Tramping to us was really special, of course you know I was thinking about that when I came to America because the name ‘tramp’ in Czech was somebody who was noble, it was a noble name; it was somebody who was good, a right person, a true patriot, a person who knows nature and loves nature.
Rural life Tag
When my father died, we moved back to my grandmother and grandfather’s and my uncle was over there, and they had a farm. But in Czech Republic, it’s not like here. There’s a village, and the fields are someplace else. Over here you have a house and everything is around it, but over there, you have the village and everything was outside.
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.
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.
Everything in Czechoslovakia was kind of drab, gray and brown – we went to Austria and it was like a different world. The gas stations with the colorful flags and colors everywhere and new cars. I think that left a huge impression on me. [I thought] ‘I want to live here,’ you know? And Coca-Cola and fries! Eating fries was like ‘Wow.’ It was amazing.
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.
No, there was not an invitation; there was forcing. I asked them ‘Why me?’ and they said ‘Oh, we need the people who really do a good job at work, who are responsible’ and so on and so on. But it was so strong. Every single day I was called to the big boss’s office or this contract guy – he was a chairman of the Party – so I had them all the time on my neck.
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.
If I want to be honest, I had a bad education because those three or four years when I was in high school, we were learning about the Germans, and what was actually produced in Germany and history in Germany, every city in Germany, and we were actually neglecting quite of bit of education that we should have. Except maybe mathematics, but the rest of them – it was really poor education at that time.