Barbara Hana Irovič
“I only went to school for eight years. Then my mum had me take tailor training from our neighbour. It was not about what school I wanted or what I liked. The neighbour was a seamstress, so mum had me learn from her to sew for myself. And now, I have no time to stitch on a single button. My skirt lining is torn off; I have been wearing it like that for three days, and it catches on my knee. Hopefully, it will last today and tomorrow and then I must do it. I used to sew all night long--there was a lot of work to do--but now it’s all done in China. The fabric is so weak it falls apart. I do more mending than new stuff these days. So many things I have mended since the Chinese started selling their stuff here! I often tell people, there is used stuff in shops, and it’s intact, so you don’t have to mend it--that’s better for you. I mend it and then it rips apart again after some time. They say: 'Why wear intact clothes to work?' I tell them: 'I will not do this for free. You can buy trousers for 100 dinars, and if there is a big hole or more holes, I will charge even more than 100 dinars.' But, they do as they will. Mended clothes are better than torn ones. It rips apart, I mend it, then it rips apart again, and so it goes on and on. My mother-in-law used to say: 'Everyone acts the way reason teaches them'.”
“When there was a wedding, the bride would ‘say goodbye to maids’ on Saturday. Then, on Sunday they went to the community authority for the wedding ceremony, and then to the church for the church ceremony. They stood in the middle of the church--that is, older people would sit in the pews and the young ones and the bride and the groom stood in the middle. Then, there was a lunch at the bride’s, and then they went to Bela Crkva to get wedding photos. Back home, they would dance in the backyard at the bride’s if it was warm. In the winter, they would dance indoors with tables spread apart to make room for dancing. In the evening they went to the groom’s, then back to the bride’s place for coffee, and then back to the groom’s for the supper, and there they would sit for hours. After midnight, they took the bride’s wreath away and put a kerchief on her head. She is no longer a maid, she is a wife now, so, on with the kerchief. Back then, no wife went about with bare head; once a woman got married, she put a kerchief on her head and never took it off again.”
“You had to go to church in the morning. Then there was lunch. After the lunch, there were prayers again, and then you went dancing. The dances went on until six or seven, depending on whether it was summer time or winter time. Then you went for a supper and came back again. One person would stay there and hold the seats for the elderly ladies. Girls would never come alone like they do these days – mum or grandma came along with the girl or boy. They would sit and watch as the young ones danced. Then they danced the kolo and sung so the musicians could have some rest. During the carnival, there was dancing in the morning, then you went home for lunch. There was dancing again in the afternoon and then you went for supper. Then you danced again until three or four in the morning. On Sundays, children danced in the afternoon and adults, girls, boys and older people danced in the evening.”
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Mum had me take tailor training--I could not choose
Barbara Hana Irovič was born to Matej and Anna Irovič on the 18th of May, 1948. All her life, she has been living in Kruščica, a community in Serbia near the Romanian border. She comes from the local Czech community. She went to the Czech primary school in Kruščica, then took a tailor training and has been working as a tailor ever since. She is also the local sexton. Stories from World War II, which was before Barbara’s birth, were never told in the family. Barbara Irovič speaks Czech and visits the Czech Republic often.