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Re: [S-R] Travelogue for May 2005

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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 1 of 10 , Jun 3, 2005
      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 2 of 10 , Jun 9, 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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      • 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 3 of 10 , Jun 9, 2005
          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 4 of 10 , Jun 10, 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
            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 5 of 10 , Jun 11, 2005
              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 6 of 10 , Jun 11, 2005
                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 7 of 10 , Jun 11, 2005
                  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 8 of 10 , Jun 11, 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
                  • 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 9 of 10 , Jun 11, 2005
                      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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