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Re: [Slovak-World] Vilo--- Dobry Den!

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  • William C. Wormuth
    Working on it George, Two things you should know. 1, Ubl a is also Ung.  and 2, Juraj in Hungarian is Gyorgy, (Gy in Slovak language would be out D a d sound
    Message 1 of 18 , Dec 29, 2010
      Working on it George,

      Two things you should know. 1, Ubl'a is also Ung.  and 2, Juraj in Hungarian is Gyorgy, (Gy in Slovak language would be out D' a d sound pronounced as "D" but with your tongue on the roof of your mouth).  Eastern Slovaks use dz instead of d'.

      There are many immigrants fro that village which had 900+ residents at that time. 

      I will write again soon.....it is 2:17AM and I give up for now.

      Z Bohom,


      --- On Thu, 12/30/10, George Sirko <gsirko@...> wrote:

      From: George Sirko <gsirko@...>
      Subject: Re: [Slovak-World] Vilo--- Dobry Den!
      To: Slovak-World@yahoogroups.com
      Date: Thursday, December 30, 2010, 12:22 AM



      My Father was born Janos Szirka in Ubla in 1894 and emigrated to USA in 1912. Do you think or know if possible that Jurko Szirko might have been spelled Jurko Szirka. Just a thought. Thanks.

      George Sirko

      --- On Wed, 12/29/10, LongJohn Wayne <daxthewarrior@...> wrote:

      From: LongJohn Wayne <daxthewarrior@...>

      Subject: Re: [Slovak-World] Dobry Den! (A visit to Slovakia)

      To: Slovak-World@yahoogroups.com

      Date: Wednesday, December 29, 2010, 7:41 AM


      All part of the magic of this site.

      --- On Tue, 12/28/10, William C. Wormuth <senzus@...> wrote:

      From: William C. Wormuth <senzus@...>

      Subject: Re: [Slovak-World] Dobry Den! (A visit to Slovakia)

      To: Slovak-World@yahoogroups.com

      Date: Tuesday, December 28, 2010, 7:27 PM


      Why not...... I am doing it (Ubl'a, na Vychod) for Jurko Szirko. Most of my help

      now days in for Eastern Slovaks and I am learning a lot from it.

      By the way, greetings to you my long lost friend, Helene. You probably don't

      want to contact me, since you turned Hindu..........

      :o) :o) :o)



      From: helene cincebeaux <helenezx@...>

      To: Slovak-World@yahoogroups.com

      Sent: Tue, December 28, 2010 6:50:16 PM

      Subject: Re: [Slovak-World] Dobry Den! (A visit to Slovakia)

      Marycay - why don't you try - we'll all help you -

      what were the surnames of your immigrant ancestors and do you know where they

      came from in Slovakia?



      From: Marycay Doolittle <marycayd@...>

      To: Slovak-World@yahoogroups.com

      Sent: Tue, December 28, 2010 3:17:48 PM

      Subject: Re: [Slovak-World] Dobry Den! (A visit to Slovakia)

      Wonderful story. Made me cry and makes me wonder who I'd find if I had the


      Thank you,


      ----- Original Message -----

      From: stephanie nelson

      To: Slovak-World@yahoogroups.com

      Sent: Monday, December 27, 2010 11:29 PM

      Subject: Re: [Slovak-World] Dobry Den! (A visit to Slovakia)

      thank you Sue,

      I have only posted once or twice, but read all the threads coming through every

      day. As i sit here now, with wet cheeks,and my eyes blurred from the tears i am

      deeply touched by some one's story of finding family. It was like someone pulled

      my hearts dream out and read it back to me. I have no family to tell me stories,

      and 1 Living Uncle here who won't tell me anything. My worst fear was that i

      really would find my relatives in Slovakia and they wouldn't care either. This

      gives me hope that i am not the only one in my family who's meaning of family is

      more than a Christmas card. Thank you,thank you,thank you.

      Stephanie Nelson


      From: sue_groh <s.groh@...>

      To: Slovak-World@yahoogroups.com

      Sent: Mon, December 27, 2010 7:08:10 PM

      Subject: [Slovak-World] Dobry Den! (A visit to Slovakia)

      This is an article that was published in the Erie Times-News on Christmas Day

      (www.goerie.com); The headline was

      "Dobry den!"

      Published: December 25. 2010 12:01AM

      Guest voice: How I found my Slavic roots


      Contributing writer

      It is said that out of the 400,000 Slovak immigrants that came to America, more

      than 200,000 of them settled in western Pennsylvania alone. They, along with

      their Polish, Croatian and Hungarian brothers, became the human capital upon

      which Andrew Carnegie's steel kingdom turned.

