2016 Prague trip to research 1946 UNRRA flight

Veterans Air Express research trip.

First stop PRAGUE.

Image of Aerial poster shows dramatic size of The National Library of the Czech Republic.
Aerial view: National Library of the Czech Republic. Red-roofed, imposing. City blocks wide, long and angled. Image taken by Gaye Lyn of a POSTER on display, outside of the Library.
Not one desk space available. Students of all ages fill this exquiste study chamber.
You can hear a pin drop…even within these gracious, vaulted ceilings. The General Study Room. Photo credit: Harry Pollitt

Gorgeous city!  And exciting, extraordinary Library.

National Library of the Czech Republic turned out to be three blocks from our flat in Prague!  Remember, I don’t believe in coincidences.

The Library complex defies description. From street-level, the foot-print and inner courtyards escape notice.

But an aerial poster mounted on an exterior wall revealed its extraordinary dimensions, curves, and angles.

Better images exist in books, I’m sure. But I want to share THIS one, taken by me of the Poster, because I was in Prague, where I never ever expected to be. Getting ready to step inside this historic Library to work with Czech Librarians on my Dad’s air line gave me Gooney Bird Bumps!

Saunie did not accompany the historic Veterans Air flights for the United Nations…but here I was 70 years later to celebrate on his behalf!

What is it I say? Pinch me!

Card-carrying Library member…

One cannot be a true researcher without a library card.

But to have applied in person and now to be a card-carrying member of the Czech National Library in Prague!!! Really???? I couldn’t get the grin off my face. I happily “show it off” in the States to the most unlikely of people.  As I’m pulling it out, the conversation starts something like, “You won’t believe what I have. Look!”

Impressive press results

But it gets much better.  The Czech language is really “foreign.” No chance of eavesdropping! And certainly no possibility of reading.  So a Research Librarian was essential. I had made the bad, sad and almost rude mistake of contacting the Library staff by email only 24 hours before I arrived.  [What was I thinking?!!!]  Nonetheless, she had a surprising number of news clippings for me!

Even with such short notice, she found, copied, and translated eight newspaper stories about the “UNRRA egg” program.  Thank you, Karolina!

[When time allows, I will delve into and share with you the importance of these and tons (literally) of other UNRRA deliveries after WWII.

Praha (Prague) newspaper, Svet Prace, ran this Photo story on page 5 about Veterans Air delivery of hatching eggs sponsored by UNRRA.
Two American women in a publicity photo among the UNRRA crates about to be flown to Prague. No, Claire and Lillian did not accompany the flight. Photo credit: 13 June 1946, Svet Prace, page 5

And then…

The Librarian also gave me a plethora of research sources that I could search.  And, among them, I personally unearthed this treasure.  No need to read.  The photo was worth a thousand words.  I’d of recognized those “egg crates” anywhere.  Claire Saunders and Lillian McLelan, American “theatrical artists,” on the other hand, will take more research.

But just yesterday, I unearthed this exact same photo in The Montrose Hearld.  Published in South Dakota!

Dear Reader, this remains the adventure of a lifetime for me.  It’s Rabbit Hole after Aerobatic Barrel Roll.  With so much more to tell about this Veterans Air research trip, I’ll be back!

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