Exploring History Lunch Lecture: “Texas Czechs: Family, Friends and Music” (Ronnie Horcica)

(gentle upbeat music) – I’m glad to be here today, and thank you for the
invite, I appreciate it. The timing is good
because Texas recognizes the month of October,
as Czech Heritage Month. And so the timing is
very good to select this. And we appreciate that very much. And also it’s great to be here. And I’m glad that you all came here today. It’s really for our Mayor pro
tem’s birthday celebration, is why we’re here today. ’cause today is her
birthday, Linda Harvell. So let’s all wish (clapping) her a very happy birthday today. (audience clapping) And we’re glad that she is here. Well it’s hard to try to narrow down in a short time period
about the topic for today. And so it’s probably
gonna be just going back and forth, different things. But hopefully, we can let
you know a little bit about what’s going in the Czech world, and how it made an impact
to the state of Texas. So we’ve got a little slide show that we’ve kinda be going with too. First of all, there I
am and there’s the name. And, how many of you
we’re probably gonna learn of Czech word today? And probably the first Czech
word you’re gonna learn is this one right here. (audience laughing) That is, what do you think that is? Some of you probably
know, some of you do not. But, what do you think that looks like? Here it is. Mustard, it’s a bottle of mustard from the Czech Republic,
off the grocery store. And I’ve got several collections of those from people who’ve gone
to the Czech Republic and bring that back. And that is my name. So, what do you think
my name means in Czech? (audience mumbles) Mustard, very good. So your first word, my last name. Horcica is the why we’re
gonna say it in Czech. If I’m on this side of the
river, it’s gonna be Horcica. On the other side of the
river it’d be Horcica. Folks there in Burton County, Lee County, some of those folks there. There’s an interesting
story about my name too, when I started working for the City of College
Station Police Department, back in the early 90s, I’m sorry, the early 80s, I started in 84. And, long story short, I had a coworker who was
the chief’s assistant, administrative assistant. And, she was looking at that name, and she says, “You know,” ’cause we’d say at the police department Horcica, Horcica, Horcica. she says that’s funny because
my mother in law’s name her last name was Horcica. (audience laughing) Well, this is Cheryl Walker, he was married to Larry Walker, His mother was a Horcica
before she got married, she married Amy Walker and some are both, so Cheryl did not know that she would be a cousin by marriage to me, but it was funny how she
found that just because of the different pronunciations, she finally got it to get in
together that we were related. Also, there’s a little table here, if you get a change just a
couple of books and stuff. You can look through, here’s
some Czech things here, it’s hard to put as much as you can, and a little bag to bring here. But anyways, you get a chance you can. Well sometimes you know, as Czechs, we can’t go to certain places, as you know.
(audience mumbles) There are certain stores
and places like that. And the first thing we
see is no Czechs accepted. And sometimes it gets even worse. First of all, you’re not allowed. Second time, if you come back again, apparently there’s a service fee. (audience laughing) So you have to kinda watch out for some of those things there. So I’m gonna talk a
little bit about my family just to give you a little background about where I am as far
as in the Czech Heritage, and we’ll kinda start from there. And then I think you can kinda see some from the family traits that
I’ve been able to bless me with. That you can kinda see
some of the linkages, you’ll probably gonna
have some similar stories, for those of you who are Czech
or just not even non Czechs, that’s the call will Czech
call at you festival theme, come and be a Czech for a day. So everybody can be a Czech,
and somebody’s got to Czech, probably some kind of way in them. But you can probably see the relations and the hard times that all
of our earlier people had just coming to the state of Texas. So first of all, I’m glad
to have my dad here with me. He’s right here. And so my dad was one of
three out of Cabo, Texas. This is a picture of him
and his sister right there. My mother was number 11 out of 12. And she was from snook so both
Burton County folks there. And this is a picture of her siblings. This would be my mother right here. She was the baby girl, and then she had a baby
but she’s number 11. And then Leo there is number 12. Now you see 10 people there. There were two people who died as infants, sometimes that happened,
but Sadie right over here. She had an infant before her and then after her that died as babies. So there was 12 of them
total but 10 survivors. Then on July the ninth 1961 my mother, dad had gotten married. They live in Bryan 1,100 square foot home. Daddy did not know how he’s gonna make that $83 house payment every month. (audience laughing) And also my mother had a bad experience because he was at work and
then this category five storm called Carla came through her,
and she had to experiences his house by herself with things slamming against the windows, the
doors, the heavy right and everything like that going on. So that’s her memory of getting married there shortly after that. Then in February is 63,
while playing dominoes in about 9:45 p.m. an eight
pound three oz a boy was born, the first boy of four children. And so his name was Ronald. So dominoes would do it, so if
you have any folks that are, (audience laughing) With child, dominoes may do it. And I was the first of four have a sister, a brother and then a sister. I was the third grandchild,
and the first grandson of my daddy’s parents on his side. So the third grandchild
