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[ Page 27 ]

        It was easy for them to drink down a bottle of whisky all at once. By the time a peasant drank half a bottle, he had already forgotten how much it cost him, and often returned home to the village with empty pockets, after having drunk the value of a horse or other animal.

        The Jews storekeepers were able to earn a substantial living during such trade fairs, and have enough money for an extended period.

Craftsmen and Artisans

[Photo: Sirka Baum, the seamstress, with her workers at her home]

The Jewish artisans who had the least direct benefit from the peasants were the second-hand shoemakers, tailors and furriers. There were times when a White Russian didn't even know about leather boots. Instead, they wore a pair of Postolas that were made out of braided pritlach with rags around their feet; they also wore a long shirt, a pair of pants (from coarse linen) and a short sweater or goat vest. They dressed that way in winter and summer, and they made their own material for their clothes. They also produced their own linen, cloth and sheep hides. However, when the peasants became more cultivated, they started wearing higher quality clothing. The urban peasants particularly took on the fashions of the times.

The peasant men and women would go to the Jewish shoemaker for a pair of boots and shoes. The truth is that the boots were of cheap quality, large and stiff, made from the coarsest hide leather, with iron bottoms on the heals, which made a strong impression. It was still major progress. The peasants really wanted a Jewish tailor or furrier to make his sweater, goatskin vest and hat. In later years, there were many peasants who still wanted to have a Jewish tailor make his clothes. The peasant was no expert in either awls or shears.

[Photo:] A blacksmith sets up his wagon to sell merchandise in the market, summer, 1935.

On the other hand, the other Jewish artisans, such as builders, painters, carpenters and bricklayers couldn't make a livelihood from the peasants, since everyone knew that peasants were experts with axes and saws. The peasants built their own houses and barns out of wood. Many of the peasants even built their own ovens. It was very rare for a peasant to use a Jewish bricklayer or carpenter, and he certainly didn't need a painter. However, the peasants did make use of Jewish glaziers to build their windows.

The peasants also had to make use of Jewish blacksmiths to repair their plows or wagon wheels, put shoes on their horses, etc. The Jewish saddlers also made a living from the peasants,

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who took care of the peasant's needs for bridles, reins, saddles, calfskins and other leather articles.

[Photo:] Drohitchin market, drawn by Elmer Shevinsky.

The old market and wagon wheel stores before the 1915 fire. Drawn by Eliyahu Leib Shevinsky of Chicago.

The Landowner's Estate: A source of livelihood

A different source of livelihood for Drohitchin Jews was, as mentioned before, the on landowners' estates and manors, such as: Sokha, Roven, Astroveck, Dubovy, Poppina, Khlevishtch, Zakazelia, Liedviana, Smolnick, Cheromkha, Osevitz, Perkovitch, Bilien, Lekhevitch, Balkon, Hutta, Ozitch, etc. In contrast to the village peasants, the landowners provided the Jewish artisans with quite a bit of work. The landowners trusted the Jewish artisans a great deal, and considered them good workers. The magnates' apartments and animal barns and sheds were all built by Jewish builders, bricklayers, carpenters and painters. Many Jews were even employed as breeders and contractors, and earned a good living by working for the landowners.

        The landowner estates were obviously the best customers of Jewish storekeepers, who supplied groceries and food products. The better Jewish tailors and shoemakers also made a good living from the landowners, as did the saddlers. There were also Jews involved in the agricultural activities of the estates. There were Jews who were tenants who managed the estates. These managers were called possessors and played a role as important as the landowners themselves.

        Jews also leased milk production on the estates, and would produce milk products such as butter and cheese at the estate, with the aid of centrifuges and other machinery, and would

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