Tag Archives: Vaclav Havel

Born on Victory Day, May 9th

Born on Czech national holiday Victory Day

A lifestyle of a writer and a history lover

Lifestyle

By Emma Palova

EW Emma’s Writings

Lowell, MI – I was born with history in my blood in the wee hours on Victory Day, May 9th to the cracking of the fireworks and the fragrance of the blossoming lilacs.

Before the semantics & politics of the new regime, May 9th was the national holiday in my homeland of Czech Republic.

Every year, on this day, my mother Ella lovingly says this sentence:

“I thought they were bombing, but the country was celebrating your birthday. The entire earth blossoms for you.”

me Manistee (2)
Emma in Manistee National Forest north of Baldwin, morel hunting on May 6.

Now, my mom Ella is not exactly the most humble person. She loves to show off. She takes that after Grandpa Joseph of Vizovice.

Annually, the country celebrates the anniversary of its freedom from the Nazi occupation in 1945. The holiday has been moved to May 8th based on the age-old dispute, “Who was first, the chicken or the egg?” That is the dispute over which army freed former Czechoslovakia first.

Was it the Soviet or the American army?

The Soviets freed the capital Prague on May 9th, while the Americans freed Plzen in West Bohemia on May 8th. Maybe, the switch was due to the fact that Plzen is home to the famous brewery, Pilsner.

The country boasts its love for beer, and often takes first place in consumption between the top beer consuming trio of Germany, the Netherlands and the Czech Republic.

However, in our immigration hearts, the holiday will always be on May 9th, even though we love Czech Pilsner.

So, by default, the love for history has been circulating in my blood from the first day of birth.

Our immigration Konecny saga started with the infamous occupation of the country by the Soviets in the Prague Spring of 1968. The era of hardline communism ensued after the invasion for decades to come under President Gustav Husak.

I am also the child of the 1989 Velvet Revolution led by  my hero, late president Vaclav Havel who was part of the Prague Spring 1968 reformation movement.

ew-havel

I can trace the origins of my writing to that tumultuous time in our lives.

And I write about this in the memoir “Greenwich Meridian, where East meets West.” Copyright © 2017. Emma Palova

My paternal grandpa Antonin was the keeper of the “Chronicles of the Stipa JZD” which was the Stipa Agricultural Cooperative, while my late Aunt Martha secretly worked on the Konecny family genealogy. My grandma Anezka was a first grade teacher at ZDS Stipa and a poet.

“You can’t deny genes,” said Martha’s colleague Mrs. Fickova at the funeral wake on Jan. 11th held at the Stipa Senk.

After Aunt Martha’s death on January 7th, 2017, I started the Facebook page Ancestry Konecny on:

https://www.facebook.com/Ancestry-Konecny-1715844132078471/

The page is also a resource for others who want to conduct genealogy research.

Based on a ZDS reunion in 2015, that we couldn’t attend, I started the Alumni ZDS Stipa page on:

https://www.facebook.com/zdsstipa/

As an author, writer, journalist and photographer, I keep track of happenings on daily basis in my physical and digital diaries. I also do that for other people on the WordPress portfolio.

My May 9th morning  started with Google Doodle wishing a happy birthday.

http://www.onthisday.com/events/may/9

https://g.co/kgs/apAhlt

Now, that’s a first for this year 2017.

Every morning before I start writing, I check social media for inspiration and to get a feeling for the day.

I made me a cup of French Roast coffee and smelled the bouquet of lilacs from our gardens on the ranch. It took 20 years for the fragrant shrubs to come to their full beauty. Not quite like the historical ones on my beloved Mackinac Island, but they’re getting there.

Yesterday, my husband Ludek and I feared for the budding wisteria because of the early morning frost. We had to put out the fan to keep the wisteria, sprawling on the octagon pergola, warm.

Then, as always I gather my thoughts based on analyzing the previous day, and what I have learned from it, that is worth bringing into the future. I always remember the socialist propaganda, “Tomorrow is already yesterday.”

