He had really good ideas, and those ideas which I heard, which he told me, I liked them, because I felt yeah, everybody should… there shouldn’t be hungry people, there shouldn’t be poor people, everybody should have a little piece of something, everybody should have free school, free health program. And that’s what communists promised. So that’s how he believed it.
Family life Tag
At night we went on duty. And there was a little hill, and down at the bottom there was a creek and a flour mill. And so I says ‘You know, you guys, I want to go down and see if there is somebody, if I can catch somebody, down by the mill.’ So I went back there, nobody followed me, nobody looked where I was going.
So my parents got on a motorcycle and they escaped across the border to Austria, like many other people were doing at the time, and I suppose this was quite a dangerous trip so they didn’t want to take a three year old on a motorcycle between them, so they left me with my grandmother. I wasn’t going to see them again, my mother for three years and my father for six years.
We had several American pictures, but we had them hidden, we couldn’t play them because under the Germans, they wouldn’t let us play them. We had some Czech, we had a couple of Slovak films, but these came from Bratislava, you know, we always got a new film every week. And I don’t know what kind of film we were preparing because we never –played it – the Russians came and they wanted to…
I have very fresh memories of walking by a grocery store or pharmacy and seeing empty shelves, or seeing a line of people waiting outside. The practice was that, if you saw a line in front of a pharmacy, you immediately went and stood in the line because something arrived that was never available, and it was the bizarre stuff you’d expect.
Our mother, she was jailed twice, and she spent a long time in German jails, and during that time our maid was still with our family and also our grandmother, who came also from a family which was German speaking, so she was looking out for us and actually, it was our grandmother and our maid who saved us when our mother was taken prisoner, when she was in the jail.
They had machine guns, but my mother kept yelling ‘Italiano!’ She thought they were Italians, she was hoping they were Italians. They were not, unfortunately. They took us back to that little house, and on the other side of the road they had caught a man who was Polish, trying to escape. And these soldiers were young kids; they were 18 to 21, they were kicking this man, they were beating him on the floor.
I remember that after we came from midnight mass, my mom and my uncle and we stayed up and he was telling us about America, how great it is and this and that. As a kid you are like, ‘Oh my gosh, you have bananas every day? You can have oranges? You can have this?’ It was euphoria.
There is only one time a year where I make Czech food, and it’s a fusion between Czech and American customs. On Thanksgiving, I don’t make turkey because I am not crazy about turkey – it’s dry. I do duck, and I bake the duck the Czech way because it’s one of the best dishes the Czechs are making.