We continue today with our wonderful story from the pages of the 1934 edition of the Czech-American annual journal, Amerikán Národní Kalendář!
We are still learning about life in the ‘Old Country’ and it is a remarkable story we are enjoying!
Here is 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)
“That scared me. I thanked him and promised him that I would return, and so I did that. The next day I was already in Dresden in Saxony, where shoemakers were on strike. Meanwhile all my saved money disappeared. I was also idle. I liked it there, but I started to be hungry. Two days I did not eat anything, I just drank water. That was for free. With a desperate idea I gathered the courage to enter one of the palaces besides the king’s castle in the old town beside the Elbe. I found a little path toward the kitchen. There were several gentlemen and ladies. They immediately asked me who I was and what I wanted. I shared my situation with them and I was immediately assisted. They sat me down by the table which was covered with different foods and even beer, and I enjoyed it. The whole time they were asking me about Vienna. When I got full, they collected several marks for me and they even gave me a recommendation for a shoemaking factory, and immediately I was a different person!
I did, in fact, get work in the factory. I worked there for nine months and then I travelled, crisscrossing Germany all winter long. In the spring I was in Bohemia doing different types of work. I was handing bricks to the bricklayers, materials to the carpenters, to kettle makers, wherever there was a missing worker, even if it was just for a short while. Sometimes my veins were breaking in my whole body, however, my strong will was asking to save something, and telling me: “Suffer body! This is what you wanted!” I was able to stand working on the building of a big factory in Pečky for 17 weeks.
Then I accepted work in a chemical factory. I worked in the smith shop, a gas shop, and then at the end I was even bottling sulfuric acid, as well as nitric acid. I spent the whole fall doing this work. While there I also learned how little value a worker’s life has, when acid that was exploding splashed on to me I was disrobed to nakedness by the sixty percent concentration of the acid. That burned my clothing so much that after immediate submersion into a cask of cold water that was standing there just for such a case, only the collar around my neck was left from my entire clothing. I immediately left this dangerous job and accepted work in a sugar factory behind the presses, where the cut beets were squashed.
By the end of the season I had saved 46 guilders. I rested for two weeks, washing my blackened and cut hands. Then in Kolín I bought new clothing and I went full speed to Vienna. I received work in a shoe and glove store (the finest in women’s footwear) and I learned quite a bit more, so that by now I was quite well outfitted with much knowledge to continue my life. It was this knowledge that was lacking in many of my colleagues.”
Tomorrow we continue our wonderful story and find out what our Czech’s plans are now that he has this added knowledge!
Onward To Our Past