Northwestern Press

Tuesday, February 19, 2019
PRESS PHOTOS BY ED COURRIERGrundsau Lodsch Nummer Ains an da Lechaw (Groundhog Lodge No. 1 on the Lehigh) guest speaker Donald Breininger entertains the gathering with Pa. Dutch jokes and stories. Copyright - © Ed Courrier PRESS PHOTOS BY ED COURRIERGrundsau Lodsch Nummer Ains an da Lechaw (Groundhog Lodge No. 1 on the Lehigh) guest speaker Donald Breininger entertains the gathering with Pa. Dutch jokes and stories. Copyright - © Ed Courrier
Board member Keith Brintzenhoff addresses fellow lodge members in dialect, “We need to teach the people who don’t speak Dutch to understand some Dutch words,” ending with, “Ei, yei, yei!” (My, my, my!). Copyright - © Ed Courrier Board member Keith Brintzenhoff addresses fellow lodge members in dialect, “We need to teach the people who don’t speak Dutch to understand some Dutch words,” ending with, “Ei, yei, yei!” (My, my, my!). Copyright - © Ed Courrier
Schreiwer (scribe) Patrick Donmoyer, behind King Grundsau, reads the minutes from the board meeting. Donmoyer is the director of the Pennsylvania German Cultural Heritage Center at Kutztown University. Copyright - © Ed Courrier Schreiwer (scribe) Patrick Donmoyer, behind King Grundsau, reads the minutes from the board meeting. Donmoyer is the director of the Pennsylvania German Cultural Heritage Center at Kutztown University. Copyright - © Ed Courrier
The guest of honor at the Versommling for Groundhog Lodge No. 1 said winter will remain for a bit. Copyright - © Ed Courrier The guest of honor at the Versommling for Groundhog Lodge No. 1 said winter will remain for a bit. Copyright - © Ed Courrier
King Grundsau stands beside the wheel with the names of the current rawd (board) members listed on the spokes. Copyright - © Ed Courrier King Grundsau stands beside the wheel with the names of the current rawd (board) members listed on the spokes. Copyright - © Ed Courrier
Groundhog Lodge No. 1 board members Jeffrey Shearer, Patrick Donmoyer, the Rev. Alton Zentner, Dr. William Donner, William Meck, Edward Quinter, Keith Brintzenhoff, Michael Werley, Richard Reilly, the Rev. Brian Haas and William Mantz were re-elected to the board during the annual Versommling. Leroy Brown and Scott Williams were unavailable for the photo.PRESS PHOTOS BY ED COURRIER Copyright - © Ed Courrier Groundhog Lodge No. 1 board members Jeffrey Shearer, Patrick Donmoyer, the Rev. Alton Zentner, Dr. William Donner, William Meck, Edward Quinter, Keith Brintzenhoff, Michael Werley, Richard Reilly, the Rev. Brian Haas and William Mantz were re-elected to the board during the annual Versommling. Leroy Brown and Scott Williams were unavailable for the photo.PRESS PHOTOS BY ED COURRIER Copyright - © Ed Courrier
Bruce Rohrbach, on accordion, and Leon Moll, playing trombone, members of the Happy Dutchmen German Band, provided traditional and patriotic music in dialect during the first half of the groundhog Versommling. Copyright - © Ed Courrier Bruce Rohrbach, on accordion, and Leon Moll, playing trombone, members of the Happy Dutchmen German Band, provided traditional and patriotic music in dialect during the first half of the groundhog Versommling. Copyright - © Ed Courrier
Dennis Hartman holds the event’s program book, written in dialect, including lyrics to songs the celebrants sang. “Schnitzelbank” (Cobbler’s Bench) on the back cover featured some helpful illustrations. Copyright - © Ed Courrier Dennis Hartman holds the event’s program book, written in dialect, including lyrics to songs the celebrants sang. “Schnitzelbank” (Cobbler’s Bench) on the back cover featured some helpful illustrations. Copyright - © Ed Courrier
Mike and Linda Hertzog play traditional folk and country songs in a bluegrass style with the lyrics all in Pennsylvania Deutsch dialect. Copyright - © Ed Courrier Mike and Linda Hertzog play traditional folk and country songs in a bluegrass style with the lyrics all in Pennsylvania Deutsch dialect. Copyright - © Ed Courrier
Unnerhaubtman (Vice President) William Mantz leads the group in “Lieder” (songs). Copyright - © Ed Courrier Unnerhaubtman (Vice President) William Mantz leads the group in “Lieder” (songs). Copyright - © Ed Courrier
William Meck kicks up his heels to a lively tune played by the Mike Hertzog Duo. Copyright - © Ed Courrier William Meck kicks up his heels to a lively tune played by the Mike Hertzog Duo. Copyright - © Ed Courrier
Samuel Day of Germansville was the youngest attendee at age 20. Marvin Schoch, 93, born and raised in Macungie, had the honor of being the oldest. Now retired, he owned Macungie Printing Service for 30 years and is an army veteran. Copyright - © Ed Courrier Samuel Day of Germansville was the youngest attendee at age 20. Marvin Schoch, 93, born and raised in Macungie, had the honor of being the oldest. Now retired, he owned Macungie Printing Service for 30 years and is an army veteran. Copyright - © Ed Courrier
Ed Zeigler, of Slatington, brought his own beverage to the Pa. Dutch dinner. The label declares it is “The official light beer of Groundhog Day.” Zeigler is a member of Groundhog Lodge No. 18, Slatedale. Copyright - © Ed Courrier Ed Zeigler, of Slatington, brought his own beverage to the Pa. Dutch dinner. The label declares it is “The official light beer of Groundhog Day.” Zeigler is a member of Groundhog Lodge No. 18, Slatedale. Copyright - © Ed Courrier

