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I Forge Iron

Freddy Habberman Video

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Brian Brazeal mentioned something about what he learned from Freddy Habberman. I remembered that I recently saw these two videos about him. Who needs English? Great films! It was wonderful to see him hammering again. What life and passion he had for forging!



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Alfred Habermann first came to the U.S. in 1982 to demonstrate at the West Virginia ABANA Conference. He came from Czechoslovakia when that country was still behind the 'Iron Curtain.' It was reported that he and his wife were at the airport ready to embark when the police came and prevented his wife from joining him. He had to come on alone. After his ABANA demo, he had another 30 days to spend in the U.S. He took a tour around the States demonstrating here and there.He came to Albuquerque and was greeted by officers of our regional group, SWABA. I did not attend the WV conference, so I was unaware of Habermann's New Mexico arrival. I received a call at my place in Santa Fe from the SWABA president. He asked me whether I could speak German. I responded that I could speak a halting brand of German. I told him that my German was 'sehr rostig' (very rusty). He said that the group was in a quandary; they couldn't have dialogue with Habermann. Nobody they knew spoke Czech nor German. SWABA wondered whether Habermann could stay with me. I said that would be fine with me, so the next day, he was brought to Santa Fe, I asked him whether he spoke any English, and he said, "Me Freddy." That was it! From thence forward, my wife, Juanita, and I called him Freddy. He loved that.

As I recall, our demo was held at Russ Swider's forge about 35 miles east of Santa Fe. For his forging, Freddy made a corkscrew that was about 18" long. He then used it to open a bottle of Champagne, the bottle held upright between his feet. Then, the Champagne was shared with some of the onlookers. Freddy was a showman. He also made a number of leaves, the kind that were pointed (kind of like a lead pencil shape). Then shouldered on two sides at the base of the taper, resulting in a square stem and a "lump" that formed below the anvil edge.. Turned over, the lump was flattened giving nice width, something like an Aspen leaf.

I had a class going at my forge at the time of Freddy's visit, so he was able to spend several hours with us at my smithy...very much appreciated. We took Freddy to my wife's home, Taos Pueblo Indian village, 70 miles north of Santa Fe. He enjoyed that, but also the scenery. There is a 'horseshoe' curve in the highway about 15 miles south of Taos. Driving out of that dip, we topped a rise and the Rio Grande gorge came into view. Freddy hollered, " Please stop; I must get my camera."

Another instance of his use of the camera occurred when we drove to a supermarket at about 9PM. He absolutely could not fathom all the food on exhibit, and the store was open at nighttime!! He took pictures of all the food aisles, so that he could show his wife and friends when he returned home.

All in all, a most enjoyable visit.

Thanks for sending the links, Randy.

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