On his first solo trip through Europe, in the summer of 1976, Phil traveled behind the Iron Curtain to search-out the village where his maternal grandmother was born. Orphaned by the age of 13, she had left the village and her aunts and uncles behind, crossing the ocean to New York City and Ellis Island.  She settled in the town of Douglas, where there was a textile mill on a river, where many immigrants from Eastern Europe and Italy found work.

In 1976, the village called Havka, situated at the foot of the Tatra Mountains, had a population of about 100 people, living in two-room log cabins, with no running water, no plumbing, only wood for cooking and heat.

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