All posts by emmapalova

Emma Palova, born in Czech Republic, is an author, a writer, a screenwriter, a journalist, a photographer, a designer and the founder of Emma Blogs, LLC, based in Lowell, Michigan. Currently, she is working on her memoir "Greenwich Meridian" which she intends to turn into a screenplay. Palova started her blog EW Emma's Writings at http://emmaplova.com in support of the publication of her memoir in January, 2013. The blog has grown into a passion and a company that designs blogs for other people under the umbrella of Emma Blogs. Palova is a prolific online publisher open to new ideas and to new horizons. A natural innovator, Palova loves to create progressive brands into the future. Check out her inspirational post "Desert epiphany" and the authors page on About_me and on Facebook. I am looking forward to seeing you around the greater Grand Rapids area and on my blog. I am seeking an agent or a publisher for the memoir that I intend to publish for my mom Ella's 80 birthday on Aug. 23. I celebrated my fourth anniversary on the WordPress publishing platform on Jan. 15th, 2017 with more than 1,000 followers and 500 plus posts. Love always, Emma

NaNoWriMo Day 21 & 22

Greenwich Meridian: Where East meets West memoir with Havel quote

By Emma Palova

Lowell, MI – Between the two dreary November days, I logged in 4,000 words into the National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo 2019) dashboard. The Greenwich Meridian memoir about our family immigration saga from former Czechoslovakia is my writing project. The 50K word writing challenge has entered its final week, as we also approach Thanksgiving and I have to do some grocery shopping.

The turkey is already in the freezer and the tasks have been assigned among the family members; mom Ella is making the stuffing and a vegetable casserole, if she feels good she will make the traditional Czech pastry “kolache.” Yay! We’re doing the turkey, cranberry relish and baked beans, daughter-in-law Maranda is making the twice baked potatoes. Yay again!

Czech kolache

For many participants, NaNoWriMo is a great motivator and if you get your winner certificate and finish writing your content, it’s also a great marketing tool for your new book. I penned the core of my second book Shifting Sands: Secrets during last year’s NaNoWriMo.

I would not have been able to do it, without the daily accountability of the word count. Plus, by participating in the month-long NaNoWriMo, you form a daily writing habit, if you don’t have it already. That’s how you unlock your daily writing badges.

I have been writing for the last 22 days in a row after I exercise and do my meditations in the morning. If I have to do something else before I reach the daily writing quota, I continue to write in the afternoon. Overall, my less productive time is in the afternoon, so I leave it for marketing and communications.

I agree with all the great writing gurus:

“Protect your writing time, no matter what.”

If that means writing early in the morning or late at night, so be it. There is no time for goofing around on social media instead of writing. As I have learned at the 2018 Calvin College writing conference, some authors don’t even watch TV after they finish writing in the evening or in the morning.

This week I have been working on chapters “Velvet Revolution” and “Back in the U.S.” Looking back at the historical events like Prague Spring in 1968 and Velvet Revolution in 1989, has been an eye-opening experience. My love for history, politics and arts has only grown stronger while doing research for the memoir.

The Greenwich Meridian memoir will be available for pre-order in January of 2020. Follow me on Amazon on:

https://www.amazon.com/author/emmapalova

Vaclav Havel quote

The Red Truth newspaper, the official newspaper of the Communist Party, interviewed Vaclav Havel on Dec. 2, 1989. This was his first opportunity to introduce himself as a playwright and writer, rather than a dissident and a political prisoner. Previously, the newspaper only published bad news about Havel’s actions against the regime.

“You must not like this newspaper?”

“Now is not the time for recriminalization of the past,” he said. “We have to think about the future. The party will enter the democratic system just like any other political party.”

Copyright (c) 2019. Emma Blogs, LLC. All rights reserved.

NaNoWriMo 2019 Day 20

Greenwich Meridian: Where East meets West with excerpt

By Emma Palova

Lowell, MI- As I continued to delve into the memoir this morning, I realized that the immigration experience from former Czechoslovakia to the U.S. wasn’t just an escape from the communism trap, but also a quest for self-realization on both my dad’s part and my own.

But, for our partners, it was a sacrifice.

My dad professor Vaclav Konecny, who feared the religious prohibition set by the Marxist Leninist ideology, wanted to freely practice math in the U.S. without being afraid to go to church on Sundays.

“You can achieve any goal you set your mind to,” he said.