and first grandson. And this is a picture of my father’s dad, Edward was his name. And so that was my grandpa. His daddy was named John
Horcica and back in 1868, he was born in Czechoslovakia
and came into Texas around the 1900 time period. So that’s when he came,
and then he married my great grandmother, in 1903. And with that union was
three boys and three girls, but his wife had also
had already a one son. So there were seven total. And they lived in the Providence area, they’re outside of Caldwell. And just like many, they had
a hard life working fields. Transportation was by
mules, plows and wagons, the big gardens, vegetables
caning, and that area, there’s plenty of mustang
grapes that could do jelly and wine, of course, raising
cattle, hogs, chickens, neighbors next door always
helped them butcher things, at a smokehouse, and of
course, all the children had to help out on the chores. And of course, the cotton
corn they would pick and then they’d be off to school. But the one thing I needed to
purchase was things like salt, pepper, flour, sugar, crackers, things like that to go with
the things that they raised their on their farmland. And then in 1936, my grandpa
here married my grandmother, Francis, it’s Paul the way it’s spelled, but in Czech, you’d say
that Paul that P-A-U-L. And so it looks just like Paul and a lot of people say it as Paul but it’s actually pronounced
in the Czech world Paul, and that’s why they
of course, she said it. And of course they had three children and then in 1946 my
great grandfather here, his mother dies and then later
on his daddy died in 1949. And they’re both buried New Tabor Cemetery outside of Caldwell
referred to its New Tabor it’s outside of Caldwell
it’s Novy tabor in Czech. And, of course their tombstones
all have Czech writing. So you have to know a little
bit about Czech to find them, and know who they are. My grandmother was Francis Paul, as we mentioned right there. And her daddy was born in 85. And again, her grandmother was born in 84, so she was one year younger
or older, I’m sorry. And my grandmother here was
the first of 11 children. So she was the first one of 11 children. Again, three of the infants died. They had three infants that
died, so there was just a total of eight remaining and
there were seven sisters, and one brother, so poor fellow. Her daddy died in 52, and her
mother, I remember her mother, which would be my great
grandmother, she died in 73. I was about 10 years old
but I still remember that. So anyways, I was a 24th
grandchild out of a 38 from my mother’s side of the family. Remember she had 10 children. So you can imagine that. So the 24th grandchild out of 38. I think that was probably
like the eighth grandson, there was more granddaughters
and grandsons at that point. And and so 24, so sometimes
when I see our cousins we say, “Hey number 37, how you doing? “Hey 24 How you doing?” Those kind of stuff. (audience mumbles) This is my mother’s
side of the family now. So this would be my grandparents
on my mother’s side. John Macik and then Minnie
Hubenak is the way they’d say it. Hubenak is they say kinda hear it on the Burton County San Motcic. And I have four nephews and two nieces. Just a little bit about my
grandma and grandpa there. Again, they came in Texas in 1883 as far as the Macik’s there, both Minnie my grandmother’s parents, Frank and Anna were baptized
in Nelsonville in 1888. So we know that they were there. And they had six children, total of seven, including my grandpa John there. And basically, my
grandpa was born in 1989. He was honored with a
discharged from the army in 19 at the age of 29, went to snuck single man and that’s where he
married my grandmother, that Minnie Hubenac and that was in 1921. And my grandma was born
great grandma Minnie here, she was born in 1904. So she was about 15 years. And there was 15 years difference between the two there grandpa and grandma. 15 years, which was kinda
common sometimes in those days. But her mother died in 1908. So at four years old, she lost her mother. And then her daddy remarried
and had some siblings with the new wife Tracy. So, again it’s kind of a little hard times there for those folks there. Secondly, I just wanna
talk about the work. This is my grandma Horcica. The thing about my mother’s
side of the parents is my grandpa John, my grandpa Macik, he died in 1949 at the age of 70. That was way before I was born. So unfortunately, no
relationship with him. Grandma Macik died in 1965. Again, so I have no memories of her ’cause I was two years old then. So unfortunately, on grandma Macik’s side and grandpa Macik’s sides,
I don’t really have any recollection of them
other than what I’ve read and found in researched. Now on daddy side there, I was blessed and fortunate
to have a great relationship with her and my grandpa, and
although I didn’t enjoy it in those days, doing a
lot of things with them. Now I cherish those moments and wouldn’t trade that for anything. And I wish I could have asked
for more and talk to more about them kinda thing, different things. Grandma was known as a factory worker, she was proud of herself
because she’s the oldest out of 11 total, eight surviving. But none of her other sisters
did the whole lot of working and stuff, and so she worked at this place called The Linkcare and Bryan. And so her sisters gave her a hard time about being cumber factory worker. She’s out there working,
and no one was gonna stop, but she enjoyed it and she loved it. And she really did enjoy it. As a matter of fact, she enjoyed
it so much that when my dad got out of high school, she told her boss, “You know, I got a son,
he just got out school. “He’s looking for a job.” You know how mothers are. And her boss told her, “Okay,
Kevin come see me on Monday.” And the next thing you do on that Monday he’s coming behind her. He’s already working, he’s doing stuff right
over there behind her. So his mother gives him a
credit for doing that job there. So dad got the full time factor
