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Re: [S-R] Travelogue for May 2005

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  • Caye Caswick
    Wow, you sure packed a ton into that trip -- fabulous journal, thanks so much Michael! Caye ... === message truncated ===
    Message 1 of 10 , Jun 2, 2005
    • 0 Attachment
      Wow, you sure packed a ton into that trip -- fabulous
      journal, thanks so much Michael!


      Caye



      --- Michael Mojher <mgmojher@...> wrote:

      > Dear Group,
      > Here is the requested travelogue of my trip. In
      > the interest of saving space each day will be
      > capsulated. If anyone wants more details on anything
      > in particular contact me directly.
      > This trip's purpose was to go to Slovakia and
      > celebrate the marriage of my nephew, Jon Bruns, to
      > Lydia Beisetzerova. Lydia was my niece's, Erica
      > Bruns-Chin, translator on our first two trips. Lydia
      > came to California for Erica's wedding and that
      > visit resulted in Jon and Lydia's marriage a year
      > ago this week.
      > May 2-3
      > In the interest of saving money we fly from San
      > Francisco to Washington, D.C., to Vienna and to
      > Kosice. Arriving at 2:30 pm.
      > Because of the short transfer time in
      > Washington, D.C. our baggage does not arrive with
      > us. Zuzanna Petras, a newly found relation works at
      > the airport. She helps us file the required papers.
      > Lydia's parents, Peter and Lygia, and my
      > maternal cousins Magda and Danko meet us and drive
      > us to Presov where they all live.
      > I check into the Penzion Antonio and Erica into
      > Penzion El Dorado. The El Dorado has been our base
      > in Presov on previous trips. I try the Antonio
      > because it is located on the Centrum.
      > Erica and her translator, Zuzana, and I drive to
      > Magda's house for a family reunion until 11pm. Jozef
      > Sopko is my mother's cousin. Daughter Magda is my
      > age. And her son, Lubo is Erica's age. Tragically,
      > Magda's husband and oldest daughter were killed in
      > an automobile accident on the way to a funeral in
      > 1983.
      > May 4
      > It is St. Florian's Day. The patron saint of
      > firefighters. Three generations of my relatives are
      > or were firemen. The latest is Capt. Lubomir
      > Thinschmidt. Lubo is directing the setup of the
      > demonstration that the fire department will be
      > putting on in the Centrum. The highlight will be a
      > repel from the top of St. Nicholas' bell tower. The
      > Presov fire department have five new trucks to show
      > off.
      > Erica's stay is only ten days. On Sunday she
      > wants to invited all the paternal relatives in
      > Hromos to lunch. We head to Hromos to make
      > restaurant arrangements and go around to personally
      > invite everyone to the luncheon. From Presov to
      > Hromos is about 30 miles. With so many towns along
      > the way the drive takes an hour. We do not get back
      > to Presov until midnight.
      > May 5
      > My suitcase is delivered. Erica's video and 35mm
      > camera has been stolen from her's. A lesson there on
      > the security of having to keep your suitcases
      > unlocked.
      > I explore the Centrum until to 2 pm.
      > Lubo picks me up and takes me to the fire
      > station. A whole new building has been added and the
      > old one is being renovated. In his office I watch a
      > video of the storm damage in the High Tatra's taken
      > from a helicopter. Lubo was part of the first rescue
      > squad to arrive after the storm. I watch a group of
      > firemen training for the Fireman's Olympics to be
      > held in Holland this year.
      > The rest of the day is spent at Magda's. Got
      > back to the Antonio at 11.
      > May 6
      > This is Slovakia's Memorial Day. In the Centrum
      > is a monument to the liberation of Presov by the
      > Russian Army. A ceremony is held to lay wreaths at
      > the monument. There is a contingent of Army
      > personnel and veterans. A band plays. My observation
      > is the event is generational. The people that stay
      > to watch the ceremony are made up exclusively of
      > older people. Those under 60 that stop and watch
      > seem to do so more out of curiosity and only for a
      > few minutes. The vast majority go about their
      > business.
      > I spend the day shopping the Centrum. Bought a
      > large format pictorial book; The Castles of
      > Slovakia.
      > Dinner is with the Beisetzer family at the
      > Pilsner-Jazz Wine Pub. There are nine of us. I have
      > the "Beer Spit". In spite of the name it was an
      > excellent shish kebab with a wild game sauce. Being
      > a chef myself, I ask to see the kitchen and meet the
      > chef. It was amazing that Peter could put out the
      > food he did with a four burner home stove, deep
      > fryer and small gas grill. I offer to split the
      > check with Jon, 2060SKK / $61. Dinner and drinks
      > comes out to $6.77 a person.
      > May 7
      > In the morning I meet Tomas Burger, my college
      > student translator from my last trip. Our visit has
      > to be short since he is in his last semester at
      > Presov University and he has to study for his last
      > test on Monday. I have him drive me out to the
      > shopping area of Presov.
      > The large Tesco (department-grocery), Baumax
      > (Home Depot) and Nay (electronics) are next to one
      > another. It was these stores that proved to me that
      > Slovakia did have access to all the products we had
      > in the States. They actually had some I wished we
      > had here. Unfortunately, when I compared prices I
      > realized that the cost of products were equivalent
      > to what I would pay for them back home. Since the
      > average paycheck in Presov is $350 a month I
      > wondered how anyone could afford to shop these
      > stores.
      > At 1pm the wedding reception for Jon and Lydia
      > begins at the Atrium. From the Antonio I only have
      > to walk a block and a half. There is a gathering of
      > 30 Beisetzer family members and friends. A four
      > piece folk band is on hand. It is four hours of
      > eating, drinking, talking and dancing. I am seated
      > next to Lydia's cousin. She is a senior in high
      > school and speaks excellent English. Lunch begins
      > with a chicken and fruit salad. The soup is the
      > ubiquitous chicken-noodle. The entree plate has a
      > pork cutlet, stuffed chicken breast, fried potatoes,
      > rice and cabbage salad. Dessert was four different
      > cakes made by Lydia's mother and grandmother.
      > The Beisetzer family gathering is not what could
      > be called your average Slovak family. Lydia's
      > father, Peter, is a professor of Industrial Arts at
      > Presov University. Mother, Lygia, teaches English at
      > a high school. Her aunt is a pediatrian in Kosice.
      > Other family members and friends all work at some
      > professional level.
      > Nonetheless they party like every other Slovak
      > family I've met. There is great joy in telling
      > stories and jokes. Every folk song became a
      > sing-along. The dancing was spirited and more often
      > than not a group event. Lydia was in a professional
      > dance troupe.
      > After the party I returned to the Antonio.
      > Rested till 8pm. Went and had dinner at its
      > restaurant. It was filling with young people who had
      > come to watch the Slovak-Czech hockey game on the
      > projection TV. Since I was moving to Hromos in the
      > morning I paid my bill, 6000SKK / $180.
      > May 8
      > The Centrum on a Sunday morning is deserted
      > except for those making their way to church. All
      > businesses closed at noon on Saturday. That is one
      > of the problems staying at the Antonio. It doesn't
      > open its restaurant until 9 am like all other
      > businesses. So finding a place to have breakfast
      > before then is impossible. The only coffee available
      > are vending machines on the Centrum. Whereas, the El
      > Dorado came with breakfast that began at 6:30 am.
      > Nonetheless the Antonio's location and large room,
      > #3, made it worth staying at.
      > On our way to Hromos we stop in Lipany to go to
      > Zuzana's grandmother's house. She weaves rugs and
      > makes lace items. Erica buys a rug. I, two lace
      > pieces. Grandmother wants 1600SKK for both. I insist
      > she takes 2000SKK. For the amount of work that went
      > into them they are a bargain at $30 each. Typical of
      > Slovak hospitality she insists we have something to
      > eat and drink. I could not resist her Kolac. She
      > said the secret to the dough was mashed potatoes and
      > dry milk.
      > When we get to Hromos we gather everyone for the
      > drive to Salas Frantisek in Stara Lubovna for lunch.
      > This is the place to eat there. Over the years we
      > have seen it grow into a wonderful complex of
      > buildings. They are needed since tour buses now make
      > stops here. The menu is huge, offering a wonderful
      > variety of traditional Slovak dishes.
      > Because of previous commitments or health
      > reasons our hoped for party of twenty some is just
      > twelve of us. Erica has arranged the menu. When we
      > are seated each place has a shot of Slivovica, a
      > bottle mineral water and boxes of fruit juice are
      > available. Lunch begins with chicken-noodle soup.
      > The entree is pork and chicken slices with gravy,
      > rice, French fries and the "Slovak Trinity"; red and
      > green cabbage and carrot salad. Dessert is a large
      > bowl of ice cream with pineapple chunks. The bill
      > comes out to $7.25 a person.
      > Although our party is not as large as we would
      > have liked it to be we still have a wonderful time
      > in a very nice atmosphere. This is Erica's only
      > chance on the trip to be with the relatives in
      > Hromos and she wants to make the most of it. Her
      > fantasy is to live in Hromos. The Mayor of Hromos'
      > offer to build her a house still stands. After lunch
      > she and Zuzana make a stop at each relatives home in
      > Hromos.
      > I drive home with Pavel and Viera Dronzek. Pavel
      > is married to my cousin Veronica Mojcher. Viera is
      > their 38 year old daughter, a nurse who lives with
      > them. Also at home is Veronica's 93 year old mother,
      > Christina. She is the oldest person in Hromos. Their
      > are two sons. Pavel lives in Plavnica and Jozef is
      > the Dean of the Catholic Church in Trebisov.
      > In spite of the language barrier, with the aid
      > of a Slovak-English dictionary we are able to
      > communicate.
      === message truncated ===


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    • Evelyn Marsh
      Mick, I am totally exhausted reading your travel log - it is full friedly Slovaks relatives, much eating of that wonderful home cooked Slovak cuisine and much
      Message 2 of 10 , Jun 3, 2005
      • 0 Attachment
        Mick,

        I am totally exhausted reading your travel log - it is
        full friedly Slovaks relatives, much eating of that
        wonderful home cooked Slovak cuisine and much
        traveling here and there!!!!!!!!!! Wonderful to read
        and imagine! Many thanks - I will print this and read
        it to Ann Mojcher Dolyak. Thank you for all your
        generous time. Will be in touch.
        Evelyn

        --- Michael Mojher <mgmojher@...> wrote:


        ---------------------------------
        Dear Group,
        Here is the requested travelogue of my trip. In
        the interest of saving space each day will be
        capsulated. If anyone wants more details on anything
        in particular contact me directly.
        This trip's purpose was to go to Slovakia and
        celebrate the marriage of my nephew, Jon Bruns, to
        Lydia Beisetzerova. Lydia was my niece's, Erica
        Bruns-Chin, translator on our first two trips. Lydia
        came to California for Erica's wedding and that visit
        resulted in Jon and Lydia's marriage a year ago this
        week.
        May 2-3
        In the interest of saving money we fly from San
        Francisco to Washington, D.C., to Vienna and to
        Kosice. Arriving at 2:30 pm.
        Because of the short transfer time in Washington,
        D.C. our baggage does not arrive with us. Zuzanna
        Petras, a newly found relation works at the airport.
        She helps us file the required papers.
        Lydia's parents, Peter and Lygia, and my maternal
        cousins Magda and Danko meet us and drive us to Presov
        where they all live.
        I check into the Penzion Antonio and Erica into
        Penzion El Dorado. The El Dorado has been our base in
        Presov on previous trips. I try the Antonio because it
        is located on the Centrum.
        Erica and her translator, Zuzana, and I drive to
        Magda's house for a family reunion until 11pm. Jozef
        Sopko is my mother's cousin. Daughter Magda is my age.
        And her son, Lubo is Erica's age. Tragically, Magda's
        husband and oldest daughter were killed in an
        automobile accident on the way to a funeral in 1983.
        May 4
        It is St. Florian's Day. The patron saint of
        firefighters. Three generations of my relatives are or
        were firemen. The latest is Capt. Lubomir Thinschmidt.
        Lubo is directing the setup of the demonstration that
        the fire department will be putting on in the Centrum.
        The highlight will be a repel from the top of St.
        Nicholas' bell tower. The Presov fire department have
        five new trucks to show off.
        Erica's stay is only ten days. On Sunday she wants
        to invited all the paternal relatives in Hromos to
        lunch. We head to Hromos to make restaurant
        arrangements and go around to personally invite
        everyone to the luncheon. From Presov to Hromos is
        about 30 miles. With so many towns along the way the
        drive takes an hour. We do not get back to Presov
        until midnight.
        May 5
        My suitcase is delivered. Erica's video and 35mm
        camera has been stolen from her's. A lesson there on
        the security of having to keep your suitcases
        unlocked.
        I explore the Centrum until to 2 pm.
        Lubo picks me up and takes me to the fire station.
        A whole new building has been added and the old one is
        being renovated. In his office I watch a video of the
        storm damage in the High Tatra's taken from a
        helicopter. Lubo was part of the first rescue squad to
        arrive after the storm. I watch a group of firemen
        training for the Fireman's Olympics to be held in
        Holland this year.
        The rest of the day is spent at Magda's. Got back
        to the Antonio at 11.
        May 6
        This is Slovakia's Memorial Day. In the Centrum is
        a monument to the liberation of Presov by the Russian
        Army. A ceremony is held to lay wreaths at the
        monument. There is a contingent of Army personnel and
        veterans. A band plays. My observation is the event is
        generational. The people that stay to watch the
        ceremony are made up exclusively of older people.
        Those under 60 that stop and watch seem to do so more
        out of curiosity and only for a few minutes. The vast
        majority go about their business.
        I spend the day shopping the Centrum. Bought a
        large format pictorial book; The Castles of Slovakia.
        Dinner is with the Beisetzer family at the
        Pilsner-Jazz Wine Pub. There are nine of us. I have
        the "Beer Spit". In spite of the name it was an
        excellent shish kebab with a wild game sauce. Being a
        chef myself, I ask to see the kitchen and meet the
        chef. It was amazing that Peter could put out the food
        he did with a four burner home stove, deep fryer and
        small gas grill. I offer to split the check with Jon,
        2060SKK / $61. Dinner and drinks comes out to $6.77 a
        person.
        May 7
        In the morning I meet Tomas Burger, my college
        student translator from my last trip. Our visit has to
        be short since he is in his last semester at Presov
        University and he has to study for his last test on
        Monday. I have him drive me out to the shopping area
        of Presov.
        The large Tesco (department-grocery), Baumax (Home
        Depot) and Nay (electronics) are next to one another.
        It was these stores that proved to me that Slovakia
        did have access to all the products we had in the
        States. They actually had some I wished we had here.
        Unfortunately, when I compared prices I realized that
        the cost of products were equivalent to what I would
        pay for them back home. Since the average paycheck in
        Presov is $350 a month I wondered how anyone could
        afford to shop these stores.
        At 1pm the wedding reception for Jon and Lydia
        begins at the Atrium. From the Antonio I only have to
        walk a block and a half. There is a gathering of 30
        Beisetzer family members and friends. A four piece
        folk band is on hand. It is four hours of eating,
        drinking, talking and dancing. I am seated next to
        Lydia's cousin. She is a senior in high school and
        speaks excellent English. Lunch begins with a chicken
        and fruit salad. The soup is the ubiquitous
        chicken-noodle. The entree plate has a pork cutlet,
        stuffed chicken breast, fried potatoes, rice and
        cabbage salad. Dessert was four different cakes made
        by Lydia's mother and grandmother.
        The Beisetzer family gathering is not what could
        be called your average Slovak family. Lydia's father,
        Peter, is a professor of Industrial Arts at Presov
        University. Mother, Lygia, teaches English at a high
        school. Her aunt is a pediatrian in Kosice. Other
        family members and friends all work at some
        professional level.
        Nonetheless they party like every other Slovak
        family I've met. There is great joy in telling stories
        and jokes. Every folk song became a sing-along. The
        dancing was spirited and more often than not a group
        event. Lydia was in a professional dance troupe.
        After the party I returned to the Antonio. Rested
        till 8pm. Went and had dinner at its restaurant. It
        was filling with young people who had come to watch
        the Slovak-Czech hockey game on the projection TV.
        Since I was moving to Hromos in the morning I paid my
        bill, 6000SKK / $180.
        May 8
        The Centrum on a Sunday morning is deserted except
        for those making their way to church. All businesses
        closed at noon on Saturday. That is one of the
        problems staying at the Antonio. It doesn't open its
        restaurant until 9 am like all other businesses. So
        finding a place to have breakfast before then is
        impossible. The only coffee available are vending
        machines on the Centrum. Whereas, the El Dorado came
        with breakfast that began at 6:30 am. Nonetheless the
        Antonio's location and large room, #3, made it worth
        staying at.
        On our way to Hromos we stop in Lipany to go to
        Zuzana's grandmother's house. She weaves rugs and
        makes lace items. Erica buys a rug. I, two lace
        pieces. Grandmother wants 1600SKK for both. I insist
        she takes 2000SKK. For the amount of work that went
        into them they are a bargain at $30 each. Typical of
        Slovak hospitality she insists we have something to
        eat and drink. I could not resist her Kolac. She said
        the secret to the dough was mashed potatoes and dry
        milk.
        When we get to Hromos we gather everyone for the
        drive to Salas Frantisek in Stara Lubovna for lunch.
        This is the place to eat there. Over the years we have
        seen it grow into a wonderful complex of buildings.
        They are needed since tour buses now make stops here.
        The menu is huge, offering a wonderful variety of
        traditional Slovak dishes.
        Because of previous commitments or health reasons
        our hoped for party of twenty some is just twelve of
        us. Erica has arranged the menu. When we are seated
        each place has a shot of Slivovica, a bottle mineral
        water and boxes of fruit juice are available. Lunch
        begins with chicken-noodle soup. The entree is pork
        and chicken slices with gravy, rice, French fries and
        the "Slovak Trinity"; red and green cabbage and carrot
        salad. Dessert is a large bowl of ice cream with
        pineapple chunks. The bill comes out to $7.25 a
        person.
        Although our party is not as large as we would
        have liked it to be we still have a wonderful time in
        a very nice atmosphere. This is Erica's only chance on
        the trip to be with the relatives in Hromos and she
        wants to make the most of it. Her fantasy is to live
        in Hromos. The Mayor of Hromos' offer to build her a
        house still stands. After lunch she and Zuzana make a
        stop at each relatives home in Hromos.
        I drive home with Pavel and Viera Dronzek. Pavel
        is married to my cousin Veronica Mojcher. Viera is
        their 38 year old daughter, a nurse who lives with
        them. Also at home is Veronica's 93 year old mother,
        Christina. She is the oldest person in Hromos. Their
        are two sons. Pavel lives in Plavnica and Jozef is the
        Dean of the Catholic Church in Trebisov.
        In spite of the language barrier, with the aid of
        a Slovak-English dictionary we are able to
        communicate.
        I have brought a packet of photographs and a
        genealogy from Evelyn March. She had contacted the
        Mayor of Hromos and he had given her my e-mail
        address. I bring them out to show Pavel and Veronica.
        Veronica gets very excited over a photograph labeled
        Joseph Mojcher family. It is her family! There is her
        father Joseph, mother Christina, brother Frantisek and
        herself about age 13. We spend the next couple of
        hours filling in information that is missing on the
        genealogy page, making corrections to pictures where
        people were incorrectly identified and giving names to
        those that Evelyn didn't know. I can't wait to e-mail
        Evelyn with what has just happened.
        Veronica is killing me with Slovak hospitality.
        Having had a large lunch at 3:30 she insists that I
        eat a plate of pork cutlets and potato salad. Along
        with cake for dessert. Then at 7:00 another meal of
        grilled ham and cheese sandwiches. Not wanting to
        offend her I have three big meals in six hours.
        With all that food in me it is no wonder that I am
        out for the night at 9:30.
        May 9
        I'm up at 5 am. Veronica is already up. It is life
        on the "farm". Even though they live in town they have
        a cow, pigs, chickens and goats on the property.
        Besides about half an acre of land for growing a
        variety of vegetables. Outside of town is even a
        larger piece of land to tend to. It is early spring,
        so they haven't begun field crops yet. The Dronzeks
        try to be as self-sufficient as possible. Which is
        typical of most people out in the villages.
        By the time the Mayor arrives with my translator
        at 10 Veronica has feed me three times! Breakfast was
        3 kielbasa, bread, cake and coffee. Then she insisted
        I have a piece of cake with the hot chocolate she had
        made from milk "fresh squeezed". And at 9:30 pork
        cutlets and potato salad.
        I am happy to have Iveta Cervenakova present. She
        is 40 year old professional translator from Stara
        Lubovna. With her aid we set up appointments to go to
        Plavnica City Hall and deliver a gift I had brought
        along from a S-R member. Since our appointment at City
        Hall isn't until 3:30 pm Iveta suggests that she guide
        me around some sight in the area. After three visits
        she discovers I've seen everything locally. I hadn't
        been to Kezmarok to see the wooden church.
        Pavel joins us to Kezmarok. When we get there the
        church doesn't open until 2. Iveta suggests we tour
        the castle, it to is closed. She makes a telephone
        call. She has arranged a private tour of the castle. I
        asked how. Another of her businesses is setting up
        events for groups and tours. She has lots of contacts.
        Pavel chooses to sit out the tour. To say the least,
        having a private tour is the way to go. Iveta works
        her wonders at the church. No photography is allowed
        inside. She gets the rule broken for me. Since the
        Evangelical church next door is open we also visit it.
        We pull into Plavnica City Hall at 3:27 from
        Kezmarok. It is good to see Maria, the keeper of the
        records again. She remembers me. One of my relatives
        worked there with her for 10 years. Maria finds more
        information on relatives for Evelyn. But she cannot
        seem to help me. That is when I discover the "DO"
        names and family lines.
        I deliver the gift to Helena Pruzinska. She in
        turn gives me homemade bread, sheep's cheese and cake.

