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Ennis Daily News

Czeching history

Local author tells fascinating stories of ‘days back when’
Ennis native Mary Betik Trojacek knows her history.
She also knows how to write about it and has done so in a new book, “Beyond Ellis Island” (Trafford Publishing, $25.75)
A memoir of farm life in Ennis in the 1930s, Trojacek’s account also addresses the larger subject of the rural immigrant experience in America.
“Anyone who has lived on a farm can relate to this book, and may be able to picture himself or herself in many of the episodes featured,” she writes in her foreword.
To finish her book, Trojacek –– a rancher who, with her husband of 56 years, raises Angus cattle –– had to take time out from life on the range and from family responsibilities; she’s the mother of seven and proudly admits to having great-grandchildren. The result of her writing is well worth the time, both for author and reader.
The 344-page trade paperback of “Beyond Ellis Island” is beautifully packaged and contains not only Trojacek’s reminiscences but numerous illustrations of Ennis and Czechoslovakian history, some of her own execution.
Full of sentiment, without being overly sentimental, Trojacek frames a hearty picture of Ennis’ past in countrified words and phrases that will please nostalgic southern readers while alternately delighting and confusing those unfamiliar with Czech slang or North Texas colloquialisms. Trojacek’s tale of childhood memories provides solid first-hand historical testimony about the agricultural and social contributions of Czechs in Ennis yet manages to capture the warmth and magic of youthful innocence in a charming, storybook-style narrative.
The reader is let in on old customs and funny happenings that will meet with appreciation by the older generation and will serve to educate and amuse the younger set.
Locals of Trojacek’s generation (she was born in 1929) may recognize the names of people and places that figured in the family life she traces. She writes lovingly of the “Creechville hills” she walked as a girl, of the “cotton patch” and “home-spun fun,” of what she calls “the days back when.”
Touching sidelights include her description of carrying her lunch to school in a “Br’er Rabbit” syrup can and playing Blind Man’s Bluff with neighborhood kids. A strongpoint in Trojacek’s writing is her poetic depictions of nature; her book is rich with them. The Village Creek lowlands of Ennis come alive in her memories of “country Sundays,’ water from Artesian wells, attending Bristol’s Harvest Dance, the beauty of Redbud and Chinaberry trees, “crawfishing,” her mother’s garden of jonquils and hollyhocks, the singing and hopping of the Meadow Lark in spring.
From whatever perspective one approaches “Beyond Ellis Island,” whether as a history buff or curious casual reader, a delightful and rewarding reading experience awaits.
To purchase “Beyond Ellis Island,” visit www.Trafford.com. It is also available through www.Amazon.com.

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Posted by on Jan 25 2007. Filed under News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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