work too thanks to his mom. My dad also had another
business on the side. He had a snow cone trucks, of all things. He started that shortly
after he got married. And he ran business snow cone trucks. He brought them in neighborhoods
and stuff and he did that. And of course, as we kids
were born and got older, guess we got to help him? And so it was a really
interesting time there. Eventually, he got so
sophisticated with those trucks that he eventually got two trucks and we had two trucks
going through Bryan, Texas. This was the original truck he bought. It’s like it was with an old bright truck initially or something like that. And then he had two of these trucks here, which were mailbox trucks that we got from auction in Houston. And he did that for a long
time, 40 plus years on that. And he really hated to
give away with that. But anyways, so that’s my brother there. And me my brother helped him out. So after school each
day, we got off of school and unfortunately, we
had to hit the trucks. Got in at 9:30 that’s
when we ate our meal, did our homework, went to
sleep and went back to school. So needless to say, we were workers too, so I guess I relate that
because we too pray for rain, because when the rain
we couldn’t run trucks. Remember there are pair of grandparents who are the cotton people. What did they pray for? (audience mumbles) They want to rain too. So those are the exceptions, when it rained we didn’t go. My mom had the full time
job of basically taking care of these trucks because she made all the snow cone served homemade juice, had to clean the trucks,
get them restocked. And that was her day. She at home all the day, so
whenever we were in schools, whatever in time we called mom was there, if we had to go home, mom was there. So a mom was always at home for us, if we ever needed something. But we had to have a
good reason to go home. (audience laughing) That’s when we did our
supper, and in our homework. So dad worked at the Linkcare remember the place where his mother got the job. Finally, his mother was forced to quit because she had not been
truthful about her age, and she was working way beyond her years. That’s how much you love her job. And so she eventually had to quit there. My dad he finally quit there too, after getting that job from his mother. But unfortunately, it
wasn’t until 54 years later, and then he was doing the
snow cone for 14 years. So anyways, 54 years at one company. Everybody told me that my
coworkers at the city says, “That’s what you’re gonna be doing. “You’re gonna be just like your dad.” And says, “oh, I don’t I’m gonna make it that far within the city.” So of course, as we mentioned, retired from the City College Station, very great experience
for me, starting in 1984. You can imagine what happened
in 1984 to the year 2006. And just all the events that
has happened in this city. When you come into this point right here, once you pass the K mark, you’re pretty much
leaving College Station, which is why that period 2018 in Texas. The Plech pam building was
in the south end of the town so once you passed it,
you are pretty much gone. And then they old still
stalking which still stands the ghost thing right before the Baylor Scott & White Hospital. That was way on the county,
that was way on the county. So and then I worked at city of Bryan for two and a half years there. And currently there. So we mentioned working part time at Baylor Scott & White Hospital. Okay, the interest. Well, we had family visitations
with grandma sibling. Were very close with them. She had those six sisters and one brother. And for whatever reasons
on Sunday on that day off and we didn’t have to work in those trucks were usually visiting, of all
things, visiting those people. Even though they were our great aunts, they were not really great,
they were just our aunts. We would just had a close
relationship with them. And then of course, they’re talking Czech and all this kinda stuff. So these kids don’t know
what they’re talking about, just trying to have one
those conversations. But sometimes we picked up keywords, when they talked we could to
tell what they were saying. And then, as kids, we went to the dances, and went to the dances to the
SP Jessie Halls, whatever, even though we might not
be old enough to dance, we were still kids, they would bring us, they put us at the table,
put a blanket over back, put it on the floor, and
that’s where we slept and sat until the dance, or maybe
we get the occasional dance but that was our pop dance
so we got to hear the music. That’s how I was exposed to the music. And so as a result of that, we also we’re listening
to programs on the radio on Sunday afternoons, different
Czech programs and stuff. That’s how you were
exposed to some of music ’cause back then there was
a lot of that going on. We also participate in church picnics, bazaars and festivals. And then whenever I
talked to my grandmother, she would call on the phone, and she would start talking to me English, and then she go into Czech,
and then she go into English, and then she go into Czech. So I had to pick up keywords to see what she was talking about. And so even though I didn’t
understand her full count, I could figure out what she was saying. And especially when she
was referring to him as my dad and not her son, I knew she was mad at him. (audience laughing) And just learning to Czech music had another experience too. Now see that brother John Gann here, he was one of my former
pastors since 1963. He says, I’m a kid, and
I would always go to him to a place called Shiner, Texas to the Shiner Brethren Church. A lot of Czechs came like
in about the mid 1850s is when they started scouting out Texas, that’s when they started sending families and seeing how this place is, just the place we want to go to. And then someone will report back, some of them were not so successful, some of them didn’t make it through those times but most of them did. And then that kinda
