"Thomas should like this name."
On August 26, Doug returned from Europe for the second time in as many months. Of course, his first thought upon returning to the U.S. was to arrange for a stopover in Los Angeles so he could visit with The Belching Frog staff and file his report. (See "Postcards from the Road" for a preliminary report.) Doug then stopped over in Bakersfield after L.A., for some reason. We don't know what that was all about. As far as we know, we don't have an office in Bakersfield.
What is it with this dog? Hasn't Lucy taught her anything about birth control? Anyway, she's pregnant again. (Coyote, that is, not Lucy.) [These jokes are getting stale, don't you think?]
Mike expects Coyote to have a litter of 25 puppies. Lucy predicts a somewhat smaller number.
Speaking of Lucy's dogs, she finally managed to sell one more of Coyote's previous litter the lovable Cougar, or "Cougie" as he is affectionately known. He will be sorely missed. Who's going to catch all the bugs around the house now? (Inside joke.)
At Diane's new chiropractic assistant job, a patient came in named Janice-something but she didn't hear the last name. Turns out it was [singer/songwriter] Janice Ian ("At Seventeen"). That same day, Roseanne Cash ("Seven Year Ache") came in with her four children named Crowell (as in, Rodney Crowell). Diane later asked Don, "Is Roseanne Cash just the daughter of Johnny, or is she famous in her own right?"
"A little bit," Don said, sarcastically.
"Well, I didn't know," Diane replied. "I thought she was white trash, the way she was dressed."
When June and the kids went to Minnesota, Andy tried to smuggle Snakey, his rubber snake onto the plane. Well, the baggage checkers found Snakey and put him into a separate box to be shipped with the baggage. Talk about discrimination! Seems rubber snakes are prohibited on planes since someone had a heart attack once upon seeing one (honest-that's what they said).
We just thought this was pretty amazing.
I woke up at 7 [after spending the night (8/5/92) at Bill's house] and decided to just head out early and take a scenic route to Sacto. I went up Highway 1 through Malibu, which turns into 101 below Ventura. Then I took 33 up through Ojai and the Los Padres National Forest. That was a nice surprise. Very pretty, desert-like mountains, with nobody around. I strongly recommend a drive from Ventura, up 33 north, to Highway 166, where the beauty ends. Don't stay on 33 any further north than that, as it becomes "oil road" (more oil fields than you've ever seen in your life).
Take 166 west to Santa Maria and take the coast back, or if you're in a hurry, take it east to I-5. I actually stayed on 33 north all the way to Los Banos, where it was just crisscrossing I-5 and wasting time, so I just got on I-5. Anyway, 33 north of 166 is no good.
I just got back [home] last night [8/12/92]. Took a scenic route through Colorado, and by the time I got to Denver at 9pm, I decided to just make a B-line for home,. So I drove all night 'til 5pm the next day, which got me as far as 70 miles west of St. Louis (a big city), and only about 300 miles from Nashville, another day's drive.
Well, keep the e-mails coming. See ya.
[Editor's Note: Don, Bill and Greg belong to a nationwide computer "bulletin board" (called GEnie) and they regularly send each other "e-mail," or electronic mail. (See article, back page.)
Thanks for your letter, Don. Don't worry, I deleted the stuff about the female hitchhiker and how you beat up a gang of Hell's Angels on your way back home!]
from Doug ...
If you look closely, you can see me swimming in the Danube River in this photo [postcard showing Budapest and the Danube at dusk]. That's because it is very hot (humid). The dollar is still very strong here. Books are a bargain still, although postage to send them home has risen again. To send 5 kilos it costs about $16. Last year it was $10. But still a bargain overall. Apartments are free to visitors (if they are your friends!) So, my first 3 days cost nothing for motels/hotels. I have a rental car and will see much more of the countryside this trip. Near the end I will see Slovakia again for 3 or 4 days. I may visit
Romania for an afternoon if it's convenient. (Just to say I've been there!) Most of my trip will be in the same county of our ancestors, speaking with families with the same names to see if we're related. Also, I hope to meet the girl from Kecskemet (in the Recycler). [She placed an ad in L.A.'s "Recycler" stating she wanted to meet Americans.] That town is not far from Szarvas where the Liska family started.
