Back to the 1850s! Thanks to the wonderful writing of the Czech-American author and newspaperman, Hugo Chotek, we can enjoy this marvelous story that is a window on the lives of early Czechs, in this case actually from Moravia, in America. We are so very lucky for the surviving copies of the great Czech-American annual journal, Amerikán Národní Kalendář!
Enjoy today’s installment! We are proud to be able to bring this exclusive English translation to you!
Amerikán Národní Kalendář
Volume: XLIV, Year: 1921, Pages 154-168
A Page from the Lives of American Czechs from the Fifties
Written by Hugo Chotek
Translated by Layne Pierce and Mila Saskova-Pierce
©Onward To Our Past®
“The preparations were continuing successfully and before six o’clock the table was overloaded with the weight of the food and the drinks. This was because during those times hunting was quite substantial, since there was a multitude of stags and does, rabbits, quail, wild ducks and geese, woodcocks, wild pigeons, partridge, and especially the delicate wild prairie chickens. The rivers and the creeks at that time offered an abundance of pike, eels, white fish, catfish and other excellent kinds of fish. If we add to it then domestic animals, then we recognize that there was no paucity of different dishes. A good farmer and a hunter then had better cuisine in Texas than many rich people in Europe. And both Lešovskýs, Klimiček, as well as Mucha were good hunters so there was no lack of wild animals and fish in their households.
Nevertheless, Bláha was not completely happy, since he was missing two things, and those were a glass of good beer and then a true Czech carp. Christmas without a carp! What kind of a Christmas, what kind of a Christmas Eve? And this without a beer. The usual Texas whiskey did not go with such an eve, and home wine on the other hand, is a little too strong. The old Lešovský during this exulted talk was smiling mischievously, and always he would significantly wink at his son Vojtěch as if he was very pleased by it. – Before supper the candles on the tree were lit. There was no hiding with the tree, since there were no small children. Nevertheless, the tree was full of nuts and cookies and figs and oranges, apples and almonds, and there was a small present for the memory of each one.
After that everyone sat at the table. The fish soup, even though not from the Czech carp, tasted wonderfully. The same for the pickled black fish with dumplings, and the fried ones. Now, the venison and other game were supposed to be served all together, however, at that point, old Lešovský stood up and asked for a little pause, since he wanted to surprise his friends with something. He got up from the table and accompanied by his son, Vojtěch seriously he walked to the corner where there were barrels with flour and different objects. Having pushed away the flour he bent over and he rolled out two beer kegs, and he immediately tapped one of them.
The clamor of the present people cannot be described and even Bláha was so surprised that he could not find words for his admiration. This was because the beer was a great rarity in the settlements, since it had to be brought in either from Houston, or San Antonio, which was quite a difficult task. Lešovský, however, learned by chance that several weeks before one enterprising German, Louis Krenschel, had started brewing beer in Bluff, in Fayette County, and so without hesitation he asked two neighbors to bring him two small kegs. He did not want to ask Vojtěch to bring it in, so that the surprise would be that much bigger.”
Tomorrow our story of the first of three Christmases for our Czech immigrants continues! It is a wonderful story, carefully crafted by the Czech-American author, Hugo Chotek.
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Onward To Our Past®