        When we get back at the house at 5:30 a pirohy
        dinner is waiting. Wonderful.
        May 10
        Up at 5:30. Until Iveta arrives at 10 I have a
        cooking lesson. I observe Veronica as she prepares
        different dishes for the day. I wasn't sure what a
        batter that was made earlier in the morning was for.
        But when Veronica heated up a pan of lard and patted
        out the now soft dough I had my guess - siska,
        doughnuts. Veronica would use a 3 inch glass to make
        the rounds and then use her thumbs to punch a whole in
        the center. Hot out of the oil, sprinkled with
        powdered sugar and a dollop of jam. Even with
        breakfast I couldn't stop until I had three of them.
        Iveta and I spend the day doing interviews for my
        genealogy research. It is suggested we talk to 78 year
        old Stephan Fabian. He suggests we also include 82
        year old Stephan Frohlich. For three hours at Mr.
        Frohlich's house we talk, drink and snack. The two of
        them tell wonderful stories. Iveta apologizes to me
        and I ask why. She says that most of the stories are
        about her parents. Their marriage was all the talk of
        area. Her father was a well respected Roma musician
        and her mother Slovak. It was the first mixed marriage
        in Stara Lubovna. Cousin Pavel told Iveta that he once
        played in a band with her father.
        After the interview we drove to Lipany where a S-R
        member requested that I photograph two villages for
        her.
        Then to Stara Lubovna so I could use Iveta's
        computer to send e-mails home and to Evelyn about my
        finds. It also was a chance to buy a Slovak-English,
        English-Slovak dictionary so my conversations with the
        Dronzeks would be easier than just using their
        Slovak-English one.
        May 11
        When Iveta arrives at 9 she wants to take me to
        Kupele Vysne Ruzbachy for some relaxation. It is not
        that far away, just west of Stara Lubovna. The spa has
        gone through some hard times. Now it is on the rebound
        with a beautiful new four star hotel on the property.
        As we are walking through the grounds we pass a corral
        with a couple of horses in it. Iveta knows the woman
        tending the horses. She explains the horses are used
        as therapy. Especially for bad backs. Iveta arranges a
        free ride for me. Unfortunately, Iveta's powers don't
        work at the spa. They are so booked that it takes a
        three to four day reservation to get any treatments.
        The afternoon is more genealogy research. A
        gentleman from Kozelec has come to the Dronzek's with
        two photographs. One is the match to Evelyn's. He says
        they had lost contact with the family in America. My
        visit has reunited them.
        Next we visit cousin Anna Mojcher and her husband
        Jozef Bujnovsky. I establish she is one of twelve
        children. She says that her brother Stephan is working
        on a family genealogy. Having discovered about "DO"
        she is able to tell me the three Mojcher "DO" names. I
        am a member of the Do Adama. Her grandfather was Adam
        Mojcher, my great-uncle. I wonder if he is the source
        of the name.
        The last stop is at cousin Frantisek Mojcher's.
        Genealogically he doesn't have much to offer. But I
        have a strong emotional bond with him since he was the
        first blood relative I ever meet in Hromos.
        Each stop is also to say good-bye. Tomorrow I'm
        leaving for Trebisov.
        Iveta and I settle our account, $60 a day. When
        she works transcribing or for company executives she
        charges 400SKK an hour. She also drove me around. So I
        feel good about our deal.
        May 12
        Pavel and I leave early for the 150 km drive to
        Trebisov. Pavel takes great pride in the fact that his
        son is a priest. Even more so now that Jozef is the
        youngest priest ever to be made Dean of parish.
        The Church of the Nativity was built in the
        1400's. I refer to cousin Jozef as Jozef the Builder.
        Every parish he has been at he achieved some sort of
        major building or repair project. The Trebisov church
        can use his talents. In a year and a half he has
        already accomplished some major renovations.
        As Dean he has five other priests he is
        responsible for in Trebisov. He is also responsible
        for 40 villages surrounding Trebisov. He also lectures
        at a university and high school on philosophy and
        ethics in Kosice. Last year he had his fifth book
        published.
        On the altar of the Trebisov church is the chair
        that the Pope used on his visit to Slovakia. I think
        Pavel sees it as a sign of Jozef's future.
        After touring a rectory building site in one of
        the villages and saying Mass Jozef drives the three of
        us to Sarospatak, Hungary for lunch. The drive gives
        us a chance to talk. Since Jozef taught himself
        English he wanted me to visit him so he could hear and
        practice English.
        We get back to Trebisov in time for the hockey
        game. Jozef is a big fan and tries to catch every
        game. Slovakia looses to Canada and USA looses to the
        Czech Republic.
        A friend picks the three of us up and we head out
        to "audition" some wines for altar use. The Tokaj wine
        region isn't far away. Being a Californian and a chef
        I'm look forward to this private tasting. It's a new
        winery and most of the wines are disappointing.
        We finish the evening at the friends house. By
        Slovak standards he is very well to do. His daughter
        worked in England for six years. After being back home
        for four years she enjoys the chance to speak English
        again.
        May 13
        Pavel is driving Jozef to pick up his car that has
        been repaired this morning. After which Pavel will
        head back to Hromos. While they are gone Jozef has
        arranged for a private tour of the museum at the
        Andrassy Mansion next to his church. "George", a young
        priest, we go along as my translator.
        The museum has exhibits on archeology, history,
        industry and fine arts. The most amazing piece is a
        clay jar that stands five feet high and three feet
        wide found in Kosice that dates back to 7000BC.
        Another extraordinary room was the folk clothing.
        After dinner Jozef tells me we are going to
        another winery. When we get there I recognize it as
        being the one the museum guide said was the best of
        the Tokay region. The owner-winemaker gives us the
        grand tour. One room had the most amazing display of
        wine bottles. There were animal bottles, bottles in
        the shape of historical places and bottles within
        bottles. After the tour we sat down to taste three
        wines. During the conversation I could tell that Jozef
        kept referring to me as a chef from San Francisco,
        even though I live and work 70 miles away. But it gave
        him a reference point. On hearing that the winemaker
        went and got a fourth bottle of wine. This was his
        award winner. Not only gold in Slovakia, but in an all
        Europe competition. It was special. Jozef was also
        able to decide on his new altar wine. As a gift I
        bought him a case at $5 a bottle.
        May 14
        I want to buy Jozef's parents some thank you gifts
        and he is driving me into Kosice. For his mother I
        want a gold cross and chain. On our way we pick up
        Miriam Brandisova, a college senior music major. Jozef
        thinks I may need a woman's advise. Jozef tells me
        later that he is Miriam's "godfather". She was
        orphaned ten years ago at the parish he worked at and
        he has since been supporting her through school.
        While in Kosice I talk to Milos Petras about
        coming to stay with them tomorrow.
        On the way back to Trebisov I have Jozef stop at
        the war memorial at the top of the pass on the
        mountain that separates Kosice from Trebisov. I
        photograph it for Bill Tarkulich.
        After dropping Miriam off we go to Brezina to
        photograph it for a S-R member. On the drive Jozef
        tells me his car repair story, only if I promise not
        to tell his parents. He was loaned the car for two
        years. During the first week having it he was rear
        ended in Kosice. The repairs came to $8000. Because of
        it being a loner he couldn't get his own insurance on
        it. So he was now responsible to pay for it. Being
        only paid $300 a month he didn't know how he could do
        it in his lifetime considering his monthly expenses.
        George has asked to attend a special Mass at 10
        tonight. When we get back he and Miriam are rehearsing
        the songs for it. Her voice gives me goose bumps. I
        hope her sights are higher than being a parish
        organist and choir director as she told me.
        George's Mass for the teenagers is wonderful.
        Their is a procession with "tiki" torches. Lots of
        music, George plays guitar. After Mass the teenagers
        don't want to leave. He and Miriam sing some more
        songs. For George I take 80 pictures.
        I ask Jozef if it would appropriate if a I gave
        George and Miriam a gift before I left. He said yes.
        Although resistant I gave them
        each 3000SKK. Knowing that George was just out of the
        seminary and Miariam still a student they both could
        use an unexpected windfall.
        May 15
        After Jozef's 11:00 Mass he drives to me to
        Kosice. We park at the School for Veterinary Doctors.
        Milos appears from across the street. I say good-bye
        to Jozef and we promise to keep in touch with e-mail.
        Three months ago a cousin put me in touch with
        Milos Petras. We knew we were some sort of "knee"
        cousins as they say in Slovakia.
        Zuzana, his wife, I had meet at our arrival at
        Kosice Airport. At their apartment I met 7 year old
        Elizabeth and 4 year old Richard.
        Over lunch and through the evening we talked.
        Milos is a plastic surgeon that works for the
        government, making $660 a month. Zuzana as airport
        administrator makes $467 a month. No wonder Slovakia
        has a "brain drain".
        Since their old apartment three blocks from the
        Centrum was empty while they interview renters they
        put me up their. Milos drives me to the apartment and
        then the two of us walk to the Centrum for dinner. In
        Slovak style it is long. For two hours we have more to
        talk about.
        May 16
        Without a watch I don't know what time it is, but
        I know it is early since there are no people on the
        street. I take advantage of the clothes washer and do
        my first load of the trip, just in time. European
        apartment size washing machines have incredible long
        wash cycles, 2 hours.
        I don't get to the Centrum until 10:30 and will
        meet Zuzana for lunch at 1:30. Until then I reacquaint
        myself with Centrum. She takes me to the only brew pub
        in Kosice for lunch.
        Over lunch I cry in my beer about how I haven't
        been able to find my mother a handcrafted tablecloth.
        Surprise! Zuzana's mother has a shop that only handles
        such items. Primarily she sells the material with the
        pattern on it. But she will also sell finished goods.
        We go to her mother's apartment nearby and arrange for
        me to come by the shop tomorrow to pick out a pattern
        that she will arrange to be crafted. The size I need
        will take three months to do and cost $100.
        When Milos joins us at the apartment he is ready
        to take me to meet his parents and do some genealogy
        research. His mother, in her late 60's, grew up in
        Plavnica. His father just across the border in Poland
        from the Red Monastery. Maria Sekelsky-Petras is able
        to give more information about people in Evelyn's
        pictures. She knows that Stephan Sekelsky is a Do
        Macka. On spotting the Knat family line in my paternal
        grandmother's tree Maria concludes we may be closer
        relations than the preverbal "knee" ones. She promises
        to talk to family and friends in Plavnica and get more
        information for me.
        Milos takes me back to the Centrum. We shop the
        "little" Tesco, that was a former Wal-Mart. Then have
        dinner on one of the outdoor covered patios. During
        the meal we are bothered by two drunken Roma's, which
        embarrasses Milos.
        Over dinner he talks shop. Unlike in the States
        where a plastic surgeon can specialize in just one
        body part in Slovakia he does everything. Industrial
        accidents, birth defects, breast implants,
        liposuction, anything on the face or the whole thing.
        Today's work were a breast reduction and a stomach
        stapling. He got his medical degree at a school in
        Prague. He said it was one of the most respected in
        Europe. He is now getting women flying in from New
        York for work because it is so much cheaper in
        Slovakia. I ask what an upper and lower eye job would
        cost, $600.
        A Slovak tradition is threatened according to
        Milos. The EU does not like the conditions under which
        Brezina / Sheep's Cheese is produced and wants it
        stopped. Halusky make with it is a national dish that
        every restaurant serves. It will be interesting to see
        how this issue is resolved.
        May 17
        At 1:00 pm I am going to meet Martina Skrakova.
        She was an exchange student at the high school my
        sister Suzanne works at in Lodi, CA. The school has
        had three Slovak students in the past three years. It
        happened that on Suzanne's visit to Slovakia she knew
        Martina was coming that Fall. We arranged to meet
        Martina and her parents before she left for the
        States. The meeting took many of her parents fears
        away. When she arrived Suzanne took her to meet our
        mother since she spoke Slovak. Mom became Martina's
        American Babi.
        Before our meeting I shopped. I bought a large
        format book called The Wonders of Slovakia. Stopped at
        Zuzana's mother's shop to pick out the pattern for the
        tablecloth for my mother. While there I couldn't
        resist buying three beautiful smaller pieces, 2500SKK
        / $75.
        For Bill Tarkulich I photograph the two war
        memorials that are at the head of the Centrum.
        Martina arrives. She has changed in two years. She
        is now as tall as I am (5' 11") and slender. A typical
        Slovak young woman. Her parents want me to come to
        lunch. We take the bus to Krasna where her dad grew
        up. What was once a village is now a suburb of Kosice.

        The Skraks live in a modern split level, three
        bedroom home that Frantisek ( a roofing contractor)
        and Valeria (a social worker) designed and built
        themselves. They want to double the hospitality that
        we showed Martina in the States. And they literally do
        by serving me two meals, 2 pm and 4pm. As with every
        visit I make, it is eating, drinking and talking. Far
        too soon I have to leave since I am meeting my
        translator from my first three trips at 5 pm.
        Martina's uncle drives us back to Kosice. It was too
        short a visit.
        Maros Jambrich is waiting at the Jumbo Centrum as
        planned. We have two hours to catch up before Milos
        picks me up for dinner. The two hours is catch up
        time. Maros has a new job. His girlfriend is
        graduating from the University. He can now afford to
        rent his own apartment. And possibly buy a used car.
        Maros is the epitome of the new Slovakia. He was only
        six years old when Socialist era came to an end. We
        have both seen big changes since I first came in 2000.
        Another visit ends too soon.
        Milos picks me for the kielbasa and sauerkraut
        dinner. We eat and spend the next three hours talking.
        The conversations jumps about as word in sentence can
        lead us off on a new tangent. For them the theme is
        often economic. If it weren't for raising Ellie and
        Ricky in Slovakia they would be searching for
        somewhere else in the EU to move. Milos' brother Slavo
        is in Spain and has married a Spanish woman.
        At 4 pm tomorrow they will drive me to Presov.
        May 18
        A heavy rain is coming down. I stay at the
        apartment to clean, pack and read until it lets up
        around noon. Then I shop for parting gifts at the
        Tesco. Toys for the kids and cigarettes for the
        adults. At nearly a 1000SKK a carton cigarettes are a
        costly luxury in Slovakia, a months worth would cost
        the average salary maker about 4% of his earnings. I
        also give them an oversize bottle of wine I had gotten
        in Trebisov.
        This is the first "lazy" day of the trip. I
        appreciate just being able to sit and read until Milos
        and Zusana come for me at 4.
        They get me to Magda's by 4:30 and stay until 6.
        They have to get back because someone else has come
        into town and they need to use the apartment. Before
        they go we promise to keep in touch and on my next
        trip to Slovakia let them take me somewhere new.
        As Lubo and I were discussing my plans he gets a
        telephone call. It's fireman's business, but not what
        I think. On Thursday and Friday in Zilina management
        level personnel are having "Fireman Games". They are
        short one team member and what Lubo to fill in. He
        says he can't say no. But he has an idea, do I want to
        come along? I agree to it immediately. He calls his
        boss back and I get the ok to come along. So it is to
        bed early since we have to leave the fire station at 6
        am for Zilina.
        May 19
        Up at 5. Pack the 9 passenger van with equipment
        and the team. I can sense the other six are wondering
        who this stranger is. The three and half hour ride to
        Zilina gives us a chance to know one another. In
        Zilina we pick up the female member of the team. She
        has been in training there. We head out to the
        "Fireman's University" where the games will be held.
        Fifteen different teams from around Slovakia will
        compete. Presov has drawn last start. After lunch the
        games will begin.
        All firemen in Slovakia are in a division of the
        national government. They call it the Fire and Rescue
        Corp of the Slovak Republic.
        From what I see and Lubo has told me the Games are
        more about camaraderie than competition. I good
        example is Lubo spots friends from high school who are
        now in the corp. and he hasn't seen since. Then there
        are other firemen he hasn't seen in years present
        also. It's something like a national fireman's class
        reunion.
        Today's race is a course of tasks that the six
        members of a team must complete together. A timed
        event. The tasks in order are: 1. Change the position
        of the tires on one side of a car. 2. Run 50 meters
        back and forth carrying a roll of fire hose in each
        hand and jump a hurdle at 25/75 meters. 3. Fill a 10
        liter bottle, tie it to a rope, haul it up two stories
        to a team member who pours it down a hose to a 50
        liter barrel. When the barrel is full they move on. 4.
        Hose roll-up; each member throws out a 40 meter hose,
        doubles it over and then rolls it up. 5. Cut three
        pieces of log using a bucksaw. 6. Hand grenade, hit a
        target 20 meters away twice. Throwing as many time as
        it takes. 7. Pull a 6 inch fire hose in a 20 meter "S"
        pattern. 8. Pump up a rescue litter and carry a member
        100 meters to the finish line. The best time of the
        day was just under 26 minutes. It was 5 pm before
        Presov got its run, they placed 9th. They would have
        done better, but on the "S" race they didn't lay the
        nozzle and hose down straight and had penalty minutes.
        During all of this I was the "Team Photographer",
        racing along getting shots as each member of the team
        did the tasks.
        According to Lubo the big competition is next;
        dinner and dance. It was fireman's fare; stew, bread,
        cookies, potato chips and real cheap red and white
        wine. Each team table seem to have its own supply of
        stronger drink.
        The President of the Corp gave a speech and then
        visited each team's table. He stayed a Presov's for
        half an hour.
        An accordion was brought out and for an hour folk
        songs we sung. The disc jockey started his music up
        and the dancing began. With a ratio of 6 to 1 the
        women present were kept very busy. At 9:30 the cheap
        disco light show came on and the dancing started to
        become more of a group activity. By 11:30 I had enough
        and went to bed.
        May 20
        I'm up at 6, by 7 most firemen were up. We had to
        wake Lubo at 7:30. He didn't get to bed until 2:30.
        Today there is just a single event called Fire
        Attack. The record time is under 30 seconds. In that
        time a lot of things have to happen. There is a tank
        of water, a gas powered pumper and two targets 120
        meters away. The object is to get water to the two
        targets and fill a small tank behind them until a
        light turns on. All the things required to do this are
        happening simultaneously.
        Two team members attack a siphon nozzle on an 8
        inch hose and dunk it into the water tank to fill it.
        Another team member is attaching another 8 inch hose
        to the pumper and starting it up. The hose from the
        tank is attached to the one on the pumper and water is
        sucked out of the tank. Four other team member have
        attached three lengths of hose to the pumper and
        connected a manifold valve. To which two double
        lengths of hose and a nozzle have be attached and that
        on each side of the triple manifold valve.
        All the hoses are pulled toward the target,
        hopefully water racing down also. When the single hose
        from the pumper is out full length the man carrying
        the manifold turns the water on to the two hoses that
        are being pulled down to the targets. They aim at the
        targets and the clock stops when both target lights
        are on.
        Presov was the last to go. Unfortunately, that is
        where they finished. They were not able to get suction
        from the tank to the pumper and in the allotted time.
        A disqualification. Another team had the same problem.
        And there were complaints all day from teams about the
        pumper. Although dejected, they soon recovered.
        As with any games there was the awards ceremony
        and the three place stand for the winners. In proper
        military fashion the fifteen teams lined up for the
        ceremony. And then waited, for half an hour. I heard
        something about the President. But the President of
        the Corp was at lunch and watching the competition.
        Then the President showed, not of the Corp, of
        Slovakia.
        He "launched" a new fire truck with a ribbon
        cutting and champagne shower. Most of which got on him
        than the truck. He gave a speech and presented the
        awards. As the "Team Photographer" I was able to get
        within a feet of him. I would have liked to shake his
        hand, but the opportunity didn't happen.
        On the ride back to Presov I felt I had been
        accepted into their midst. I was no longer a stranger.
        Miro, Lubo's boss, present me with his bell that each
        team member was given for participating. At the Presov
        fire station they gave one of the patches of the Corp.
        I gave them over 200 photographs of the games. Which
        they immediately downloaded into their computer.
        E-mails were coming in from other companies wanting to
        know if I had taken any pictures of them.
        I have Lubo take me to Penzion El Dorado and book
        into Room 4.
        May 21
        With most stores closing at noon I head for the
        Presov Centrum to get in my last shopping. I buy three
        Modra plates. I have a tradition of buying one for
        each of my trips and a friend has request two. Another
        tradition is to find an owl for my wife's collection
        on each trip. This time it is a Slovak crystal one.
        Spring has finally arrived with a clear, warm day.
        Lubo and Magda are shopping when I call him. It begins
        a day of enjoying a quite Slovak weekend at home with
        my relatives. Tina, Magda's daughter, and her husband
        come over to Magda's to begin spring cleaning of the
        yard. Magda is cooking. Lubo is enjoying teaching his
        three year old daughter to play football (soccer).
        Grandpa Jozef is enjoying watching all the backyard
        activity with me.
        At 4 Lubo, Jozef and I drive to Maly Saris to
        visit Cousin Maria and her husband Vincent. He had
        just gotten back from attending to his beehives. We
        have long ago nicknamed him the Beekeeper. Vincent is
        more than that, on their little property he grows just
        about everything they will need for the year.
        Including enough grapes to make four barrels of wine.
        He makes the barrels himself.
        I talk to Maria about some of my genealogy
        questions. My wife works with someone that has the
        same last name as one in my family tree but we have
        never been able to make a connection. Maria says that
        somewhere she has an address for the said Tomek family
        in California. It will be strange if Molly has worked
        next to a relative for 30 years without knowing it.
        Jozef was raised in Maly Saris. Strangely the back
        area of the house has been turned into the local pub.
        He wants to stop there for a beer. There is a
        melancholy that comes over him as he see all these
        strangers sitting in what use to be his backyard.
        May 22
        The El Dorado has become the business person's
        stop. On the weekends it is deserted. I have been
        their only guest.
        At 10 Lubo picks me up. It is another spring day
        and the family decides to do a repeat of Saturday at
        Magda's, Tina brings her sons along this time. Except
        this time at 4 Magda, Lubo, Tina and myself head to
        the cemetery. This is the first time they have ever
        taken me there. Magda's husband, Gustav, and oldest
        daughter, Monika were both killed in automobile
        accident on the way to a funeral in 1983. The family
        tends the gravesite and arranges new flowers. They
        then take me to half a dozen other family gravesites.
        It is strange to see names I know on paper carved into
        stone.
        Tina and family leave at sunset. I an hour later.
        My flight leaves at 5:20. Which means getting up at
        3:30 and heading for the airport at 4. I say my
        goodbyes to Magda and Jozef.
        The three days at the El Dorado, plus telephone
        calls comes to just under 2800SKK / $84. I leave a
        3:30 wake-up call.
        May 23
        Lubo arrives shortly after four. He didn't fall
        asleep until 1:30. To make the trip quicker he buys
        the sticker that allows him to use the modern highway
        to between Presov and Kosice. It cost him 1100SSK /
        $31 for a year.
        When we get to the airport Peter, Lygia, Lydia and
        Jon are already there. It is nice to use the new
        terminal. Far less depressing than the old one and
        this early in the morning could use some cheer. It is
        the time for the sweet sorrow. The last thing Lubo
        says to me, "On your next trip you won't need a
        translator!" I believe him.
        For those who are interested in the services of
        Iveta Cervenakova in Stara Lubovna she has two
        websites. For translations services:
        www.preklady.ck-one.sk and for her travel service
        which includes being a translator and guide:
        www.ck-one.sk





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      • Bill Tarkulich
        Hello Michael & group, Congratulations on job well done. Thank you for picking up the torch and sharing your experiences. So many readers may never have the
        Message 3 of 10 , Jun 9, 2005
        • 0 Attachment
          Hello Michael & group,

          Congratulations on job well done. Thank you for picking up the torch and
          sharing your experiences. So many readers may never have the good fortune
          you had to travel and I am certain it will be widely read. You provide a
          spirit and a color of Slovakia from an American perspective that is quite
          valuable.

          I think it's quite fair to note that the hospitality that Michael was
          treated to is quite common in Slovakia. You were very, very fortunate to be
          able to participate in a local custom, a wedding, a fireman's competition
          rather than a re-creation thereof. You experienced everyday life, full of
          the joys, pains, warts and blemishes; Wonderful.

          Michael's report also illustrates how valuable it is to either be able to
          speak the language or have a translator with you. The depth and richness of
          the experienced is enhanced way beyond the cost of a translator. While a
          first-time trip leaves a visitor uncertain whether they should stay with the
          locals and/or family (you must gauge this yourself) or billet in a hotel,
          staying with the locals is vastly superior. You must be flexible and
          accommodating. Michael deftly handled and appreciated the hospitality with
          grace and appropriateness.

          I also appreciated his relating of everyday item, prices, foods, events,
          time, hours, to be extremely useful in understanding the fabric of life in
          Slovakia.

          Great writings!

          ______________
          Bill Tarkulich




          -----Original Message-----
          From: SLOVAK-ROOTS@yahoogroups.com [mailto:SLOVAK-ROOTS@yahoogroups.com] On
          Behalf Of Michael Mojher
          Sent: Thursday, June 02, 2005 4:05 PM
          To: SLOVAK-ROOTS@yahoogroups.com
          Subject: [S-R] Travelogue for May 2005


