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Victor Stanzel, a farm boy whose Austrian grandparents immigrated to the Schulenberg area in the 1870s, started carving balsawood into replica airplanes as a youngster.

The 1920s was an exciting decade for American aviation: Barnstormers flew from town to town showing off their daredevil tricks; pioneering pilots set speed and distance records, then quickly broke them; and some of the first passenger airlines tested the skies. Perhaps the greatest achievement of the decade occurred in 1927, when Charles Lindbergh made his solo, non-stop flight across the Atlantic. Young Victor Stanzel of Schulenburg grew up during this golden era of aviation, and that’s when his own ambitions began to take flight.


A few blocks from I-35 in the town of West, the Village Bakery makes kolaches from a recipe developed by the owner’s Czech grandmother. (Photo by Michael Amador)

When I take my place in line, nearly a dozen people are ahead of me in front of the bakery counter at the Czech Stop in the town of West. That wouldn’t be surprising—except that it’s almost 3 a.m. At least I’m not the only traveler who’s addicted to kolaches—delicious, yeast-dough pastries filled with fruit, meat, and sometimes vegetables. Even in the wee hours of the morning on a late-night drive to Austin, I can’t pass up the 24/7 bakery that’s the Valhalla of the kolache world. Some people measure trips in miles. I measure them in how many of the tasty Czech treats I can eat along the way.

Published in FOOD & DRINK
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