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Solon Clambake and Night at the Races in Geauga County

We attended two events on Saturday evening, October 11th. The first one was the annual clambake put on by the Solon Chamber of Commerce at the Solon Community Center. All through our time there, we were entertained by a wonderful singer called "Johnny Live" who serenades his audience with all sorts of songs. He travels all over Cleveland, Akron, and Canton as well as the entire Northeast Ohio area. We exchanged contact information.

This was our first year to attend this annual event but it seemed like it was successful. Naturally, as vegetarians, we did not eat the clams or the chicken but we filled up with a delicious yam and three ears of corn on the cob.

We moved around and spoke to several people like Ms. Jadwiga Jaroniec who immigrated to the United States from Poland in 1990 with her husband, a college professor of chemistry, who accepted a position at Kent State. Ms. Jaroniec is a chemist also and works for a company called Saint-Gobain. She became a citizen in 1996 and the thing that she likes the most about the United States (she came from a country whose government was very authoritarian at the time) is being able to say "no" when she feels that something is wrong.

We also shared a table for a little while with a couple named Robert and Nadine. Robert is retired and owns an apartment building and told us that, years ago, he rented an apartment to a young man from China who was studying to be a doctor but, unfortunately, he encountered visa problems and was being forced to leave the United States. But he couldn't return to China since he took part in the famous Tiananmen Square demonstrations and was worried about consequences. He did finally leave the United States and Robert lost track of him which made him sad because the young man had a lot of potential. Robert and Nadine had a good story about dating each other when they were younger but broke up and went their separate ways. Through the twists and turns of life, they got back together fairly recently and have been happy ever since. We wish them the best.

Next, we drove over to DTJ Taborville in Auburn Township in Geauga County for their annual Night at the Races. We were warmly greeted by two of the club officials, Mr. Ray Tittl and Mr. Bruce Marek.

We asked for some information on Taborville so Mr. Tittl found us some literature and we also looked it up online. We learned that that "DTJ stands for “Delnicka Telocvicna Jednota, which is Czech for “Workingmen’s Gymnastic Union”. The DTJ organization was founded in Prague, Bohemia (current day Czech Republic) in 1897, by members of the tailor union. The first DTJ unit in the United States was founded in Cleveland, on January 16, 1909, with the purpose to promote social democracy and gymnastics. At one time, there were 16 DTJ organizations throughout the United States, but today the DTJ unit in Taborville is the last one in existence.

In 1925, a group of DTJ members came out to Auburn Township to look for a location for a summer camp. They found two 50 acre dilapidated farms, the Jackson Farm and the Kasek Farm. These farms were purchased, and Taborville was born. Taborville is named after the city, Tabor, located in the Czech Republic. Tabor was founded in 1420, by Jan Hus, and its name was taken from the biblical name of a hill in Jerusalem. No one is quite sure why the original founders of Taborville chose that name, other than the obvious link to their Czech heritage."

We talked to several people that evening who had been coming regularly to Taborville since they were children and now are in their '60's.

Needless to say, the horse races were a lot of fun. The format is 10 races consisting of 10 horses each numbered 1 to 10. Prior to this event people were given the opportunity to "buy a horse" for a certain race and name it. Then, before each race, just like at the race track, the attendees can bet $2.00 or more on their favorite (usually chosen by how catchy the horse's name is). Finally, the coordinator plays a randomly chosen DVD of an auctual race (he has a lot to choose from) and the purse is ultimately divided amongst the people who guessed the winner.

Some of the names chosen for the horses were quite funny like "Charlie Horse", "Singapore Charlie", "Blazing Saddles", and "Broken Leg". We bet on 5 races and none of our picks even came in 3rd place. Fortunately, the professional coordinators were the brothers, Dan and Kip Keidel who had plenty of experience with horse racing since their father was the Northfield Park Director of Racing for nearly 30 years.

One person who did wonderfully was Ms. Camille Shima who sat across from us. For the seventh race, her horse came in first so she won a trophy. During the course of the evening, it was revealed that she would be 89 years old on October 12th so all of us sang "Happy Birthday" to her. We got to talk to her for a little while and learned that she is a first generation American who has been attending events at DTJ Taborville for over 80 years!

Both of Ms. Shima's parents immigrated to the United States from Czechoslovakia when they were young-her father was 6 years old and her mother was 19 and a trained teacher. Her father came from a royal family but his mother died when he was 5 years old and his father died when he was 7 so he traveled to the United States with his stepmother. Ms. Shima's parents actually met on a streetcar after Ms. Shima's father threw popcorn at her mother in order that he might tease her. They were eventually married and Ms. Shima was born in 1925. She has memories of her mother singing while her father played the button box accordian.

I asked several older people about the future of DTJ Taborville and they said that they were worried because not too many young people were involved. Thankfully, we also talked to a young woman named Melissa who is 4th generation American and has been coming to DTJ Taborville all of her life. She was well-versed in the finances and about future projects. We left for the evening feeling cautiously optimistic because if Melissa could find just a few more like her, DTJ Taborville will be fine.

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