At my new workplace we had a diversity luncheon recently. People had to bring in a food that somehow symbolized their nationality or race. We have 150 people and it is quite diverse. In any case, I said, "no one will have my ethnicity--I'm half Slovak." And a woman three cubicles away said--"no way, I'm Slovak too." Well, that never happens. As it turns out her father was born there and his Slovak language skills are the best. He was also recovering from an operation and itching to do something in his confinement. Thus, I made a copy of a letter dated 11 June 1920 in Slovak from Juraj Balaz (my great-great grandmother's brother) to Susan Kristofik, my great-great aunt, whom I knew [we all called her Susette to distinguish her from the other Susans].
The letter extends sincere and warm greetings from all in Slovakia and thanks Susan for the package she sent containing clothes. The package was picked up at the post office. Everyone was doing well and praise to God that Susan was in fine health. Also Susan's mother was fine and was expecting a letter from her. Clothes are very expensive now. A good jacket costs 80 crowns; white cloth costs 29 crowns, dresses costs 80 to 90 crowns.
The cost of living is very expensive too. It costs about 300 crowns for food. Thank God we do not have to buy food. Things seems to be less expensive in the U.S. that here. So, dear Susan, have you given any thought to come visit us and entire family? If only our John, your brother-in-law, was older. He is now 18 years old. However, we would like to have you here with us, because you are our dearest relative. Our boys are John, George, Paul, and Anna. John is the youngest an dis 10 years old. Well we again with you hearty regards. I and your aunt Kristina remain your faithful relatives until death do us part.
P.S. Regards to John and Kristina. Kristina has written in the past. Ask her to drop us a note sometimes.
Some things are clear and some murky for me. Clearly in 1920, Germany and Austria are about to spin into the famous hyperinflation of the early 1920s. No doubt this affected Czechoslovakia too. Also, WWI had just ended and economies were on very shaky footings. They were farmers, so they didn't need to buy food because they grew and raised everything themselves. Susan had three siblings: my great-grandmother Anna who had married Paul Dolinsky; Kristina who had married Andrew Barbieri; and John who had married Elizabeth Beblavy. So, the P.S. is about her siblings who also lived in New York. [Susan's address was 264 Riverside Dr., New York City]. My great-grandmother was living in Pennsylvania. The mystery is the brother-in-law John. She had none at that time. None on her side of the family and she was yet unmarried. Perhaps step brother was meant?
In any case, this is a good example of an immigrant letter to and from the "old country" in the early 20th century. I should note that after living to age 80, Susan died in New York, was cremated, and her ashes returned to Czechoslovakia and buried with her mother there.