          Dear Group,
          Here is the requested travelogue of my trip. In the interest of saving
          space each day will be capsulated. If anyone wants more details on anything
          in particular contact me directly.
          This trip's purpose was to go to Slovakia and celebrate the marriage of
          my nephew, Jon Bruns, to Lydia Beisetzerova. Lydia was my niece's, Erica
          Bruns-Chin, translator on our first two trips. Lydia came to California for
          Erica's wedding and that visit resulted in Jon and Lydia's marriage a year
          ago this week.
          May 2-3
          In the interest of saving money we fly from San Francisco to Washington,
          D.C., to Vienna and to Kosice. Arriving at 2:30 pm.
          Because of the short transfer time in Washington, D.C. our baggage does
          not arrive with us. Zuzanna Petras, a newly found relation works at the
          airport. She helps us file the required papers.
          Lydia's parents, Peter and Lygia, and my maternal cousins Magda and
          Danko meet us and drive us to Presov where they all live.
          I check into the Penzion Antonio and Erica into Penzion El Dorado. The
          El Dorado has been our base in Presov on previous trips. I try the Antonio
          because it is located on the Centrum.
          Erica and her translator, Zuzana, and I drive to Magda's house for a
          family reunion until 11pm. Jozef Sopko is my mother's cousin. Daughter Magda
          is my age. And her son, Lubo is Erica's age. Tragically, Magda's husband and
          oldest daughter were killed in an automobile accident on the way to a
          funeral in 1983.
          May 4
          It is St. Florian's Day. The patron saint of firefighters. Three
          generations of my relatives are or were firemen. The latest is Capt. Lubomir
          Thinschmidt. Lubo is directing the setup of the demonstration that the fire
          department will be putting on in the Centrum. The highlight will be a repel
          from the top of St. Nicholas' bell tower. The Presov fire department have
          five new trucks to show off.
          Erica's stay is only ten days. On Sunday she wants to invited all the
          paternal relatives in Hromos to lunch. We head to Hromos to make restaurant
          arrangements and go around to personally invite everyone to the luncheon.
          From Presov to Hromos is about 30 miles. With so many towns along the way
          the drive takes an hour. We do not get back to Presov until midnight.
          May 5
          My suitcase is delivered. Erica's video and 35mm camera has been stolen
          from her's. A lesson there on the security of having to keep your suitcases
          unlocked.
          I explore the Centrum until to 2 pm.
          Lubo picks me up and takes me to the fire station. A whole new building
          has been added and the old one is being renovated. In his office I watch a
          video of the storm damage in the High Tatra's taken from a helicopter. Lubo
          was part of the first rescue squad to arrive after the storm. I watch a
          group of firemen training for the Fireman's Olympics to be held in Holland
          this year.
          The rest of the day is spent at Magda's. Got back to the Antonio at 11.
          May 6
          This is Slovakia's Memorial Day. In the Centrum is a monument to the
          liberation of Presov by the Russian Army. A ceremony is held to lay wreaths
          at the monument. There is a contingent of Army personnel and veterans. A
          band plays. My observation is the event is generational. The people that
          stay to watch the ceremony are made up exclusively of older people. Those
          under 60 that stop and watch seem to do so more out of curiosity and only
          for a few minutes. The vast majority go about their business.
          I spend the day shopping the Centrum. Bought a large format pictorial
          book; The Castles of Slovakia.
          Dinner is with the Beisetzer family at the Pilsner-Jazz Wine Pub. There
          are nine of us. I have the "Beer Spit". In spite of the name it was an
          excellent shish kebab with a wild game sauce. Being a chef myself, I ask to
          see the kitchen and meet the chef. It was amazing that Peter could put out
          the food he did with a four burner home stove, deep fryer and small gas
          grill. I offer to split the check with Jon, 2060SKK / $61. Dinner and drinks
          comes out to $6.77 a person.
          May 7
          In the morning I meet Tomas Burger, my college student translator from
          my last trip. Our visit has to be short since he is in his last semester at
          Presov University and he has to study for his last test on Monday. I have
          him drive me out to the shopping area of Presov.
          The large Tesco (department-grocery), Baumax (Home Depot) and Nay
          (electronics) are next to one another. It was these stores that proved to me
          that Slovakia did have access to all the products we had in the States. They
          actually had some I wished we had here. Unfortunately, when I compared
          prices I realized that the cost of products were equivalent to what I would
          pay for them back home. Since the average paycheck in Presov is $350 a month
          I wondered how anyone could afford to shop these stores.
          At 1pm the wedding reception for Jon and Lydia begins at the Atrium.
          From the Antonio I only have to walk a block and a half. There is a
          gathering of 30 Beisetzer family members and friends. A four piece folk band
          is on hand. It is four hours of eating, drinking, talking and dancing. I am
          seated next to Lydia's cousin. She is a senior in high school and speaks
          excellent English. Lunch begins with a chicken and fruit salad. The soup is
          the ubiquitous chicken-noodle. The entree plate has a pork cutlet, stuffed
          chicken breast, fried potatoes, rice and cabbage salad. Dessert was four
          different cakes made by Lydia's mother and grandmother.
          The Beisetzer family gathering is not what could be called your average
          Slovak family. Lydia's father, Peter, is a professor of Industrial Arts at
          Presov University. Mother, Lygia, teaches English at a high school. Her aunt
          is a pediatrian in Kosice. Other family members and friends all work at some
          professional level.
          Nonetheless they party like every other Slovak family I've met. There is
          great joy in telling stories and jokes. Every folk song became a sing-along.
          The dancing was spirited and more often than not a group event. Lydia was in
          a professional dance troupe.
          After the party I returned to the Antonio. Rested till 8pm. Went and had
          dinner at its restaurant. It was filling with young people who had come to
          watch the Slovak-Czech hockey game on the projection TV. Since I was moving
          to Hromos in the morning I paid my bill, 6000SKK / $180.
          May 8
          The Centrum on a Sunday morning is deserted except for those making
          their way to church. All businesses closed at noon on Saturday. That is one
          of the problems staying at the Antonio. It doesn't open its restaurant until
          9 am like all other businesses. So finding a place to have breakfast before
          then is impossible. The only coffee available are vending machines on the
          Centrum. Whereas, the El Dorado came with breakfast that began at 6:30 am.
          Nonetheless the Antonio's location and large room, #3, made it worth staying
          at.
          On our way to Hromos we stop in Lipany to go to Zuzana's grandmother's
          house. She weaves rugs and makes lace items. Erica buys a rug. I, two lace
          pieces. Grandmother wants 1600SKK for both. I insist she takes 2000SKK. For
          the amount of work that went into them they are a bargain at $30 each.
          Typical of Slovak hospitality she insists we have something to eat and
          drink. I could not resist her Kolac. She said the secret to the dough was
          mashed potatoes and dry milk.
          When we get to Hromos we gather everyone for the drive to Salas
          Frantisek in Stara Lubovna for lunch. This is the place to eat there. Over
          the years we have seen it grow into a wonderful complex of buildings. They
          are needed since tour buses now make stops here. The menu is huge, offering
          a wonderful variety of traditional Slovak dishes.
          Because of previous commitments or health reasons our hoped for party of
          twenty some is just twelve of us. Erica has arranged the menu. When we are
          seated each place has a shot of Slivovica, a bottle mineral water and boxes
          of fruit juice are available. Lunch begins with chicken-noodle soup. The
          entree is pork and chicken slices with gravy, rice, French fries and the
          "Slovak Trinity"; red and green cabbage and carrot salad. Dessert is a large
          bowl of ice cream with pineapple chunks. The bill comes out to $7.25 a
          person.
          Although our party is not as large as we would have liked it to be we
          still have a wonderful time in a very nice atmosphere. This is Erica's only
          chance on the trip to be with the relatives in Hromos and she wants to make
          the most of it. Her fantasy is to live in Hromos. The Mayor of Hromos' offer
          to build her a house still stands. After lunch she and Zuzana make a stop at
          each relatives home in Hromos.
          I drive home with Pavel and Viera Dronzek. Pavel is married to my cousin
          Veronica Mojcher. Viera is their 38 year old daughter, a nurse who lives
          with them. Also at home is Veronica's 93 year old mother, Christina. She is
          the oldest person in Hromos. Their are two sons. Pavel lives in Plavnica and
          Jozef is the Dean of the Catholic Church in Trebisov.
          In spite of the language barrier, with the aid of a Slovak-English
          dictionary we are able to communicate.
          I have brought a packet of photographs and a genealogy from Evelyn
          March. She had contacted the Mayor of Hromos and he had given her my e-mail
          address. I bring them out to show Pavel and Veronica. Veronica gets very
          excited over a photograph labeled Joseph Mojcher family. It is her family!
          There is her father Joseph, mother Christina, brother Frantisek and herself
          about age 13. We spend the next couple of hours filling in information that
          is missing on the genealogy page, making corrections to pictures where
          people were incorrectly identified and giving names to those that Evelyn
          didn't know. I can't wait to e-mail Evelyn with what has just happened.
          Veronica is killing me with Slovak hospitality. Having had a large lunch
          at 3:30 she insists that I eat a plate of pork cutlets and potato salad.
          Along with cake for dessert. Then at 7:00 another meal of grilled ham and
          cheese sandwiches. Not wanting to offend her I have three big meals in six
          hours.
          With all that food in me it is no wonder that I am out for the night at
          9:30. May 9
          I'm up at 5 am. Veronica is already up. It is life on the "farm". Even
          though they live in town they have a cow, pigs, chickens and goats on the
          property. Besides about half an acre of land for growing a variety of
          vegetables. Outside of town is even a larger piece of land to tend to. It is
          early spring, so they haven't begun field crops yet. The Dronzeks try to be
          as self-sufficient as possible. Which is typical of most people out in the
          villages.
          By the time the Mayor arrives with my translator at 10 Veronica has feed
          me three times! Breakfast was 3 kielbasa, bread, cake and coffee. Then she
          insisted I have a piece of cake with the hot chocolate she had made from
          milk "fresh squeezed". And at 9:30 pork cutlets and potato salad.
          I am happy to have Iveta Cervenakova present. She is 40 year old
          professional translator from Stara Lubovna. With her aid we set up
          appointments to go to Plavnica City Hall and deliver a gift I had brought
          along from a S-R member. Since our appointment at City Hall isn't until 3:30
          pm Iveta suggests that she guide me around some sight in the area. After
          three visits she discovers I've seen everything locally. I hadn't been to
          Kezmarok to see the wooden church.
          Pavel joins us to Kezmarok. When we get there the church doesn't open
          until 2. Iveta suggests we tour the castle, it to is closed. She makes a
          telephone call. She has arranged a private tour of the castle. I asked how.
          Another of her businesses is setting up events for groups and tours. She has
          lots of contacts. Pavel chooses to sit out the tour. To say the least,
          having a private tour is the way to go. Iveta works her wonders at the
          church. No photography is allowed inside. She gets the rule broken for me.
          Since the Evangelical church next door is open we also visit it.
          We pull into Plavnica City Hall at 3:27 from Kezmarok. It is good to see
          Maria, the keeper of the records again. She remembers me. One of my
          relatives worked there with her for 10 years. Maria finds more information
          on relatives for Evelyn. But she cannot seem to help me. That is when I
          discover the "DO" names and family lines.
          I deliver the gift to Helena Pruzinska. She in turn gives me homemade
          bread, sheep's cheese and cake.
          When we get back at the house at 5:30 a pirohy dinner is waiting.
          Wonderful. May 10
          Up at 5:30. Until Iveta arrives at 10 I have a cooking lesson. I observe
          Veronica as she prepares different dishes for the day. I wasn't sure what a
          batter that was made earlier in the morning was for. But when Veronica
          heated up a pan of lard and patted out the now soft dough I had my guess -
          siska, doughnuts. Veronica would use a 3 inch glass to make the rounds and
          then use her thumbs to punch a whole in the center. Hot out of the oil,
          sprinkled with powdered sugar and a dollop of jam. Even with breakfast I
          couldn't stop until I had three of them.
          Iveta and I spend the day doing interviews for my genealogy research. It
          is suggested we talk to 78 year old Stephan Fabian. He suggests we also
          include 82 year old Stephan Frohlich. For three hours at Mr. Frohlich's
          house we talk, drink and snack. The two of them tell wonderful stories.
          Iveta apologizes to me and I ask why. She says that most of the stories are
          about her parents. Their marriage was all the talk of area. Her father was a
          well respected Roma musician and her mother Slovak. It was the first mixed
          marriage in Stara Lubovna. Cousin Pavel told Iveta that he once played in a
          band with her father.
          After the interview we drove to Lipany where a S-R member requested that
          I photograph two villages for her.
          Then to Stara Lubovna so I could use Iveta's computer to send e-mails
          home and to Evelyn about my finds. It also was a chance to buy a
          Slovak-English, English-Slovak dictionary so my conversations with the
          Dronzeks would be easier than just using their Slovak-English one. May 11
          When Iveta arrives at 9 she wants to take me to Kupele Vysne Ruzbachy
          for some relaxation. It is not that far away, just west of Stara Lubovna.
          The spa has gone through some hard times. Now it is on the rebound with a
          beautiful new four star hotel on the property. As we are walking through the
          grounds we pass a corral with a couple of horses in it. Iveta knows the
          woman tending the horses. She explains the horses are used as therapy.
          Especially for bad backs. Iveta arranges a free ride for me. Unfortunately,
          Iveta's powers don't work at the spa. They are so booked that it takes a
          three to four day reservation to get any treatments.
          The afternoon is more genealogy research. A gentleman from Kozelec has
          come to the Dronzek's with two photographs. One is the match to Evelyn's. He
          says they had lost contact with the family in America. My visit has reunited
          them.
          Next we visit cousin Anna Mojcher and her husband Jozef Bujnovsky. I
          establish she is one of twelve children. She says that her brother Stephan
          is working on a family genealogy. Having discovered about "DO" she is able
          to tell me the three Mojcher "DO" names. I am a member of the Do Adama. Her
          grandfather was Adam Mojcher, my great-uncle. I wonder if he is the source
          of the name.
          The last stop is at cousin Frantisek Mojcher's. Genealogically he
          doesn't have much to offer. But I have a strong emotional bond with him
          since he was the first blood relative I ever meet in Hromos.
          Each stop is also to say good-bye. Tomorrow I'm leaving for Trebisov.
          Iveta and I settle our account, $60 a day. When she works transcribing
          or for company executives she charges 400SKK an hour. She also drove me
          around. So I feel good about our deal. May 12
          Pavel and I leave early for the 150 km drive to Trebisov. Pavel takes
          great pride in the fact that his son is a priest. Even more so now that
          Jozef is the youngest priest ever to be made Dean of parish.
          The Church of the Nativity was built in the 1400's. I refer to cousin
          Jozef as Jozef the Builder. Every parish he has been at he achieved some
          sort of major building or repair project. The Trebisov church can use his
          talents. In a year and a half he has already accomplished some major
          renovations.
          As Dean he has five other priests he is responsible for in Trebisov. He
          is also responsible for 40 villages surrounding Trebisov. He also lectures
          at a university and high school on philosophy and ethics in Kosice. Last
          year he had his fifth book published.
          On the altar of the Trebisov church is the chair that the Pope used on
          his visit to Slovakia. I think Pavel sees it as a sign of Jozef's future.
          After touring a rectory building site in one of the villages and saying
          Mass Jozef drives the three of us to Sarospatak, Hungary for lunch. The
          drive gives us a chance to talk. Since Jozef taught himself English he
          wanted me to visit him so he could hear and practice English.
          We get back to Trebisov in time for the hockey game. Jozef is a big fan
          and tries to catch every game. Slovakia looses to Canada and USA looses to
          the Czech Republic.
          A friend picks the three of us up and we head out to "audition" some
          wines for altar use. The Tokaj wine region isn't far away. Being a
          Californian and a chef I'm look forward to this private tasting. It's a new
          winery and most of the wines are disappointing.
          We finish the evening at the friends house. By Slovak standards he is
          very well to do. His daughter worked in England for six years. After being
          back home for four years she enjoys the chance to speak English again. May
          13
          Pavel is driving Jozef to pick up his car that has been repaired this
          morning. After which Pavel will head back to Hromos. While they are gone
          Jozef has arranged for a private tour of the museum at the Andrassy Mansion
          next to his church. "George", a young priest, we go along as my translator.
          The museum has exhibits on archeology, history, industry and fine arts.
          The most amazing piece is a clay jar that stands five feet high and three
          feet wide found in Kosice that dates back to 7000BC. Another extraordinary
          room was the folk clothing.
          After dinner Jozef tells me we are going to another winery. When we get
          there I recognize it as being the one the museum guide said was the best of
          the Tokay region. The owner-winemaker gives us the grand tour. One room had
          the most amazing display of wine bottles. There were animal bottles, bottles
          in the shape of historical places and bottles within bottles. After the tour
          we sat down to taste three wines. During the conversation I could tell that
          Jozef kept referring to me as a chef from San Francisco, even though I live
          and work 70 miles away. But it gave him a reference point. On hearing that
          the winemaker went and got a fourth bottle of wine. This was his award
          winner. Not only gold in Slovakia, but in an all Europe competition. It was
          special. Jozef was also able to decide on his new altar wine. As a gift I
          bought him a case at $5 a bottle. May 14
          I want to buy Jozef's parents some thank you gifts and he is driving me
          into Kosice. For his mother I want a gold cross and chain. On our way we
          pick up Miriam Brandisova, a college senior music major. Jozef thinks I may
          need a woman's advise. Jozef tells me later that he is Miriam's "godfather".
          She was orphaned ten years ago at the parish he worked at and he has since
          been supporting her through school.
          While in Kosice I talk to Milos Petras about coming to stay with them
          tomorrow.
          On the way back to Trebisov I have Jozef stop at the war memorial at the
          top of the pass on the mountain that separates Kosice from Trebisov. I
          photograph it for Bill Tarkulich.
          After dropping Miriam off we go to Brezina to photograph it for a S-R
          member. On the drive Jozef tells me his car repair story, only if I promise
          not to tell his parents. He was loaned the car for two years. During the
          first week having it he was rear ended in Kosice. The repairs came to $8000.
          Because of it being a loner he couldn't get his own insurance on it. So he
          was now responsible to pay for it. Being only paid $300 a month he didn't
          know how he could do it in his lifetime considering his monthly expenses.
          George has asked to attend a special Mass at 10 tonight. When we get
          back he and Miriam are rehearsing the songs for it. Her voice gives me goose
          bumps. I hope her sights are higher than being a parish organist and choir
          director as she told me.
          George's Mass for the teenagers is wonderful. Their is a procession with
          "tiki" torches. Lots of music, George plays guitar. After Mass the teenagers
          don't want to leave. He and Miriam sing some more songs. For George I take
          80 pictures.
          I ask Jozef if it would appropriate if a I gave George and Miriam a gift
          before I left. He said yes. Although resistant I gave them each 3000SKK.
          Knowing that George was just out of the seminary and Miariam still a student
          they both could use an unexpected windfall. May 15
          After Jozef's 11:00 Mass he drives to me to Kosice. We park at the
          School for Veterinary Doctors. Milos appears from across the street. I say
          good-bye to Jozef and we promise to keep in touch with e-mail.
          Three months ago a cousin put me in touch with Milos Petras. We knew we
          were some sort of "knee" cousins as they say in Slovakia.
          Zuzana, his wife, I had meet at our arrival at Kosice Airport. At their
          apartment I met 7 year old Elizabeth and 4 year old Richard.
          Over lunch and through the evening we talked. Milos is a plastic surgeon
          that works for the government, making $660 a month. Zuzana as airport
          administrator makes $467 a month. No wonder Slovakia has a "brain drain".
          Since their old apartment three blocks from the Centrum was empty while
          they interview renters they put me up their. Milos drives me to the
          apartment and then the two of us walk to the Centrum for dinner. In Slovak
          style it is long. For two hours we have more to talk about.
          May 16
          Without a watch I don't know what time it is, but I know it is early
          since there are no people on the street. I take advantage of the clothes
          washer and do my first load of the trip, just in time. European apartment
          size washing machines have incredible long wash cycles, 2 hours.
          I don't get to the Centrum until 10:30 and will meet Zuzana for lunch at
          1:30. Until then I reacquaint myself with Centrum. She takes me to the only
          brew pub in Kosice for lunch.
          Over lunch I cry in my beer about how I haven't been able to find my
          mother a handcrafted tablecloth. Surprise! Zuzana's mother has a shop that
          only handles such items. Primarily she sells the material with the pattern
          on it. But she will also sell finished goods. We go to her mother's
          apartment nearby and arrange for me to come by the shop tomorrow to pick out
          a pattern that she will arrange to be crafted. The size I need will take
          three months to do and cost $100.
          When Milos joins us at the apartment he is ready to take me to meet his
          parents and do some genealogy research. His mother, in her late 60's, grew
          up in Plavnica. His father just across the border in Poland from the Red
          Monastery. Maria Sekelsky-Petras is able to give more information about
          people in Evelyn's pictures. She knows that Stephan Sekelsky is a Do Macka.
          On spotting the Knat family line in my paternal grandmother's tree Maria
          concludes we may be closer relations than the preverbal "knee" ones. She
          promises to talk to family and friends in Plavnica and get more information
          for me.
          Milos takes me back to the Centrum. We shop the "little" Tesco, that was
          a former Wal-Mart. Then have dinner on one of the outdoor covered patios.
          During the meal we are bothered by two drunken Roma's, which embarrasses
          Milos.
          Over dinner he talks shop. Unlike in the States where a plastic surgeon
          can specialize in just one body part in Slovakia he does everything.
          Industrial accidents, birth defects, breast implants, liposuction, anything
          on the face or the whole thing. Today's work were a breast reduction and a
          stomach stapling. He got his medical degree at a school in Prague. He said
          it was one of the most respected in Europe. He is now getting women flying
          in from New York for work because it is so much cheaper in Slovakia. I ask
          what an upper and lower eye job would cost, $600.
          A Slovak tradition is threatened according to Milos. The EU does not
          like the conditions under which Brezina / Sheep's Cheese is produced and
          wants it stopped. Halusky make with it is a national dish that every
          restaurant serves. It will be interesting to see how this issue is resolved.
          May 17
          At 1:00 pm I am going to meet Martina Skrakova. She was an exchange
          student at the high school my sister Suzanne works at in Lodi, CA. The
          school has had three Slovak students in the past three years. It happened
          that on Suzanne's visit to Slovakia she knew Martina was coming that Fall.
          We arranged to meet Martina and her parents before she left for the States.
          The meeting took many of her parents fears away. When she arrived Suzanne
          took her to meet our mother since she spoke Slovak. Mom became Martina's
          American Babi.
          Before our meeting I shopped. I bought a large format book called The
          Wonders of Slovakia. Stopped at Zuzana's mother's shop to pick out the
          pattern for the tablecloth for my mother. While there I couldn't resist
          buying three beautiful smaller pieces, 2500SKK / $75.
          For Bill Tarkulich I photograph the two war memorials that are at the
          head of the Centrum.
          Martina arrives. She has changed in two years. She is now as tall as I
          am (5' 11") and slender. A typical Slovak young woman. Her parents want me
          to come to lunch. We take the bus to Krasna where her dad grew up. What was
          once a village is now a suburb of Kosice.
          The Skraks live in a modern split level, three bedroom home that
          Frantisek ( a roofing contractor) and Valeria (a social worker) designed and
          built themselves. They want to double the hospitality that we showed Martina
          in the States. And they literally do by serving me two meals, 2 pm and 4pm.
          As with every visit I make, it is eating, drinking and talking. Far too soon
          I have to leave since I am meeting my translator from my first three trips
          at 5 pm. Martina's uncle drives us back to Kosice. It was too short a visit.

          Maros Jambrich is waiting at the Jumbo Centrum as planned. We have two
          hours to catch up before Milos picks me up for dinner. The two hours is
          catch up time. Maros has a new job. His girlfriend is graduating from the
          University. He can now afford to rent his own apartment. And possibly buy a
          used car. Maros is the epitome of the new Slovakia. He was only six years
          old when Socialist era came to an end. We have both seen big changes since I
          first came in 2000. Another visit ends too soon.
          Milos picks me for the kielbasa and sauerkraut dinner. We eat and spend
          the next three hours talking. The conversations jumps about as word in
          sentence can lead us off on a new tangent. For them the theme is often
          economic. If it weren't for raising Ellie and Ricky in Slovakia they would
          be searching for somewhere else in the EU to move. Milos' brother Slavo is
          in Spain and has married a Spanish woman.
          At 4 pm tomorrow they will drive me to Presov.
          May 18
          A heavy rain is coming down. I stay at the apartment to clean, pack and
          read until it lets up around noon. Then I shop for parting gifts at the
          Tesco. Toys for the kids and cigarettes for the adults. At nearly a 1000SKK
          a carton cigarettes are a costly luxury in Slovakia, a months worth would
          cost the average salary maker about 4% of his earnings. I also give them an
          oversize bottle of wine I had gotten in Trebisov.
          This is the first "lazy" day of the trip. I appreciate just being able
          to sit and read until Milos and Zusana come for me at 4.
          They get me to Magda's by 4:30 and stay until 6. They have to get back
          because someone else has come into town and they need to use the apartment.
          Before they go we promise to keep in touch and on my next trip to Slovakia
          let them take me somewhere new.
          As Lubo and I were discussing my plans he gets a telephone call. It's
          fireman's business, but not what I think. On Thursday and Friday in Zilina
          management level personnel are having "Fireman Games". They are short one
          team member and what Lubo to fill in. He says he can't say no. But he has an
          idea, do I want to come along? I agree to it immediately. He calls his boss
          back and I get the ok to come along. So it is to bed early since we have to
          leave the fire station at 6 am for Zilina. May 19
          Up at 5. Pack the 9 passenger van with equipment and the team. I can
          sense the other six are wondering who this stranger is. The three and half
          hour ride to Zilina gives us a chance to know one another. In Zilina we pick
          up the female member of the team. She has been in training there. We head
          out to the "Fireman's University" where the games will be held. Fifteen
          different teams from around Slovakia will compete. Presov has drawn last
          start. After lunch the games will begin.
          All firemen in Slovakia are in a division of the national government.
          They call it the Fire and Rescue Corp of the Slovak Republic.
          From what I see and Lubo has told me the Games are more about
          camaraderie than competition. I good example is Lubo spots friends from high
          school who are now in the corp. and he hasn't seen since. Then there are
          other firemen he hasn't seen in years present also. It's something like a
          national fireman's class reunion.
          Today's race is a course of tasks that the six members of a team must
          complete together. A timed event. The tasks in order are: 1. Change the
          position of the tires on one side of a car. 2. Run 50 meters back and forth
          carrying a roll of fire hose in each hand and jump a hurdle at 25/75 meters.
          3. Fill a 10 liter bottle, tie it to a rope, haul it up two stories to a
          team member who pours it down a hose to a 50 liter barrel. When the barrel
          is full they move on. 4. Hose roll-up; each member throws out a 40 meter
          hose, doubles it over and then rolls it up. 5. Cut three pieces of log using
          a bucksaw. 6. Hand grenade, hit a target 20 meters away twice. Throwing as
          many time as it takes. 7. Pull a 6 inch fire hose in a 20 meter "S" pattern.
          8. Pump up a rescue litter and carry a member 100 meters to the finish line.
          The best time of the day was just under 26 minutes. It was 5 pm before
          Presov got its run, they placed 9th. They would have done better, but on the
          "S" race they didn't lay
          According to Lubo the big competition is next; dinner and dance. It was
          fireman's fare; stew, bread, cookies, potato chips and real cheap red and
          white wine. Each team table seem to have its own supply of stronger drink.
          The President of the Corp gave a speech and then visited each team's
          table. He stayed a Presov's for half an hour.
          An accordion was brought out and for an hour folk songs we sung. The
          disc jockey started his music up and the dancing began. With a ratio of 6 to
          1 the women present were kept very busy. At 9:30 the cheap disco light show
          came on and the dancing started to become more of a group activity. By 11:30
          I had enough and went to bed. May 20
          I'm up at 6, by 7 most firemen were up. We had to wake Lubo at 7:30. He
          didn't get to bed until 2:30.
          Today there is just a single event called Fire Attack. The record time
          is under 30 seconds. In that time a lot of things have to happen. There is a
          tank of water, a gas powered pumper and two targets 120 meters away. The
          object is to get water to the two targets and fill a small tank behind them
          until a light turns on. All the things required to do this are happening
          simultaneously.
          Two team members attack a siphon nozzle on an 8 inch hose and dunk it
          into the water tank to fill it. Another team member is attaching another 8
          inch hose to the pumper and starting it up. The hose from the tank is
          attached to the one on the pumper and water is sucked out of the tank. Four
          other team member have attached three lengths of hose to the pumper and
          connected a manifold valve. To which two double lengths of hose and a nozzle
          have be attached and that on each side of the triple manifold valve.
          All the hoses are pulled toward the target, hopefully water racing down
          also. When the single hose from the pumper is out full length the man
          carrying the manifold turns the water on to the two hoses that are being
          pulled down to the targets. They aim at the targets and the clock stops when
          both target lights are on.
          Presov was the last to go. Unfortunately, that is where they finished.
          They were not able to get suction from the tank to the pumper and in the
          allotted time. A disqualification. Another team had the same problem. And
          there were complaints all day from teams about the pumper. Although
          dejected, they soon recovered.
          As with any games there was the awards ceremony and the three place
          stand for the winners. In proper military fashion the fifteen teams lined up
          for the ceremony. And then waited, for half an hour. I heard something about
          the President. But the President of the Corp was at lunch and watching the
          competition. Then the President showed, not of the Corp, of Slovakia.
          He "launched" a new fire truck with a ribbon cutting and champagne
          shower. Most of which got on him than the truck. He gave a speech and
          presented the awards. As the "Team Photographer" I was able to get within a
          feet of him. I would have liked to shake his hand, but the opportunity
          didn't happen.
          On the ride back to Presov I felt I had been accepted into their midst.
          I was no longer a stranger. Miro, Lubo's boss, present me with his bell that
          each team member was given for participating. At the Presov fire station
          they gave one of the patches of the Corp. I gave them over 200 photographs
          of the games. Which they immediately downloaded into their computer. E-mails
          were coming in from other companies wanting to know if I had taken any
          pictures of them.
          I have Lubo take me to Penzion El Dorado and book into Room 4. May 21
          With most stores closing at noon I head for the Presov Centrum to get in
          my last shopping. I buy three Modra plates. I have a tradition of buying one
          for each of my trips and a friend has request two. Another tradition is to
          find an owl for my wife's collection on each trip. This time it is a Slovak
          crystal one.
          Spring has finally arrived with a clear, warm day. Lubo and Magda are
          shopping when I call him. It begins a day of enjoying a quite Slovak weekend
          at home with my relatives. Tina, Magda's daughter, and her husband come
          over to Magda's to begin spring cleaning of the yard. Magda is cooking. Lubo
          is enjoying teaching his three year old daughter to play football (soccer).
          Grandpa Jozef is enjoying watching all the backyard activity with me.
          At 4 Lubo, Jozef and I drive to Maly Saris to visit Cousin Maria and her
          husband Vincent. He had just gotten back from attending to his beehives. We
          have long ago nicknamed him the Beekeeper. Vincent is more than that, on
          their little property he grows just about everything they will need for the
          year. Including enough grapes to make four barrels of wine. He makes the
          barrels himself.
          I talk to Maria about some of my genealogy questions. My wife works with
          someone that has the same last name as one in my family tree but we have
          never been able to make a connection. Maria says that somewhere she has an
          address for the said Tomek family in California. It will be strange if Molly
          has worked next to a relative for 30 years without knowing it.
          Jozef was raised in Maly Saris. Strangely the back area of the house has
          been turned into the local pub. He wants to stop there for a beer. There is
          a melancholy that comes over him as he see all these strangers sitting in
          what use to be his backyard. May 22
          The El Dorado has become the business person's stop. On the weekends it
          is deserted. I have been their only guest.
          At 10 Lubo picks me up. It is another spring day and the family decides
          to do a repeat of Saturday at Magda's, Tina brings her sons along this time.
          Except this time at 4 Magda, Lubo, Tina and myself head to the cemetery.
          This is the first time they have ever taken me there. Magda's husband,
          Gustav, and oldest daughter, Monika were both killed in automobile accident
          on the way to a funeral in 1983. The family tends the gravesite and arranges
          new flowers. They then take me to half a dozen other family gravesites. It
          is strange to see names I know on paper carved into stone.
          Tina and family leave at sunset. I an hour later. My flight leaves at
          5:20. Which means getting up at 3:30 and heading for the airport at 4. I say
          my goodbyes to Magda and Jozef.
          The three days at the El Dorado, plus telephone calls comes to just
          under 2800SKK / $84. I leave a 3:30 wake-up call. May 23
          Lubo arrives shortly after four. He didn't fall asleep until 1:30. To
          make the trip quicker he buys the sticker that allows him to use the modern
          highway to between Presov and Kosice. It cost him 1100SSK / $31 for a year.
          When we get to the airport Peter, Lygia, Lydia and Jon are already
          there. It is nice to use the new terminal. Far less depressing than the old
          one and this early in the morning could use some cheer. It is the time for
          the sweet sorrow. The last thing Lubo says to me, "On your next trip you
          won't need a translator!" I believe him.
          For those who are interested in the services of Iveta Cervenakova in
          Stara Lubovna she has two websites. For translations services:
          www.preklady.ck-one.sk and for her travel service which includes being a
          translator and guide: www.ck-one.sk





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        • Bratgirl54@aol.com
          What a wonderful adventure you had.............Someday, I hope to get there to see my newly found relatives in Brezina. [Non-text portions of this message have
          Message 4 of 10 , Jun 9, 2005
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            What a wonderful adventure you had.............Someday, I hope to get there
            to see my newly found relatives in Brezina.


