Sojourn in Slovakia: Day 5 (Part 6)

A trip to my paternal ancestral village would not have been complete without a visit to the cemetery.


I was able to see where my great-grandparents, Jan and Borbala, are buried, as well as other Alzo family members.




The photo below is of the gravestone for Andrej Alzo, my grandfather’s youngest brother whom he never met. My grandfather left for America before Andrej was born.

I never knew any of these folks, but I sure felt their presence that day. It was like all of my Alzo ancestors had been converging in the life beyond, leading me back to Kučín and to my living Alzo cousins there. When we were leaving, Renata told me about a ritual of washing one’s hands upon exiting a cemetery. This is to wash away any evil spirits that may have been present. There is typically a water spigot at the entrance of a cemetery for visitors to use.


I had never heard of this practice before Renata explained it. (She is shown in the photo above washing her hands).

Renata also said that you are supposed to turn your shoes upside down and leave them at the door of your home after you have visited a cemetery–in case the evil spirits left with you. I love the Slovak customs and traditions and thought this one was so interesting.


to be continued…

Photos by Lisa A. Alzo, June 7, 2010

Copyright 2010 Lisa A. Alzo

All Rights Reserved

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Sojourn in Slovakia: Day 5 (Part 5)

One of the highlights of the trip for me was a visit to the Mayor’s office in Kučín. It’s a very simple looking building on the outside.



Unfortunately, the Mayor was out of town that day, but we got to see his office. Ginny, Andy and I were each asked to write something on our own page to have inserted into the visitor’s book accompanied by our photographs.




I wrote the following:


“I am so happy to finally visit the town of my grandfather Jan Alzo who went to America in 1910. I Kucin I am home.”


I signed my name, listed my hometown and the date.


It was a special honor for me to have this official welcome in my grandfather’s village.



to be continued…


Photos by Lisa A. Alzo, June 7, 2010

Copyright 2010 Lisa A. Alzo

All Rights Reserved


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Sojourn in Slovakia: Day 5 (Part 4)

[Sorry for the hiatus…I’ve been beyond busy these past couple of weeks…]

The Roman Catholic Church (Visitation of Virgin Mary) in Kučín is hard to miss. It towers above the homes in the village and sits in a central location. It is also painted a very bright yellow.

I learned from my cousin that the yellow color with the combination of white is supposed to represent the Vatican’s colors–although the yellow may be a bit too glowing.




Nevertheless, it is a lovely church. The caretaker – a very nice lady – met us there to give us the full tour. I fell in love with intricate details of the altar and the baptismal font.



One of my favorite items was a little angel bank at the back of the church. You put a coin in it and the angel bows. I put one in just to see it in action.



I plan to write more about the church and its history in a future post or article. But, it was an incredible feeling to be standing in the church where my so many of Alzo ancestors–including my grandfather–had worshipped for for over a century or more.

to be continued…


Photos by Lisa A. Alzo, June 7, 2010

Copyright 2010 Lisa A. Alzo
All Rights Reserved

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Sojourn in Slovakia: Day 5 (Part 3)

Ján and Emilia welcomed us into their home and had some refreshments waiting. Some open faced sandwiches, tea, and delicious nut, poppyseed, and cheese rolls freshly made by Emilia.


Above photos: Andy Rabatin

Of course we also had some wine to toast to rodina (family).

After we visited for awhile we were then treated to more homemade Slovak dishes–chicken soup and pirohy, again masterfully prepared by Emilia. She made my favorite kind of pirohy too–sweet cottage cheese. This was just the beginning where the food was concerned.



Above photos by Lisa Alzo

Here I was enjoying chicken soup and pirohy in a house on the Alzo homestead. I imagined my grandfather sitting in the one of the chairs watching over us and smiling the signature Alzo smile knowing that the family had finally come together on this special day.


to be continued…

Copyright 2010 Lisa A. Alzo
All Rights Reserved
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Sojourn in Slovakia: Day 5 (Part 2)

As we drove along the road into Kučín, I had so many thoughts swirling around in my head.

What would I see? How would the Alzo family members react to my visit? Would there be a problem with communication because I did not speak Slovak except for a very few words and phrases? But all of the questions took a back seat to the overwhelming joy I felt. Just being in the birthplace of my paternal grandfather was a magical experience. I thought about the soil under my feet where he once stepped, the paths he may have taken from home to the fields, to church, and finally out of the village when he left for America. I thought about how some 100 years ago (1910), he was probably finalizing his arrangements for that journey (he arrived at the port of New York in October), and it literally gave me chills.

Along the road to the Alzo homestead, the first thing I noticed was the church. It is in the center and painted a “can’t miss” bright yellow, that showed off the white steeple.

Photo by Lisa A. Alzo

Robert parked the car and Renata’s parents came out to greet us. I was warmly welcomed by my cousin Jan. He shares the same name as my father (John). I noticed right away that they also had many similar features–especially the blue eyes and a sharp sense of humor.

Photo by Andy Rabatin

I felt instantly connected to him. Here was my WDYTYA moment and I was absorbing every bit of it. However, in that moment wished my father could have been there too because I know they would have enjoyed visiting together–talking and joking. But as I have learned, sometimes even the best family history moments can be bittersweet.


to be continued…

Copyright 2010 Lisa A. Alzo
All Rights Reserved





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