Documentary, 80 min, AT 2012
"The day I stop work is the day I die."
When my grandfather died in 1958, my grandmother Thresl took on the farm and inn at Harhamhof, high in the Austrian Alps. Day-in, day-out, she worked the farm and ran the inn. Fifty years on, Thresl is 99 years old and still working. In summer, she enjoys life in Harham; in winter, it seems the snow will never end. Thresl mows the meadows around the inn with a scythe and stacks wood, log by log, for the winter.
She waits on the guests at the inn; regulars stop by daily for a beer or two, a home-distilled schnapps or a plate of Thresl’s famous "Kasnocken". Rest is of no interest to Thresl: "I’m glad to be busy. The day I stop work will be the day I die". Nothing would be worse for my grandmother than to be in a nursing home because the younger generation have no time for her.
Thresl’s independence was hard-won; in the years after the untimely death of her husband, life was hard, the work unceasing. The inn was deep in debt, and the farm yielded just enough to get by with the two children, both put to work early to replace their father. Yet, subsequent offers of marriage were turned down - "I’m going to take orders from nobody." With the arrival of the main road, the fortunes of the inn transformed and things started looking up for Thresl.
Yet not everyone likes how she runs the Harhamhof. Some say Thresl is too old-fashioned, not modern enough - and one of these critics is her son. Hans has been keen to take on the Harhamhof for decades; by contrast, her daughter Maresi is supportive. Thanks to the power of her will, my grandmother has placed herself beyond social conventions about how the elderly should be regarded. For her guests she remains mistress of a timeless world.
Thresl came into this world on April 21 1912 as Thresl Deutinger, at Poltenhof, a farm in Pfaffenhofen. Pfaffenhofen is a small farming village at the foot of the Steinerne Meer, and is part of Saalfelden. This is where Thresl grew up,alongside her parents, her sister Moidei and her brother Sepp.
By dint of sharing the same route to school, she met Hans Handl. He was the oldest son of the Harhamhof farmstead, a farm and an inn in Harham. The two fell in love. Thresl became pregnant and a son was born. Two years later, on June 30, 1938, Thresl and Hans married, and since then, Thresl has at the Harham farmstead.
Her husband Hans died in August 1958 at the age of 48. Thresl stayed with her two children Maresi and Hans at the Harham inn. Day-in, day-out she worked to maintain the farm and the inn. She has never re-married. Today Thresl is 99 years old.
She still runs the Harham inn alone.
Maria, also known as „Moidei“ was born Maria Deutinger on May 8, 1907 on the Poltenhof farmstead in Pfaffenhofen. She was the eldest daughter of Therese Scheiber, a daughter of the farm at Egger, and of Josef Deutinger, the young farmer of Polten. Moidei spent her childhood with her sister Thresl and their brother Sepp at the Poltenhof.
As a young girl she liked to play with Simon from the Schützing farmstead.The farmstead lies in Schützing , the next closest village and the only village with a train station. When Moidei was 16, her mother approved a marriage between her and Simon.
Moidei bore her husband one daughter and 3 sons, one of whom died young in a car crash. She spent her whole life as a farmer’s wife at the Schützinghof farmstead. Her husband died in 1993, but Moidei lived to be 103. She died in summer 2010 after 3 weeks at the old folk’s home Farmach in Saalfelden.
Hans came into the world on June 25th 1937. He is the first son of Thresl and Hans Handl from the Harham farmstead. Until he was 13, he was raised by his grandmother at the Poltenhof. When his father Hans took over the Harhamhof, he moved back from Poltenhof to the Harhamhof to live with his parents.
Hans attended the school for agriculture in Bruck. When his father died young from haemorrhages in 1958, he had to leave school to work the farm and help out at the inn with his mother Thresl and sister Maresi.
In 1964 he married his girlfriend Erna. For the first 20 years of their marriage they lived with Thresl and Maresi at the Harhamwirt. As his uncle Sepp, the farmer at Polten died childless in the late 1970s, Hans got the Poltenhof farmstead. He moved back to the farm he grew up on with his wife and children, and worked the farm for over 40 years. Today his son Hans manages Poltenhof farmstead but Hans still helps, day-in, day-out.
Maresi was born on May 17, 1948. She is the daughter of Thresl, daughter of the Poltenhof, and Hans Handl, the oldest son of the Harham farmstead. She grew up with her parents and her brother Hans at the Harham farmstead.
Maresi was still a girl when her father died in 1958. After his death, Maresi, aged only eleven, had to help her mother Thresl and her brother Hans, day-in, day-out, with the work at the inn and on the farm.
In her spare time Maresi discovered a passion for skiing. Alongside her work at the Harhamhof, she trained to become a licenced ski instructor. During that period she met her future husband, Richard Rossmann. For over 20 years, she ran a ski-school in Kaprun. Today Maresi still uses her spare time to help her mother, Thresl, manage the Harham inn.
Director, Cinematographer & Editor: Richard Rossmann
Production: Richard Rossmann Filmproduktion
Dramatic Advisor: Ela Angerer
Sound & Mix: Maria Dancso
Postproduction: Thomas Zipf
Music: Kiesenhofer Geigenmusik, Franz Egger, Fabian Müller
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