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Living history

'For my grandchildren'

Hackensack resident Charles Ticho has quite a story, and he’s written a book, “From Generation to Generation: A Family’s Story of Survival,” to tell it.

Born in Czechoslavakia in 1927, he fled the Nazis with his family – though everyone took a different route – arriving in the United States in 1940.

He writes: “The underlying purpose of this book is not just to tell my life story, but rather to … pass on to the younger generations and to the generations as yet unborn a sense of the birthright and history of our family and of our Jewish heritage.”

During his research Charles Ticho found this 1905 photograph of his grandfather’s store on the main square in the town of Boskovice, in what is now the Czech Republic.

“I lived through unique times,” said Ticho, who noted that he spent 10 years compiling the volume. “I wanted to record what life was like 80 years ago.”

In addition, he said, “I felt people should know about our family history” – particularly since there are few people remaining who remember anything about the former life of Boskovice, the village where the Ticho family lived.

The book, detailing episodes ranging from the poignant to the funny – failing to photograph a governor for a news assignment in Madison, Wis., he sent a Western Union telegraph reading “I couldn’t shoot the governor” and was promptly arrested – Ticho’s self-published volume of more than 400 pages includes recollections, genealogies, and photographs. He credits his daughter-in-law, Pam Lott, “who put her master’s degree in journalism to work on this book.”

According to Ticho, a former producer and film director who is a citizen of the Czech Republic, the United States, and Israel, “choosing photographs took almost as long as putting the book together. The photographs were chosen not only to illustrate the book but “to familiarize people with the individuals I was talking about and recreate the times and atmosphere of the years in which the events occurred.”

He already had many of the photographs, he said, “although we lost most of the family photographs when we were chased out of Europe by the Nazis.” He collected additional photos from relatives who left Europe before “it got serious.”

More than anything, he said, explaining his writing process, “I felt like I was speaking to grandchildren and great-grandchildren. And not just my own, but the grandchildren of cousins as well.”

Ticho, who lived in Woodcliff Lake for 42 years, noted that he tries to stay in touch with as many family members as possible and encourages relatives to stay in touch with one another. In 1998, he said, he organized a reunion of 125 family members from all over the world. In addition, he said, he would shortly be meeting a second cousin from Buenos Aires.

In preparing his book, he said, he was fortunate to have the services of Czech genealogists Eugen and Eva Stein, “who were diligent in researching Jewish records in the former Czechoslovakia.” Ticho explained that while the records are somewhat disorganized, “they are better than those in Ukraine or Belarus.”

In addition, he said, one of his uncles “was a great source of information about the family in the late 1800s and early 1900s. And in Israel, I managed to find an incredible 89-year-old lady whose mind was like an encyclopedia” who had come from the same town as his family.

“The most important thing I learned was what a highly regarded and honored family the Tichos were in that small town,” he said, noting that he began with a family tree that only extended as far back as his grandmother and grandfather. “But even the dates were vague,” he said.

After extensive rearch, “I found five or six generations of Tichos who lived and survived in that small town for over 300 years.” He called that finding a “revelation.”

“You don’t think of [Jewish families] remaining in a town generation after generation.”

Ticho said that records dating to before the year 1710 did not employ family surnames, so his research had to end there.

“What struck me as I learned about the history of my family, and other Jewish families in Boscovice, was that my father never said, ‘This is where I lived, or this is where I went to school.’ He never went back and I never had a chance to ask.”

But, he added, “I want to take my own children and grandchildren by the hand and say, ‘This is where our family lived.'”

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