We continue! Bohemia — 1800s! A wonderfully detailed description of life in those times. The dreams, the challenges, the difficulties, and the triumphs! Exclusively here from Onward To Our Past®.
This translation comes from the pages of the 1934 edition (Volume 57) of the fabulous Czech-American annual journal, Amerikán Národní Kalendář. These rare editions were published only in Czech and we are bringing them to you in English for the very first time ever! These volumes are acknowledged by experts everywhere to be some of the very best for first-person accounts of the lives and times of early Czech-Americans!
So read on and enjoy this wonderful piece of history!
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)
“While doing I consistently suffered from a stomach illness. It did not hurt, I just did not feel like eating. The doctors could not help me, and so I sought help at different clinics throughout Europe. It was only in Amsterdam that they figured out what it was. They wrote to me that if I wanted to save my life, I should not be sitting (I was working while sitting), that my stomach is squashed during the work and from that it was inflamed and could not work. Once I stop working while sitting, the stomach will get healthy by itself.
What now? So I was thinking, why couldn’t a shoemaker make shoes while standing, and perhaps then the stomach will not protest, if it will be in a natural position? After two nights of thinking I got an idea. Immediately in the morning I visited a cabinetmaker, Master V. Hladík, together, before evening we made a model of a machine for shoemakers to work while standing. The next day I loaded my nice model on a wheelbarrow and I went to Pečky to Mr. Jouza in a machine factory, where I waited until they cast my machine and assembled it. The machine was suitable in all ways and that saved my life.
A year after that the Prague Jubilee Exposition opened in 1891 and so I submitted my machine and three pairs of corrective shoes on this machine.
I was accepted in the industrial palace and at the same time I was asked to produce on that machine, which I gladly accepted. I produced on that machine twice during that summer. With a special welcoming, I was allowed to show on a special panel, so that hundreds of participants in the general shoemaking congress would easy see my product, and would hear my lecture. Both were very successful, since I was used to speaking to assemblies as a political orator. I received long lasting applause.
The day after, the General Shoemaker Congress held its keynote address on the Vltava Island, Žofín, in the upper hall. I also asked for a word there and according to the conclusion of the listeners I successfully solved the question: “Why are Jews getting into our trade?” The Prague Shoemaker Association publicly accepted my suggestions. Among others I said: “Believe me dear gentlemen colleagues, the Russian state is like a house on sand without any foundation. If there is a flood it will be wiped off the face of the Earth.” This stated opinion was not liked by Mr. Government Commissar. He asked the president of the meeting, for justification. I did it immediately. I called out: “Gentlemen colleagues, those among you who were soldiers, lift up your arms please.” Immediately there were hundreds of hands raised. Therefore, I continued with another question: “Who was punished by having his feet hurt by these junk shoes made by the Jewish capitalistic machinery?” Screams: “Shame! -The soldier was punished!” I said: “Do you see? In our country one head of cattle is a bigger master than a soldier and a taxpayer. Our military equipment is buying horses. Here one does not respect the trade order, and one only says: ‘If you want to shoe horses, have experience!’ “Here I emphasized that the Army is standing on a sick foot, and that it will not sustain even one real march. I lived long enough to see the fulfillment of my prediction. For that I was seized by about 20 arms and with glory I was carried into the garden like a national hero.”
Tomorrow our story continues as we learn more of the times and lives of Czechs in 1800s Bohemia.
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