When this plane landed, of course the airport in Prague was extremely primitive then, and we landed at what looked like a shack, a wooden building that actually a neon hammer and sickle over the top, and it was really a foggy day in October. It was creepy; I was scared as hell coming in there.
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.
I think we lived in one of the most beautiful places in the world in Slovakia with the mountains… We also had a little farm. On top of my parents working, we always had a cow, and of course for winter you had to collect the food for the cows, so my father was working the fields and we went and helped.
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.’
And every day we heard this humming and saw thousands and thousands of B-17s and B-24s flying over, and the sirens of course. The Germans had flights all around but they were not shooting because the plans were really high. But it was something that I never forgot because all over you see the [hum of the planes], and they were floating down these small strips against radar. And this I remember very well.
When we came and didn’t know anybody, didn’t have friends, Sokol was something like a family. Every Friday we went – if we could – and at that time Sokol owned a whole building on Page Street in San Francisco. Fridays, children had exercises in one room, women in another room, men in another room, and teenagers in another room, and at the end we all marched and sang.
The voting I went through in Czechoslovakia was absolutely ridiculous. With the age of 18 you had the ‘right’ to vote, and it consisted of you being forced to go and vote. You were handed a paper filled out with the Communist candidates, which you folded and threw in some container. That was the extent of the voting. Absolutely absurd stuff.