Premier Harvest Dozinky Czech and Slovak event canceled
By Emma Palova
Bannister, MI- With a population of 100 nestled amidst the wheat fields of Mid-Michigan, the little town of Bannister carries on a proud Czech legacy dating back to 1906.
The first Czech immigrants were recruited by the Ann Arbor Railroad to help construct a river channel along the railroad tracks north of Bannister. Later they worked in the surrounding sugar beet fields. At one time, Bannister had two churches, one bar, an auto shop and a trade dealer. All that remains today is the post office.
“The newcomers to the area felt the need for some type of club or lodge of their own,” Tom Bradley wrote in his “Pamatnik.”
Josef Drtina traveled by horse and buggy from Cedar Rapids, Iowa to Michigan and secured enough members to start a new lodge in Bannister on October 1, 1911.
Although it’s staple event- the “Harvest Dozinky Festival”- has been canceled this year again due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the lodge will have other events such as the upcoming “Walk for Hunger” on Aug. 8th.
“We think we might have our bazaar this year,” said Diane. “I don’t know about the other events. We go day by day.”
Annually, the lodge holds a bazaar on the last Saturday in October. Other events include: a fall dinner, Mikulas and Cert on the first Sunday in December, a mid-winter jamboree in February.
The Bradleys run the temporary Czech and Slovak Bakery in nearby Ashley from mid- November leading up to Christmas during the Polar Express event.
According to the Czech tradition, the bakery offers rohliky and poppy seed rolls.
“We grew up with the tradition, the language, the music and the food,” said Diane.
“This island is for you,” said art fair director Stephene Lapp. “We want you vendors. I can’t wait to meet all the authors and all the vendors.”
Seven Michigan authors will be among the 114 vendors on the island that is connected to the mainland by one bridge only. Lapp expects around 6,000 visitors to the event on July 31st.
There will be also nine musicians and boat rides.
Feature photo: the main characters of the “Greenwich Meridian Memoir” immigration saga spanning two generations at the Frankfort Art Fair on July 4th, 2021. Pictured from left to right: Ludek Pala, Emma Palova, Ella and Vaclav Konecny.
Copyright (c) 2021. Emma Blogs, LLC. All rights reserved.
Moving right along through February, the Winter Virtual Book Festival organized by Pages Promotions, LLC has covered genres from action and adventure to inspirational fiction, with non-fiction, poetry, short stories and memoir, in between. We’re in for a night of mystery on a freezing Monday evening.
Indie authors read from their books while readers match up the right book with its author for bragging rights on Facebook. Then Diana Plopa spins the “Wheel of Happiness” for great prizes donated by the authors.
You have to be present in the Zoom room to win. If you happen to find a gold, silver or bronze ticket in your book, you’re in for more prizes such as Kindle Fire without ads and more books and swag.
Here is an excerpt of what I read on Friday evening from my new book “Greenwich Meridian Memoir”, chapter “The Haves and The Have Nots.” This reading was five minutes.
Everyone had the right to work. There was no such thing as unemployment. If you were unemployed for more than six weeks, you went to jail. Since the economy was regulated and planned, there was always work, whatever work and any work at any given time. However, if you wanted a good job, you needed connections or my mom’s long arm.
That was balanced out by having to stand in long lines for basic items such as toilet paper and laundry detergent. However, college education was free, along with healthcare for all and free daycare.
Travel was a different ball game based on your profile. We each had a profile ever since we were old enough to join the Socialist Youth Union at the age of 14. The profile also contained information about your parents. Then volunteer hours on socialist projects were added to the profile. At 18, you were expected to become a member of the Czechoslovak Communist Party and get your red membership card. Soon the profile info started to add up in your favor or against you.
Certain things were unacceptable like if your family was a member of the bourgeoisie, royalty or if they owned land, you would definitely go nowhere. Based on the bizarre profile criteria, if they were good, you could go to Yugoslavia or maybe somewhere west, if you got the exit visa.
If your profile was bad like mine, because we left the country illegally for the USA, you sat at home. The profile thing continues to puzzle me to this day.
Like in Hitler’s Germany nothing was ever forgotten or forgiven. That was in an era before computers. The whole socialist machinery was like a self-fulfilling prophecy. You always got what you didn’t wish for, but somebody else wanted it for you.
“Oh, we just wanted the best for you,” a voice would say.
“How do you know what’s best for me?” I asked.
“Socialism never sleeps,” the voice would persist. “We know what’s best for the country. Look at all the improvements in the last 40 years.”
Banners hung on buildings proclaiming the “Building Successes of Socialism” and the bright future for the socialist youth like me.
