Careful! Watch out! No – what are you looking at? Here ... I‘m up here ... on the ladder!
Right. And now a touch of gold paint here..., and, we’re done!
"Christian Bühmann, Marie Bühmann née Büsselberg. Anno 1850", built by master builder Döpke, my great-grandfather.“
Ha, that’s something for us Steinhude folk to be proud of! The entire house – oh, what am I saying, the entire street, rebuilt in a single year, and handsomer than ever. Ugh – it doesn’t bear thinking about, what it was like back then, everything was wrecked, burnt to the ground, what an inferno, it was awful!
All right, all right, it’s just that you seemed interested, and frankly, you look odd somehow, perhaps not from around here, eh? So let me tell you the whole story:
A little over 50 years ago, in November, actually, on St. Martin's Eve in 1849, the entire street burned down in a single night. Some numbskull probably didn’t put the fire out properly, and it was blowing a gale from the northwest. The fire spread in the blink of an eye, it was moving so fast. The houses here stand cheek by jowl, of course, and then there's the lightweight building material. It was easy for the blaze to spread.
What a disaster, all the residents rudely awakened from their sleep, milling around in the street, and all their belongings going up in flames. Within half an hour, fifteen houses were alight. And the bellowing, from all those animals. Of course, every house had a livestock barn with pigs, cattle, horses ... Many of the beasts were beyond saving. But it’s time to draw a line. This is going to be a good year, I can feel it in my bones!
You see, Steinhude is a very special place, and the people who live here are special, too. We’re not afraid of work. Hard work – that's our whole life.
Look at these huge stones, here in the foundation. They're from the Ice Age! That's what the house stands on, proud and firm. You can’t get anything under there, not even a cellar. Besides, any cellar would be awash, what with the high groundwater level here. You see that lake over there, beyond the row of houses? We call it Steinhuder Meer – our own local sea.
But now, it’s time to move out of the way sharpish – here’s Hans, the farmhand with the horse-drawn cart and the hay for the livestock, he’ll want to pass through the entrance now.
Out of my way! What are you still doing here, not finished yet?
No, I’m done – I was just chatting with these folks here and lost track of time. Hans, these people, they’ve come from far away, just to see what life is like here.
Well, what do they suppose life is like here? It’s work from dawn-to-dusk.
Oh, don't be such a grouch, just take them into the house and show them around.
What's there to see? The folks that live here are just ordinary people, fishing families and weavers, like everywhere else in Steinhude. All right, fine with me, come on in, since you’re here anyway.
Photo: © Fischer- und Webermuseumv