We had threatening phone calls [saying] they’re going to shoot my mother – it was from the [Czechoslovak] Consulate from somewhere, from England; I would think it was the consulate – and ‘You’ll never see your parents again’ and all of the sudden I said ‘My god! What have I done?’ So my coach said ‘From now on, you’re not going out,’ so for ten days I was in the house.
It was more a matter of integrity I think. When they came to the United States, they were looking for different spiritual venues, but in Czechoslovakia nothing else existed and remaining Catholic meant that they would be adhering to their values, which they considered superior to the communist ones. So it was partly political. It was kind of a silent protest.
Yes, yes. The American planes were coming through that area, going most often to bomb Austria, mainly Wiener Neustadt, where there were some factories which they considered important, and we many times had an alarm and we were so pleased because they had to chase us out of the buildings.
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.
[When it came to emigration] one thing was easier for us, because for two years I had already guessed that there will be major economic problems in Czechoslovakia. Our factory was working at something like only 16% capacity. I thought I would have to emigrate for economic reasons. But of course the Russian invasion changed this into political reasons – that’s beyond debate.
I stayed in Prague, but I had to go to psychiatry. Children’s psychiatry [hospital], it’s a big place in Prague; it’s called Bohnice. A lot of people know it; it’s slang, like ‘You will end up in Bohnice’ if you get a little crazy. It was a really interesting experience, very, very interesting experience with the children. The children did like me a lot, because they had these old-fashioned nurses who were cruel and nasty to them.
One of my first remembrances is the middle of the night and we were awake because there was that very deep sound, and there was a pinkish or yellowish shine all over the sky and my father was standing close to the window and said ‘Has to be Leipzig or Dresden. This is where they are bombarding tonight, but it’s terrible; it’s very, very intense.’ So it was the night that Dresden got bombarded.
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.