Introducing Czech and Slovak organizations in the US: Czech-Slovak American Club of Tucson / Poznejte Ceske a Slovenske Organizace v USA: Cesko-Slovensky Americky klub v TucsonuIntroducing Czech and Slovak organizations in the US: Czech-Slovak American Club of Tucson / Poznejte Ceske a Slovenske Organizace v USA: Cesko-Slovensky Americky klub v Tucsonu | Czechmatediary
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Introducing Czech and Slovak organizations in the US: Czech-Slovak American Club of Tucson / Poznejte Ceske a Slovenske Organizace v USA: Cesko-Slovensky Americky klub v Tucsonu


Czech-Slovak American Club in Tuscon ArizonaThe next interviewee (does that word even exist?) in the new series of Czech and Slovak organizations in the US (and abroad) is the Czech-Slovak American Club of Tucson. Remember the Czech and Slovak Association in Boston? Well, these folks are just as nice and have a 50-year-old history behind them! Once again, I have learned and I hope that you will too…

CZ: Dalsi cesky spolek, s kterym jsem nedavno udelala rozhovor je Cesko-Slovensko-Americky Klub v Tucsonu. Pamatujete si na CS organizaci v Bostonu? No, tak tito lide jsou take velmi prijemni a jeste navrch je jejich organizace 50 let stara! Zase jsem se toho dosti priucila, tak doufam, ze vas rozhovor take zaujme….



1/ You are an accomplished Czech patriot: not only that you are a
leading member of the Czech and Slovak club in Tucson, Arizona but you
are also a founding member of the famous band, the Bouncing Czechs. What came
first? The band or the club? How did they come to exist?

I don’t know about being considered an accomplished Czech patriot. All
my life I have been disconnected from Czechoslovakia and later the Czech
Republic. It was only in the last 12 years that I started to truly feel
an association with my ancestry. I joined the Tucson Czech-Slovak Club
after returning to Tucson in 1995. It was wonderful to have that
connection with people with a similar ancestry. My wife, Sharlot, and I
joined with my Mom and Dad, who had recently moved to Tucson to join us
here. Being musicians, Dad and I quickly made friends with a couple of
other musicians in the club and it wasn’t long before we were making
music together. Initial band leadership came from George Masa, a fine
saxophone player. We were pretty rough the first few years, but after a
while we found better music to play and included better musicians and
the band started to flourish. The Club has been in existence for more
than 50 years. I started doing the Club website about 8 years ago and
now do about 10 websites for various groups. We meet as a Club once a
month, except for the summer and my band plays a couple of times a year
at the club get-togethers. My Dad died in 2001 and My Mom died a few
years later

2/ How many members does you club have? Is it a mixture of 1st
generation Czechs and latter generations? How many of them still speak
Czech?

The club has less than 100 dues playing members. There are some first
generation Czechs and Slovaks, but I think most are later generation,
but still desiring to keep alive some connection with their ancestry.
There are quite a few that still retain the language and we have the
introduction on our website in both languages. Petre Chylik, who now
leads our club is a first generation Czech-American.

3/ You said that you have a 100% Czech ancestry. How did your parents
meet? Did they speak Czech to you?

Both of my parents were born in Chicago into Czech-American families.
Both of my grandfathers were born in Europe. My Dad was a musician and
they met at a dance where he was playing drums in a band. Dad
apparently fell in love with my Mom right away, but she had always been
warned about musicians – and especially a drummer! He pursued her until
she gave in. They were married in Chicago in 1937. They came from
homes where Czech was spoken but as I grew up I only heard a few Czech
phrases and words – like names of foods and familiar Czech greetings.

plzen in 1843 / google image4/ You said that you went to Prague for the first time couple of years
ago and loved it. Did you feel any sense of belonging – like you found a
long lost love? What did you like/hate most about your trip?

The trip we took was a two week bus trip through the Czech Republic,
ending with several days in Prague. I loved being there and seeing the
beautiful countryside and all the wonderful small towns and villages. I
was surprised to see so many castles and so many well preserved older
dwellings. The people were very friendly, especially when they learned
of my ancestry. I didn’t realize that my family name, Prokop, was so
common there. There were many pages of Prokops in the Prague phone book
and I saw the name associated with several businesses there, including
the Prokop Hotel in Prague. Yes, I did feel a sense of belonging,
especially in visiting Pilsn, where my Dad’s father came from. The
thing I liked the best was probably the beauty of the places we
visited. I thought Prague was the most beautiful large city we had seen
in Europe. I can’t recall anything I hated, except possibly that we had
to leave so soon. I look forward to another visit in the future.

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CZ: 1/ Ty jsi Honzo opravdu velevlastenec: nejen ze jsi aktivnim clenem Ceskeho a Slovenskeho klubu v Tusconu (AR) ale take jsi zakladajicim clenem zname Cecho-Americke skupiny “Bouncing Czechs”. Co prislo jako prvni, kapela nebo klub? Jak to vlastne vsechno vzkniklo?