            [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
          • Michael Mojher
            Bill, Thank you for your kind words about my travelogue. This was the Reader s Digest version. When I sit down and write the whole thing out I am sure that
            Message 5 of 10 , Jun 10, 2005
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              Bill,
              Thank you for your kind words about my travelogue.
              This was the "Reader's Digest" version. When I sit down and write the whole thing out I am sure that it will run much longer. Besides the journal, I took almost 700 pictures. Between the two to remind of the trip I often recall more detail. My first trip journal when I finished typing it out ran 70+ single spaced pages and that was just a two week trip.
              One thing I only mentioned in passing towards the end was my reading. What I was reading was Slovakia: From Samo to Dzurinda by Peter A. Toma and Dusan Kovac, 2001. It is not light reading. It is one book in the series Studies of Nationalities published by Hoover Institution Press of Stanford University. Samo to 18th Century is covered in 24 pages, by page 42 its the 20th Century. The remaining 320 pages covers in-depth the 20th Century politics that controlled Slovakia until its independence in 1993.
              It was an interesting counterpoint to the trip I was experiencing, the political vs. the personal. To appreciate the personal it is useful to have a historical perspective. I would recommend that as a prelude to any trip to Slovakia find a history of it to read.
              Like my trips, the histories that I have read have become more in-depth.
              On my first trip I was given Slovakia The Heart of Europe by Ol'ga Drobna, Eduard Drobny and Magdalena Gocnikova, 1996. It is a 55 page "appetizer plate" that gives little tidbits about Slovakia.
              On my second trip I found People of the Word A Synopsis of Slovak History by Thomas Klimek Ward, 2000. This 110 page book was a "Reader's Digest" Slovak History. It has plenty of drawings and photographs. Its title says it all, a synopsis. It may be short but still valuable to get a quick historical perspective.
              Before my third trip I read A History of Slovakia: The Struggle for Survival by Stanislav J. Kirschbaum, 1995. In 279 pages I learned to appreciate how the Slovaks for the vast majority of their history were politically dominated by others. For almost 1000 years. For perspective: 1492 Columbus' discovery to the present is 513 years. Slovakia has only been a country since 1993. It is where the United States was in 1788.
              On my third trip I picked up Slovak History: Chronology & Lexicon, English Translation by David P. Daniel, 2002. This is the "Cliff Notes" of Slovak history in chronological order and historical "dictionary". If you need a quick fact this book is it. I was told that it is the study guide used by Slovak students to get ready for their history tests. Now when I come across a historical reference in my reading I am able to look it up quickly.
              Michael Mojher

              ----- Original Message -----
              From: Bill Tarkulich
              To: SLOVAK-ROOTS@yahoogroups.com
              Sent: Thursday, June 09, 2005 8:23 PM
              Subject: RE: [S-R] Travelogue for May 2005


              Hello Michael & group,

              Congratulations on job well done. Thank you for picking up the torch and
              sharing your experiences. So many readers may never have the good fortune
              you had to travel and I am certain it will be widely read. You provide a
              spirit and a color of Slovakia from an American perspective that is quite
              valuable.

              I think it's quite fair to note that the hospitality that Michael was
              treated to is quite common in Slovakia. You were very, very fortunate to be
              able to participate in a local custom, a wedding, a fireman's competition
              rather than a re-creation thereof. You experienced everyday life, full of
              the joys, pains, warts and blemishes; Wonderful.

              Michael's report also illustrates how valuable it is to either be able to
              speak the language or have a translator with you. The depth and richness of
              the experienced is enhanced way beyond the cost of a translator. While a
              first-time trip leaves a visitor uncertain whether they should stay with the
              locals and/or family (you must gauge this yourself) or billet in a hotel,
              staying with the locals is vastly superior. You must be flexible and
              accommodating. Michael deftly handled and appreciated the hospitality with
              grace and appropriateness.

              I also appreciated his relating of everyday item, prices, foods, events,
              time, hours, to be extremely useful in understanding the fabric of life in
              Slovakia.

              Great writings!

              ______________
              Bill Tarkulich




              -----Original Message-----
              From: SLOVAK-ROOTS@yahoogroups.com [mailto:SLOVAK-ROOTS@yahoogroups.com] On
              Behalf Of Michael Mojher
              Sent: Thursday, June 02, 2005 4:05 PM
              To: SLOVAK-ROOTS@yahoogroups.com
              Subject: [S-R] Travelogue for May 2005


              Dear Group,
              Here is the requested travelogue of my trip. In the interest of saving
              space each day will be capsulated. If anyone wants more details on anything
              in particular contact me directly.
              This trip's purpose was to go to Slovakia and celebrate the marriage of
              my nephew, Jon Bruns, to Lydia Beisetzerova. Lydia was my niece's, Erica
              Bruns-Chin, translator on our first two trips. Lydia came to California for
              Erica's wedding and that visit resulted in Jon and Lydia's marriage a year
              ago this week.
              May 2-3
              In the interest of saving money we fly from San Francisco to Washington,
              D.C., to Vienna and to Kosice. Arriving at 2:30 pm.
              Because of the short transfer time in Washington, D.C. our baggage does
              not arrive with us. Zuzanna Petras, a newly found relation works at the
              airport. She helps us file the required papers.
              Lydia's parents, Peter and Lygia, and my maternal cousins Magda and
              Danko meet us and drive us to Presov where they all live.
              I check into the Penzion Antonio and Erica into Penzion El Dorado. The
              El Dorado has been our base in Presov on previous trips. I try the Antonio
              because it is located on the Centrum.
              Erica and her translator, Zuzana, and I drive to Magda's house for a
              family reunion until 11pm. Jozef Sopko is my mother's cousin. Daughter Magda
              is my age. And her son, Lubo is Erica's age. Tragically, Magda's husband and
              oldest daughter were killed in an automobile accident on the way to a
              funeral in 1983.
              May 4
              It is St. Florian's Day. The patron saint of firefighters. Three
              generations of my relatives are or were firemen. The latest is Capt. Lubomir
              Thinschmidt. Lubo is directing the setup of the demonstration that the fire
              department will be putting on in the Centrum. The highlight will be a repel
              from the top of St. Nicholas' bell tower. The Presov fire department have
              five new trucks to show off.
              Erica's stay is only ten days. On Sunday she wants to invited all the
              paternal relatives in Hromos to lunch. We head to Hromos to make restaurant
              arrangements and go around to personally invite everyone to the luncheon.
              From Presov to Hromos is about 30 miles. With so many towns along the way
              the drive takes an hour. We do not get back to Presov until midnight.
              May 5
              My suitcase is delivered. Erica's video and 35mm camera has been stolen
              from her's. A lesson there on the security of having to keep your suitcases
              unlocked.
              I explore the Centrum until to 2 pm.
              Lubo picks me up and takes me to the fire station. A whole new building
              has been added and the old one is being renovated. In his office I watch a
              video of the storm damage in the High Tatra's taken from a helicopter. Lubo
              was part of the first rescue squad to arrive after the storm. I watch a
              group of firemen training for the Fireman's Olympics to be held in Holland
              this year.
              The rest of the day is spent at Magda's. Got back to the Antonio at 11.
              May 6
              This is Slovakia's Memorial Day. In the Centrum is a monument to the
              liberation of Presov by the Russian Army. A ceremony is held to lay wreaths
              at the monument. There is a contingent of Army personnel and veterans. A
              band plays. My observation is the event is generational. The people that
              stay to watch the ceremony are made up exclusively of older people. Those
              under 60 that stop and watch seem to do so more out of curiosity and only
              for a few minutes. The vast majority go about their business.
              I spend the day shopping the Centrum. Bought a large format pictorial
              book; The Castles of Slovakia.
              Dinner is with the Beisetzer family at the Pilsner-Jazz Wine Pub. There
              are nine of us. I have the "Beer Spit". In spite of the name it was an
              excellent shish kebab with a wild game sauce. Being a chef myself, I ask to
              see the kitchen and meet the chef. It was amazing that Peter could put out
              the food he did with a four burner home stove, deep fryer and small gas
              grill. I offer to split the check with Jon, 2060SKK / $61. Dinner and drinks
              comes out to $6.77 a person.
              May 7
              In the morning I meet Tomas Burger, my college student translator from
              my last trip. Our visit has to be short since he is in his last semester at
              Presov University and he has to study for his last test on Monday. I have
              him drive me out to the shopping area of Presov.
              The large Tesco (department-grocery), Baumax (Home Depot) and Nay
              (electronics) are next to one another. It was these stores that proved to me
              that Slovakia did have access to all the products we had in the States. They
              actually had some I wished we had here. Unfortunately, when I compared
              prices I realized that the cost of products were equivalent to what I would
              pay for them back home. Since the average paycheck in Presov is $350 a month
              I wondered how anyone could afford to shop these stores.
              At 1pm the wedding reception for Jon and Lydia begins at the Atrium.
              From the Antonio I only have to walk a block and a half. There is a
              gathering of 30 Beisetzer family members and friends. A four piece folk band
              is on hand. It is four hours of eating, drinking, talking and dancing. I am
              seated next to Lydia's cousin. She is a senior in high school and speaks
              excellent English. Lunch begins with a chicken and fruit salad. The soup is
              the ubiquitous chicken-noodle. The entree plate has a pork cutlet, stuffed
              chicken breast, fried potatoes, rice and cabbage salad. Dessert was four
              different cakes made by Lydia's mother and grandmother.
              The Beisetzer family gathering is not what could be called your average
              Slovak family. Lydia's father, Peter, is a professor of Industrial Arts at
              Presov University. Mother, Lygia, teaches English at a high school. Her aunt
              is a pediatrian in Kosice. Other family members and friends all work at some
              professional level.
              Nonetheless they party like every other Slovak family I've met. There is
              great joy in telling stories and jokes. Every folk song became a sing-along.
              The dancing was spirited and more often than not a group event. Lydia was in
              a professional dance troupe.
              After the party I returned to the Antonio. Rested till 8pm. Went and had
              dinner at its restaurant. It was filling with young people who had come to
              watch the Slovak-Czech hockey game on the projection TV. Since I was moving
              to Hromos in the morning I paid my bill, 6000SKK / $180.
              May 8
              The Centrum on a Sunday morning is deserted except for those making
              their way to church. All businesses closed at noon on Saturday. That is one
              of the problems staying at the Antonio. It doesn't open its restaurant until
              9 am like all other businesses. So finding a place to have breakfast before
              then is impossible. The only coffee available are vending machines on the
              Centrum. Whereas, the El Dorado came with breakfast that began at 6:30 am.
              Nonetheless the Antonio's location and large room, #3, made it worth staying
              at.
              On our way to Hromos we stop in Lipany to go to Zuzana's grandmother's
              house. She weaves rugs and makes lace items. Erica buys a rug. I, two lace
              pieces. Grandmother wants 1600SKK for both. I insist she takes 2000SKK. For
              the amount of work that went into them they are a bargain at $30 each.
              Typical of Slovak hospitality she insists we have something to eat and
              drink. I could not resist her Kolac. She said the secret to the dough was
              mashed potatoes and dry milk.
              When we get to Hromos we gather everyone for the drive to Salas
              Frantisek in Stara Lubovna for lunch. This is the place to eat there. Over
              the years we have seen it grow into a wonderful complex of buildings. They
              are needed since tour buses now make stops here. The menu is huge, offering
              a wonderful variety of traditional Slovak dishes.
              Because of previous commitments or health reasons our hoped for party of
              twenty some is just twelve of us. Erica has arranged the menu. When we are
              seated each place has a shot of Slivovica, a bottle mineral water and boxes
              of fruit juice are available. Lunch begins with chicken-noodle soup. The
              entree is pork and chicken slices with gravy, rice, French fries and the
              "Slovak Trinity"; red and green cabbage and carrot salad. Dessert is a large
              bowl of ice cream with pineapple chunks. The bill comes out to $7.25 a
              person.
              Although our party is not as large as we would have liked it to be we
              still have a wonderful time in a very nice atmosphere. This is Erica's only
              chance on the trip to be with the relatives in Hromos and she wants to make
              the most of it. Her fantasy is to live in Hromos. The Mayor of Hromos' offer
              to build her a house still stands. After lunch she and Zuzana make a stop at
              each relatives home in Hromos.
              I drive home with Pavel and Viera Dronzek. Pavel is married to my cousin
              Veronica Mojcher. Viera is their 38 year old daughter, a nurse who lives
              with them. Also at home is Veronica's 93 year old mother, Christina. She is
              the oldest person in Hromos. Their are two sons. Pavel lives in Plavnica and
              Jozef is the Dean of the Catholic Church in Trebisov.
              In spite of the language barrier, with the aid of a Slovak-English
              dictionary we are able to communicate.
              I have brought a packet of photographs and a genealogy from Evelyn
              March. She had contacted the Mayor of Hromos and he had given her my e-mail
              address. I bring them out to show Pavel and Veronica. Veronica gets very
              excited over a photograph labeled Joseph Mojcher family. It is her family!
              There is her father Joseph, mother Christina, brother Frantisek and herself
              about age 13. We spend the next couple of hours filling in information that
              is missing on the genealogy page, making corrections to pictures where
              people were incorrectly identified and giving names to those that Evelyn
              didn't know. I can't wait to e-mail Evelyn with what has just happened.
              Veronica is killing me with Slovak hospitality. Having had a large lunch
              at 3:30 she insists that I eat a plate of pork cutlets and potato salad.
              Along with cake for dessert. Then at 7:00 another meal of grilled ham and
              cheese sandwiches. Not wanting to offend her I have three big meals in six
              hours.
              With all that food in me it is no wonder that I am out for the night at
              9:30. May 9
              I'm up at 5 am. Veronica is already up. It is life on the "farm". Even
              though they live in town they have a cow, pigs, chickens and goats on the
              property. Besides about half an acre of land for growing a variety of
              vegetables. Outside of town is even a larger piece of land to tend to. It is
              early spring, so they haven't begun field crops yet. The Dronzeks try to be
              as self-sufficient as possible. Which is typical of most people out in the
              villages.
              By the time the Mayor arrives with my translator at 10 Veronica has feed
              me three times! Breakfast was 3 kielbasa, bread, cake and coffee. Then she
              insisted I have a piece of cake with the hot chocolate she had made from
              milk "fresh squeezed". And at 9:30 pork cutlets and potato salad.
              I am happy to have Iveta Cervenakova present. She is 40 year old
              professional translator from Stara Lubovna. With her aid we set up
              appointments to go to Plavnica City Hall and deliver a gift I had brought
              along from a S-R member. Since our appointment at City Hall isn't until 3:30
              pm Iveta suggests that she guide me around some sight in the area. After
              three visits she discovers I've seen everything locally. I hadn't been to
              Kezmarok to see the wooden church.
              Pavel joins us to Kezmarok. When we get there the church doesn't open
              until 2. Iveta suggests we tour the castle, it to is closed. She makes a
              telephone call. She has arranged a private tour of the castle. I asked how.
              Another of her businesses is setting up events for groups and tours. She has
              lots of contacts. Pavel chooses to sit out the tour. To say the least,
              having a private tour is the way to go. Iveta works her wonders at the
              church. No photography is allowed inside. She gets the rule broken for me.
              Since the Evangelical church next door is open we also visit it.
              We pull into Plavnica City Hall at 3:27 from Kezmarok. It is good to see
              Maria, the keeper of the records again. She remembers me. One of my
              relatives worked there with her for 10 years. Maria finds more information
              on relatives for Evelyn. But she cannot seem to help me. That is when I
              discover the "DO" names and family lines.
              I deliver the gift to Helena Pruzinska. She in turn gives me homemade
              bread, sheep's cheese and cake.
              When we get back at the house at 5:30 a pirohy dinner is waiting.
              Wonderful. May 10
              Up at 5:30. Until Iveta arrives at 10 I have a cooking lesson. I observe
              Veronica as she prepares different dishes for the day. I wasn't sure what a
              batter that was made earlier in the morning was for. But when Veronica
              heated up a pan of lard and patted out the now soft dough I had my guess -
              siska, doughnuts. Veronica would use a 3 inch glass to make the rounds and
              then use her thumbs to punch a whole in the center. Hot out of the oil,
              sprinkled with powdered sugar and a dollop of jam. Even with breakfast I
              couldn't stop until I had three of them.
              Iveta and I spend the day doing interviews for my genealogy research. It
              is suggested we talk to 78 year old Stephan Fabian. He suggests we also
              include 82 year old Stephan Frohlich. For three hours at Mr. Frohlich's
              house we talk, drink and snack. The two of them tell wonderful stories.
              Iveta apologizes to me and I ask why. She says that most of the stories are
              about her parents. Their marriage was all the talk of area. Her father was a
              well respected Roma musician and her mother Slovak. It was the first mixed
              marriage in Stara Lubovna. Cousin Pavel told Iveta that he once played in a
              band with her father.
              After the interview we drove to Lipany where a S-R member requested that
              I photograph two villages for her.
              Then to Stara Lubovna so I could use Iveta's computer to send e-mails
              home and to Evelyn about my finds. It also was a chance to buy a
              Slovak-English, English-Slovak dictionary so my conversations with the
              Dronzeks would be easier than just using their Slovak-English one. May 11
              When Iveta arrives at 9 she wants to take me to Kupele Vysne Ruzbachy
              for some relaxation. It is not that far away, just west of Stara Lubovna.
              The spa has gone through some hard times. Now it is on the rebound with a
              beautiful new four star hotel on the property. As we are walking through the
              grounds we pass a corral with a couple of horses in it. Iveta knows the
              woman tending the horses. She explains the horses are used as therapy.
              Especially for bad backs. Iveta arranges a free ride for me. Unfortunately,
              Iveta's powers don't work at the spa. They are so booked that it takes a
              three to four day reservation to get any treatments.
              The afternoon is more genealogy research. A gentleman from Kozelec has
              come to the Dronzek's with two photographs. One is the match to Evelyn's. He
              says they had lost contact with the family in America. My visit has reunited
              them.
              Next we visit cousin Anna Mojcher and her husband Jozef Bujnovsky. I
              establish she is one of twelve children. She says that her brother Stephan
              is working on a family genealogy. Having discovered about "DO" she is able
              to tell me the three Mojcher "DO" names. I am a member of the Do Adama. Her
              grandfather was Adam Mojcher, my great-uncle. I wonder if he is the source
              of the name.
              The last stop is at cousin Frantisek Mojcher's. Genealogically he
              doesn't have much to offer. But I have a strong emotional bond with him
              since he was the first blood relative I ever meet in Hromos.
              Each stop is also to say good-bye. Tomorrow I'm leaving for Trebisov.
              Iveta and I settle our account, $60 a day. When she works transcribing
              or for company executives she charges 400SKK an hour. She also drove me
              around. So I feel good about our deal. May 12
              Pavel and I leave early for the 150 km drive to Trebisov. Pavel takes
              great pride in the fact that his son is a priest. Even more so now that
              Jozef is the youngest priest ever to be made Dean of parish.
              The Church of the Nativity was built in the 1400's. I refer to cousin
              Jozef as Jozef the Builder. Every parish he has been at he achieved some
              sort of major building or repair project. The Trebisov church can use his
              talents. In a year and a half he has already accomplished some major
              renovations.
              As Dean he has five other priests he is responsible for in Trebisov. He
              is also responsible for 40 villages surrounding Trebisov. He also lectures
              at a university and high school on philosophy and ethics in Kosice. Last
              year he had his fifth book published.
              On the altar of the Trebisov church is the chair that the Pope used on
              his visit to Slovakia. I think Pavel sees it as a sign of Jozef's future.
              After touring a rectory building site in one of the villages and saying
              Mass Jozef drives the three of us to Sarospatak, Hungary for lunch. The
              drive gives us a chance to talk. Since Jozef taught himself English he
              wanted me to visit him so he could hear and practice English.
              We get back to Trebisov in time for the hockey game. Jozef is a big fan
              and tries to catch every game. Slovakia looses to Canada and USA looses to
              the Czech Republic.
              A friend picks the three of us up and we head out to "audition" some
              wines for altar use. The Tokaj wine region isn't far away. Being a
              Californian and a chef I'm look forward to this private tasting. It's a new
              winery and most of the wines are disappointing.
              We finish the evening at the friends house. By Slovak standards he is
              very well to do. His daughter worked in England for six years. After being
              back home for four years she enjoys the chance to speak English again. May
              13
              Pavel is driving Jozef to pick up his car that has been repaired this
              morning. After which Pavel will head back to Hromos. While they are gone
              Jozef has arranged for a private tour of the museum at the Andrassy Mansion
              next to his church. "George", a young priest, we go along as my translator.
              The museum has exhibits on archeology, history, industry and fine arts.
              The most amazing piece is a clay jar that stands five feet high and three
              feet wide found in Kosice that dates back to 7000BC. Another extraordinary
              room was the folk clothing.
              After dinner Jozef tells me we are going to another winery. When we get
              there I recognize it as being the one the museum guide said was the best of
              the Tokay region. The owner-winemaker gives us the grand tour. One room had
              the most amazing display of wine bottles. There were animal bottles, bottles
              in the shape of historical places and bottles within bottles. After the tour
              we sat down to taste three wines. During the conversation I could tell that
              Jozef kept referring to me as a chef from San Francisco, even though I live
              and work 70 miles away. But it gave him a reference point. On hearing that
              the winemaker went and got a fourth bottle of wine. This was his award
              winner. Not only gold in Slovakia, but in an all Europe competition. It was
              special. Jozef was also able to decide on his new altar wine. As a gift I
              bought him a case at $5 a bottle. May 14
              I want to buy Jozef's parents some thank you gifts and he is driving me
              into Kosice. For his mother I want a gold cross and chain. On our way we
              pick up Miriam Brandisova, a college senior music major. Jozef thinks I may
              need a woman's advise. Jozef tells me later that he is Miriam's "godfather".
              She was orphaned ten years ago at the parish he worked at and he has since
              been supporting her through school.
              While in Kosice I talk to Milos Petras about coming to stay with them
              tomorrow.
              On the way back to Trebisov I have Jozef stop at the war memorial at the
              top of the pass on the mountain that separates Kosice from Trebisov. I
              photograph it for Bill Tarkulich.
              After dropping Miriam off we go to Brezina to photograph it for a S-R
              member. On the drive Jozef tells me his car repair story, only if I promise
              not to tell his parents. He was loaned the car for two years. During the
              first week having it he was rear ended in Kosice. The repairs came to $8000.
              Because of it being a loner he couldn't get his own insurance on it. So he
              was now responsible to pay for it. Being only paid $300 a month he didn't
              know how he could do it in his lifetime considering his monthly expenses.
              George has asked to attend a special Mass at 10 tonight. When we get
              back he and Miriam are rehearsing the songs for it. Her voice gives me goose
              bumps. I hope her sights are higher than being a parish organist and choir
              director as she told me.
              George's Mass for the teenagers is wonderful. Their is a procession with
              "tiki" torches. Lots of music, George plays guitar. After Mass the teenagers
              don't want to leave. He and Miriam sing some more songs. For George I take
              80 pictures.
              I ask Jozef if it would appropriate if a I gave George and Miriam a gift
              before I left. He said yes. Although resistant I gave them each 3000SKK.
              Knowing that George was just out of the seminary and Miariam still a student
              they both could use an unexpected windfall. May 15
              After Jozef's 11:00 Mass he drives to me to Kosice. We park at the
              School for Veterinary Doctors. Milos appears from across the street. I say
              good-bye to Jozef and we promise to keep in touch with e-mail.
              Three months ago a cousin put me in touch with Milos Petras. We knew we
              were some sort of "knee" cousins as they say in Slovakia.
              Zuzana, his wife, I had meet at our arrival at Kosice Airport. At their
              apartment I met 7 year old Elizabeth and 4 year old Richard.
              Over lunch and through the evening we talked. Milos is a plastic surgeon
              that works for the government, making $660 a month. Zuzana as airport
              administrator makes $467 a month. No wonder Slovakia has a "brain drain".
              Since their old apartment three blocks from the Centrum was empty while
              they interview renters they put me up their. Milos drives me to the
              apartment and then the two of us walk to the Centrum for dinner. In Slovak
              style it is long. For two hours we have more to talk about.
              May 16
              Without a watch I don't know what time it is, but I know it is early
              since there are no people on the street. I take advantage of the clothes
              washer and do my first load of the trip, just in time. European apartment
              size washing machines have incredible long wash cycles, 2 hours.
              I don't get to the Centrum until 10:30 and will meet Zuzana for lunch at
              1:30. Until then I reacquaint myself with Centrum. She takes me to the only
              brew pub in Kosice for lunch.
              Over lunch I cry in my beer about how I haven't been able to find my
              mother a handcrafted tablecloth. Surprise! Zuzana's mother has a shop that
              only handles such items. Primarily she sells the material with the pattern
              on it. But she will also sell finished goods. We go to her mother's
              apartment nearby and arrange for me to come by the shop tomorrow to pick out
              a pattern that she will arrange to be crafted. The size I need will take
              three months to do and cost $100.
              When Milos joins us at the apartment he is ready to take me to meet his
              parents and do some genealogy research. His mother, in her late 60's, grew
              up in Plavnica. His father just across the border in Poland from the Red
              Monastery. Maria Sekelsky-Petras is able to give more information about
              people in Evelyn's pictures. She knows that Stephan Sekelsky is a Do Macka.
              On spotting the Knat family line in my paternal grandmother's tree Maria
              concludes we may be closer relations than the preverbal "knee" ones. She
              promises to talk to family and friends in Plavnica and get more information
              for me.
              Milos takes me back to the Centrum. We shop the "little" Tesco, that was
              a former Wal-Mart. Then have dinner on one of the outdoor covered patios.
              During the meal we are bothered by two drunken Roma's, which embarrasses
              Milos.
              Over dinner he talks shop. Unlike in the States where a plastic surgeon
              can specialize in just one body part in Slovakia he does everything.
              Industrial accidents, birth defects, breast implants, liposuction, anything
              on the face or the whole thing. Today's work were a breast reduction and a
              stomach stapling. He got his medical degree at a school in Prague. He said
              it was one of the most respected in Europe. He is now getting women flying
              in from New York for work because it is so much cheaper in Slovakia. I ask
              what an upper and lower eye job would cost, $600.
              A Slovak tradition is threatened according to Milos. The EU does not
              like the conditions under which Brezina / Sheep's Cheese is produced and
              wants it stopped. Halusky make with it is a national dish that every
              restaurant serves. It will be interesting to see how this issue is resolved.
              May 17
              At 1:00 pm I am going to meet Martina Skrakova. She was an exchange
              student at the high school my sister Suzanne works at in Lodi, CA. The
              school has had three Slovak students in the past three years. It happened
              that on Suzanne's visit to Slovakia she knew Martina was coming that Fall.
              We arranged to meet Martina and her parents before she left for the States.
              The meeting took many of her parents fears away. When she arrived Suzanne
              took her to meet our mother since she spoke Slovak. Mom became Martina's
              American Babi.
              Before our meeting I shopped. I bought a large format book called The
              Wonders of Slovakia. Stopped at Zuzana's mother's shop to pick out the
              pattern for the tablecloth for my mother. While there I couldn't resist
              buying three beautiful smaller pieces, 2500SKK / $75.
              For Bill Tarkulich I photograph the two war memorials that are at the
              head of the Centrum.
              Martina arrives. She has changed in two years. She is now as tall as I
              am (5' 11") and slender. A typical Slovak young woman. Her parents want me
              to come to lunch. We take the bus to Krasna where her dad grew up. What was
              once a village is now a suburb of Kosice.
              The Skraks live in a modern split level, three bedroom home that
              Frantisek ( a roofing contractor) and Valeria (a social worker) designed and
              built themselves. They want to double the hospitality that we showed Martina
              in the States. And they literally do by serving me two meals, 2 pm and 4pm.
              As with every visit I make, it is eating, drinking and talking. Far too soon
              I have to leave since I am meeting my translator from my first three trips
              at 5 pm. Martina's uncle drives us back to Kosice. It was too short a visit.

