Beginning of the 1900s in the pictures of Gömöri Museum

Either talking about work or relaxation, life was rather different in Hungary one hundred years ago. In fact, there are similarities too. In this week’s virtual exhibition, we are evoking the world of the beginning of the 20th century via pictures and period articles of the archive collection of Gömöri Museum, through modern eyes, especially in terms of different activities: from work and professions to amusement and hobbies.


Discharging document from the army from 1906  - Gömöri Múzeum; Putnok, CC BY-NC-ND

Changing enthusiasm in the army

Sometimes certain professions seem ideal from a distance, but when you face reality, it might discourage you:
“Former home-defence undersecretary Ferenc Bolgár, whose expertise is recognised even by the workers’ party, had a rather interesting speech yesterday during the defensive power debate, in which he pointed at a special phenomenon. The two-year military service is a very popular catchword, arousing great enthusiasm in the soul of the crowd, but when it comes to realisation, enthusiasm usually cools off.” – Északkelet, 1911


 Life in a camp during World War I  - Gömöri Múzeum; Putnok, CC BY-NC-ND

A steam engine makes both threshing and towing easier!

Where are those times, when wheat had to be threshed out of wheatears by hand? Although hard work ennobles you, everyone would be happy if technical development made one’s job a bit easier.


 Workers beside the steam-driven threshing machine in 1916 - Gömöri Múzeum; Putnok, CC BY-NC-ND

cseples_1923_b.jpg“There are thousands of threshing machines in Hungary. Towing them to the threshing places or far-away farms requires a lot of towing power, especially when roads deteriorate in fall or after raining. On muddy and deep roads, these machine haulages are a real nightmare to farmers, particularly because towing power is getting weaker day by day. If you see the great strain of a few oxen towing with insufficient power on bad meadow roads or uphill; or in case the threshing machine must be towed from a train station, a farm or a village to a distant threshing place on those meadow roads, the latest invention is a real salvation there. (…) The value and practicality of this invention is enhanced by the fact that it can be driven forward or backward with a perfectly solved equipment that does not disturb the operation of the steam machine, without stopping the flywheel. (…) If we also praise the huge advantage that this transformation makes all the steam machines capable of towing and ploughing besides threshing, we will able to bring a vast dead power into action with this extremely important epochal Hungarian innovation.” – Andor Löherer, Zalamegye, 1905

Good work demands time and rest


Workers having a rest in the attic during the roof reconstruction of the Friedl House in 1910 - Gömöri Múzeum; Putnok, CC BY-NC-ND

Naturally, work can be really efficient only if you have a rest in due course of time. Excellent methods for that are playing ninepins, tennis or going boating. Just like during work, you had better watch out for security in case of amusements as well. 

Adventure in water getting off with a boat capsizing


Trip to the fishpond in 1920 - Gömöri Múzeum; Putnok, CC BY-NC-ND 

uldogelok.jpg“A fairly jolly company took a trip from Túrkeve (…) to Gyoma to spend a cheerful day there. (…) The specialities of Gyoma are ninepins and boating: well, they enjoyed both. After that ninepins brightened them, they went boating and it overpassed their expectations. Three persons were sitting in a boat and the steersman, who directed the boat with all his efforts and good will, fell into Kőrös river in an unguarded moment with his clothes on. He sank, hove his head, huffed and sneezed and kicked so hard with his legs as if he was about to die. Fortunately, his companions did not lose their nerves, quickly pulled to him and the rescue attempt was successful, but not completely. Due to the eager striving of the rescuers, the boat capsized and the boaters – gentlemen and officers – floated on the river with their field caps and straw hats. The only victims were three attires and a straw hat. Thanks God, the guests could leave the town in the early morning in perfect health and excellent humour.” Békésmegyei közlöny (Bulletin of Békés County), 1902

ferfiak_kugli_jatekkal.jpgPlayers with ninepins in 1907 - Gömöri Múzeum; Putnok, CC BY-NC-ND

If you are tired from tennis or stressed from a boat capsizing, a dinner together with your partners could serve as a balm for both:

“Saturday evening, tennis players organised an extremely successful dinner in the boathouse of the sports club. The guests were over forty, many ladies were among them, which resulted that Rudi Kiss’ smoky band made music until four in the morning.” – István Borbély, Váci Híralp, 1914


After a tennis match in 1910 - Gömöri Múzeum; Putnok, CC BY-NC-ND

If you want to escape the summer heat and go to a cooling program, you choose well if you opt for potholing. Walking and small-talking in cool caves and the beauty of dripstones refresh your spirits. Just like today, the Cave of Aggtelek was a rather beloved destination a hundred years ago as well:

"You can go on an excursion to the Valley of Szádellő and of Áj, the Cave of Aggtelek, the bath of Ránk or the High Tatra. If you want to visit the Cave of Aggtelek, leave at 8:45 pm on 9 August for Torna, stay there for a night and next morning at 4 o’clock travel to Szín, where the train arrives at 4:57 am. From here, you can reach the new entrance of the Cave after a 90-minute coaching.” – Felsőbányai Hírlap, 1903


Cross section drawings of the Cave of Aggtelek - Gömöri Múzeum; Putnok, CC BY-NC-ND 

Rejuvenating perfumer: there is no better than if your hobby is your job 

They say it is important to do what you love, but a hobby as a job is ideal only if it earns your living: 

udvari_felvetel.jpg“Mrs. Gyöngy (…) earned her living in her fertile little garden: with growing lilies and roses. Her only daughter, the sixteen year-old Vera, also helped her in the work. Their poetic profession was almost printed on their faces. Vera’s face was so bloomy and peachy that it could compete with her lilies. In addition, her mother’s face did not want to grow old either. Villagers called them the “Lilies”. It was wonderful looking into their garden around June. A true forest of lilies nodded towards you from there. From their courtyard, the most beautiful red and yellow roses laughed out of the fence. When the roses and lilies reached their full flush: the local pharmacist picked them and made perfumes from them. Later on, these perfumes reached the glorious perfumeries of big cities.” – Felsőbányai Hírlap, 1903 

Károly Erdélyi

Translated by Zita Aknai 


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