31-07-2005

This week in Mailbox: A linden tree in the village of Nebahovy; winner of Radio Prague's July competition; new question for August. Listeners quoted: Adolph R. Kivch, USA; Teodor Shepertycki, Canada; Mary Lou Krenek, USA; and Karel Jicha, UK.

Hello and welcome to Mailbox. Today, we'll be announcing the winner of our July competition but first of all let's get back to last week's Mailbox in which we talked about the Czech national tree, the linden tree. In response to that we got an e-mail from Mr Adolph R. Kivch from Texas, USA, who was reminded of one particular linden tree in the Czech Republic.

"There is a Linden tree in Nebahovy, Czech Republic, I think that it has a historical mark on it, I believe it to be 300 years old. Could you give me some history on it? I have a picture of it from 1946 with my grandmother next to it."

I phoned the mayor of the South Bohemian village of Nebahovy, Frantisek Mraz, and he immediately knew which tree I was talking about. The linden tree stands in the middle of the village and is actually estimated to be 500 years old. In 1975 it had a tablet placed on it saying it was "Pamatny strom" or "historic tree". It is owned by the village but protected by the state, so any pruning, like cutting off dead branches has to be consulted with the authorities. It is so monumental that is has attracted film crews in the past.

Mr Mraz also told me that being so ancient, the trunk of the linden tree needs to be supported by chains and also that the tree had a kind of a lid placed over a hole in the trunk to prevent water from coming in. The mayor of Nebahovy, Frantisek Mraz, says that everybody knows the tree under the name of "Stuculipa" after the former owners of a nearby house, the Stuc family who lived in Nebahovy in the 17th century. Mr Kivch sent us a photo of the tree.

 

And now onto our competition question for July. We asked you to identify the man who was born in 1923 in Czechoslovakia's easternmost province of Ruthenia and worked his way up to become a Labour MP in 1964 and build a publishing empire that spanned the world. In November 1991 he died under mysterious circumstances.

Although we have received one complaint the question was too difficult, the unusually high number of answers - all of them correct - suggests the opposite.

Teodor Shepertycki from Ottawa, Canada, sent us this e-mail:

"The media mogul in the July quiz is Robert Maxwell. Since I'm already at the computer keyboard I would like to take this opportunity to thank the English section of Radio Prague for the extensive coverage that they provide about past, current, and upcoming events in the Czech Republic on shortwave as well as on the internet. The reports cover such diverse topics as politics, culture and music, sports, science, weather, and Czech humour. I often regale my family and friends with items such as the 'mushroom' stories that often appear in your presentations. All is greatly appreciated."

Thank you very much, Mr Shepertycki for those kind words.

Mary Lou Krenek from the state of Texas in the United States likes learning new things from Radio Prague.

"Thank you for providing the monthly competitions. Winning the prize does not matter; it is the knowledge learned from doing the research to get the answers. We have discovered some interesting individuals in Czech history. It is amazing how many went to Great Britain and other countries in the world to seek their fame and fortune."

And Karel Jicha from somewhere in cyberspace sent us this answer.

"You probably mean the person known as Jan Ludvik Hoch. Others say he started his life as Abraham Lajbi. Later he used a number of names Leslie du Maurier, Leslie Jones, Ivan du Maurier, eventually settling on Robert Maxwell."

And finally, this answer came from a listener in the UK who wished to remain anonymous:

"The answer to your July question is Robert Maxwell, born Jan Ludvik Hoch. I was too young when he died in 1991 to know anything about him, especially as news from abroad was censored heavily while I was growing up in Czechoslovakia. I now live in London and found out a lot of interesting things about him on the Internet, including the suspicion that he was not a very honest businessman. Perhaps we should keep the fact that he was born in Czechoslovakia quiet."

This answer was drawn out of the hat and this month’s prize is on its way to the UK. Since Robert Maxwell was born in the province of Ruthenia, now Ukraine, the prize is a CD with Leos Janacek's rhapsody for orchestra Taras Bulba. Taras Bulba is based on the story of the same name by Nikolai Gogol that describes the 16th century struggle of the Ukrainian Cossacks to free themselves from their Polish oppressors.

 

And we have just about enough time left to announce the competition question for August and we continue in this year's series of famous Czech-born people.

"Our mystery man for August was born in 1943 in the Canary Islands to a Spanish mother and a Czech father. Reportedly he was raised on a banana plantation. He began by studying architecture and literature but abandoned his studies after just a year and moved to Paris in 1968. He moved to London two years later where he worked briefly as a photographer and then to New York where he dedicated himself to shoe design. Since the 1970s his shoes have been synonymous with high glamour and are sought after by many famous people, from celebrities to royalty."

Please send your answers to us by the end of August to the usual address, Radio Prague, 12099, Prague, Czech Republic or English@radio.cz. Till next week, thanks for listening.

31-07-2005