Translated by Diana Lambing
From the Bogarosch
HOG website - Published at DVHH.org 2003 by Jody
father was a tailor by trade and was born in
Bogarosch on 11th October 1896. My mother was a
housewife and was born in Temeswar on 21st
My mother did not know her father as he died in
an accident three weeks before she was born.
Later, her mother got to know a widower who had
two sons living in America. They got on well and
corresponded with each other. The sons always
wrote how well they were doing, so much so that
they offered to help my parents get to
they so wished. My parents gladly accepted this
offer for they would not have been able to do it
by themselves as they were poor and could not
hope for any financial support from their
parents. They kept thinking about how they would
be able to earn more money, too. Now everything
was arranged and within a short time they were
able to begin the journey to the land of
opportunity. I was to stay behind with my
grandparents as my parents had only envisaged
staying for a short time to earn some money and
then return home. But my uncle wrote that we
shouldn’t do it like that. It was possible, yes,
but why shouldn’t their own child benefit, too?
They should think long and hard about it as
without their child they might as well forget
the whole idea. I was told later that they did
think things over and finally decided to take me
with them. It was fine by my grandmother, too,
for I would have been a big responsibility for
Now we were all agreed and on 23rd July 1923 we
traveled to Hamburg where all three of us set
sail for New York. The journey lasted three
weeks. I was the bravest and was never seasick.
My mother was very ill but father got through
the journey quite well. When we arrived in New
York we were met by my uncle but it was some
time before we were let out of the passengers’
Now our life in the New World was about to
begin. We traveled to Philadelphia where my
uncle and his family lived. We, too, settled
there - Philadelphia became our new home. We
lived with my uncle for a while and then looked
for an apartment. We found one and our relatives
equipped us with the most necessary items.
Battle began; first of all the apartment had to
be cleaned. Then mother and father had to look
for work. My father had an elderly aunt who
looked after me whilst my parents were at work.
Father found a job as a bricklayer and mother
was employed in a garment factory. It was
difficult for them as they didn’t speak English
but some of the workers spoke German. It wasn’t
easy for my parents but within a short time
everything ran smoothly. So many things had to
be bought with the first wage - beginning from
scratch in a foreign country is no piece of
cake!. It was a good feeling to receive a (very
necessary) weekly wage. Right from the beginning
the money was divided and a little put by as
First of all we had to buy some clothes so we
would fit in with the people there. My aunt
worked as a housekeeper for a rich family who
took pity on us and helped support us.
I was placed in a Catholic kindergarten where I
would also later attend school. It was a convent
and we were taught by nuns. The school was
called ‘Sacred Heart Hungarian Catholic School’.
The priest, Stephan Mihalik, and the nuns, too,
were of Hungarian descent. Lessons were in
English. I soon found my way around the English
language and everything went smoothly until I
started school. I was called ‘Helen’ by the
nuns. I did well at school and was liked by the
It was just as well that my uncle insisted on
bringing me to America as my grandmother, with whom I
should have stayed, died two years later. That
would have been a big problem for my parents.
In spite of everything, life carried on. My
parents had meanwhile changed jobs; father had
passed his driving test and got a job in a
furniture store. He drove around the whole of
Philadelphia in a big van with a driver’s mate,
he did well with the language and soon knew his
way around the town better than his mate, who
had been born there! He earned good money, which
was a big advantage for us. Mother now worked in
a knitwear factory and we took in two boarders
whom mother looked after. It was a lot of work
for her but we needed the money. Then father
bought a car for us and we could get out and
about more. We were quite content, but this
feeling was not to last for much longer.
Father grew ill; he had major kidney problems.
One was removed. He was dead set against having
such a big operation but when it became a matter
of life and death he had no choice. He was no
longer able to do the furniture deliveries in
the big van, the work was too heavy for him.
Then he grew homesick. It began to make life
difficult; mother fought against it - she didn’t
want to go back. As an only child, she had no
relatives left in Europe and her relatives in
the USA tried to talk her out of going back.
Father was given a small vehicle by his bosses
(Dave and Sam Schumann) so he could deliver
smaller items around town. The bosses had summer
homes in Atlantic City and he chauffeured their
families back and forth. Mother and I were often
able to go along, too. We got on well with them
all and we were always made welcome. Father was
given a key to the large furniture store and
carried out light duties; he had to keep the
store tidy and serve early customers.
But the feeling of homesickness would not leave
him; he turned a deaf ear to relatives who tried
to persuade him to stay. A house with fields had
already been bought for us in Bogarosch.
Grandfather had bought it all with the money we
had sent him. I had completed the 8th class and
had admittance to a higher school. I would have
loved to have done further education - I was
interested in Art. I went to school for one more
year until it was time to leave. I was only 15
and now had to go back to the old Heimat. In
August 1934 we sailed back to Hamburg; this
time, the journey across the ocean only took one
Back in Bogarosch again we began to set up our
new home. Father began to work the fields, which
was not easy for him as he had never done this
sort of work before.
In August 1936, when I was 17 years old, I
married my husband, Nikolaus, who was then 22.
And so the American Dream, as had been dreamed
by so many people, came to an end.
06 Aug 2019