Vera Maluk

Vera Maluk

Interviewed June, 2003

 

My life began in Germany. My father was born in a small town in Southern Ukraine. His name actually is Tychom…Tychom Maluk. My parents named their children…especially their boys, from all these saints on their religious calendars. My father was born in 1913…he had nine brothers and one sister. He was taught when he was very young how to do many women things such as sewing, cooking and cleaning. His sister, I believe, was the youngest. His mother died when he was about 9 years old of some sort of illness. His father remarried. His stepmother died when Stalin had his starvation purges. I believe my father had said that she had died from starvation. So there was the 10 children now with the father and no mother again. He actually was just kind of a general all around worker. He went through the 4th grade – education wise. He learned life was hard work…hard knocks…good times…bad times. He was Ukrainian Orthodox which I am also. It is a derivation of the Eastern Orthodox religion. He kept many of the traditions while young and growing up because that was about all they had to hold onto. In the 1940’s, during World War II, he remembers the great famines. During the war he had gone up to Kiev to try to make a living and find work. One of his brothers, I believe, came up for some food and my father had said you need to go back home because there is not enough food. I don’t have any myself. Interestingly, his brother said if I go back – they will eat me! Come to find out, there was cannibalism during these starvations/famine periods. My father sent him back home with a loaf of bread. I really don’t know what happened to him after that.

During World War II the Germans were invading parts of Russia. My father had a complicated time because you needed papers. You needed the right kind of papers and sometimes you didn’t have papers. So he was kind of on the run. He found a girl friend who got him fake papers. I don’t know exactly what people did work wise and survival wise. He, and I guess some Gestapo soldiers, had come to where he was and somehow talked my father and some friends to sign up for the Nazi Party. Well he didn’t quite know it was the Nazi party until it was explained. Now he was a member! Well, then I guess his friends and he took off. I guess there was a lot of running around going on at this time. He took off and joined the Russian Army. My father was an artillery instructor and did what he needed to do. Towards the end of the war, they put my father in the front line. I would imagine he was sort of like a pacifist and he said was not going to allow them to shoot anybody. His friends and he deserted the Russian Army towards the end of the war. His friends and he made their way to Germany.

Now I have to go to my mother. My mother was born in 1920 in Germany. I believe that during that time that she was younger but she remembers the depression. I believe the whole world was in a depression. First there was inflation where she remembers her father buying bread and butter with wheelbarrows full of money because money was worth absolutely nothing. She went to work when she was younger for a Jewish family. This event actually has some importance in this whole story. She was like a servant or housekeeper and she always envied the fact that these Jewish people had a nice house and she was the servant and so on and so forth. Her parents were both German. She had a brother who was a German soldier, who died I believe. Her parents were separated by the war. After the war, she and her sister survived on their own. During the war, they had to run from town to town because they were bombing their towns and they also had no food. In the meantime my mother met a German fellow whom she married and became pregnant with my older sister. He went back into the war I guess and he was killed also.

So my mother had my sister and was doing what they had to do in war torn Germany. One day my mother was sunbathing in this little town in Germany. Meanwhile my father, who was escaping the Russian Army (because he would have been shot as a deserter) was hiding in a flour mill in this little town in Germany. I believe the war was over now. It was a Sunday and I guess he was hungry and he saw my mother sun bathing and went up to her.   He couldn’t speak German amd she couldn’t speak English. But somehow they connected and they hooked up. Then they proceeded to have my brother and then a year later in 1947 I was born. In the meantime my father got work for the American’s. He worked on some of the bases they had there doing whatever work they needed to do. In the meantime, he started paperwork to immigrate to wherever – anywhere out of Germany. The first set of papers were for Australian and the second set were for America. Originally we were supposed to go to Australia but my mother had said that under no circumstances would she go there because she’d never get back home. So we ended up in America. So my brother was born in 1946. I was born in 1947. My younger sister was born in 1950 and my older sister was born in 1940. My older sister was my half sister. So we got the papers.

What I remember is going on the boat – the USS General Butler in 1951. I was as young as three or so. Or I may have been four going on five. But I think I was three going on four. I remember coming into New York harbor and it was either evening time or morning time but the lights were on and I remember seeing the Statue of Liberty on the boat. Everybody was crying and of course I started crying too. But I had no clue why people were crying. I felt the need to do that. We were processed, but now my brother says we were processed thru Ellis Island. But I don’t remember that because it was just so overwhelming and confusing.

I was one in a boat load of people! It is interesting what things I do remember. I remember being on the boat and in this room with my mother. My younger sister, who was just maybe one and my older sister. My brother and father and all the other men were kept separate. They kept the men separate from the women. I remember this man coming around and asking in German and if we wanted puke bags. That’s all you did – was look out the port hole and the waves were going up and down and people were throwing up constantly. We were in this main dining room down in the bottom of the boat. I remember being in this huge dining room with these tables and that’s when families could get together. We were eating mashed potatoes and this boy next to me threw up in his father’s hat. It was mashed potatoes – isn’t it amazing what you remember? I vividly remember pushing my father’s hat, so that when boy threw up, it would not hit my father’s hat.

Our family ended up being sponsored by a group of people in a small town in Pennsylvania – Scottsdale. We moved upstairs to a third floor in a big huge house. The house was near a railway station. There were in slaves in those days. This was a railway station for slaves. I remember being upstairs in the third floor and looking out the window and crying. I guess I was home-sick – life was just so overwhelming. My father spoke no English and spoke very little German. My mother spoke very little Ukrainian. She spoke no English. So here we were we the foreigners…in a small town in Pennsylvania.

My older sister went to school – she must have been ten or eleven then. She came home crying and saying that she was told at the school that because we were in America, we must speak English. There were no second language classes or anything. I’m not sure exactly what language I spoke? I must have spoke a little of everything because I had to understand my father and he spoke Ukrainian and my mother spoke German. I don’t know how I did it! So my father worked at a plant of some sort and my mother just stayed home and watched the children. We lived here around 5 years. My father made some friends down by the railroad tracks and we would go to visit who was Ukrainian. He was also sponsored. We used to go to church every Sunday in another town since there were no churches of Ukrainian orientation where we lived. We just did our usual childhood things. It was a wonderful time.