Bringing up properly the communist youth was very important to the regime, which feared intellectuals. On the other hand, the system put the working class known as proletariat on a pedestal. The most famous slogan was: “Proletariat of all countries, unite.” I think it was a Lenin quote.
Interestingly enough, some five decades later Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg achieved the same goal without the communist or socialist propaganda of uniting. Four billion people now volunteer their information on the Facebook social media platform. I don’t think the communists realized that you cannot force unity or freedom. Just like you cannot force or enforce peace.
The communists even claimed they could command the rain and the wind. I know they couldn’t, but the fact they claimed that showed their infinite arrogance deeply rooted in the propaganda.
But there were also true communists like our late neighbor. And I will change his name for all purposes. Let’s call him Mr. Rudi Vlk. Rudi, in his early 40s, went through political school while working. He never missed a communist party meeting. Rudi lived the party philosophy. He studied the Marxist-Leninist traditions and its pillars. He never cheated, lied or stole. But, in the process of it all, he got ulcers.
Needless to say, that honest communist Rudi was in the minority. Most people who joined the party had an ulterior motive. This labeled them as career communists like my second removed Uncle Henry.
There were other career communists in the female ranks as well. Many teachers became communists to protect their teaching jobs. Although communists did not like the intelligence class, they were fond of socialist education free of any religious influence. All religious schools shut down, along with the confiscation of the church estates.
To climb up on the company ladder, you had to be a member of the communist party. There were no discussions about that. Uncle Henry went through the same process as Rudi, only he lied, cheated and stole for the benefit of the party and his own.
The two breeds of communists hated each other, even though they often sat at the same tables, and in the same meetings. Aunt Anna’s favorite joke went along the following lines. A man and a woman have a discussion in a coffee shop.
“I know you,” says the man.
“Oh, yes? How?” asks the lady.
“We slept together,” the man answers.
“Excuse me, sir,” she turns red.
“Yes, in the same meeting last week in the boardroom,” the man laughs.
Check this out. We had a lot of fun discussing my new book “Greenwich Meridian Memoir” with filmmakers Larry Sands and Erick Kaslov on the “Something Something creative podcast” show. I started working on the screenplay based on the memoir. I am done storyboarding Act One that I started on Nov. 30. I modified Blake Snyder’s style to fit my own using big poster boards for each act.
About the storyboard; Each index card represents a scene which equals one minute in the movie and one page in the script. The beat sheet includes the following scenes: opening image, theme stated, set-up, catalyst, debate and break into Act Two.
Today, I was setting up the storyboard for Act Two.
I introduced the main characters in the first 10 minutes or on the 10 pages of the script.
Copyright (c) 2020. Emma Blogs, LLC. All rights reserved.
Lowell, MI – I am pleased to announce that the winner of Emma’s virtual book launch drawing for a free signed copy of “Greenwich Meridian Memoir” is Joan Young of Ludington, MI.
I would like to thank Jakub Pala for moderating the event and special thanks goes to author Donald Levin for technical assistance in setting up the virtual book launch on the Be.Live streaming platform.
You can order your books now by commenting here, messaging me on Facebook or email.
If you order by Nov. 22, the shipping of “Greenwich Meridian Memoir” will be free. If you live in the Greater Grand Rapids area, you can pick up your signed copy at LowellArts on Nov. 28 and on Dec. 13 from noon to 2 p.m.
Copyright (c) 2020. Emma Blogs, LLC. All rights reserved.
Following are Emma’s author events for November and December. I will be signing books at LowellArts on Nov. 28 & Dec. 13 from 12 p.m. to 2 p.m. on both days.
You can also order your books here by sending an email to Emma: email@example.com, calling or messaging on Facebook messenger. You can pick up your signed copies on the following dates at LowellArts: Nov. 28 and Dec. 13 from 12 to 2 p.m.
Emma’s Virtual Book Launch on Facebook on Sunday Nov. 15 at 5 p.m.
You can submit your questions in the comment section for a chance to win a free signed copy of the “Greenwich Meridian Memoir.”
I decided to organize myself on this lovely Sunday.
We spent a great day on the beach yesterday in Pentwater. I was delighted to see a gentleman reading on his Kindle just eight feet away from us, while I was making notes in my $1 notepad from the Dollar store.
Pointing at my blue hardcover notebook and in the gentleman’s direction, I said to my husband: “It’s a long road from the writing in this notebook to that kindle on the beach, but it can be done.”
Check your inboxes for my brand new author’s enewsletter hot off the presses with a sample chapter from the upcoming “Greenwich Meridian Memoir. “
Hooked on wild caught fish from the Straits of Mackinac at the local farmer’s markets
By Emma Palova
Ada, MI- It all started with a conversation, a few coolers and a canopy. And a brand-new enterprise was born 10 years ago.
