Texas in Moravia
The village of Hvozdná, with a population of about 2,000 expands in the northeastern direction from the city of Zlin into which most of the village folk commute to work. Its altitude is 300-340 meters above sea level. The climate is mild. In the surrounding area there are two lakes or large ponds where people can enjoy fishing and other forms of recreation. The village is surrounded by fields and forests. The view from a high spot at the church is romantic and picturesque. Organizations Sokol and Drama Club are very active and will soon celebrate their 100- year anniversary.
The first reference to the village of Hvozdná is said to be the year 1446. However, according to some records, some spots along the Korabek Creek had been settled by first inhabitants as early as 1446. Nobody knows why they had deserted their original settlement and moved to the place now called Hvozdna. Further records give evidence that the village had been settled in 1425.
In the book “Our History” published in 1938 by the National Alliance of Czech Catholics it says:
“The small town with about 500 inhabitants is located in the northeastern tip of the municipality of Wharton five miles south of the city of Austin. An old road called Old Spanish and the South Pacific Railroad run through the center of town. The soil in the area is rich and black, as flat as a desk. The climate is subtropical and the village lies 125 ft. above sea level. Water is found 60 to 100 ft. below ground and is very good. Every home has a vegetable garden. Cattle raising in the area is also profitable.
East Bernard has three churches: Catholic, Protestant and Baptist, Union State Bank in a beautiful new building, two cotton cleaners, 7 general stores, two lumberyards, two pharmacies, etc. There’s also a post office, Texas and New Orleans railroad station, electrical power station from Houston and two social halls: K. J. T. and S. P. S. S. T.
The first expatriots moved here from Fayette and Lavaca at the end of the nineteenth century. They were mostly Catholics, but there were no priests nor churches anywhere near...”
There’s a lot more that we could quote from this valuable historical book about our people who during times of poverty and stress left to cross the ocean to labor in heat and strange difficult conditions in order to ensure for their families a better future. In most cases they were successful...
I enter the church in the village of Štípa on the outskirts of Zlin. It’s full of festively attired people. Organ music resounds through the church. The Prelude in F major by F. X. Brixi, Air by J. S. Bach, Ave Maria by Gounod and other inspiring musical compositions. This short organ concert is taking place on the occasion of the resurrection of the church’s ancient organ. Mr. and Mrs. Clarice and Raymond Snokhous contributed towards its repairs and now they’ve arrived with a group of Texans of Czech origins. Mr. And Mrs. Snokhous are Texas natives with Czech roots.
They visit the Czech Republic every year and almost always give financial support for renovations of some sacred monument. It’s usually in places that their grandparents had come from. In Majdalena in South Bohemia, where by the way they’ve had a beautiful wedding, they bought new bells for the church Clarise’s grandmother was christened in. “Who in your family came from Stipa?” I ask when the concert is over., Nobody,” laughs Raymond and adds, “Somebody simply told us that there was a beautiful old organ and the village has no money to repair it.”
The Snokhous’s, same as for example Milan Vyhnálek (the Cheese King from Tasmania), who also financed organ renovation in the church of his native village Hnatnice, as well as others help to reach noble goals in CR. It’s their way of expressing patriotism, and showing respect for their ancestors. I sincerely feel that we should show more appreciation to these people.
After the concert is over, we make our way to the rectory to enjoy a friendly get-together, where I get a nice book by Josef Pala called. “Stipa”. It is a Marian place of pilgrimage. The motive for building the church was the apparition of a statue of Mary and Child in the 14th century. At the beginning of the 17th century a very wealthy but very ill Lucrecia, made her husband Albrecht from Valdstein promise to build a new church and monastery. She bequeathed a large sum for the construction and Valdstein honored the promise and had that church and monastery built... and that was the place where the renovated organ resounded.
In the evening the whole group of Czech Texans, as they call themselves, moves to Hvozdna. After all, that is why they had come here... Hvozdná and East Bernard are Sister Towns. Last year representatives from Hvozdna went to visit Texas; this year the inhabitants of East Bernard, along with their friends came to Hvozdna.
On the program was a musical, so appropriate for a Saturday night. In the local musical center was arranged a musical concert called Roses for Texas. The performers were amazing local amateurs as well as guests from the Zlin Theater. I had a feeling that the visitors from Texas won’t be too excited to hear musical hits performed by Moravians. Wouldn’t they much rather hear Moravian folksongs sung in national costumes? After a while, I got myself carried away, just like the rest of us by the excellent and impressive performance of the local, amateur Drama Club. Boy, could they sing! How could I have not known, being in Moravia!
After the show and nice refreshments there followed Czech and Moravian songs. Accompanied by an accordionist and a violinist we all sang together those precious and familiar songs so dear to our hearts such as “Ta naše písnička česká, V Hodoníně, za vojáčka mňa vzáli, Vínečko bílé, V té naší áleji švestky se válejí” (my favorite that I’d heard for the first time in Texas.)
Many more followed which made our hearts glad, our vocal cords were strained, and the wine flowed freely. However, we had to go to bed because in the morning…
Yes, the morning was beautiful and sunny and we all went back to Hvozdna, where in the church was celebrated a beautifully sung Mass to honor the Sisterhood. A pleasant walk through the locality including the cemetery followed. After that we went to the Vizovice Chateau and finally to Slusovice for the purpose of buying some glass souvenirs. “That way you can support our economy” announced our guide Lenka into the microphone of the bus that had been chartered to drive us around. Well, I’m not sure that was the best thing to do, because after you finish reading about Slusovice,…
after you finish reading about Slusovice,… However, I admit that Lenka Sovadinova deserves praise. She’s young and pretty, but that would not do her much good unless she knew good English and not only that. She managed to interpret in church during morning Mass even when the priest lost his train of thought and she filled in the information interpreting his main thoughts without hesitation and with a smile. But...
What a mess! The famous capitalistic showcase of Communist big shots looks like it survived a war. A few golfers are strolling through the area where racehorses used to run. A deathly silence as if the time had stopped. There are small stalls selling things around the racecourse, where there used to be sold merchandise normally unavailable to mere mortals. Now these shops are falling apart. The place is empty and deserted. The wind plays around with old torn posters in the scaffolding of the former racecourse. The benches are rotting and falling apart. Sadness and depression is the strongest impression even though the sun is shining. And our disciplined Texas group enters the only glass souvenir shop open, in order to buy something and thus support our economy.” I did the same and bought a pretty glass necklace.
Then follows an afternoon of sports and a barbecue. However, I have to go back to Prague. We all have lunch together before I leave. About a half of the 15- member Texas group can speak at least a little Czech which is commendable since they are all the second or third generation and Czech schools are only now after many years being reopened in Texas. They are all so happy that they can visit the land of their ancestors, get to know this country better, find their roots, and eventually help, as those who are able are doing now...Eva Střížovská
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