The Last Chance to Remember
Appendix (added later)
WHEN DREAMS BECOME REALITY
spent more and more time discussing the possibilities about leaving
the country. This is a hard decision by itself, but we couldnt
escape the bigger question: Where to go?
knew somebody who had left the country many years ago and settled down
in Canada, near Toronto where the whole family worked very hard and
diligently on their farm, which after many years of such hard work proved
to be successful. My husband decided to write to him about in 1948 and
to our pleasant surprise the answer came shortly offering all his help.
This was more than we had hoped and we were very moved. The man was
a very simple person but behaved like a gentleman who understood our
need for his help. We started to prepare ourselves, though for the time
being only mentally and in our hearts.
family nest was empty, so this was not difficult to leave. In this place
we lived and cared for each other as a close knit family.
Canada we heard reassuring things, the climate was inviting, similar
to ours, and the country was known for many other things which made
our decision easier. We were hoping to find peace and all we can say
is that we are very grateful and after the many years with every passing
time we are always more attached and devoted. We feel at home and proud
to be Canadian.
childhood was uneventful with devoted parents, grandparents and other
dear relatives until the brutal catastrophe, which destroyed everything.
We lived in Czechoslovakia, in Central Europe, but at the time of our
tragedy our part of Slovakia belonged to Hungary, so we were deported
from Hungary in 1944, June 2nd. Twelve months later, after incredible
sufferings, we returned to our hometown, which had been liberated in
the meantime by Czechoslovakia. The many sad experiences and memories
forbade and didnt let us call the place "Our Home" again.
we received the important papers, we started to prepare ourselves in
earnest and finally in October 1949, my husband and I and our seven
months old baby were ready for the big journey to Canada.
travelled by train through the Netherlands, from where we had to cross
the English Channel. This was already the sea and we had picked the
windiest day of the year; the seamen were teasing us.
crossing was difficult because of the strong wind, but with some delay
we made it and it was quite a trip with a seven months old baby. Since
the boat was floating among the waves it was pretty frightening, especially
when we saw the other boats dancing in the big water; it was like a
big cradle which helped our baby to sleep.
slept over one night in London and then were taken to Southampton, where
our ship, the ocean liner Aquitania was waiting for us. It was frighteningly
big with its four chimneys. This big ship told us unmistakably that
we really were on our way to a new and strange world. We had mixed feelings,
happy expectations and fear. The crossing took 6-7 days when we finally
reached dry land. It was a beautiful feeling to arrive at our destination.
The place was Halifax and after numerous checking through our papers,
ourselves, and our personal belongings, we were transferred to the railway
station. There a very long train was waiting for us and we had to find
I was holding my little son in my arms and repeatedly asked myself:
Are we doing the right thing?
we were struggling, carrying the baby with numerous bags and hand luggage,
some volunteer ladies approached us and were trying to help us. But
we didnt know what are they trying to say or do? We saw only one
thing, that they are trying to take the baby out of my arms and put
him into the waiting stroller.
were in a panic and started to rush away, but she was following us with
the shaky stroller they were using at the time. Finally, she reached
me and somehow made me understand her good intentions. It was really
a big help and I had to apologize belatedly. But I still didnt
let him out of my sight for a split second and calmed down only when
we were together again on our train and in our place. Those ladies were
wonderful and I think of them with my heartfelt thanks, but my fear
was also justifiable. Looking back after so many years this experience
sounds funny, but it was not at the time. Slowly we settled down and
the train moved away and started our long trip to Toronto, which took
two nights and one long day.
at Toronto we were welcomed by a cousin who had come out in 1939. There
are no words to describe how tired we were after traveling for two weeks
with hardly any sleep. We made our home in Toronto from November 1949
and became citizens in July 1955. We are happy and thankful to live
in a free country.
just didnt know what to expect. We had here already some relatives
who were trying to find a place for us. Unfortunately this was not easy
because nobody wanted children at the time. Finally, we received the
good news that there was a flat for us with a telephone in the house.
This was new to me, because we didnt have a telephone in the house
at home, only in the office.
fantasy couldnt work hard enough! How modern everything will be?
Great was our surprise when we found ourselves in our flat, which was
a very modest one bedroom flat with shared bathroom, and since it was
November the windows were closed tight.
were warned early enough not to open them or let some fresh air in because
then the furnace would have to work harder. This was strange to us,
because in Europe we were used to open the windows wide to let the fresh
air in. Now we could only have the three holes, in the base of the window
sill, which was hard to get used to.
landlords were hardworking, very simple, but very good people. After
a few weeks we found out accidentally why our messages hadnt come
through? We had prepared a pad for them to take the incoming calls for
us. Suddenly it came out why they didnt use the paper and pen,
because they couldnt use them! They were embarrassed when the
truth came out. They were illiterate! It was an emotional testimony
how these old people described their start here. The old lady had to
work in a factory at an early age of nine; so she had never had a chance
to go to school.
they had arrived many years ago, her grandfather was leading her by
the hand and when they spotted people sitting on the verandas or on
the stairs, he was puzzled. No wonder he was surprised, because this
was the newcomers neighbourhood, not where the skyscrapers and
huge businesses are! Before arriving he saw only those pictures of America
and not from this side. This was a total surprise, but slowly he learned
to live, work and mingle like everybody else.
episode stayed with me for long and still helps me when I feel uncertain,
or down. We brought a sewing machine from home, which came in handy,
but after some time the needle began breaking often. Changing needles
didnt help. We had by then befriended some of our neighbours and
one especially kind lady offered her help. She told me to expect a visitor
who was familiar with this problem. This gentleman was nobody else than
the manager himself from the White Company from Simpsons and he didnt
mind to check my minor problem. At first I was in panic, because my
English was too poor to be able to explain my trouble; but he calmed
me down with the most eloquent way, with reassuring voice and words.
He said that it takes time and determination to master a new language
and he only has respect for people like us, who had left their safe
and comfortable home to try a new and strange world.
my state of mind he added that just that would happen to him, if he
would drop in to our country! He would be lost because he only speaks
one language and that is English! His words were my guides for many
years. I am very thankful to him, not only that he helped to fix the
problem, but for the way he did it! By the way, the bobbin was the trouble
and as he wanted to calm down my excitement, he explained that this
was not even a household word, no need for embarrassment.
first years were a little difficult but we tried to adjust ourselves
as best we could. To find a job was not easy, despite the fact that
we would take anything. It started to brighten up somewhat after we
overcame the language difficulties a little bit. In the meantime, our
second son, Paul, arrived in 1954. We, of course, were delighted,, but
had to change our lifestyle and schedule. My husband tried hard to find
employment, which sometimes looked hopeless. After much trying he decided
to try his luck in the construction business which was booming at the
time; but the situation here changed too slowly. Myself, after a few
jobs for a shorter or longer time, was very daring when I answered an
ad in the paper and I was just lucky when I found a place for myself
at the University of Toronto Library as a Library Assistant. I was trying
my best always and stayed there until my retirement (1964-1985). I have
to admit that I was happy there; work was not a burden to me as I loved
books all my life. I realized that I went there to work, not to read;
but even the closeness of their company was satisfying.
my retirement in 1985 I joined a creative writing group, where I am
a member. I try to be independent, but my familys help is still
am very grateful that I could see my family grow and my five dear grandchildren
who give me true happiness and enjoyment. This helps me through some
the meantime, our George was growing up and did his part of schooling.
He was always a good student and never gave us any trouble, neither
did Paul. They seemed to be happy, hopeful, and young.
my husband became seriously ill. Our doctor revealed the truth to me
and I had a very difficult time during his illness to face reality.
He had leukemia and I tried to keep the difficult situation in secret
because of our young sons. Those were five long or short years, until
his ailment deteriorated and in 1967, Jan. 14, we lost him. In the beginning
of his sickness he was still working. He was always very diligent and
was never sick before. This was a blow to us and a tragedy, a feeling
of helplessness. To watch someone so close to suffer and not be able
to help, except to make his condition easier. I went to work during
all this time and I have to comment on the understanding of all my colleagues,
who were supportive during these difficult times. I really appreciated
it very much.
my sons are very conscientious with exemplary characters at their work
and are devoted to their families. They are happily married and involved
in longstanding careers. They are also active in community events and
took us a while to get acquainted with the Canadian lifestyle and conquer
the language difficulties; but we did it! With one exception, that we
didnt have time to accumulate some wealth to ensure our security.
This is undeniably a big help always, but especially at retirement age.
In 1979 I made a big decision and remarried. Ernie Izso was not a stranger to us. In the early years to Toronto we were neighbours, when both families were still together. We lost touch for long years, but met again when unfortunately we were both alone already. We were still working and it seemed like a good idea. But our plans were cut short because after four years he suddenly passed away. With his death I lost a good friend and companion for my old age.