              Maros Jambrich is waiting at the Jumbo Centrum as planned. We have two
              hours to catch up before Milos picks me up for dinner. The two hours is
              catch up time. Maros has a new job. His girlfriend is graduating from the
              University. He can now afford to rent his own apartment. And possibly buy a
              used car. Maros is the epitome of the new Slovakia. He was only six years
              old when Socialist era came to an end. We have both seen big changes since I
              first came in 2000. Another visit ends too soon.
              Milos picks me for the kielbasa and sauerkraut dinner. We eat and spend
              the next three hours talking. The conversations jumps about as word in
              sentence can lead us off on a new tangent. For them the theme is often
              economic. If it weren't for raising Ellie and Ricky in Slovakia they would
              be searching for somewhere else in the EU to move. Milos' brother Slavo is
              in Spain and has married a Spanish woman.
              At 4 pm tomorrow they will drive me to Presov.
              May 18
              A heavy rain is coming down. I stay at the apartment to clean, pack and
              read until it lets up around noon. Then I shop for parting gifts at the
              Tesco. Toys for the kids and cigarettes for the adults. At nearly a 1000SKK
              a carton cigarettes are a costly luxury in Slovakia, a months worth would
              cost the average salary maker about 4% of his earnings. I also give them an
              oversize bottle of wine I had gotten in Trebisov.
              This is the first "lazy" day of the trip. I appreciate just being able
              to sit and read until Milos and Zusana come for me at 4.
              They get me to Magda's by 4:30 and stay until 6. They have to get back
              because someone else has come into town and they need to use the apartment.
              Before they go we promise to keep in touch and on my next trip to Slovakia
              let them take me somewhere new.
              As Lubo and I were discussing my plans he gets a telephone call. It's
              fireman's business, but not what I think. On Thursday and Friday in Zilina
              management level personnel are having "Fireman Games". They are short one
              team member and what Lubo to fill in. He says he can't say no. But he has an
              idea, do I want to come along? I agree to it immediately. He calls his boss
              back and I get the ok to come along. So it is to bed early since we have to
              leave the fire station at 6 am for Zilina. May 19
              Up at 5. Pack the 9 passenger van with equipment and the team. I can
              sense the other six are wondering who this stranger is. The three and half
              hour ride to Zilina gives us a chance to know one another. In Zilina we pick
              up the female member of the team. She has been in training there. We head
              out to the "Fireman's University" where the games will be held. Fifteen
              different teams from around Slovakia will compete. Presov has drawn last
              start. After lunch the games will begin.
              All firemen in Slovakia are in a division of the national government.
              They call it the Fire and Rescue Corp of the Slovak Republic.
              From what I see and Lubo has told me the Games are more about
              camaraderie than competition. I good example is Lubo spots friends from high
              school who are now in the corp. and he hasn't seen since. Then there are
              other firemen he hasn't seen in years present also. It's something like a
              national fireman's class reunion.
              Today's race is a course of tasks that the six members of a team must
              complete together. A timed event. The tasks in order are: 1. Change the
              position of the tires on one side of a car. 2. Run 50 meters back and forth
              carrying a roll of fire hose in each hand and jump a hurdle at 25/75 meters.
              3. Fill a 10 liter bottle, tie it to a rope, haul it up two stories to a
              team member who pours it down a hose to a 50 liter barrel. When the barrel
              is full they move on. 4. Hose roll-up; each member throws out a 40 meter
              hose, doubles it over and then rolls it up. 5. Cut three pieces of log using
              a bucksaw. 6. Hand grenade, hit a target 20 meters away twice. Throwing as
              many time as it takes. 7. Pull a 6 inch fire hose in a 20 meter "S" pattern.
              8. Pump up a rescue litter and carry a member 100 meters to the finish line.
              The best time of the day was just under 26 minutes. It was 5 pm before
              Presov got its run, they placed 9th. They would have done better, but on the
              "S" race they didn't lay
              According to Lubo the big competition is next; dinner and dance. It was
              fireman's fare; stew, bread, cookies, potato chips and real cheap red and
              white wine. Each team table seem to have its own supply of stronger drink.
              The President of the Corp gave a speech and then visited each team's
              table. He stayed a Presov's for half an hour.
              An accordion was brought out and for an hour folk songs we sung. The
              disc jockey started his music up and the dancing began. With a ratio of 6 to
              1 the women present were kept very busy. At 9:30 the cheap disco light show
              came on and the dancing started to become more of a group activity. By 11:30
              I had enough and went to bed. May 20
              I'm up at 6, by 7 most firemen were up. We had to wake Lubo at 7:30. He
              didn't get to bed until 2:30.
              Today there is just a single event called Fire Attack. The record time
              is under 30 seconds. In that time a lot of things have to happen. There is a
              tank of water, a gas powered pumper and two targets 120 meters away. The
              object is to get water to the two targets and fill a small tank behind them
              until a light turns on. All the things required to do this are happening
              simultaneously.
              Two team members attack a siphon nozzle on an 8 inch hose and dunk it
              into the water tank to fill it. Another team member is attaching another 8
              inch hose to the pumper and starting it up. The hose from the tank is
              attached to the one on the pumper and water is sucked out of the tank. Four
              other team member have attached three lengths of hose to the pumper and
              connected a manifold valve. To which two double lengths of hose and a nozzle
              have be attached and that on each side of the triple manifold valve.
              All the hoses are pulled toward the target, hopefully water racing down
              also. When the single hose from the pumper is out full length the man
              carrying the manifold turns the water on to the two hoses that are being
              pulled down to the targets. They aim at the targets and the clock stops when
              both target lights are on.
              Presov was the last to go. Unfortunately, that is where they finished.
              They were not able to get suction from the tank to the pumper and in the
              allotted time. A disqualification. Another team had the same problem. And
              there were complaints all day from teams about the pumper. Although
              dejected, they soon recovered.
              As with any games there was the awards ceremony and the three place
              stand for the winners. In proper military fashion the fifteen teams lined up
              for the ceremony. And then waited, for half an hour. I heard something about
              the President. But the President of the Corp was at lunch and watching the
              competition. Then the President showed, not of the Corp, of Slovakia.
              He "launched" a new fire truck with a ribbon cutting and champagne
              shower. Most of which got on him than the truck. He gave a speech and
              presented the awards. As the "Team Photographer" I was able to get within a
              feet of him. I would have liked to shake his hand, but the opportunity
              didn't happen.
              On the ride back to Presov I felt I had been accepted into their midst.
              I was no longer a stranger. Miro, Lubo's boss, present me with his bell that
              each team member was given for participating. At the Presov fire station
              they gave one of the patches of the Corp. I gave them over 200 photographs
              of the games. Which they immediately downloaded into their computer. E-mails
              were coming in from other companies wanting to know if I had taken any
              pictures of them.
              I have Lubo take me to Penzion El Dorado and book into Room 4. May 21
              With most stores closing at noon I head for the Presov Centrum to get in
              my last shopping. I buy three Modra plates. I have a tradition of buying one
              for each of my trips and a friend has request two. Another tradition is to
              find an owl for my wife's collection on each trip. This time it is a Slovak
              crystal one.
              Spring has finally arrived with a clear, warm day. Lubo and Magda are
              shopping when I call him. It begins a day of enjoying a quite Slovak weekend
              at home with my relatives. Tina, Magda's daughter, and her husband come
              over to Magda's to begin spring cleaning of the yard. Magda is cooking. Lubo
              is enjoying teaching his three year old daughter to play football (soccer).
              Grandpa Jozef is enjoying watching all the backyard activity with me.
              At 4 Lubo, Jozef and I drive to Maly Saris to visit Cousin Maria and her
              husband Vincent. He had just gotten back from attending to his beehives. We
              have long ago nicknamed him the Beekeeper. Vincent is more than that, on
              their little property he grows just about everything they will need for the
              year. Including enough grapes to make four barrels of wine. He makes the
              barrels himself.
              I talk to Maria about some of my genealogy questions. My wife works with
              someone that has the same last name as one in my family tree but we have
              never been able to make a connection. Maria says that somewhere she has an
              address for the said Tomek family in California. It will be strange if Molly
              has worked next to a relative for 30 years without knowing it.
              Jozef was raised in Maly Saris. Strangely the back area of the house has
              been turned into the local pub. He wants to stop there for a beer. There is
              a melancholy that comes over him as he see all these strangers sitting in
              what use to be his backyard. May 22
              The El Dorado has become the business person's stop. On the weekends it
              is deserted. I have been their only guest.
              At 10 Lubo picks me up. It is another spring day and the family decides
              to do a repeat of Saturday at Magda's, Tina brings her sons along this time.
              Except this time at 4 Magda, Lubo, Tina and myself head to the cemetery.
              This is the first time they have ever taken me there. Magda's husband,
              Gustav, and oldest daughter, Monika were both killed in automobile accident
              on the way to a funeral in 1983. The family tends the gravesite and arranges
              new flowers. They then take me to half a dozen other family gravesites. It
              is strange to see names I know on paper carved into stone.
              Tina and family leave at sunset. I an hour later. My flight leaves at
              5:20. Which means getting up at 3:30 and heading for the airport at 4. I say
              my goodbyes to Magda and Jozef.
              The three days at the El Dorado, plus telephone calls comes to just
              under 2800SKK / $84. I leave a 3:30 wake-up call. May 23
              Lubo arrives shortly after four. He didn't fall asleep until 1:30. To
              make the trip quicker he buys the sticker that allows him to use the modern
              highway to between Presov and Kosice. It cost him 1100SSK / $31 for a year.
              When we get to the airport Peter, Lygia, Lydia and Jon are already
              there. It is nice to use the new terminal. Far less depressing than the old
              one and this early in the morning could use some cheer. It is the time for
              the sweet sorrow. The last thing Lubo says to me, "On your next trip you
              won't need a translator!" I believe him.
              For those who are interested in the services of Iveta Cervenakova in
              Stara Lubovna she has two websites. For translations services:
              www.preklady.ck-one.sk and for her travel service which includes being a
              translator and guide: www.ck-one.sk





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            • Bill Tarkulich
              Hi Michael, I find that personal travel shows you the places and the way things are, while reading shows you the why . As you well demonstrate, you need to
              Message 6 of 10 , Jun 11, 2005
              • 0 Attachment
                Hi Michael,
                I find that personal travel shows you the places and the way things are,
                while reading shows you the "why". As you well demonstrate, you need to
                have both to have a well-rounded understanding of the environment.

                It's fair to say that most people either here or there do not have the
                interest in historical matters as deeply as you. Bravo to you. We need to
                have at least a few beacons of knowledge in all corners of the world lest we
                succumb to hearsay and distorted understandings of history a world apart.

                I would be most interested, should you ever come across an English-language
                text which provides a robust treatment of peasant life in Upper Hungary,
                most especially the period from 1500s to 1918. (The period of 1850 to 1918
                never struck me as much different, regardless of the official emancipation.)
                I am particularly interested in the formation of villages and the social
                structure. I have some foreign language books on these matters, but it's a
                struggle to understand them completely without mastering each language.

                Nice Job.

                ______________
                Bill Tarkulich




                -----Original Message-----
                From: SLOVAK-ROOTS@yahoogroups.com [mailto:SLOVAK-ROOTS@yahoogroups.com] On
                Behalf Of Michael Mojher
                Sent: Friday, June 10, 2005 11:08 PM
                To: SLOVAK-ROOTS@yahoogroups.com
                Subject: Re: [S-R] Travelogue for May 2005


                Bill,
                Thank you for your kind words about my travelogue.
                This was the "Reader's Digest" version. When I sit down and write the
                whole thing out I am sure that it will run much longer. Besides the journal,
                I took almost 700 pictures. Between the two to remind of the trip I often
                recall more detail. My first trip journal when I finished typing it out ran
                70+ single spaced pages and that was just a two week trip.
                One thing I only mentioned in passing towards the end was my reading.
                What I was reading was Slovakia: From Samo to Dzurinda by Peter A. Toma and
                Dusan Kovac, 2001. It is not light reading. It is one book in the series
                Studies of Nationalities published by Hoover Institution Press of Stanford
                University. Samo to 18th Century is covered in 24 pages, by page 42 its the
                20th Century. The remaining 320 pages covers in-depth the 20th Century
                politics that controlled Slovakia until its independence in 1993.
                It was an interesting counterpoint to the trip I was experiencing, the
                political vs. the personal. To appreciate the personal it is useful to have
                a historical perspective. I would recommend that as a prelude to any trip to
                Slovakia find a history of it to read.
                Like my trips, the histories that I have read have become more in-depth.

                On my first trip I was given Slovakia The Heart of Europe by Ol'ga
                Drobna, Eduard Drobny and Magdalena Gocnikova, 1996. It is a 55 page
                "appetizer plate" that gives little tidbits about Slovakia.
                On my second trip I found People of the Word A Synopsis of Slovak
                History by Thomas Klimek Ward, 2000. This 110 page book was a "Reader's
                Digest" Slovak History. It has plenty of drawings and photographs. Its title
                says it all, a synopsis. It may be short but still valuable to get a quick
                historical perspective.
                Before my third trip I read A History of Slovakia: The Struggle for
                Survival by Stanislav J. Kirschbaum, 1995. In 279 pages I learned to
                appreciate how the Slovaks for the vast majority of their history were
                politically dominated by others. For almost 1000 years. For perspective:
                1492 Columbus' discovery to the present is 513 years. Slovakia has only been
                a country since 1993. It is where the United States was in 1788.
                On my third trip I picked up Slovak History: Chronology & Lexicon,
                English Translation by David P. Daniel, 2002. This is the "Cliff Notes" of
                Slovak history in chronological order and historical "dictionary". If you
                need a quick fact this book is it. I was told that it is the study guide
                used by Slovak students to get ready for their history tests. Now when I
                come across a historical reference in my reading I am able to look it up
                quickly. Michael Mojher

                ----- Original Message -----
                From: Bill Tarkulich
                To: SLOVAK-ROOTS@yahoogroups.com
                Sent: Thursday, June 09, 2005 8:23 PM
                Subject: RE: [S-R] Travelogue for May 2005


                Hello Michael & group,

                Congratulations on job well done. Thank you for picking up the torch and
                sharing your experiences. So many readers may never have the good fortune
                you had to travel and I am certain it will be widely read. You provide a
                spirit and a color of Slovakia from an American perspective that is quite
                valuable.

                I think it's quite fair to note that the hospitality that Michael was
                treated to is quite common in Slovakia. You were very, very fortunate to
                be
                able to participate in a local custom, a wedding, a fireman's competition
                rather than a re-creation thereof. You experienced everyday life, full of
                the joys, pains, warts and blemishes; Wonderful.

                Michael's report also illustrates how valuable it is to either be able to
                speak the language or have a translator with you. The depth and richness
                of
                the experienced is enhanced way beyond the cost of a translator. While a
                first-time trip leaves a visitor uncertain whether they should stay with
                the
                locals and/or family (you must gauge this yourself) or billet in a hotel,
                staying with the locals is vastly superior. You must be flexible and
                accommodating. Michael deftly handled and appreciated the hospitality
                with
                grace and appropriateness.

                I also appreciated his relating of everyday item, prices, foods, events,
                time, hours, to be extremely useful in understanding the fabric of life in
                Slovakia.

                Great writings!

                ______________
                Bill Tarkulich




                -----Original Message-----
                From: SLOVAK-ROOTS@yahoogroups.com [mailto:SLOVAK-ROOTS@yahoogroups.com]
                On
                Behalf Of Michael Mojher
                Sent: Thursday, June 02, 2005 4:05 PM
                To: SLOVAK-ROOTS@yahoogroups.com
                Subject: [S-R] Travelogue for May 2005