But it took six generations of commercial fishermen, a passion for the great outdoors “Grizzly Adams” style and healthy eating to make the old trade work in new times.
Dan Sodini of DMS is the fishmonger, while his brother-in-law Jamie Massey is the fisherman of the Great Lakes based in St. Ignace.
“An opportunity to begin a small family business of taking wild caught fish from the U.P. to Farmer’s Markets around the state of Michigan came 10 years ago,” said Sodini. “We are celebrating our 10th year anniversary.”
The first market was in Midland, home to the DMS fish crew.
“We could drive to the U.P., stay with the family and get up and go to the market on Saturday morning,” Sodini said.
Rarely, do you see fish peddled at the local Farmer’s Markets. It’s mostly local home-grown produce spruced up sometimes with cheeses, breads and preserves.
“Some people were delighted and bought fish,” said Sodini. “Others took a little time.”
But after Sodini explained where, when and how the fish was caught, it all became easier.
“Once people tried it, they became customers and they’re still buying fish today,” he said.
Speaking about being hooked on genuine wild-caught fish taste.
I discovered the U.P. fish booth three years ago based on a word-of-mouth tip from a friend who lives in Ada.
“You know, there’s this fishmonger at the Ada Market and the fish is excellent,” she said. “Try it.”
Being a fish lover ever since I can remember buying trout at the “Rybena” deli in former Czechoslovakia, I didn’t need to be persuaded.
What first struck me unlike buying fresh fish at the stores, was that there was no fish smell around the booth. Everything was immaculately clean, and then Dan’s impeccable knowledge about the fish, surpassed the fish markets of Marseille.
The first time I bought all three “catch of the day”- fresh walleye, whitefish and trout, smoked whitefish and whitefish dip. It was an unsurpassed feast.
This is my favorite recipe: whitefish or trout baked with pesto and lemon. Bake for 20 minute at 350 F or on the grill.
In the beginning, DMS offered only fresh fillets which included: whitefish, walleye, lake trout, king salmon, yellow perch and smelt.
Over the 10 years, DMS has expanded both the fish selection and the farmer’s market locations.
“Once we realized that we could make a go of it, we expanded into other markets,” Sodini said.
DMS added smoked whitefish, lake trout, salmon and Laker bites, which are skinless, boneless bite size pieces of small lake trout.
“We have added our very popular smoked fish pate made with the fisherman’s recipe,” he said.
The pates include: smoked whitefish, salmon and lake trout. Brand new this year are the Laker patties, a fish burger or fish cake made with fresh lake trout, that can be grilled or sautéed in a skillet.
From August through mid- October, DMS has annual wild king salmon sales of the whole fish which averages 10 to 12 pounds. This yields approximately half to ¾ of the fish.
“With COVID we have experienced both a decrease and an increase in sales,” said Sodini.
The decrease mainly because of people not wanting to come out and take safety precautions while the increase is in direct access to wild caught fish vs. the limited high-priced beef and other meat products.
“From the beginning people chose fish for high quality protein,” Sodini said.
Backed by 150 years of Massey commercial fishing on the Great Lakes, Sodini, a former treatment specialist, found himself in the fish business. During his unemployment, the family had this important conversation about starting a fish distribution business.
“We are honored and proud to be a part of the family legacy,” he said. “We appreciate and are thankful for all of our customers from all over the state of Michigan, who are our friends and have supported us for 10 years.”
“I love what I do! Having the opportunity to offer wild caught fresh and smoked Great Lakes fish at local Farmers Markets is a privilege and a lot of work,” Mega said. But what I enjoy most is meeting each new customer and the friends that we have made over the 10 years we have been going to markets.”
On a Saturday market, DMS sells an average of 150 to 200 pounds of fish.
“The kids grew up on farmer’s markets,” he said. “They get paid and they love it.”
Today, the DMS crew does 12 markets a week:
Ada market on Tuesdays
Brighton on Saturday
East Lansing on Sunday
Flint on Saturdays
Frankenmuth on Wednesday
Holland on Wed.& Sat.
Meridian on Saturdays
Midland on Wed. & Sat.
Mt. Clemens on Sat.
Mt. Pleasant on Thursday
Northville on Thursday
The selling season is from May to October. From November through April, DMS does winter fish drops at the farmer’s markets locations.
“People can order frozen fish products biweekly or monthly,” Sodini said. “We deliver to each of the farmer’s markets location. The fisherman vacuum packs, blast freezes all of our fish fillets.”
You can find individual farmer’s locations at the DMS Facebook page at: