The English translation of the article is below, and a PDF of the original article in Czech can be viewed here.
(This letter is written in a very colorful Moravian slang with many slavonized German expressions)

This Is What Trubář (a Bugler) Is Writing From America Under Radhošť

Dear Michael!

You have already heard what kind of a journey we went through on the way to America from Georgie who went all the way back from Galveston; what a champ, as soon as he found out that we have to go across that bridge over which the railroad is going into Texas he got so scared that he was delirious and turned around and ran back to the ship; in a little while he came back and said that he would be going back and that he has already made arrangements and paid for the return voyage to the captain and so he said good bye to all of us.

The old Shuttlecock  (Trubar’s wife?) was willing to swear that the Lord God has punished him by not going to the confession before our departure from home; but I can tell you that many would have been afraid looking at that bridge.

That Galveston is sort of a small island, you know, it is separated from the other land by water and the railroadgoes right out of town over a three mile long sort of a scaffolding on the top of which are the tracks and the trains run on those.

Michael, you know me though, anyone who has served in the military for ten years as I have isn’t an old wimp; I have a strong nature, thank God, but as we were going across that thing there arose some noise on the train and I have looked out the window and Holy Virgin from Friedek! My head was spinning and I got so dizzy that I didn’t know what was going on around me until we were for a while back on land. Luckily, during the tumult all the kids were shrieking and yelling and most of all our Jake that my old woman (wife) didn’t have a chance to look from the window; she would have been hit much harder, we might not have been able to revive her after that. May the Lord bless us and keep evil away - that would have been some kind of a funeral. And I might have then trouble because of that for sure and who knows if they would have refunded me the five dollars we had to pay beforehand for each grownup person; that is a pile of money and it would have been a shame to lose that much.
As you know I have seen some bridges like those in Venice or Mantua, those are some kinda bridges! But this one I am describing to you is a broken up dung-barrow, it looks like a tattered and submerged fascine; when it started to sway I thought that it is not going to hold together till we are going to make it across; add to that that all the screaming and commotion, some were praying and crossing themselves, some were cursing America: as long as I live I won’t forget the time of this crossing. I have felt like in the battle of Solferino where the bullets were whizzing around our ears; they had to carry me off the field then, they thought I have been wounded but as soon as they have poured booze into my mouth I came to again and tested immediately if my legs were not blown off but I wasn’t hurting anywhere but on my head and that wasn’t from a shot but most likely I sustained the blow when I fell head first on the rifle and you know the rest.

Oh, that I won’t forget my train of thought. The railroad here is very bad and shabby; the land is mostly flat so they didn’t need much effort and money to build it, where there is a creek there are just some logs and lumber thrown into it and the tracks go right across but because the cars have good springs it doesn’t rattle too bad. We were riding for half a day across a desolate and deserted wasteland and we were horrified over the over-praised America; our joker Jezofek said: This! This is that America? Where are the fences on which sausages are growing? Even our clearings in the woods look better than this. One cannot see any cottages around and the railroad stations look like huts for storing peas; who has seen the railroad stations in Italy, Vienna or even in Přerov might think that the stations here are nothing but sentry’s boxes.

Then we have stopped at one of these stations with several board-huts around it; these were taverns and shops. One of them happened to be right in front of our noses and then a certain scamp runs out of it that looked mighty familiar to me, and I am trying to think fast, oh my, the blazes, it is Andrew! And then I was standing right next to him; he jerked around as if he had a guilty conscience gave me a dirty look and barked at me: watcha want? you fake? goddamn you! – and then he spat on the ground. I was thrown back and thought nothing good will come out of it but I had another better look at him and although he had on one cheek something like a big zit as if he would have a bullet under his skin I could nevertheless tell that it was Ondra Pastucha from Solaň, you know, our war-buddy, he was also a cavalryman but with the 16th Regiment, he came six years ago to our village fair as if on furlough, he was in the upper tavern where the music was, he danced all night, he had bags of money, he was switching to German all the time, he swept all the gals off their feet especially Marina Frcaň, even Jura Bacaň was drinking then out of spite and smashed many glasses, and then we have heard soon from the mayor that Ondra  Pastucha has deserted and that the gendarmes are looking for him.

So I told him again: well Ondrushek , what the devil, you no longer know me? And he made right away a more pleasant face and said: Well, welcome Jezof, and they are no longer looking for me in Europe? And then he talked my head off about America but I don’t remember any of it and that is because they speak here different Moravian; they call a forest a ‘postok’, a creek a ‘krik’, a fence a ‘fens’, etc. He said that he is working in a warehouse loading and unloading all kinds of wares and that he makes a Tollar and a half per day. I tell you, Andy, that not even as a soldier you have been this shabby. So he grabbed me and took me into the tavern and showed me several men who were playing cards around a table and said, these are the clerks and bookkeepers from the railroad, the engineer from our train was there too. You see, here in America people aren’t all dolled up genteel-like but wear whatever they want and in summer they go around without much clothing or without a coat.
He said something to the innkeeper and he poured us two glasses of beer. Andy spat and we raised the glasses and drank a toast to America but it is too bad that they don’t make bigger glasses here; were they to write to Krásná or to Karlovice there they would get much bigger ones for a few cents. Such a thimble of beer costs five cents, about twenty of these would fit into our measure, and may the devil take it along with the innkeeper. I wanted to pay when it looked like he won’t but he said, no, I have a credit here, meaning that he is drinking there on tick.

