Our New Life

Even these days I still feel a tremendous sorrow for my broken marriage and lost love. But back then all I could feel was a very strong force to save my children, and provide them with a decent life. I knew my husband needed help, but I could not give it to him. I did not tell anybody a word about my tragic decision, but I just knew somehow I would find the way to do it. One day one of our friends came to visit and brought along a very sympathetic Hungarian couple. Maria and Kari were some years older then us and I felt very comfortable with them. Their two children were just about Louis and Judy's age, because this was Kari's second marriage. They left Hungary the same way we did, however it was much harder for them with their two young children. I invited them to come and visit again to get to know each other better. Next time they came Judy and Louis were at school, and I was home alone with little George. I took a deep breath and confided in them our sad and hopeless situation. I also told them about my intention to file for a divorce. They felt very sorry for me, but never expressed a doubt for my planned actions. They were understanding and offered their sincere help. Kari is gone of some years to his well-deserved rest, but after more than 40 years, Maria is still my closest friend.

A few days later they took me to an attorney and I filed for the divorce. On one morning Lajos was served with the papers, and I was very sorry that this had to happen like that. After Lajos left for work, I realized that we could not stay here for the time being, and called Maria. I packed a small bag with the few necessary clothes and some of our documents. Kari and Maria came to take us to their home, and we stayed there for the next few weeks. I put through a phone call to my lawyer, and after a week the Court issued a Restriction Order for Lajos to vacate the house. The date also was set for my first hearing.

There was not much to do but call Mady and tell her where we are at and why. I do not think that she was shocked, but mildly surprised and expressed her intention to help. In a few days, she came and met Maria and Kari. Kari had to go and get her, and very discreetly she gave some money to him for our food. The children had coped very well and had a good time playing with Katie and Tom, my friends children. Kari was teaching me to drive with his 1949 Lincoln with the overdrive. I was very grateful, but that old car handled just like a tank, and we knew I would never pass my driving test with it. Kari found an ad for a used Edsel, and with Mady's help again, I bought it for a very cheap price. Unfortunately, the car was a lemon, but served its purpose to learn and pass my driving test, quite aggravatingly, on the third attempt. Lajos had moved out from the house and we moved back home. It was time for us, because Kari had to drive Louis and Judy back and forth to school while we were staying at heir house. I took up my embroidery and ironing work again, and phoned my friends with the bad news. I was not surprised that some of them questioned the rightness of my action.

With Maria and Kari's children at their home in Arcadia, CA. in February 1966.

With Maria and Kari's children at their home in Arcadia, CA. in February 1966. Mady took this picture.

The first hearing at the Court was held in February 1966. An attorney represented Lajos, he did not bother to show up. Maria and Kari came with us to the Courthouse, and they waited outside with the children in the lobby. The Judge awarded the children with some child support paid weekly by their Dad and also alimony for the wife. No arbitrary meeting was called for. The final hearing was set for a year later. The year went by fast, and neither child support, nor alimony was paid. I think by then Louis and Judy must have understood that their Dad was not coming back. We visited some of our friends, but we spent the most time with Maria's family. After the school was out we even managed to take the children to Disneyland. In July Kari and the family were driving up to Northern California, and offered us a ride to the Bay Area to visit Marika and Laci. I was looking forward of seeing my old friends, the only problem was that the three adults and four children would not all fit in Kari's car. I had to leave little Judy behind with her Godmother and family for a week. We had a wonderful visit, but Kari and Maria could not pick us up on the way home, because their car broke down; the axel gave out, and took several days to have it fixed. I had no money for the return flight, but Marika and Laci generously bought our tickets to fly home. We could not have stayed any longer, because little Judy had to be picked up from her Godmother's.

Marika, Laci and daughter Agi with Louis and me at the other side of Golden Gate bridge in July 1966, with San Francisco in the background.

Marika, Laci and daughter Agi with Louis and me at the other side of Golden Gate bridge in July 1966, with San Francisco in the background.

Christmas that year was somewhat plain, but we still had a Christmas tree in our living room. In 1967 February the divorce got finalized, and the house was awarded to the children, and Lajos kept his car. And, of course, I got the children. Lajos did not show up again, and had not made any payments on his duties. Maria and Kari sold their home and moved 60 miles west to Camarillo, a small town among avocado and citrus orchards. Kari had retired on disability and his health required a cleaner air environment. During that time I was busy fixing up our house, because I had decided to sell it. Didn't take too long to get a buyer and we were ready to move out. Then I got rid of the Edsel and bought a used 1964 Chevrolet, a very dependable vehicle. I put the children into the car and drove down to Camarillo looking for a house to buy. We all needed a change in a peaceful small town environment to prosper. With my friends already living there, I had no problem to find a three bedrooms and two baths house with a lovely garden. What was left from the equity of the old house after I bought my car was put into the down payment for the new house. I had even some money left for our living expenses until I could find a job. We moved to Camarillo on Labor Day's weekend and George started Kindergarten right after that. However, finding a job was not that easy for me. I had no American qualifications, my English still was not fluent, and I had three young children at home. After I was turned down few times, I decided to look for house cleaning jobs. The local papers were full with want ads, and pretty soon I was working 4-6 hours daily while my children were at school.

