First Hand Reflections

One of the most intriguing accounts that I came across about how people remember the Bohemian Flats is from a section in the April 14th, 1984 issue of the Minneapolis Star Tribune.  The article is essentially about public memory and how ex-residents could re-capture some of their former lives on the Flats.  A woman named Donna Lind from the Hennepin County Historical society created a PowerPoint presentation with pictures and text about the lives of Bohemian Flats residents.                                           

Many ex-residents of the Flats as well as their relatives came to the showing to reflect and reconnect with the past.  In the article, residents like John Kovach recounted many details about Flat life.  His father made his home on the Flats in 1908 and the Kovach family became very well-known by many of the local businesses around the Flats such as the United Baptist Church, Salvation Army, and the Children's Gospel Mission.  He also recalled instances where Flat children threw down coal from trains that would stop underneath the Washington Avenue Bridge.  Flats resident used the coal to burn and  to keep warm during the winter.

Flat residents also recalled the annual spring floods, which caused them to temporarily vacate their homes and head for higher ground.  Some of the residents would ascend to the "Upper Flats" or even climb the seventy-nine step ladder that separated the Flats from the "city."                                                                                    

This article provided a really positive outlook on how residents viewed the Bohemian Flats.  Most of the former Flats residents that were interviewed or mentioned in the article had something informative and pleasant to say about Flat life.  A majority of them could remember something worthwhile about their experience living there and that they saw the Flats as a very close and connected community.                                       
                                    Photo courtesy of the Hennepin County Library


 The celebration of
Bohemian Flats Day is a more contemporary way of remembering and reflecting on the Flats and its history.  The first Bohemian Flats Day, or "Bohemain Day" was  celebrated on August 20, 2005, and has become an annual tradition.         One article I came across described the festivities that took place on the first "Bohemian Day".  It also provided commetnary from the originator of the event, Gera Pobuda, and a former Bohemian Flat resident named Don Pafko, who shares his memories of Flat life.  Gera Pobuda's creation of "Bohemian Day" became a way to preserve the history and traditions of the Bohemian Flats and its people.                          All of the festivities centered around Bohemian culture; specifically people of Czech, Slovakian, Irish, and German decent.  The article mentions the traditional food served at the event such as brats, sauerkraut, and potica, a Slovinian nut bread.  There were even Slovak dancers that performed during the day as a form of entertainment.            Don Pafko, a former Slovak resident, described the Flats as a "tight-knit, self-sufficient community" where everyone felt included and connected.  He mentioned that he did not have to learn English because there were enough Slovak residents he could communicate with.  Many of the other residents had to learn English because they had become "Americanized."  Andrea Hudak, the daughter of a former Bohemian Flats resident, recalls her fathers work in the flour mills and his home on Mill Street.                                                                                                                  

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