Memory Lane



Mushroom Picking

While interviewing Lorraine Mays, a longtime Bohemia resident, she revealed that Czechs love mushrooms! In fact, it seems that you can take the Czech out of Bohemia, but you can’t take the Bohemian love of mushrooms out of the Czech. In the Field Guide to Mushrooms, North America, it is stated that “there are 13 million people living in Czechoslovakia, and 13 million of them are mushroom lovers.” (1) A newspaper article titled Mushrooms Play Important Role in the Lives of Czechs reported that one of the surest ways for a Czech to get his picture in a newspaper is to find a huge mushroom. Proud parents will forego their chance for fame by passing the credit (and the photo opportunity) to their children. (2) The travel guide Czech & Slovak Republics mentions that during autumn “forests all over the country are invaded by armies of mushroom pickers.” (3) The activity is so popular that it is considered to be more like a sport than just a pastime.

Please click on the video to hear Lorraine talk about her wild mushroom and berry picking days in Bohemia, New York. Listen to her speak also about the method her Czech grandmother had of identifying whether a mushroom was edible or not, and how she preserved them.



  1. Kent H. McKnight and Vera B. McKnight. The Peterson Field Guide Series, vol. 34, A Field Guide to Mushrooms, North America (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1987), vii.

  2. Iva Drapalova, “Mushrooms Play Important Role in Lives of Czechs,” Cortland Standard, December 12, 1978, digital image, Old Fulton New York Post Cards ( : accessed 3 November 2014).

  3. Czech and Slovak Republics (London:DK Publishing, 2006), 30.

Lorraine Mays Interview