The Wikipedia entry for Camarillo.

Doing that kind of work gave me the chance to meet a few very nice people, among them a lovely older couple, who were later on to became my mentor, and friends. They kindly understood my situation and were telling me about the different opportunities that I might take to better myself. First of all I had to take a GED test to make up for my missing high school diploma. The test from the different subjects was given at Ventura in a High School, and lasted for 3 days. My next step was to enroll in a business course at the College, thru the State Employment Office with their financial help. This was a necessity, because I had to drop a few of my cleaning jobs to make time for the school. On Saturdays, I was still doing house cleaning for my mentor and their neighbor, also a very nice older couple. I was also applying for my Citizenship and had to study American Government and History. After I had finished the business course I got a clerical job with a Management Company in Ventura. The owner of the company let me work only 6 hours a day, that way I was home from work by the time the kids came back from school. It was at this time that the local news paper took an interest in me and came to the house to do an interview and took some pictures of us.

Here I am studying hard at Ventura College, CA. in 1969 and the picture from the Camarillo Daily News which shows me reading my escape diary to my children.

The children progressed well in school, and made lots of good friends. They never gave me any hardship or any problems and I considered myself very lucky to have them.

George, Louis and Judy with Fluffy in our backyard at Camarillo, 1969 and the Children with me at the front of our home in Camarillo, December, 1970.

George, Louis and Judy with Fluffy in our backyard at Camarillo, 1969 and the Children with me at the front of our home in Camarillo, December, 1970.

From home came the sad news that my beloved Aunt, Keresztem has passed away. She just followed Keresztapuka, whom she had nursed faithfully until his last breath of life. My Mother moved in 1971 to Sopron from Klotildliget to be close to Rezso and Family, where they had relocated before Editke was born. My Mother had had a bad accident in Klotildliget some years before, slipped on the icy steps and broke her thigh bone connecting to her hips. She was walking with two canes since the accident and had aged considerably.

Keresztem and Keresztapuka on their balcony looking over Ferenc Blvd. Budapest. Picture was taken in the 1960s.

Keresztem and Keresztapuka on their balcony looking over Ferenc Blvd. Budapest. Picture was taken in the 1960s.

Mami (my Mother) with Editke and little Rezso, my Brother's children in Sopron

Mami (my Mother) with Editke and little Rezso, my Brother's children in Sopron in the early 1970's..

During that time Lajos had started to pay the weekly child support thru the Court Trustee. He took up his visiting rights and once a month or so came up from San Gabriel for the day to see the children. Usually that happened on Sundays, and he was taking them out to the school yard to play ball. Sometimes he took them out to dinner and I went along for the children's sake. We never talked about what had happened in the past, it was better to leave it alone for all concerned. One summer the kids went with their Dad to Carlsbad, San Diego County, for a few days of vacation. In the following years, he came for some of the Christmas holidays with presents for the children who also gave few presents to him.

Louis, Judy and George with their Dad at Camarillo in 1974, Christmas.

Louis, Judy and George with their Dad at Camarillo in 1974, Christmas.

In 1971 the Management Company where I worked was relocated to Santa Barbara and I had to quit my job. It was very unfortunate, but life had to go on and I reverted again to my house cleaning jobs. On the urge of my mentor I prepared my job applications and applied for different Government jobs, mainly for the security and good benefits offered. In a few weeks I got two offers, and I chose the temporary secretarial position at the close-by Navy Base. With my background, I was having problems to adapt to the new, very different ways of the Navy conducting their correspondence and had to learn everything from the Manuals and Directives. After my temporary status expired, and as soon as an opening was available, I transferred to the Accounting Department, where I started my gradual, upward career as an accountant.

One day in April of 1975 two policemen came to our door with the very sad news that Lajos was dead. He had collapsed at work and died in the ambulance, a few days before his 50th birthday. He came visiting on the weekend before, and took the kids out to play ball, as usual. When they came back, Judy was telling me that Dad couldn't throw the ball, because his arm was hurting. I got alarmed, because his family had a history of heart related problems. I urged him to go to a specialist and have it checked out. Obviously, he didn't do it. It was very sad that his life ended up like this, but he could not control the sickness of his gambling; he was betting on the horses up to the last day of his life. His ashes were scattered in the Rosa Garden at the Odd Fellows Cemetery in Los Angeles.

As for my own sentiment, I can best describe it with this old poem by author Veronica A. Shofftstall that I found in a news paper over 30 years ago.

Veronica A Shofftstall's poem and me

Veronica A Shofftstall's 1971 poem and me.

  1. Home Page
  2. My Parents and our Family
  3. The Lean Years after World War II
  4. The Turning Point and Escape
  5. My new Family in a new Country
  6. Our New Life
  7. Visits and Achievements
  8. My Second Marriage
  9. Travels and Changes
  10. The Golden Years
  11. Reflections

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