Then he took out of his pocket a piece of compressed tobacco and bit into it like into a bun at the fair in Frýdek and offered me too and added that everybody around here is ‘chuing’ even the ladies; oh well, since he mentioned the ladies. Those I have seen here don’t amount to much; they don’t compare with our Wallachian women and would have to hide in front of them. God have mercy on me that my old one wouldn’t die here, the local women looked like those in Rožnov who suffer from consumption. I saw two of them quite close up and they had to be miller’s women because their phyz (mug) was all white from flour; Andy grimaced like a dimwit and said: Josie, I can tell that you’re a greenhorn, I tell you that an American female has to have flour on her mug even if she wouldn’t have enough in the kitchen.

Then we have talked about all kinda things. I asked him, Andy, wouldn’t you know how soon is the train going to be moving again? And he replied, the engineer is playing cards so he won’t dispatch any time soon but he is going to catch up on route what he dawdled away with cards.
The sun was already setting and the people who were with us on the train started to chant: kohet!, kohet! and the engineer ran out all hot under the collar and then I have figured it out that they were calling him a rooster, it wasn’t much cussing but he was all riled up because he then took a run with the train like Lucifer himself, it was a terrifying ride and all of a sudden there was a thump and a crack! Give the devil some holy water, the engine jumped the tracks and was stuck in the mud. Everybody was yelling and swearing, the old Shuttlecock was rattling away on her rosary. Paul was hitting the engineer and the cards with the coal poker. Now what? Everybody was asking everybody that.

The night was coming down so we have made preparations to spend the night. Suddenly showed up a whole bunch of blacks who used to be slaves and they cut down lots of timber so that in no time there were bonfires all over the place like on St. John’s day on the top of the Radhošť  mountain. Vacula, the gamekeeper from Kozinec was fretting should this happen in his hunting district that he would double over those black abominations and teach them how to pipe in the church; but they really are ugly monsters, I have to ask if they were also created in God’s image, but believe me, Michael, if it should be so it is beastly and repulsive to us.

Then they scattered and when Kathy Machová wanted to give her bunch some food her bag with provision was gone and Jura Haida yelled that his clothing bundle disappeared along with his hymnbook; and the spooks have stolen many things from us; mind you, I swear that it was a waste to go to war because of these bastards.

In the morning a manual trackman-car that moves with the seesaw brought lots of ropes and clamps and drove us all into work even the priest who traveled with us had to help but the most ridiculous thing was when we all pulled on the main rope it snapped and we all, like soldiers after a command, went – bang! – on the mark down into the mud that was already well stomped through. You should have seen and heard all the swearing and cursing, I cannot even write it all to you; the situation was maddening and ridiculous at the same time. We have scraped the mud off of us and waited again till they came back with another rope and then we were able, with the help from above, to fix the train.

In Columbus they were already waiting for us with wagons: Jan Bureš has darn nice oxen, Vojtěch Pargař from Pomezí has a nice pair of horses; we have arrived at night to their place, they already have prepared all kinds of delicious food there, the neighbors have all gathered there, closest to them is Tomeš Srkal, Láďa from Popradná, Martin Frolín from Miaša, Ondra Drbal, Srnčák from Mrdusy and the bailiff from Křivý.

So, I am going to end my letter now, and when I am going to try the thing I will let you know in writing, give my best regards and greetings to the esteemed vicar and his kitchen miss and also to the mayor Zimák and to the alderman Trdlica from Okruhlý, also nice greetings to Ciroš and Franta Strnadlo and Filip Chumchal from Kněhyně, and of course, also to you and your old one and everybody else who stayed behind. That I won’t forget, whenever you are going to visit Frenstat, give my cordial greetings also to Ludor Lajo, and to Portáš junior too.

And the miller from Bystrá is already up in heaven again; he was going home recently a bit tipsy and he had to cross the railroad tracks and he either tripped or wanted to take a little nap for a while; anyway, in the morning they found him all smashed to smithereens, well, the booze here is stronger that the Jewish faith over there. His wife is still bawling.

I am sending to all of you one more time my greetings and leave you under God’s protection. And I remain your faithful friend all the way to the dark grave,

Jozef Trubář

Europe                         Frenštát under Radhošť

All rights reserved – 2010.
Website by James Harris & Bette Stockbauer-Harris.