Dad has proven that dreams come true if you work on them, much like late president Vaclav Havel never gave up on freeing Czechoslovakia from the communist grip.

I followed my dream to publish a book after many detours en route to publishing; I have a pile of rejection letters from agents and a lot of pay stubs from jobs, I did not want to do. To this day, my dad is my constant inspiration, since he has never given up on anything. He is forever patient, kind and forgiving.

My other role model is Havel, who spent years in prison for fighting for democracy in Czechoslovakia.

Here is an excerpt from the chapter “Velvet Revolution.”

On Wednesday, Nov. 29, 1989 the Czech Parliament finally dissolved the article about the leading role of the Communist Party and the Marxism-Leninism monopoly on education. 

It was a major victory since this article firmly anchored the dictatorship of the Communist Party and its ideology in the society.  According to the Marxist ideology, the official religion was atheism.

Under the old socialist regime, I had to take final exams from Marxism-Leninism in order to graduate from the Technical University in Brno in 1986. We had mandatory classes in Marxism-Leninism all four years of our engineering studies.  

I remember those wicked Monday classes after getting off of a bus from a two-hour ride Zlin to Brno. One early morning, the professor came in with a black eye. He looked at us and explained pointing to his shiner: 

“I was at Stork’s last night, we had a few beers and I talked about Lenin,” he said. “A guy at the next table got up and hit me.” 

Stork’s is a historic pub located at the Grain Market near the Birthing Center. It was a great pub to study and do our homework, but not to talk about Lenin or Marx. Dads came there to give a toast to their newborn babies.

To be continued…Havel’s interview with the “Red Truth.”

Copyright (c0 2019. Emma Blogs, LLC. All rights reserved.

NANOWRIMO DAY 19

Greenwich Meridian: Where East meets West

By Emma Palova

Lowell, MI – I continued to work on the Greenwich Meridian memoir this morning for the NaNoWriMo 50K word challenge. I logged in 2,948 words for a grand total of 43,485 words.

Mom Ella left for the U.S. for the second time on the Feast of St. Joseph, March 19, 1980 after a long battle for emigration visa from Czechoslovakia.

It was a sad farewell at the Ruzyne Airport in Prague on a rainy day.

Excerpts from chapter “Without mom”

I actually honed my writing skills on letters to the USA long before the Internet, mobile devices, keywords and hashtags.

Magistra Ella Konecny at the main pharmacy in Zlin in late 1970s.

Calling from Europe was expensive, so mom and I wrote to each other letters mailed in thin transluscent Air Mail envelopes with red and blue border. It was a celebration when I received a letter in the mail. It was mostly good news coming from the west side of the Atlantic; mom getting a job or new furniture for the house.

I can’t say the other way around. Eastern Europe was still under the grip of hardldine socialism in 1980, and it would stay that way for another long nine years. Letters were censored and the phones were bugged. Lines for food grew longer.

Living under the oppressive regime meant constant search for life’s necessities. 

Once mom left for America so were gone her connections from the pharmacy on Main Square in Zlin. Mom had a long arm and she used it to get what we needed from meat to toilet paper. 

I had to start living like millions of other people. That meant standing in lines on Tuesdays for bananas and on Thursdays for beef. On weekends at 2 pm a truck came with Prerov beer. Grandpa Joseph wouldn’t drink any other beer.

On the other hand, life was more social in every aspect, because we had to use public transportation. There weren’t enough cars made, and there was a waiting list for them. The only brands available were a standard Skoda, and the lesser Trabant dubbed as Hitler’s vendetta because it was made in East Germany. That was before the wall went down. 

However, most people didn’t have money to buy either the Skoda or the Trabant. We used public transportation choosing between buses, trains and trams. They were all equally uncomfortable and dirty. 

Everyone carried a bag full of groceries every day, because the refrigerators were not big enough for longer storage. And then of course there was the issue of different days of deliveries of different groceries, not to speak of fresh produce and meat. 

In the heat of the summer, people smelled of cheap fragrances. The better perfumes were imported from the West, and available only at Tuzex stores with fake money called bons. 

Submit your questions about what was it like living in socialist Czechoslovakia.

Copyright (c) 2019. Emma Blogs, LLC. All right reserved.

NANOWRIMO DAY 18

Greenwich Meridian: Where East meets West

By Emma Palova

Lowell, MI – I worked on a draft chapter “Consolidation” about life in Czechoslovakia before mom’s second departure for the U.S. earlier this morning up to 1980. I logged in a grand total of 40, 537 words in the NaNoWriMo 50k word challenge.

