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Esther Finally Finds Bohemia

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Nearly everyone in America is a descendent of immigrants. That is one of the things that makes Americans such an interesting people. Our ancestors came from everywhere, and combined their religions, foods, music and habits into a new whole.

When I was a little girl, my third-grade teacher gave us a project to interview a grandparent and make a report on the country our family came from. I talked to Grandpa Sabatka, and he said he was Bohemian. Most of the other children had countries like Germany, England, and Sweden that were easy to find on the map. I searched in vain for Bohemia.

Finally, my teacher pointed out Czechoslavakia, saying that it was made up of several small countries, with Bohemia on the western end. I didn't much like the way my country had been treated, but I made my report. I learned it was a good little country, famous for its beer, sausage, crystal and porcelain. It looked beautiful with its mountains and many trees.

Imagine my surprise when I actually had an opportunity to go to the country of my grandparents, over fifty years later. My cousin Leland had visited there in 1991, and kept up a correspondence with many relatives, some whom he had actually met on that trip or when they visited the USA. Our grandma Anna had seven siblings and five stayed in the Old Country. Leland was in contact with the descendents of two of them, Marie, Milan and Stanislav were grandchildren of Julia, and Helena was the granddaughter of Zophia. Leland wrote me that he was planning another trip and wanted some of the cousins to join him. I told him to count me in!

Our itinerary was designed by Cousin Stanislav. Like a 5-star general, he planned every minute of our visit. He arranged who was to be our driver, our translator, where we were to visit, to eat, to sleep. Even when Leland fell ill, he made arrangements for our party to be in two places at once, with the required drivers and translators. We were able to see so many important sites, and meet so many wonderful people, without any difficulty at all, which we could never have done without his leadership.

That's how I found myself sitting around the table with my Czech cousins, day after day, in this little village and that. We were sharing meals and ideas and stories. I related to them the story of how I once had been unable to find Bohemia on the map, and what a thrill to be able to say, "Now I'm here."

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Member Comments About This Blog Post
  • EILEEN828
    What a fantastic trip, you're so lucky to be able to see your long distance relatives. I hope you get to visit them again.
    1964 days ago
  • IMLOCOLINDA
    WOW!! That's amazing. Good for you and hope you learned a lot! I have done only a tiny bit of dabbling in the ancestry tree. It is quite interesting and not at all what I was expecting. You are very lucky to have had relatives for help and guidance.
    1964 days ago
  • TEXASFILLY
    What a great story! Loved to hear about your adventures. Thanks for sharing~ *hugs* BB~ emoticon
    1968 days ago
  • GAILANN48
    What a well-written blog...and a wonderful story! Finally finding Bohemia is a great title, too! Glad you had a good trip, Esther. :)
    1968 days ago
  • SQUIRRELMOMMA1
    You are very lucky to have been able to visit the land of your grandparents.
    1968 days ago
  • KAREN608
    What a great story. Thanks!
    My grand parents seem to come from various countries, Poland, Croatia, Germany. Every time these countries are on the news, I wonder if I have cousins there. No contact with the old country and languages lost. But my Father used to dream in Polish. Only thing he knew to say in that during the day was 'go home and go to bed'. Something his parents said to them a lot I guess!
    1969 days ago
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