Then one day, my father got a job in Cleveland. One summer day, with my mother pregnant with my youngest brother, we drove with the old 1954 Oldsmobile and the U-Haul to Cleveland. We settled for awhile in the upstairs of another house of people my father had made friends with while getting a job in Cleveland. It was an ethnic community. Oddly, my father had an odd thing about things like Joy soap. He would always say why couldn’t you just buy an off brand? Why do you have to buy Joy soap? I don’t know why that bothers me or why I think about that Joy soap? Probably cause it costs a little bit more and my father was very very frugal with his money. Eventually my father bought a house in Cleveland and that’s where I spent almost 20 years of my life.   We still would go to church every Sunday.

I knew my family was very ethnic. My father wasn’t happy with us socializing with the Americans. I don’t know if he thought that they were spoiled or maybe he was ridiculed. I’m not sure. I do remember when I was very young living back in Pennsylvania that I remember people calling me a Nazi! I had no idea what a Nazi was so I just said yea I’m a Nazi…thinking it was just being German. I remember people ridiculing me so…I guess there was some prejudice because obviously we were speaking German and we had just gotten out of the war with Germany.

We were very poor, but there was always food. We never wasted anything. My mother would buy like a big piece of steak and we would have that for all of us; then she would take the bone and make soup the next day. My father had a garden. We had a lot of vegetables because he grew up on a farm out in the Ukraine. He knew all about gardening. My mother was constantly homesick and always wishing for a more elegant lifestyle. I still think to this day it was because she worked for those Jewish families that had a lot and she had nothing.

I went to elementary school. We would go every Saturday to Ukrainian school from 9 o’clock to noon at this church – in the basement. We had to sit on these hard benches with no backs. The interesting thing was we learned to read and write Ukrainian better than anyone but we couldn’t understand a word we were reading or writing! We could recite poems. It was kind of a nightmare…people beholding of us as “look how good they read and write”! I had no clue what they were saying. We had to go to the school every Saturday. My father wanted to keep the Ukrainian traditions alive and there was kind of a tug-of-war with my parents regarding the two different traditions. My mother never really wanted to learn Ukrainian traditions or Ukrainian language or anything Ukrainian. My father didn’t think Germans had much of a tradition. He felt his was, I would imagine, a better tradition.

My father worked and my mother worked part-time cleaning a high school. I believe she had an education up to the eighth grade in Germany. My father eventually ended up getting his own cement contracting business. Now my father was speaking English, German and Ukrainian simultaneously! He would hire these African-American men to work with him who spoke like ghetto English from Cleveland. Even my brother to this day says I don’t know how they got ever any work done…my father’s talking…he’s talking…. NO one is understanding each other. I don’t know how they did anything. I have no clue. The gentleman came to the door one day and says…”will you tell your father the tars are ready”. I said OK…”pop, the tars are ready”…”the what”?…”the tars” I said. He says go back to the man and ask what is ready. I ask again, what’s ready?…”the tars ma’am…tars”. I say to Pop…”he said the tars…the tars…”. Now he’s looking at me like I’m stupid. I go back to the man going he’s not quite sure what your saying is ready. The tars…you know on a car…the tars…. Oh the tires…pop…the tires are ready! Oh..yeah..OK..OK..OK!

It is now the 1950’s-1960’s. I embarrassed because it was white bread America…Wonder Bread America! Here I was with parents and they couldn’t speak English right. I wanted to be an American. I wanted Wonder Bread. We weren’t allowed to eat Wonder Bread cause it was junk according to my parent. Of course now we know it was. They sent me to junior high with rye bread and salami sandwiches Don’t get me wrong, they are delicious. They were in my locker and people would walk by and go oooh what’s that smell? I didn’t t know what to say. I’d throw it in the trash and I’d sit there and eat an ice cream sandwich which was a nickel. All I wanted was white bread and balony, but we weren’t allowed to eat it. We weren’t allowed many treats. We were only allowed things like soda and cake on holidays. As I think back, it was actually a very smart thing. My father had all his teeth when he died at 72.

I went to school. My family was very strict. I had to be home right after school. I wasn’t allowed to join any functions after school because my father said that I didn’t need them. I don’t know if he didn’t trust America or he assumed that Americans were wayward or loose or something. I’m not really sure. That was very odd. I was allowed very few girlfriends. My father said I didn’t need friends…I had my brothers and sisters. Which I guess is alright, but he didn’t understand the need for socialization of young teenage Americans. So I used to do a lot of sneaking around. I also did a lot of praying…Lord please don’t let them be awake when I come in… . I used to lie a lot about where I was going because I just wasn’t even allowed to go to school dances. When I would go to junior high, which is a very important time, I would change my clothes and put on lipstick. One day my father told me to quit painting my face because I looked like a tramp. He said it in Ukrainian which I guess I knew what that meant alright.

And all I wanted was the Father Knows Best lifestyle -because we were different. We lived in a very white all American neighborhood in Cleveland. Our neighbor would always yell at my father and tell him to go back where he came from. My father never did anything wrong. But we were different. It wasn’t until I became a little older that I really realized that it was kind of cool to be different. I wasn’t the same as everyone else.

My father instilled in me a hard work ethic. You can get any where if you just work hard and be honest. I think fibbing is alright, but downright lying or stealing or anything like that is just not acceptable. Although, I did have my hand in shoplifting. That was really tough because I had to explain to my parents where I got these clothes. We did not get allowances because as my father would say why should we get paid for doing what we were required to do. Throughout that time we would socialize mostly with my fathers’ friends. We would go on Sunday drives and drive by other peoples’ homes. We never really called and asked if they wanted company or even set up an appointment for company, we would just stop by on a Sunday afternoon. I imagine culturally, it is what they did – especially in Russia where you didn’t have phones. In Russia, you just would visit people on Sunday afternoon. Whenever we did go to my fathers’ friends houses we were offered meals or whatever they had available for us to eat. That’s also a very cultural thing that even if you’re poor you set out food for people that come and visit you. My mother would come along. I know she used to feel very out of place because culturally she didn’t have very much in common with my fathers’ friends. But once in awhile, we did stop at people’s homes where there was Ukrainian husband and a German wife. It was usually a German wife and a Ukrainian husband and my mother became a little bit more social. I sometimes wonder if she wanted to be more American than did my father.

While I grew up my father was not a penny pincher but was very frugal about waste. He always had some saying about what you throw in the garbage. He said you may go off and look for it one day, which I’m sure growing up during famine times, you just knew that one day when you least expect it there may not be any food. So we never threw out anything. Now my mother on the other hand liked to spend and buy nice things. Also culturally, my father felt that how you presented in church to your friends on Sunday showed how good of a parent you were. We would have one or two good Sunday clothes and go to church and look all nice and neat and clean then during the week, I used to wear the same skirt to school all the time. So, it was very interesting that we had to be presented to people of the same group…ethnic group in a certain manner and we never went to church looking tacky or poor…even though we were.

