© copyright 1998 Slovenian Genealogical Society, all rights reserved
Have you ever thought about history, what it really is, and who decides which event of all those that occur should be remembered as indicative of a time or a people? I certainly don't believe that the press accurately portrays how the majority of the people live. This view is far from original, however. In the 1930's, Tom Harrison, Charles Madge, and Humphrey Jennings, 3 Englishmen, formed an organization called the Mass Observation Archives, now at the University of Sussex in Falmer, England. Since 1937, the people of Great Britain have been able to send their personal comments on their times to an archive dedicated to preserving, not what newscasters are saying is occurring, but what the people themselves are talking about. Absent a Mass Observation Archive of our own, we of Slovenian ancestry must continue to collect and preserve the story of our people. There are many dedicated to preserving the evidence of our culture through the performing arts, literature, and politics. There are few dedicated to safekeeping the history of each individual. Join us. Send us any information you have on the live of Slovenians. Send us books and magazines you no longer want. If you have original Slovenian texts, we will try to find translators so the new generations of non-Slovenian speaking individuals will understand the trials and appreciate the accomplishments of their ancestors. Our thanks to Mr. Carl Chesnik for donating a copy of the St. Mary's Help of Christians, West Allis, Wisconsin, 1907-1957, Golden Jubilee book.
Early this year, F. Joseph Wagner sent us an article from the Sunday Herald News about the Slovenian Heritage Museum, 431 North Chicago Street, Joliet, Illinois. The Museum shares space with the Slovenian Women's Union, it's parent organization. John Dennison has been hired by the Union to organize and provide direction to the volunteers that work for the Museum. I am enclosing some information about the Slovenian Women's Union with this newsletter. Their publication is called Zarja, The Dawn. If you're in the Joliet area, stop and visit the museum. Visiting hours are 10 am to 1 pm daily, otherwise by appointment. Our Society has been looking for a place to display or store some of our material, and we have contacted the museum and will seek to establish some formal ties with them.
We contacted Frank A. Korosec of Euclid, Ohio. Mr. Korosec is a student of Onomstics (one who studies the origin and meaning of last names). He is considering writing an article or two for our newsletter concerning the origin and meaning of Slovenian surnames. Since talking to Frank, I've picked up several books from the library, and have started to look into the origin of Slavic names, myself. We look forward to hearing from Frank.
I've heard from a researcher in Slovenia who will conduct research for our members for a fee. Rudi will charge just $10.00 an hour for work in the city of Ljubljana, $15.00 an hour plus expenses outside of Ljubljana. Please write to us for his complete name and address. We stress that while we do not guarantee the work of any researcher, we have taken great pains to insure that those we recommend are willing to reliably conduct genealogical research.
In an earlier newsletter, I included a listing of books available from Studia Slovenica, PO Box 4531, Washington, DC, 20017, or PO Box 232, New York, NY 10032. Several of our members have received no answer to their query for price lists and mailing charges. We'd like to know if any other members had difficulty in obtaining services from Studia Slovenica.
MY RELATIVES IN SLOVENIA
by Carl Chesnik
Our first stop upon entering Yugoslavia was Lake Bled with it's beautiful blue water and magnificent Cathedral in the middle of the lake. The scenery was breathtaking. At the restaurant overlooking the lake we had lunch of goulash soup, green salad, sacher torte, and Turkish coffee. After a splendid dinner at our hotel, we did some gambling at the Casino. We could only gamble with foreign currency. They would not accept Yugoslavian money. The next morning we took a boat to the island to see the cathedral. We rang the bells which resounded over the lake. On returning to the mainland we witnessed a bike race around the lake. After leaving Lake Bled we arrived at Postojna which we used as a focal point for travel to Zagorje and Starod.
On May 13th we motored to Zagorje. Our first stop was the cemetery. There we chanced upon Joze Cesnik (no relation) who showed us the Mehlacov gravestones. Next, we visited the home of Pa's birth, Mehlacovi. We were greeted by Milka, widow of Maks, son of Ludwig, son of Josef (Pa's brother). Ludwig's widow, Ivanko, now is in a nursing home in Ljubljana. The Mehlacov home is in severe disrepair. It consists of three bedrooms, a kitchen and a living area. Attached to the home is a stable housing several cows, chickens, pigs, and a new field tractor--as modern as could be. The living area was previously the stable. The stable was formerly the living room. Above the stable door was a date, 1875, the significance of which no one knew. After a bit of prsut, domace kruha and Turkish coffee we departed.
At the late Jurij Cesnik's home we met more relatives. His widow Antonia and children, Marija (36), Ivan (44), and Albin (42). Albin and a sister Josie were from Windsor, Canada. Josie was vising her in-laws in another town so we did not see her that day.
We then visited Frank Hrvatin, His wife, Stanislava, and their children, Klementine and Sebastijan. Frank is completing an Alpine type home mostly by himself. It is about 30 by 40 feet and has a basement, first and second floors and a standup attic, where Stana will dry clothes when the weather is inclement. The building is constructed of blocks of cement, wood shavings, a bonding agent and insulation material. He is building a cistern to take care of his water needs and filtration system to make the water potable. His metal stair stringers were welded by him and when complete he will add oak risers and treads.
