It’s already probably starting in 1964 to 1966. There was a sense of great liberalization, without us completely realizing it. We would listen to the foreign radio – Radio Free Europe, I think, and one other station – we would be completely into Beatles music and all of the contemporary music and outfits and all of these kinds of things.
Family life Tag
It was great. There were no cars, as I remember, in 1960. There were no cars in the streets. We played ball games; we divided the street into two halves, and there were no cars coming. There was one car parked down the street. I remember postal wagons drawn by horses and the horse had the little package of hay in front of him and he was eating, and then they brought – Polska was a pub – so the horses brought the ice to the pub and hauled it down to the cellar to keep the beer nice and cold.
I was obsessed with history, it was clear. Everyone in my class knew that I was obsessed with history; I had the best knowledge of history in the classroom, always challenging the teacher and reading history books under the desk. I had a vast library because due to the fate which befell my relatives on my father’s side, my grandfather and uncle, when they were arrested, some of their books – if they were not confiscated – landed in our house.
They were teaching us how to make a puppet; we had to design a puppet and make it. And everyone was oohing and aahing how similar style I had, that it was almost Jim Henson-like. All that I needed was to look at that Muppet inside out and I could figure out how to do it. That’s all I needed.
So we went to a garden restaurant. They’d been celebrating, dancing, and I sat down and I think he ordered some wine or whatever. And then he said ‘Come and dance,’ and I said ‘What are you, crazy?’ He said ‘Come and dance,’ so we’re dancing, then I looked around and the Russians came there. And they come with their machine guns and they looked at the people. He [my guide] said ‘Now be nice, smile at me.’
The favorite dish was the pork tenderloin. Roast pork, dumplings and sauerkraut, as well as breaded pork tenderloin as well as potato salad and stuff. Obviously roast duck, no one can go wrong with roast duck, and goulash. So the typical Czechoslovakian dishes. But out of all, the roast pork and pork tenderloin were the biggest seller.
Actually, I had two aunts, so one was working and the other was supposed to take care of me. But she was partially deaf, so when there was an air raid announced, all children were sent home, and parents came – we were in the first grade, so all the parents came to pick them up – but because my aunt couldn’t hear, nobody picked me up.
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
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.
This is going to sound ridiculous – but as a child, I actually often played at the toilet, because it was a small room, about one by one square meter, and I would just close the toilet and that was my little desk, and I would draw and do whatever projects there because I think I always felt the need for my own space.