Day 5 of book tour — April 28, 2011

I have reserved most of Thursday for our traditional loop of Prague-Kralupy-Melnik-Kojetice-Prague. My father was born and grew up in Kralupy. Melnik castle sits high on a hilltop, overlooking the confluence of the nation’s two great rivers — Vltava (Moldau) and Labe (Elbe) — and overlooks the mountain Rip, which is important both in the history of the nation and that of my family. Kojetice is the village in which I grew up, the home of our former clothing factory.

Our friends, Vlada and Marie Svoboda, pick us up at the hotel. After a brief stop in Kralupy, we enjoy the sunshine and view from an outdoor table at the Melnik castle. It has become our tradition to drink a glass of Ludmila wine there (regardless of time of day), just as my parents did before and after the war. On to Kojetice, where we meet our good friend and town historian, Jaroslav Kucera. Together, we place flowers on a monument honoring local citizens who died in the two world wars. The WW-II plaque includes the names of my great-grandfather, grandfather, great-uncle, and godfather. Jaroslav has arranged for a tour of our former apartment and factory. Both are sad facsimiles of what were once a magnificent home and a bustling plant. I had received them through restitution a few years back and sold them, hoping that the buyer would restore them to their former glory. No such luck.

After a brief interlude in the Kucera home — where Mother and I had lived in a single room for several months during the war — we head for Prague and another interview. I spend an hour with Judita Matyasova of Lidove noviny, one of the nation’s major newspapers. Judita doesn’t finish, so she hops in a cab with Sue, Tony Koci, and me to complete her questioning, while we ride to the American Center of the U. S. Embassy. As she departs, Judita informs me that her article will run in Monday’s paper.

Our friend Jana “Stepanka” Matesova arranged for me to speak and read (in English) at the American Center. The session is attended by a small, but very interested, group. Surrounded by flags and a banner featuring my book, I read the “hook” — the story of my shooting a Nazi when I was nine years old. I sign books for those present and for Ambassador Norman Eisen.

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