My grandfather, Josef Polacek, not long after he arrived from Czechoslovakia in 1912. Actually there was no Czechoslovakia yet, and his mountainside village, Miloshova, was on land under the control of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. As a boy my Grandfather was made to learn Hungarian and to speak it in school. Faced with conscription into Franz Josef’s Imperial Army, he emigrated to the USA.
Though he only attended school for four or five years, he was regarded as the smartest boy in the village. This was confirmed by other family members when I visited his village in the 1960’s. Even then, the only access to Miloshova was a muddy mile-long footpath from the road. There was no running water or indoor plumbing in the houses. He once proudly told me how on the last day of school the teacher gave out apples to all of the students, and he was the only one who was given two. It is no wonder that a man with such humble origins would stand so proudly in his finery for the solemn occasion of having his portrait taken. What a prize to send back to the old country.