led to passing the word back to the folks at the homeland, to come to Texas, come to Texas. But just wasn’t as easy as it sounded because once you got to Texas, you had to establish a
home, get you some land, find some work to do, or do
something in the meantime. But Shiner Brethren
Church is in Shiner, Texas And brother John back there, passionate there about
every quarter there. And so I would always go with him down to Shiner Brethren Church. So this is the wooden
building, wooden floors, no rent bathroom in the church, no air conditioning, stove heater, books and hymliture in Czech. Lot of things flowers
and things on the midmoon everything’s in Czech as
far as like the money stuff, everything’s in Czech. And just that, old fashioned church, bell tower, the whole works and it’s just a great to go up there, Open up those windows and doors and have a service up there. They had the little
outhouses around the corner and the back and just to
learn about the church. So we got there and it
was just a great time, just to mingle with those people. And then the church slows dying down because it’s morning that older generation that are going to these churches. And so it’s slowly died out. So I always had fun trying to talk Czech with some of those older 34
cousins there on mom’s side. And then I had a thought, I said, “Well, I’ve been doing
Saturday afternoon volunteering “at a Christian radio
station for 10 years.” I started that back in 1987. So I’ve been in radio for that long. And that was with a
radio station and Bryan at the time called KAGC was
near the Manor East Mall parking lot, so I know
I’m talking a lot of stuff that doesn’t exist anymore. But right there at the corner
of Texas and Villa Maria. And that’s where Bob and Judy Bell had invested a radio station called KAGC. First Christian radio station
in Bryan College Station. So the first time I went
in there and asked Bob, “Do you have any job
openings or whatever?” And he told me no, he didn’t. Long story short, but he says, “Lemme show you around the radio station.” And he did. And then he said, “You know what, I’ve got
to run some errands.” So he locked me in there for three hours running the board at the radio station. So that’s how learnt radio. (audience laughing) Bob Bell, and I gave him
a hard time about it, whenever I’d see him. But then we talked about
there’s no Czech music over there, in the Bryan College Station. So then I went and
talked to Bob about that. There’s nothing currently the
Bryan College Station market, it’s just very limited
because a lot of folks and the elderly in the
nursing home and stuff, just wanted to really hear that music. So and it also helps to stir the interest in younger generations. So we can announce birthdays, anniversaries, preserve
the Czech activities. And so that’s when I met with the owners about Czech music program. I met with John and Bob
and Judy Bell, I remember. And that was in 1998, we met
at the Old Country Buffet there at the Kroger Shopping Center at Southwest Parkway in Texas. And threw the pitch about
what I wanted to do, about starting a program, he says, “Yes, that sounds good. “We’ll let you try it. “And let’s try it for a
month and see how it goes.” So that was a 1998. That’s 21 years ago, it’s still going. So that’s the scary part. I’d never know that I
have to commit myself to this kind of a hobby, this kind of a commitment to do that. Thanks to the listeners, thanks
to the bands and everybody. So we got some sponsors,
and we were on the air. So then on March the 15th 1998, Czech Polka Hour at the
time, was born 3:45 to 5 p.m. I had to do that program live. And so that was my Sunday
afternoon every Sunday. And this is kinda the way it looked. The old station back then, he
had moved it to Carson street there in Berlin at the time, and now I think KEOS
is now in that station. And so I had to broadcast live, I was able to have telephone interaction, good and bad with people. We had limited technologies, something called cassette tapes. There wasn’t a whole lot
of Czech music on CDs. CDs really didn’t exist at that time. So we had a lot of the cassette tapes. So doing live radio,
having cassette tapes, having somebody call and being a Czech and wanting to talk for 15
minutes, and I’m on the air. (audience laughing) And then asked for a song,
can you play a certain song? I said, “Sure lemme go through my files and find a cassette tape and
hurry before kinda queued up and get it spinned up, you know it takes 10
minutes to queue it up. Those two cassette tapes
get all lined up in there just to push the button and
see the tape gets all messed up and around live radio, so it was consuming a
lot of prep time there. But I was committed to it,
I had to be there whether I was sick or not, because I was the only
person that could do it. And so we got a bunch
of listening support. And so that was kinda the thought there. And of course we’ve had some enhancements. Since then the the name is
change to Czech Polka Time. It’s recorded now and broadcasted on both Saturdays and Sundays. It’s a 55 minute program. The technology is just Changed. I recorded all the music onto
what they called mini CDs. That was a technology back then. Mini CDs was made by
one company called Sony and it’s obsolete technology now. It’s been out of service for 20 years but I still using that now. But I was able to get all
this record albums recorded into their all the cassettes,
so I can easily queue up the music and find stuff. Then a concern was that
local Bob and Judy Bell, sold the radio station to a
place called Bryan Broadcasting right here in College Station. Bryan broadcasting is a big multi station. Now they have up to (soft bang) I forget the last count 10,
11, 12 radio stations now in that building on the fifth
floor of Crystal Park Plaza building here in College Station. KAGC is one of those,
but they have taken on and supported the program from day one Ben Downs and all of his staff
