Just how the country was run, it was like you don’t have any ambition, you don’t have any drive to become a better person, a wiser, more mature individual. It’s so difficult out there to be able to make something of yourself, to be able to stand out and live your life, and she thought the freedom allowed in America would be a great, great asset for he and I to be a part of.
Community life Tag
I really didn’t want to leave because I had a good life there, I like Slovakia. Just my friends [were] bugging me ‘Let’s go, let’s go, let’s go to America or Australia!’ We decided the year before the Russian occupation came to the country, and we left a year later, ’69 – ’69, September we left from Slovakia
My dad was actually in the army during the War. Slovakia at the time was also a republic, by itself. When the army was disbanded, and was caught by the Germans, he was sent to Germany to work on the farms as forced labor. They needed it; all the German men were in the army, so there was a shortage. So he did work in Germany until the end of the war.
When I was a teacher I could not go to church in my town. So if I wanted to go to church I went to Prague because nobody knew me. If I would go into my town church, I would not be able to be a teacher because religion was something which was not favorable to the communists.
Yes, we did have a chata, or summer home, or záhrada [garden] and we pretty much spend almost the entire summer there. There was always something to do. My dad was very much an avid gardener and we grew everything. I didn’t know such a thing as to go to a store and purchase potatoes or carrots or even things like jam or ketchup or anything.
When I was a kid I liked to cook. We had a garden and, on my own, I went, pulled out some vegetables, some fruit and I was making soup, and he [George’s father] said ‘My god, you cannot eat that. It’ll spoil your stomach!’ What can ten year old kids cook if you don’t have any experience? So then my mother said ‘Ok, I will take care of it.’ And she was dictating some recipes to me. I remember the first one – potato soup.
You know, yes of course, you have those memories and associations, but is it some kind of an idealized, background-music, lots of violins [experience] standing looking at your house, and immediate flashbacks? No, it’s not. It’s in a way awkward, because you really realize that time goes by and your life is someplace else – that’s only part of you, that’s only what you lived through, that’s only where you went to school or whatever. But whatever you took from there, you have. Going back is not going to change it.
I was always kind of growing or living with the music community, and it was not just the band. It was folk music, folk ensembles, dancers, theatre. So I got to know a lot of people, and also that community was what I always loved. The musical or artistic group of people, we always said that we are different. We have a big love for it. It helped me in my business, too.
I remember the War. Where we lived, the Americans used to fly over and drop their bombs on Plzeň, the Škoda factories, and they were flying right over us. I remember one New Year’s Eve, my parents were somewhere and they were coming back, and I think he [a military pilot] was shot or something, so he unloaded his bombs right in the forest by us, there was a big bang.