Nová huť Klementa Gottwalda, Ostrava, 1950s. Photo credit.
Previously: 40 Years in Beer, Part Seventeen: Uncle V’s beery introduction to Bohemia (June 1989).
In 1989 the city of Ostrava (population 330,000) was communist Czechoslovakia’s hard-knock, grit-inflected, coal-fueled, factory-filled equivalent of the robber baron era in Pittsburgh. It would have been an unlikely tourist destination if not for my émigré friend George’s parents, who lived in Ostrava and graciously consented to house me for almost two weeks.
Uncle Vlasta refused to let me take the train, and instead we drove to Ostrava from Prague, a distance of 230 miles via Brno and Olomouc. Our destination was a mid-century house situated quite literally in the shadows of smokestacks belching the residue of Nové Hutě Klementa Gottwalda, a sprawling postwar steel mill named for one of Czechoslovakia’s founding communist luminaries, who incidentally was a syphilitic alcoholic with an attitude problem.
George’s father Vladimir ...Read more