Vodka of the Wood—Vodka of the Strawberry: sketches from Galicia

No priest enjoys such enduring gratitude amongst his parishioners as does Ojciec Plebań in Dąbrowice.

This fine old fellow will long be celebrated in the entire region of Tarnów, and the descendants of the present parishioners will recount time and again to their children what they heard from their parents about this good man.

It was not the soulful sermons, which certainly bestowed satisfaction upon the souls of good-natured farmers, nor even his piety that won him immortal renown in Dąbrowice, in its environs, and even in Tarnów. It was rather his green vodka, which he sometimes claimed enthusiastically to be the blood of his body, the essence of his mind, and the child of his intellect.

And the name of this product sounded scarcely less poetic: Vodka of the Wood—Vodka of the Strawberry.

Renoir, Strawberries c. 1905
Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Strawberries (1905)

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The Story of a Respectable Person

Every evening, Mr. Havlik recounted his entire day’s activities to ascertain whether he had trespassed in any way against societal mores and public order or if he had fulfilled with proper thoroughness his obligations as a citizen, a parishioner, and a Catholic.

And every evening he could complete this accounting in the following manner: “I have found nothing which would result in my expulsion from respectable society.” His chambermaid, an old lady, claimed that he was an eccentric, because every time he ventured out, he would say to her in a good-natured tone: “Please, Mrs. Mlitschek, be so kind as to confirm that I have buttoned my pants.”

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Successfully Saving the Suicidal: A Sad Story

Though the Prague city council neither maintains a standing commission tasked with the combating of suicide nor dedicates itself to specialized research to this end through observing methods employed to prevent suicide in other major European cities, we can nonetheless point with pride to municipal furnishings and equipment for the rescue of persons who attempt suicide by drowning.

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Illustration by Josef Lada

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Šafler, the Cunning Catholic

As everyone knows, if one gathers up several coins, it adds up to one or even more bills, assuming one makes use of this opportunity for saving. The small, shrewd eyes of old Šafler examined the ballot paper calculatingly. Because he believed in God, he undertook to sell his vote to the Christian Social Party.

“Praise Jesus Christ!” he said, as he entered the polling station of the Christian Socials. “I come on account of the elections.”

Paul Klee- The Lamb
Paul Klee, The Lamb (1920)

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A Legitimate Business

Once upon a time I sat upon a bench in the Charles Square park with the noble Mestek.

Mestek, the proprietor of a flea circus, was in a very despondent mood because he had come to the realization that fleas were no longer suited for the purpose of training. A catastrophe had recently befallen his flea circus. Some drunken fellow, driven by the crazed conviction that the whole thing was a sham, had entered his booth and…

reelle unternehmen
Illustration by Josef Lada

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Christmas Eve at the Orphanage

On Christmas Day, the orphan boy Pazourek found himself locked in a pantry, in which two sacks of flour were stored and—as Pazourek noticed to his delight—numerous sacks of prunes besides.

This discovery ameliorated Pazourek’s desperate situation—so much so that he could nearly have said a prayer of thanksgiving on account of these dried plums, had he not found himself in a circumstance that, instead, inspired blasphemy.

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All illustrations by Josef Lada

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