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Helen Rodak-Izso

The Last Chance to Remember




It sounds so unbelievable now - even to me - that there were times not very long time ago, when we went to dances, to balls, made programs and had a good time. It was so beautiful to be young, to prepare ourselves for such an evening. There were excited plans with girl friends, beautiful long dresses; they were maybe so nice just to my eyes, a little corsage on the shoulder and happy, happy expectations, which only a young heart can understand. In those times a "nice" girl didn't go unchaperoned to such an occasion; at least a brother of a girl friend was a good substitute. The opening used to be a light program; when this was over all chairs were pushed to the walls around the ballroom, where the ladies could take their seats. My dear, poor mother too was there among them and they tried to entertain each other. Sometimes the early morning hours found us still there, because I was never tired of dancing and my mother was happy if I had a good time.

As soon as the program was over, the band started to play and this was the time for which we were waiting with great excitement. The boys came for the chosen girl or partner to ask her for the dance. It was always an exciting moment because it could happen that a poor girl (wallflower) was left sitting and waiting. It must have been terribly embarrassing.

According to the habits at the time it was customary that we changed partners. It was real fun and just wonderful if always more and more boys came to ask for you; but the most beautiful moment came when the "one" whom you mostly expected showed up and then danced away carefree hours.

Unfortunately this belongs to the past and sounds like a dream. Later we still tried to get together on Sunday afternoons to talk over the happenings or make some plans for the future, which was bleak already but none of us made a move yet. There were some possibilities for young girls to go to England as parlour maids. The decision was not easy, partly because we would have to leave our parents behind and partly because of the strange feeling to go somewhere not knowing the language or the whole new atmosphere; even the thought was frightening. Maybe we were not the adventurous type and one had to make decisions fast. We had to get a little bit used to the idea of dramatic changes.

On February 1, 1942 I married my long time best friend Ernie. Those few months that we had to ourselves were just hiding and waiting for the dreaded draft call. Ernie was 27 years old, dependable and a very nice character. We had mutual friends, interests, loved music and books. Since we both enjoyed outdoor activities, we often spent the weekends on hikes in our beautiful countryside and mountains.

Soon those joyful hours came to a halt, because the dreaded draft cards started to arrive and this was already a serious warning.

I have to talk about those years, before the gates closed down around us, when we realized with bitterness that our future was doomed, hopeless. We couldn't talk or think about anything else. Either we were still hoping against hope or were trying to find a way out. We felt trapped and frightened beyond words.

The waiting for good news went on through long, lingering years, but unfortunately my husband just vanished from this earth. His disappearance was a great loss.

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