The Last Chance to Remember
Chapter 1. OUR HOME TOWN
of Hungary became Czechoslovakia and Kassa became Kosice. The first
president was T.G. Masaryk who was well known and respected around the
world. He was highly educated and a great humanitarian, who rose to
the top position from very modest circumstances. Under his leadership,
which lasted into his late years and only ended due to his death in
about 1936, Czechoslovakia became a democratic state. The country enjoyed
a prosperous time, it became rich in uranium, china, crystal, textile
as well as in nature which helped tourism to flourish. Before WWII Kosice
had about 75.000 inhabitants.
came from all over the world to admire the famous "High Tatry "
which was world known for its high mountains, rock climbing and, in
the winter, a good area for cross-country or downhill skiing. The winter
sports were popular and well-attended. Because of the enormous height
of the mountains and cliffs the strong and fresh air proved to have
a good curing effect on TB patients.
sanitariums were built and patients came from all over the world. With
the help of the many dedicated doctors they received the best treatment
and hopefully were eventually successfully cured.
in the very centre of town was the Main Street where the only street-car
ran the full length of the city. It started from Csermely and reached
even the main hospital and cemetery in the very south side of the city.
Csermely was in the outskirts of the city, a good place for excursions
and the starting point of several hiking routes.
most important buildings were on the Main Street as it usually is in
small towns. First came our theater, a distinguished looking building,
which was connected with smaller parks. It was the exact replica of
the Budapest National Theater, only smaller. The programs were Slovak
entertainment performances. Twice a year the guest company from Budapest
visited; they were always well received. The programs were announced
well ahead of time, so we had a chance to look after the tickets. Prior
to the "premiere" and performances the excitement was high
and the entertainment was enjoyable.
were held in the nicest and largest Hotel Schalkhaz whose ballroom was
the most suitable place for such occasions. It was always a big event
when a well known artist honored our city. Huge posters announced the
big news, theater performances or the concerts, they were always well
the middle of the city, on Main Street, stood the majestic Dom (Cathedral)
which was over 600 years old. Built in gothic style and with a coloured
mosaic roof it deserves special mention. Many war heroes and famous
people are resting there with plaques marking their identity. Several
statues, sculptures and monuments adorn this special place. In its tower
is the well known church clock, which tells in every direction the right
time. On one side is the Urban Steeple tower which houses the bells;
on the other side is the St. Michael chapel. Over the long years the
Dom suffered much damage. It survived through many years and once even
was burned down in some war, so it was necessary to repair the damaged
parts. According to history it had to be rebuilt four times.
pride was the huge Park (Liget) which was really a beautiful place with
its century old trees, alleys and promenades. There was a pavilion where
the band used to play at festive occasions, which created an idyllic
mood, while people were walking up and down. There were several tennis
courts and playgrounds for the children. Through the Park was a beautiful
alley which led to the railway station, so the arriving visitors were
welcomed with a beautiful sight. Benches were everywhere under the old
and huge trees, and seats were prepared along the alley, which was bordered
by those beautiful old trees. All this, combined with the colourful
flower beds, helped to create a pleasant atmosphere. At the time walking
on grass was prohibited.
the north part of the city was the museum which was often visited. We
had several libraries, public or private, connected with some bigger
book stores. Classes were given in the several schools and gymnasiums
(high school) in the Slovak or Hungarian language and later in German,
French or other foreign languages. No universities were there at the
time. Those wishing to study further, had to go to the capital city
to Prague or Bratislava. We had about five synagogues: reform, conservatives,
or orthodox or even more religious . Our pride was the almost new reform
had several coffee houses, where one could sit and read the several
newspapers for any length of time or meet friends for a quiet talk.
The place was like an oasis in the middle of a busy life. In the summers
tables and chairs were placed on the sidewalk in front of the several
coffee houses. Here it was really enjoyable to spend some idle time.
We lived a small town life, where the rat race was unknown.
the south side of the city where the hospitals were, was the "huge
sport arena" where numerous matches took place with great excitement.
Young and old came out with the help of the jingling streetcars to take
part in the interesting game. Cars for private use were scarce and we
didn't have a telephone in the house, only in the office. So we were
walking and just dropped in to visit without any prior notice which
brought people closer. It was a very natural way of life. We were used
to walking; only on some occasions was a cab called.
climate couldn't have been nicer. We really had four seasons and didn't
know what humidity was. Winter was a very cold, snowy time with frost
covered windows. We often had blizzards until spring made its appearance
with the tiny snow drops followed by violets.
air was crystal clear with sunshine. When the sun became always stronger
we knew, it must be summer When the sun became too tired to shine, the
rain came out to help. Early fall was always beautiful, for nature was
so rich with flowers, trees, forests, when they all started to show
off the many shades of colours. Late autumn came with a greying sky
and we felt in every way that winter is not far away.
the winter time, some people would put up iron ovens mostly on the Main
Street and were selling roasted chestnuts right there in the open. They
were delicious when cracked and opened up from the heat. We enjoyed
them in the cold weather and their aroma was lingering throughout the
area. It was not an easy job to stand for hours outside in the cold
weather trying to make a little money to increase their low income.
This review wouldn't be complete without mentioning another unforgettable
figure from this era; our dedicated family doctors, or doctors in general.
They still made house calls and made sure that their patients were looked
after. When the door opened and the familiar face showed up the patient
and family felt already better. It was very comforting to know and feel
that we could count on them. They usually arrived by cab or horse-drown
unforgettable picture from the past is the apotheke or pharmacy which
dealt only with prescriptions, medicines and similar health related
things and nothing else.
Today there are many more people, many more buildings and even universities, but for us the place is empty and strange. In short Kosice- Kassa was a beautiful place, spotless and well liked by visitors.