The Coalmines Of Kladno
In nineteenth century Bohemia, working the coalmines of the countryside was the only labor available to many men, and the father of Tony Cermak was one of those that toiled in the dark shafts and caverns that covered the Eastern European landscape. Here he waged for a paltry sum, without protection nor insurances against injury, illness or infirmity. The physical hazards of this class were sundry; black lung, tuberculosis and a grave variety of commonplace accidents. If a man could not work, he could not provide for his family, as coal ‘companies’ were unregulated and often illegal operations. To this hard life, generations of Kladno, as well as the Old World, were tied.
Dreams Of The New World
Nearly all of America has ancestors who were drawn to the United States with visions of a better life for themselves and their families. Across the globe, a canvas of hope and ambition brought such souls to this country in the great European immigration of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Escaping oppression, political persecution and the strain of Old World poverty, they dared to do more than dream, they came across the great Atlantic Ocean to begin their new lives in America. Among those masses who sailed into New York Harbour was twenty-five year old Antonio Cermak, his wife Catherine, and their new son, Anton, Jr.
The Shores Of The Hudson
As a mere baby, Tony Cermak celebrated his first birthday at Castle Garden, New York, the port of immigration that preceded the legendary Ellis Island. The year was 1874. There he and his parents touched the New World for the first time. Three Bohemians amidst so many Europeans, a myriad of language and anxiety surrounded them as they sailed into the New York Bay. The clothes on their backs and the small parcels they carried were all that they owned. Nervous, tired, yet immensely excited, they embarked from their ship, waited to be documented, then joined the great ethnic variety of the growing United States.