they are just great at that. And every time I see Ben
going down the elevator when he rides down with me
sometimes he always says, “well, you gave another great show today.” And of course I will
say, “Yes sure we did. “So we got to have a good show.” Of course the physical
location College Station and now we’re streaming over the internet. And now we just recently
had a big upgrade. Now We are broadcasting not only on AM but now on 97.3 FM,
which is now 24, seven. The AM side is one of
those old AM stations that has to sign is only on
the air from sunup to sundown. So that’s why FM now is a 24, seven. So the rewards is to worldwide broadcast, committee appreciates support. People are always looking at the different things their. Radios, computers, smart
cell phones and tablets for promoting Czech music
through the Texas bands. I have my a thousandth
broadcast on May the sixth, 2017 and this weekend will
be program number 1128. That means that’s my 1128
weekend in this hobby. (audience laughing) 21 years plus right
there committed to that. And so it’s kind of scary, and on the few times that
I could not be there, I had to record several
programs in advance just so they can play those things. So we’re promoting and preserving Czech heritage through the programming. We have an interaction with
listeners and now we’re able to broadcast Texas Czech
music to the world. Again the current station is
located at the fifth floor of the crystal Park Plaza building right there in College Station. This is what it looks like right now. Kinda a little sample here. You know things computer right it and then that’s my view
there from the fifth floor. The Bryan College Station Brethren Church is right here on this side here. So right there. So the fifth floor, that’s where we are. At least we have windows
facing in that direction there. Now, local NBC Affiliate KXHD TVs, did a story on my work
at the police department and work at Czech Polka
Time, the same time. So I have a copy of that video here. I’m gonna show it real quick. It’s just a story that they did. – Good evening to you. Now when you have a day job you love, and also a hobby that you love, finding time for both can be tricky. – But an employee with the
College Station Police Department makes time for both. After work at the police station, he heads to the recording studio
to host his own radio show. KXHD News reporter Ian Smith
spent the day with the host of Czech Polka Time and
shows us why he’s sharing his passion with the
Brazos Valley and beyond. – [Reporter] Here at the College
Station Police Department Ronnie Horcica spends his day making sure the technical side of
things keeps running. – with our operations being 24/7 we usually have, our computers
are running continually. And so sometimes they have
little burps, little problems and so we have to try to work those out. – [Reporter] Ronnie has
been with the department for more than 30 years. He’s worked in jailing,
dispatch, and now serves as the technical services coordinator. – Usually I’ll check my emails or have messages here about
what’s happened during the night to try to fix, whether it’s a street that they couldn’t address
properly or maybe somebody’s, the most common thing is passwords. – [Reporter] A lot of hats
to wear but he loves it. – I like it because I have the opportunity to interact with our whole department. – [Reporter] Now that
we’ve wrapped things up at the police station, we’re heading down the hallway and out the door. Next stop, the radio station. Getting off the elevator
we make our way in. – Look at the KGC Studios we’re the crystal Park Plaza building. – [Woman] And now here’s
your favorite host. – [Reporter] This is
the place where Ronnie’s show Czech Polka Time comes to life. He’s been on the air for 17 years and just celebrated his 900th broadcast. – Polkas and waltz’s, some were
sung in the Czech language, some of them were just instrumentals, some were in the German language, some in the Polish language. – For Ronnie here Czech Polka Time is more than just a passion. It’s about preserving a piece of history and sharing it with others. – I’ve grown up with some of this music and just like anything,
sometimes it takes someone to kinda keep it going on. Sometimes the younger generations
don’t get too involved in this and don’t want it to die out. – You know, for him to
put in all these hours and to leave here and
go do that every week. It’s something he loves
to do and it’s great. – The day job Which is working
at the police department, maybe it’s more of the kind of the stressful side of my life. But then yet this gives me the opportunity maybe to kinda destress if there’s a, so this is kind of the way that I can kinda calm down
and just enjoy myself. – [Reporter] In College
Station, Ian Smith KXHD News. – You can catch Ronnie’s
show Czech Polka Time at 10:05 in the morning on Saturdays, and at 4:05 in the afternoon
on Sundays on KAGC 1510 AM. You can also listen live on the station’s website and on your. – My little claim the fame there. So you know, it’s a good story though. Okay, talking a little bit
about some stuff we found out a little bit about, the Tex
Czechs and things like that. Recently we went to a conference in Caldwell a couple weeks ago. And it’s interesting for
me to learn something that I did not realize
during the Czech lands there that apparently they’ve
calculated like the rate it takes for a deceased body to decompose. So that way what they do, is they have their grave
sites for rent for 10 years for it to allow that to happen. And then they clean those things out and allow somebody else to go in there. So I thought that was pretty interesting. (audience laughing) 10 years is what they figured it takes for the body to decompose. And so that’s why there’s a 10 year rental agreement for this rent. – [Woman] Would you call that
recycling rental agreement? – I guess so.