I was kind of a rebel in the family. I used to like to read a lot. I didn’t mind staying by myself. I had a few friends. A couple of the friends were ethnic friends. My father always liked the idea that I hung out with Ukrainian or German friends. It didn’t matter if they were German or Romanian or some sort of ethnic group, he didn’t mind it. He just didn’t seem to like the fact that I had a few American friends. Maybe he felt they were rude and not respectful to their parents. I never really yelled at my father. I never really told him how I felt.

We had to kind of keep our emotions to ourselves – at least that’s what I thought when I was younger. Yes, it was really interesting because emotions were not outwardly felt in our family. We rarely cried. We rarely showed a lot of affection. We were not a kissy huggy family. We just knew that our parents loved us otherwise I guess we wouldn’t be there. We just knew our parents loved us because they fed us and clothed us and gave us a roof.

My father informally adopted my older sister. She was a toe-head German. She was the typical Arian German girl. In fact, when she was two or three years old and the American soldiers came by, they scared her because they were constantly commenting on how beautiful and white she was. She was afraid of many of the American soldiers because many of them were very black. She had a little harder time growing up and I don’t know why? My mother just kept her to herself. We all kind of always just knew she was my mother’s daughter. We were like my father’s children and she was my mother’s daughter. It didn’t cause any animosity between us siblings because we were all the same. It seemed to be some sort of knowledge we had – that she was my mother’s daughter.

I had a grandmother left in Germany and an aunt and an uncle. I never really met any of my father’s family. His family had died one by one and were scattered throughout Europe. My mother always kept the Christmas traditions more. We had two Chirstmases and two Easters because I believe we honored both calendars: the Gregorian and the Julian. The Gregorian and the Julian are based on the sun and the moon and something I don’t remember. Orthodox Christmas is January 7th and Orthodox Easter starts from 6 weeks. It coincides with American Easter…every six years or five or six years depending on the leap year. It had something to do with leap year and I read it once and it didn’t make a whole lot of sense. We celebrated American Christmas with a few gifts and then my father made sure on January 7th we went to church and had a few more gifts. Now, Easter is a very very important celebration time in the Orthodox church. You go to midnight mass. At midnight mass, you do a lot of old traditional things. I don’t know what you would call them. Everything is very traditional and precise. What’s really amazing is that you know that when you go to church on Easter night, they do all that Orthodox incense, candles, singing and walking. You know that they have done thisfor almost two thousand years. It just gives you a sense of belonging and a sense of continuance. Baptisms, weddings and everything is steeped in tradition. You just know that when you are gone, a hundred thousand years from now, that if there still is a church that it would be the same thing. My father really liked Easter and I don’t know maybe he had that same feeling that there is a continuance.

I was in high school doing alright and taking German. People think…oh well you’re German, that’s why you are getting an A. I said well you know when we came to America…we really didn’t speak any one language. We had to speak English. We were told that we had to speak English. I was in the honor society…yadda yadda pretty fluent. Maybe in the deep recesses of my mind, the German came through.

I wanted to be a nurse and my father – I’ll never forget – actually laughed at me. I said what are you laughing at because I want to be a nurse? He says no, you can’t be a nurse. Why not? Nurses are not nice women. I said what do you mean? During the war, nurses had a reputation of being kind of…you know. I mean they washed male body parts. They had sex with them. I think, my father went in the direction that they were women of ill repute. I said I’ll go to college and do something else. Well, college is not really for women. That doesn’t leave me a whole lot since I didn’t take secretarial courses. I guess I’ll be a hair dresser. That was OK with him because that was a good job. My younger sister, the brain, Isabelle, got to go to college. My brother went to college. I didn’t go. Isabelle went because she was one of those straight A students that doesn’t even pick up the book. And here was me…plodding along with my B’s and C’s. I didn’t really have a lot of resentment. I said yeah whatever. So, I went to beauty school. Isabelle went to college. My brother graduated from college. My mother wanted my brother to take over the family business. My brother didn’t really want to at first, but now he’s doing it.

I was dating a Ukrainian boy which my father was really happy with this. But he was shipped over to Germany. I was knitting this shawl and everything and my father tried to have a father daughter sex talk. There are other boys out there and you know you can see other people and maybe you’re a little too serious for Wally Kostangle. I could have been Vera Kostangle. I did date, but they weren’t ethnic boys so my father wasn’t very happy. While Wally was away, I was working at a hair dressing shop.

One day I went to get contact lenses. Well, there was this man there, the Optician…who…well I thought he was kind of nice. So, he calls me up at the beauty shop to tell me the contacts were ready. I just knew there was something about the way he called me. Usually the doctors don’t call you – it’s the secretary. So I went to pick up the contacts. We were all talking and giggling. Come to find out, this man is ten years older than me. He is twenty-nine and I am nineteen. He is married with seven children. He is separated and is a recovering alcoholic. Naïve Vera doesn’t think anything about it. He’s not with his wife and he’s not drinking. What’s the big deal? Seven children! So know now Robert is wooing me. He buys me roses and he buys me a lighter. On a third month anniversary together, he plays the anniversary song. I was beside myself. My father thought he was Italian. He was part Italian. He says that if I insist on seeing this man, then I can just move out of the house. He doesn’t want me seeing this man because he’s Italian and a crazy Catholic. I tell him that I love him . Dad says that I can just get out of this house. Alright…I’m a little stubborn.

I packed up my suitcase. I asked my mother for my bankbook. I had like $150 and I moved to my sisters house. She was at that time married and had three children. So, I moved there and continued seeing the married man. I ended up getting pregnant. It was 1968. I wore a girdle and no one knew I was pregnant until maybe I was six months along. Being in a girdle and pregnant, I could barely breath or eat. Everybody thought I was putting on a little weight. I still hadn’t seen my parents from the day I moved out. So, now I was twenty and pregnant. He wasn’t divorced. I was living at some girl’s house who was bi-sexual. She had a child of her own and I slept on the couch. It’s not a pretty picture. I moved in with the future husband in some sort of dump. It’s two rooms in the back of a house in Cleveland. Of course I thought I was in heaven.

