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What is your earliest and/ or most vivid memory?
I don't remember leaving the Hungarian refugee camp in Austria, but I can recall vividly arriving in Belgium, November 26 -1957.
Three weeks before my fourth birthday, on a train bound for Eupen in Belgium; "Zsuzsyka wake-up...we're almost there...the train will be pulling in to the station in a few minutes...we're almost in Eupen...we have to get your shoes on...come on". Mom kept trying to wake me. " I want to sleep more, I'm tired" I whined from my soft and warm cocoon, under my Dads fox-fur-lined coat (brought from Hungary). I gradually surfaced to the hustled rigmarole of packing happening around me in our compartment.
We were the only ones who had gotten off the train in Eupen. It was the middle of the night. Mom, Dad and I just seemed to be standing in limbo for a minute or two as we watched the train pull out of the station, on its huffy-puffy way. The lone trains-depot attendant was locking up the terminal.
We needed to cross the tracks. I don't know, how it was that Dad knew this. It was dark and wet out, not really raining just a cold foggy mist hanging onto everything. Not the Frankenstein spooky fog just the chilly damp kind. The air smelled funny. (We were to find out later, not far from our arrival point was the world famous chocolate factory 'Trois Jacques',and the chocolate fumes always permeated the town especially in misty-foggy weather).
With total oblivion, of the child that I was, to anything other than my own creature comforts I whined -"Daddy I'm tired, Daddy...carry me". Both Mom and Dad were loaded down with all of our worldly possessions. Dad had a big duffel bag slung over his shoulder, and a suitcase in each hand. Mom was holding my hand a little tight - she must have been nervous. She too had a bag slung over her shoulder and clutched our food hamper in the other hand. I was cuddling my 'Janczy Baba'. My greatest treasure, one of the first dolls made of couchouk (molded rubber) . (I still have her).
One little foot in front of the other, on and on...my short little legs felt as if they were getting heavier and they just didn't want to keep on moving anymore... Mom kept on talking to me, kept encouraging me, "Zsuzsyka-not too far now, soon we'll be at Aunt Ilonas. Tomorrow you'll be able to play with your cousins. Won't that be fun?"
Eupen was built on and around a ridge. The train terminal was uptown, 'Oberstadt' but my aunt and uncles address was in the 'Unterstadt' downtown. Two or so blocks away from the train-station we came to the steepest (San Francisco steep) road. The street lights reflected off the mist-wet 'Edel strasse' and made it look icy and slippery. One little foot in front of the other, on and on..."Zsuzsy look that's the street, number 47...49...51 we're here we made it..." Mom let go of my hand and just started to push open the gate when the house door opened and my tall...tall Uncle Pista came rushing out followed by Aunt ILona and Aunt Rosalie. Excitedly I was picked up and hugged. Talk...talk...talk...
The next memory I have is waking up to hushed complains "How long is she going to sleep? We've been up for ages...what a sleepy baby..." When I finally opened my eyes, I noticed I was curled up in the most 'comfy' bed. It was made up out of two great big dark green living-room chairs pushed together and my cousins Icuka, Pisti and Zoli crowded over the backs of the chairs "...finally you're awake...".
My memories to this particular event are so very clear. The walk in the middle of the night, that forlorn feeling that I felt when the train-station was being locked up, the damp cold. Even now fifty plus years later the smell of warm chocolate will trigger those uncomfortable uncertainties of that long ago night... and till this day I do not really care for chocolate.
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