Workers in Kuncz, Calea Mosnitei
The houses in the Kuncz neighborhood generally looked simple and modest, typical of working-class neighborhoods in this part of Europe. Today, the neighborhood has a small population, with a diversified ethnic structure, which retains very few elements of the old working-class neighborhood from the end of the 19th century.
The Kuncz district of Timișoara was built for the workers who worked at the brick factory of the brothers Josef and Karl Kuncz, “Josef Kunz & Comp.”, A factory that had its headquarters in the way of Buziaș, not far from the working district. The factory was founded by Josef Kuncz, and in the first decades of the century. XX was owned by the family.
The houses in the Kuncz district generally looked simple and modest, typical of working-class neighborhoods in this part of Europe.
Today, the neighborhood has a small population, with a diversified ethnic structure, which retains very few elements of the old working-class neighborhood from the end of the 19th century.
Josef Geml, Vechea Timișoară în ultima jumătate de secol 1870-1920,, Editura Cosmopolitan Art, Timișoara, 2016, p. 91.
Workers in Kuncz
The Hungarian House was founded by a group of exceptional people: there was the president of the Hungarian party at the time, he was Dr. Kakuk and various other personalities... I remember Toth Sándor, Kopácska... They made a project, bought the property and built. There were brick tickets, people bought those tickets and their value was used to buy the bricks.
The sandmen from the Crișan district used to go with their boats – ladikthey were called - to Remetea, up the Bega, fill them with sand and then, slowly, come down to the water. They were unloading the sand In Crișan. Each one of them had a huge stand outside, but not on the shore. A wide plank was placed on the shore where they unloaded the sand. And from there the men with the carts would come and take it. In fact, half the town was built from the sand brought down the Bega.
For the Hungarian House they gave the sand for free. The masons worked for free. Each craftsman worked for free on whatever was needed for the construction. And those who couldn't work bought brick tickets. I don't know exactly how much such a ticket cost, but it was a sum of 100, 200 or 500 bricks anyway. Everyone got as many tickets as they could. And from the money collected and from that work the building was built.
The interior is astonishing. It has a beautiful theatre stage, where plays were performed, and cultural programs were organised. (...)
Back then there were dance schools. You had to learn how to dance, there were no dances like today, in which you dance all over the place. That's not dancing, that's nothing. It was tango, the waltz, the fox, all on the steps and not some random steps and moves. And you'd sign up for dance classes and learn the steps. Where were these schools? At the Youth House and other places...
Then they played theatre. There was a theatre group in every area or neighbourhood: in Crișan, Ronaț, Mehala, Plopi... and they were playing different plays. On Saturdays and Sundays there was dancing. Young people had a place to meet and something to do. (...)
I was a good dancer, and my son became a ballerino. That ran in the family. My father was also a dancer. In our time you had to know how to dance, there were certain steps. On a waltz I would run around the dance floor, I couldn't wait for it to start and dance. But not every girl could dance the same way, there were those who stumbled through simple, common waltz steps... And in tango, too, you had to know the steps. If I didn't know how my partner dances, I was keeping her at a distance and she could step anyway, because I was leading her, she wouldn’t stumble over me.
Dance and music were everything for the young people at that time.
In Crișan, on Sundays before and after lunch, we went to the swimming pool and then, from five, six o'clock at Fogl, Dinu... different restaurants... where there was music and dancing. In the evening, boys and girls were coming from the city and there were wonderful dancers. We had a Cultural Association in Crișan. The headquarter was in the Somorai family house and we were guided by the priest from then. We played theatre. Every neighbourhood had such a group. It was very nice.
At Lloyd's, at the Palace only rich people were going. And the workshop owners had their own places.
"Where?" At the Wittemberger. There were three restaurants in Crișan. Then we used to go to Plopi, to Vii to Petöfi Csárda, where the Jewish cemetery used to be and now there is a cinema. There was very good music and people had a lot of fun on Saturdays and Sundays. It was something wonderful. I don't know why that beautiful life had to change. Young people today don't even know how to live... If I could have recorded all that and now play the recording, people would say that some... capitalists were partying there.
"And weren't you capitalists?" Yes. But we were poor, simple people and how we behaved and presented ourselves... that was something to see!