I pinned to the top, “Spring into the Past” museum tour 2017 organized by the Tri-River Historical Museum Network on the new museum page.

I also made sure that the 23rd annual Covered Bridge Bike Tour in Fallasburg is correctly dated for Sunday July 9th.

I looked in the mirror, after finishing most of this post, and I realized I am very fortunate, and that any victory comes at a price. I’ve come to that conclusion not from the image that I see, but by the person I reflect in my writings.

I have a head full of graying hair, a happy smile on my face, a caring husband and family, hundreds of fans and well-wishers from all over the world, and the determination of a Taurus.

My short story collection “Shifting Sands” is ready for June 1st publication on kindle and Amazon.

And speaking about karma or karmic energy.

My friends from the Fallasburg Historical Society (FHS) Tina Siciliano Cadwallader and Tracy Worthington are planning a book signing event for the “Shifting Sands” fiction short story collection at the Fallasburg one-room schoolhouse museum on June 25th from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.

Shifting sands cover

I’ve just found out that mom Ella is going to bake a cake for the book signing. And I have received tulips and irises from Doc Em, based in Fixin, France, and a video from Josephine & Dominik Pala of Hastings.

Life is good. As Doc Em says:

“What doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger.”

Everyone is invited to Fallasburg on June 25. Come and enjoy the beautiful Fallasburg Park, the pioneer village, the history and mom’s cake.

With this post, I would like to thank everyone for all the support over the years, especially my neighbor Catherine. Because only Catherine knows who I really am.

“You make me who I am.”

Love always,

Emma

Lowell, May 9th 2017

Copyright (c) 2017 Emma Blogs, LLC. All rights reserved.

27. November 1989

A step back in time to  Monday Nov. 27 in 1989

Lowell, MI- It was Monday under the sign of Sagittarius as George W. Bush took the presidential torch from Ronald Reagan.

It was also the release of “Christmas Vacation” with Chevy Chase and John Grisham topped the bestselling list with his “A Time to Kill.” Two major tragedies set 1989 apart from the rest: the massacre at Tiananmen Square and the Exxon-Valdez oil spill.

Just as the world lost Salvador Dali in 1989, Taylor Swift was born, according to takemebackto.com.

The following are excerpts from my memoir “Greenwich Meridian” (c) copyright 2016 Emma Palova.

“That Monday morning I dressed up warm in my Benetton jacket adorned with an tricolor ribbon, a red, white and blue sweater and jeans. I made a quick snack for the four-hour trip from Zlin to Prague. It was probably an old croissant with salami.

I boarded the 6 a.m. train to Prague called “Citron” packed with young people in the standing room only aisles.

As daylight broke into the dark morning, I felt the crisp air from the outside brush my red cheeks. Exhausted from the events of the past few months, I didn’t sleep much. I was shaking and not just from the November chill.

The last 10 days since the Nov. 17 student demonstrations in Prague were filled with political turmoil and uncertainty. I was either glued to the TV much like the entire nation or demonstrating on the town square in Zlin.

The communist regime has already fallen in the neighboring Poland. We all supported the Polish leader of revolution, Lech Walesa along with our own dissident Vaclav Havel and the Civic Forum (CF) that led the movement for freedom. This movement entered modern history as the Velvet Revolution, lasting from Nov. 17 through Dec. 10, 1989.

The mass media in former Czechoslovakia informed the nation about the General Strike on Nov. 27 in Prague and all the major cities.

“Please participate in the strike,” the media encouraged, “or if you cannot hold solidarity with the people on strike.”

That Monday, a nation that could not agree on anything, walked out of universities, factories and offices to show the power of the people.

Twenty-seven years later sitting behind my desk on a Sunday morning in rural America, while it’s still dark outside, I ask myself:

“What if the manifestation went violent like in Tiananmen Square?”

I left that trail of thought untouched.

As we disembarked from the train at the art nouveau Prague Main Station, like a river, the crowds flowed into the Wenceslas Square. 300,000 people howled in the square from noon to 2 p.m. holding their arms up with hands in the peace sign.