(audience laughing) The reason that he brought
this up is you know how some people do their Czech
geologic during the research, these is some of the
obstacles that you run into when you can’t find the bodies. You can’t find the grave
sites and things like this because of things like this going on there in the Czech Republic, and
now that was the only reason why this point was brought up. And I thought that was
just kinda interesting there to see that. That’s gonna be one of
the things that’s gonna hamper you from finding a grave site probably of a deceased person. If there’s even one there,
if there’s anything there it’d probably be a temporary one. Or they just flip it to the next one, and just say now the one
that was right on paths and you just take the next page off and we’re gonna put the next one on here. – [Woman] Can you go back
to that slide real quick? – Yes, ma’am. – [Woman] I have never
heard of this y’all. – Well go to the Czech Republic, they can probably get you a
pretty good agreement right now. (audience laughing) Just you know, time for
space and stuff like that there’re other things
that hamper from people. This is just one of cerebral that was just the point of the thing,
but there’s several reasons why you’re gonna be hampered from trying to find somebody up there. The opposite thing is, it’s interesting. Couple of weeks ago, I was
really more of a month ago we had a missionary come to our church from the Czech Republic, and they brought their
pastor that they have hired there from the Czech Republic to speak. And so he came to our church to speak, he spoke only Czech so the missionary was there to translate. And this is this pastor’s first time to be out of the Czech Republic, first time to be on a
long international flight, first time to be in the states here. And he was amazed that apparently
when they were driving, coming here, they had to pull off the road to the side there and wait because there was house being moved on wheels. He had no concept that,
he could not believe that there was a house moving on the road because you have to remember
during the Czech Republic, those houses are built to
last forever basically, stone brick, and you can’t
do that in Czech Republic. So it’s confusing to him to see something like that happening. So it’s just strange that, we
get used to things like that. And he sees his house on
wheels coming down the road, looks just like a house. And there they can’t do that. I thought this was kinda
interesting here too. This pertains to cemeteries
and most of you know, our original cemetery
here in College Station, originally had what they
call a couple of cemeteries. One of them was the Salem cemetery, which is predominantly a
African American cemetery which is more towards the
front of the cemetery there, between the road and kinda the creek there towards the front. And then on the other side
of that little road there was the Shiloh cemetery, that’s where a lot of
the Czechs were buried. That’s a Czech cemetery. And so, it’s interesting to note that, that this young lady
here did a study finding that the Czech settlers in
Texas kinda settled obviously in the best farmland in Texas, that’s what they came here for. Within their settlements, they
place cemeteries, of course, in less desirable patches
of land, which makes sense. And the productive farmland yields food. That’s how they defined it, 50 or more bushels of corn per acre, pounds more cotton per acre. And so the locations of these cemeteries were on hilltops that helped identify cemeteries from a distance. They were closer to
heaven, better drainage, located in sandy soils and
easier to dig and drain better. Remember that’s the
Czech’s way of thinking. So you look at some of these cemeteries I think it’s Snope, Frenstat, even the College Station
Cemetery it’s on a hill if you go down towards Harvey, of course there’s little hill here. It’s not the best ideal farmland, it’s next to that swamp
there on that one side. And so makes a little sense
that maybe some of the Czechs did take into consideration there because it was not
farmland, not worthwhile. And so anyway, I just thought that was kinda interesting there too, that we were gonna do the best we can to select the best things for everything that we can take into consideration. Just for the remainder time
we have of the time we have well the time running
out on us pretty quick, I’ll do one more thing
at the College Station cemetery there too. Also my grandmother, my daddy’s
mother, grandma Francis, she would always tell me about
the Shiloh that was there, The Shiloh dance hall and
she says it was way out there past College Station up there. And she’s talking about right
next to the cemetery there most of you would know around here, Ken Martin used to have a restaurant there called Ken Martin’s
Steakhouse it was the Shil, right there at Shiloh. And that is what she was talking about. That’s where our dance hall was, and I understand that
some of those structures and walls may have been part
of that dance hall there that was used for the restaurant. And just from the little
brief research that I found, there also was probably a chapel there, at some point there too, we’re
still kinda working on that. And that’s a part of this group here that you can work on there too. That’s the purpose of this group here is just those kinda things
are interesting to find. When I retired from the city, I’ve done everything in my life by myself, Made all the choices,
all this kinda stuff. So one of the things I wanted
to do is find me a spot, so that I can be buried since
I don’t have any children, making sure that my niece
doesn’t just throw me in a trash can and hold me to the road. And if I had a plot of land, that she could at least take me there. So I bought a plot there in the original
city of College Station. I just liked it because most of my life was spent there at the police department which is right across the street there. And what the relationship there to Shiloh and so here is my tombstone
that’s out there now. I already have the
tombstone up and everything. And by the way, thank you
for always bringing flowers. I appreciate that. They’re really nice. (audience laughing) They’re out there, every
time I go up there, I have to pick flowers so thank
you, whoever’s doing that. (audience laughing) Anyways, the purpose of me showing this, is there’s a little reference here called (speaking foreign language),