      My great-grandfather, Jurej (also sometimes spelled as Jiri, Yurej or George)

      Hostoviczak, was part of the throng. On Jan. 21, 1921, he stepped off the Vedic

      and onto American soil by way of Ellis Island. He was 29 years old. He left his

      young wife, Anna Kovacova, and his newborn daughter, Maria (my grandmother),

      back in their home village of Kolibabovce.

      He found work, initially, at a coke plant in Avellal, Pa; later, he moved to

      West Aliquippa, where he worked his way up into the J & L Steel plant. After

      about a year and a half of earning steady pay, Jurej sent for his wife and

      daughter, who together set up a household along the banks of the Ohio River;

      ignoring their passport visas from the Czechoslovakian government, which

      informed them that they were to return after one year.

      At Christmas last year, I was on a train to Prague when a man sat down beside

      me. He was very dirty and had the sweet-dingy smell of a drunk. His glasses

      magnified his eyes to the point that I couldn't make out their color. I tried to

      make my presence small, as I did not want to give him any reason to spark up a

      conversation with me.

      But, it was in vain. He looked over at me and offered me a beer. I had never

      seen the golden can before in the Czech Republic, so I asked him where the beer

      was from. "Slovakia," he said. "I was there this past weekend. I work as a

      forester there."

      "Where in Slovakia were you exactly?" I asked. "In Michalovce. It's as far east

      as you can go. I have a girlfriend who lives in a little village near there."

      "Oh yeah," I replied. "What's the name of the village?"

      He answered: "Kolibabovce."

      Before my grandmother died in 2003, she showed me and my brothers copies of her

      parents' passports and immigration papers. I remember looking over the documents

      to find their place of birth and residence before Aliquippa. I found the name

      fairly hard to read, but Grandma was certain of its pronunciation.

      "Collee-ba-buff-za," she said. "It's the place where I was born."

      "Yeah, right," I thought. "Old people are always so sure of their heritage."

      After the train ride, my mind was jarred back toward that memory. The man had

      mentioned a village in the eastern part of Slovakia that sounded much like the

      one my grandma had assuredly pronounced seven years ago. When I returned home,

      Jamie, my wife, and I pulled out the documents out and scanned them. Sure

      enough, it was a match. We resolved to visit.

      The place that time forgot

      The village of Kolibabovce is well-hidden behind a tree-covered hill -- one of

      many in this region, where the Western Carpathian mountains lead into gently

      rolling plains that stretch all the way to Hungary. In fact, it's so well-hidden

      that the village didn't even have a road connection until 1968. It was,

      effectively, a forgotten place set dead-center in a genetically mixed border

      land of Ukrainians, Ruso-Carpathians, Hungarians and Slovakians.

      My wife and I started our journey at the crest of the hill, which was crowned by

      a beautiful, baby-blue, Greek Catholic church. We walked around the cemetery in

      an attempt to find some family names that had become familiar to us through our

      preliminary research. There were plenty: Hostovicaks, Kovacs, Ihnats and

      Pastulaks. We were definitely in the right place.

      There are a total of about 60 houses in the village, and all of them are

      situated along a narrow road that winds its way through a shallow hollow

      alongside a rocky creek. The houses in this area are distinct in that they are

      narrow and long; people live in the front-half of the home, while livestock and

      pets reside in the rear. It was a practical style of architecture I had never

      seen before.

      Many of the villagers came out to take a gander at the two strangers who had

      suddenly began aimlessly walking down the road. Speaking English and wearing

      large travelling packs, I'm sure we stuck out; this area of Europe is not

      exactly accustomed to seeing hordes of college-aged tourists.

      Thankfully their glances and looks were not negative, nor were they aggressive.

      They were more curious than anything; it was almost as if the people were

      inviting us for a conversation. It set us both in a good mood.

      Tracking down a cousin

      House number 33 was our intended goal, as we both knew that my grandmother's

      cousin, Ladislav Kovac, was last known to reside there; however, we were unsure

      of this bit of information, as we had not received a reply from the letter we

      had sent him about a month and half before.

      Upon arriving at the house, we were both shocked to find it in great condition:

      It had just been remodeled and was surrounded by gardens of flowers and budding

      grapevines that arched into a canopy over the main entrance of the house.

      This is not exactly the type of home that belongs to a man of about 70 years of

      age (the age we estimated him to be).

      We were both nervous, very nervous.

      I wanted to turn back and be content with just seeing the village and the house

      where my grandmother was born.

      We waited and debated about what to do. Were we being too aggressive? Were we

      forcing a family connection? Would Ladislav have any interest in a long-lost

      bond to some "Americans" who were supposed to be family?

      We didn't have the answers.

