Published on June 22, 2021

Teen makes forever decision, hops on freighter to U.S.

By Shirley Prihoda
The Bulletin

My husband was made in Texas using 100% Czech parts. His maternal grandfather was born in Czechoslovakia, and when his parents died way before their prime, his older brother inherited the family farm.

As it is sometimes with family dynamics, the brother’s wife wasn’t a happy camper with his living there and thought he should look elsewhere. And look elsewhere he did, across the pond, as the British are fond of saying.

Boys became men at an early age, mostly out of necessity, prior to the 21st century. Such was the case for my husband’s grandfather. How he talked his way onto a cattle freighter coming to America remains a mystery to me. Also, a mystery for this writer/mother is who would have hired a 15-year-old boy and let him cross the ocean by himself in the first place?

Somehow, he had heard of two small cities in Texas that looked like his home area in Czechoslovakia and found someone here that offered him a place to stay and a job if he could get a ticket and pass the immigration requirements. This was without the luxury of things we take for granted; he was able to secure both without cell service, Fax or the internet. Given the lack of hospitality on the family farm, I’m sure the process of letters going back and forth across the pond seemed to take an eternity for everyone.

The day finally did arrive, and it’s my understanding, the scene at the dock was not reminiscent of the long waves of good-bye in the movie Titanic. But then, the silver lining was his ship actually made it all the way across the pond.

As providence would have it, he didn’t come through Ellis Island in New York as most immigrants did. He actually arrived in Galveston.

While the majority of immigrants coming to America did come through Ellis Island, I’ve since learned that millions more immigrated through other American ports.

That revelation came as a total surprise to me, since Ellis Island had always been synonymous with immigration entry. That fact may have been taught in school, but if it was, my mind was probably focused on recess or lunch.

Crossing the Atlantic in the late 1800s with a third-class ticket was not for the faint-hearted. It could take up to two weeks to cross on a freighter, which would probably just about give him time to develop his “sea legs.” Land travel was not much better since good ole’ Henry Ford hadn’t developed the assembly line to mass produce automobiles.

Before Henry showed up, moving to another state or relocating within a state the size of Texas was most often a forever decision. When you hugged good-bye, the chances were, it truly was good-bye.

That didn’t deter this determined Czechoslovakian. Once he made it through customs on Galveston Island, he bought a used shotgun and a crock of sauerkraut and set out on foot for the Cat Springs and Ellinger area. How he was able to make purchases, navigate through woods, and over trails and unpaved roads without speaking English is a feat unto itself.

I’ve often thought my penchant for adventure would have made me a good immigrant since I adore new places, meeting people, and let’s not forget what really rocks my boat - food.

One thing I’ve learned in my travels, it takes a lot of fortitude for immigrants to leave all things familiar and press on toward a forever dream. Today, we seem to lack the concept of a “forever” decision.

But one thing will be forever - the deliciousness of these sausage balls. My granddaughter, Kelsey, asks for this recipe every Christurkmas.

Sausage Balls

1 1-pound Sausage Roll
1 Can Refrigerated Biscuits (10 Count) Yes, canned biscuits.
1 Cup Cooked White Rice
2 Eggs
¼ Pound Cheddar Cheese, shredded

Combine all the ingredients and divide in half. The mixture will overpower your food processor, so process half the mixture, remove that batch and process the remaining. Once both are processed, mix them together by hand.

Spray a cookie sheet with vegetable spray. Using a 1 ½-inch scooper, scoop and drop onto the cookie sheet. Bake 12 minutes at 350F, flip them and bake another 12 minutes for total of 24 minutes.
Makes 20 sausage balls.

(To contact Shirley, please send emails to john.bulletin@gmail.com or write to The Bulletin, PO Box 2426, Angleton, Tx. 77516)