I had Austrian class at school. Teacher Raica taught classes every Saturday from three to four. We’d bring plates from home, cutlery... and taught us how we should eat. She taught us how to behave in the street. You weren't supposed to whistle at a girl, you weren’t allowed to make noise on the way home after a party... We didn't sit on the tram if an old man was standing. In fact, a young man wasn't even allowed to sit on the tram. Nowadays, young people no longer free up seats to older people, and if one of them is better behaved and stands up, the adults look at him with admiration.
Although it's normal to do so. Yes, although it's natural to get up. In winter, when we were leaving from the ball, there were vendors outside in Traian Square selling roasted chestnuts, horseradish and black coffee. There weren’t taxi cars. They were standing where the Serbian Church is. The cabs stood where the Beer Cart is. (...)
Back then, the merchant, when he went to a man's house with an order, would kiss the hand of all the maids to lure clients. The salesmen were speaking four languages. While he was packing up what you had bought, he would tell you a joke. Absolutely everything, even if you just bought a bar of soap, it was wrapped, they didn't give you the goods like that and it was clean. Dr. Boretila was the chief sanitary doctor in Fabric. Everything had to be protected, covered to keep the flies out. Salamis, ham, sausages, everything was kept in the fridge. And there were only knives and nickel-plated tables, slicing machines. They didn't touch anything. There was a spoon in every jar of sweets that was taken out and put on the scale. There was cubed sugar, toasted sugar, powdered sugar, which were packed at a quarter pound, half pound, pound and five pounds.
For example, at Easter, three, four 80, 100 pounds barrels of pickled fish were sold at the meat shop. It was small fish, pickled with carrots and onions cut into rounds. It was something very tasty. You couldn't stop eating it. You could find it in every meat shop. This fish was like Csaba's sausage: whoever ate that sausage once wanted to eat more and more. This is a world-famous sausage. It is made in Békés-Csaba and the recipe is a secret. Other companies have tried and failed. Hungary exported huge quantities of this sausage... The Szeged paprika is just as famous.
And, as I was saying, if you would taste that sausage you couldn’t stop eating, it was that good.. I used to be a manager at the army food depot in Budapest. And there, every week, I weighed 20000-30000 pounds for the soldiers going to the front. They were receiving this because it could last on the front lines, it didn't spoil and it was consistent. We paid to the factory and got the sausages directly from the smokehouse (...)
I was a student at Pipos School. We had very good teachers who could have been teachers for higher classes but were assigned to primary schools because of the lack of places. Mr Béla was an exceptional teacher, a great man. He always carried a red carnation in his jacket pocket, both at school and in the street. During the First World War he was a cavalry lieutenant. (...)
What were his complaints? What were you doing wrong? I was wearing a big green apron and walking around barefoot and in shorts. We were allowed to wear long trousers when we graduated from the discipleship, because wearing long trousers meant you were a carpenter's helper. I was doing all sort of things: pushed the cart, carried the potty after the lady's children in the house, fetched water at the well, cleaned, washed dishes and so on. You had to work hard to be able to learn a trade on top of that... That's why after that I was proud of my job because I suffered and struggled to get it. And I never let myself be trampled on or disrespected. Wherever I worked in my life, if the boss was a nervous man and was raising his voice, I was taking off my apron and getting out of there. I didn't let myself be blamed, because I knew I was doing a good job and deserved to be respected for it. Whether I worked in Timisoara or Budapest or Cluj, Oradea, Szeged or Pécs, I didn't do my job shamefully. I was going into the town, was asking where there was a carpentry workshop, went there and worked.
Lajos Horwáth (Lali), born in 1921 in Becicherecu Mare - excerpt from the interview conducted by Antonia Komlosi in Timișoara in 2001, The oral history and anthropology group archive, coordinated by Smaranda Vultur.
I have been living in Timişoara for 60 years. I got used to the city. Sometimes I gladly discover the wide calm of the boulevards, the imperial peace, the alignment of the buildings. Sometimes I can only smell it, I can only see its sad fall, its weather-weary glory. Between the signs of abandonment and those of rebirth, the city preserves a unity worthy of a civilized city.
I did not imagine, however, in 60 years, that in Timișoara there are, in fact, two cities. I knew about the Kuncz neighbourhood when I was a teacher. The distribution to General 5 made me know the neighboring neighbourhood, Fabric, very well. I connected with that simple world, with people who continued the working tradition of the city: the Fabrik had once been a neighborhood with craftsmen - Hungarians, Jews or Germans (less), for whom work was a source of individual dignity. . (…)
Sorina Jecza - Excerpt - June 18, 2015