did you see that right below that my favorite of thirds it’s in Czech (speaking foreign language). That’s the way I close
my program every weekend and have been for the past 21 years. (speaking foreign language), anybody have any idea what that means? Go with God, God’s speed, go with God. So that’s what that means there and it’s on the tombstone there just a reflection of the Czech heritage there. Now on the back side, you’re ready for this? (laughing) Y’all already got me figure it out I just, okay we’re gonna flip it. It says, “Son of Hubert and Billie Jean, “brother of Kathy, Michael, and Peggy. “Voice of Czech Polka Time.” (audience clapping) So that is just a little
marker of my small presentation to Czech Heritage here in this area, so anyways I thought about that but son of, brother of, and
voice of Czech Polka Time. Not much more details than that to have. Some of the things I
wanted to tell you is since I had this great relationship
with my grandmother, Francis, and grandpa Ed, there’s a lot
of stories that I can treasure with them, just showing some of their, I think some of these characteristics that they have as Czechs, us Czechs had that tendency
of being hard headed, we won’t let that dime
go unless we’ve justified where it’s going, and making sure that we get the best return of that. That was one of the reasons
why I made a decision to go in the original
College Station Cemetery because the new Memorial Cemetery is the same price per plots. But this one is a five by 10
and those are nine by fours. (audience laughing) This is 50 square foot and those are 36. I am not going to lose square footage for the same amount of land. (audience laughing) I’ve got a bigger plot
in the College Station original cemetery than I would have in the Memorial Cemetery. So you have to make those decisions and make worthwhile things. So I’ve got bigger plots, y’all can put benches all around me, whatever you can do in through the days. But we got more room and more space, so I got the best bang for my buck there. My grandmother really, I would
spent all my life with her until she passed away in 2010. She was at 98 and a half. My grandfather, he passed
away a little earlier, but the two of them enjoyed so much. Whenever we would go on trips, the first thing we’d always have to do, is I was always tell Grandma before we go, make sure you know the
restroom or whatever, ’cause I know it takes her
a while to get in the car, especially in her older years
she didn’t to get into go. So I says make sure
you go to the bathroom, so she does, okay, so we
get loaded in the car, put it in drive go down
the road, she says, (speaking foreign language). I says it’s what? I’ve got to go to the restroom. And it happened every time, as soon as we get in the car, she had to go to the restroom already. But before we left the house, we’d always have to check the burners, talking about the stove,
making sure they’re turned off. Making sure the doors were locked, all the lights were off again,
’cause we didn’t wanna waste anything we didn’t wanna burn up the house or anything like that. But we always had those great experiences going to wine gardens in Bryan. That’s where she did her grocery shopping. And for the two of them to buy groceries just for a short time period, it took us six and a half hours usually. (audience laughing) That’s because we had to make sure that when we reach for the cans, it wasn’t just the can right there. It had to be way in the
back that had the oldest expiration date that was
gonna last a lot longer. And we had to make sure thing was fresh and squeeze everything and
making sure it was the best. And then checking out,
that was part of the hour that just making sure
that she didn’t get gipped ’cause back then they were
having to punch in those numbers and she was watching
that thing making sure that they charged her right and gave her back the correct change. And we would always make
sure that that would happen. So again, it just shows
that mentality there about these people have worked
so hard for their money. And that back in those days,
that’s the way they did it. Yeah, that’s right. Grandpa collected cans when he retired, he collected these aluminum cans. And so he collected cans everywhere, where they were, and she
always worried about him too, because sometimes he
would be late at night and he’s not at home yet. So I would always have to get in the car and go look at all the
dumpsters in the neighborhood to see if I see any
cans getting thrown out because he was inside of it. We were always worried
we’re gonna find him at the landfill one day because
a truck came and got him. And by the time I got
that station wagon loaded with all his cans, we had cans
tied on the top with a strike everything like on the inside, We took him to get that 15 cents a pound and he was happy getting that beer money and cigarette money. One time we went on a trip
and, when you go on a trip, you bring all your food and stuff, they brought soap powder in plastic bags, sugar, everything like that. So he fixed him a bowl of
cereal one time in the motel. And then we realized when
he got through eating, that this bowl, his cereal
had all soap suds in it. He had used a laundry detergent instead of the sugar that
was in the other bag there. So we worried all about him because he was just blowing bubbles all the way to our next destination. And then we couldn’t
figure out how in the world did he ended up at the next stop with so much money in his
pockets, buying stuff. And he says, when we’re at
that last restaurant we were at he says there was money
all over the table. Somebody had left and
I just picked them up. But it was sad, I brought
grandma home one day, that was back in 1982 from
work and brought her home. And we say went to that
place to let her in house we knocked the door and
grandpa wouldn’t answer. Look like he was seated on the chair. And we knock, knock, knock
and he wouldn’t answer. So I went in the back and was able to break into the house and latch it and come to find out he had
passed away in his chair right there that day. And so it was hard, I got grandma and she went
make sure we got the ambulance and everything going on, so
we called got the ambulance but he had to see she already had a trail like of ants crawling up him so he’d been there for a while. So again he died there in that chair. So that was a tough time but we found him. I got tickled that dadDY
always told me he had a hard time getting
grandma to get a phone. People just back in those
