When we finally sat down after the news and dinner on March 5 to talk about our immigration in Venice, I felt nervous. But, I was well equipped with interviewing skills honed by years of talking to people for newspaper stories, who quite often lied to me. The bad part about newspaper interviews is that you don’t have a lot of time to double check and research everything. There’s only so many people you can call around. Eventually you run out of time. You usually have one good shot, and you have to make the best of it.
In the interview with my parents, I finally had one good long awaited shot, so I was determined to make full use of it. I carefully crafted the questions, so no one got offended. A good interview requires a high level of diplomacy and psychology, because usually you don’t know your story subjects, unless you’ve been covering the city or township hall for years. And I have done that in many communities like Plainwell, Ionia, Belding, Greenville, Grattan, Otisco, Vergennes and Lowell.
In this case I did know my story subjects. Well, of course. I spent a lot of time with them. Ella and Vaclav are my parents, the adventurers who have traveled halfway around the world, from East to West, and back to Czechoslovakia in 1973 on presidential amnesty, only to finally return to USA. Mom returned to the states in 1980 on March 19th, which is the Feast of St.Joseph, after turbulent years in the communist homeland.
During the interview, I found out things that I did not know about before. This included a clandestine farewell meeting between my parents and grandparents in Vienna prior to the first immigration to Canada in 1970.
“I was still hoping we could return because our exit visa were extended until the end of the year,” mom said.
But, in all reality, and once in Canada, we were beyond the point of return. At that time, Czechoslovakia was under tight Soviet grip with troops stationed all along the border with Western Europe.
Watch for excerpts from the interview in Venice, Florida as well as for behind the scenes of the “Greenwich Meridian” memoir, timeline and a list of major characters.
to be continued
Copyright (c) 2013 story and photos by Emma Palova