Enjoying the present while looking at the past

—Friends research geneology in Czech Republic
Schley - Geneologists, world travelers, history buffs, community supporters, best friends. Those are just a few of the words that describe Eileen Tlusty and Michael Klimesh.
The octogenarians have more energy than those half their age.
On their trips to the Czech Republic, and there have been many, they are on the go  . . . non-stop! For the past few years, they have traveled to the home of their ancestors for a few months annually. Last year, they upped their travel time to twice — one time in February/March and the other over the holidays, November/December.
“I always try to find a good deal on airfare. We’ve spent anywhere from $450 to $1,400 for tickets. And it is usually up to 24 hours of travel time. That includes flying and sitting around waiting for the next flight,” Tlusty said. “We usually fly from Minneapolis to Paris or Frankfort, Germany.”
Home base
Every time they visit Czech Republic, also known as Czechia, they rent an apartment for their stay. It is better than a hotel since it is much less expensive. “They have a laundry service, and they clean our apartment! I wish I had that here,” Tlusty laughed.
The first week of their stay, they usually recover from the trip over and get acquainted with the area, and after a few days, they sharpen up on their Czech language skills. Their last visit, they stayed in Prague.
They found they were just two blocks from a grocery store a half-block from restaurants, a mini mart and beauty shop!
Also nearby was a farmers market. “It took us an hour to walk from one end and back. We would spend a couple hours there. At Thanksgiving and Christmas, there were markets everywhere to go shopping. They had scarves, sweets and hot wine!” Tlusty said.
The duo walked a lot while in Prague, the Czech capital city. “They had nice fishing stores. Michael likes to trout fish.” They even found a McDonald’s and stopped for coffee.
Always making friends wherever they go, the week of Thanksgiving, their cleaning lady gave them a darek (gift) of jitrnice (Czech sausage).
They use their apartment for home base. From there, they travel around, visiting towns and villages, finding information on their own families, as well as local heritage. They also visit family and friends they have met on their trips.
Working vacation
One stop they always make is in Brno, the town where her dad’s side of the family (Lentz) live. “We stayed there for six days. We found the grave site of a great-great-aunt and uncle.”
Tlusty and Klimesh spend a lot of time in libraries and archival buildings looking up information on their own families. “I’m doing this for myself, but I’m doing it for other people, too,” Tlusty explained. “Some people ask us to find information, and some we do on our own, especially if we run across a name that is local.”
The couple visited Ceske Budovice, where they stayed a week. “We spent hours and hours looking through piles of books and passports and ship records. The building is huge. Some stuff goes back to the 1200s! We got about 300 pictures from their archives.”
Not all business
On one of their excursions to visit relatives, they found a St. Martin’s Day celebration. “There were 100 wine distributors and knick knacks. It was a wonderful festival,” Tlusty recalled.
The couple also attend various concerts, which are normally held in an auditorium or church. They mostly listen to blue grass and country music.
In Zverkovice, they visited the original Klimesh farm. They toured the old-fashioned homestead from the 1700-1800s. “There were chickens and ducks just running around there,” Tlusty stated. His ancestors also came from Purkarec.
They also visited a friend, Michael Cwach, who is originally from South Dakota. He lives in the small village of Hodonice, which doesn’t even have a grocery store. The barn/house dwelling was built in 1816. “It still has the old-fashioned stove and old wood floors. We went into the woods to cut down the Christmas tree.”
There is also a wide array of food across the country from which to choose, including duck, ribs, goose, carp, trout and dumplings.
During their down-time, they played prsi, a Czech card game.
Christmas traditions
The Americans are not afraid of trying new things, and as long as they were in Czechia over Christmas, they wanted to experience a different culture’s holiday.
Tlusty noted, “The Czech people really celebrate Advent big time. Everything closes down on the day before Christmas. Businesses are closed on Dec. 24 or they close at noon. On Christmas Day, only about 40 percent of the pubs were open. Our traditional Christmas dinner was fried carp and potato salad.”
Small world
[Remember, the Czech Republic is in the center of Europe and Howard County is in the Midwest.]
On one of their recent trips, Tlusty and Klimesh went to a family reunion of some good friends. As they were sitting there, they started talking to some other U.S. citizens. The conversation went something like this:
Stranger: Where are you from?
Tlusty: Iowa.
Stranger: Us too. Where in Iowa?
Tlusty: Northeast Iowa.
Stranger: Really? Where?
Tlusty: You wouldn’t know? It’s called Schley.
No longer a stranger: We’re from Saratoga!
Darrell and Donna Souhrada made a trip to his ancestral land for a Souhrada family reunion, a distance of about 4,600 miles, and found some new friends who live just 15 miles from their Iowa home!
After their latest trip, the couple helped make plans for Masopust, the Czech Mardi Gras, held in Protivin on March 2. Now that it is over, they will probably make preparations for their next trip to the “Old Country,” and Tlusty and Klimesh will have even more stories to tell!

Cresco Times

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