Archive for June, 2016

“Journey for Freedom” from Czechoslovakia

I have been interested in what happened in the small country of Czechoslovakia, especially around the late 1960s.  According to my husband who knows such things, there was what was called the “Prague Spring,” This happened when Novotny, who was a Stalinist type ruler of communism, was replaced by Dubcek.  This next leader wanted to present to the Czech people “communism with a human face.” That happened in spring of 1968 where people, who had been living as a satellite nation under communism since 1948, were given fresh hope. However, by August 20, 1968, that is when the USSR invaded Prague and replaced Dubcek with another leader.  Many horrifying things happened during this time period to those living in Prague and elsewhere in the country of Czechoslovakia. I have had students, while teaching in Kyiv, Ukraine, write about what their grandparents and parents survived during that tumultuous time in 1968.

Talking to someone about the artist Antonin Boubin, who lived in my hometown from 1970-1974, they told me about a motivational speaker named Peter Vodenka who wrote a book titled “Journey for Freedom.” He planned with his wife for ten years to leave his homeland of Czechoslovakia to experience freedom in the U.S.  He did NOT even tell his parents or other close family members what they were planning to do. Then he left by way of another country with his wife and two young children. His escape was figured out and subsequently followed by police gunfire before he reached the safe zone inside a free border. I need to get this book. Though it is self published, by all reviews, it promises to be a riveting read. Peter first ended up in Beach, North Dakota working a menial job because he did not know English. However, he has progressed to being a motivational speaker and doing many other things while enjoying his American freedoms. I wonder if he ever met up with the Boubin family members?

While looking up ANY information I could about Antonin Boubin, I found this written by his granddaughter, daughter to his son Olda. She wrote the following about the persecution her family in Czechlozovakia had suffered from 1948-1969.  “Because of increased fear of the death of his family, my grandfather and his family eventually fled from their country. Grandfather and his oldest son (Tony) first travelled to Vienna. Then, using fake passports, my father and grandmother escaped on the last train to leave Czechoslovakia before the communists closed the borders to travel. My dad’s (Olda) last memory of his country of origin was incredible fear that they would be discovered. While on the train, a young boy spat at a Russian soldier. The train stopped and both the boy and his father were shot and killed.  Eventually in 1969, my dad and his family were sponsored by the Sisters of St. Joseph in Crookston, Minnesota where my grandfather Anton lived for a couple of years before his death in 1974. Unable to practice his dental profession, he made a meager living providing for his family by painting beautiful paintings from his memories of beautiful Czechoslovakia.”

Antonin Boubin, in order to make a living for his family, during the 3-4 years of his freedom in the U.S. did many paintings which are prized by their owners.  I have made a copy of one of his paintings, I hope to see many more in August when owners will get together to compare notes about what they knew of this great man.

colored poppies for paper

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Two day bus trip with my folks


Man-made lake with pelicans

We came back home last night on the second longest day of the year as the days will be getting shorter.  We arrived to see that the rabbits had done more damage to our vegetable gardens by eating some snow peas that were on the fence. They had already nibbled away on our little delicate beets that were emerging. I hate rabbits even though they might look cute and perhaps are cuddly. I have the same feeling about deer in our woods who ate away at our June berry trees, the young saplings and also on our Ohio buckeye tree.  So, we co-habitate with nature and enjoy the freedoms that we have here but the ornery weeds keep growing next to what I have planted.  I have to get out and do more work in the gardens.


Dragline in the distance while in the coal pit

We enjoyed our rest stops from our two day bus ride and one of them was on a man-made lake where the pelicans were catching fish.  My folks and my husband and I were also fed very well.  We only paid $110 per couple but we had a nice hotel room to stay in with a very good banquet meal and then all other meals and snacks were provided as well.  We went to see an electric generating plant and also how they mined for lignite coal.  All very good to do on these beautiful days.

I need to go out and water plants now so I will just show some nice photos of what we saw.


equipment in the coal pit coming after our bus!

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Teamwork makes progress, AFTER the committee meeting

We had our committee meeting last night with 8 of us in attendance at the Carnegie and then we got a LOT more done in the basement afterwards. Teamwork makes a difference. First we discussed security of the building. There’s been a broken window on east side which was fixed with a temporary board to cover the hole). The president of our organization will talk to the groundskeeper about the need for a security camera. We also need to hire someone to do the lawn mowing on the Carnegie property. Maintaining this 100+ year old building takes much consideration. If the electrical info does not come in time for the upcoming July $10,000 grant application, then there is enough info to write about getting the tin roof in north wing fixed.