Finally, after I was twenty-one, we went to see my parents. John was born January 2nd. I went to see my parents like the 14th of December, two weeks before I gave birth. Big as a house. We never really showed emotion but he cried and I cried. My mother wasn’t too happy. She was always yelling at me. “Look what you put your father through kind of thing”. Of course I lied and said I was married., I wasn’t because he was still married. We bought a ring at a fair…at a carnival for. $5.98! I put a ring on my finger and called myself Vera Voltava, but he’s still married. I told them I got married in Flint, Michigan. In Flint Michigan you can be eighteen and get married. All of this because of culture. I was getting stubborn.

My husband had a few episodes of falling off the wagon. I was kind of realizing this is not really going to be good. I still love him. I have the baby. The husband comes with the Bardall station wagon because he was selling Bardall’s oil products. He comes to pick me up at the hospital with the baby. I’m in the front seat in a Bardall station wagon. Bardall all over it! Bardall cans of oil in the back.

My father was selling his house and said we could stay at the old house that I grew up in until it was sold. Well there we were with just a single piece of furniture and no refrigerator – just a stove. I go home. We have a crib and I have formula for the baby. My parents come over and my father is just in love with my son. In his eyes, even though I was not a male child, this was his first male grandson. This was his grandson as if I was the male part of the family. He falls in love with John. We were as poor as poor could be and never told my mother. We had cooked salami morning, noon and night because my first husband got one of those Christmas gifts. He got one of those long salamis’ – it must have been three feet long. I never told my parents we had no food. We had nothing for the baby except diapers. I washed them in the basement and they were frozen. It was a nightmare. My husband was drinking half the time. Finally the family house was sold. We had never gotten married and I can’t even remember when he finally got divorced. In Cleveland, Ohio, you can be common law. You just treat yourself as this person’s wife. In about…let’s see…John was born in January and about the end of March…we had a christening for my son John.. which was a big to-do…we had the party at my father’s house ‘cause he was very proud of this whole christening thing…he really…he really wanted it all to be done right. When John was around six weeks old…my father helped me move and he told me when we were in the car as we were dropping John off at the other sister’s house…he said…Bob is not going to be good for you…he is going to leave you…with this baby…I didn’t say a whole lot…I didn’t agree…and I didn’t deny…I just kind of say…oh…things will be alright…it’s just a hard time…blah blah blah blah blah…trying to make excuses for my husband…so anyway…we had the christening. There was a march…about that time…I ended up pregnant again…still not married officially…I believe that at some point along the line…I remember now…something about a divorce coming through or him saying it came through…so, I don’t know why I didn’t officially want to marry him at the time…maybe I knew subconciously that things weren’t going to work out or things weren’t the normal way things should be. So, anyway…I ended up pregnant again and I tried to hide that fact for at least five months again…and when I did finally let my stomach hang out…I never really told my parents I was pregnant…I just let them see I was pregnant…mainly because I think I knew that that was not something I should be…again…because we lived in this dump above the store…I worked at a beauty shop…had really had no money whatsoever…I don’t know how we got seventy dollars a month to get us the rent…I didn’t make that much money at the beauty shop…and the husband kept on drinking…now…when I was pregnant with Dena…my second one. That was about the most horrendous time in my life with my first husband. He was running with a group of people…that would rip off purses in grocery stores and steal their credit cards and then charge things and after you charge things you return then to the store and get the money in those days. Well, I believe he was on either…I don’t know…cocaine or PCP…or something…but he would come in the house…paranoid…paranoid beyond belief…telling me there were people outside…to watch them…and the bad thing is it would always be in the middle of the night. I ‘d have to look out the window and say there’s nobody there…or he’d go run in the closet…and take the closet contents out and say get that person out of the closet and there was nobody in the closet. One night he took the whole stove apart…just piece by piece and the he put it back together. So…what happened…oh…well he went…I believe I was seven months pregnant…he went and stole some credit cards and went got a rifle at a Tigers Store which was like a Wal-Mart…or K-Mart at the time and bought a rifle…and he was so bad…he stood me up against the wall and pointed a rifle at me and asked me how it felt to look at the other end of the rifle and the mean time John was just ten months old…nine months old and I tried to keep him calm and it was a friggin nightmare and I remember running into the bed why I ran into the bed and put the covers over my head I’ll never know because he stood maybe 20 or 30 feet away and was shooting at the wall above my head…and a neighbor had come by…knocked on the door and asked if everything was alright…and of course I said…yeah…everything is alright. Well…my first husband said to me…gave me the rifle and told me to shoot him…well it was the first time in my life I thought…well…I could possibly do this at this time…but I didn’t…well he ended up taking the rifle back to the store and go arrested…come to find out that it was a Federal offense to buy a rifle on top of a stolen credit card to buy a rifle…I think it was a 22…so anyway…he got arrested…I bailed him out…I spent more time down to the police station…ran into high school friends that I knew…down at the police station…then…he got arrested and he got off…there was like a trial date for like forever away. Had the baby…almost had the baby at home because he kept on telling me I can wait…it was going to be awhile…and I had figured that he had seven kids before and he would know when the baby is coming…so I’m laying up there in agony and my mother comes to pick up John…looks at me and says you need to go in the hospital and I remember saying oh Bob said to wait…so she takes John and the next thing I know the husband is home and I tell him the baby is coming…he calls the ambulance. The ambulance comes…rushes in…takes me…and I says well where’s my husband…oh…he’s coming in the car…I says OK…well we didn’t have a car…I thought he was coming in the police car…I didn’t know…and then I almost had the baby in the ambulance…and I didn’t really want him to come and see the baby…I didn’t really want him to come and see me ‘cause of after all that torment I just went through. So…that was really the bad…bad…bad part…and then…what happened after that…oh…then we moved again…I think we moved five times in one year…I don’t even remember half the places we moved to. And then…Dena was maybe nine months old and I moved to my mothers and she took me in…I just told her and my father that things were not so good. So, I stayed with them…it was kind of a tense time and back to cultural and ethnic…my father was OK with it…my mother was not too happy…I don’t know…she was never really happy with me. But there was an instance that I…it was like an awakening with my mother…she gave my daughter, who was nine months old…an Oreo cookie…and the baby made a mess…so my father comes home from work and said who made this mess?