Until the 1970s, it was common practice in the villages of the Austrian Burgenland to bring community news directly to the inhabitants’ doorsteps.
This was the task of the ‘village drummers’, who were called ‘Kloarichter’ in some regions. One of them was my grandfather, Andreas Kaufmann. In the picture, you can see him in his everyday clothes, wearing the typical Burgenland fürtuch (fiata), an apron that served many purposes.
He worked for the community of Lockenhaus until his retirement. One of his duties – apart from digging graves at the cemetery or doing landscape maintenance in the village – was to be the ‘village drummer’. He used to take his bike, go to specific spots in the village and give a drum roll, thus encouraging people to come out of their houses. He would then tell them important community news, starting with the words ‘It is announced that...’.
For example, he brought messages from the waterworks that, due to maintenance work, the water supply was to be cut off or streets had to be blocked for a certain time. He would give a drum roll once more at the end. Andreas Kaufmann used to do this until the end of the 1970s. That was when the waterworks or the fire brigade started to send cars equipped with loudspeakers to provide the population with the latest news. In between, they played loud music to get people to leave their houses and listen.
Today, people are informed in due time by post or via social media. The personal touch has been lost along the way. These days, messages are transmitted a lot faster, and they can reach more people at once. Still, I’m pleased not to have missed out on the childhood memory of my grandfather's drumbeat.
Rita Loibl / Lockenhaus, March 2021