At the Moravia Store, the beer is cold and the polka music fills the air even when there isn't a band playing in the dance hall
At the Moravia Store, southwest of Schulenburg, the beer is cold and the polka music fills the air even when there isn't a band playing in the dance hall behind the tavern. For more than a hundred years, with the exception of a six-year period, the store has been the center of the Czech farming community.
"I got tired of passing it every day and seeing it vacant, so I bought it," says Henrietta Filip, the store's proprietor since 1996. Born and raised on a farm over the hill from the store, she has fond memories of stopping to buy a soda on the way to her grandmother's house. She lives in the house that her grandparents built.
Surrounded by corn fields and cow pastures, the little country store is on the north side of a town that isn't on most state maps. The church and a scattering of homes make up the community that boasts a population of between 75 and 225, depending on whom you ask.
Once the screen door slams behind you, you have entered a world that hasn't changed much in a century. Inside the long, narrow tavern, the ceiling fans only move the hot air around and the cold drinks are extremely refreshing.
In the room behind the bar, the dance hall has replaced the grocery store. Circled by Christmas lights and tables, the floor has a noticeable slope toward the northwest corner. Out back, a covered deck catches the breeze filled with the smell of the surrounding fields.
Named after their home in Czechoslovakia, the community was established in 1881. Eight years later Ignac Jalufka and James Holub moved a building to the intersection and opened a store. They soon added a blacksmith shop, cotton gin, and school. The church was built in 1912.
The store expanded to add a tavern along the front and upstairs was a dance hall. The meat market was in a small building attached to the side of the main building where the pool table is now. In 1930, the second story was removed from the store. The old dance floor is still there above everyone's head; worn smooth by thousands of dancing feet.
Jalufka died the same year that Prohibition became the law of the land, and the store passed into the Blahuta family, who operated it for nearly 60 years. The store closed in 1990 after being a part of the community for 109 years.
"We bought the place on May 1, 1996, and then my first husband got real sick and died of cancer in April," Henrietta says. "Before he died he made me promise that I would keep the store going as long as I could. It was slow going at first, but it's picked up."
A vigorous 56-year-old, Henrietta is a stout country girl with lots of energy and an easy smile. She also owns a wire-basket factory in Schulenburg and still works the family farm. On the walls hang the awards she has won at chili cook-offs and for the Moravia Store float in parades.
Behind the old bar, worn smooth by countless bellies and elbows, are shelves of bottles, tools, and other items from long-past eras. "I'm a compulsive collect-aholic," Henrietta says with a laugh.
The store has become somewhat famous because of a popular waltz, "Moon Over Moravia," by local songwriter Daniel Klapuch. Like the song says, "957 leads right to the door." To take the scenic route to Moravia, go east on U.S. 90 from Flatonia to FM 1295 south through Praha, make a left (east) on FM 532, and a left (north) on FM 957. FM 957 will also take you to Schulenburg and back to I-10.
Besides the cold liquid refreshments, the store also offers hamburgers with french fries and onion rings, cooked by Henrietta's husband, Franklin. Although live music can happen any Friday or Saturday night, Henrietta tries to have a band on the second Saturday of each month.
The Moravia Store opens Wednesday through Monday at 3pm and closes whenever everybody goes home. Henrietta sometimes closes on Sundays or for family and community special events, so it is best to call ahead. The store can be reached at 979/562-2217.
735th in a series. Day Trips, Vol. 2, a book of Day Trips 101-200, is available for $8.95, plus $3.05 for shipping, handling, and tax. Mail to: Day Trips, PO Box 33284, South Austin, TX 78704.
key words:Moravia Store | beer | polka | Henrietta Filip | Daniel Klapuch