Travels and Changes

In October of 1987, equipped with our passports and visas and with two huge suitcases, Len and I flew from San Francisco to Vienna with one stopover in Hamburg, Germany. Arriving almost half a day late, we took a taxi to the Ost Bahnhof and had to find a room near-by to stay overnight. Our plan was to get on the train next morning to cross the Hungarian border for our destination of Sopron, and we sent a telegram to notify Rezso of the time of our arrival. We were looking forward to a good night's sleep after the long and tiring hours of our flight, but my mind was working like a windmill and kept me tossing and turning until the wee hours. When finally morning approached, I was ready to enter my homeland that I had left over 30 years ago.

When our train crossed the Hungarian border I was looking at my husband to read his feelings and emotions from his face, but it was completely blank. I got up from my seat to pull down the window and let the sweet Hungarian air dry up my tears. By the time the train pulled into the rail station in Sopron, I was just an American tourist. The familiar sight of two Russian soldiers with machine guns on the platform was alarming, but they only took us into Customs. Our documents were examined and suitcases were searched, but nothing was taken and we were not fined. We left the building by the backdoor where Rezso was waiting for me with a warm hug and expectation to meet his brother-in-law. He helped Len to load his car with our suitcases and he drove us to their apartment where Mami and Edit were waiting for us. Our emotions left us tongue-tied, but Len was talking to Rezso in English and I had to translate it. I was not very good at it at first, and also had a hard time to do so during the rest of our visit, many times answering Len in Hungarian, or talking to my folks in English, creating lots of laughs.

Rezso and Edit had a walk-up apartment on the fifth floor and Mami had moved in with them after she got home from visiting us. Unfortunately she could not manage the steep steps, and was not able to go down on her own. When there was a need for her to get down, Rezso had to carry her down, and then up again to the apartment. We decided to leave the suitcases in the car and climbed the steps up to the fifth floor to embrace Mami again and to meet Edit. I found Mami even more fragile and very pale having not able to go out to the fresh air. Edit was very cheerful and pretty, and she was a perfect hostess. They both took to Len instantly and I was much relieved.

Visiting Mami, Rezso and Edit in Sopron, October 1987.

Visiting Mami, Rezso and Edit in Sopron, October 1987.

After a delicious Hungarian meal Rezso took Len and me to our room in a Bed and Breakfast place he had reserved for us, about 2 miles from their apartment. On the following days Len and I walked twice a day to the apartment to see Mami in the morning, while Edit and Rezso was at work, and in the afternoon, when they got home from work and we all had dinner together. Some nights we went to town for a concert, or just to visit a wine cellar and always walked home in the middle of the night without any hold-up or disturbances. On the weekend Rezso drove the three of us to Koszeg, and up to the close-by lookout point. We stayed in Sopron for eight days, and one morning we took the train to Budapest to visit the family of Lajos. They were very happy to have us, and the whole family came together for a huge dinner in our honor. Mama treated Len as she would her son, and I was appreciative of their hospitality. We spent one night there and the next day we took the train to Piliscsaba, where we visited my Father's grave in the cemetery and my dear old friends (who were like second parents to me and Rezso while growing up) at Klotildliget.

Len with Mama, and Eva, Melinda, Kati, Mama, Ella and Ibolya with me in Budapest, October 1987.

With Rozsika Neni and Gyurka Bacsi in Klotildliget, October 1987.

However, time flew fast and we had to leave Mami, Rezso and Edit behind with the promise that we will come back in two years to see them again. We boarded the Hydrofoil boat on the Danube from Budapest to Vienna, where we got on a train for Rome to meet and visit Angela, who was a widow of my second cousin, Alessandro. Unfortunately the Italian railway workers were on strike, and our train was stopped at Venice, where we had to spend several hours until the connection was made to Rome.

Len and me in Venice, October 1987.

Len and me in Venice, October 1987.

We arrived at 9.30 PM, 12 hours late, and Angela was not waiting anymore. I was trying to call her up from a public phone booth, but speaking no Italian I never could figure out the Italian phone system. There was not much to do but take one of the several offers there for room and breakfast, and to follow a very strong Italian who was carrying both our suitcases. On the next morning he took us back to the rail station where we converted some dollars to Italian Lira to pay the man off, and were hopefully waiting for Angela. After few hours waiting I decided to take advantages of the loudspeaker system and had them page her. A few minutes later I saw her running toward us with a picture in her hand for recognition. After several hugs and loud explanations I tried to communicate with her in my broken German that she understood. She took us home to her spacious apartment and treated us with her excellent Italian meals. We stayed with her for four days and every day she took us sightseeing in Rome and into the Vatican. Italian is a very easy language and I learned very fast to communicate with her. Angela was very affectionate and appreciated our visit after the many years of corresponding. "You have to come back soon" she said at the Airport before we took off for home.

Len and me at the Vatican, October 1987.

Len and me at the Vatican, October 1987.

With Angela on the top of the Spanish Steps, Rome, October 1987.

With Angela on the top of the Spanish Steps, Rome, October 1987.

In 1987 after we came home from Europe, we celebrated Christmas with Louis, George and Tessie in our new home. We talked about our trip and I showed them the pictures mentioning that my sister-in-law, Ella was telling me that when Louis was visiting he promised her a trip to America. A few months later she was on her way and Louis was shouldering all her expenses. She was staying with him for a few weeks, and we invited her to our home. Len and I took her to San Francisco and stopped off at Marika and Les for an overnight stay. Before she left for Hungary, Louis flew with Ella to Texas to visit Judy and her family, and he drove her to Santa Barbara to meet George and Tessie. We think she had a good time with us, but it was kind of hard to tell.

