Socka Hitsch

… otherwise known as Christian Zwicky, which is why I note the death of an old eccentric rural Swiss roadside sock vendor. The big picture:

(#1) On the Archyde news website on 2/12

The story:

Few knew his real name. Christian Zwicky. He was better known as Socka Hitsch. Born in 1938. Died in February 2020. This emerges from a death notice in «Southeastern Switzerland». [The region of Landquart is in easternmost Switzerland, just south of Liechtenstein and Austria and just west of the Zwicky towns of Mollis and Glarus. “Die Südostschweiz (literally “The Southeastern Switzerland”) is a Swiss German-language daily newspaper, published by Südostschweiz Mediengruppe in Chur, Graubünden.” (Wikipedia)]

(#2) Landquart on a map

Socka Hitsch was an original from Graubünden [aka Grisons, cantonal abbreviation GR]. For two decades he was at the fork in the road from Landquart GR to Davos GR. The square on the right after the second roundabout after the motorway exit was his territory. There he ran a unique sales booth. A combination of a kiosk and a caravan [BrE ‘a vehicle equipped for living in, typically towed by a car and used for vacations’ (NOAD)]. On offer: socks, braces [BrE for ‘suspenders’], all sorts.

Socka Hitsch was an artist of life. A Marlboro lover who has also been immortalized on the canvas. There is a film and a book about Graubünden. Zwicky was a guest on Kurt Aeschbacher’s program [Aeschbacher is a Swiss television presenter / host (Wikipedia); so far as I can tell, he’s the only point of gay interest in this posting]. He appeared with a shaggy beard and a mischievous smile.

King of socks

So his relatives want to remember him. His picture is printed on the obituary notice. It shows the old, cheerful man. Laughing. White hair. The beard cut in the style of Henri Quatre. No doubt: Socka Hitsch was also a king.

Zwicky grew up as an adoptive son in Davos. He moved to Chur GR to teach painting. An accident at the end of his apprenticeship shaped his life. While working on a department store, a door weighing several tons crashed into him and hurled him through a glass wall. Zwicky was then in hospital and in therapy for one and a half years.

He spent another 20 years on the construction site – until his back could not take part. He then switched to sales. Zwicky became a carpet dealer at Manor [a Swiss department store chain with headquarters in Basel (Wikipedia)] and was involved in numerous associations, including rabbit breeders and carnival guests. At the age of 59, he finally became self-employed. As Socka Hitsch.

Market stall poet and father

Hitsch is the Grisons short form of his first name Christian. He felt comfortable as a sock seller. People loved him. “Han Hosaträger, warmi Socka, Unterboxa for Drufhocka, Hempar for billiga Priisa, han offa bi Föön and Biisa, even when it rains and snows, I am advised for the Chunda,” he used to say.

He was a market stall poet. In quiet moments he watched the chamois [the mountain goat-antelopes] with a field glasses. Throughout his life he remained enthusiastic about HC Davos [the local hockey club]. The Swiss flag fluttered daily at his booth. Next to it was the pirate flag.

Christian Zwicky has now passed away at the age of 81. After a short illness, he fell asleep peacefully, the obituary says. He leaves behind a daughter and two grandchildren.

Socka Hitsch at his stand in 2017, as he was closing it down:


Notes on Landquart. From Wikipedia on the town:

Landquart is a municipality in the Landquart Region in the Swiss canton of Graubünden. It was formed when the municipalities of Igis and Mastrils merged on 1 January 2012 into the new municipality of Landquart. The municipality “Landquart” draws its name from a locality in the former municipality of Igis.

Igis is first mentioned about 840 as Ovinae/Aviuns. In 1149 it was mentioned as Auuine, in 1225 as Huiuns and in 1253 as Yges. Mastrils is first mentioned in 1318 as Ponstrils. In 1345 it was mentioned as Bastrils.

(Like Landquart, most places in Switzerland have a known history going back about one millennium.)

From Wikipedia on the region:

Landquart Region is one of the eleven administrative districts in the canton [roughly, province or state] of Graubünden in Switzerland. [by far the largest, with a population of 8,889 as of 12/31/18]

Note the size of the region. And compare this to information from the Niche site on Palo Alto’s University South neighborhood (where I live):

University South is a neighborhood in Palo Alto, California with a population of 8,691. University South is in Santa Clara County and is one of the best places to live in California. Living in University South offers residents a dense urban feel and most residents rent their homes. In University South there are a lot of restaurants, coffee shops, and parks. Many young professionals and retirees live in University South and residents tend to be liberal. The public schools in University South are highly rated.

Note on Archyde.The news service source of the Socka Hitsch story above. I haven’t been able to find any information about where it’s published or by whom. Apparently it’s published only in English — English that’s generally excellent but detectably non-native. The many Swiss-local references in the story above (some of which I’ve tried to explain) suggest that it originates in Switzerland, in fact Germanophone Switzerland. But that’s all I know.

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