…He said…who gave the baby the cookie? I looked at my father and said I didn’t give her the cookie…and my mother didn’t say anything…and he kept on saying…who gave the baby the cookie? I says…I’m telling you pop…I did not give that baby that cookie…but my mother never admitted that she gave the baby the cookie…I’m like…I didn’t give the baby the cookie…but I couldn’t say…you know…I couldn’t say she did…my mother…you would think my mother would say…I gave the baby the cookie…it’s alright. My father would yell…every once in awhile I got…I got a strapping but it wasn’t worth anything ‘cause most of the time he was holding up his pants with one hand and trying to hit me with the belt with the other…it wasn’t a bad thing…you know…it was kind of comical…he says keep on laughing…which I did…so he gave me another one. What was I going to do…he standing with his pants falling down trying to discipline me. But anyway…so…yes my mother was…I don’t know why she was afraid of my father…I mean she’d say things like I can’t write a check ‘cause she was able to have access to the checking account. I can’t write a check for a dress…a new dress…I says why not ma…but he’ll kill me…your father will kill me…I says…you really think he is going to kill you? You tell him…I need this dress…what’s he going to do…yell at you? So you listen and you know you go off. But she was mortified so yelling was an interim thing something in our house…my father kind of did the yelling…my mother did the yelling when my father wasn’t around. My mother…one time my mother moaned all morning ‘till my father went to work telling how sick she was…my father goes to work…she gets out of bed and starts yelling at us and starts chasing us around the house…well what is this? My father pulls up in the driveway later in the afternoon and she’s back in bed moaning…what a…how horrible…I’m like pop…she was up all day…of course we got in trouble because you know we made my mother sick. I guess ma was sick. I guess the whole story is about my mother and me and not getting along. I knew for a long time my mother didn’t like me…because she didn’t like my father…so she didn’t like me. But I accepted that…I knew she didn’t like me…you know…so there really wasn’t a whole lot of pretense. My other siblings have a tough time about their feelings about my mother. I just told them last year after 15 years of not seeing my family…that I knew mom never liked me…but that was OK because I knew it. I didn’t want her to be any different because…you know…If there was ever a divorce…I would go with my father…you know…but my mother would be a little easier to get around because she wouldn’t be so strict…culturally…she’d be a little bit…and that was kind of the dilemma. I liked my father but man he was strict but go with my mother…and she could…you know…’cause my mother was in her years kind of a party girl…and did I tell you about the hatchet and my father?…This goes back…we’re going back again. When I was just born, it was New Year’s so I was less than a month old…and my brother was just than a year old…and my mother seemed to have liked the soldiers…you know…during pre-father…and it was New Year’s eve and she wanted to go out…and my father said…Dora…you have a baby ???????? I needed to be fed…you have a baby here and another one…you can’t go out. She’s says I’m going out…he says no your not going out…so he stood in the doorway…she got a hatchet…told my father that if he didn’t move…she would hatchet him…and my father had told me…oh maybe just a few years before he died…that was the only time he made my mother that mad and he’s never made her that mad again. So he knew there was a line to step over…that you crossed with my mother. I’m like well pop…’course when I was a baby…my father kind of took care of me…I used to pound my heels on whatever bed I had to the point you could see I have a ??????? I had ?????? …a pounding…big holes my father said…and he would go get wool…sheep’s wool and wrap my legs up…I was just a little munchkin…you know…cute as could be…but I thought it was ‘cause I was colicky…but I see now…Owen…my daughter says ma…that boy kicks his heels all the time…he was like…he doesn’t do it as much now…she goes ma…it sounds terrible…all night long…I stayed over there one night…I thought they were hammering next door…it’s him with his heels. I don’t know what it is…just pounding the heels…and she says his…his pajamas…and even when he was awake…his pajamas almost have holes in them from where he wore them down. Well…I have holes in my pajamas…yeah…just pounding…not screaming. Nope…no head banging…and yet Owen’s very well…very complacent…very nice…baby. But that’s all he did…and now he’s like stopping it. My father had to bandage me up…all the time…and I think oh my dad…bandage me up. So anyway…so back to that…so moved in with my parents and that didn’t work out real well and of course the first husband called crying…I promise blah blah blah…now I’m pregnant with the third one. How do I tell my parents…I don’t…I forget. I seem to forget that telling them I’m pregnant business. So there I am…pregnant and at that time you needed…and I was thinking I was going to get an abortion…that’s when I had finally told my parents. So I had to go see a psychiatrist…and I had to get the whole schlamaze????and in those days…in the early 70’s about getting an abortion. Well at the time…my husband was in jail for nonpayment of support for his first wife. So, it was the day of the abortion…so I went in all ready and of course he comes in in his shackles and handcuffs because he had to sign the papers too…he had to be informed. Guess what…is this something you really want to do blah blah blah…you know and I really didn’t want it…I felt a lot of famial pressure…you know…from my sister…and from my parents and what are you going to do…you’re a woman…you’ve got no money…you have two babies…and you’re going to have another one…you know…and it was kind of overwhelming but I wasn’t really nervous about it…I mean I would have done something. So at the time…I said OK…forget it…I’m not going to have the abortion…well I had to come home and tell my parents…my father…that was the only time he was really…I can’t even remember what he called me and what he said to me but it was horrible. My mother was just kind of like sitting there going yeah your real ??????? Called me a tramp and I was like…oh my God it was awful. So OK…so the husband gets out of jail and I move…pregnant me…and the two kids to another apartment…and things are pretty OK. They’re pretty OK he’s working kind of spontaneously and we still don’t have any money and we don’t have a refrigerator…keeping things outside…you know…it was kind of winter…it was alright ‘cause I could keep it cold…and I go shopping every day and buy stuff for the day. So finally I went on welfare because I didn’t really know up until then that I could go on welfare…and get food stamps…even get assistance for housing and stuff. So I went on welfare…that was kind of degrading because I was the only like white person in all of Cleveland I think in the welfare line…but that was alright. We finally got an apartment…you know…things were a little bit better…we had food…not a whole lot. Paid for housing…he didn’t really work. I mean I was so poor that sometimes I couldn’t go see my parents and have a meal because I didn’t have any gas money for the car…a Studebaker…a red Studebaker???? The rocker panel spewing oil…smoke…going down the street…people close their windows…it was so bad. I was like a big smoke bomb going down the street and I’m just be-bopping away…red Studebaker. I think we go it for $10…somebody was kind to us. I had a refrigerator though…so there I am going to have the baby and he’s coming to pick me up and I look out the window and there is this big cloud of smoke so I knew he was coming to pick me up. A big cloud of smoke…and I could see…and I could see him pull in the parking lot…phewwwww…but anyway…so we took the baby home…things were OK…he was still drinking on and off…I’m still poor…not happy but at least I knew where I had shelter and stuff. And the whole time…I mean I just loved him. So finally…finally he goes to court