Tramps' written materials
Tramp subculture was formed intially in the 1920s. Peculiar to Czechoslovakia, “tramping” has attracted individuals who shared a love of nature and its inherent freedom, many of whom were inspired by romantic ideals promoted in books by Jack London or Karl May. Despite the possible negative connotations associated with the English word (drawn originally from London's autobiographical memoir The Road), the "tramps" in question, “vandráci” or “čundráci,” would simply abandon their urban dwellings for a weekend or during vacation period and visit their favourite sites in the woods or meadows. The place to which they traveled is called a “flek,” and this could be a comfortable place to stay or set up a camp, or a site where the tramps' shed or cabin is built, perhaps itself becoming the heart of a tramp settlement [trampská osada]. An ”osada” is a stable group of tramps, which is typically formed by at least three individuals. Among tramps there are numerous unwritten rules that designate customs such as, for example, the proper way to greet a fellow tramp or shake their hand; but these rules are hardly universally accepted or acknowledged. There is also disagreement, even today, about questions such as “what is tramping?” or “who is a real tramp?”
But a common trait for all tramps is their passion for free roaming, untouched nature, and independence. It was these very inclinations that often caused them problems – and not only during the communist era, for their idea of free-time social activity for weekends or holidays was markedly different from that of the most other people. There was never such a thing as a clear personal hierarchy among tramps; there are no official leaders, the “osady” are independent from one another, and independent from these are the so-called “tramps-loners.” Each “osada” (or each individual) plans their own activities freely, according only to their own mutual agreement. The lack of transparency or clear subordination to any official political structure made tramps highly susceptible to different forms of bullying. But this never robbed them of their relative independence from the political regime or system.
Trampské združenie Severka [the tramp association Severka] has been systematically preserving the documentation of tramp history by gathering artefacts and data, and publishing these on the internet as well as in occasional exhibitions, since 2003. The present collection of written materials came into existence through their work. Some of the artefacts were acquired in auctions, through swaps, or as gifts. The literary materials of tramps constitute a voluminous body of work that includes historiographical works by experienced long-time tramps, poetry, prose, short stories, journals, and chronicles of tramp settlements [“osady”]. Some of the writings elaborate upon the initial years of tramping in Czechoslovakia in the 1920s, such as History of Tramping [Dejiny trampingu] by Bob Hurikán or Czech Tramping 1918-1945 [Český tramping 1918-1945] by Marek Waic and Jiří Kossl. The collection contains works from the interwar era, the first years of communism in Czechoslovakia, the Prague Spring, as well as the years of normalisation. Most of the tramp works written during the communist era were not issued officially. Instead, they were circulated as samizdat, ending up in home archives and private collections.
At the heart of the collection, several publications from the interwar era can be found, such as Adventures of Six Tramps [Dobrodružství šesti trampů] by Rada and Žák, Arizona by Pavlík, History of Tramping [Dějiny trampingu] by Bob Hurikán, or Sid, the Real Tramp History [Sid, pravá trampská historie] by Kuděj. All known editions of the stated works are represented in the collection. There are even writings by the pre-war tramp authors such as Géza Včelička. On the other hand, some of the short prose or poetry by amateur authors, originally released as samizdat or in very small volumes by underground publishers, could be reprinted officially only after 1989. Books on tramping history in a specific era or region constitute a special category in the collection.
The collection consists of more than 100 volumes of Severka magazine that have been released since 1989 until present day. The centralising and cataloging of the collection is still in progress.
- eseménydokumentáció (poszterek, szórólapok, bélyegek, stb.): 10-99
- kiadványok: 100-499
- kéziratok (személyes dokumentumok, naplók, feljegyzések, levelek, vázlatok, stb.): unknown quantity
A bejegyzés szerzői
- Semanová, Radoslava
Hurikán, Bob. Dějiny trampingu. Praha: Novinář, 1990.
Severka, interview by Semanová, Radoslava, November 30, 2017. COURAGE Registry Oral History Collection