As a young child, I was into the domestic things that were available so it was fine. I didn’t feel deprived. But in the later years, in seventh, eighth grade, I was getting into bands from abroad and different styles of rock music and whatnot, and that was not available at all. We had to go Poland and buy bootlegged tapes and that sort of thing.
Western/Pop culture Tag
I came back to Prague with a paper saying I can come back to America as an expert. They’re going to take me to work. I came like a big man with a smile – I know how naïve I was; I know it today and I knew it later – I took the paper, I took vacation the next two weeks, I spent my money because I was happy, happy, happy [thinking] I’m going to America, right?
This is not an isolated world anymore; even if people think that it is, it’s not. And what’s happening in Europe will be here really, really soon. So we are in one world. That’s why I feel more like a citizen of the world, and I can imagine that I can live in some other place and it’s still one world. And that’s what I am enjoying most. I learned how to pack.
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.
Well, guys thought that the situation would be better in the Czech Republic when it comes to women. And that’s why they left. And they were wrong, of course. And women left because they wanted to have a family, for example. With their kids, or because they wanted to start their family in the Czech Republic.
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.
When I was a kid I liked to cook. We had a garden and, on my own, I went, pulled out some vegetables, some fruit and I was making soup, and he [George’s father] said ‘My god, you cannot eat that. It’ll spoil your stomach!’ What can ten year old kids cook if you don’t have any experience? So then my mother said ‘Ok, I will take care of it.’ And she was dictating some recipes to me. I remember the first one – potato soup.
And the camp, which was a mix between a labor camp and a concentration camp, was actually liberated by the Red Army. So my father had a very favorable view of the Soviets and the Russians because he was liberated by them, and he, quite frankly, escaped with his life. He was lucky to get home in 1945 and he saw me when I was three years old.
At first I was frightened; I was overwhelmed because it was just too much. The skyscrapers, the people, the noise. At the same time, it was wonderful, but I was scared. I remember I was staying at some Czech’s apartment in the Upper West Side and I decided I had to go to the Metropolitan Museum [of Art]. I went to through the park [Central Park] and I got to the museum and I thought ‘I wasn’t killed, thank God.’