“It is folded up right now. Count the seeders. Six on each side.
When it is unfolded it would cover both lanes of the highway
Thom N—-, friend from the deep past, sent MY Slovak Episodes to his close friend Bill Z—– who responded with some
interesting comments and a series of his artistic interpretation of Slovak life about the same time
Al,Bill Z, a best buddy is an incredible artist and was the Media Consultant for the Etobicoke Board of Education.He was a docent at the Dali Art museum in Sarasota for over a decade when wintering at his condo in St. Petersburg.He continues to study art around the world. I sent Bill your last missive about Slovakia and his response deserved forwarding to you and your son .His sketches tell a story themselves.Enjoy the memories.Stay safe,ThomSent from Mail for Windows 10
Thom, Feel free to forward to Al and his son. Be forewarned, the photos may scramble from the original aligned format. – Bill
Dobrý deň Tomas,
Thank you for forwarding yesterday the fascinating accounts and nostalgic photos of your friend Al Skeoch’s 1993 trip to Bratislava to visit his son teaching English there! … I happen to have been a student there in Grade 9 for the beginning of the 1953-4 school year before switching to Vaughan Road C.I when our family ‘moved on up’ to the suburbs.
Considering my background, Al’s vivid emailed accounts easily teleported me to Bratislava and the rural countryside of my thirty two plus relatives of all stripes in central Slovakia. Most were labourers, farmers, field hands, homemakers, a couple of doctors, educators and politicians, each hard-working. All those memories of the year I lived and studied making connections there with relatives and fellow classmates in 1974 came rushing back to mind as if yesterday.
I also went back a couple of times, once in 1979 to participate in the international Detva Folkloric Festival with a contingent of Slovak dancers from a Toronto cultural club representing Canada. A real blast! Another time, after the fall of Communism, to include more time with my academically educated cousins, those professionals who prospered regionally and beyond, now living in the cities of Bratislava, Prague and Vienna. Some also visited me in Toronto. A true pleasure! I regularly exchange emails with my closest cousin Marta, who studied the Queen’s English for two years in London. Speaks fluently, and with a cultured British accent to boot.
The history of Czechoslovakia’s breakup as referenced is a most interesting one. Particularly the ’stolen’ flag shenanigan by the Czech Republic (which I subsequently googled out of curiosity). And I easily related to, or experienced, many of his same personal eye-opening real life adventures. The episode of the secretive party in a wine cellar of a distant darkened village. The ruins, dilapidated shacks, abandoned farmers’ homes unlit at night, and dirt roads along the way as the country transitions from one generation to another. The outdoor markets selling handmade wooden crafts, corn husk dolls, embroidered items. The refreshing panoramic views from the peaks of the scenic Tatra Mountains, the lively music, the local food, delicious dumplings smothered in gravy, and home-made wine or slivovice, and as you and Cathy regretfully experienced in a Prague tram, the scourge of Roma pickpockets, once surprisingly denounced on Canadian T.V. by an international Czechoslovak beauty contestant. The initial cultural shock and language divide. Curious stares of locals turning into smiles and then as strangers turning into friends. It sure helped that I understood and spoke the dialect, admittedly with a lot of hand gestures. Unlike Al, I did get a personal tour of a large scale, well run collective farm while I was there that year. Super clean. Healthy animals. Very impressive!
Not sure if you have seen these quick, plein-air sketches of things large and small created in ’74 while hanging out that year most weekends in my home village of Dojç located an hour or so north of Bratislava. I had great fun in attempting to capture images of authentic Slovakia at the time, and to this day they bring back some of my life’s most precious memories!
Again, thank you and Al for sharing.
Be well. – Bill
The village church: functioning communal well in the centre of Dojç: inside my uncle’s barn with wheelbarrow and wagon wheels: my aunt’s cooking utensils, pots, pans, pails and lids in her kitchen.