“Havel to the castle,” I chanted along with the crowds.

We wanted the poet, the playwright and the dissident Havel, to become the next president of Czechoslovakia, as we rang our keys and little bells.

That ring magnified by millions across the nation signified that the hour of freedom has arrived after years of darkness and oppression.

For Havel, it was an uneasy progression from a communist jail cell to the Hradcany Castle, over the last two decades since the Prague Spring in 1968.

I’ve always been claustrophobic, and the moving crowd made me nauseous. The defunct communist leadership under President Gustav Husak met most of the demands of the Civic Forum (CF), so the demonstration ended peacefully.

I remember heading into one of the pubs on the Lesser Square aka Mala Strana on the other side of the Vltava River. Havel frequented that area, and in 1994 as the president of Czech Republic, visited one of the pubs with the former USA president Bill Clinton.

Meanwhile, a different story was transpiring on the home front on that gloomy Monday. The late afternoon train took me back to hometown Zlin.

My grandpa Joseph passed from lung cancer at the Vizovice Hospital of Merciful Friars after steadily deteriorating for six months.

In one of the last conversations held at the white hospital room, that smelled of a heavy disinfectant agent, grandpa asked me about his beloved ranch. That is the house at 111 Krnovska Street in Vizovice that I inherited in grandpa’s will. Together, with husband Ludek and daughter Emma, we spent many delightful years at the ranch.

“You know I had to sell it, so I can leave the country,” I explained patiently for the 100th time.

After selling all my worldly possessions as a condition to emigration, I was holding tight onto my exit visa to the USA. Ludek was waiting for his emigration visa in Pabneukirchen, Austria.

“The ranch is in good hands of a person who loves it,” I reassured grandpa.

“Who is it?” grandpa whispered in pain.

“It’s Eugene,” I said in equal emotional pain.

“Mr. Drabek, do you want your yogurt,” asked a nurse traditionally dressed in blue with white apron and a starched white hat.”

“No,” sighed grandpa turning away from us.

…………………………………………………………….I remained in the country until Dec. 22.”

What’s your story?

In the pictures: Top, late Vaclav Havel lays flowers at the Velvet Revolution memorial on Wenceslas Square in Prague.

Bottom: Grandpa Joseph Drabek with wife Anna, daughters left to right: Ella & Anna.

For more stories on Velvet Revolution go to https://wordpress.com/post/emmapalova.com/172636

For more info on certain dates go to takemebackto.com

Copyright © 2016 Emma Blogs, LLC. All rights reserved.

27th Anniversary of Velvet Revolution

Masses commemorate 27th anniversary of Velvet Revolution in Czech Republic in  march for freedom

By Emma Palova

Lowell, MI- I watched the live stream from the demonstrations commemorating the 27th anniversary of the Velvet Revolution in Czech Republic with mixed feelings as they turned into protests against the current government. That is mainly against the third president of the Czech Republic, Milos Zeman.

Only yesterday hundreds of college students walked out against the President-elect Donald Trump in the USA following high school students’ and citizens’ protests across the nation.

In a time of political unrest all over the world, I attempt to dissect everything impartially. I don’t know if it is always possible to be totally without any bias because I don’t live in social isolation.

“Milos into the trash,” reverberated the crowds marching from the Prague Castle Square known as “Hradcany” across the Manes Bridge over the Vltava River and onto the Wenceslas Square. A stage was set up by the King Wenceslas statue for a concert for freedom in the evening.

At times the crowds used the 1989 slogan of the Velvet Revolution, “It’s already here,” That was a reference to the movement started by students in memory of the death of Jan Opletal by the Nazis in 1939.

ew-vaclav-havel-head

“We don’t want another totality,” was the message for the Nov. 17, 2016 events. “It’s already here.”

“It was always here, then and now,” I say while watching the history repeat itself.

I was still in Czechoslovakia in that critical period of time from Nov. 17 to Dec. 10, when the communist officials including former president Gustav Husak resigned under pressure.