                Dear Group,
                Here is the requested travelogue of my trip. In the interest of saving
                space each day will be capsulated. If anyone wants more details on
                anything
                in particular contact me directly.
                This trip's purpose was to go to Slovakia and celebrate the marriage
                of
                my nephew, Jon Bruns, to Lydia Beisetzerova. Lydia was my niece's, Erica
                Bruns-Chin, translator on our first two trips. Lydia came to California
                for
                Erica's wedding and that visit resulted in Jon and Lydia's marriage a year
                ago this week.
                May 2-3
                In the interest of saving money we fly from San Francisco to
                Washington,
                D.C., to Vienna and to Kosice. Arriving at 2:30 pm.
                Because of the short transfer time in Washington, D.C. our baggage
                does
                not arrive with us. Zuzanna Petras, a newly found relation works at the
                airport. She helps us file the required papers.
                Lydia's parents, Peter and Lygia, and my maternal cousins Magda and
                Danko meet us and drive us to Presov where they all live.
                I check into the Penzion Antonio and Erica into Penzion El Dorado. The
                El Dorado has been our base in Presov on previous trips. I try the Antonio
                because it is located on the Centrum.
                Erica and her translator, Zuzana, and I drive to Magda's house for a
                family reunion until 11pm. Jozef Sopko is my mother's cousin. Daughter
                Magda
                is my age. And her son, Lubo is Erica's age. Tragically, Magda's husband
                and
                oldest daughter were killed in an automobile accident on the way to a
                funeral in 1983.
                May 4
                It is St. Florian's Day. The patron saint of firefighters. Three
                generations of my relatives are or were firemen. The latest is Capt.
                Lubomir
                Thinschmidt. Lubo is directing the setup of the demonstration that the
                fire
                department will be putting on in the Centrum. The highlight will be a
                repel
                from the top of St. Nicholas' bell tower. The Presov fire department have
                five new trucks to show off.
                Erica's stay is only ten days. On Sunday she wants to invited all the
                paternal relatives in Hromos to lunch. We head to Hromos to make
                restaurant
                arrangements and go around to personally invite everyone to the luncheon.
                From Presov to Hromos is about 30 miles. With so many towns along the way
                the drive takes an hour. We do not get back to Presov until midnight.
                May 5
                My suitcase is delivered. Erica's video and 35mm camera has been
                stolen
                from her's. A lesson there on the security of having to keep your
                suitcases
                unlocked.
                I explore the Centrum until to 2 pm.
                Lubo picks me up and takes me to the fire station. A whole new
                building
                has been added and the old one is being renovated. In his office I watch a
                video of the storm damage in the High Tatra's taken from a helicopter.
                Lubo
                was part of the first rescue squad to arrive after the storm. I watch a
                group of firemen training for the Fireman's Olympics to be held in Holland
                this year.
                The rest of the day is spent at Magda's. Got back to the Antonio at
                11.
                May 6
                This is Slovakia's Memorial Day. In the Centrum is a monument to the
                liberation of Presov by the Russian Army. A ceremony is held to lay
                wreaths
                at the monument. There is a contingent of Army personnel and veterans. A
                band plays. My observation is the event is generational. The people that
                stay to watch the ceremony are made up exclusively of older people. Those
                under 60 that stop and watch seem to do so more out of curiosity and only
                for a few minutes. The vast majority go about their business.
                I spend the day shopping the Centrum. Bought a large format pictorial
                book; The Castles of Slovakia.
                Dinner is with the Beisetzer family at the Pilsner-Jazz Wine Pub.
                There
                are nine of us. I have the "Beer Spit". In spite of the name it was an
                excellent shish kebab with a wild game sauce. Being a chef myself, I ask
                to
                see the kitchen and meet the chef. It was amazing that Peter could put out
                the food he did with a four burner home stove, deep fryer and small gas
                grill. I offer to split the check with Jon, 2060SKK / $61. Dinner and
                drinks
                comes out to $6.77 a person.
                May 7
                In the morning I meet Tomas Burger, my college student translator from
                my last trip. Our visit has to be short since he is in his last semester
                at
                Presov University and he has to study for his last test on Monday. I have
                him drive me out to the shopping area of Presov.
                The large Tesco (department-grocery), Baumax (Home Depot) and Nay
                (electronics) are next to one another. It was these stores that proved to
                me
                that Slovakia did have access to all the products we had in the States.
                They
                actually had some I wished we had here. Unfortunately, when I compared
                prices I realized that the cost of products were equivalent to what I
                would
                pay for them back home. Since the average paycheck in Presov is $350 a
                month
                I wondered how anyone could afford to shop these stores.
                At 1pm the wedding reception for Jon and Lydia begins at the Atrium.
                From the Antonio I only have to walk a block and a half. There is a
                gathering of 30 Beisetzer family members and friends. A four piece folk
                band
                is on hand. It is four hours of eating, drinking, talking and dancing. I
                am
                seated next to Lydia's cousin. She is a senior in high school and speaks
                excellent English. Lunch begins with a chicken and fruit salad. The soup
                is
                the ubiquitous chicken-noodle. The entree plate has a pork cutlet, stuffed
                chicken breast, fried potatoes, rice and cabbage salad. Dessert was four
                different cakes made by Lydia's mother and grandmother.
                The Beisetzer family gathering is not what could be called your
                average
                Slovak family. Lydia's father, Peter, is a professor of Industrial Arts at
                Presov University. Mother, Lygia, teaches English at a high school. Her
                aunt
                is a pediatrian in Kosice. Other family members and friends all work at
                some
                professional level.
                Nonetheless they party like every other Slovak family I've met. There
                is
                great joy in telling stories and jokes. Every folk song became a
                sing-along.
                The dancing was spirited and more often than not a group event. Lydia was
                in
                a professional dance troupe.
                After the party I returned to the Antonio. Rested till 8pm. Went and
                had
                dinner at its restaurant. It was filling with young people who had come to
                watch the Slovak-Czech hockey game on the projection TV. Since I was
                moving
                to Hromos in the morning I paid my bill, 6000SKK / $180.
                May 8
                The Centrum on a Sunday morning is deserted except for those making
                their way to church. All businesses closed at noon on Saturday. That is
                one
                of the problems staying at the Antonio. It doesn't open its restaurant
                until
                9 am like all other businesses. So finding a place to have breakfast
                before
                then is impossible. The only coffee available are vending machines on the
                Centrum. Whereas, the El Dorado came with breakfast that began at 6:30 am.
                Nonetheless the Antonio's location and large room, #3, made it worth
                staying
                at.
                On our way to Hromos we stop in Lipany to go to Zuzana's grandmother's
                house. She weaves rugs and makes lace items. Erica buys a rug. I, two lace
                pieces. Grandmother wants 1600SKK for both. I insist she takes 2000SKK.
                For
                the amount of work that went into them they are a bargain at $30 each.
                Typical of Slovak hospitality she insists we have something to eat and
                drink. I could not resist her Kolac. She said the secret to the dough was
                mashed potatoes and dry milk.
                When we get to Hromos we gather everyone for the drive to Salas
                Frantisek in Stara Lubovna for lunch. This is the place to eat there. Over
                the years we have seen it grow into a wonderful complex of buildings. They
                are needed since tour buses now make stops here. The menu is huge,
                offering
                a wonderful variety of traditional Slovak dishes.
                Because of previous commitments or health reasons our hoped for party
                of
                twenty some is just twelve of us. Erica has arranged the menu. When we are
                seated each place has a shot of Slivovica, a bottle mineral water and
                boxes
                of fruit juice are available. Lunch begins with chicken-noodle soup. The
                entree is pork and chicken slices with gravy, rice, French fries and the
                "Slovak Trinity"; red and green cabbage and carrot salad. Dessert is a
                large
                bowl of ice cream with pineapple chunks. The bill comes out to $7.25 a
                person.
                Although our party is not as large as we would have liked it to be we
                still have a wonderful time in a very nice atmosphere. This is Erica's
                only
                chance on the trip to be with the relatives in Hromos and she wants to
                make
                the most of it. Her fantasy is to live in Hromos. The Mayor of Hromos'
                offer
                to build her a house still stands. After lunch she and Zuzana make a stop
                at
                each relatives home in Hromos.
                I drive home with Pavel and Viera Dronzek. Pavel is married to my
                cousin
                Veronica Mojcher. Viera is their 38 year old daughter, a nurse who lives
                with them. Also at home is Veronica's 93 year old mother, Christina. She
                is
                the oldest person in Hromos. Their are two sons. Pavel lives in Plavnica
                and
                Jozef is the Dean of the Catholic Church in Trebisov.
                In spite of the language barrier, with the aid of a Slovak-English
                dictionary we are able to communicate.
                I have brought a packet of photographs and a genealogy from Evelyn
                March. She had contacted the Mayor of Hromos and he had given her my
                e-mail
                address. I bring them out to show Pavel and Veronica. Veronica gets very
                excited over a photograph labeled Joseph Mojcher family. It is her family!
                There is her father Joseph, mother Christina, brother Frantisek and
                herself
                about age 13. We spend the next couple of hours filling in information
                that
                is missing on the genealogy page, making corrections to pictures where
                people were incorrectly identified and giving names to those that Evelyn
                didn't know. I can't wait to e-mail Evelyn with what has just happened.
                Veronica is killing me with Slovak hospitality. Having had a large
                lunch
                at 3:30 she insists that I eat a plate of pork cutlets and potato salad.
                Along with cake for dessert. Then at 7:00 another meal of grilled ham and
                cheese sandwiches. Not wanting to offend her I have three big meals in six
                hours.
                With all that food in me it is no wonder that I am out for the night
                at
                9:30. May 9
                I'm up at 5 am. Veronica is already up. It is life on the "farm". Even
                though they live in town they have a cow, pigs, chickens and goats on the
                property. Besides about half an acre of land for growing a variety of
                vegetables. Outside of town is even a larger piece of land to tend to. It
                is
                early spring, so they haven't begun field crops yet. The Dronzeks try to
                be
                as self-sufficient as possible. Which is typical of most people out in the
                villages.
                By the time the Mayor arrives with my translator at 10 Veronica has
                feed
                me three times! Breakfast was 3 kielbasa, bread, cake and coffee. Then she
                insisted I have a piece of cake with the hot chocolate she had made from
                milk "fresh squeezed". And at 9:30 pork cutlets and potato salad.
                I am happy to have Iveta Cervenakova present. She is 40 year old
                professional translator from Stara Lubovna. With her aid we set up
                appointments to go to Plavnica City Hall and deliver a gift I had brought
                along from a S-R member. Since our appointment at City Hall isn't until
                3:30
                pm Iveta suggests that she guide me around some sight in the area. After
                three visits she discovers I've seen everything locally. I hadn't been to
                Kezmarok to see the wooden church.
                Pavel joins us to Kezmarok. When we get there the church doesn't open
                until 2. Iveta suggests we tour the castle, it to is closed. She makes a
                telephone call. She has arranged a private tour of the castle. I asked
                how.
                Another of her businesses is setting up events for groups and tours. She
                has
                lots of contacts. Pavel chooses to sit out the tour. To say the least,
                having a private tour is the way to go. Iveta works her wonders at the
                church. No photography is allowed inside. She gets the rule broken for me.
                Since the Evangelical church next door is open we also visit it.
                We pull into Plavnica City Hall at 3:27 from Kezmarok. It is good to
                see
                Maria, the keeper of the records again. She remembers me. One of my
                relatives worked there with her for 10 years. Maria finds more information
                on relatives for Evelyn. But she cannot seem to help me. That is when I
                discover the "DO" names and family lines.
                I deliver the gift to Helena Pruzinska. She in turn gives me homemade
                bread, sheep's cheese and cake.
                When we get back at the house at 5:30 a pirohy dinner is waiting.
                Wonderful. May 10
                Up at 5:30. Until Iveta arrives at 10 I have a cooking lesson. I
                observe
                Veronica as she prepares different dishes for the day. I wasn't sure what
                a
                batter that was made earlier in the morning was for. But when Veronica
                heated up a pan of lard and patted out the now soft dough I had my guess -
                siska, doughnuts. Veronica would use a 3 inch glass to make the rounds and
                then use her thumbs to punch a whole in the center. Hot out of the oil,
                sprinkled with powdered sugar and a dollop of jam. Even with breakfast I
                couldn't stop until I had three of them.
                Iveta and I spend the day doing interviews for my genealogy research.
                It
                is suggested we talk to 78 year old Stephan Fabian. He suggests we also
                include 82 year old Stephan Frohlich. For three hours at Mr. Frohlich's
                house we talk, drink and snack. The two of them tell wonderful stories.
                Iveta apologizes to me and I ask why. She says that most of the stories
                are
                about her parents. Their marriage was all the talk of area. Her father was
                a
                well respected Roma musician and her mother Slovak. It was the first mixed
                marriage in Stara Lubovna. Cousin Pavel told Iveta that he once played in
                a
                band with her father.
                After the interview we drove to Lipany where a S-R member requested
                that
                I photograph two villages for her.
                Then to Stara Lubovna so I could use Iveta's computer to send e-mails
                home and to Evelyn about my finds. It also was a chance to buy a
                Slovak-English, English-Slovak dictionary so my conversations with the
                Dronzeks would be easier than just using their Slovak-English one. May 11
                When Iveta arrives at 9 she wants to take me to Kupele Vysne Ruzbachy
                for some relaxation. It is not that far away, just west of Stara Lubovna.
                The spa has gone through some hard times. Now it is on the rebound with a
                beautiful new four star hotel on the property. As we are walking through
                the
                grounds we pass a corral with a couple of horses in it. Iveta knows the
                woman tending the horses. She explains the horses are used as therapy.
                Especially for bad backs. Iveta arranges a free ride for me.
                Unfortunately,
                Iveta's powers don't work at the spa. They are so booked that it takes a
                three to four day reservation to get any treatments.
                The afternoon is more genealogy research. A gentleman from Kozelec has
                come to the Dronzek's with two photographs. One is the match to Evelyn's.
                He
                says they had lost contact with the family in America. My visit has
                reunited
                them.
                Next we visit cousin Anna Mojcher and her husband Jozef Bujnovsky. I
                establish she is one of twelve children. She says that her brother Stephan
                is working on a family genealogy. Having discovered about "DO" she is able
                to tell me the three Mojcher "DO" names. I am a member of the Do Adama.
                Her
                grandfather was Adam Mojcher, my great-uncle. I wonder if he is the source
                of the name.
                The last stop is at cousin Frantisek Mojcher's. Genealogically he
                doesn't have much to offer. But I have a strong emotional bond with him
                since he was the first blood relative I ever meet in Hromos.
                Each stop is also to say good-bye. Tomorrow I'm leaving for Trebisov.
                Iveta and I settle our account, $60 a day. When she works transcribing
                or for company executives she charges 400SKK an hour. She also drove me
                around. So I feel good about our deal. May 12
                Pavel and I leave early for the 150 km drive to Trebisov. Pavel takes
                great pride in the fact that his son is a priest. Even more so now that
                Jozef is the youngest priest ever to be made Dean of parish.
                The Church of the Nativity was built in the 1400's. I refer to cousin
                Jozef as Jozef the Builder. Every parish he has been at he achieved some
                sort of major building or repair project. The Trebisov church can use his
                talents. In a year and a half he has already accomplished some major
                renovations.
                As Dean he has five other priests he is responsible for in Trebisov.
                He
                is also responsible for 40 villages surrounding Trebisov. He also lectures
                at a university and high school on philosophy and ethics in Kosice. Last
                year he had his fifth book published.
                On the altar of the Trebisov church is the chair that the Pope used on
                his visit to Slovakia. I think Pavel sees it as a sign of Jozef's future.
                After touring a rectory building site in one of the villages and
                saying
                Mass Jozef drives the three of us to Sarospatak, Hungary for lunch. The
                drive gives us a chance to talk. Since Jozef taught himself English he
                wanted me to visit him so he could hear and practice English.
                We get back to Trebisov in time for the hockey game. Jozef is a big
                fan
                and tries to catch every game. Slovakia looses to Canada and USA looses to
                the Czech Republic.
                A friend picks the three of us up and we head out to "audition" some
                wines for altar use. The Tokaj wine region isn't far away. Being a
                Californian and a chef I'm look forward to this private tasting. It's a
                new
                winery and most of the wines are disappointing.
                We finish the evening at the friends house. By Slovak standards he is
                very well to do. His daughter worked in England for six years. After being
                back home for four years she enjoys the chance to speak English again. May
                13
                Pavel is driving Jozef to pick up his car that has been repaired this
                morning. After which Pavel will head back to Hromos. While they are gone
                Jozef has arranged for a private tour of the museum at the Andrassy
                Mansion
                next to his church. "George", a young priest, we go along as my
                translator.
                The museum has exhibits on archeology, history, industry and fine
                arts.
                The most amazing piece is a clay jar that stands five feet high and three
                feet wide found in Kosice that dates back to 7000BC. Another extraordinary
                room was the folk clothing.
                After dinner Jozef tells me we are going to another winery. When we
                get
                there I recognize it as being the one the museum guide said was the best
                of
                the Tokay region. The owner-winemaker gives us the grand tour. One room
                had
                the most amazing display of wine bottles. There were animal bottles,
                bottles
                in the shape of historical places and bottles within bottles. After the
                tour
                we sat down to taste three wines. During the conversation I could tell
                that
                Jozef kept referring to me as a chef from San Francisco, even though I
                live
                and work 70 miles away. But it gave him a reference point. On hearing that
                the winemaker went and got a fourth bottle of wine. This was his award
                winner. Not only gold in Slovakia, but in an all Europe competition. It
                was
                special. Jozef was also able to decide on his new altar wine. As a gift I
                bought him a case at $5 a bottle. May 14
                I want to buy Jozef's parents some thank you gifts and he is driving
                me
                into Kosice. For his mother I want a gold cross and chain. On our way we
                pick up Miriam Brandisova, a college senior music major. Jozef thinks I
                may
                need a woman's advise. Jozef tells me later that he is Miriam's
                "godfather".
                She was orphaned ten years ago at the parish he worked at and he has since
                been supporting her through school.
                While in Kosice I talk to Milos Petras about coming to stay with them
                tomorrow.
                On the way back to Trebisov I have Jozef stop at the war memorial at
                the
                top of the pass on the mountain that separates Kosice from Trebisov. I
                photograph it for Bill Tarkulich.
                After dropping Miriam off we go to Brezina to photograph it for a S-R
                member. On the drive Jozef tells me his car repair story, only if I
                promise
                not to tell his parents. He was loaned the car for two years. During the
                first week having it he was rear ended in Kosice. The repairs came to
                $8000.
                Because of it being a loner he couldn't get his own insurance on it. So he
                was now responsible to pay for it. Being only paid $300 a month he didn't
                know how he could do it in his lifetime considering his monthly expenses.
                George has asked to attend a special Mass at 10 tonight. When we get
                back he and Miriam are rehearsing the songs for it. Her voice gives me
                goose
                bumps. I hope her sights are higher than being a parish organist and choir
                director as she told me.
                George's Mass for the teenagers is wonderful. Their is a procession
                with
                "tiki" torches. Lots of music, George plays guitar. After Mass the
                teenagers
                don't want to leave. He and Miriam sing some more songs. For George I take
                80 pictures.
                I ask Jozef if it would appropriate if a I gave George and Miriam a
                gift
                before I left. He said yes. Although resistant I gave them each 3000SKK.
                Knowing that George was just out of the seminary and Miariam still a
                student
                they both could use an unexpected windfall. May 15
                After Jozef's 11:00 Mass he drives to me to Kosice. We park at the
                School for Veterinary Doctors. Milos appears from across the street. I say
                good-bye to Jozef and we promise to keep in touch with e-mail.
                Three months ago a cousin put me in touch with Milos Petras. We knew
                we
                were some sort of "knee" cousins as they say in Slovakia.
                Zuzana, his wife, I had meet at our arrival at Kosice Airport. At
                their
                apartment I met 7 year old Elizabeth and 4 year old Richard.
                Over lunch and through the evening we talked. Milos is a plastic
                surgeon
                that works for the government, making $660 a month. Zuzana as airport
                administrator makes $467 a month. No wonder Slovakia has a "brain drain".
                Since their old apartment three blocks from the Centrum was empty
                while
                they interview renters they put me up their. Milos drives me to the
                apartment and then the two of us walk to the Centrum for dinner. In Slovak
                style it is long. For two hours we have more to talk about.
                May 16
                Without a watch I don't know what time it is, but I know it is early
                since there are no people on the street. I take advantage of the clothes
                washer and do my first load of the trip, just in time. European apartment
                size washing machines have incredible long wash cycles, 2 hours.
                I don't get to the Centrum until 10:30 and will meet Zuzana for lunch
                at
                1:30. Until then I reacquaint myself with Centrum. She takes me to the
                only
                brew pub in Kosice for lunch.
                Over lunch I cry in my beer about how I haven't been able to find my
                mother a handcrafted tablecloth. Surprise! Zuzana's mother has a shop that
                only handles such items. Primarily she sells the material with the pattern
                on it. But she will also sell finished goods. We go to her mother's
                apartment nearby and arrange for me to come by the shop tomorrow to pick
                out
                a pattern that she will arrange to be crafted. The size I need will take
                three months to do and cost $100.
                When Milos joins us at the apartment he is ready to take me to meet
                his
                parents and do some genealogy research. His mother, in her late 60's, grew
                up in Plavnica. His father just across the border in Poland from the Red
                Monastery. Maria Sekelsky-Petras is able to give more information about
                people in Evelyn's pictures. She knows that Stephan Sekelsky is a Do
                Macka.
                On spotting the Knat family line in my paternal grandmother's tree Maria
                concludes we may be closer relations than the preverbal "knee" ones. She
                promises to talk to family and friends in Plavnica and get more
                information
                for me.
                Milos takes me back to the Centrum. We shop the "little" Tesco, that
                was
                a former Wal-Mart. Then have dinner on one of the outdoor covered patios.
                During the meal we are bothered by two drunken Roma's, which embarrasses
                Milos.
                Over dinner he talks shop. Unlike in the States where a plastic
                surgeon
                can specialize in just one body part in Slovakia he does everything.
                Industrial accidents, birth defects, breast implants, liposuction,
                anything
                on the face or the whole thing. Today's work were a breast reduction and a
                stomach stapling. He got his medical degree at a school in Prague. He said
                it was one of the most respected in Europe. He is now getting women flying
                in from New York for work because it is so much cheaper in Slovakia. I ask
                what an upper and lower eye job would cost, $600.
                A Slovak tradition is threatened according to Milos. The EU does not
                like the conditions under which Brezina / Sheep's Cheese is produced and
                wants it stopped. Halusky make with it is a national dish that every
                restaurant serves. It will be interesting to see how this issue is
                resolved.
                May 17
                At 1:00 pm I am going to meet Martina Skrakova. She was an exchange
                student at the high school my sister Suzanne works at in Lodi, CA. The
                school has had three Slovak students in the past three years. It happened
                that on Suzanne's visit to Slovakia she knew Martina was coming that Fall.
                We arranged to meet Martina and her parents before she left for the
                States.
                The meeting took many of her parents fears away. When she arrived Suzanne
                took her to meet our mother since she spoke Slovak. Mom became Martina's
                American Babi.
                Before our meeting I shopped. I bought a large format book called The
                Wonders of Slovakia. Stopped at Zuzana's mother's shop to pick out the
                pattern for the tablecloth for my mother. While there I couldn't resist
                buying three beautiful smaller pieces, 2500SKK / $75.
                For Bill Tarkulich I photograph the two war memorials that are at the
                head of the Centrum.
                Martina arrives. She has changed in two years. She is now as tall as I
                am (5' 11") and slender. A typical Slovak young woman. Her parents want me
                to come to lunch. We take the bus to Krasna where her dad grew up. What
                was
                once a village is now a suburb of Kosice.
                The Skraks live in a modern split level, three bedroom home that
                Frantisek ( a roofing contractor) and Valeria (a social worker) designed
                and
                built themselves. They want to double the hospitality that we showed
                Martina
                in the States. And they literally do by serving me two meals, 2 pm and
                4pm.
                As with every visit I make, it is eating, drinking and talking. Far too
                soon
                I have to leave since I am meeting my translator from my first three trips
                at 5 pm. Martina's uncle drives us back to Kosice. It was too short a
                visit.

                Maros Jambrich is waiting at the Jumbo Centrum as planned. We have two
                hours to catch up before Milos picks me up for dinner. The two hours is
                catch up time. Maros has a new job. His girlfriend is graduating from the
                University. He can now afford to rent his own apartment. And possibly buy
                a
                used car. Maros is the epitome of the new Slovakia. He was only six years
                old when Socialist era came to an end. We have both seen big changes since
                I
                first came in 2000. Another visit ends too soon.
                Milos picks me for the kielbasa and sauerkraut dinner. We eat and
                spend
                the next three hours talking. The conversations jumps about as word in
                sentence can lead us off on a new tangent. For them the theme is often
                economic. If it weren't for raising Ellie and Ricky in Slovakia they would
                be searching for somewhere else in the EU to move. Milos' brother Slavo is
                in Spain and has married a Spanish woman.
                At 4 pm tomorrow they will drive me to Presov.
                May 18
                A heavy rain is coming down. I stay at the apartment to clean, pack
                and
                read until it lets up around noon. Then I shop for parting gifts at the
                Tesco. Toys for the kids and cigarettes for the adults. At nearly a
                1000SKK
                a carton cigarettes are a costly luxury in Slovakia, a months worth would
                cost the average salary maker about 4% of his earnings. I also give them
                an
                oversize bottle of wine I had gotten in Trebisov.
                This is the first "lazy" day of the trip. I appreciate just being able
                to sit and read until Milos and Zusana come for me at 4.
                They get me to Magda's by 4:30 and stay until 6. They have to get back
                because someone else has come into town and they need to use the
                apartment.
                Before they go we promise to keep in touch and on my next trip to Slovakia
                let them take me somewhere new.
                As Lubo and I were discussing my plans he gets a telephone call. It's
                fireman's business, but not what I think. On Thursday and Friday in Zilina
                management level personnel are having "Fireman Games". They are short one
                team member and what Lubo to fill in. He says he can't say no. But he has
                an
                idea, do I want to come along? I agree to it immediately. He calls his
                boss
                back and I get the ok to come along. So it is to bed early since we have
                to
                leave the fire station at 6 am for Zilina. May 19
                Up at 5. Pack the 9 passenger van with equipment and the team. I can
                sense the other six are wondering who this stranger is. The three and half
                hour ride to Zilina gives us a chance to know one another. In Zilina we
                pick
                up the female member of the team. She has been in training there. We head
                out to the "Fireman's University" where the games will be held. Fifteen
                different teams from around Slovakia will compete. Presov has drawn last
                start. After lunch the games will begin.
                All firemen in Slovakia are in a division of the national government.
                They call it the Fire and Rescue Corp of the Slovak Republic.
                From what I see and Lubo has told me the Games are more about
                camaraderie than competition. I good example is Lubo spots friends from
                high
                school who are now in the corp. and he hasn't seen since. Then there are
                other firemen he hasn't seen in years present also. It's something like a
                national fireman's class reunion.
                Today's race is a course of tasks that the six members of a team must
                complete together. A timed event. The tasks in order are: 1. Change the
                position of the tires on one side of a car. 2. Run 50 meters back and
                forth
                carrying a roll of fire hose in each hand and jump a hurdle at 25/75
                meters.
                3. Fill a 10 liter bottle, tie it to a rope, haul it up two stories to a
                team member who pours it down a hose to a 50 liter barrel. When the barrel
                is full they move on. 4. Hose roll-up; each member throws out a 40 meter
                hose, doubles it over and then rolls it up. 5. Cut three pieces of log
                using
                a bucksaw. 6. Hand grenade, hit a target 20 meters away twice. Throwing as
                many time as it takes. 7. Pull a 6 inch fire hose in a 20 meter "S"
                pattern.
                8. Pump up a rescue litter and carry a member 100 meters to the finish
                line.
                The best time of the day was just under 26 minutes. It was 5 pm before
                Presov got its run, they placed 9th. They would have done better, but on
                the
                "S" race they didn't lay
                According to Lubo the big competition is next; dinner and dance. It
                was
                fireman's fare; stew, bread, cookies, potato chips and real cheap red and
                white wine. Each team table seem to have its own supply of stronger drink.

                The President of the Corp gave a speech and then visited each team's
                table. He stayed a Presov's for half an hour.
                An accordion was brought out and for an hour folk songs we sung. The
                disc jockey started his music up and the dancing began. With a ratio of 6
                to
                1 the women present were kept very busy. At 9:30 the cheap disco light
                show
                came on and the dancing started to become more of a group activity. By
                11:30
                I had enough and went to bed. May 20
                I'm up at 6, by 7 most firemen were up. We had to wake Lubo at 7:30.
                He
                didn't get to bed until 2:30.
                Today there is just a single event called Fire Attack. The record time
                is under 30 seconds. In that time a lot of things have to happen. There is
                a
                tank of water, a gas powered pumper and two targets 120 meters away. The
                object is to get water to the two targets and fill a small tank behind
                them
                until a light turns on. All the things required to do this are happening
                simultaneously.
                Two team members attack a siphon nozzle on an 8 inch hose and dunk it
                into the water tank to fill it. Another team member is attaching another 8
                inch hose to the pumper and starting it up. The hose from the tank is
                attached to the one on the pumper and water is sucked out of the tank.
                Four
                other team member have attached three lengths of hose to the pumper and
                connected a manifold valve. To which two double lengths of hose and a
                nozzle
                have be attached and that on each side of the triple manifold valve.
                All the hoses are pulled toward the target, hopefully water racing
                down
                also. When the single hose from the pumper is out full length the man
                carrying the manifold turns the water on to the two hoses that are being
                pulled down to the targets. They aim at the targets and the clock stops
                when
                both target lights are on.
                Presov was the last to go. Unfortunately, that is where they finished.
                They were not able to get suction from the tank to the pumper and in the
                allotted time. A disqualification. Another team had the same problem. And
                there were complaints all day from teams about the pumper. Although
                dejected, they soon recovered.
                As with any games there was the awards ceremony and the three place
                stand for the winners. In proper military fashion the fifteen teams lined
                up
                for the ceremony. And then waited, for half an hour. I heard something
                about
                the President. But the President of the Corp was at lunch and watching the
                competition. Then the President showed, not of the Corp, of Slovakia.
                He "launched" a new fire truck with a ribbon cutting and champagne
                shower. Most of which got on him than the truck. He gave a speech and
                presented the awards. As the "Team Photographer" I was able to get within
                a
                feet of him. I would have liked to shake his hand, but the opportunity
                didn't happen.
                On the ride back to Presov I felt I had been accepted into their
                midst.
                I was no longer a stranger. Miro, Lubo's boss, present me with his bell
                that
                each team member was given for participating. At the Presov fire station
                they gave one of the patches of the Corp. I gave them over 200 photographs
                of the games. Which they immediately downloaded into their computer.
                E-mails
                were coming in from other companies wanting to know if I had taken any
                pictures of them.
                I have Lubo take me to Penzion El Dorado and book into Room 4. May 21
                With most stores closing at noon I head for the Presov Centrum to get
                in
                my last shopping. I buy three Modra plates. I have a tradition of buying
                one
                for each of my trips and a friend has request two. Another tradition is to
                find an owl for my wife's collection on each trip. This time it is a
                Slovak
                crystal one.
                Spring has finally arrived with a clear, warm day. Lubo and Magda are
                shopping when I call him. It begins a day of enjoying a quite Slovak
                weekend
                at home with my relatives. Tina, Magda's daughter, and her husband come
                over to Magda's to begin spring cleaning of the yard. Magda is cooking.
                Lubo
                is enjoying teaching his three year old daughter to play football
                (soccer).
                Grandpa Jozef is enjoying watching all the backyard activity with me.
                At 4 Lubo, Jozef and I drive to Maly Saris to visit Cousin Maria and
                her
                husband Vincent. He had just gotten back from attending to his beehives.
                We
                have long ago nicknamed him the Beekeeper. Vincent is more than that, on
                their little property he grows just about everything they will need for
                the
                year. Including enough grapes to make four barrels of wine. He makes the
                barrels himself.
                I talk to Maria about some of my genealogy questions. My wife works
                with
                someone that has the same last name as one in my family tree but we have
                never been able to make a connection. Maria says that somewhere she has an
                address for the said Tomek family in California. It will be strange if
                Molly
                has worked next to a relative for 30 years without knowing it.
                Jozef was raised in Maly Saris. Strangely the back area of the house
                has
                been turned into the local pub. He wants to stop there for a beer. There
                is
                a melancholy that comes over him as he see all these strangers sitting in
                what use to be his backyard. May 22
                The El Dorado has become the business person's stop. On the weekends
                it
                is deserted. I have been their only guest.
                At 10 Lubo picks me up. It is another spring day and the family
                decides
                to do a repeat of Saturday at Magda's, Tina brings her sons along this
                time.
                Except this time at 4 Magda, Lubo, Tina and myself head to the cemetery.
                This is the first time they have ever taken me there. Magda's husband,
                Gustav, and oldest daughter, Monika were both killed in automobile
                accident
                on the way to a funeral in 1983. The family tends the gravesite and
                arranges
                new flowers. They then take me to half a dozen other family gravesites. It
                is strange to see names I know on paper carved into stone.
                Tina and family leave at sunset. I an hour later. My flight leaves at
                5:20. Which means getting up at 3:30 and heading for the airport at 4. I
                say
                my goodbyes to Magda and Jozef.
                The three days at the El Dorado, plus telephone calls comes to just
                under 2800SKK / $84. I leave a 3:30 wake-up call. May 23
                Lubo arrives shortly after four. He didn't fall asleep until 1:30. To
                make the trip quicker he buys the sticker that allows him to use the
                modern
                highway to between Presov and Kosice. It cost him 1100SSK / $31 for a
                year.
                When we get to the airport Peter, Lygia, Lydia and Jon are already
                there. It is nice to use the new terminal. Far less depressing than the
                old
                one and this early in the morning could use some cheer. It is the time for
                the sweet sorrow. The last thing Lubo says to me, "On your next trip you
                won't need a translator!" I believe him.
                For those who are interested in the services of Iveta Cervenakova in
                Stara Lubovna she has two websites. For translations services:
                www.preklady.ck-one.sk and for her travel service which includes being a
                translator and guide: www.ck-one.sk





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              • Bill Tarkulich
                Would love to see some of your photos. Might I suggest peppering your travelogue with a number of photos and publishing it to a web page? It would be a
                Message 7 of 10 , Jun 11, 2005
                • 0 Attachment
                  Would love to see some of your photos. Might I suggest peppering your
                  travelogue with a number of photos and publishing it to a web page? It
                  would be a wonderful experience to share, not just with your own family, but
                  with the world. Each of us does our own small piece to open the country up
                  for all to see.

