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  • A key word I use in my family history project is Zavadka. This is the name of a small town populated by 600 Carpathian Russians from which my family sprouted. Shortly after the death of my father and birth of my son - my brother suggested we make a visit. This seemed to make sense at the time.

    My mother accompanied the party to Zavadka, along with myself, my brother, and associated wives.

    We were driven around by two young Slovak men (capitalists). I rode in the back seat of a lime green Skoda Rapid. A scented picture of an anonymous young girl swung from the rear view mirror. We ascended the high Tatras. The driver cut the engine to save gas on the downhill slopes. With the engine cut, we listening to small tires rolling toward the center of the earth. Popping the clutch ... the almost a roadster engine pulled us back to the edge of the sky. It was 1987.

    Our goal was a visit with Ann, mother's second cousin. We arrived, asked around, and were directed to her house. There was no running water in the kitchen. The room had a ceramic tile stove. There was a table directly under a petite window. The room was smokey. A few beams of light made nice. Wide boards, big beams, white plaster and painted designs completed a timeless moment.

    We watched the woman make a small fire with broken sticks and boil some water for tea. The stove filled the corner of the room and was clearly used for heat in the chill of mountain winters. She made a plate of cheese and breads. A dish of fat back cubes tempted me and I found them equal to a cube of butter with ham overtones. We sat on benches and rickety chairs. The boys stood in the doorway adding shadows to a scene waiting for pins to drop. The conversation began after vodka shots for all. It was then we discovered we had the wrong house, inhabited by the wrong Ann. We shuffled out the door, walked about fifty feet up a dirt road, and knocked on another door. inhabited by an Anne with an identical last name.

    A much older and much thinner woman came to the door. She was pleased to see us... she started to make a fire to heat some water on a ceramic tile stove that occupied a triangular section of the kitchen....
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