They Called Me Mayer July: Painted Memories of a Jewish Childhood in Poland Before the Holocaust

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The water carrier

The water carrier, the vasertreyger, was one step above a beggar. What does he have around his waist? A rope to hold his things and a red kerchief sticking out of his pocket. He has the corners of his coat tucked under his belt so they do not get in his way as he walks. Carrying water was a very difficult job. There was one man, a Pole by the name of Ludwig. He was very tall, a six footer. He had the local tinsmith make him special buckets that were extra large. All the other water carriers, no matter how short they were, also had to get big buckets in order to compete with him. When smaller men carried such buckets, they dragged on the ground. It was extremely difficult for them to manage. A water carrier would make ten groshn for a load of water. Those buckets must have weighed at least forty pounds each. The water carrier in this painting is hauling about eighty pounds in those two buckets. There was one guy, David the Watercarrier, who was so small that he had to shorten the ropes from the yoke to the pails. Even so, his buckets almost touched the ground.