I was fortunate to end up in America
A few months ago, Rochester resident Frank Klauda printed the story of his life’s journey as an immigrant from Vienna, Austria, through Budapest, Hungary, and eventually to the United States of America.
His autobiography "Bike for the Body, Flute for the Soul" chronicles not only his life growing up in Europe during World War II but the excitement of finally coming here.
It was quite a journey starting 87 years ago today in 1924, with a map showing his route until first landing in the U.S. on Aug. 23, 1949. That was just the first visit. In the 1956-57 Soviet Union's suppression of an uprising in Hungary, Frank and his family escaped the tanks that killed more than 3,000 people in one day.
Frank Klauda was born to a close-knit, loving family. His book tells of the hardships during his "growing years." From 1945-1949 he became a displaced person and lived in Germany. During that time he worked for the Armed Forces Radio Network and the National Catholic Welfare Conference in Munich. He had also attended the Technical University of Munich. He was preparing to be an electrical engineer. When coming to the United States from Germany Aug. 23, 1949, he settled in Davenport, Iowa.
The love bug bit, and Frank married Barbara Jean Lee at Sacred Heart Cathedral in Davenport. Seven children born from 1954 to 1965 meant a full life. The Klauda family came to Rochester in 1957, where Frank was with IBM for the next 24 years, retiring from the electronics world. But Frank couldn’t really retire. He started his own jewelry appraisal business here.
In his autobiography he pointed out on page 20 that I introduced his father at a summer band concert down in Mayo Park in 1964. His father was an accomplished musician in his homeland and had come for a summer visit to Frank and Barbara and family.
My curiosity found me digging back into the summer of 1963 and 1964 when I was the master of ceremonies for all those Harold Cooke concerts in the summer. But Harold retired in 1963 and Gerhard Schroth became the conductor from 1964-1967. I dug through my typed scripts and sure enough on Aug. 16, 1964, the final Sunday night "Symphony at Sundown" concert featured guest conductor Ferens Klauda, Frank’s father.
I prepared the following: "Mr. Klauda has a lifelong hobby of music but never was it his profession. The Klaudas came from an old musical family in Vienna speaking German, Hungarian and very little English. Just three years ago he received a diploma that gives him the authority to conduct small orchestras or small amateur bands. Mr. Klauda at present conducts a band owned by the Communist State in Hungary. His specialty is the flute. He has brought along a Hungarian Folk music arrangement and has rehearsed with the band this afternoon. Mr. Schroth and Mr. Klauda both speak German so things progressed normally. The selection tells of a young country lad who has lost his sweetheart. The three themes go from sadness to the last theme portraying the mending of a broken heart and 'there’s always another girl.' Now the Hungarian Folk Music."
It was a resounding applause that followed his performance as I explained that Mr. and Mrs. Klauda lived at Mosen, about 100 miles west of Budapest and 50 miles east of Vienna.
It isn’t often I’ve learned any contribution of mine might be worthy of getting into someone’s life story. But when I think back I’m still in the radio broadcast business since the autumn of 1952 and have shaken a few hands of worldwide entertainers. While looking for the Ferens Klauda introduction there next to it was my introduction of Louis "Satchmo" Armstrong, who had given a concert at Mayo Civic Auditorium July 21, 1964. So the files are filled with many future articles.
In closing Frank Klauda says, "I was very fortunate to end up in America, a country dominated by freedom, justice, prosperity, charity, compassion, tolerance, diversity, spirituality and love. I am the luckiest guy in the world, having a loving family and living in the number one city of the finest country in the world. Amen to that, Frank and happy 87th birthday today.
Next week: Remember the Colonial Park, Bennies, the Big Boy Drive Inns?