A World War 1 Experience; believe it or not
Troupe Photo; the soldier with the blue pen mark above his head is John Trebinskie and the soldier to his immediate left is Florian Mask
I am relating an army experience my grandfather, John Trebinskie, told my dad and a few others when I was a 6 year old bartek.
I remember the story vividly but not sure who the actual participants were; I am taking the position that it was my grandfather John and his army buddy / neighbour from Round Lake, Florian Mask.
Grandpa related the story in the Kashub language. I can retell the story in Kashub as well but am unable to write in the Kashub language.
It began when some men of Kashub origin from the Wilno, Barry’s Bay & Round Lake areas got together at Niagara-on the-Lake Ontario along with other men from Western Canada and from Western New York State. They trained for a short time and then were sent overseas to join the cause of helping their homeland.
Under the leadership of General Jozef Haller, the soldiers found themselves in France. Crossing the French countryside, they experienced being cold and being hungry.
This one particular time when the troupe sat for a small respite, John & Florian noticed farm buildings nearby. They wondered if any food was to be had if they went and asked. They walked toward the farm house and noticed a barn, stable and a granary not far from the farm house. Cows were grazing in a nearby field. A dog was watching quietly from a distance while chickens were pecking in the yard.
They walked up to the door. The door was composed of an upper and a lower door. One of them knocked on the door. Slowly and cautiously the upper door came slightly ajar. They could see a small elderly Frenchman with a balding head and a thick mustache.
Now, neither of the soldiers spoke French. In their own Kashub language they tried to convey the message of being hungry; no luck. They tried putting their fingers to their mouth and rubbing their stomachs; same response.
Finally my grandfather John lost his patience and swore. As I do not know how to write in Kashub, here is my phonetic interpretation of the words he used. “Ah, kusz mie dupa” (aka – Kiss my you know what).
Immediately the upper door swung wide open and the elderly Frenchman motioned (with his hands) for them to wait.
A short time later he re-appeared at the door with two loaves of fresh [French?] bread.
They were surprised to say the least. After thanking the gentleman they returned to the troupe resting in the field.
They related their experience to their army buddies and all were puzzled. However there was one soldier who knew a little of the French language and he explained it like this.
When Grandpa swore, the only word the elder Frenchman understood was the word “dupa”. Of course; “Du pain” in French means some bread.
The ensuing laughter could be heard throughout the entire house.
Other stories followed but unfortunately at my age the required attention span was lacking.
Florian Mask, John Trebinskie & his younger brother Anthony Trebinskie; all from Round Lake, Ontario
Submitted by John A Glofcheski