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So far in this blog, I’ve focused on items that I bought at various places…but I think it’s time to switch things up a little bit. What I never mentioned to you is that some of the pieces in my collection were passed down to me from family members. In the grand scheme of things, those are the pieces that are most important to me, so why not share them? From this point on, I think I’ll intersperse some family antiques in with the things I actively collect. 

Let’s start with my great-grandma Zuzana. My dad and my aunt lovingly refer to her as “Baba Merva,” so we will too. Baba Merva was born in 1899 and grew up in Kojsov (koy-shove), which, up to 1918, was in the Slovak portion of Austria-Hungary. The Treaty of Versailles caused this land to be divided into Czechoslovakia. After Hitler, Stalin, and a mess of other things, Kojsov is now part of Slovakia. It is located in the Gelnica District in Kosice (ko-sheet-ze). My grandma associates it with nearby Spisska (spee-ska). 

Baba Merva in Kojsov, 1913. She was 14 years old.

Kojsov was a beautiful place nestled in the mountains. Baba Merva grew up on a farm and dearly loved horses. However, she lived a hard life. During one of the several uprisings in the area, Baba’s horses were slaughtered and eaten. Other sad events occurred in her life, such as the murder of her brother and the deaths of many of her children. With events like these, Baba had to be tough.

Below, you can see the Greek Catholic church Baba attended. It was built in 1805. Tucked away in the countryside, it is amazingly lavish to this day.

In the first quarter of the twentieth century, members of the Merva family began to pursue opportunities in America. Baba followed. As a result, she went from this…

Baba’s church, the Greek Catholic Church of Saints Peter and Paul. Kojsov, Gelnica District. Kosice, Slovakia. Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

To this.

Baba’s house in America. Walhonding, Ohio. My grandma was born here.

Baba Merva came to America seven years after her husband, my great-grandpa Nikulas. He arrived at Ellis Island in 1923 with $25.00 in his pocket. During his early years in the United States, great-grandpa Nikulas worked as a miner in Pennsylvania with his father, Mikulas.

My grandma always says that her parents didn’t have much money. To make ends meet, Baba bought many necessary household goods secondhand. This “sad iron” was one of those secondhand purchases. 

I’m guessing that the iron is from 1900 or so. Baba would have purchased it about thirty years after it was made. She probably bought it in Pennsylvania, as that is where she met up with my great-grandpa. 

“The Enterprising Housekeeper,” 1906.

Mrs. Florence Potts patented the sad iron to have a removable handle. Back then, many irons would have sat heating on the stove at the same time. A removable handle allowed for easy switching from cool iron to hot iron. 

After seeing that I have Baba’s sad iron, you might wonder what happened to Baba herself. Well, she continued to live a hard life, even in America. She did, however, learn to speak some English as time went on. How? By watching I Love Lucy. Baba lived to the age of 92.

Today, thanks to my grandma’s limited recollection of Slovak, I’m afraid I only know how to say a select number of swear words in my family’s native language. It always works out that way, doesn’t it?