days did not want a phone. She had no use for a
phone, would never use it. Every time I’d try to
call her it was busy. So she figured out when she
got a phone what it was for. And she would again talk in that English and Czech and talk for a long time so she figured out how to do that or I have to tell a story on her. I told one to grandpa but I know one time we went to California and she
likes to pick the flowers, and the cactuses and all
those kind of things. And we were on our station wagon and we got to her a cactus cutting, and they put it underneath the
front seat of the car there. Of course grandma sits in the backseat. We went up a hill and she was like, oh I’m nervous and stuff
looking down there. She lifted up her feet. She was all excited and stuff. And then, unbeknownst to her, that cactus slid underneath
that chair from it, that thing and she put her feet
down right on top of cactus. I don’t know how many hours we spent picking those cactus things
out of her feet up there. I know one time, this is a story too that she called me about
2:30 in the morning. And she calls me 2:30 in
the morning and she says, “I think there’s water leak in my house.” She said there’s water
on the kitchen floor. Well her hot water
heater was in the kitchen and said, okay, I said
well did you call daddy? No, I didn’t call your daddy. He’d be sleeping right now. (audience laughing) I said “Okay, well I’m coming.” (audience laughing) So it just tickles me. So I’m glad that she had that much faith and encouraging me to
know that I could come up there and help her. Just a little bit on my
mother’s side of the family, her daddy died really young in 1949. She was seven the time, so she was really young when he died. And he died supposedly
working on a tractor and then started feeling bad. went in the bedroom, laid
down and he passed away. My mother’s mother, again was working out in the cotton field, picking
up cotton with her daughter and some of my cousins. And then she too, she collapsed
out in the cotton field. You saw a fairly, a little
bigger of a woman there, and they all gathered around her and tried to get her loaded up in the car. They got her in the car. It started raining really bad. The car was having trouble starting but they finally got it started. But it didn’t look good. As a matter of fact, her daughter said she already had passed away. And by the time they started going, they was having trouble
getting to the roads. And so they just took her
straight to the funeral home rather than going to the hospital, because they knew that she had passed. They just know when those things happen. And that’s why they took her there rather than having to go to the hospital again to spend some money there. So it’s just the way
it is sometimes there. Couple of other things just
briefly on the Christmas tradition in the old country
that goes on is carp. You all know what a carp fish is. That’s their specialty for Christmas. They take a carp they
usually get it pretty fresh and if it’s several days before Christmas, they’ll fill bathtub and that’s
where they put that booger. They put him in there
until Christmas times come up and then prepare it for Christmas. And their thoughts are too that baby Jesus is the one brings the
gifts here for Christmas. And so I thought that
was kinda interesting there too, it’s kind of a different take on what we have here. So anyways, those stories I
had the honor doing privileged. The Texas Czech Geological Society is one of the groups
we mentioned there too. They come up with a lot
of publications and books. And they came out with
a series on this here. And the interesting thing is
there is I had the opportunity to write stories about my families. And so in this book, there’s
several pages dedicated to a lot of those stories
that I just told you, and some of those pictures about my mother’s side of the family. And then this book here, has it on my father’s side of the family. And there’s a picture of
my grandma and grandpa, with their wedding picture. And so it’s interesting to be able to at least capture that stuff. So that sometimes in the future, somebody can maybe not have to go through so much trouble trying to
get some of those dates and things like that recorded. And this is just two of several books I have in this series. It may be a great idea to
get something like this in this library with our influences of Czechs here because it has
a lot of names and stories. Some of those are probably
people that you know also. And another book that they
come out with this right here. And this one just came out and
it just has a lot of names, and just talks about a
memorial to the Czechs of Texas for the work they
carried out in the years of 1914 to 1920 to benefit the
liberation of their homeland. And again, in those time periods, it has some of my daddy’s family, my mother’s family, a
lot of folks that I know that were just mentioned in here in some of those pictures
especially over around Novy Tabor, which is New Tabor and Snook in those areas there Caldwell. So anyways, now that we’ve
got a lot of information that we went through
just kinda threw it up a lot of but I’m not the
expert in this business. But does anybody have any questions, or comments, or thoughts,
or relations, or anything? (gentle upbeat music) (audience speaks in distance) – [Ronnie] Absolutely. Yes, sir, yes, Linda. – [Woman] What a beautiful family, what a beautiful story. I would have loved to
have grown up with them. – [Ronnie] Yeah, it was great like I said. You don’t appreciate what you have until it’s times like this, that
you go back in reflection. You don’t realize what kind
of opportunities that you had. And that’s why it’s very
important for you to pass on those traditions and
those things to your children and let them know what happened. So they can, know what happened. So they don’t have to do this stuff. Although the information
and technology is there, sometimes you run into
some of those obstacles. I know that’s a funny story about the for rent for the cemeteries, but that’s just one example of several things that
you’re going to come into, but maybe you might know
where they were at the time, and you could pass that story on. Just kidding. – [Woman] So can you explain a little bit of the carp in the bathtub? (laughing) You never have I was
gonna look at this story. I’m sure that there’s a
thing about this but yeah, there is um.

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