Sunday, September 01, 2002

September 2002 - Rina Homolka

Would you like to meet the first commercial air passenger from Vienna to Prague? I can introduce you to Rina Homolka, my mother-in-law at an IWAP meeting.

For their wedding trip, Rina and Jiri Homolka rode by train to Vienna, but returned by air. Cargo had already been transported for some time, but they were the first paying passengers.

Rina was from Koterov-Plzen where her family had a flour mill and bakery. Katherine, her mother had died several years before, so Rina and her father, Josef Hucl, head of Bank Slavia, lived in Prague and spent most weekends near Plzen. Jiri Homolka was from Brezina, the estate his father, Antonin, had purchased in 1908 upon Jiri's birth. Jiri attended and graduated from the agricultural university in Prague and was helping his father run the the farm.

Jiri and Rina had met as children while on family visits to Karlovy Vary. Later aquaintance, as young adults was at parties and with relatives in Plzen.

They were married on March 30, 1937. The wedding was at the Srobeck Hotel (later Hotel Europa) on Vaclav Namaste. Mr Hucl had booked a suite where the bride and bridesmaids dressed before proceeding to St. Gotthard Church in Bubenec for the wedding ceremony. (I can also introduce you to two of those bridesmaids, also IWAP members, but that's another story.)

After the church ceremony, the wedding party and guests returned to the Srobeck Hotel for an elegant dinner. Wine poured was Ludmila, from Lobkowitz vineyards at Menik. Naturally when our daughters had their weddings here, Alice in August 97 and Caroline in July 2001, we also served Ludmila.

Originally Jiri and Rina planned to ski in the Slovakian High Tatras for their honeymoon, but decided there was not enough snow and decided to go to Vienna. A train compartment and hotel room were reserved and travel was pleasant.

The next day the weather in Vienna was absolutely lovely. Jiri and Rina enjoyed seeing the refined, luxurious city. The weather quickly turned and day after day, it rained. They visited an art gallery or two, emerging into gray and chilly downpours. Finally one morning while Rina went to get her hair done, Jiri went to buy tickets for home. Rina returned from the hairdresser to fined her new husband waving tickets. "Would you like to fly to Prague? The plane leaves soon." He was doubtful that she would be willing to go on an airplane, but Rina surprised him with her eagerness. She kept her eyes shut for much of the trip.

When the plane landed in Prague, a crowd stood around with notepads, pencils and cameras. Jiri and Rina didn't pay much attention as they were busily chatting and planning a surprise. They checked into a hotel and planned to meet Rina's father at dinnertime at his club.

Later, when they arrived at the club, Josef Hucl sat at his usual table with a big stack of newspapers. "Where have you been, for goodness sake?" he asked. "I''ve been expecting you all afternoon!" Each of the newspapers in the stack had a story and photo of Rina and Jiri Homolka, returning honeymooners on the first commercial passenger flight from Vienna to Prague!