In the mean time Len and I had the rude awakening that we overestimated our financial situation. For some unpredicted reasons the life up in the mountains was very costly, and there was not enough money left for our planned traveling. But we could not stay home for long, and in February we boarded the AMTRAK at St. Louis Obispo to go up to the Pacific Northwest to visit one of Len's relatives. The train ride was so much fun and I was greatly amazed by the pristine beauty of the forested mountains of Oregon; we went thru several tunnels that reminded me of the ride in the Italian Alps. Len and I decided to repeat the trip in May, but this time we drove our car and made several stops, gathering information of the relocating opportunities, and on the current real estate prices. By early summer we made the decision to move to Oregon, and to sell our "Vacation" Home. Before long, the home was listed with a realtor and in August we flew up to Eugene. To keep an appointment with an agent in Salem, we rented a car out and with great luck we found the property we were looking for, a manufactured home sitting in a five acres old-growth forest with abundant wildlife.

Our Enchanted Forest in Stayton, Oregon. August 1988.

Our Enchanted Forest in Stayton, Oregon. August 1988.

Just about the same time Louis' job was transferred to Reston, Virginia and he made his move there.A few months later he got an assignment for three months working in Germany. We got the good news from Tessie and George that they were expecting a baby in January. By the end of November everything was packed in boxes, and handed over to a moving company for transport. We took off to Oregon, and left our unsold house in the hands of the realtor. Len and I arrived in Stayton a good day before the mover's truck showed up, and slept on the floor again in the first night. Next day when it finally came the truck was unable to be driven close to the house because of the very large trees on our quarter of a mile driveway. Everything from the big truck had to be loaded into Len's small pickup truck and transported to the back door. This was the one moving I will always remember of the many more I had with Len.

Louis came back from Germany and came to Oregon to spend the Christmas with us. He brought Janie with him, a lovely girl whom he knew from work.

The beauty of the Season in Stayton, Oregon in January 1989.

The beauty of the Season in Stayton, Oregon in January 1989.

In early January Tessie and George became the proud parents of their little baby girl, Johanna. Len and I, without much hesitation, got into our car and took the 800 miles ride down to California for the happy occasion. It was just wonderful to hold a tiny little baby in my arms again. We barely got back to Oregon from our trip when a phone call came from our realtor that there was a prospective buyer for the house up in the Ranch; so in few weeks we were heading back again to sign the final papers on the sale. In March Len's sister, Blanche came for a visit from the State of New York and we took her all over exploring the wonders of Oregon. After she left it was time for me to make plans and arrangements for our next trip to Hungary.

By the first week of May 1989 our trip to Hungary was all arranged, but this time Len and I flew from Seattle to London first to visit my childhood friend and his family. The last time I had seen Laci in Klotildliget we were 9-10 years old playmates; however, through Rezso we started to correspond in the 1970s. I learned that he also left the country in 1956 and ended up in England, where he married an English girl and parented three children, all girls. He had sent me several pictures, but arriving in London I still had a hard time recognizing him after more than 40 years. Evidently he must have gotten the same ideas, because wisely enough he was holding up a cardboard with our name written on it. He took us to his home in Chinnor, Oxfordshire, and we met June and the three charming daughters. We spent three memorable days with this lovely family, enjoying their warm and cheerful hospitality.

Laci and family

Our childhood friends, Laci and his sister Marika in Hungarian costumes a few years before we met them; the second house was their home at Piliscsaba in the early 1940's. Followed by Laci with his wife June and daughters, Jolanda and Elizabeth at their Christmas dinner - Laci was the cook! Oxford, 2007.

With Len at Windsor and in London, England.

With Len at Windsor and in London, England.

With June and Laci on the Oxford Castle Mounds, May 1989.

With June and Laci on the Oxford Castle Mounds, May 1989.

From London we flew to Vienna and took the train again to Sopron. It was so nice to see Rezso and Edit, and holding Mami's bird-like little body in my arms again. Len and I stayed in a Bed and Breakfast place again, this time a bit closer to the apartment. I remember that even though it was in May, the harsh wind was blowing constantly down from the Austrian Alps, and we had to be all bundled up walking down the drafty streets. Rezso took us sightseeing again in his car, but I spent most of my time sitting with Mami in her room. She was showing me all her very old photographs and remembering the old times. She told me that I should take all the photos home with me, just like she wanted to tell me something. I told her I do not want to do so and they belonged to her, because I knew she spent a considerable time looking at them. On the next day she asked me to go to Klotildliget and look up one of her old friends, because she wanted to move in with her. She cannot stay in Sopron anymore - she explained - and Maris would take good care of her. I promised her that I will do it, so the next afternoon Len and I took the train to Budapest where we stayed overnight at a friend's house. My dear old friends all came together there honoring our reunion with a big dinner. I really appreciated seeing them all, but deep down my heart was aching with worry and dark thoughts about my assignment.

By the time Len and I got back to Sopron, Mami had been taken to the hospital by ambulance. We only had three more days left before our return home, and I visited her as much as they let me. On the last day she was a bit stronger and was sitting up in bed and we could hug each other very gently, for the last time.

After several weeks of staying in the hospital she was transferred to a sanatorium, where my dear Mother passed away on September 24 of 1989.

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  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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