Our exclusive translation continues today! We are providing this first-person story from the pages of the fabulous Czech-American annual journal, Amerikán Národní Kalendář!
So far we have followed our Czech immigrant through his youth in the Czech lands of Bohemia and Moravia. Then across the ocean to New York, and then up north to Canada. Now he is there, but will he stay?
Enjoy this magnificent look at the lives and times of our Czech ancestral compatriots!
Amerikán Národní Kalendář
Year: 1951, Volume: LXXIII, Pages: 117-144
“Old Settlers’ Memories”
Translated from the original Czech by Dr. Mila Saskova-Pierce and Layne Pierce
©Onward To Our Past®
“The Life Experiences of Spouses Charles and Anna Lux – from Sayville, New York”
Charles and Anna Lux during their celebration of the 35th anniversary of their shared life. On the day of the 22nd of August, 1949.
“They placed us in a big building that was serving both as dining room and kitchen. In the attic there was a rows of beds, in fact they were wooden partitions made into beds with straw and a blanket. That was our new residence. On the lower floor there were three rows of tables each for 50 people and six big stoves that were heated with wood and served by two Canadians. I was assigned to the kitchen as a help to the cook. It was not easy to cook for 150 people. The cook, Abbot, an Irishman who had to bake bread and other baked goods in addition to cooking, mixed the dough daily with a bottle of hooch in front of him. He would always put a big spoon of sugar in his mouth and drink it down with the hooch. He was able to stand on his feet only until the food was distributed and then he was overcome by his drinking and we had to carry him to his bed where he would sleep for three hours. Meanwhile I had to prepare the supper with the Canadians. Towards the end of August the rainy season started and the malaria which had infected a great number of workers made the work impossible; one early morning all the workers disappeared from the camp. The sheriff from Montmagny was informed of their escape; he went to out to find the fugitives with his assistants and they were rounded up, one by one.
Three weeks later I quit the work in that camp. After a full day’s walk I went by train from Montmagny to the town of Quebec. There I met a German sailor who was on one of the ships in New York; he had deserted along with another sailor on that ship. Instead of a journey to New York we accepted work at a government sawmill in Kiskisius near an Indian reservation with about 150 inhabitants. I stayed there until the end of the job, when the tree trunks were brought in with the help of ships that were pulling the tree trunks towards the lumber mill. When I stepped into the office of the administrator of the lumber mill to get my pay, the officer said that the manager would be back on the morning train that went to Quebec, so there was nothing left for me but to wait. After I received my salary, I had started packing my clothes when suddenly whistles were blowing and another train also in the direction of Quebec came to our camp with a great number of workers and a crane. They told us that the train by which I meant to go and on which the administrator was to arrive had fallen off an embankment eroded by the long lasting rains and everyone, including 35 travelers, were killed.
The administrator told me: “Look Charlie, if you had gone on this train you would be dead.”
I thought to myself, “Well, I have to die sometime. What difference does it make whether it is now or later?”.
After the end of the emergency repairs the train from Quebec was able to take me and I set off the next day on the Trans-Canadian Pacific train back to New York. I would have done much better if I had stayed in Canada since my small savings during the subsequent unemployment ran out, and the next spring I was once again planning to leave New York.”
Bohemia, New York, Quebec, and now back to New York! Where will our Czech immigrant end up next — and will his luck hold out? We will know more tomorrow right here!
Onward To Our Past®