I described Czech Christmas traditions and the major differences between Czech and American cultures. My author’s gig at the Lowell Area Historical Museum helped me add another dimension to our immigration saga from socialist Czechoslovakia.

Mary Lacy of M&M Prescious Gems at the Lowell Area Historical Museum

I talked about the memoir with fellow vendors Mike and Mary Lacy of M&M Prescious Gems from Grand Rapids during Christmas through Lowell. We shared a 28-hour workload over three days under the watchful eyes of the Lowell Board of Trade 1908 and the portrait of one of Mr. Graham’s wives. Mr. Graham built the Italianate structure of the museum in 1873.

“Were you scared in Czechoslovakia?” Mary asked me on Sunday.

I had to think really hard if I was ever scared living in a socialist country under the Soviet rule in the hardline 1970s and 1980s.

“I was careful, but not scared,” I said. “Unless you were a political activist like late Vaclav Havel, you were just an ordinary person, and they didn’t care about you.”

By that, I meant the communist party and the whole political system didn’t really care about a regular citizen. However, we were under surveillance after our return to Czechoslovakia in 1973, since we were tried for illegally leaving the country.

True, you had to be careful about what you said in public, because there were spies. Plus, there was a religious prohibition. We were afraid to go to church, especially my dad and aunt, who were teachers.

Excerpt: Differences between the two cultures

People often ask me what are some of the differences between the two cultures: Czech and American. Many differences have disappeared after the communist regime fell with the Velvet Revolution in 1989.  However, judging from visits and people’s posts on social media, phone calls with friends and family, the attitude toward life in general hasn’t changed. It is a mix of pessimism with a twist of evil in the response to a typical Czech greeting “How are you?” 

“It’s worth shit.,” anyone will say at any given time. 

The honest answer holds an entire spectrum of emotions including the disappointment from the aftermath of the Velvet Revolution as capitalism stuck out one of its ugly heads like Medusa. The gap between the rich and the poor in Czech Republic is getting wider and wider, as there are few rich people, while the majority struggles. Traditionally, the Czechs envied each other’s possessions, but with capitalism the envy maxed out into hatred usually directed toward politicians and the past that cannot be changed. Whenever anything bad happened, it was usually the other person’s fault. There is a general lack of responsibility among the population for anything whether bad or good. That is the legacy of communism; no one was responsible for anything because the almighty Communist Party took care of everything for you. There was very little left for you to do; go to work, get some groceries and watch TV. 

Copyright (c) 2019. Emma Blogs, LLC. All rights reserved.

30th anniversary of Velvet revolution, Nanonowrimo day 17

Note: I logged in 1, 135 words in the National Novel Writing Month 50K word challenge earlier this morning. I will be at the Lowell Area Historical Museum (LAHM) today from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. along with eight other vendors ranging from candles to jewelry. Stop by to pick up an autographed copy of my new book Secrets from the Shifting Sands Short Stories collections.

Christmas through Lowell, Sunday Nov. 17

I have a special today: both of my books “Secrets” and “Short Stories” are for 25$. They make an excellent Christmas gift or a souvenir from Michigan. All the stories are set in Michigan; the flagship story “Silk Nora” is set at the turn-of-the-century Belding, when it was known as the Silk City Capital of the World. The silk mills employed young women who were known as “Sweethearts in Silk.”

Sweethearts in Silk

Sweethearts in Silk, at Richardson Silk Mills

By Emma Palova

Lowell, MI -Today is the 30th anniversary of the Velvet Revolution that toppled the socialist regime in former Czechoslovakia on Nov. 17, 1989. It is a national holiday in Czech Republic known as the Day of Battle for Freedom and Democracy.

The student protests started in Prague and swept the entire country for 10 critical days that culminated in the General Strike on Nov. 27, 1989.

I was still in living in Czechoslovakia when these demonstrations broke 44 years of silence under the Communist Party rule.

Excerpt from Greenwich Meridian: Where East meets West

Velvet Revolution, 1989 

The journey to return back to the USA was long and painful, to be exact it lasted 16 years. Those years were filled with normal and not so normal life’s events; the most significant being the toppling of the communist regime a month before my departure on Dec. 22, 1989. 