                  ______________
                  Bill Tarkulich




                  -----Original Message-----
                  From: SLOVAK-ROOTS@yahoogroups.com [mailto:SLOVAK-ROOTS@yahoogroups.com] On
                  Behalf Of Michael Mojher
                  Sent: Friday, June 10, 2005 11:08 PM
                  To: SLOVAK-ROOTS@yahoogroups.com
                  Subject: Re: [S-R] Travelogue for May 2005


                  Bill,
                  Thank you for your kind words about my travelogue.
                  This was the "Reader's Digest" version. When I sit down and write the
                  whole thing out I am sure that it will run much longer. Besides the journal,
                  I took almost 700 pictures. Between the two to remind of the trip I often
                  recall more detail. My first trip journal when I finished typing it out ran
                  70+ single spaced pages and that was just a two week trip.
                  One thing I only mentioned in passing towards the end was my reading.
                  What I was reading was Slovakia: From Samo to Dzurinda by Peter A. Toma and
                  Dusan Kovac, 2001. It is not light reading. It is one book in the series
                  Studies of Nationalities published by Hoover Institution Press of Stanford
                  University. Samo to 18th Century is covered in 24 pages, by page 42 its the
                  20th Century. The remaining 320 pages covers in-depth the 20th Century
                  politics that controlled Slovakia until its independence in 1993.
                  It was an interesting counterpoint to the trip I was experiencing, the
                  political vs. the personal. To appreciate the personal it is useful to have
                  a historical perspective. I would recommend that as a prelude to any trip to
                  Slovakia find a history of it to read.
                  Like my trips, the histories that I have read have become more in-depth.

                  On my first trip I was given Slovakia The Heart of Europe by Ol'ga
                  Drobna, Eduard Drobny and Magdalena Gocnikova, 1996. It is a 55 page
                  "appetizer plate" that gives little tidbits about Slovakia.
                  On my second trip I found People of the Word A Synopsis of Slovak
                  History by Thomas Klimek Ward, 2000. This 110 page book was a "Reader's
                  Digest" Slovak History. It has plenty of drawings and photographs. Its title
                  says it all, a synopsis. It may be short but still valuable to get a quick
                  historical perspective.
                  Before my third trip I read A History of Slovakia: The Struggle for
                  Survival by Stanislav J. Kirschbaum, 1995. In 279 pages I learned to
                  appreciate how the Slovaks for the vast majority of their history were
                  politically dominated by others. For almost 1000 years. For perspective:
                  1492 Columbus' discovery to the present is 513 years. Slovakia has only been
                  a country since 1993. It is where the United States was in 1788.
                  On my third trip I picked up Slovak History: Chronology & Lexicon,
                  English Translation by David P. Daniel, 2002. This is the "Cliff Notes" of
                  Slovak history in chronological order and historical "dictionary". If you
                  need a quick fact this book is it. I was told that it is the study guide
                  used by Slovak students to get ready for their history tests. Now when I
                  come across a historical reference in my reading I am able to look it up
                  quickly. Michael Mojher

                  ----- Original Message -----
                  From: Bill Tarkulich
                  To: SLOVAK-ROOTS@yahoogroups.com
                  Sent: Thursday, June 09, 2005 8:23 PM
                  Subject: RE: [S-R] Travelogue for May 2005


                  Hello Michael & group,

                  Congratulations on job well done. Thank you for picking up the torch and
                  sharing your experiences. So many readers may never have the good fortune
                  you had to travel and I am certain it will be widely read. You provide a
                  spirit and a color of Slovakia from an American perspective that is quite
                  valuable.

                  I think it's quite fair to note that the hospitality that Michael was
                  treated to is quite common in Slovakia. You were very, very fortunate to
                  be
                  able to participate in a local custom, a wedding, a fireman's competition
                  rather than a re-creation thereof. You experienced everyday life, full of
                  the joys, pains, warts and blemishes; Wonderful.

                  Michael's report also illustrates how valuable it is to either be able to
                  speak the language or have a translator with you. The depth and richness
                  of
                  the experienced is enhanced way beyond the cost of a translator. While a
                  first-time trip leaves a visitor uncertain whether they should stay with
                  the
                  locals and/or family (you must gauge this yourself) or billet in a hotel,
                  staying with the locals is vastly superior. You must be flexible and
                  accommodating. Michael deftly handled and appreciated the hospitality
                  with
                  grace and appropriateness.

                  I also appreciated his relating of everyday item, prices, foods, events,
                  time, hours, to be extremely useful in understanding the fabric of life in
                  Slovakia.

                  Great writings!

                  ______________
                  Bill Tarkulich




                  -----Original Message-----
                  From: SLOVAK-ROOTS@yahoogroups.com [mailto:SLOVAK-ROOTS@yahoogroups.com]
                  On
                  Behalf Of Michael Mojher
                  Sent: Thursday, June 02, 2005 4:05 PM
                  To: SLOVAK-ROOTS@yahoogroups.com
                  Subject: [S-R] Travelogue for May 2005


                  Dear Group,
                  Here is the requested travelogue of my trip. In the interest of saving
                  space each day will be capsulated. If anyone wants more details on
                  anything
                  in particular contact me directly.
                  This trip's purpose was to go to Slovakia and celebrate the marriage
                  of
                  my nephew, Jon Bruns, to Lydia Beisetzerova. Lydia was my niece's, Erica
                  Bruns-Chin, translator on our first two trips. Lydia came to California
                  for
                  Erica's wedding and that visit resulted in Jon and Lydia's marriage a year
                  ago this week.
                  May 2-3
                  In the interest of saving money we fly from San Francisco to
                  Washington,
                  D.C., to Vienna and to Kosice. Arriving at 2:30 pm.
                  Because of the short transfer time in Washington, D.C. our baggage
                  does
                  not arrive with us. Zuzanna Petras, a newly found relation works at the
                  airport. She helps us file the required papers.
                  Lydia's parents, Peter and Lygia, and my maternal cousins Magda and
                  Danko meet us and drive us to Presov where they all live.
                  I check into the Penzion Antonio and Erica into Penzion El Dorado. The
                  El Dorado has been our base in Presov on previous trips. I try the Antonio
                  because it is located on the Centrum.
                  Erica and her translator, Zuzana, and I drive to Magda's house for a
                  family reunion until 11pm. Jozef Sopko is my mother's cousin. Daughter
                  Magda
                  is my age. And her son, Lubo is Erica's age. Tragically, Magda's husband
                  and
                  oldest daughter were killed in an automobile accident on the way to a
                  funeral in 1983.
                  May 4
                  It is St. Florian's Day. The patron saint of firefighters. Three
                  generations of my relatives are or were firemen. The latest is Capt.
                  Lubomir
                  Thinschmidt. Lubo is directing the setup of the demonstration that the
                  fire
                  department will be putting on in the Centrum. The highlight will be a
                  repel
                  from the top of St. Nicholas' bell tower. The Presov fire department have
                  five new trucks to show off.
                  Erica's stay is only ten days. On Sunday she wants to invited all the
                  paternal relatives in Hromos to lunch. We head to Hromos to make
                  restaurant
                  arrangements and go around to personally invite everyone to the luncheon.
                  From Presov to Hromos is about 30 miles. With so many towns along the way
                  the drive takes an hour. We do not get back to Presov until midnight.
                  May 5
                  My suitcase is delivered. Erica's video and 35mm camera has been
                  stolen
                  from her's. A lesson there on the security of having to keep your
                  suitcases
                  unlocked.
                  I explore the Centrum until to 2 pm.
                  Lubo picks me up and takes me to the fire station. A whole new
                  building
                  has been added and the old one is being renovated. In his office I watch a
                  video of the storm damage in the High Tatra's taken from a helicopter.
                  Lubo
                  was part of the first rescue squad to arrive after the storm. I watch a
                  group of firemen training for the Fireman's Olympics to be held in Holland
                  this year.
                  The rest of the day is spent at Magda's. Got back to the Antonio at
                  11.
                  May 6
                  This is Slovakia's Memorial Day. In the Centrum is a monument to the
                  liberation of Presov by the Russian Army. A ceremony is held to lay
                  wreaths
                  at the monument. There is a contingent of Army personnel and veterans. A
                  band plays. My observation is the event is generational. The people that
                  stay to watch the ceremony are made up exclusively of older people. Those
                  under 60 that stop and watch seem to do so more out of curiosity and only
                  for a few minutes. The vast majority go about their business.
                  I spend the day shopping the Centrum. Bought a large format pictorial
                  book; The Castles of Slovakia.
                  Dinner is with the Beisetzer family at the Pilsner-Jazz Wine Pub.
                  There
                  are nine of us. I have the "Beer Spit". In spite of the name it was an
                  excellent shish kebab with a wild game sauce. Being a chef myself, I ask
                  to
                  see the kitchen and meet the chef. It was amazing that Peter could put out
                  the food he did with a four burner home stove, deep fryer and small gas
                  grill. I offer to split the check with Jon, 2060SKK / $61. Dinner and
                  drinks
                  comes out to $6.77 a person.
                  May 7
                  In the morning I meet Tomas Burger, my college student translator from
                  my last trip. Our visit has to be short since he is in his last semester
                  at
                  Presov University and he has to study for his last test on Monday. I have
                  him drive me out to the shopping area of Presov.
                  The large Tesco (department-grocery), Baumax (Home Depot) and Nay
                  (electronics) are next to one another. It was these stores that proved to
                  me
                  that Slovakia did have access to all the products we had in the States.
                  They
                  actually had some I wished we had here. Unfortunately, when I compared
                  prices I realized that the cost of products were equivalent to what I
                  would
                  pay for them back home. Since the average paycheck in Presov is $350 a
                  month
                  I wondered how anyone could afford to shop these stores.
                  At 1pm the wedding reception for Jon and Lydia begins at the Atrium.
                  From the Antonio I only have to walk a block and a half. There is a
                  gathering of 30 Beisetzer family members and friends. A four piece folk
                  band
                  is on hand. It is four hours of eating, drinking, talking and dancing. I
                  am
                  seated next to Lydia's cousin. She is a senior in high school and speaks
                  excellent English. Lunch begins with a chicken and fruit salad. The soup
                  is
                  the ubiquitous chicken-noodle. The entree plate has a pork cutlet, stuffed
                  chicken breast, fried potatoes, rice and cabbage salad. Dessert was four
                  different cakes made by Lydia's mother and grandmother.
                  The Beisetzer family gathering is not what could be called your
                  average
                  Slovak family. Lydia's father, Peter, is a professor of Industrial Arts at
                  Presov University. Mother, Lygia, teaches English at a high school. Her
                  aunt
                  is a pediatrian in Kosice. Other family members and friends all work at
                  some
                  professional level.
                  Nonetheless they party like every other Slovak family I've met. There
                  is
                  great joy in telling stories and jokes. Every folk song became a
                  sing-along.
                  The dancing was spirited and more often than not a group event. Lydia was
                  in
                  a professional dance troupe.
                  After the party I returned to the Antonio. Rested till 8pm. Went and
                  had
                  dinner at its restaurant. It was filling with young people who had come to
                  watch the Slovak-Czech hockey game on the projection TV. Since I was
                  moving
                  to Hromos in the morning I paid my bill, 6000SKK / $180.
                  May 8
                  The Centrum on a Sunday morning is deserted except for those making
                  their way to church. All businesses closed at noon on Saturday. That is
                  one
                  of the problems staying at the Antonio. It doesn't open its restaurant
                  until
                  9 am like all other businesses. So finding a place to have breakfast
                  before
                  then is impossible. The only coffee available are vending machines on the
                  Centrum. Whereas, the El Dorado came with breakfast that began at 6:30 am.
                  Nonetheless the Antonio's location and large room, #3, made it worth
                  staying
                  at.
                  On our way to Hromos we stop in Lipany to go to Zuzana's grandmother's
                  house. She weaves rugs and makes lace items. Erica buys a rug. I, two lace
                  pieces. Grandmother wants 1600SKK for both. I insist she takes 2000SKK.
                  For
                  the amount of work that went into them they are a bargain at $30 each.
                  Typical of Slovak hospitality she insists we have something to eat and
                  drink. I could not resist her Kolac. She said the secret to the dough was
                  mashed potatoes and dry milk.
                  When we get to Hromos we gather everyone for the drive to Salas
                  Frantisek in Stara Lubovna for lunch. This is the place to eat there. Over
                  the years we have seen it grow into a wonderful complex of buildings. They
                  are needed since tour buses now make stops here. The menu is huge,
                  offering
                  a wonderful variety of traditional Slovak dishes.
                  Because of previous commitments or health reasons our hoped for party
                  of
                  twenty some is just twelve of us. Erica has arranged the menu. When we are
                  seated each place has a shot of Slivovica, a bottle mineral water and
                  boxes
                  of fruit juice are available. Lunch begins with chicken-noodle soup. The
                  entree is pork and chicken slices with gravy, rice, French fries and the
                  "Slovak Trinity"; red and green cabbage and carrot salad. Dessert is a
                  large
                  bowl of ice cream with pineapple chunks. The bill comes out to $7.25 a
                  person.
                  Although our party is not as large as we would have liked it to be we
                  still have a wonderful time in a very nice atmosphere. This is Erica's
                  only
                  chance on the trip to be with the relatives in Hromos and she wants to
                  make
                  the most of it. Her fantasy is to live in Hromos. The Mayor of Hromos'
                  offer
                  to build her a house still stands. After lunch she and Zuzana make a stop
                  at
                  each relatives home in Hromos.
                  I drive home with Pavel and Viera Dronzek. Pavel is married to my
                  cousin
                  Veronica Mojcher. Viera is their 38 year old daughter, a nurse who lives
                  with them. Also at home is Veronica's 93 year old mother, Christina. She
                  is
                  the oldest person in Hromos. Their are two sons. Pavel lives in Plavnica
                  and
                  Jozef is the Dean of the Catholic Church in Trebisov.
                  In spite of the language barrier, with the aid of a Slovak-English
                  dictionary we are able to communicate.
                  I have brought a packet of photographs and a genealogy from Evelyn
                  March. She had contacted the Mayor of Hromos and he had given her my
                  e-mail
                  address. I bring them out to show Pavel and Veronica. Veronica gets very
                  excited over a photograph labeled Joseph Mojcher family. It is her family!
                  There is her father Joseph, mother Christina, brother Frantisek and
                  herself
                  about age 13. We spend the next couple of hours filling in information
                  that
                  is missing on the genealogy page, making corrections to pictures where
                  people were incorrectly identified and giving names to those that Evelyn
                  didn't know. I can't wait to e-mail Evelyn with what has just happened.
                  Veronica is killing me with Slovak hospitality. Having had a large
                  lunch
                  at 3:30 she insists that I eat a plate of pork cutlets and potato salad.
                  Along with cake for dessert. Then at 7:00 another meal of grilled ham and
                  cheese sandwiches. Not wanting to offend her I have three big meals in six
                  hours.
                  With all that food in me it is no wonder that I am out for the night
                  at
                  9:30. May 9
                  I'm up at 5 am. Veronica is already up. It is life on the "farm". Even
                  though they live in town they have a cow, pigs, chickens and goats on the
                  property. Besides about half an acre of land for growing a variety of
                  vegetables. Outside of town is even a larger piece of land to tend to. It
                  is
                  early spring, so they haven't begun field crops yet. The Dronzeks try to
                  be
                  as self-sufficient as possible. Which is typical of most people out in the
                  villages.
                  By the time the Mayor arrives with my translator at 10 Veronica has
                  feed
                  me three times! Breakfast was 3 kielbasa, bread, cake and coffee. Then she
                  insisted I have a piece of cake with the hot chocolate she had made from
                  milk "fresh squeezed". And at 9:30 pork cutlets and potato salad.
                  I am happy to have Iveta Cervenakova present. She is 40 year old
                  professional translator from Stara Lubovna. With her aid we set up
                  appointments to go to Plavnica City Hall and deliver a gift I had brought
                  along from a S-R member. Since our appointment at City Hall isn't until
                  3:30
                  pm Iveta suggests that she guide me around some sight in the area. After
                  three visits she discovers I've seen everything locally. I hadn't been to
                  Kezmarok to see the wooden church.
                  Pavel joins us to Kezmarok. When we get there the church doesn't open
                  until 2. Iveta suggests we tour the castle, it to is closed. She makes a
                  telephone call. She has arranged a private tour of the castle. I asked
                  how.
                  Another of her businesses is setting up events for groups and tours. She
                  has
                  lots of contacts. Pavel chooses to sit out the tour. To say the least,
                  having a private tour is the way to go. Iveta works her wonders at the
                  church. No photography is allowed inside. She gets the rule broken for me.
                  Since the Evangelical church next door is open we also visit it.
                  We pull into Plavnica City Hall at 3:27 from Kezmarok. It is good to
                  see
                  Maria, the keeper of the records again. She remembers me. One of my
                  relatives worked there with her for 10 years. Maria finds more information
                  on relatives for Evelyn. But she cannot seem to help me. That is when I
                  discover the "DO" names and family lines.
                  I deliver the gift to Helena Pruzinska. She in turn gives me homemade
                  bread, sheep's cheese and cake.
                  When we get back at the house at 5:30 a pirohy dinner is waiting.
                  Wonderful. May 10
                  Up at 5:30. Until Iveta arrives at 10 I have a cooking lesson. I
                  observe
                  Veronica as she prepares different dishes for the day. I wasn't sure what
                  a
                  batter that was made earlier in the morning was for. But when Veronica
                  heated up a pan of lard and patted out the now soft dough I had my guess -
                  siska, doughnuts. Veronica would use a 3 inch glass to make the rounds and
                  then use her thumbs to punch a whole in the center. Hot out of the oil,
                  sprinkled with powdered sugar and a dollop of jam. Even with breakfast I
                  couldn't stop until I had three of them.
                  Iveta and I spend the day doing interviews for my genealogy research.
                  It
                  is suggested we talk to 78 year old Stephan Fabian. He suggests we also
                  include 82 year old Stephan Frohlich. For three hours at Mr. Frohlich's
                  house we talk, drink and snack. The two of them tell wonderful stories.
                  Iveta apologizes to me and I ask why. She says that most of the stories
                  are
                  about her parents. Their marriage was all the talk of area. Her father was
                  a
                  well respected Roma musician and her mother Slovak. It was the first mixed
                  marriage in Stara Lubovna. Cousin Pavel told Iveta that he once played in
                  a
                  band with her father.
                  After the interview we drove to Lipany where a S-R member requested
                  that
                  I photograph two villages for her.
                  Then to Stara Lubovna so I could use Iveta's computer to send e-mails
                  home and to Evelyn about my finds. It also was a chance to buy a
                  Slovak-English, English-Slovak dictionary so my conversations with the
                  Dronzeks would be easier than just using their Slovak-English one. May 11
                  When Iveta arrives at 9 she wants to take me to Kupele Vysne Ruzbachy
                  for some relaxation. It is not that far away, just west of Stara Lubovna.
                  The spa has gone through some hard times. Now it is on the rebound with a
                  beautiful new four star hotel on the property. As we are walking through
                  the
                  grounds we pass a corral with a couple of horses in it. Iveta knows the
                  woman tending the horses. She explains the horses are used as therapy.
                  Especially for bad backs. Iveta arranges a free ride for me.
                  Unfortunately,
                  Iveta's powers don't work at the spa. They are so booked that it takes a
                  three to four day reservation to get any treatments.
                  The afternoon is more genealogy research. A gentleman from Kozelec has
                  come to the Dronzek's with two photographs. One is the match to Evelyn's.
                  He
                  says they had lost contact with the family in America. My visit has
                  reunited
                  them.
                  Next we visit cousin Anna Mojcher and her husband Jozef Bujnovsky. I
                  establish she is one of twelve children. She says that her brother Stephan
                  is working on a family genealogy. Having discovered about "DO" she is able
                  to tell me the three Mojcher "DO" names. I am a member of the Do Adama.
                  Her
                  grandfather was Adam Mojcher, my great-uncle. I wonder if he is the source
                  of the name.
                  The last stop is at cousin Frantisek Mojcher's. Genealogically he
                  doesn't have much to offer. But I have a strong emotional bond with him
                  since he was the first blood relative I ever meet in Hromos.
                  Each stop is also to say good-bye. Tomorrow I'm leaving for Trebisov.
                  Iveta and I settle our account, $60 a day. When she works transcribing
                  or for company executives she charges 400SKK an hour. She also drove me
                  around. So I feel good about our deal. May 12
                  Pavel and I leave early for the 150 km drive to Trebisov. Pavel takes
                  great pride in the fact that his son is a priest. Even more so now that
                  Jozef is the youngest priest ever to be made Dean of parish.
                  The Church of the Nativity was built in the 1400's. I refer to cousin
                  Jozef as Jozef the Builder. Every parish he has been at he achieved some
                  sort of major building or repair project. The Trebisov church can use his
                  talents. In a year and a half he has already accomplished some major
                  renovations.
                  As Dean he has five other priests he is responsible for in Trebisov.
                  He
                  is also responsible for 40 villages surrounding Trebisov. He also lectures
                  at a university and high school on philosophy and ethics in Kosice. Last
                  year he had his fifth book published.
                  On the altar of the Trebisov church is the chair that the Pope used on
                  his visit to Slovakia. I think Pavel sees it as a sign of Jozef's future.
                  After touring a rectory building site in one of the villages and
                  saying
                  Mass Jozef drives the three of us to Sarospatak, Hungary for lunch. The
                  drive gives us a chance to talk. Since Jozef taught himself English he
                  wanted me to visit him so he could hear and practice English.
                  We get back to Trebisov in time for the hockey game. Jozef is a big
                  fan
                  and tries to catch every game. Slovakia looses to Canada and USA looses to
                  the Czech Republic.
                  A friend picks the three of us up and we head out to "audition" some
                  wines for altar use. The Tokaj wine region isn't far away. Being a
                  Californian and a chef I'm look forward to this private tasting. It's a
                  new
                  winery and most of the wines are disappointing.
                  We finish the evening at the friends house. By Slovak standards he is
                  very well to do. His daughter worked in England for six years. After being
                  back home for four years she enjoys the chance to speak English again. May
                  13
                  Pavel is driving Jozef to pick up his car that has been repaired this
                  morning. After which Pavel will head back to Hromos. While they are gone
                  Jozef has arranged for a private tour of the museum at the Andrassy
                  Mansion
                  next to his church. "George", a young priest, we go along as my
                  translator.
                  The museum has exhibits on archeology, history, industry and fine
                  arts.
                  The most amazing piece is a clay jar that stands five feet high and three
                  feet wide found in Kosice that dates back to 7000BC. Another extraordinary
                  room was the folk clothing.
                  After dinner Jozef tells me we are going to another winery. When we
                  get
                  there I recognize it as being the one the museum guide said was the best
                  of
                  the Tokay region. The owner-winemaker gives us the grand tour. One room
                  had
                  the most amazing display of wine bottles. There were animal bottles,
                  bottles
                  in the shape of historical places and bottles within bottles. After the
                  tour
                  we sat down to taste three wines. During the conversation I could tell
                  that
                  Jozef kept referring to me as a chef from San Francisco, even though I
                  live
                  and work 70 miles away. But it gave him a reference point. On hearing that
                  the winemaker went and got a fourth bottle of wine. This was his award
                  winner. Not only gold in Slovakia, but in an all Europe competition. It
                  was
                  special. Jozef was also able to decide on his new altar wine. As a gift I
                  bought him a case at $5 a bottle. May 14
                  I want to buy Jozef's parents some thank you gifts and he is driving
                  me
                  into Kosice. For his mother I want a gold cross and chain. On our way we
                  pick up Miriam Brandisova, a college senior music major. Jozef thinks I
                  may
                  need a woman's advise. Jozef tells me later that he is Miriam's
                  "godfather".
                  She was orphaned ten years ago at the parish he worked at and he has since
                  been supporting her through school.
                  While in Kosice I talk to Milos Petras about coming to stay with them
                  tomorrow.
                  On the way back to Trebisov I have Jozef stop at the war memorial at
                  the
                  top of the pass on the mountain that separates Kosice from Trebisov. I
                  photograph it for Bill Tarkulich.
                  After dropping Miriam off we go to Brezina to photograph it for a S-R
                  member. On the drive Jozef tells me his car repair story, only if I
                  promise
                  not to tell his parents. He was loaned the car for two years. During the
                  first week having it he was rear ended in Kosice. The repairs came to
                  $8000.
                  Because of it being a loner he couldn't get his own insurance on it. So he
                  was now responsible to pay for it. Being only paid $300 a month he didn't
                  know how he could do it in his lifetime considering his monthly expenses.
                  George has asked to attend a special Mass at 10 tonight. When we get
                  back he and Miriam are rehearsing the songs for it. Her voice gives me
                  goose
                  bumps. I hope her sights are higher than being a parish organist and choir
                  director as she told me.
                  George's Mass for the teenagers is wonderful. Their is a procession
                  with
                  "tiki" torches. Lots of music, George plays guitar. After Mass the
                  teenagers
                  don't want to leave. He and Miriam sing some more songs. For George I take
                  80 pictures.
                  I ask Jozef if it would appropriate if a I gave George and Miriam a
                  gift
                  before I left. He said yes. Although resistant I gave them each 3000SKK.
                  Knowing that George was just out of the seminary and Miariam still a
                  student
                  they both could use an unexpected windfall. May 15
                  After Jozef's 11:00 Mass he drives to me to Kosice. We park at the
                  School for Veterinary Doctors. Milos appears from across the street. I say
                  good-bye to Jozef and we promise to keep in touch with e-mail.
                  Three months ago a cousin put me in touch with Milos Petras. We knew
                  we
                  were some sort of "knee" cousins as they say in Slovakia.
                  Zuzana, his wife, I had meet at our arrival at Kosice Airport. At
                  their
                  apartment I met 7 year old Elizabeth and 4 year old Richard.
                  Over lunch and through the evening we talked. Milos is a plastic
                  surgeon
                  that works for the government, making $660 a month. Zuzana as airport
                  administrator makes $467 a month. No wonder Slovakia has a "brain drain".
                  Since their old apartment three blocks from the Centrum was empty
                  while
                  they interview renters they put me up their. Milos drives me to the
                  apartment and then the two of us walk to the Centrum for dinner. In Slovak
                  style it is long. For two hours we have more to talk about.
                  May 16
                  Without a watch I don't know what time it is, but I know it is early
                  since there are no people on the street. I take advantage of the clothes
                  washer and do my first load of the trip, just in time. European apartment
                  size washing machines have incredible long wash cycles, 2 hours.
                  I don't get to the Centrum until 10:30 and will meet Zuzana for lunch
                  at
                  1:30. Until then I reacquaint myself with Centrum. She takes me to the
                  only
                  brew pub in Kosice for lunch.
                  Over lunch I cry in my beer about how I haven't been able to find my
                  mother a handcrafted tablecloth. Surprise! Zuzana's mother has a shop that
                  only handles such items. Primarily she sells the material with the pattern
                  on it. But she will also sell finished goods. We go to her mother's
                  apartment nearby and arrange for me to come by the shop tomorrow to pick
                  out
                  a pattern that she will arrange to be crafted. The size I need will take
                  three months to do and cost $100.
                  When Milos joins us at the apartment he is ready to take me to meet
                  his
                  parents and do some genealogy research. His mother, in her late 60's, grew
                  up in Plavnica. His father just across the border in Poland from the Red
                  Monastery. Maria Sekelsky-Petras is able to give more information about
                  people in Evelyn's pictures. She knows that Stephan Sekelsky is a Do
                  Macka.
                  On spotting the Knat family line in my paternal grandmother's tree Maria
                  concludes we may be closer relations than the preverbal "knee" ones. She
                  promises to talk to family and friends in Plavnica and get more
                  information
                  for me.
                  Milos takes me back to the Centrum. We shop the "little" Tesco, that
                  was
                  a former Wal-Mart. Then have dinner on one of the outdoor covered patios.
                  During the meal we are bothered by two drunken Roma's, which embarrasses
                  Milos.
                  Over dinner he talks shop. Unlike in the States where a plastic
                  surgeon
                  can specialize in just one body part in Slovakia he does everything.
                  Industrial accidents, birth defects, breast implants, liposuction,
                  anything
                  on the face or the whole thing. Today's work were a breast reduction and a
                  stomach stapling. He got his medical degree at a school in Prague. He said
                  it was one of the most respected in Europe. He is now getting women flying
                  in from New York for work because it is so much cheaper in Slovakia. I ask
                  what an upper and lower eye job would cost, $600.
                  A Slovak tradition is threatened according to Milos. The EU does not
                  like the conditions under which Brezina / Sheep's Cheese is produced and
                  wants it stopped. Halusky make with it is a national dish that every
                  restaurant serves. It will be interesting to see how this issue is
                  resolved.
                  May 17
                  At 1:00 pm I am going to meet Martina Skrakova. She was an exchange
                  student at the high school my sister Suzanne works at in Lodi, CA. The
                  school has had three Slovak students in the past three years. It happened
                  that on Suzanne's visit to Slovakia she knew Martina was coming that Fall.
                  We arranged to meet Martina and her parents before she left for the
                  States.
                  The meeting took many of her parents fears away. When she arrived Suzanne
                  took her to meet our mother since she spoke Slovak. Mom became Martina's
                  American Babi.
                  Before our meeting I shopped. I bought a large format book called The
                  Wonders of Slovakia. Stopped at Zuzana's mother's shop to pick out the
                  pattern for the tablecloth for my mother. While there I couldn't resist
                  buying three beautiful smaller pieces, 2500SKK / $75.
                  For Bill Tarkulich I photograph the two war memorials that are at the
                  head of the Centrum.
                  Martina arrives. She has changed in two years. She is now as tall as I
                  am (5' 11") and slender. A typical Slovak young woman. Her parents want me
                  to come to lunch. We take the bus to Krasna where her dad grew up. What
                  was
                  once a village is now a suburb of Kosice.
                  The Skraks live in a modern split level, three bedroom home that
                  Frantisek ( a roofing contractor) and Valeria (a social worker) designed
                  and
                  built themselves. They want to double the hospitality that we showed
                  Martina
                  in the States. And they literally do by serving me two meals, 2 pm and
                  4pm.
                  As with every visit I make, it is eating, drinking and talking. Far too
                  soon
                  I have to leave since I am meeting my translator from my first three trips
                  at 5 pm. Martina's uncle drives us back to Kosice. It was too short a
                  visit.

