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Old 20.11.2007, 13:33
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Travelling carpenters. Do they exist or was I duped by two youths in fancy dress?

While driving my daughter home from school, she pointed out two young men standing on the side of the road with their thumbs out. I pulled over (mainly because they were dressed so strangely) and asked where they were going. They told me wherever I was going they would go too if I would take them. Both were polite, erudite and friendly. Both were dressed in black waistcoats, black flared trousers (an inverted V had been incorperated into the outside seam of said trolly's) and white shirts. They each had a twisted piece of wood that they told us grew that way and carried their possessions in fabric tied onto the wood. Their story was that they traveled all over Switzerland and sometimes further working as carpenters.
Has anyone else seen them or did I take them to Unter Aageri under false pretenses?
Our girl thinks they are enchanted Wizards
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Old 20.11.2007, 13:39
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Re: Travelling carpenters. Do they exist or was I duped by two youths in fancy dress?

My GF told me about them, we saw some down in the valley once. They travel wherever there is some work, usually during the summer. Not just carpenters either I believe but other tradesmen also
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Old 20.11.2007, 13:46
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Re: Travelling carpenters. Do they exist or was I duped by two youths in fancy dress?

As I understand it, they do exist and they are on a 2 year apprenticeship - think they're called Gesellen, or at least a quick google image search for that reveals these fine fellows;

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Old 20.11.2007, 13:48
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Re: Travelling carpenters. Do they exist or was I duped by two youths in fancy dress?

No they were freaks. I bet one of them had a flute too.

dave

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Our girl thinks they are enchanted Wizards
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Old 20.11.2007, 13:58
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Re: Travelling carpenters. Do they exist or was I duped by two youths in fancy dress?

They usually go walkabout after their apprenticeship,during that time (normally a year) they are not allowed to come closer than *I think* 10kms to their home town / village.
They quite often offer to do odd jobs in exchange for a bed for the night and some food.
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Old 20.11.2007, 14:00
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Re: Travelling carpenters. Do they exist or was I duped by two youths in fancy dress?

Well knock me down with a feather. I didn't expect to see a photograph. I have to say ours were much more handsome than those two individuals. When I told my husband about them he didn't believe me initially, it took the word of a six year old to convince him.
Are the twirly bits of wood essential as well as the costume? You all must agree that they look a bit 'otherworldly' in this day and age.
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Old 20.11.2007, 14:05
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Re: Travelling carpenters. Do they exist or was I duped by two youths in fancy dress?

Yeah definitely! I actually met a couple of them in Basel ages back when we went there to see ...Trail of Dead - got separated from everyone else and 3 or 4 of us spent a good 20 minutes talking to two of them. Seemed like very nice fellows.

They also had the same twirled sticks, with all the worldly goods bundled up in a rag on the end. I think it's very cool I have to say, that these kind of traditions are still going strong.

Long live the Gesellen
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Old 20.11.2007, 14:13
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Re: Travelling carpenters. Do they exist or was I duped by two youths in fancy dress?

its a nice thing isnt it, doing that apprenticeship like that. a special way to lead ones life, i think.
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Old 20.11.2007, 15:15
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Re: Travelling carpenters. Do they exist or was I duped by two youths in fancy dress?

Geez, the only people in the US we have doing anything remotely similar are the Mormons and they're not nearly as charming when they come to your door to preach as I bet these guys are when they want to come to your home and fix/make things.
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Old 20.11.2007, 15:20
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Re: Travelling carpenters. Do they exist or was I duped by two youths in fancy dress?

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Geez, the only people in the US we have doing anything remotely similar are the Mormons and they're not nearly as charming when they come to your door to preach as I bet these guys are when they want to come to your home and fix/make things.
Personally I think the Amish are onto something.
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Old 20.11.2007, 15:30
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Re: Travelling carpenters. Do they exist or was I duped by two youths in fancy dress?