I lived history twice: in Prague Spring,1968 and Velvet Revolution in 1989. I was a kid, so I don’t remember the Soviet tanks invading the country in 1968, but I remember the consequences that my parents Ella and Vaclav described so eloquently in their own words. The results of Prague Spring took us on a roller coaster ride from Czechoslovakia, to Africa, Canada, Texas and back to Czechoslovakia. 

But, the second event. Velvet Revolution, that changed the course of history for Eastern and Western Europe, I recall as if it had happened yesterday. I documented it myself in a diary with a blue hard cover and bought an important publication published by the Czech Press Office: “Chronicle of Velvet Revolution” in 1989 for 10 crowns. It is the most important document that I own, other than the American passport. 

The communist block, which Czechoslovakia was a part of, started collapsing in neighboring Poland under their leader Lech Walesa. I remember, we had no dairy products, as they were all being shipped to Poland. While it was an act of camaraderie, the Polish people didn’t unload the train with the food and let the products spoil. 

After that it seemed like a domino effect with one block collapsing and knocking down the other countries of the Eastern Block.

Sometime in the summer of 1989, I spoke with a friend attorney about matters pertaining to my pending departure to the U.S.- I had to get rid of all possessions, including my citizenship, pay for my education and such. After discussing matters at hand, Mr. H said: 

“The bell is tolling for them.” 

I stared at him in awe; we were used to speaking in riddles. 

“What do you mean?” I asked. 

“I can’t say.” 

Copyright (c) 2019. Emma Blogs, LLC. All rights reserved.

NANOWRIMO DAY 16

A day at the museum during Christmas through Lowell

By Emma Palova

Lowell, MI – On day 16 of the National Novel Writing Month 50k word challenge, I continued to work on chapter “Bits and Pieces” from the Greenwich Meridian: Where East meets West memoir. Excerpt will follow.

I will be at the Lowell Area Historical Museum again today from 9 a.m. until 7 p.m. along with eight other vendors including the museum gift shop. The museum is located at 325 W. Main at the main intersection in downtown Lowell next to Larkin’s Other Place.

NaNoWriMo 2019

We spent a fine day at the museum yesterday enjoying an influx of visitors. At the end of the day, the tally was 470 people.

The museum is one of the finest small town museums in America, currently with a special exhibit about Robert W. Graham who built the Italianate structure in 1873 as a family residence.

Many visitors admired the wallpaper, the floor and the steep staircase. The building also served as a library and it was home to the YMCA.

The museum comes alive this weekend with vendors ranging from soy candles, rocks, wire-rapped jewelry, knitted products and books.

Excerpt: Greenwich Meridian

Bits & Pieces

True, I have broken a lof of stuff in my life. That is both physical and emotional. I have broken crystal glasses and I have broken hearts. I have severed ties with the old country, most of them. What remains are bits and pieces, just like the memorabilia: porcelain spice jars with green clovers and a coffee set from Carlsbad in soft colors with golden etching made by Josefina Loucky Czechoslovakia.

I have broken and I have mended. Ludek fixed some of the broken pieces like the fragile sugar bowl with grey flowers and golden etching from grandma Anna. He glued the broken pieces together. Out of the incomplete coffee set, I have the sugar bowl and two plates left.

To be continued…

Copyright (c) 2019. Emma Blogs, LLC. All rights reserved.

NANOWRIMO DAY 15

Christmas through Lowell Nov. 15- Nov. 17, 2019

Lowell Area Historical Museum

325 W. Main St., Lowell

I am getting ready for a three-day author’s gig at the Lowell Museum during the Christmas through Lowell tour. Stop by for an autographed copy of my new book “Secrets” from the Shifting Sands Short Stories series. Today is the longest day from 9 a.m. until 9 p.m.

NaNoWriMo 2019

Greenwich Meridian: Where East meets West

I got an early morning start today with my husband Ludek announcing that we finally got a thaw from the “Novruary” weather that was more like in January.

I worked on the chapter “Mom’s battle for emigration” that will need a title change.

Excerpt

I wandered through the streets of Zlin afterwards not going back to school. I needed to internalize cousin Peter’s funeral. I went past the shops on the main boulevard of Zlin now named Thomas Bata Boulevard after the big shoe businessman. I stopped at some of the store windows without knowing what was on display. Like a robot, I walked to the next one, I stopped and looked, but I didn’t see. Sometimes, I looked at my feet as they walked forward. And then I looked up at the grey sky laying heavily above my head. 

