When I was born in Cleveland in 1945, the firstborn in my family, my father got an insurance policy from the First Catholic Slovak Ladies Association (FCSLA) in my name. I still maintain that account, hoping some day, if I have the money, to invest more with them.
My father was a poor factory worker who was born in Prešov in what is now the Republic of Slovakia, but back in 1911 was part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire under Hungarian administration. It was only in the 1990s that the country became independent—for the first time in its history.
I still get a copy of the FCSLA’s magazine, Fraternally Yours, and read it for news of my Slavik forebears around Ohio and Pennsylvania, where most of the Slovak population is centered. With the most recent issue, I even found out that my old classmate Frank Basa from the Class of ’62 at Chanel High School in Bedford is a Catholic priest in Akron, Ohio.
There isn’t too much to tie me to Cleveland these days. All I have are three graves: my father, my mother, and my great-grandmother Lidia. I would like some day to visit Cleveland with Martine and show her the scenes of my youth, sedate as they were.