A movie, Popcorn & Cherry Coke

A long time before Abbott and Costello..

...before ...True Grit....

......before Dr, Zhivago….

........and before Reimer Without a Cause………

Movies,….were verboden!!!

In one particular Menno community (Steinbach, Manitoba) residents kept watch on the theater to see who walked in and gained entry into the world of western outlaws and adventure seekers.

A list of the transgressors would be passed on to the Gemeinde which would result in retribution for indulging in the worldly ways of cinema. It seemed that Abbott and Costello would have no place in most Mennonite communities. The practice of reporting movie goers was referred to as vekloage.

For Hein and Lein, the admonishment was worth the risk. On a hot August night in Winkler, they strolled hand-in-hand as they looked up at the marquee lights: “Playing Tonight, Blazing Saddles”.  A dollar for admission, 35¢ for popcorn and 10¢ for a cherry coke were all the monetary funds required to gain entry into the forbidden world of cinema.

How was the movie? Hein and Lein could not recount the details as they were too focused on each other. A wedding faspa was served two months later . Kielke dinners with schmaunt-fat & worscht followed. A ¼ section of farmland in Altona provided a livelihood. Eleven children provided memories. And it all began at the movies. So it turns out, that movies were not such a terrible thing after all ;-)

Plautdietsch word of the day: Vekloage.Pronounced ve-kloa-ghi

Definition: to accuse or report.  A common practice of accusing and reporting suspicions of perceived transgressions (unfounded or otherwise) to the Gemeinde. Incidents were taken up by the ministerial and suspects could face being ostracized, shamed in front of the congregation or cast out of the community entirely. Other issues that may warrant harsh discipline may include, dancing, owning a "flashy" mode of transportation or playing musical instruments. Rules and transgressions varied among Mennonite groups.  Thankfully, many Mennonites made it past the foolish legalisms and were able to carry on their lives with their faith intact.

Mennonite less than fun fact: From the 1950s to the mid 1970s, the ministerial from the "Kleine Gemeinde" in the USA would come to Canada and conduct "purges". These overly pious zealots would excommunicate individuals for even the most frivolous legalisms.  It was thought to strengthen the congregation when it fact all it did was drive young people away.

Are you interested in getting more enjoyment out of life?  A Plautdietsch dictionary will provide you with hours of endless enjoyment while you reminisce through more than 25,000 words and Mennonite phrases.    It makes a great gift for anyone who appreciates this unique spoken language.  It also makes a great keepsake for children and grandchildren.  There are still a few available.  



Remember those awesome Mennonites dishes that mom made?!  Well they ALL here in the classic cookbook that made Mennonite food famous! Makes a great gift idea for helping the younger generation to keep the food traditions alive!

Artist's conception of world's largest varscht.

Winkler Manitoba has declared itself “The Varscht capital of Canada”. “The city has long been know for it’s famous Mennonite farmer sausage and it’s about time we get recognition for it” says John Klassen.  “And people should know that we do more in Winkler than just knack sot and drink yerba”. The city plans to begin construction of the 200 foot tall varscht this summer and have it completed by next year. It will then be perched on top of the city water tower. Plans are also in the works for an interpretive center that will allow visitors to watch the varch making process. The monument to Winkler will also have an elevator that will take you to he top of the varsch, similar to the dinosaur in Drumheller, Alberta. Not to be outdone, Altona has announced plans to erect the world’s biggest borscht grope. More of that in the next Menno Tribune.

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