Today in Mailbox: The Velorex expedition spotted in Arizona, another reaction to a proposed new Czech national anthem, Radio Prague reports on the anniversary of the Munich Agreement, ICE, The Plastic People of the Universe in Ohio. Listeners quoted: Laura Nagle, Christine Takaguchi-Coates, Jerry Lenamon, Gerd Asche, Jonathan Kempster, Frank Miata, Charles Konecny.

Hello and welcome to Mailbox. We have a pile of letters to go through today, so let’s get straight to it.

In recent weeks Radio Prague followed the quest of four Czech-made Velorex three-wheel cars as they drove along the legendary Route 66, from Chicago to Los Angeles where they arrived two weeks ago. Shortly before that we received an e-mail from Laura Nagle who lives in Arizona.

“A friend of mine called me this day to relate the sighting of four unusual three wheeled cars. From his description I was sure they were Morgans. But I climbed into my car and went in search. The cars were your four CZ Velorex cars. I had heard of these, but never thought I would see one – even less four of them. They were en route with no apparent trouble, and had lunch in a local restaurant. I asked many questions about the cars, and was delighted at their steered trailing link, front suspension and steering. All the good people involved in this cross country tour were nice and happy. I can report a good state of morale within the group. Yes, they will make it.”

And make it they did. Many thanks for your report, Laura. It almost made us feel like we were there.

Two weeks ago in Mailbox, we quoted from an e-mail from our Canadian listener Walter Knitl who commented on a proposed new Czech national anthem. Christine Takaguchi-Coates from Japan responds to his comment:

“I also like your anthem because of its beautiful melody and because it contains no words of conquests. However, I totally disagree that it lacks an expression of pride and hope for the Czech people! On YouTube you can listen to many different versions of the anthem, including the new version of Varhan Orchestrovič Bauer, new recordings of the original under the baton of Jiří Bělohlávek, and older recordings. The Varhan Orchestrovič Bauer version is a mishmash of many different melodies, and the inclusion of works by the great Czech composers takes away from the beauty of the original melody. I also think it does no favours to the great composers to have their original melodies jumbled together in this ‘goulash’! Listen to the new and old recordings of the anthem, and you will find plenty of expression of majestic national pride and hope for the Czech people! I think your anthem should be left as it is – it is one of the most beautiful anthems in the world, and you can rightly be proud of it!”

Staying with matters of Czech statehood, we also got a response to Radio Prague’s reports on the 70th anniversary of the Munich Agreement. Jerry Lenamon from Texas writes:

Munich meeting in 1938
“I'm a semi-regular listener to Radio Prague (2 or 3 times a week) but the program Sunday evening about the events and voices from 1938 was especially interesting. I remember that my history classes from school talked about the Nazi takeover but the voices and the descriptions from your broadcast added more to my understanding of the times.”

Gerd Asche is from Germany:

“The documentary on the takeover of your country by the Nazis was very moving. Your program is moving to the top of the list.”

Jonathan Kempster from London was sorry to see the co-production programme Insight Central Europe discontinued:

“Very sorry to hear of the end of ICE. It was a fantastic, sophisticated programme that will be greatly missed.”

Talking of missing things – Frank Miata, who lived in the Czech Republic for two years, sent us a letter titled “Why I miss the Czech Republic”:

“The September 22 posting of the English version of Czech Radio made me smile because it seemed to hold so many of the elements that make the country so interesting to outsiders. There were two stories on mafia influence that touched the highest levels of the governing class and a story about the lack of transparency across the levels of government in the country. Nothing new there. Then the story of the courageous Czech ambassador to Pakistan who lost his life helping others escape from a fire. That to me is also so Czech and to be admired. I have never been in a country where the personal courage and simple decency of people was so much in evidence. Finally, the Emmy Award given to a Czech journalist for his invention of a method of sending news from remote locations. Another stellar example of the Czech reputation for innovation in all areas of the arts and sciences.”

And finally, on a lighter note, Charles Konecny from Ohio attached a photo and a postscript to his September competition answer:

“Guess what? Our town of Bowling Green has an arts festival every September and one of the bands this year was the ‘Plastic People of the Universe’. They sang everything in Czech. Their music is a little strange to me, but I enjoyed it. (Give me dechovka). I told them it was an honor to meet some of the people that helped form Charter 77 and to bring down communist rule. This is a picture of me with the sax player, Vratislav Brabenec. My wife told me to take the Czech Radio sticker to show him where I first learned of the Plastic People. Speaking of dechovka, Vratislav said he used to play in a brass band.”

Hiroshima's Industrial Promotion Hall after dropping the atomic bomb,  photo: Frank Gualtieri / PD
Many thanks for all the letters and reception reports that you keep sending in. We have received a surprisingly high number of competition answers since last Sunday when we first announced the question for October. But you have almost another three weeks to send in your answers to this question:

We would like to know the name of the architect who designed the Hiroshima Prefectural Industrial Promotion Hall, known today as the Hiroshima Peace Memorial or the Atomic Bomb Dome.

The address to write to is [email protected] or Radio Prague, 12099 Prague. Thanks for tuning in today and I hope you can join me again same time next week. Good-bye.