I stopped at a news stand to look at the books that had just come out. I saw a paperback book “Diary of an American Wife.” I wondered what it’s like to be an American wife. I thought I would never find out. 

I was hoping that I wouldn’t run into any friends. I must have been carrying a bag with my text books because I started to feel the weight in my right hand. I went past “Zlinanka,” a fancy decadent café that served sundaes and desserts. I’ve been there a thousand times, but this time it didn’t feel right.

Next in row was the main pharmacy and then came the real hard decision-maker. That was the deli “Rybena.” The deli for me was like Mc Donald’s is here in the USA.

Even though, I must say “Rybena” was more than a socialist staple. It stood out from the other ubiquitous delis around the country. The deli made its own greasy white chips, a bag for two crowns called “lupinky” which means flakes. I doubt they were made from potatoes. I usually bought a bag, and I ate it all at once. Then I would get sick. “Rybena” was also the only place in town that sold raw fish, mostly trout. The raw trout were laying right next to the open-faced sandwiches known as “canopies” because they looked like tents or canopies. 

Copyright (c) 2019. Emma Blogs, LLC. All rights reserved.

NANOWRIMO 2019 dAY 14

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.”

https://www.nanowrimo.org

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….

Copyright (c) 2019. Emma Blogs, LLC. All rights reserved.

NANOWRIMO DAY 13

Greenwich Meridian: Where East meets West with excerpt

On this Day 13 of the National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) 50k word challenge, I navigated through the two parts of the Greenwich Meridian memoir about our family immigration saga from former Czechoslovakia to the U.S.

Even though, I logged in only 1,044 words with chapter “Dad defects the second time,” I moved the project ahead by joining the most recent notes from mom and dad with the first storytelling part by storyteller Emma. Now, this was crucial, since until recently, I did not know what to do with the different points of view on the same immigration story.

Take a look at what the storyteller has to say about dad’s second escape in chapter “Dad defects the 2nd time.”

Excerpt: Dad defects the 2nd time

Well-respected professor of math, Vaclav Konecny

Years went by before I found out what had really happened. My parents plotted the second escape together. Mom even risked that she wouldn’t be able to leave the country to join dad. 

“I knew about your dad’s plan,” she told me during an interview in Venice, Florida in March of 2013. 

“You never said a thing back then,” I said. 

“I couldn’t say anything that would jeopardize the entire plan,” mom said. 

I thought that was really brave on both of their parts. Anything could have gone wrong. First of all, the country was under the hard- line communism rule of the 70s and 80s. The borders with Austria and Germany were guarded heavily. Then the situation was exacerbated by my parents’ first escape to Canada in April of 1970. 

They had a record from the trial, and from the files of the Secret Police StB after returning to Czechoslovakia for the 1973 amnesty. I could have been thrown out of school, and they could have lost the apartment on the “Southern Slopes.” And my dad would end up in jail serving his sentence and more time for his second escape. 

Dad left the second time on his 42nd birthday on August 23, 1976 from Zlin to Slovakia, Hungary and Rumania. He crossed the border between Rumania and Yugoslavia at Puerta Fiera, and from Yugoslavia to Austria where he switched plates for a German license plate. 

“I just unscrewed it from another car at the border, when no one was looking,” he said. 

He also had a black dingy just in case he needed to cross the Danube River into Austria. My parents painted it turquoise like the water. Dad trained how long he can stay under water at Lake Macha in Bohemia, Czech Republic. Dad has always been an excellent swimmer. 

“I sold the boat for a can of Hungarian goulash,” he laughed in Venice, FL. 

He waited in Germany at an auto camp for half a year before he got his green card. A friend from California helped out with the embassy dealings. Dad called Jarvis Christian College in Hawkins, Texas from Germany, and was offered a job with a smaller salary than before. 

“I had to start all over again, right from the beginning,” he said. “I stayed at the Pettis Motel and in one half of a mobile home.” 

The punishment for the second escape, because dad was considered a repeat offender, was 3.5 years in a third- degree correctional facility in Czech Republic. 

Even today when I close my eyes, I have trouble imagining my gentle dad, a well-respected math professor, with gray blue eyes escaping across the borders at several check points with a painted dingy, unscrewing license plates and living in an auto camp, or at worse sitting in a correctional facility in a striped jumpsuit like any other jailbird. 

My dad is a very balanced individual, infinitely patient, kind and he does not like taking risks, even though he is an adventurer. 

