Monday, July 01, 2002

July 2002 - Hana Huclova


Hana Huclova is one of the longest-standing members of the IWAP, and perhaps, at 91, our oldest member.

Many a time walking along Prague streets with her I've heard interesting stories. Her family had the same house in Pankrac for 3 generations, until it was confiscated by the Communist Party in 1948.

The history she knows would fill volumes. "Here is where Kepler lived when he was continuing Tycho Brahe's work for King Rudolf."

The most interesting aspect is her stories' immediancy, often bringing over 100 years into one's awareness.

"When my father was a young man, he watched the building of the National Museum."

"When my father was young, the tunnel through the rock below theVysehrad had not yet been made, and they would ask the fishermen of Podoli to transport them towards the center."

"Ema Destinova had such a voice! Our family stood on the river bank below the Vysehrad listening to her singing so clearly & beautifully. Of course it was before microphones."

At an International Women's Group meeting, in the hotel behind the Powder Tower,

"I went to my first New Year's Eve party here with my sister & parents. I was 15 years old.

There is the niche where our table was. The hotel owners were my parents' friends."

"Our governess used to take us to visit the children in this home, because my father's factory had given them the kitchen equipment. Afterwards, I had a penpal here." (The home is now reopened.)

Hana has also shown me all around Kaiserstejn Palace, where IWAP has often met, telling me about the paintings and their artists.

An amazing thing Hana did was to wheel a disabled friend all over Prague, up hill & down. I heard this early on; not until later did I realize that disabled people were neither to be heard or seen in the Golden City during communism.

Three children were born to Hana & her husband, Josef Hucl. Igor, an engineer, & Hanicka, a Charles Univeristy language professor, live in

Prague with their families. Her daughter-in-law, Mirka, lives in Munich and has two children, Daniella, & Martina. Their father, Hana's oldest child, Josef, an architect, had gone to Munich to work on the Olympic

housing in 1976 & stayed behind. Josef died in 1981. Hanicka has two children, Josef & Hanka. Igor's children are Katerina & Marketa. Granddaughter Marketa is married with three little boys, Matous, Prokop, & Mikolas, Hana's greatgrandchildren.

As many of us, Hana had been a stay-at-home mother. With the advent of communism she began to teach school because the salary of her husband,

a lawyer, was automatically lowered. At Christmastime some of the children begged her to let them sing the well-known carol, "Nesem vam

Noviny", which she allowed. Soon afterwards the principal told her some parents complained of the religious, not marxist, topic and Hana was dismissed.

The only available post for the political opposition was a manual one.

So Hana shoveled coal into a large central furnace of one of Prague' factories.

Later Hana began working for Prague Information Service. Her specialties, with her sister, Mimi, were Bethlehem Chapel & St. Nicholas Church on Mala Strana. She guided at one of these almost every day. She still worked part-time until about 8 years ago! If there was a

group of French scholars, for instance, Hana would show them around St.Nicholas. Once when we were in Prague, before moving here, she told the office, "NO! 11 o'clock, not 9! I've got American relatives staying with me!".

A frequent visitor to tour sites was Vaclav Havel, because his mother was Hana's co-worker. He was always extremely friendly to everyone.

Once he brought invitations to his new play, "The Garden Party". Hana and all of her family attended its premiere.

Hana took all the courses at Charles University for a degree in Art History. For political and economic reasons she could do it only as Distance Studies. She chuckled, appreciating her colleagues, "They liked to call me 'Professor'. Sadly, she had no time any more for achieving her B.A.thesis......

Hana & Josef Hucl liked to travel. In the thirties they had visited France & Italy, Yugoslavia, Germany.

During communism, they spent time with the family in Munich and visited many places in the former Soviet Union. Josef died in January 1990, happy that their dissident daughter's activities had been rewarded.

Now, after the Velvet Revolution the whole world was open to Hana's travels! She has been to France & Austria; Crete; Malta; Majorca with her cousin, Milada Cernokova, also an IWAP member; Africa to stay with her sister-in-law Rina & go on safari; Israel with PIS; Transcarpathian Ukraine of Eastern Slovakia with her grandson, Josef; America with Mirka, visiting our daughters in Philadelphia; on a French art & architecture jaunt with Marketa; Turkey with a friend.

The German nanny of their son came here & miraculously found her & Hana later visited her. Tourists she & her sister had helped out in Prague became friends & she & family members have visited them in Germany & England. Of course, every year she visits our zamek in the village of Brezina in the Czech-Moravian Highlands.

Several years ago Hana & I were on a tram, heading for the School for the Blind, to leave a Christmas tree from our forests. The driver made a warning announcement about the area we were in; Hana asked me how to say "thief of the pocket" in English. We might all hope to be learning new words, doing
new things, making new friends when we are also in our 80's and early 90's!!!

(editor's note - Hana Huclova passed away in 2006)