Grundsau Lodsch Nummer Ains celebrates the groundhog

Wednesday, February 13, 2019 by ED COURRIER Special to The Press in Local News

The evening before Groundhog Day, the guest of honor at the 83rd Versommling of Grundsau Lodsch Nummer Ains an da Lechaw was none other than King Grundsau himself.

This year, as in every year previous, festivities were conducted in the uniquely Pennsylvania Deutsch dialect as soon as the Pennsylvania Dutch celebrants swore an oath to refrain from speaking English for the rest of the evening.

Dennis Hartman recited the oath at the lectern as lodge members assume the groundhog stance and repeated it back to him.

The men all swore to refrain from speaking in English for the rest of the gathering, among other responsibilities.

There were small red “penalty buckets” on each table.

“If anyone talks English tonight while they’re here at the table, they have to put $5 in the penalty bucket,” Hartman explained.

In the Germanic language of the early immigrants who settled the Lehigh Valley and much of Southeastern and South Central Pennsylvania, “Versommling” means “gathering” and “Grundsau Lodsch Nummer Ains an da Lechaw” is “Groundhog Lodge No. 1 on the Lehigh.”

The gathering, hosted at the Schnecksville Fire Company, featured such Pennsylvania Dutch culinary delights as country sausage, smoked sausage, hot bacon dressing over lettuce, potato filling, and for the stout of heart (and stomach), pickled tripe.

And, with great ceremony, King Grundsau predicted six more weeks of winter.

Musical entertainment, with all lyrics sung in dialect, was provided by the Happy Dutchmen German Band of Bruce Rohrbach, Leon Moll, and Mike and Linda Hertzog.

The Hertzogs play traditional folk and country songs in a bluegrass style with all lyrics in Pennsylvania Deutsch dialect.

Mike Hertzog has been doing this since the mid-1970s with John Fritsch and later, Peter Fritsch.

William Meck credits Mike Hertzog with being one of very few who still recites the “New Year’s Wish” in dialect.

The Hertzogs are of Pa. Dutch ancestry. Husband and wife have been performing together since 2011.

Mike Hertzog paid tribute to their culture with the “New Year’s Wish.”

“This is an old Pennsylvania Dutch tradition,” Board Hauptmann (President) William Meck said, “When I was a young boy, 5 years old, they would come to our house and play the old year out and the new year in. It was for good luck.”

Meck, raised by his grandparents, learned the dialect as a child in the family store that served the Pennsylvania Dutch community.

As an auctioneer, Meck is grateful he is able to communicate with his Amish and Mennonite clientele who speak the language.

“It’s dying out,” Meck said. “This group here, at the peak, had 800 men attending. Tonight we had 125. But, still, there’s 125 doing it.

“If there are only two or three, we are still doing it.”

Dr. William Donner, professor of anthropology at Kutztown University, said he and 12 others on the board of directors are spokes of a “rawd” (wheel).

“They have 13 people who are on the board of the lodge,” said Donner, cultural director of the Kutztown Folklife Festival. “That happened in 1934 when they founded it.

“They said they didn’t want anybody to think they were superstitious.”

Donner is Pa. Dutch on his mother’s side of the family.

Board member Keith Brintzenhoff grew up in Topton in a family where Pa. Dutch was their first language.”

“We need to teach the people who don’t speak Dutch to understand some Dutch words,” ending with, “Ei, yei, yei!” (My, my, my!), Brintzenhoff said while addressing fellow lodge members in dialect.

Brintzenhoff fronts the Toad Creek Ramblers and teaches Pa. German, music and culture at Kutztown University.

Unnerhaubtman (Vice President) William Mantz led the group in “Lieder” (songs). Mantz served in the Marines for eight years, and lives in New Tripoli. Mantz learned the dialect indirectly from his parents, grandparents and neighbors.

Dennis Hartman of Hartman’s Butcher Shop, New Tripoli, provided sausages and pickled tripe for the meal.

“I’m a third generation butcher,” he said, “We’ve been there since 1940.”

He learned the dialect from listening to his family and shop patrons.

At the end of the evening, Meck recited a heartfelt “Letschde Wadde” (Last Words).