Szia! (see you)
As mentioned in the "Postcards" column, Don, Bill and Greg belong to a national computer/modem bulletin board called GEnie (with Doug and Steve soon to join?). It's a great thing to have if you're into bulletin boards (and you have a computer and modem), for you get access to about 100 different bulletin boards just by dialing one number. Here are some of the "BB's": IBM Product Support, Music, Computer Programming, Show Biz, California, Sports, Japan, Schwab Brokerage, Law Enforcement, Dow Jones, Headline News, Radio/Electronics, Religion, Education, Writers, Space & Science, Genealogy, Amiga, Law, Photography, Shopping, Medical, Travel, Games, Real Estate, Motorcycling, etc., etc.
And I haven't even mentioned Personal E-Mail yet, which you can use to send a message instead of calling long distance! Below are instructions for signing up:
To sign-up for GEnie, use the automated sign-up procedure:
1. Set your communications software for half duplex (local echo) at 300, 1200 or 2400 baud;
2. Dial (toll free) 1-800-638-8369. Upon connection, enter "HHH" (without the quotes);
3. At the "U#=" prompt, enter XJM11718,ALADDIN (no spaces) and press return.
At the end of the on-line registration, a personal User Number and temporary password will be displayed on your screen. Both are required for log-on, so be sure to make a note of them. Then, before you do anything else, download the Aladdin program.
GEnie costs $4.95 a month. And when you first sign up you get 10 hours of free service. Of course, we suggest you log-on to just the free BB's, so it only costs you the basic $4.95 a month. Not all the BB's listed above are free.
For more information, call Bill at (310) 836-6585.
On Sunday, July 12th, I woke up ... but while getting ready for the flight to Portugal the next morning, I never went back to sleep. In Lisboa, my 2nd cousin Teresa Rocha Homem and her husband Antonio Melo met me at the airport. They served as chauffeurs, tour guides and translators. Teresa's father, Silvano Rocha Homem, is Dad's 1st cousin. Sometimes staying at their apartment in Lisboa and sometimes at Silvano's "grand casa" in Cartaxo (45 min. away in the countryside), they treated me to all the sights possible in the 5 days I spent there. Although Lisboa is full of history, crowded cities with bad traffic problems have never interested me. The best sights were found nearby at "Sintra" where a castle dominates a mountaintop surrounded by rich and beautiful homes and great views. A drive along the coast revealed quaint villages and wonderful cliffs similar to the California coast south of Big Sur.
The topless beaches were also a nice surprise! Don't let anyone ever tell you that the Portuguese girls aren't pretty. Portugal has it's share of beauties. One of them is Teresa's sister, Ana Rocha Homem. Ana had modeled at one time, but quit because of the constant concern with her looks.
I met another sister, Cristina Rocha Homem, a lawyer and considered the brightest of the family and very pretty, to boot. Finally there was Luis Rocha Homem, the only boy and a very nice person. He is the one that will eventually run the very successful family winery business. I didn't meet the oldest girl, Isabel. All five of Silvano's children are married. Ana and Cristina have husbands that are direct descendants of some of Portugal's oldest noble families. All five also have college degrees; almost mandatory for a person to be successful there unlike in the U.S. Silvano de Abreu Cardoso Rocha Homem, as mentioned, has a really nice house in the small town of Cartaxo. He is semi-retired from his practice as a family doctor, but still works 2 or 3 days a week at home where he has his office. Silvano is a wonderful host. Because of his lack of practice with English he spoke mostly Portuguese with only a few words of English, although at one time he spoke English well. The overall impression one gets by a visit to his home is that you are in the company of a very rich and well respected man who lives in a place that could be described as a hotel with many servants and a music room and dining room fit for a duke.
One can only admire the close relationship of his family who travel every weekend to Cartaxo to visit. The huge house and the winery business come from Silvano's wife's side of the family who has unfortunately suffered many strokes and is now practically helpless.
My last day there was on Sunday, July 19th, and I was treated to an extravagant midday meal before flying to the island of Terceira in the Azores where the Rocha Homem (Holmes) family originates from.
There to meet me was Dad's other 1st cousin, Jose Leal Armas, one of the most important men of the island. Jose is a thoroughly likeable guy. Real down-to-Earth.
Staying at Jose's modest house and sleeping on a antique bed valued at more than $6,000 US dollars, I was shown the way to the Archives of Angra where I spent 50% of my time digging through old records of the island. If it weren't for the fact that the archive closed at 5pm, I would have missed seeing most of the sights a normal tourist would see.
Angra is more than 500 years old and is very interesting to see, especially if one's own family played a part in it's history. Manoel Joaquim Leal da Roza came here as a rich man from Chile and established the first pawn shop, "Prego," of the island. This building and several other family homes were photographed. Seeing these tend to bring to life the history of one's family.
