My Century And My Many Lives, by Frank Munk
Frank Munk, my grandfather, wrote this autobiography to record his memories
from 1901 onwards. This history and its postscript are available on our family website in his
memory as they tell a complete story of the 20th century. These memoirs may be referenced as
long as proper attribution is made; our family retains ownership and copyright. We have one
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© Copyright 1993, 1994, The Munk/Ragen Families
AT THE STORE
education started at the store, rather than in the classroom. My father was a
clothier. He sold cloth to the tailors or to men who would then go to a tailor.
Ready made men's clothing did not exist; everybody had it tailored.
I worked in the
store on most afternoons, when I came back from the "reŠlka." My specialty was
accessories: I sold shirts, collars (all of them detached), ties and such. But
mostly I listened. The store was more than a store. Each afternoon or almost so
the professors whom I heard in class in the morning would come to the store,
which was a kind of political club. They were mostly members of the same
political party, certainly they all had the same political outlook.
My father was very
politically minded. Progressive, reformist, anticlerical, anti the prevailing
reactionary Austrian government, moderately Czech nationalist -- as was their
recognized leader, the future president of the future Czechoslovak Republic,
Thomas G. Masaryk. He was something of a dissenter, hated by many, and his
party, while minuscule in numbers, had an intense appeal for intellectuals. He
suddenly leaped to popularity when he, almost single-handed, founded the
republic at the end of the First World War, but that came later. My story starts
in the first two decades of this century.
My father, Alfred
Munk, was a freethinker. He sympathized in a general way with the moderate left
and he was one of the first people who organized the local chapter of Masaryk's
party. One of the cherished possessions of our family was a card Masaryk had
sent to my father from Russia. The papers I read were first of all Masaryk's
daily CAS, the free thought weeklies VOLNA MYSLENKA and VOLNA SKOLA and a weekly
published by the Social Democrats RUD… KVETY ("Red Blooms").
My mother, born
Marie MautnerovŠ, was more interested in literature, she was an avid reader of
fiction in Czech and German. Once a year she would visit her sister in Vienna
and would go to the theater of opera evening after evening. But she agreed with
my father (and me) on politics.
I suppose I have
never wavered much from the philosophy I learned while selling those shirts.
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