We realized after the last choruses concert that we also need FOUR more shades in south wing and on the west side of the north wing. A temporary, cheaper fix like the three we already have should work.  Some shades can cost $300 each (we have ten BIG windows so that is $3,000 just for shades). That might be written into the bigger $100,000 grant for the windows. Another different size shade is needed for the kitchenette window on the east because that brings in a lot of hot air.

In anticipation of our city’s annual event, we will have a Bright Brushes fundraiser – I already paid deposit for two sessions ($175) we need 20 people to sign up for each session. We would get $20 for each person so that is $800 right there if we have all signed up. We discussed where the painting sessions would be located, upstairs in east wing or downstairs?

During our Ox Cart days we plan to have a Antonin Boubin art display on Saturday. We will ask people to bring their own Boubin art like they did last year for Stanley H. Walker’s art exhibition. I will also contact other local artists or photographers for the other two days. Hopefully we will have a good turnout to see the art displays. Simultaneous to this our Ox Cart Days Theme will be Pembina trails and Ox carts. We will use material and artifacts from the museum to show on the main floor. The museum’s president mentioned about using the Amfran oxcart for display out on the front lawn of the Carnegie.

We will have a Gift and Donation shop downstairs with all the other product we have for sale under glass, 1882 city’s etching, framed pictures from old books, etc. Someone mentioned that we should have a card that reads “Donated in memory of___person’s name___)” Also need to update the Carnegie brochure that we used last year.  Should have HUGE price tags hanging from different places throughout the Carnegie to show how much an estimate to restore would cost. (i.e. original dome lights or fixing tin roof ceiling)

We talked about how we cannot afford to pay musicians, they must be free-will. Instead of featuring talent, we would have different graduating classes compete about who can donate the most to the Carnegie cause. Also, have a kind of social hour for them to gather with light snacks.  For instance, Thursday night for those who graduated in the 1940s, 1950s and 1960s, then Friday night 1970s and 1980s. We would have all yearbooks on display for alumni to look at for the Mount and Central high schools. Then during Saturday would be all classes represented and announce which class donated the most and/or have the most number of donors.  The class(es) would be recognized on a kind of plaque perhaps.  We could have the donating contest on line. Those who come in person to donate, we would have the zip machine ready and handy to receive on-line donations.  Amy said that the historical society’s website could be set up to take in donations specifically for the Carnegie.

Once we know all the details, I will get a Poster done showing all these events to advertise our Carnegie events by mid-July – Bright Brushes fundraiser events on Wed. afternoon and evening. Show the different times and dates on Thurs. and Friday for the different graduating classes to come for their own reunions.

After the good meeting that lasted an hour, our teamwork went to the basement and the small middle room was completely emptied of file cases. It is ready for our expert construction guy to do his work of plastering, readying it for painting, then sanding down the softwood floor. We are making progress because of volunteer teamwork.


fixing the broken window


fireproof file cabinet


room is now ready for painting


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Long Day of HISTORY


Sunset after a few days of rain

Yesterday I had a long day of going to a history conference titled “Expressing History Through Writing” and then our monthly history board meeting to end the day.  The sessions I attended were good and I especially liked the one about putting history up on a website about our own local and regional history. I may pursue that because I have scanned LOTS of pictures and have also written many more newspaper articles for our local paper about people.  The session titled “Writing for the Web” had much of what I already do and helped to see how streamlining content to best meet the needs of web visitors achieves certain goals and makes important history of our locale accessible to others. Many teachers in elementary and middle schools use this material.  We are to set the reading level at 10th grade however and the presenter showed us at what level we write.  Also things should be put in active voice as opposed to passive.

Some of the things I wrote down that the presenter asked for are the following:

Important people: Jimmy Ward, Halvor Steenerson, E.W. Childs, Charles Kiewel

Groups: Women’s business club, Sons of Norway, Ancient Order of Woodsman

Important places: Fournet building, Native American Indian burial mounds

Historic structures: old courthouse on North Broadway, Palace Hotel

Key historic events: bonanza farms, treaty signing at Huot

Interesting artifacts: VANCE bricks, Native American arrowheads


Native American Indian arrowheads

The day before this I had attended a painting session and that was a real relaxer. We will do the same for our annual event coming up in August. I need to pay the $175 down payment or deposit to have this hosted by Bright Brushes.  Should be fun…now out to the garden I go, I have been delaying the weeding long enough!


Bright Brushes painting of fall, rainy scene


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