                  Maros Jambrich is waiting at the Jumbo Centrum as planned. We have two
                  hours to catch up before Milos picks me up for dinner. The two hours is
                  catch up time. Maros has a new job. His girlfriend is graduating from the
                  University. He can now afford to rent his own apartment. And possibly buy
                  a
                  used car. Maros is the epitome of the new Slovakia. He was only six years
                  old when Socialist era came to an end. We have both seen big changes since
                  I
                  first came in 2000. Another visit ends too soon.
                  Milos picks me for the kielbasa and sauerkraut dinner. We eat and
                  spend
                  the next three hours talking. The conversations jumps about as word in
                  sentence can lead us off on a new tangent. For them the theme is often
                  economic. If it weren't for raising Ellie and Ricky in Slovakia they would
                  be searching for somewhere else in the EU to move. Milos' brother Slavo is
                  in Spain and has married a Spanish woman.
                  At 4 pm tomorrow they will drive me to Presov.
                  May 18
                  A heavy rain is coming down. I stay at the apartment to clean, pack
                  and
                  read until it lets up around noon. Then I shop for parting gifts at the
                  Tesco. Toys for the kids and cigarettes for the adults. At nearly a
                  1000SKK
                  a carton cigarettes are a costly luxury in Slovakia, a months worth would
                  cost the average salary maker about 4% of his earnings. I also give them
                  an
                  oversize bottle of wine I had gotten in Trebisov.
                  This is the first "lazy" day of the trip. I appreciate just being able
                  to sit and read until Milos and Zusana come for me at 4.
                  They get me to Magda's by 4:30 and stay until 6. They have to get back
                  because someone else has come into town and they need to use the
                  apartment.
                  Before they go we promise to keep in touch and on my next trip to Slovakia
                  let them take me somewhere new.
                  As Lubo and I were discussing my plans he gets a telephone call. It's
                  fireman's business, but not what I think. On Thursday and Friday in Zilina
                  management level personnel are having "Fireman Games". They are short one
                  team member and what Lubo to fill in. He says he can't say no. But he has
                  an
                  idea, do I want to come along? I agree to it immediately. He calls his
                  boss
                  back and I get the ok to come along. So it is to bed early since we have
                  to
                  leave the fire station at 6 am for Zilina. May 19
                  Up at 5. Pack the 9 passenger van with equipment and the team. I can
                  sense the other six are wondering who this stranger is. The three and half
                  hour ride to Zilina gives us a chance to know one another. In Zilina we
                  pick
                  up the female member of the team. She has been in training there. We head
                  out to the "Fireman's University" where the games will be held. Fifteen
                  different teams from around Slovakia will compete. Presov has drawn last
                  start. After lunch the games will begin.
                  All firemen in Slovakia are in a division of the national government.
                  They call it the Fire and Rescue Corp of the Slovak Republic.
                  From what I see and Lubo has told me the Games are more about
                  camaraderie than competition. I good example is Lubo spots friends from
                  high
                  school who are now in the corp. and he hasn't seen since. Then there are
                  other firemen he hasn't seen in years present also. It's something like a
                  national fireman's class reunion.
                  Today's race is a course of tasks that the six members of a team must
                  complete together. A timed event. The tasks in order are: 1. Change the
                  position of the tires on one side of a car. 2. Run 50 meters back and
                  forth
                  carrying a roll of fire hose in each hand and jump a hurdle at 25/75
                  meters.
                  3. Fill a 10 liter bottle, tie it to a rope, haul it up two stories to a
                  team member who pours it down a hose to a 50 liter barrel. When the barrel
                  is full they move on. 4. Hose roll-up; each member throws out a 40 meter
                  hose, doubles it over and then rolls it up. 5. Cut three pieces of log
                  using
                  a bucksaw. 6. Hand grenade, hit a target 20 meters away twice. Throwing as
                  many time as it takes. 7. Pull a 6 inch fire hose in a 20 meter "S"
                  pattern.
                  8. Pump up a rescue litter and carry a member 100 meters to the finish
                  line.
                  The best time of the day was just under 26 minutes. It was 5 pm before
                  Presov got its run, they placed 9th. They would have done better, but on
                  the
                  "S" race they didn't lay
                  According to Lubo the big competition is next; dinner and dance. It
                  was
                  fireman's fare; stew, bread, cookies, potato chips and real cheap red and
                  white wine. Each team table seem to have its own supply of stronger drink.

                  The President of the Corp gave a speech and then visited each team's
                  table. He stayed a Presov's for half an hour.
                  An accordion was brought out and for an hour folk songs we sung. The
                  disc jockey started his music up and the dancing began. With a ratio of 6
                  to
                  1 the women present were kept very busy. At 9:30 the cheap disco light
                  show
                  came on and the dancing started to become more of a group activity. By
                  11:30
                  I had enough and went to bed. May 20
                  I'm up at 6, by 7 most firemen were up. We had to wake Lubo at 7:30.
                  He
                  didn't get to bed until 2:30.
                  Today there is just a single event called Fire Attack. The record time
                  is under 30 seconds. In that time a lot of things have to happen. There is
                  a
                  tank of water, a gas powered pumper and two targets 120 meters away. The
                  object is to get water to the two targets and fill a small tank behind
                  them
                  until a light turns on. All the things required to do this are happening
                  simultaneously.
                  Two team members attack a siphon nozzle on an 8 inch hose and dunk it
                  into the water tank to fill it. Another team member is attaching another 8
                  inch hose to the pumper and starting it up. The hose from the tank is
                  attached to the one on the pumper and water is sucked out of the tank.
                  Four
                  other team member have attached three lengths of hose to the pumper and
                  connected a manifold valve. To which two double lengths of hose and a
                  nozzle
                  have be attached and that on each side of the triple manifold valve.
                  All the hoses are pulled toward the target, hopefully water racing
                  down
                  also. When the single hose from the pumper is out full length the man
                  carrying the manifold turns the water on to the two hoses that are being
                  pulled down to the targets. They aim at the targets and the clock stops
                  when
                  both target lights are on.
                  Presov was the last to go. Unfortunately, that is where they finished.
                  They were not able to get suction from the tank to the pumper and in the
                  allotted time. A disqualification. Another team had the same problem. And
                  there were complaints all day from teams about the pumper. Although
                  dejected, they soon recovered.
                  As with any games there was the awards ceremony and the three place
                  stand for the winners. In proper military fashion the fifteen teams lined
                  up
                  for the ceremony. And then waited, for half an hour. I heard something
                  about
                  the President. But the President of the Corp was at lunch and watching the
                  competition. Then the President showed, not of the Corp, of Slovakia.
                  He "launched" a new fire truck with a ribbon cutting and champagne
                  shower. Most of which got on him than the truck. He gave a speech and
                  presented the awards. As the "Team Photographer" I was able to get within
                  a
                  feet of him. I would have liked to shake his hand, but the opportunity
                  didn't happen.
                  On the ride back to Presov I felt I had been accepted into their
                  midst.
                  I was no longer a stranger. Miro, Lubo's boss, present me with his bell
                  that
                  each team member was given for participating. At the Presov fire station
                  they gave one of the patches of the Corp. I gave them over 200 photographs
                  of the games. Which they immediately downloaded into their computer.
                  E-mails
                  were coming in from other companies wanting to know if I had taken any
                  pictures of them.
                  I have Lubo take me to Penzion El Dorado and book into Room 4. May 21
                  With most stores closing at noon I head for the Presov Centrum to get
                  in
                  my last shopping. I buy three Modra plates. I have a tradition of buying
                  one
                  for each of my trips and a friend has request two. Another tradition is to
                  find an owl for my wife's collection on each trip. This time it is a
                  Slovak
                  crystal one.
                  Spring has finally arrived with a clear, warm day. Lubo and Magda are
                  shopping when I call him. It begins a day of enjoying a quite Slovak
                  weekend
                  at home with my relatives. Tina, Magda's daughter, and her husband come
                  over to Magda's to begin spring cleaning of the yard. Magda is cooking.
                  Lubo
                  is enjoying teaching his three year old daughter to play football
                  (soccer).
                  Grandpa Jozef is enjoying watching all the backyard activity with me.
                  At 4 Lubo, Jozef and I drive to Maly Saris to visit Cousin Maria and
                  her
                  husband Vincent. He had just gotten back from attending to his beehives.
                  We
                  have long ago nicknamed him the Beekeeper. Vincent is more than that, on
                  their little property he grows just about everything they will need for
                  the
                  year. Including enough grapes to make four barrels of wine. He makes the
                  barrels himself.
                  I talk to Maria about some of my genealogy questions. My wife works
                  with
                  someone that has the same last name as one in my family tree but we have
                  never been able to make a connection. Maria says that somewhere she has an
                  address for the said Tomek family in California. It will be strange if
                  Molly
                  has worked next to a relative for 30 years without knowing it.
                  Jozef was raised in Maly Saris. Strangely the back area of the house
                  has
                  been turned into the local pub. He wants to stop there for a beer. There
                  is
                  a melancholy that comes over him as he see all these strangers sitting in
                  what use to be his backyard. May 22
                  The El Dorado has become the business person's stop. On the weekends
                  it
                  is deserted. I have been their only guest.
                  At 10 Lubo picks me up. It is another spring day and the family
                  decides
                  to do a repeat of Saturday at Magda's, Tina brings her sons along this
                  time.
                  Except this time at 4 Magda, Lubo, Tina and myself head to the cemetery.
                  This is the first time they have ever taken me there. Magda's husband,
                  Gustav, and oldest daughter, Monika were both killed in automobile
                  accident
                  on the way to a funeral in 1983. The family tends the gravesite and
                  arranges
                  new flowers. They then take me to half a dozen other family gravesites. It
                  is strange to see names I know on paper carved into stone.
                  Tina and family leave at sunset. I an hour later. My flight leaves at
                  5:20. Which means getting up at 3:30 and heading for the airport at 4. I
                  say
                  my goodbyes to Magda and Jozef.
                  The three days at the El Dorado, plus telephone calls comes to just
                  under 2800SKK / $84. I leave a 3:30 wake-up call. May 23
                  Lubo arrives shortly after four. He didn't fall asleep until 1:30. To
                  make the trip quicker he buys the sticker that allows him to use the
                  modern
                  highway to between Presov and Kosice. It cost him 1100SSK / $31 for a
                  year.
                  When we get to the airport Peter, Lygia, Lydia and Jon are already
                  there. It is nice to use the new terminal. Far less depressing than the
                  old
                  one and this early in the morning could use some cheer. It is the time for
                  the sweet sorrow. The last thing Lubo says to me, "On your next trip you
                  won't need a translator!" I believe him.
                  For those who are interested in the services of Iveta Cervenakova in
                  Stara Lubovna she has two websites. For translations services:
                  www.preklady.ck-one.sk and for her travel service which includes being a
                  translator and guide: www.ck-one.sk





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                • Janet Kozlay
                  Bill, the following book is listed at abebooks.com: The Slavs A Cultural Historical Survey Of The Slavonic Peoples Portal, Roger & Evans, Patrick ( translator
                  Message 8 of 10 , Jun 11, 2005
                  • 0 Attachment
                    Bill, the following book is listed at abebooks.com:

                    The Slavs A Cultural Historical Survey Of The Slavonic Peoples
                    Portal, Roger & Evans, Patrick ( translator )
                    Price: US$ 84.00
                    Book Description: Weidenfeld & Nicholson London 1969. 1st English edition
                    translated from the French. Large 8vo. xvii + (3) + 319 + (2)pp. Numerous
                    illustrations. Original orange cloth covers, black lettering on spine. Lime
                    green dw, black & grey tinted photo of labourers on hay rick on front, white
                    lettering, not price clipped 75s net. White eps. Covers slight 0.2cm fading
                    along top edge of spine. Dw 1 x 2 cm loss front top edge, slight browning.
                    Contents original remaindered price in biro fep and bottom inside flap of
                    dw, else clean & tight. **. F-/ VG.

                    I have not seen this book myself.

                    Also, if you will concede that the peasant culture differed little among the
                    various regions in Central Europe, Balassa and Ortutay's Hungarian
                    Ethnography and Folklore is a treasure trove. It is also quite expensive,
                    but it is huge (800+ pages) and has many beautiful photos and illustrations.
                    Although its focus is the Hungarian-language areas, many of the counties of
                    Upper Hungary are covered. Some of the writing has a rather quaint
                    pro-Soviet slant (it was published in 1979), but the detailed scholarship is
                    astounding.

                    The other book which I have found exceptional is Proper Peasants by Fel and
                    Hofer. It is the intensive study of a single village in Hungary, chosen
                    because it retained the “old ways“ better than most. Although quite
                    inexpensive ($10+ at abebooks), in some ways I have found it even better at
                    explaining social structure than Balassa and Ortutay. Its primary focus is
                    the late 1800s.

                    During a visit in 2002, I was struck by the fact that most of the
                    ethnographic museums in both Slovakia and Hungary concentrated on artifacts
                    from the late 1800s to around 1900. To them, this reflected the “old“
                    culture. And, indeed, it is probably true that the material culture,
                    customs, and folkways changed but little for hundreds of years in that area.

                    As for the Hungarian focus on both of these books, I have learned through
                    this mail list that there are far more similarities in the folkways and
                    customs of Slovakia and Hungary than there are differences. Nearly all
                    references to customs, celebrations, foods, etc., are the same as I have
                    found described in these books. The greatest differences appear to relate to
                    specific customs associated with a particular religion.

                    Janet
                  • amiak27
                    Thanks for the book recommendations Janet. I too am interested in history and primarily in how the people lived. I have been collecting books for over some
                    Message 9 of 10 , Jun 11, 2005
                    • 0 Attachment
                      Thanks for the book recommendations Janet. I too am interested in
                      history and primarily in how the people lived. I have been
                      collecting books for over some 30 years now, and enjoy the communist
                      era books for the different perspective and aspects of history that
                      we do not cover in the west. Of course there is little about the
                      old A-H history that is covered in the west!

                      I may have plugged these books before, or perhaps it was on S-W. On
                      my last trip through Budapest I ran across two companion books that
                      are flat-out excellent. These are in English "A Cultural History of
                      Hungary in the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries " edited by Laszlo
                      Kosa and "A Cultural History of Hungary from the Beginnings to the
                      Eighteenth Century" edited by Laszlo Kosa. They cover just about
                      all aspects of social life and class, and they name where the gaps
                      in knowledge are rather than pretend to know. It gives a good look
                      at the different strata, the changes in costume and in custom with
                      time. The approach in the books does not seem to carry the old
                      politics or cold war rivalry or ethnic hatred stemming from
                      Trianon. It is nice to see us get past some of that.

                      Ron
                      PS I leave Tuesday for Budapest, Slovakia, Czechia (and a family
                      wedding) and Germany. There will probably be no travelogue
                      published, but I will be taking notes and using my new digital
                      camera).
                      --- In SLOVAK-ROOTS@yahoogroups.com, "Janet Kozlay" <kozlay@c...>
                      wrote:
                      > Bill, the following book is listed at abebooks.com:
                      >
                      > The Slavs A Cultural Historical Survey Of The Slavonic Peoples
                      > Portal, Roger & Evans, Patrick ( translator )
                      > Price: US$ 84.00
                      > Book Description: Weidenfeld & Nicholson London 1969. 1st English
                      edition
                      > translated from the French. Large 8vo. xvii + (3) + 319 + (2)pp.
                      Numerous
                      > illustrations. Original orange cloth covers, black lettering on
                      spine. Lime
                      > green dw, black & grey tinted photo of labourers on hay rick on
                      front, white
                      > lettering, not price clipped 75s net. White eps. Covers slight
                      0.2cm fading
                      > along top edge of spine. Dw 1 x 2 cm loss front top edge, slight
                      browning.
                      > Contents original remaindered price in biro fep and bottom inside
                      flap of
                      > dw, else clean & tight. **. F-/ VG.
                      >
                      > I have not seen this book myself.
                      >
                      > Also, if you will concede that the peasant culture differed little
                      among the
                      > various regions in Central Europe, Balassa and Ortutay's Hungarian
                      > Ethnography and Folklore is a treasure trove. It is also quite
                      expensive,
                      > but it is huge (800+ pages) and has many beautiful photos and
                      illustrations.
                      > Although its focus is the Hungarian-language areas, many of the
                      counties of
                      > Upper Hungary are covered. Some of the writing has a rather quaint
                      > pro-Soviet slant (it was published in 1979), but the detailed
                      scholarship is
                      > astounding.
                      >
                      > The other book which I have found exceptional is Proper Peasants
                      by Fel and
                      > Hofer. It is the intensive study of a single village in Hungary,
                      chosen
                      > because it retained the "old ways" better than most. Although quite
                      > inexpensive ($10+ at abebooks), in some ways I have found it even
                      better at
                      > explaining social structure than Balassa and Ortutay. Its primary
                      focus is
                      > the late 1800s.
                      >
                      > During a visit in 2002, I was struck by the fact that most of the
                      > ethnographic museums in both Slovakia and Hungary concentrated on
                      artifacts
                      > from the late 1800s to around 1900. To them, this reflected
                      the "old"
                      > culture. And, indeed, it is probably true that the material
                      culture,
                      > customs, and folkways changed but little for hundreds of years in
                      that area.
                      >
                      > As for the Hungarian focus on both of these books, I have learned
                      through
                      > this mail list that there are far more similarities in the
                      folkways and
                      > customs of Slovakia and Hungary than there are differences. Nearly
                      all
                      > references to customs, celebrations, foods, etc., are the same as
                      I have
                      > found described in these books. The greatest differences appear to
                      relate to
                      > specific customs associated with a particular religion.
                      >
                      > Janet
                    • Janet Kozlay
                      And I thank you in turn. I have located Kosa s “History of Hungarian Culture Vol. 1“ and Life and Tradition in Rural Hungary,“ both of which I have just
                      Message 10 of 10 , Jun 11, 2005
                      • 0 Attachment
                        And I thank you in turn. I have located Kosa's “History of Hungarian Culture
                        Vol. 1“ and "Life and Tradition in Rural Hungary,“ both of which I have just
                        ordered in response to your recommendation for this author. I wonder if the
                        first one is the same as your “Cultural History." The books I recommended
                        have been enormously helpful in understanding our manuscripts (diaries and
                        memoirs) written by my husband's great-grandfather in the early and mid-19th
                        century. I am working on a book based on these writings which encompass
                        nearly 1000 pages and which we have had translated to English from
                        Hungarian. It is my intent to place the entire text on the Internet with
                        annotations. This is a very long-term project, so it will not appear for a
                        while, but I will certainly notify the list when it is placed. The
                        perspective is not from the eyes of a peasant, but of a well-educated and
                        wealthy young man who participated in the 1848-49 war and who subsequently
                        immigrated to America. The bulk of the diaries and memoirs deals with his
                        life in Hungary, including a trip as a teenager to visit the land of his
                        Slovak ancestors, his experiences as he fled Hungary to America, through to
                        his first few years here, offering insight into a time and lifestyle that
                        has been virtually ignored. It is my hope that this will add to the meager
                        literature available to English readers about this fascinating land.

                        Janet


                        -----Original Message-----
                        From: SLOVAK-ROOTS@yahoogroups.com [mailto:SLOVAK-ROOTS@yahoogroups.com] On
                        Behalf Of amiak27
                        Sent: Saturday, June 11, 2005 6:38 PM
                        To: SLOVAK-ROOTS@yahoogroups.com
                        Subject: [S-R] Re: Travelogue for May 2005

                        Thanks for the book recommendations Janet. I too am interested in
                        history and primarily in how the people lived. I have been
                        collecting books for over some 30 years now, and enjoy the communist
                        era books for the different perspective and aspects of history that
                        we do not cover in the west. Of course there is little about the
                        old A-H history that is covered in the west!

                        I may have plugged these books before, or perhaps it was on S-W. On
                        my last trip through Budapest I ran across two companion books that
                        are flat-out excellent. These are in English "A Cultural History of
                        Hungary in the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries " edited by Laszlo
                        Kosa and "A Cultural History of Hungary from the Beginnings to the
                        Eighteenth Century" edited by Laszlo Kosa. They cover just about
                        all aspects of social life and class, and they name where the gaps
                        in knowledge are rather than pretend to know. It gives a good look
                        at the different strata, the changes in costume and in custom with
                        time. The approach in the books does not seem to carry the old
                        politics or cold war rivalry or ethnic hatred stemming from
                        Trianon. It is nice to see us get past some of that.

                        Ron
                        PS I leave Tuesday for Budapest, Slovakia, Czechia (and a family
                        wedding) and Germany. There will probably be no travelogue
                        published, but I will be taking notes and using my new digital
                        camera).
                        --- In SLOVAK-ROOTS@yahoogroups.com, "Janet Kozlay" <kozlay@c...>
                        wrote:
                        > Bill, the following book is listed at abebooks.com:
                        >
                        > The Slavs A Cultural Historical Survey Of The Slavonic Peoples
                        > Portal, Roger & Evans, Patrick ( translator )
                        > Price: US$ 84.00
                        > Book Description: Weidenfeld & Nicholson London 1969. 1st English
                        edition
                        > translated from the French. Large 8vo. xvii + (3) + 319 + (2)pp.
                        Numerous
                        > illustrations. Original orange cloth covers, black lettering on
                        spine. Lime
                        > green dw, black & grey tinted photo of labourers on hay rick on
                        front, white
                        > lettering, not price clipped 75s net. White eps. Covers slight
                        0.2cm fading
                        > along top edge of spine. Dw 1 x 2 cm loss front top edge, slight
                        browning.
                        > Contents original remaindered price in biro fep and bottom inside
                        flap of
                        > dw, else clean & tight. **. F-/ VG.
                        >
                        > I have not seen this book myself.
                        >
                        > Also, if you will concede that the peasant culture differed little
                        among the
                        > various regions in Central Europe, Balassa and Ortutay's Hungarian
                        > Ethnography and Folklore is a treasure trove. It is also quite
                        expensive,
                        > but it is huge (800+ pages) and has many beautiful photos and
                        illustrations.
                        > Although its focus is the Hungarian-language areas, many of the
                        counties of
                        > Upper Hungary are covered. Some of the writing has a rather quaint
                        > pro-Soviet slant (it was published in 1979), but the detailed
                        scholarship is
                        > astounding.
                        >
                        > The other book which I have found exceptional is Proper Peasants
                        by Fel and
                        > Hofer. It is the intensive study of a single village in Hungary,
                        chosen
                        > because it retained the "old ways" better than most. Although quite
                        > inexpensive ($10+ at abebooks), in some ways I have found it even
                        better at
                        > explaining social structure than Balassa and Ortutay. Its primary
                        focus is
                        > the late 1800s.
                        >
                        > During a visit in 2002, I was struck by the fact that most of the
                        > ethnographic museums in both Slovakia and Hungary concentrated on
                        artifacts
                        > from the late 1800s to around 1900. To them, this reflected
                        the "old"
                        > culture. And, indeed, it is probably true that the material
                        culture,
                        > customs, and folkways changed but little for hundreds of years in
                        that area.
                        >
                        > As for the Hungarian focus on both of these books, I have learned
                        through
                        > this mail list that there are far more similarities in the
                        folkways and
                        > customs of Slovakia and Hungary than there are differences. Nearly
                        all
                        > references to customs, celebrations, foods, etc., are the same as
                        I have
                        > found described in these books. The greatest differences appear to
                        relate to
                        > specific customs associated with a particular religion.
                        >
                        > Janet






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