No, nevim, jestli me muzes nazivat velevlastencem. Cely svuj zivot jsem byl od Ceskoslovenska (a pozdeji take Ceske Republiky) dosti isolovany. Jen poslednich 12 let  jsem se skutecne zacal zajimat o me ceske koreny. Zaregistroval jsem se do Tusconskeho CS Klubu v roce 1995 a hned se mi zalibilo, ze jsem tam nasel lidi s podobnym rodovym puvodem. Spolu se mnou se cleny klubu stala take ma zena Sharlot a moji rodice (muj tatinek umrel v roce 2001 a moje maminka zemrela o par let pozdeji), kteri se v te  dobe do Tusconu pristehovali. Jelikoz jsme s tatou byli oba muzikanti, rychle jsme si v klubu nasli nasli dalsi kamarady – muzikanty – a nez bys rekl svec, byla z nas kapela. Nejdriv byl nasim vudcem vynikajici saxofonista George Masa, ale musim vam rict, ze jsme prnich par let jako kapela nezneli moc dobre. Po case jsme ale nasli lepsi hudebniky a take muziku, ktera nam lepe sedla a zacali jsme jako skupina konecne prospivat. Klub existuje jiz 50 let. Ja sam jsem tvurcem nasich webovych stranek, spolu s dalsimi 10-ti webovkami, ktere mam na starost. Setkavame se se vsemi cleny klubu jednou za mesic (krome leta) a take na nasich setkanich nekdy hrajeme s Bouncing Czechs.

2/ Kolik vlastne mate clenu? Jsou to vetsinou Cecho-Americane?

Klub skoro 100 clenu. Mame tam par Cechu a Slovaku, kteri do Ameriky prisli jako prvni generace, ale vetsina z nas pochazi z pozdejsi generace, tedy lide kteri chteji udrzovat spojeni se svymi kulturnimi koreny. Mnoho z nas ale stale ovlada oba jazyky a proto take mame uvod na nasich strankach napsany jak v cestine tak v anglictine. Petr Chylik, president naseho klubu, je 1. generace Cech.

3/ Zminil jsi se v nasem rozhovoru, ze mas ceske predky z obou stran, jak od maminky, tak od tatinka. Jak se vubec tvoji rodice potkali? Bavili se s tebou cesky?

Oba moji rodice se narodili v Chikagu a to do Cecho-Americkych rodin. Oba moji dedeckove se narodili v Evrope. Muj tatinek byl hudebnik a maminku poznal na jednom z tanecnich vecirku, kde hral na bubny. Pro tatinka to byla laska na prvni pohled, ale maminka byla jiz od malicka o muzikantech varovana a to hlavne o bubenicich! Tatinek ji pronasledoval, az to maminka nakonec vzdala. Vzali se v Chicagu v roce 1937. Oba prisli z rodin, kde se mluvilo cesky, ale ja jsem vyrustal v prostredi, kde jsem slysel par beznych ceskych frazi a slovicek, jako jsou ceske pozdravy a ruzna jmena ceskych jidel.

4/ Take jsi se zminil, ze jsi nedavno poprve navstivil Ceskou Republiku.  Prislo ti, ze jsi nasel svou jakousi dlouho ztracenou lasku? Co se ti z vyletu libilo nejvic? Co nejmene?

Ano, byl to dvou tydenni vylet autobusem po celych Cechach a poslednich par dnu jsme zakotvili v Praze. Byl jsem ohromen ceskou prirodou a temi malebnymi mestecky a vesnickami. Take  jsem byl dosti prekvapen, kolik hradu a zachovalych starobylych budov mate! Lide byli velmi pratelsti, hlavne kdyz jsem jim rekl, ze me v krvi proudi ceska krev. Vubec jsem nevedel, ze me prijmeni (Prokop) je v Cechach tak bezne. V prazskem telefonnim seznamu jsem nasel nekolik stranek plnych Prokopu, i dokonce par byznisu bylo takto pojemenovano jako napriklad Hotel Prokop v Praze. A ano, citil jsem se jako ze sem patrim, hlavne kdyz jsme navstivili Plzen, rodne mesto meho dedy. Vsechna mista ktere jsem navstivil byla nadherna; ze vsech Evropskych mest, ktere jsem kdy videl je Praha ta nejkrasnejsi. Nemuzu rict, ze se mi neco vylozene nelibilo, akorat to,ze jsme museli odjet. Uz se tesim, az se do Cech v budoucnosti zase vratim.

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5 comments… add one
  • Vlastimil March 27, 2009, 9:57 am

    I cannot help it, but when (very rarely) I go to Czechland, I feel like a complete outsider..
    On the other side, I love to be able to buy beer at 6am …:))
    It is amazing that Czechs of second or third generation still feel kind of belonging to Czechland.
    My grandmother was German, and I definitely don’t feel any ties to Germany or even German culture…
    I can imagine how hard it is to organize all these CS clubs and I understand these people are very proud to be Czechs..(Knedliky rock!!)

  • Tanja March 27, 2009, 3:14 pm

    I completely agree with you, Vlastiku. It really is amazing how 2nd and 3rd (and also the 27th??? 🙂 ) generation Czechs still lean toward their Czech heritage….there must be some STROOONG dominant gene in us that makes us behave that way!!

  • Ishii March 27, 2009, 6:05 pm

    Je to tak, říká se tomu syndrom druhé generace :).

  • Michal June 1, 2009, 12:33 pm

    Ahoj, mohli by ste mi poradit nejake stranky alebo dobre a celkom lacne ubytovanie pri University of Arizona, Tucson_
    Dakujem

  • Vlastimil June 2, 2009, 1:16 pm

    Michal, myslim, ze University of Arizon )jako kazda jina), ma studentske ubytovny a ruzne scholarships pro cizi studenty…Nejlepsi informaci ti poskytne sama univerzita…Zavolej si tam a zeptej se….

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