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As an American born a few months after WWII ended, I have no frame of reference to war, the holocaust and Soviet occupation. I won’t pretend that I know what it was like, but as a human being I think I can understand feelings. There was a Soviet style grocery store down at the end of my street in Vsetín. It was the kind that you walk in and told the person behind the counter what you wanted and then it would be handed to you. The store hasn’t changed much since the Russians left except for...

by Jo Mama on 20/08/2014


Holy Moley! I started writing these refections on my year in the Czech Republic around the first days in July and now it is first days of August!  I realized it has taken that long to remember some, not all, of the experiences of the past 10 1/2 months. I’ve obviously left some stuff out and my reflections on my trip to Auschwitz-Birkenau and Krakow will take up another separate entry soon. But for now, I will dangerously attempt to mention a few names and thank-yous to the people who helped...

by Jo Mama on 02/08/2014


Holy snow-angel, Batman, it’s getting colder! Ok, yes, there wasn’t much snow but the air was briskly frozeny (if that is really a word). I began January by wearing my thermals everyday. Back home in my flat I wasn’t sure where the heat came from but it was always toasty after a long afternoon and evening in the classroom. I’m sure the steam heat came from a central generation plant and it seemed to be on at just the right times and I was grateful for it. I even dried my clothes on the...

by Jo Mama on 24/07/2014


The Capital City, Prague…so this is what I missed when I arrived in the Czech Republic dazed and confused back in August. Why didn’t any one tell me I was walking away from the city center when I left the Hotel Terminus for a bit? Had I gone in the opposite direction, I would have stumbled onto Wenceslas Square and would not have arrived on a road to someplace else. Of course, being a guy, I never asked directions. So now, at Christmas it was time to make up for lost time, well not really lost...

by Jo Mama on 18/07/2014


Do you want to build a snowman? How can one gracefully slip and fall on the ice and pretend “I meant to do that” with any credibility and dignity? Walking across Jasenická Street to Kaufland market (a German hypermarket chain) I slipped and fell on the ice in the middle of the street. Did anyone stop and help? Nay nay, you’re on your own, bucko. Cars just drove around me and if they said anything either I didn’t hear it or I didn’t understand it. I slowly lifted myself off the snowy roadway,...

by Jo Mama on 12/07/2014