Another benefit from genealogy (besides implementing an "adopt-a-ghost" program on Halloween) is discovering living relatives previously unknown. (As if we don't have enough already!) Such was the case when I and Jose went to the home of Francisco da Rocha Homem, a farmer in Angra. Jose knew him and called him "cousin" without knowing how they were related. I revealed that they both shared the same great-great-grandfather, Manoel da Rocha Homem born in 1786. So this man is a 3rd cousin to Dad and Jose.
The research done in Angra, which is not even close to being complete, has revealed the oldest member of the Rocha Homem line to be a Joao (John) Bras born circa 1660. He didn't use the Rocha name, so this is yet another puzzle to solve.
The final portion of my trip was to the island of Pico where the Silveira family (Grandma's parents) comes from. This was the prettiest of the islands visited. Very lush; green plants were everywhere with the dominant mountain soaring 8,000 feet above the sea, from which the island gets its name. São Roque was my major place of interest, where, on Sept. 17th, 1896, Jose Francisco da Silveira and his new wife Emelia Candida Leal left for America. Grandma was born the next year in Sacramento.
Another village of Pico, Piedade, is where the Leal da Roza family (mentioned above) comes from. With the assistance of the taxi driver hired for the day, I was able to meet a heretofore unknown member of that family, Jose Leal da Rosa, a wine-maker in that village. The connection between our families has not been established yet, but it's nice to know the name has not died out in its native land.
Arriving home on Thursday, July 30th at 12:30am, I had 6 days to recover before I was grabbed and thrown onto a plane headed for Budapest, Hungary. Luckily, I was already planning to go there and was fully packed.
Now being a seasoned traveller (my 3rd trip to Europe in two years), I negotiated for free housing in some girl's apartment in Budapest for the first 3 nights there. The girl is Klara Szmodits, a cousin of Irene Poutinen (our cousin) who lives in Florida.
I was soon heading for the countryside of western Hungary where there are beautiful rolling hills and mountains that are a joy to travel through. For a little danger and excitement, I crossed the border into the new Croatian republic to get my passport stamped. To prove this side trip to those
inevitable doubters, I got it all on videotape. The trip lasted a whole 10 minutes, but my passport never got stamped - damn! No gun shots were reported.
Continuing on to Békéscsaba, Hungary to the East, I checked into the Koros Hotel where I stayed last year and where, for $15 a night, one gets a room with a shower and sink but no toilet. I'm becoming a regular there.
One of the main objectives of this trip was to contact living relatives in the towns of Szarvas and Mezobereny where the Liska family has its roots. Re-establishing contact with friends I met last year proved very valuable. In Mezobereny, where grandma Irene (Liska) [redacted] was born, my elderly friends secured permission for me to look through all the church record books for relatives (information after 1895 not available on microfilm). So far, the most valuable result of this is a gift from an 82-year-old man of a big picture of Irma Liska (this man's godmother) who was our grandma's 1st cousin. He also had more family information since he knew many of our relatives. But, sad to say, this branch of the Liska family has no living descendants.
In Szarvas, with the help of my friend Andras Liska (no relation) and his girlfriend who works in the mayor's office, I looked through secret information for more relatives. In addition, the computer gave me the current names and addresses of the family names I was searching for. In this way, I was able to contact many relatives still living in the town where the oldest known Liskas from Slovakia first settled in Hungary after the Turks withdrew in 1700. These families have reMained in Szarvas for almost 300 years!
Among the relatives I met were those with the family name of Pecznik, Brauner, Hlivar and Liska. The 84-year-old man, Gyorgy Hlivar, is the last male with the name and therefore that name in Szarvas will die out. He was particularly happy to meet me and he told me the story of his lands and wealth being confiscated by the communists after WW2. And in the book I am planning in the future, he wanted this fact and his sad life afterwards mentioned. He also told the story of the first Hlivar of Szarvas who was the town's first magistrate.
The highlight of the whole trip was the discovery of the last related Liska family in Szarvas. Out of all the many Liskas on the huge family tree I made, only this family still has the name of Liska. Surprisingly, one of them, Janos Liska, had seen my photo in the county newspaper from last year's trip when I was interviewed and was trying to meet relatives. Janos contacted the newspaper, but for some reason the paper couldn't give him my address. On the Hungarian "Coronation Day" of King Istvan in 1000 A.D., equivalent to our July 4th, the whole Liska family was gathered for a big meeting where I showed everyone the large Liska family tree and took everyone's portraits. A parting gift of bootleg "szilva palinka" (plum brandy) was received with promises to return there in the future. These Liskas are 5th cousins to us.