This happens in Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Liechtenstein.

They offer to do work in return for a lift, food, shelter. It's heart warming really, and builds their character on their year off before they start their career as carpenters.

One nice enough chap asked me once if I had a room so he could get out of the freezing snow for the night, I told him to piss right off.

These kids don't know their born...
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Old 20.11.2007, 15:32
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Re: Travelling carpenters. Do they exist or was I duped by two youths in fancy dress?

http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Geselle

or... Wikipedia reference-linkJourneyman
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Old 20.11.2007, 15:37
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Re: Travelling carpenters. Do they exist or was I duped by two youths in fancy dress?

Yeah, my other half and I saw them, too. He said they're travelling apprentices of some trade or craft (for 2 years or so). They looked like they stepped out of Hobbitland (well, OK, some say CH is a kind of Hobbit-like country). The twisty staffs really make them look like wizards, as Zugbound's daughter so aptly said.

Young pacifists should be able to opt for this instead of national military service. Is that an idea?


In the late 1980s, my coursemates and I visited a commune of Hutterites in Montana in the U.S. for a Sociology of Work course. Their 'uniform' was forest-green shirts and black vests and hats; the women wore long dresses with white bonnets and aprons. The several families shared a car, truck and farm equipment. To our surprise, their cows were milked electronically. They were also not above telling dirty jokes. They served us students the most delicious 'zwieback' ham sandwiches I've never eaten again thus far.

Last edited by argus; 20.11.2007 at 15:47. Reason: adding busybody anecdote
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Old 20.11.2007, 15:40
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Re: Travelling carpenters. Do they exist or was I duped by two youths in fancy dress?

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Young pacifists should be able to opt for this instead of national military service. Is that an idea?
Most of them would be back to the warm, cozy, three-meals-a-day barracks in an instant.
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Old 20.11.2007, 15:45
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Re: Travelling carpenters. Do they exist or was I duped by two youths in fancy dress?

I think you could be right Mr Shorrick. My two (I am quite proprietal) told me that frequently they couldn't find work or shelter so had to sleep out in the open. Not a life the faint hearted would choose.
I wonder at their clothing though. There must be shops that cater for them but I've never seen on in Zug!
I think they are wonderful and if I ever see anymore, I'll find them a job or two in our flat. I just can't imagine anyone walking around the UK like that.
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Old 20.11.2007, 15:54
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Re: Travelling carpenters. Do they exist or was I duped by two youths in fancy dress?

Apparently the clothes are passed on from apprentice to apprentice which is why they often don't seem to fit very well...
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Old 20.11.2007, 17:21
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Re: Travelling carpenters. Do they exist or was I duped by two youths in fancy dress?

Do they come around the French part of Switzerland?

I have a few jobs for them in my house... I need someone to fix the wooden balcony & fit some counters in the laundry room. If you see them again, can you send them my way??

It's a bit cold for them to be out this time of the year.
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Old 20.11.2007, 18:18
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Re: Travelling carpenters. Do they exist or was I duped by two youths in fancy dress?

these guys are also called Zimmermen and i think attached to a Zunft if i heard my girlfriend correctly
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Old 20.11.2007, 18:37
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Re: Travelling carpenters. Do they exist or was I duped by two youths in fancy dress?

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these guys are also called Zimmermen and i think attached to a Zunft if i heard my girlfriend correctly
"Zimmerman" is just the German word for "carpenter", and "Zunft" is "guild".
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Old 20.11.2007, 18:37
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Re: Travelling carpenters. Do they exist or was I duped by two youths in fancy dress?

Hi,

The name of these guys is "Wandergeselle" which translates as "journeyman".

Basically it's time-served craftsmen - brickies, carpenters etc - who travel about gaining experience in their trade by doing jobs in exchange for food and accommodation.

Here is an article about them:

http://www.mail-archive.com/futurewo.../msg02966.html

Cheers,
Nick
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