Stripping feather for down for comforters: detail of my uncle Villo’s workshop: a wedding parade marching down the street: my uncles, aunt and a cousin making sausage after having slaughtered a pig they raised.
My niece Pavlinka watches uncles Villo and Stefan washing and butchering the pig: choice cuts hanging on the ladder ready to be smoked for winter: Aunt Paula washing the natural casings for sausage-making.
The last sketch was done in December in the village cemetery. The stone marker has a portrait of my long-deceased grandmother, her name Vincentia Zilinkova can be seen carved in the gray granite below.“Yet all experience is an arch wherethrough gleams that untravelled world. “ – Alfred Lord Tennyson, Ulysses
EPISODE 134: ONCE UPON A TIME THERE WAS A MOTOR CAR CALLED THE LITTLE SKEOCH(also called The Skeoch Motorcycle Car)alan skeochNov. 27. 2018
REVISED OCT. 2020 (slightly)
It has now been two years since I touched base with the men rebuilding The Litle Skeoch Motor Carin Scotland. It is a daunting task. We had planned on a visit to their workshop but sad eventsgot in the way…and Covid 19 makes such visits difficult today. How the world has changed.Maybe I can get a progress report from Scotland. Meanwhile I feel this story should be partof the Episodes (#134) just in case it gets lost.alan
Maybe we should bring back the LITTLE SKEOCH MOTOR CAR. It was small,, cheap and simple…sort of a 4 wheel bicycle seating two people with a chain drive and smallmotorcycle engine. So small that only two very slim people could ride in it since thecar was only 31 inches wide and a little over 8 feet long.Some of you may think this is some kind of joke. Wrong. In 1920, James Skeoch built his first Little Skeoch, then entered it in a Scottish auto show and sold itin ten minutes. All told less than a dozen Little Skeoch’s were built in his small factory. Ten were quickly purchased at that auto show. Price? 180 pounds…which was the cheapest car in the show. None have survived. Sadly in 1921 a fire consumed his little factory and as a result the Burnside Motor Company in Dalbeattie, Scotland, ceased to exist.Pictures of the Skeoch production line were retrieved from Skeoch family albums. Not exactly an automated factory.But the LITTLE SKEOCHS were real mini cars and seemed about to make a big splash in the booming car market of the 1920’suntil fire ended the enterprise. Everything became a blackened pile of scrap iron.James Skeoch moved on. His skills were valued. He had a long successful career and died in 1954.Not many people, by 1954, were even aware that there was such a car as the SKEOCH. Memories are short especially sincenone of the Little Skeochs survived. Gone Gone Gone.Well, not quite.POSSIBLE REBIRTH OF THE LITTLE SKEOCH
HUMPTY DUMPTY SAT ON THE WALLHUMPTY DUMPTY HAD A GREAT FALLALL THE KING’S HORSESAND ALL THE KING’S MENCOULDN’T PUT HUMPTY TOGETHER AGAIN.…Then along came GEORGE ALLISON and his men from Dalbeattie, Scotland…whoplan to put Humpty togehter again.
