TATRA AREA RESEARCH GROUP
© TARG All rights reserved.
Newsletter for April-November 2006
Vitajte (Welcome) TARG members! To use a Mark Twain line, news of my death - and that of TARG - were greatly exaggerated. Sorry to have been away from the action so long. Many things have happened in the last six month, including a change in assignments at work and our 91-year-old Uncle going through (and surviving again!) two months of radiation treatments for cancer on his neck.
The other good news is I am back in the saddle again and will try to be regular about newsletters. Many of you have written to tell me you miss them - thank you. I have managed to update the TARG website at www.e-TARG.org and also keep the hackers off the guestbook. By the way, there have been at least 35 new postings since the last TARG newsletter, so go have a look if it has been a while. I've also learned my supervisor at work is not a Czech as he supposed, but that his PETREK and ZALLEDRA roots come from our TARG villages of Spissky Stvrtok and nearby Letanovce. What a small world!
I have also kept up on my Slovak lessons and can now read much more and even speak some. I have a lot more to go to become fluent, but the language is not such a mystery to me anymore. I can honestly say I agree with Helene Cincebeaux, that Slovak is an elegant language that makes a lot of sense and is also very compact. I'll share much more in future issues.
-- Paul K. Bingham
1. TARG's new website: http://www.e-TARG.org our congratulations to Lucjan & Maria Soltys and the birth of their daughter Malgosia!
2. Helene B. Cincebeaux's new 2007 Treasure Tours Schedule is out! Go to her website at: www.Our-Slovakia.com
3. Daniel Kisha, who has TARG family ties, also runs the Slovak Import Company. He currently has copies of the book "The Slovak-Polish Tatras" for only $25, a must-have guide for anyone with roots in the TARG sphere. The link to the book is: http://www.slovakic.com/index.php?category=BMTRAVEL.
4. Daniel also offers Christmas gift baskets you can have sent to your relatives and friends in Slovakia. See this link: http://www.slovakic.com/index.php?category=CHRISBASKETS for more information.
I'm sorry I haven't gotten to many of your letters. Will try to catch up on that!
TATRA MOUNTAINS BOOK - PART 9__________
Chapter 4 "Local Colour":
"The hat is small and round, it is made of hard black (originally brown) felt, and is decorated with a band of white mussel-shells. The Tatra robbers in old paintings appear in tall red hats. But these seem to have been only a ceremonial headwear; for ordinary purposes hats similar to those now in use have been worn by both robbers and peasants, if indeed any strict discrimination between them could be made, for centuries past. Sometimes an eagle feather is stuck on the left behind the string of mussel-shells.
"This national attire would not be complete without a peculiar walking stick with a small steel, or sometimes brass, hatchet for the hand grip. It is a walking stick, a useful tool and also a weapon at times. The robbers wielded it as a sort of battle-axe. But even now village lads do occasionally stage up a fight over a girl, or some other mortal offence, with their hatchet sticks. Mostly it ends with a few blows, parried by the opponent. A popular ditty runs:
"Hey, far beyond the mountains, beyond the woods,
Two Highlanders started a fight with their hatchets.
Hey, lads, do stop fighting! Make up your quarrel!
Look at the girl's two long pigtails;
Go on, divide between you Mary's fine dark hair!
But this advise is not always followed and some fights are apt to prove fatal for one - or even both sides, since the Gorals are fearless and fierce fighters and take their quarrels seriously.
A woman's dress is less elaborate, and certainly less local in style, for it has been very much influenced by Krakow patterns. The sheep-skin jerkin is genuinely local, and so are the attractive sandals of pleated leather, strapped up the ankle, and studded with brass tacks. These are also worn by the men, though in general they content themselves with ordinary shoes, ski boots, or nailed climbing boots. Leather-soled, felt slippers, decorated with bright colours, are another variation of local feminine footwear.
Otherwise, both the gazda's wife and daughters wear wide skirts, mainly dark green with red flowers, though orange and red skirts with blue or green flowers are not infrequent. A coloured bandana serves as head cover. Young women like to add to their graces by heavy strings of red corals falling loosely on their lap from their neck. But all this, and also the short, black sash adorned with embroideries and beads and braced with a red tape on the breast, comes from the district of Krakow, some eighty miles farther north, and can hardly be considered as really and truly Goral.
In any case, a Sunday crowd on the way to or from church makes a brightly coloured picture. The sheep-skin jerkins, however, have one unpleasant characteristic, especially when new - they smell quite a bit and the smell couldn't be described as particularly attractive.
(Chapter 5 "Folk Dances" begins in our next issue.)
This is a new "column" in which I share printed sources of information about subjects of interest to those researching their roots in and around the Tatras. This month I will tell you of another book in English(!) about Slovakia. It is by Gilbert L. Oddo and is entitled "Slovakia and its People." It is 370 pages in length and highly informative. It is out of print, but copies can be found easily and cheaply on eBay and at the online book search site I've mentioned before: www.campusi.com. My copy (a third printing) was published by Hrobak Publications out of Middletown, Pennsylvania in 1960.
To contact the TARG Editor, the new e-mail address is: TatraAreaResearchGroupgmail. Our "snail" mailing address is still TARG, P.O. Box 3533, Escondido, CA 92033. use it for sending in orders or photos and anything else you want to share with the group. (If for some reason you are unable to contact us at the new address above, go ahead and use the old address targ_nethotmail by clicking here.)
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