Actually, it was scary, I tell you! That was one place I was sort of afraid because I hadn’t expected this, there were many people detained at Ellis Island, and we were separated – there were women in one section, men in another section, and they did have to take him to a hospital, I believe, or a doctor, and have a new X-ray done and have him proclaimed clear of any illness.
He had really good ideas, and those ideas which I heard, which he told me, I liked them, because I felt yeah, everybody should… there shouldn’t be hungry people, there shouldn’t be poor people, everybody should have a little piece of something, everybody should have free school, free health program. And that’s what communists promised. So that’s how he believed it.
At first I was frightened; I was overwhelmed because it was just too much. The skyscrapers, the people, the noise. At the same time, it was wonderful, but I was scared. I remember I was staying at some Czech’s apartment in the Upper West Side and I decided I had to go to the Metropolitan Museum [of Art]. I went to through the park [Central Park] and I got to the museum and I thought ‘I wasn’t killed, thank God.’
At night we went on duty. And there was a little hill, and down at the bottom there was a creek and a flour mill. And so I says ‘You know, you guys, I want to go down and see if there is somebody, if I can catch somebody, down by the mill.’ So I went back there, nobody followed me, nobody looked where I was going.
We talked about communism, even during communism. You know, in groups you talked, sometimes alcohol was involved, and then you started to talk, you know. People did talk. Sometimes you were unlucky and somebody maybe turned you in, you know? But this did not happen too much, it did not happen too much.
There was no rabbi or synagogue to really practice the religion. My parents were Holocaust survivors. They didn’t go to any concentration camp, but they survived in hiding and they were afraid to practice, but we always knew from people that we are Jews because kids in school made fun of us and even the teacher would not favor us, knowing that we were Jewish.
“I think I was mostly inconvenienced, being a teenager, by the restrictions on our lives – social lives – and curfews at night. I tried to go to ballet school and I couldn’t go because you had to be home before dark. Everything was all closed up without lights, because they worried about the Allied planes going over and bombing.”