TATRA AREA RESEARCH GROUP
© TARG (Formerly ZARP & PARG) All rights reserved.
Newsletter for August 2001
Vi'tanje & Powitanie! (Welcome!)
Hello TARG members! And greetings from the land of our ancestors and
the stunning Tatra mountains. Now that I am over jetlag, and have survived
the wedding August 25th of our daughter (which went beautifully, by the
way!), I can get back to TARG business. Us August tour-goers are back now
from Slovakia and Poland with our heads, cameras and suitcases full of
memories and treasures from our wonderful trip! Over the next few months we
will be sharing with you what we experienced. But I'll give you just a
sample in the TRIP section below.
We have many new TARG members. I had more e-mail inquiries even while
overseas. And nearly 200 have signed our website guestbook so far, leaving
their names and village information to share with others. We welcome all of you.
-- Paul K. Bingham
TARG TRIP IMPRESSIONS____________
I would first like to say how wonderful it was to share Helene's tour
bus with so many wonderful and friendly people! We had so much fun! TARG
members are truly a joy to travel with. I already miss all of you! Even
Helene's mother Helen took pictures of our group so she could remember us.
She said she has been going on these tours for decades and quit taking group
photos long ago, but ours warranted a picture!
To all of you who didn't come, Helene is talking about sneaking a few
"Tatra days" in one of next summer's tours. She also discussed with me
another Góral Homecoming Tour like this one for the summer of 2003. So start
saving your pennies for the trip of a lifetime. We'll have more info on both
as it becomes available!
What an experience we had exploring the regions of the Góral and all of
the sights and villages so relevant to our ancestors. Some highlights that
jump out in my mind were the visit to the ancient Spisska Kapitula archives,
the return to the Nowa Biala library, the Orava Skansen museum, our night of
Góral music in Sucha Hora and the joyful stop in Lipnica Wielka when Florian
Simala met his first cousin for the first time. Other tour-goers will surely
weigh in with their own special list of memories -- I hope they do!
We also certainly found lots of loving people who fed us the best of
food until we were ready to pop! Likewise, we found ample places and
beautiful things to buy. With the exchange rate so low both in Slovakia and
Poland and so many wonderfully crafted things, it was hard to say "no". The
weather was also beautifully sunny and dry. They had just had three weeks of
constant rains. We could see the damage from flooding many of the places we
went. But we never really needed our umbrellas - it was just delightful!
Our special thanks to Helene, her mom, Edo our driver and Stefan the
tour coordinator for taking requests and filling our days with so much to
see and do. Slava! Slava!
THE SPISSKA KAPITULA & KRAKOW ARCHIVES__________
While in Poland I was able to go to the historic Roman Catholic archives
in Krakow. Many thanks to my cousin Lucjan for making this possible. This
was truly an experience! Here are kept all of the Roman Catholic records for
all of the TARG villages in Poland between 1801 and 1920. These records are
what are called "the second writings". Priests were ordered to annually hand
copy the entries from their own parish records onto blank pages supplied by
the archive. Because these were official, they tended to be much more
legible, with no entry errors, spelling mistakes or hurried, sloppy writing
like you sometimes see in the original parish records. And these loose pages
are kept in stacks BY PARISH and wrapped in leather or cloth. Each stack
contains perhaps two or three decades worth of records. Since the Slovak
villages of Spisz and Orawa were part of Slovakia prior to 1920, they are
NOT in the Krakow archives. But we were allowed to look through the stacks
under the watchful eye of the little sister there who also spoke very good English.
Later with the tour group we went to the Roman Catholic Spisska Kapitula
archives not far from the famous Spis Castle in Slovakia. This archive has
the records for much of old Spis, Liptov and Orava counties, most all of
which are within TARG. This archive DOES also contain the records for what
is now Polish Spisz and Orawa. The records in this archive are also "second
writing" records but date back to at least 1788, perhaps earlier. The
archivists here were also very helpful. But unlike the Polish archives,
these records are bound in books BY YEAR. So knowing a village was not a
real help since all villages in the archive's jurisdiction are listed in
each book. One must know closely the year an event happened, or the search
soon becomes very time consuming. Paul Hadzima looked up a record from 1791
while we were there so we could see how it was done. We were also given a
copy of a historic map with all of the parishes shown within this archive. I
intend to scan it and put it on the website. If you also want a copy, please
send a legal-sized SASE and I mail you a free copy.
BOOKS, BOOKS and MORE BOOKS_________
We found so many good bookstores this trip both in Slovakia and Poland.
The "Alter Ego" bookstore in Kezmarok, Slovakia was one of the best, as was
the Tourist Information bookstore in Zakopane. The one in Zakopane had a
used book section where we picked up some real treasures! I personally
brought a duffle bag home with 30 lbs. of books -- many one-of-a-kind. You
TARG members will be reading quotes and seeing pictures from these finds for
years to come.
My best find was the out-of-print 3-volume set of Vlastivedny Slovnik
Obci na Slovensku, an exhaustive lexicon of all Slovak villages printed in
the 1970's. We also found a similar new book in Zakopane covering villages
One of our last evenings together was in a little pub in Sucha Hora,
Slovakia literally on the Polish border. Here was a band of wonderful Góral
minstrels who played to entertain us while we ate. They were led by a
wonderful man named Jan Palu who acquainted many of us for the first time to
the beautiful sounds of the huge Fujara, or shepherd's flute. The sound is
hard to describe. It has qualities of the Bolivian flute and even at times
the Aboriginal Didgery-do. But perhaps it can be better described as
recreating the cooing of a dove and if you close your eyes as it's played
you can see the Tatras! Needless to say all of us bought many tapes and CDs
with Fujara music before coming home.
To contact TARG the e-mail address is: TARG_NET@hotmail.com
Our new website is at: http://targ.1avenue.com (Also www.1avenue.com/targ will get you there.) TARG's mailing address is: P.O. Box 3533, Escondido, CA 92033.
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