In Knezak, we visited the Ivan Cesnik home but found only his daughter, Vilma. She is married to Janez Bilc and has a child, Jana (1). Her great grandfather was Pa's brother, Janez. The following day we visited Starod. On coming up the hill to the town we saw the people in the fields, planting. At Milan's home we tarried only momentarily as they were in planting potatoes in the nearby field and had to hurry to complete their work before the rains started again.
At Alojz's and Johana's we visited quite lengthily enjoying a meal of klobase, slanina, cheese, rakija and sok. While there we received a surprise visit from Marija Hrvatin Bubnic, widow of Joze Hrvatin.
At Mucici, we waited 4 hours for Emilija Hravatin Ruzic. She usually came home about 2 pm, but on this day she worked until 6 pm. During the interim her mother-in-law insisted we stay and offered us soup and Italian dumplings (njoke). Her son, Stanko, poured wine while Emilija's son, Miran, played the accordion. We departed with Emilija and returned to Zagorje where we found Jose from Windsor at home. Josie, Ruth and I went to see the village priest at the town church which may have been frequented by Pa. Here we received more information on our ancestors. We now go back to 1752 to great, great, great-grandfather Blaz and his wife, Marija. Leaving the church, I had a profound feeling of "belonging".
Next, we motored to Belgrade where we found Olga Hrvatin Dzo Dzo, Her husband, Zarko, and son, Gordon. At the hotel, foreigners are charged two and one-half times more for a room than the locals. Zarko insisted we stay in his apartment. He arrived at 7 am the next morning to carry our luggage to his apartment. We had a very delicious breakfast which included Slivovic and wine. I think I could get used to such a breakfast! Zarko is a teacher in a technical school; Olga is a "testil inzenir" and Gordon is just graduating from high school. He will go into the armed services for eighteen months, after which he will attend a university to study linguistics. He is fluent in English.
Olga is a successful business woman. Her knit dresses are in great demand and usually command a price of $150 per dress. While in Belgrade, we were given a tour of the town and countryside. For dinner we visited the "Restaurant Kod Raca". After that we visited many historical places including memorial buildings dedicated to kings and royalty and the fortress of Kalemegdan, which is situated at the confluence of the Danube and Sava Rivers. We then said our warm goodbye's to Olga and her very hospitable family!
Driving along the eastern border of Serbia and Greece we arrived in Athens, Greece on May 18. Our hotel was near Syntagma Square in the middle of town. Barbara arrived the next day and we bused her back to the hotel. That evening we walked to the Plaka district for dinner at a roof top restaurant below the Acropolis. The following days we took a tour of Athens and an island cruise to the islands of Aegina, Poros, and Hydra. They were picturesque and sunny. The sea was a beautiful blue. Next we traveled to Delphi where we drank the water from the spring of the Oracle of Delphi--where the Oracle of Delphi sipped before issuing her visions.
On the 23rd, we returned to Yugoslavia, visited Titov Veles, Sveti Stefan, Herceg Novi, Dubrovnik, Motar and Sarajevo where we stopped for a picnic lunch on Mount Trebevic. Ruth and Barbara bought a few geological specimens home with them from Trebevic. The 29th found us in Portoroz after many harrowing narrow mountain roads. The Hotel Bernardin was an oasis of rest and relaxation. Here we met Jake Chesnic, Elfie and their son Bill. They had just arrived from London, England.
On the 30th, I took Jake and family to Zagorje where we stopped at the cemetery. Jake took many pictures of the cemetery stones so his roots could be verified. Jake saw the Mehlacov homestead and also visited the home of the late Jurij Cesnik. After many pictures were taken, we headed for Mala Pristava and Sucieta where Elfie had a happy and tearful meeting with an aunt and uncle she had never seen before.
On returning to Portoroz I invited Lucijan Ujcic and his family for dinner the following evening. Then we celebrated Jake's birthday at a local restaurant. The next evening when Lucijan and his family came to visit us, his daughter, Ureka, seven, presented Ruth with a red rose and me with a music box on which Al played "box kja rada imala?" Barbara was given an embroidered handkerchief. His wife, Dvorka, and his daughter, Natasa, fifteen, were very lovely. Our dinner at the restaurant was a happy one. We returned to our hotel room and a short time later Jake and his family joined us. Barbara was the best of hostesses, pouring the wine, fruit juices and so on. While there, Lucijan dialed his aunts, Rosina and Marija Ujcic in Rome, Italy. Marija recalled how she and Pepo (our Joe) played together as youngsters in Starod. They also inquired about Mike. We said our goodbyes to the Ujcic's about 11:30 pm.
The next day we left Portoroz and headed for Lipici to see the famous Lipizzaners perform. We returned to Lake Bled. Barbara had not yet seen it. Ruth promptly sprained her ankle. Barbara, again, performed like a dutiful daughter and secured ice for the swelling. Leaving Bled we travelled to Rothenberg, Oberammergau, and saw the castles of Ludwig, Linderhof included. At Rothenberg I thought Ruth and Barbara would never leave the Christmas stores--all I could think of was "how were we to carry all the purchases home?" But leave it to the women, they found a way--ME!
While we had a tremendous time we all were happy to return home!