Love Was In The Air At Ocean County’s Rova Farms

Ladislav Viska and Lorraine Stankiewicz started their romance at Rova Farms. (Photo courtesy the Viska Family)

  JACKSON – While the Rova Farms property will soon serve as a prime recreational spot in the township, its long history in the community holds special meaning to many.

  Theresa Vaughan of California recalled how her parents came together one September weekend leading to romance at Rova Farms.

  “My parents met there on Labor Day weekend 1961. My father, Ladislav Viska, who was from the Czech Republic when it was communist, was 31 at the time even though he had told me he was 28,” she said.

  Her father had escaped from Czechoslovakia when he was 18 with a friend. He had 10 sisters and brothers and managed to bring nine of them to the U.S. He ended up in New York where he worked as a mechanic. His daughter said, “a nice older couple took him in and taught him how to fix cars. He stayed with them and he had a little room in the back of their house. He learned English from them and from reading comic books.”

  Vaughan added, “my mother Lorraine Stankiewicz, from Brooklyn, was 23. She and her friends Dolores and Irene wanted to do something for summer. They left Brooklyn and headed to Rova Farms.”

Photo courtesy the Viska Family

  “They wanted to feel like they really did something. My mother, who was extremely shy, was in the water and my father asked her to swim across the lake together. At the end of the day, my father asked if he could drive them home,” Vaughan recalled.

  “My mom recalls the swim very, very, well. Because she didn’t have her glasses on she really didn’t see him that well. She asked Dolores and Irene if he was cute. He had a very thick accent. My mom is Polish and she knew the language,” Vaughan said.

  Her mother’s aunts made her speak Polish when she was with them. Vaughan added the couple “didn’t realize how much traffic there would be on the Holland/Lincoln Tunnel. There was a lot of traffic so by the time he dropped them off it was very late.”

  “He could not stay at her house so he asked where he could stay for the night and she told him the YMCA,” Vaughan added.

  The area YMCA is exactly where Ladislav Viska was able to bunk for the evening. Vaughan said, “the next day, on the way to pick her up for a first date, he put his left arm out the window to make a left turn and his gold watch was taken right off his arm.”

  It didn’t take long for the romance to blossom and on May 5, 1962 they married at Our Lady of Consolation Church in Brooklyn, NY. They were married for 56 years, their daughter said.

  “After my parents married in 1962 their first apartment was in New Jersey. Then my dad wanted to move to California, so they packed up and moved there. My mom hated it and missed her sister, Mona and her friends and New York. They moved back to Connecticut, to be by her sister. Less than four months after moving to there, my dad packed them up again and moved them to California.

Photo courtesy the Viska Family

  “We’ve gone to Czechoslovakia twice. Now I’d be corrected as it is the Czech Republic. My father passed away four years ago and my mom still cries a lot. They were a wonderful couple and great parents,” she said.

  “My mother has good days and bad days,” Vaughan said. She noted that her mother is a bit sad these days as she misses her father.

  “I was eating lunch at my mom’s and she started to cry as this was the first time in her life she’s ever lived alone,” she said.

  “My twin brother Thomas made us all necklaces and a beautiful glass heart with his ashes in it,” she said. “She wears his ashes every day. She went from her dad’s home into moving in with my dad after they married. 

  “My father was a good man and took great care of her. He did everything for her. I’ve seen it in past pictures and growing up seeing them together. They loved each other very much.  When I was younger, I used to think ‘oh how gross’ when he came up behind her and slapped her butt. After growing up and still seeing him doing it was hilarious,” Vaughan said.

  The couple was married for 56 years. “He did everything for her. She’s never pumped gas, washed her car and cooked well. He was a much better cook than my mom, a lot better,” Vaughan said.

  She added that her father may have died four years ago “but it feels like yesterday. I was with him holding his hand. We both cry a lot still. Their favorite thing to do was dance. They used to love to polka. We used to go to a lot of Polish picnics and almost every Friday night they went to the Phoenix Club.

Photo courtesy the Viska Family

  “If my dad turned on Czech music they would polka around the house. When I was younger, I would always get embarrassed about that,” Vaughan added.

  “When we were younger, we did get to see where they first met at Rova Farms as well as their first apartment. We were younger when they took us, so at the time it didn’t mean as much. Later it did. I always asked her to tell me the story. Now I am so lucky I got to see it and now that my father passed away, I think of it all the time.”

  Vaughan said she also has a brother Greg who is 58. She and her brother Thomas will be 55 in April. She has two adult children. Her son Lukas and her daughter Mikayla.

  “I am truly lucky we moved them from Arizona back to California in a senior community called Seal Beach. Both my brothers moved in so she has them in walking distance.”

  “My dad was so good with us when we were babies, my mom said all the time daddy did everything. Even after working long hours, he’d come home if we crying or couldn’t sleep, he would walk up and down the hall way singing Czech songs,” she added.

  Vaughan noted that her parents “set an awesome example about marriage and working things through.”