons and moved.  Some of them again boarded "the large and long-ship ..."

Some were left behind.  Their fate was not so good.  As usual, someone wished to harm them and they did.

Of those who had the prescience to leave, not every one had moved at the same time.  My ancestors went south about a thousand years ago.  Some Bielo-Chorvats whose families had remained in more northerly regions arrived in Ohio in the early 1900s.  Adolf Emil Kannwischer arrived in North America from the region in the 1940s as a refugee from the Nazi's and the Communists and the general disorder which prevailed at the time. Was he "German?"  Ummmm.  Was he Ruthenian?  Ummmm.  Was he Polish? Ummm.  Was he Russian?  Unh uhhh - he made that super clear, no!  To all the other questions, the answer is yes.  And no.  Kannwischer was Volhynijan and more specifically, he was Evangelical (Lutheran) and Hrvat.

His father was Emil, born during Advent in Wartrowka in 1879.  Not far away in Nowopol there were some of my relatives.  These were relatives whose ancestors were the same as mine, who had made the trek south and had lived in Western Slavonija near Palešnik for generations before the troubles came.   (Did you read my story about TS Takt from  Palešnik?)  This I know because they knew the same story songs as I know - up to the point of the wagons with wings which flew over the long water.  Their ancestors had been protestant and on their way with the Palatine immigration to North America when word came that they were welcome back in the Volhynija and so they had gone.  Now they had come away from the Buh river and had gone to Kansas to gather up with others who had come away from where is now Russia.  

In the Volhynija they were Evangelical (Lutheran), here they were Mennonite, Kannwischer was Southern Baptist, go figure. There were a couple more families in Houston in support of the young people from their selo who were doing "Alternative Service" in the hospitals during the Vietnam War.  That's another story for another time.  Eighty-six dollars and a few pence per month for four years at twelve to fourteen hours a day.  It was impossible to live in the metropolis on less than poverty wages so hundreds and hundreds of our youth bunched up and bundled up.  Mess with us and we know how to survive.  We are Hrvat.  You can not knock us down and keep us down.  Its stupid to try, but that's why my relatives sought me out - they were rural and I already knew my way around the big city by that time so I could help them stay on their feet.  We were putting together a new selo. Somehow I think Kannwischer helped them find me.

I looked Dr. Kannwisher up on Google.  There was precious little to find any more.  He was an author of a number of books.  Its amazing how a man who was so much in the public eye in his lifetime could fade from view so quickly.  A winter 2006 newsletter from Houston Baptist University said "Ruth Kannwischer, passed away Oct. 29. She was a longtime supporter of HBU and was a member of the HBU Auxiliary for many years, serving as president. She donated the HBU seal in the center of the Walk of Honor in Dr. Kannwischer’s memory. Dr. Kannwischer passed away in 1994."

I hed met Dr. Kannwischer in the spring of 1965.  The place was called "Houston Baptist College" in those years. Kannwischer taught all the "Sociology" there was to be had in the school at that time.  I was there on a scholarship, don't ask how.  I took every class Dr. Kannwischer had to offer in the 1965-1966 school year.  The man sent me on adventures I'll never forget.  Some of them I might even share with you someday.  Hmmmm which ones?  Maybe Bugaloo George on midnight to dawn radio in the Third Ward?  Maybe.  We'll see.  Another time perhaps.

Meantime let Enya tell the story commemorating  that glorious day along the Buh when the Vikings exclaimed:  "The Laesir, they have arrived on the large, and long-ship ..."

do sljedeći put, blagoslov - until next time, blessings,
Canovals a.k.a. Slavonac
19 Listopad 2011