about the federal thing…he ends up in prison for two years…which actually was a positive because there were two things…one…I wasn’t around the drinking anymore…I mean it was so bad it it just wasn’t good anymore…he went to prison for two years…I ended up going to college because I was on welfare and I was able to get funding and I was going to go for nursing school. In the two years I started to develop myself and started to mingling with people and there were all kinds of people in college that were helpful and giving me ideas and suggestions and finally in my life…from the time I left home ‘til I went to school…which was maybe seven years…I finally thought that there was something in life beyond the life that I was leading. There was a mother’s group we formed with a bunch of women at the local psychiatric institute…that had either had husbands that were alcoholics or other problems regarding single motherhood at the time. So we formed that group…the Psychiatric Institute provided day care. We would go meet once a week on a Thursday and you know be a support group for each other which really helped a lot. At the time I was seeing a psychiatrist and of course and they put me on the ?????? where I couldn’t move for days…now that was really good for watching kids. I mean…?????? all that stuff because those were the old meds for depression and I would see my psychiatrist who was a woman from India…and I would always just sit there and stare at the dot on her forehead…and I was not sure what she wanted from me about…other than the fact that I was depressed and had this alcoholic husband and after awhile I started hearing myself…you know…this is really stupid. But she did say to me one day…because I started not to like the kids…and the kids were part of this mass of confusion…they were part of it…they were not stabilizing me…the husband is an alcoholic the kids are running amok…I was going to school…I was working at a bar…I was working at a beauty shop…so they were not a stabilizing factor in what was going on in my world. So, I mean they were kind of obnoxious…they were really obnoxious children…you know…I had three and two and a half years and they were running everywhere…running…out of control…running…everywhere. So I finally told her I couldn’t take it anymore and she says to me…she goes well…we could put them in foster care…for awhile until you know…you start feeling better…I’m like…they’re not going to foster care. So that day kind of…I started…started trying to be you know…like a better mother person with the kids. I think she was tired of me whining about my kids and how I couldn’t stand them…and she gave me a very…yeah…there was a lot of anger I mean…here I’ve got these kids and because I didn’t involve my parents in what was going on…I mean my parents knew something…but they never really knew…they never saw my…they did see my black eye once in awhile and there was a cover…or…he would never show up for functions because he was always drunk or in jail…I mean how many times can you say you know he’s sick…or he had his teeth pulled…or he had this…I never told them he was drunk…maybe I should have just said…he’s drunk. So, he gets out of jail…he gets out of jail and we go down to Florida and I graduate from LPN school because the two year RN program was going to be a two year waiting list…I had already been going two years with my achedemics…it was another two years before I could get into the program…so I said I’d go to LPN school because I need to earn some money…I need to get off this welfare stuff and earn some money and do something. So, he gets out of jail and we go down to Florida and he’s getting sick because he didn’t drink…he didn’t…he didn’t drink so he was having kind of those withdrawals shakes and the throwing up so we had to stop on the way. We went in two cars down to Florida…we stayed at my parents apartment complex in Florida…and we get half way there and I’m driving the car and the car goes off the road because another car almost hits us…so we’re laying sideways in the car and I’ll never forget…I look in the rearview mirror and I see my husband running to the car and on his face was sheer like terror or concern or something about how…how he was thinking something had happened to me and the children that were in the car. Well, I mean at the time…it’s hard to say there was this connection…this connection of you know…I’m really talking to my self right? There was connection when I looked in the rear view mirror and I saw his face that this man…as much as he was abusive and drunk and nasty…loved me…really really loved me and loved his children…and I…so he comes to the car and everything is OK and everything. And I just looked at him differently after that…instead of somebody who is just a drunk and abusive…as somebody who actually was terror filled that something was going to happen to me. It was just the oddest thing I looked in the rear view mirror and saw him running…the car…and I knew that all that drinking and all that abuse that he really loved me…you know what I’m saying…loved his children…because we were in the car. You know…all those other times when they drink and say all those things and there’s remorse…you always…yeah yeah yeah…but that one time…that time of terror…when he thought I was gonna be hurt or gone. So anyway, I went and started working in the intensive care unit in a hospital in Cleveland…and I worked days and nights and he would still on and off drink…we had the police calls…the SWAT team calls. He had guns…he was holding the children hostage. Oh my God it was a nightmare. I couldn’t go to work because he would be home drunk…and he would smoke and he would wake up and there would be burns on his chest. I was afraid for the kids…I couldn’t go anywhere ‘cause I was afraid he would accidentally kill the kids or on purposely kill them. They were like 5, 6 and 7. (talking about her husband) Not really…they were old Cleveland…well it’s actually Bohemian…it’s Voltava. But…and some Italian some English…a really far away mix. So, anyway…I couldn’t…and I’d go to work…and I’d believe he was at his end stage alcoholism. Throughout the years he was either in a VA hospital or he was in jail…and at the end he started getting really weird…mentally weird…he…he would go to the grocery store while I was at work and would take a duffel bag and take the kids with because we only had one car…get on the bus…come back and count everything in the bag and go through the receipts…and he did it all day long. In fact, he called me at work and said add up these numbers…I said Bob, I’m not adding these numbers up in the middle of the night. It was like really…and through the years I had started divorce proceedings at least three times and each time…because I loved him…I mean I really loved him…he was like…like I was saying he was my soulmate. It was bizarre…he was like my right arm…there were good times…there were very good times…he…it was just…in fact I loved him so much and I took it upon myself to say…you know…if it’s me that he’s not happy with then maybe he would be happy…’cause all I wanted is for him to be out of that alcohol torment. I was thinking that maybe I’m not the right one…so I would try to set him up with dates from people with AA…through AA…thinking maybe…I mean…he just needs to be happy…he’s like a tortured soul..and he’s not happy with me so it…you know…I guess… I guess when you love someone that’s all you want…I doesn’t matter it they’re happy with or without you…you just want them happy…and I don’t know if it’s for like a child thing or…I just loved him…he was…he was just who he is…I mean I don’t know…it was just…it was like almost me in a way…I don’t know…you know…I just loved him…even though he was cruel and mean and made me mentally sick for awhile or I let him make me mentally sick…but…you know…I don’t know whether all that was because my parents warned me he was no good and that made me I’m no good for not listening to them and going along with what they thought I should do…so then