      'It's OK. We're family'

      Our fortunes turned when I saw an older man making his way up the road, coming

      towards us. In an instant, I stopped him and asked him where Ladislav Kovac

      lived. "Ladislav Kovac!?" he said speaking through a toothless mouth, making his

      already soft Slovak accent even more unintelligible to me. "His house is here,"

      he said firmly, pointing to the newly-refurbished, orange façade with the

      number 33. "Where are you from?" he asked. "We're from America. We're family."

      At this moment, he turned toward the house and bellowed, "HEY! LADO! YOU HAVE

      AMERICANS OUT FRONT." Then he left. We stood dumfounded.

      After about five minutes a woman of short stature and closely-cropped brown hair

      came outside and greeted us with a Slovakian "Dobry den," which means "good

      day." Nervously, I began speaking in rapid, heavily-accented Czech (Czech and

      Slovak are mutually intelligible languages), trying to apologize for the

      inconvenience of just "showing up," all the while explaining our family relation

      in the same breath. She just smiled at me and said, "It's OK. We're family.

      We've been expecting you."

      And at that moment, my wife and I took our first steps into the household my

      grandmother was born in and into the house from which my great-grandfather left

      nearly 90 years ago. I knew at this moment that the lines between my family's

      history in America and my family's history in Slovakia had finally crossed.

      Ladislav came down the steps with a bottle of Czech liquor and four shot

      glasses. All of us began speaking to one another, sometimes over one another.

      The conversation got louder and more animated.

      We all started pulling out pictures, letters, passports and immigrations papers.

      A mess began to build on the table. Goulash was served, and tea was given, but

      none of us took a breath to eat.

      Kamilla, Ladislav's wife, announced that she had pictures to show. All the

      while, Ladislav and I gulped down our third shot. This was beginning to feel

      like a true reunion.

      Photos spark recognition

      Kamilla came back, placed the bundle of photographs on the table and immediately

      began asking me if I recognized any of the people in the pictures -- they were

      all relatives living in America or Canada. I did.

      Then, almost unbelievably, she pulled from the pile 12 pictures of young

      children and newborn babies. "Who are these people?" she asked. "That is me." I


      Tears welled up in Ladislav's eyes. "Really!?" Kamilla exclaimed, not believing

      me. "Yes. That is my dad, my mom, my grandmother and my brothers. You had

      pictures of me and didn't even know it," I said with a laugh. We drank down our

      fourth shot.

      After this, Jamie and I were invited to take a look at Ladislav's father's

      grave. We began to hear the story of my family from the Slovak side -- the

      stories I never heard in America.

      We were introduced to Ladislav and Kamilla's daughter and their grandson, Lukas.

      We were immediately offered a place to sleep for the night, and we took them up

      on the offer. They really did welcome us in like family.

      As the night wore on, and our initial excitement died down a bit, Ladislav and

      Kamilla began recounting for us the sadder side of our family's story.

      Ladislav's entire family (mine included in this) immigrated to America before

      World War II. Only his father, Pavol, and an uncle were left. In 1947, his

      father died while serving in the Soviet Army, leaving behind Ladislav at the age

      of 1. He had no other family in Slovakia to take care of him. His mother left

      and found a new family; Ladislav was raised by two old women who looked after

      him and the family house.

      Kamilla explained to us that Ladislav felt abandoned not only by his mother, but

      by the extended family -- cousins, aunts, uncles -- who had left him and his

      father for a new life in America.

      She said he cried for many years out of sheer loneliness and animosity in the

      fact that he had been "forgotten."

      Tears keep coming

      Some time during the evening, Ladislav brought out the only known physical

      memory of his father: a small black-and-white, pocket-sized photo of his dad in

      military garb. He came down the steps very gingerly as he held the photo in the

      palm of his hand, as if it was a delicate butterfly. His emotions were


      Kamilla looked at him and said, "You've cried for over 30 years that you had no

      family around you, and now that they are here, you're still crying! What am I

      going to do to make you happy!?" We all smiled.

      Our time with Ladislav and Kamilla ended quite abruptly, as the next morning we

      had to take a bus back into the city. And as I waved to Ladislav out the side

      window, I saw him wiping his eyes, even though a wide smile creased his

      roughly-aged face.

      When I embarked on this journey to reconnect with the past and search out my

      family roots, I thought that it would only be me who would come away affected. I

      was hesitant to make the situation more important than it was. I guess I guarded

      myself against the fact that maybe for my relatives in Slovakia, a relationship

      is not really needed. I was resolved to believe that it was only we

      root-starved, history-searching Americans that needed to find out about our own


      Yet, I came away with the realization that sometimes it is the ones who stayed

      that also need a connection and that they, too, have family to find and frayed

      edges to mend.

      JEREMY AULT works with Americorps- VISTA at the Quality of Life Learning Center.

      Many children served by the center are immigrants or refugees.

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