Kirshenblatt, Mayer (1916-2009)
Carp ponds, 1996
Acrylic on canvas
24 x 36 in.
"The Goldman family had been in the milling business for generations. Goldman's water mill on Ostrovtser veyg crossed the river. There must have been a steep drop in the river at this point in order for the water to flow over the big waterwheel and make it turn.
On either side of the river, next to the mill, were two carp ponds. I believe that Goldman owned those ponds, too. They fed the fish the by-products of the flour mill. They controlled the water level of the millponds and kept the water fresh and circulating by means of two wooden barriers, about two feet wide and as deep as the millpond. They would raise and lower these barriers to allow water from the river to flow in or out of the pond. The two openings to the millpond were covered with wire screens so the fish could not escape. To catch the fish, they drained the millpond by closing the intake and opening the outflow to release the water into the river. Workers would enter the drained millpond with wicker baskets and collect the carp flopping on the mud. To refill the millpond, they would reverse the process, closing the outflow and opening the intake. near the screen of the intake gate were millions of minnows. My friend Khamele Wajnberg took a sieve that they used in the mill--the sieve was made with horsehair--and we caught minnows with it."