We continue with our truly amazing story from the pages of the 1934 edition (Volume 57) of the wonderful Czech-American journal, Amerikán Národní Kalendář!
Our exclusive translation continues with our Czech youth still in Bohemia. Trying to make his way in the world, alone, broke, and not all that happy. Read on to see what all lies in store!
Enjoy today’s installment!
Amerikán Národní Kalendář
Volume: LVII, Year: 1934, Pages: 187-213
FROM THE MEMORIES OF OLD CZECH SETTLERS IN AMERICA
Translated by Layne Pierce and Dr. Mila Saskova-Pierce
©Onward To Our Past®
John Zajíc, Sr. Edgerton, Alberta, Canada. (Continued)
“I went up the hill onto the imperial paved road and my sorrow departed. Youth – is happiness!
The paved road leads directly from Kolín to Prague. At mid-road, about 20 kilometers, there is a little town, Ouvaly. This is the place where I first took over a door handle to “clean it”. A young and beautiful Jewish girl brought me a plate of new potatoes with butter and with cottage cheese. Never before and never after have I eaten my fill of such tasty potatoes, perhaps because it was given to me by such a beautiful young girl. An empty stomach, of course, also did not decrease my appetite. At four o’clock in the afternoon I was standing at the railroad station in Počernice, the first railroad station from Prague. I asked at the ticket window how much a ticket to Prague costs. Supposedly 19 kreutzers, so I pulled out my twenty kreutzer coin. The teller returned one kreutzer. I went to Prague like an important gentleman. I was not even bothered that I had in my pocket, just one single kreutzer.
I headed off away from the railroad station heading the same direction as most of the people, and not looking around thinking that the Praguers will not recognize a peasant. So this procession took me along Příkopy Street up to Železná Street. There was a worker standing in house slippers and a white apron. He was smoking a pipe with a long stem. From far away I recognized him as a shoemaker. I passed by him about three steps and he turned to me: “What type of a tradesman are you?” I answered: “A shoemaker.” And he: “Do you want work?” I: “Of course, otherwise I would not have come to Prague,” and he answers: “So come up here to the old man.” I come to the third floor and there are nice lights in the shop; eight workers, two apprentices, everybody in white aprons. The master is called in. Upon seeing my honest and willing eyes he tells me: “Do you know how to make soles?” [The first degree of proficiency] I answered: “I do know, master,” I said according to the village custom. “Don’t call me master”, said the gentleman. “This is how in our place we call little pigs; my name is Puškvorec!” I immediately answered: “Yes, Mr. Puškvorec.” And he answered, “Ok, you will not work today, sit down and take off your coat.” I was looking at him stunned, such a way of doing things. I did like it very much in the shop. Each one was engrossed in his work and nobody was paying attention to me. Only about an hour later the apprentices went to the hotel, (The Emperor’s) for supper. One of them asked me: “What about you Johan? What would you like for supper?” I answered him: “Well, I won’t eat tonight.” Everybody burst out laughing and they wanted to know why I wouldn’t have supper. So I showed them my possession (one kreuzer). What a laughter there was. They immediately brought in the old man and reported to him.”
Tomorrow we continue with our marvelous story of this amazing young Czech! What delightful and insightful details he is offering us about life in the ‘Old Country’ of Bohemia!
Onward To Our Past