Greenwich Meridian: Where East meets West with excerpt
By Emma Palova
Lowell, MI- Big day today. I unlocked the NaNoWriMo 14- day writing badge logging in 2,992 words with a re-worked chapter from the “Greenwich Meridian: Where East meets West memoir.”
The memoir about our family immigration saga took us back from the U.S. to hardline communist Czechoslovakia torn by the disappointment from Prague Spring and mom’s separation from dad.
Excerpt: “Our commerce with Tuzex bons”
Mom could exchange dollars for the fake Czech currency called Tuzex “bons.” The Tuzex bons were just papers issued by the International Bank of Commerce in Prague, not backed by any federal reserve or treasury unlike the real currency- Czech crown. Bons were only valid at the state -run Tuzex stores, which did not accept crowns.
The magical “bons” went far. They were used in luxury Tuzex stores sprinkled sporadically around the country like sprinkles on Christmas cookies.
Both mom and I sold bons to our friends for Czech crowns. A Tuzex bon sold for 5 crowns. It wasn’t exactly legal, but it wasn’t illegal either.
I loved going to the Tuzex store located on the sixth floor of the Zlin department store Prior near the Moscow Hotel and the Cinema.
For nostalgia purposes, I even kept some of the clothes bought in Tuzex and later took them with me to USA. I still have the silver-colored sweater with a huge leaf applique and a jean jacket by the United Colors of Beneton bought in Prague.
Some people like my friend Hannah were friends with me only because I had the bons. Anyone who worked outside the Eastern communist block and got paid in foreign currency could only exchange it for these colorful papers, sort of like vouchers.
Just like money, bons carried power with them.
“You got some bons to sell today?” asked Hannah.
Off course, I always had some bons to sell. I am a dealer by nature. I inherited that from my entrepreneurial grandpa Joseph. So, I traded and sold bons in school and outside of the Zlin Gymnasium.
To be continued….
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