Your Czech Republic

Full story by Gregg:

Gregg (USA), June 6, 2005
Gail and I visited Zavlekov, a small gathering of homes about two hours south of Prague. Here there are 250 inhabitants and here there have been about 250 inhabitants for over two hundred years. My nephew, Karel Fous and his wife Klara Fousova, found the Fous roots here five years ago.

The Fous farm is No. 3 Zavlekov. The town records go back to 1825 and show Fous as the owner of number 3 Zavlekov since then. The records also indicate that there were three inquiries into the town records for Fous in the early 1940's. It is presumed this was by the Nazi's trying to determine if there were Jewish roots in the Fous name. The Nazi's found none and left the Fous farm and its inhabitants in peace.

As we pulled into the dirt entry way into a "U" shaped collection of buildings we were greeted by running chickens, a few barking dogs, a sleeping cat, and a perky little old lady that was seated comfortable in the shade of a flowering bush. She had been alerted that we were coming today and had been seating there waiting for hours to greet her relatives from America... There were a few cars parking on the yard and these provided a contrast to what otherwise could have been a scene from 1825. Mrs. Fous was seated in the shade in what upon closer inspection was a living room chair. She had a scarf that framed her bright blue eyes and rather smooth complexion. Karel greeted her in Czech and she appeared excited to see us.

Her son Frantisek joined his mother in welcoming us to number 3 Zavlekov. Franti, as his mother called him, wore a broad smile and reminded Gail and me a great deal of my bother Bill. There was with out doubt a Fous "look" about him. Franti spoke no Engish, but understood some. He later commented that as soon as he saw me he knew that I was a Fous.

Now there were a number of buildings here on the property and it seemed like there were quite a number of families. It turns out that while the number 3 was all owned by the Fous's at one point, it now has five or six families that are not Fouses living and owning there. Over the generations children build residences on the farm, homes are added on to, buildings are sold or in-laws are brought in and the family chains become unlinked and homes are sold. This is the best I can figure.

Indeed we saw pictures of Franti's father as a three year old and the family is standing in front of a barn door with a crooked three foot long hinge. The door and the hinge were very much in evidence near the entrance to the home where we parked the car. Nothing had changed.

To get in the home that Franti and his wife and three children live in we walked past a stone wall with a door to the oxen barn and a pigeon coop. We walked through a kind of summer porch with skins of badger, wild boar and deer hanging o the walls. The entrance to the home was in the rear of the compound. I assume this was to segregate the home from the odors and the accompanying flies out front. We all took off our shoes when we entered the home. It was easy to tell that the home grew over the centuries and was adapted to more modern lifestyles with technologies like hot water, heat and electricity. The entrance of the home held a kind of shoe and outer room foyer. Lots of hats, shoes, and coats were hanging in the entrance. We came through the kitchen and sat in the living room with two widows that looked over the back yard and pasture. In fact, the room in which the three children (all in their teens) slept was the original main part of the house an it was where, Franti advised, his mother was born.

It was impossible, from the outside of the building, to tell where the house began and the barn ended. Three bulls were in the front and they shared a wall with the main living room of the house on the rear. The home was only four rooms; two for sleeping, one for the kitchen and one for everything else.

The farm seemed very self sufficient. The only obviously "commercial" part was about a hundred sheep. The rest of the farm seem geared to feeding the family. A vegetable garden, beehive, small chicken coop, a few goats, etc. Many out buildings were scattered throughout the yard. There was a car "graveyard" in one corner in which I spied a world war two jeep.

Years of communism taught these people self reliance. If they wanted to eat, they had to provide it themselves. They lived simply, but by all appearances, very happily.

Outside this small village (more like a wide spot in the road), I saw no new construction and no developer signs announcing a new community, in fact we did not even see a new home being built for a hundred miles.

It will take more than a few years for the Cezch Republic to be effected by the growth and excitement that has already invaded major cities like Prague and Brno, but Gail and I have already decide we will return next year. Just to make sure.

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