As a young child, I was into the domestic things that were available so it was fine. I didn’t feel deprived. But in the later years, in seventh, eighth grade, I was getting into bands from abroad and different styles of rock music and whatnot, and that was not available at all. We had to go Poland and buy bootlegged tapes and that sort of thing.
Restaurant/hotel industry Tag
There were a lot of Czechs, a lot of Slovaks, a lot of Romanians. The camp wasn’t too bad. We were one of the luckier ones – we had a small cottage. They even had hot showers there. A lot of other people weren’t as lucky. They slept in a tent and had to use public showers which they had there. The food was horrible, I mean horrible.
I really didn’t want to leave because I had a good life there, I like Slovakia. Just my friends [were] bugging me ‘Let’s go, let’s go, let’s go to America or Australia!’ We decided the year before the Russian occupation came to the country, and we left a year later, ’69 – ’69, September we left from Slovakia
When I was a kid I liked to cook. We had a garden and, on my own, I went, pulled out some vegetables, some fruit and I was making soup, and he [George’s father] said ‘My god, you cannot eat that. It’ll spoil your stomach!’ What can ten year old kids cook if you don’t have any experience? So then my mother said ‘Ok, I will take care of it.’ And she was dictating some recipes to me. I remember the first one – potato soup.
I have very fresh memories of walking by a grocery store or pharmacy and seeing empty shelves, or seeing a line of people waiting outside. The practice was that, if you saw a line in front of a pharmacy, you immediately went and stood in the line because something arrived that was never available, and it was the bizarre stuff you’d expect.
I was so hungry at supper, because I didn’t have no money or nothing, that I went to a local orchard where there were cherry trees. And I stuffed myself with cherries one day. And I went the second night… and until the owner caught me. The owner was threatening me that he would go to the police. So I was kind of crying to him and said ‘I’m a refugee, I’m hungry, I have nothing, please don’t take me to the police, I will pay you for what I ate from my first pay check,’ which I did.
He was an avid mushroom picker. He had an eye that would see every mushroom everywhere in the forest, and while he was walking around picking the mushrooms, he started a new hobby. He started picking up pieces of branches of wood and carved them into shapes of animals, like snakes, birds, etc. And that became his sort of profession in his retirement.