A democratic coalition and an economic forum led by former dissident Vaclav Havel replaced the dictatorship.

I was finalizing my emigration to the USA to join my parents and my husband, who had already left the homeland for Austria in 1988.

I dedicate a few chapters in the Greenwich Meridian © memoir to this difficult time in my life, when I was living alone with my kids. My grandfather Joseph Drabek was already in the hospital dying from lung cancer.

In those 23 days from Nov. 17 to Dec. 10, 1989, I learned more than I have learned in all the schools: past and present, physical or virtual.

I’ve learned that a change in the society is possible as long as enough people want it, and if they are willing to stand behind their beliefs in face of adversity by taking action.

The 1989 demonstrations for freedom from the communist dictatorship spread across the country. I was standing together with thousands of others on the town squares in the cold November nights, sporting the tri-color ribbons on the lapel of my coat.

My friend Zuzana was watching my two-and-a-half year old son Jake in the stroller, while her boyfriend was speaking from the podium.

We all took part in the change. It didn’t happen by itself. And it didn’t happen overnight. It started with the political movement for the reformation of the communist party known as the “Prague Spring” in 1968.

The Velvet Revolution was 21 years in the making since the Soviet tanks invaded the country to punish the reformers including Havel. Even in prison, Havel, known as the poet of democracy, never gave up.

I’ve learned that anything is possible including my highly improbable exit from the politically torn Czechoslovakia.

I’ve learned that we are stronger than we think, and that we have to make decisions that will impact other people, as well.

Speaking about decision-making.

I was standing on the brink of freedom, with exit visa in my drawer, shaking with cold and not just from the November night, but from the things to come.

The CTK Czech Press Office covered the demonstrations in Prague.

To be continued……..

Copyright © 2016 Emma Blogs, LLC. All rights reserved.

Prague Spring ’68 spurred immigration

Thousands left former Czechoslovakia in the aftermath of Soviet invasion

As Czech and Slovak republics approach the 45th anniversary of the Prague Spring invasion of Soviet and Warsaw Pact troops on Aug. 21, I continue to work on my memoir “Greenwich Meridian.”

The memoir tracks the history and present of our family immigration saga which now spans three generations. It was directly spurred by the Soviet invasion in 1968 also known as Prague Spring.

Like many other Czech expatriates living around the world, our family left the country as a result of the Soviet occupation of former Czechoslovakia.

Soviet tanks invaded the streets of major cities in former Czechoslovakia.
Soviet tanks invaded the streets of major cities in former Czechoslovakia.

Here is an excerpt from the second chapter of the memoir titled:

On the run

The 1968 Prague Spring was looming over Czechoslovakia. On August 21st, the country was invaded by Soviet tanks from the East and the armies of the Warsaw Pact. Hundreds of tanks roared all over the country in the full- blown invasion that impacted an entire generation of immigrants to the US, Germany, Canada and Australia. The country was occupied, and the Russians set up bases both in Slovakia and in the Czech part. The Russians were out to punish the Czechoslovak liberal government for creating “socialism with human face.” The movement was led by Alexander Dubcek, and late president Vaclav Havel was part of a signatory group called Charta 1968. A series of reforms were meant to ease restrictions on media, free speech and travel.

          At the time of the occupation, my mother was on a spa stay in Carlsbad in Western Bohemia, a famed town known for its 12 healing springs.

          “I went to the colonnade in the morning,” mom said. “People were crying, listening to the radio. There were huge demonstrations, as people knocked down statues of the communist leaders.”

          Mom had to stay three more days, because the roads were closed due to tanks. Then she took a detour bus through Sumava to Brno.

          “We had a new apartment in Brno, but I left for Vizovice to be with my parents,” she said.

          There was no telephone connection, according to mom. But, the borders were open for anyone to leave freely.

          “ My friends were leaving the country, crossing the border on foot with just a suitcase in their hands,” she said. “I didn’t want to go anywhere.”

 

Copyright © 2013 story by Emma Palova