anyway…he was really getting sick…and I had filed for divorce and the divorce date was going to be May 4th . Well…one day I see him…now we’re living in a suburb of Cleveland and through my hard work and keeping a job and getting things…we rented a little bungalow. But anyway…I saw him drive down the street and know I had a sense of not fear from him anymore…but…not really sympathy…but some inner strength I had that I could do it…I needed…I guess those years I needed to go to school while he was in prison and see the world other than my parents’ house and the alcoholic world I was in…I was very isolated. So, anyway…I saw him come down the street to pull into the driveway and he hits another car…just a fender bender…so I call the police up and tell there is an accident in the front of my house and my husband hit a car and blah blah blah. Well they come and arrest him. So I said awe shit…you know…this means he’s going to be released in a few hours and there’s going to be hell to pay…so I didn’t feel like it…so I went take the kids to my girlfriends house…a mother in the support group…and I called the police station…and I asked when he was going to be released…and they said to me…there’s been an accident…and I need you to come down with an adult…to the hospital…I said…well what happened?   They says well we can’t tell you but there was a serious accident…and I’m thinking…what in God’s name happened in jail…something…did he pull somebody’s gun and shoot somebody. So, I take and get my friend Judy…I said Judy…we’ve got to go to the hospital there’s been a serious accident…now mind you…now I’m in like shock going OK. ‘Cause whatever it is…we’ll deal with it…and we get to the hospital and they say that he tried to hang himself…well he hung himself…and that the officer found him and they…you know…tried CPR and everything and now he’s on the ventilator. I says OK…I mean…there was no hysteria…I’m like OK…maybe I just knew it was always going to be…but anyway…so I go see him and he’s on this ventilator and I’m like…alright…OK…you know and thinking well I’ve got to tell the kids. So, I told the kids that you know…there’s another lie…I mean I made these big lies in my life but anyway…my son was already now nine and I told them all that their father was very sick…and that every you know…when he was drinking and everything something just happened to his body he became very sick and now he’s in the hospital and he’s probably going to die. So, you know…and at that time they didn’t let kids up to the hospital…which now I think…but that’s a terrible thing…for these children. So, anyway…they did three consecutive EEG’s. They were flat…they were not conducive with life. So, I had him transferred to the VA hospital and I donated his eyes and they said they need the body kind of fresh for the eyes…you know…it kind of grossed me out but…so they disconnected the…I was at home and they said they would let me know when the time of death is. And my father in the meantime had finally realized I was able to talk to him about what was going on with the husband and the drinking and everything and he finally saw…he said…I didn’t know that it was this bad…I said yeah pop…so anyway…so he comes to the hospital…he drives me to the VA hospital…you know…it was really kinda touching…he says well good-by Bob. I was like…you know…and his hands were all swollen and you know…?????????? His organs were beginning to shut down. So, and then they called me at home and said he died at this time whatever…and it was May 8th four days after I filed for the divorce court date…you know…and his birthday was April 15th that’s why everyone on my family has died within a month of their birthday. So, anyway…I told the kids…you know I kept them updated…kept on telling them you know daddy’s body is not going to make it…blah…blah…blah. Then finally I gather then around like some sort of…I don’t know…Father Knows Best scene and tell them this emotional news about the father who is dead. The girls are going…oh…well…can I run and go tell Lisa. I’m like…yeah I guess…go outside…tell whoever you…So, you know…and my father…you know is because he is not a very emotional man…I was dressed for the funeral…and he says to me…he says…you make a nice looking widow. I’m like thinking well because I guess he didn’t know what to say…you know. And during the time that my husband was in the hospital my father would come over and watch the kids sometimes and you know…and I would cry…and you know and just finally talk to my dad like he was a person. And it was as darn shame it wasn’t like ‘til I was 30 before I started talking to my dad…you know. And then there was the funeral and you know…the kids put all this picture and stuff in the casket…they went to the funeral and you stand in an alcove while they close the casket…so my father…breaks down and starts sobbing…I’m like…and it was…I was like thinking ‘cause he had said things like he was nine when his mother died. And you know…my son was nine…and my son was very….very standoff about this whole thing…he didn’t really cry or anything. And my father…I couldn’t believe that he was sobbing…he was sobbing. And then we had the funeral and we had the rigamorole and everything. And then I kind of…it’s not terrible to say…because it was the truth…I really felt a relief…I felt sad that this person that I loved dearly…who was like my soulmate was gone but I knew it had to be…I knew he had to be gone. And…it was probably better that he was dead than alive because I still loved him and just knowing who was going to take care of him and who was going to comfort him and you know…it was too much and the fact that I think he realized when he hung himself that the bottle was bigger…that he lost all control. I have to be honest…it was a relief…that finally maybe he thought he was going to do something good. That maybe he loved me enough to kill himself. I did have an option…because they were able to wean him off the respirator for a little while…not long…and we could put him in a nursing home…and he could be like Karen Ann Quinlin and be a vegetable ‘cause he had no brain wave ??????? And keep him on the Vent in the nursing home…I says no….I’m not going to have my children go visit their father all crinkled and contracted and what is that??? So…anyway. So…you know I think at the time it was necessary I say what I had to say about his death because my son was nine who was involved…very much aware of the alcoholic syndrome and everything…and he loved his father…and I had a feeling he was going to try to emulate him…which he did eventually try to do when he was fifteen…tried to hang himself…Cause that’s when he finally found out…’cause he said I always knew mom…I always knew????????? I told him…you know…so then I went merrily along working…trying to find baby sitters…that was a friggin nightmare at nights…had some weird people close all the windows…I don’t know how I did with these kids on night shift…and dropping them off at some Vietnamese lady’s house in the middle of winter at 10…picking them up at 7:30…sending ‘em off to school. So then I met this guy…Craig…and within thirteen months I was remarried.   I don’t know if I loved him…I liked him…I knew he wasn’t and alcoholic…at the time…I thought. He was seven years younger than me…he had a job…so I figured why not marry him…you know…at least somebody has a job. We got married and all of a sudden he started…because he was 23 and I was 30 or 31…he didn’t know anything about raising children…he…he was this disciplinarian…I’m like aww man…six months after we got married…I’m thinking this is a big mistake…I can’t divorce somebody after six months…what am I going to tell my parents?…who came from Florida for the wedding…he’s an idiot ma…pop…another one…so anyways…so we ?????? for awhile my father said they were living in Florida and he would help us buy a house if we moved down there…I said alright and so off we go down to Florida…now my father liked Craig…that’s because…I mean he sort of knew how to act with my father

