Sunday, August 07, 2011

Tin Trunks and Fun

Last weekend was a whirlwind of activity. I decided to take a day of vacation on Friday in anticipation of a late evening outing in Austin and a second outing on the following Saturday afternoon. Friend Lana was to spend the night and go to both events with me. We decided to kick off our fun and frivolity by meeting at the Elgin Antique Mall and bringing home the antique oak bookcase I had coveted for several years.

We had help getting the thing into Lana's van, but it was just the two of us getting it unloaded when we arrived at the house. Undaunted, we carefully tipped it out of the van, pushed it down the sidewalk and gingerly inched it up over the two step-ups into the house and it finally came to rest in my living room, where it has settled in and acts like it has lived here all along.

That night we headed to the downtown Hilton, where we joined an estimated crowd of 650 folks who had assembled to see psychic John Edward. This was our third time to see him and we had always enjoyed the experience before, but this time was a bit of a let-down. To begin with, we arrived two hours before the event and had planned to get a light snack in the coffee shop while we waited for the doors to open. Fortunately we decided to locate the ball room first and discovered that the line had already begun forming and we changed our plans to stay in line so we could have a better choice of seats. Two hours later, the show finally started - with a packed house. The 106 degree heat outside had the air-conditioning laboring hard to keep up and the sound was initially muddy, making it hard to understand him. He always gives some impressive readings and this time was no exception, but the heat and the crowd and the bad sound system left a bad taste and it may have been the last time we will venture out to see him.

The next morning we geared up for another adventure, beginning with "woofles" at the local Coffee Dog. They really hit the spot and then we headed east toward La Grange. We decided to take a detour to explore the little town of Fayetteville since neither of us had ever been there. We were delighted to discover a sleepy little town square and two antique/gift shops where we both found some things we had not been aware we needed.

We left Fayetteville, headed to Round Top, planning to get to Festival Hill an hour before show time to allow us plenty of time to get parked and seated before the play "Heart of the Tin Trunk" would begin. When we arrived, we were very glad we had decided to get there early. We were greeted with a "Sold Out" sign (the performance hall seats 1100) and ended up with a moderate hike in from our parking spot in a big field at the rear of the complex of buildings. We were beginning to feel a bit of trepidation after our experience of the night before, but we made our way through the crowd and snagged a couple of seats in the second row. Then we took a look around and were amazed at the interior.

We had a feeling this time we were in for a great time and we were right. The play was a lively musical that centered on a young girl's discovery of her Czech heritage when, upon her graduation from college, she is given an old tin trunk full of family memorabilia. She initially feels that there is nothing for her to learn from the old ways, but as she explores the trunk's contents, she begins to learn that she is who she is because of those who came before her.

The audience is transported back in time as we learn of the trials and sorrows experienced by the girl's great-grandmother Pavla when she, her brother, sister and mother make a ship journey from Czechoslovakia to Galveston and finally settle in La Grange. The brother falls ill and never sees America; the sister is given to a family to raise when Pavla and her mother are forced to abruptly flee when Pavla injures a local farmer who is trying to molest her. Eventually Pavla and her mother each find love and start anew, only to find sorrow again when World War I takes Pavla's husband. Finally the story comes full circle when the girl visits her ancestral homeland and discovers the life she is meant to live.

While the music and traditions were definitely Czech, the history of the family had elements that spoke to everyone's background. To two old genealogists like Lana and me, we were caught up immediately and enthralled with the story. It was uplifting, it reduced us to tears, it made us laugh. The cast and orchestra were flawless in their performances. We had a wonderful afternoon.

We came home fired up to get back onto our genealogical pursuits and planning our next research trip. I'm busily working on getting my files for Dr. Hodge ready to hit the road. I've got a couple of months to get ready!


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