On Tue, 6 Oct 2020 at 22:55, ALAN SKEOCH <email@example.com> wrote:
HI GEOFF,HOPE YOU AND THE BOYS ARE WELL…VERY FRIGHTENING TIMES FOR ALL OF US…I EXPECT YOURSHOP IS CLOSED. OUR PLAN TO VISIT LAST YEAR DID NOT HAPPEND DUE TO SAD DEATH OF OURDAUGHTER IN LAW.I MAY SEND SOME STORIES…NOW AT 135 OF THEM MEANT TO HELP THOSE IN ISOLATION…TRAPPEDIN THEIR ROOMS BUT SOME MIGHT INTEREST YOU AND THE BOYSALAN
Good morning Alan,The pandemic closed our Shed in March, and the lockdown rules in Scotland, being the most stringent in the UK, mean that we are unlikely to re-open before April 2021. We are trying to keep our previously active members in touch with each other via email, telephone and video conferencing. We have also managed to move some of the Shed activities to individual’s homes so they can progress their projects within isolation/distancing rules. More than half our members have managed to keep projects such as 3D printing face masks, engraving, bicycle and engine refurbishment alive – and the biggest of these re-locations was the Skeoch. I recommend our Skeoch webpage https://dalbeattiemensshed.co.uk/skeoch to you for a brief history of how the project has progressed. We moved the car and workshop equipment out in June, primarily to improve the health and wellbeing of one of our members with advanced Parkinson’s. Since that time the project has accelerated almost to completion. Apart from some minor adjustments the vehicle [less hood(canopy) and radiator badge] is finished awaiting space in a paint shop for finish painting – see the September update on our website. I am re-scheming the unveiling of the finished car as our original intentions have been crushed by the pandemic. We were hoping to display the car at the 2021 Scottish Motor Show, 100 years after it’s first exhibition there in February 1921 – but the Show will not run in 2021. Our reserve intention was to display the car in the Glasgow Transport Museum thus keeping the launch near to where James Skeoch’s daughter resides, and close to an airport for people wishing to fly in – the museums are closed for the foreseeable future too. At present it’s looking like a triple launch: we will display the car in the picture window of Paterson ATV [ https://www.patersonatv.co.uk/] for a couple of weeks after completion for Dalbeattie townsfolk; I am working with the Chief Executive of the Scottish Motor Trade Association [SMTA own the Scottish Motor Show], to put together a multipage article for their trade magazine [https://content.yudu.com/web/fiqy/0A4403c/autoretailerissue02/html/index.html] aiming for the February 2021 edition; and finally I am working with the organisers of the RHS, Royal Highland Show, [https://www.whatsoninedinburgh.co.uk/event/084117-royal-highland-show-2021/] to see if we can display the Skeoch on the Dumfries & Galloway stand in June 2021. The RHS is held adjacent to Edinburgh airport so is close to Glasgow and James Skeoch’s daughter as well as being convenient for anyone flying in.Picking up on a couple of items in your 132-4 newslettersYou were chasing Skeoch heritage in Bute. Before our Shed closed for the pandemic we had a visit from a relative of one of our members who has gaelic as is his first language, and the Skeoch name was discussed. The visitor reminded us that in Scots gaelic the root ‘ach’ means from, and Skeoch is probably a corruption of Sgitheanach meaning from Skye! Just a thought.I liked your pictures in 132 – I toured NE USA and SE Canada with my daughter in August 2019 and spent some time in Toronto, we enjoyed the scenery but it was not as colorful as your photos. My daughter returned to Toronto with 2 of her colleagues in October 2019 too. My annual break with my daughter this year was Nashville, Memphis, Natchez and New Orleans in September but that was cancelled due to the pandemic.Good to hear from you again, stay wellP.S. BELOW IS AN ARICLE ON THE SKEOCH MOTOR CAR WRITTENFOR BBC SCOTLAND NEWS , Feb. 27, 2018
Begin forwarded message:
From: ALAN SKEOCH <firstname.lastname@example.org>Subject: EPISODE 329 CELEBRATION IN PRAGUE, CZECH REPUBLICDate: May 1, 2021 at 8:14:41 PM EDTTo: Alan Skeoch <email@example.com>
EPISODE 329 CELEBRATION IN PRAGUE, CZECH REPUBLICalan skeochMay 1, 2021Our visit to the czech and Slovak republics, March 1993PRAGUE, CZECH REPUBLICAt least one group of citizens seemed very happy. We visited Prague on some kind of specialday. FolK dances and folk costumes galore.The Macdonald’s restaurant chain was a going concern. Very successful. Partly because ofthe public washroom. Long lineup.Everything we did turned out to be a new Adventure…as you will see in the next Episode 330alan skeochMay 1, 2021