It remains always the same, and that reminds me very much of my childhood, of my happiest days. Perhaps they have internet nowadays but I doubt it, and people are still genuine and the same, and there is a road there and people probably have cars but there is still only the one shop, one pub. Nobody ever moves and the traditions remain, and I love that. There are very few places in the world that you can come and still find the same after many, many years away.
Community life Tag
We lived in one room. And I believe, off and on, there were either two or three families sharing one room. It was a relatively large room. The bath was actually down the hall, so that was shared by several other families. It was an old army barracks, it was an old kásarna that had been bombed during the War.
We were schooled for one year where we learned everything about everything, mainly about tanks because I was a tank driver. And the second year we went to Prachatice. And at the end of that, in August 1968, the Russians came and occupied Czechoslovakia, so we thought that maybe we will stay longer in the Army or something but our activities ended
When I tried to bring my parents here, and send an affidavit in 1952 or ‘53, I got a letter from my father. ‘Please do not attempt to do anything right now. Because the situation right now, the only place we would wind up or could get to would be Siberia’ because it was at the time when Stalin was insisting on his program. That was when the Cold War actually started.
I remember during the War, and I especially remember when I had diphtheria and I was in the hospital, and every time the bombers came they put us under the beds if they did not have the time to take us down to the cellar. So, we sort of escaped the War in that respect, because we were in nursery school, my brother and I, but because I had diphtheria, he was quarantined, so he could not be in school with the other children, and at that time a bomb hit the school building and all the children there did not make it.
For the rest of us like me, [the war] was the most beautiful time because we had a beautiful friendship. All the time I was going to the gymnázium and our class was going together and we had a very, very close friendship. The reason for that was, you see, there was nothing else to do
Sokol was outlawed, but he [my father] was teaching a little gymnastics class that I and about a dozen boys, we would go into the old Sokol Hall and he made arrangements, he would teach us the stuff, you know, gymnastics: parallel bars, high bar, rings, floor exercises, the sort of typical stuff that the Sokols do – for several years. And I think he always believed in exercise and the whole notion of ‘in a healthy body is a healthy spirit.’
I do remember it vividly. I was about four and a half years old, but no matter how much our parents were trying to shield us from it, they just couldn’t quite do that. Litomyšl has a very long square – it’s not a square, really; it’s a main street – and it’s the second longest square in Czechoslovakia, second to Wenceslas Square in Prague, and they were trying to prevent the Russians from invading the middle of the town, so they put a barrier as a bus.
There weren’t many veterinary school and they really didn’t want women either, and I said ‘I want to go to that university in Brno that you went to.’ And he said ‘What do you think you are? Look at yourself, you’re too [small].’ I was littler then. And he said, ‘You don’t have the strength to be a veterinarian. Come with me.’