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Heart’s Desire

My Father’s Side of the Family Around 1918

My Father’s Side of the Family Around 1918

When I visited my brother a week and a half ago, he brought out two boxes of old pictures and papers relating to my past—except it was his past, too. From left to right, the pictures are of:

  • My Uncle Emil (twin of Alex)
  • “Mama” or my paternal grandmother Margit
  • Margitka, my Aunt Margit
  • Stará (Old) M., clearly a member of the family, possibly the same as my Father’s kindly Aunt Valera
  • My Father, various called Ellek, Elek, or Alex (twin of Emil)

Shortly after this picture was taken, Grandma Margit and her husband Emil Sr. abandoned their children in Prešov-Solivar while they went off to the United States. Little Emil, Elek, and Margitka were cared for by Valera. My father tells me stories of picking mushrooms in the Tatra Mountains and hunting for frog legs to feed his brother, sister, and aunt. All three children made it to Cleveland some ten years later.

As a result of fending for himself in the mountains of Slovakia during the postwar famine, my father always had an insatiable craving for meat. When he came to America, he and his brother indulged in that craving—and that’s what killed them. Sometimes it’s best NOT to have your heart’s desire.

I visited Czechoslovakia with my parents in 1977 and met Valera. She was the only Slovak in the family who could still speak Hungarian, so I was able to communicate with her. I would like to think she was the pleasant looking Stará M. in the above photo.


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