The closest relative, a 4th cousin, was discovered by accident while I was looking through the Szarvas church record books. A lady talking on the phone was overheard saying her name was Nobik Erzsebet. Hearing this, I perked up and quickly looked through my notes confirming that the Nobik name was a Liska relative. After the phone call, I introduced himself and showed her my notes hoping this lady would have some information. An Irma Liska had married a Sandor Nobik and these were her grandparents! She was astonished and invited me to her home where we had lunch and talked for many hours (in Hungarian, of course). She was also a 4th cousin from the Pecznik name. So, does that make her the equivalent to a 3rd cousin?! Her occupation is the female equivalent to the priest of the Old Evangelical Church in Szarvas. She had much family information and a few old Liska photos which I copied with my video camera.
With all who met me giving their assurances that they will send photos of any female prospects for my future wife, I finally left Szarvas and headed to Slovakia. Driving on the eastern-most roads possible (within view of Russia), I toured the beautiful hills and valleys of Slovakia. On another whim, I decided to go into Poland where I picked up some teenage Polish hitchhikers returning from camping in Slovakia. After trading for 13,000 Polish zlotys (the equivalent of $1.00) I dropped them off and continued for a few more hours before crossing back over into Slovakia.
In the tiny village of Molca, Slovakia, I found a possible relative named Ondris Pecnik, who is the town official, and his son, Ondris Pecnik, Jr. Finding a lady who spoke Hungarian, I was able to tell Mr. Pecnik why I was there. This man said that the Pecnik family were landowners of this village ever since 1426 according to the records in the local Banska Bystrica archives (the major city nearby). So, there is a very good chance we can trace this family back that far eventually. After promising to return in the future, I again parted company with new acquaintances and headed back to Budapest for one last day.
With the assistance of some friends, I, as Director of the Sacramento Hungarian/American Friendship Society, received permission from the Hungarian National Archives to purchase any of the microfilms of the church record books (the primary source for genealogy research); thus opening up many possibilities in the field of Hungarian genealogy to make money.
During the trip, I decided that in the future (maybe two years from now) I will make an extended visit to Hungary for maybe 3 to 6 months to learn the language well and find a wife. When asked why I want a Hungarian wife, I say because of my interest in Hungarian culture and language and I want any future children to appreciate this heritage as well as the Portuguese and German ancestry. If I married a Portuguese girl, there would be such a dominant percentage of Portuguese that the German and Hungarian ancestry would not likely hold much interest.
I feel most Americans are afflicted with too many ethnic backgrounds, unlike most Europeans, and I prefer to limit the amount of new ethnic backgrounds. But why not marry a German girl? Well, I haven't yet met any that were appealing (admitting that I really haven't met many at all). And hell, the Hungarian women are great cooks!
Psst!! Don't tell anyone, but United Airlines gave me a credit on my Visa for the full $1200 for the flight to Portugal. Hopefully, they'll never find their error. I highly recommend you fly United in the future!
Our staff has been watching a lot of videos lately. Here's what we think of them:
"MY OWN PRIVATE IDAHO" Definitely not a family movie, though it does address the Republicans' favorite issue of family values from a "how it can all go wrong" aspect. The sleaze gets laid on so thick at times it can be hard to take. But if you're into sleaze, this is your kind of movie.
"RUSH" Crime/drug drama. Fairly well-done, but nothing special. Again, if you're sleazy, you'll like this one.
"WAYNE'S WORLD" A fairly stupid, yet harmless, flick. Not enough sleaze, I guess.
"BOYZ 'N THE HOOD" An excellent movie. Makes a person want to move to South Central L.A. NOT! Definitely worth renting.
"THUNDERHEART" It was pretty good. We'll give it a thumbs up, as long as you don't expect too much.
"FINAL APPROACH" Hard to watch. Fragmented. And the ending really sucks. Basically, a waste of money.
"THE FISHER KING" It was okay. [How's that for an in-depth review?]
"BLUE MOON JUNCTION" Very well-done, very erotic film. If you've always wanted to see more of Sherilyn Fenn (of "Twin Peaks"), you'll like this movie.
Diane's back is healing nicely, thank you; though her golf game is still not quite what it used to be.
Lucy's back is also coming along well; though she's not yet back to her world-class marathon speed.
Lucy Aug. 15
June Sept. 2
Kristin Sept. 9
Aileen Sept. 18
Tiffany Sept. 25
Grandma Sept. 25
[Grandma celebrates her 95th!!!]