As the awful tragedy in Boston and the subsequent manhunt was the captivating our nation and every 24 hour news channel, the lesser reported explosion in a tiny Texas town was the story this week that took a little piece of my heart. My father's family is Czech, and the tiny town of West, Texas, while just barely a dot on a map, is the heart of the Czech population in Texas. West was even named "Home of the official kolache of the Texas Legislature." Kolaches are a traditional Czech pastry, and West is the place to get them. In my family, it was always expected that if you were making the drive between Dallas and Austin or San Antonio, you would arrive at your destination carrying a big box of fresh baked kolaches from West. My aunt's favorite is prune, my dad's is apricot, and mine is cherry. Any drive on I-35 included a mandatory stop in West for kolaches from Kolacek's Bakery. If we had a cooler with us, then there would be a visit to the Nemacek Brother's Meat Market for sausages. The population of West is under 3000, most of them Czech. It is a tiny little town with a quaint traditional main street. Until this week, most people had never heard of West, but it has always been a special place to our family. If you were going to visit an aunt, uncle, mother, or grandmother, you came with kolaches from West in hand.
The fertilizer plant explosion this week leveled more than 60 homes, killed at least 14 people, and injured more than 200. I can't even fathom the lasting effects this tragedy will have on that community. It will never be the same. I'm sure everyone with ties to Boston is mourning for their city and the lives that were lost there. West, Texas is a little piece of my family, my heritage, and my heart, and my dad and I are both mourning for it.