 

 

 

Once my father was born, the traditions, the connection, that feeling was all like gone. I never really continued…um…Jennifer has more sense….you know….the church and the tradition not so much the religion but that root feeling…then um…any of the other kids. She actually has more of a sense of …you know…where she came from…who she is. And it’s really too bad because not until my father was sick and my first husband died did I really start talking to my father…that I found out a lot about his life and it’s so important to me to know that I just feel I am really more from that side. I actually look like my mother…wicked bad…wicked bad…not that she was…you know…I mean…I don’t know why she didn’t like me cause I look like her.

 

I think they treated her…she was…she was my mother’s side of the family. You know she resembled my mother…like I said very fair skin very blonde draws the light. And my grandmother…my mother’s mother also had this sort of problem…she did a lot of martyrdom type behavior like no one cared so I am going run into the lake and drown myself…and my father had to stop her from running into the lake…You know like…But everybody lived that way…most people lived that way. My mother would always say things like well one time she…I think she had a psychological breakdown…because she became so sick and she told my father that I made her sick…that she became so sick, that my father literally had to carry her into the hospital…they could find nothing wrong with her…there was nothing wrong with her…but they did find maybe a pancreatic insulin thing…but it wasn’t diabetes…She said that was what was wrong with her…not the fact that maybe she was mentally ill. She always…she’d say to me how sick she got after my youngest brother was born. And I kept ????? going what do you mean, sick like when you are throwing up or like you were in agony…but I think she got mentally ill…after he was in the United States. She never once went to a psychiatrist…my father the same thing. In the old countries, I am sure mental illness was you put them in a dungeon…you kept them in the back room. Somebody had asked me once…and I can’t remember who is was…whether it was the doctor…what effect being in the Hitler Germany had on my mother…because she would talk about…there were these days that Hitler would either speak or come through…and she would talk about how mesmerizing he was. Did she…was she part of that brainwashing where she believed that the Jews or that somebody was to blame…for whatever is going on with her….because…you know she talks about this Jewish family with a certain amount of envy, jealousy…not really like they were attitudinal…and maybe they were…who knows…but she perceived it as she was the servant girl…these people had everything. Now my father…had kind of a different outlook with Jewish people that changed as he got older. When he was…during the famine and during the war…many Jewish people had stores…with food…and I guess he was denied or spit on by a Jewish shop keeper when he begged for food. Plus, he would say that during the famine the only ones that had meat and this the part of the cannibalism ????????? and which actually has been researched and it’s been true….would have fresh meat….there was no meat. That they would have sausages and things…meat on hooks…and I …you know first I’m thinking…ya right Pop…well then as I’m reading stories fiction and non-fiction about people that has experienced that kind of stuff…that there were…people like black markets…people you went to…and you knew the ones that were sort of like cannibals or ate maybe meat that you shouldn’t eat because they all looked healthier. Everybody else was gone or emaciated. But as he lived in Florida, he began to see and I think he missed…many Jewish families are very familial…they are very family. He began to have a certain amount of respect and I believe a certain amount of wish fullness that maybe his family was like that cause you know already he saw the brother’s and sister’s we were all separated living in different spots…um…we didn’t continue a closeness…family stuff cause when we used to get together for holiday…we would have what was called discussions and ended up I mean you could here us down the street three miles away. But they weren’t arguments well they were discussions…and he said you couldn’t have a good discussion unless you have different viewpoints…we all sat there thinking…OK..OK. And I think that he really wished we were like that…and I think that he foresaw…um…maybe some sort of sibling problems as he was going to get older and pass. Now I wish…I wish I had really pursued that…you know…maintained different cultures, even keeping my German. I mean I hadn’t spoken it fluently for 35 almost…35 years.

 

Also, the fact that you don’t waste and that you just try everything. My father was….I didn’t know until I was older that the reason he ate fish brains and fish eyes…was there were certain vitamins in each one of them…they give fish eyes up in Alaska because they don’t have greenery…to feed the kids…and that’s what he did and he would bring home smoked squid and eel and stuff like that…and you know…and do the pigs feet…it was kind of cool…but at the time, it was disgusting. I do miss now not keeping the traditions because now I have grandchildren that you know….now Tatayana…she’s more like Jennifer. Jennifer…they still like…you know she wants me to make the perogees and she wants me to go to Easter and do all the stuff and everything. It was nice that certain days…holidays you know…my father and I we would make you know…10 dozen perogees and we would learn and we would do it and not even talk much…but there was a certain you know…unity in that and how we would make the horse radish out of the…you know…how we would laugh when we would take the horse radish and we couldn’t even breath and you know…I mean…those times because of tradition…I’m sure that was how it was when he was little…you know. And I guess like my mother didn’t carry a lot of tradition with her…whether she wanted to or didn’t want to…maybe she didn’t want to…

 

Because…actually…in all honesty….I’m the only one they really have.   There’s no one…their other grandparents are gone…I mean…and yes…there’s my brother and sister and them but as for this family…I am the only one. I feel bad, because when I was growing up I had no grandparents. When we came to America, there was my father, mother and my brothers and sisters.

 

Jennifer got married in the church last year…Tatayana will probably make her communion this coming year…(she’s being raised) Ukrainian Orthodox. My father would have a fit…what it is is when you are baptized…you are also confirmed…and when you make you make your first communion…it’s your first communion. It’s good to have somebody out of all of them that want to….my brother and his family…I don’t’ think…my sister Isabelle never had her children baptized. Andy, my youngest brother converted to Catholicism when he married my sister-in-law….so, I’m sort of the only one that even….now my brother…my older brother…I think would like to….have more tradition but…you know…and he married a Catholic girl so…and my father was beside himself when my youngest sister Isabelle…you know…the other golden child…didn’t have her children baptized. And he would say…what if anything ever happen…because he was very crushed. He had a fit when my son was circumcised….he was beyond…They did to Jews…and what happened to Jews in the war? They were annihilated and put in concentration camps…so he always…that’s how you knew they were Jewish. German soldiers would tell people to pull their pants down…men…I also have this feeling that my father saw a lot more than he ever talked about….because he said to me once…when he changed John’s diapers when John came home from the hospital…he said…what is this….what did you do….what did you do to that boy….I had him circumcised pop…what if they ever need to know…what if they find out…what it…what if…what if…He was…he was…and I have this feeling he saw a lot of that. You know…and he would get horrible migraines and he would say that it was because he would be on the train…and you know…going whatever he had to do. I’m thinking…gee…why wouldn’t I….I mean…what a nightmare…and my mother, her sister…was…I don’t know where my mother was but my sister when the Russians were coming back into Germany and the war was over…The Russians made my aunt dig up all the bodies…they had to like ???? and bury them…all the Russian bodies. We have led a very sheltered life. You know the old saying….that…when there’s a birth of a lot of boys…there is going to be a war in about 20 years, when they get older.

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