(Written by Charlie Krizek upon his return from a visit
to the Czech Republic) November 2, 2000; (edited a bit by Barb Horak)
On October 15 my wife, Vicki, and I arrived in Prague, Czech Republic. We had made arrangements with Tomas Fried to meet us at our hotel on Monday afternoon to take us to Velka Ves to see the Kubalek home and meet other members of the Kubalek family. About 5:00 p.m. or so the phone rang in our room and Vicki answered. I could tell she was having trouble communicating with the person on the other end. After hanging up she told me it was Tomas on the phone and he had confirmed our meeting with him the next day. She also thought maybe he and his wife were in the hotel lobby and that I should go down stairs and check it out. What a nice surprise when I got to the lobby and there stood Tomas and his wife Katerina. They joined Vicki and I in our room for a short visit before Tomas had to go on to work at the University. (Note: Katerina is descended from the same Kubalek family. Her sister, at that time, lived in the Kubalek house in Velka Ves.)
Katerina and Tomas Fried with niece and nephew.
The next day, Monday, October 16, 2000, we met Tomas and Katerina for the trip to Velka Ves. After a subway ride across town we arrived at an apartment complex. Here we met with Frantisek Kubalek who had an auto and could drive us from Prague to Velka Ves, about an hour and a half ride via country roads. The countryside was very nice and reminded me of northeast Iowa. It was easy to see why the Kubaleks chose to settle in the Midwest. I'm sure the Clutier area felt a lot like home.
On arriving at Velka Ves we were met by Frantisek's wife, Renata, and their two children, Frantisek and Kristyna, ages 6 and 2. The children had picked some wild flowers and gave Vickie a bouquet. While we looked around the village and visited, Frantisek went to get "Uncle Joe" Kubalek who is 86 and would be my Grandmother's first cousin. He is the son of Frantisek who was Vaclav's (my great-grandfather's) brother.
"Uncle" Joe Kubalek, visitor Charlie Krizek, Frantisek Kubalek,
and his son, Frantisek Kubalek standing in front of the
Kubalek house in Velka Ves, October 2000.
(note: Uncle Joe would be the older Frantisek's uncle)
Uncle Joe arrived all dressed up to meet the relatives from America and after some pictures, we all went inside to see the house and visit over a supper of Czech goulash and dumplings, washed down with a few bottles of pivo (beer). Frantisek (born 1940) still lives in the house and got out several pictures of family members. "If only we could speak the same language, the stories we could tell," Joe said. All I can say is how true! What a moving experience
After hugs and handshakes good-bye, Tomas, Frantisek, Vicki and I got in the car to return to Prague. On the way back we stopped off in Lukavec to drop off some things for Iva Zeman, sister of Katerina Fried and Renata Kubalek. She and her husband, along with Frantisek and Renata and their children live in a house owned by their father, Stanislav Zeman, grandson of Stepan Kubalek, a brother of Vaclav Kubalek. Stanislav Zeman and his wife currently live in Moscow where he is employed at the Czech Embassy, so we were not able to meet them.
Across the street from the Zeman house was the church. The lights in the church were on and I told Tomas that Vicki and I wanted to walk over and see if we could get a look inside. Imagine our surprise when we looked in and Mass was going on. After kneeling in the back while the priest consecrated the Host, we looked at each other wondering if we should take Communion. We both nodded at the same time. I'm so happy that things happened the way they did, but I'm sure eight little old Ladies and a priest are still saying, "Who were those strange people?"
Notes from Barb: Charlie told us also that his grandmother, Fanny (Kubalek) Pelisek, had said that when she left the old country at age 8, the family had gone to Mass in this very church, then to an aunt's home for a meal, and then left for the new world. Charlie felt very thankful that he too, had partaken of Mass, and felt a mystical connection with his grandmother and her childhood country as a result. It was a very moving experience for him.)
Charlie and Vicki came to Lillian Horak's home south of Cedar Rapids on November 5th and told their story and showed pictures to the family. Those present at Lillian's home were Lillian; her son Don Horak and his wife, Barb; her son Richard and his wife, Janice, and son, Nicholas; Lillian's brother George Pelisek and his wife, Lela; and her brother Fred's wife, Verna Pelisek. We were all very glad to hear about our family in Velka Ves.)
Charlie also said that communication was difficult. Tomas spoke some English but Charlie and Vicki could not speak Czech, and the communication was limited with the Kubalek relatives. It was very emotional to be with the family, but the language barrier was frustrating.
Kubalek Family Page Kubalek Stories Kubalek Pictures in the USA
Kubalek Pictures, page 2 Kubalek Homes in Velka Ves Kubalek Graves in Velka Ves