But dad is also very motivated, accomplished and thorough. I can imagine all the nights, my parents sat with maps under a lamp, designing the second plan of escape; this time together. 

One can never know a relative well enough, even if the relative is as close as a parent. What I find in the second escape inspiring, is the fact that dad followed through on the plan. He had two plans of escape as he described in his own words in the chapter titled: “How professor of math escaped Czechoslovakia.” 

Copyright (c) 2019. Emma Blogs, LLC. All rights reserved.

NANOWRIMO DAY 12

For NaNo Day 11 go to post “In observance of Veterans Day, NaNo Day 11. https://emmapalova.com/2019/11/11/in-observance-of-veterans-day-2019/

Greenwich Meridian: Where East meets West with excerpt

By Emma Palova

Lowell, MI – We’re moving into winter “blietzkrieg” style- hard and fast. We already have snow frozen to the ground in Michigan as we hit 17F this morning.

I approached this year’s NaNoWriMo 2019 50K word challenge in the same style- hard and fast. I researched the background for the Greenwich Meridian: Where East meets West memoir over the past few years, Moreover, I lived the historical events that shaped the story from Prague Spring in 1968 to Velvet Revolution in 1989 up to the present moment.

I logged into the NaNoWriMo dashboard a total of 27,403 words, averaging daily more than 2,000 words.

The previous years of research and writing have been like putting together the pieces of a puzzle with an unknown picture at the end.

Dad Vaclav Konecny with mom Ella at their 60th wedding anniversary celebration in Big Rapids.

Greenwich Meridian is an epic tale of our family immigration saga from Czechoslovakia to the U.S. spanning more than 50 years. It is also a love story between the main characters mom Ella & dad Vaclav. They celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary on Aug. 8, 2019 at Naval’s Mediterranean Grille in Big Rapids, MI.

After hitting a dead end around chapter 12, I took a break from the memoir and worked on the Shifting Sands Short Stories anthologies that resulted in book 1 “Shifting Sands: Short Stories” and book 2 “Shifting Sands: Secrets.”

I completed “Shifting Sands: Secrets” in the summer of 2018. So, I returned to the Greenwich Meridian memoir starting fresh with its second half that includes memories penned by my parents in chapters “In her own words” by mom Ella and dad wrote “How math professor escaped Czechoslovakia.”

Here is an excerpt: How math professor escaped Czechoslovakia

By Vaclav Konecny

I suffered through all the injustices of the totalitarian regime in Czechoslovakia. I did not want to live there anymore. I applied for emigration visa for the entire family to get out of the country; all in vain. At the beginning of 1976, two officers from the Department of Interior visited me only to announce that I would never get the visa, even though I wasn’t working. 

Nothing helped my case; neither letters written to president Gustav Husak, who was proclaiming at the time, that people like me could pack their suitcases and leave the country, nor the Helsinki Accords of 1975. In vain, I wrote letters to different institutions, but I always got the same answer: “It isn’t in the best interest of the republic.” However, the only interest of the republic, was for the communists to fill their own pockets. I haven’t met a lot of honest communists there.  

The Helsinki Accords of 1975 signed by 35 countries including the U.S. and all the European countries attempted to improve the relations between the communists and the West. However, the Helsinski Accords were not binding as they did not have a treaty status. 

The communists abided only by those paragraphs and laws that they wanted to. I was a factory worker operating NC machines at the Precision Engineering Plants in Malenovice. That was the result of an intensive job search and after the recommendation from President Husak. This shows that the officials had no idea about my profession. They were probably judging by their own experience of gaining titles in exchange for lies and deceiving their own bosses. I didn’t complain; I worked honestly at the factory and I carefully probed all illegal avenues of leaving Czechoslovakia. However, I realized that it would be too risky to leave with the entire family. So, I decided that I would leave the country illegally by myself and get the family out of there later. 

Different options of escape seemed risky, because the borders were guarded against the people of the country, so they wouldn’t escape, not some outside enemy. Soldiers and their dogs were dangerous; the life of a Czech or Slovak person meant less than the life of a rabbit. I assumed that the border patrol in other countries would be less dangerous.  

Stop by for an authographed book from the “Shifting Sands Short Stories” anthologies during Emma’s book signing at the Lowell Area Historical Museum on Nov. 15, 16 & 17.

2019-11-15T09:00:00

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Emma’s book signing at Lowell Museum

Copyright (c) 2019. Emma Blogs, LLC. All rights reserved.