Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Esther Feldman Icikson - October 23 & 29, November 5 & 12, 2001

Memories of Kyrgyzstan

Did anything in particular happen while you were there that stands out in your memory? Good, bad.

You know, when we were in, in Srednia Asia, in, in Central Asia um, after '43, '43 was a terrible year. Everybody was very hungry, I mean, there was nothing to be had to eat. After that things got a little better. My daddy had a job and uh, um, he befriended the people that he worked with uh, or he taught. They were very kind, they would bring sour pickles. You see, these people, they had food because they lived there the, the uh, Russians and the Kyrgyz. Um, they had farms uh, they had fields, they would grow their own vegetables, they had fruits, they had uh, a cow--everybody had almost a cow or some chickens, so they had what to eat. So once they befriended my dad, they would always bring something you know, whether it was sour pickles or, or sour kraut or um, a few eggs and daddy worked so there was a little money so we could go to the market and buy something. So things started to be a little better. And we ourselves, they gave us a parcel of land and we planted corn. Now that's a very special thing. Um, we planted corn and uh, in...

Who we?

My mom and us kids. Everybody worked. There's no such thing, no matter how little you are, you work.


By then my brother was born and he might have been maybe oh, maybe a year old at the time, maybe a little less. Um, my mom uh, we all went to the field to plant corn. No that, the corn was grown. But we planted corn and um, there was no rain there in the summer, very little. And if you want your corn to grow you need to water it. So, water comes from the mountains there.

In stream.

In stream, And you walk up to a stream and you make a tiny little ravine, like, and you lead the water to your field and you can walk like, for a good couple of miles until this water comes to your own cornfield. And then you try to dispense it between all the corn.

So you block it off and irrigate.

You irrigate it this way, but you have to pull it out of the main source of water from the river, like. And you, you lead it into your field. And it's quite a job you know, because you know, can walk for, for quite a, a way until you lead it into your particular field. And then--that's how we irrigated corn. And you, you make little uh, like, ravines in between the corn lines and the water goes in from one line to the other, one line to the other until you water your whole field. It's quite a job, so everybody helps. My older brother, my sister--I was a little girl, we all did that. And the corn grew a whole summer long. It was pretty tall. One time we went to the cornfield, we took my baby brother. And my mom set him down on the ground while we were doing all that work, mind you. And suddenly we came and my brother wasn't there. A kid. He crawled away. Well, let me tell you, by the time we found him in that field of corn. We were pretty scared. We never again did it that way. The next time we went to the cornfield we, one of us always watched him. But he gave us a scare. Oh, today we couldn't lose him, he's six four. But that was so funny, you know. At that time it was very scary. You know, you leave a baby in one spot and now suddenly you come. But he, he knew how to crawl. I think he was maybe eight--nine months old. And he knew already how to crawl. So he just crawled away. Um, we grew that corn and so we had corn for the winter, you see.

Did you sell it?

Oh no, we ate it ourselves. When it's very young you eat it raw off the corn stalk. Very sweet. When it's a little older, you cook it. And you know, when you have very little, you eat it a certain way. You don't just bite into it and that's it, you see. You take one row at a time, that's how I ate it. One row at a time and you take one corn at, in your mouth at a time so it lasts a long time. So it's a certain way to eat that corn. It's a special way to eat it. It tastes very good. Um, later on we would dry and make popcorn on a frying pan.

You still eat corn that way?

Um, when I have fresh corn, yes. I love to pick one seed at a time and put it in my mouth. It tastes delicious. I have plenty of it now, but it's very special when I can eat it this way. Needless to say, I love popcorn. I love popcorn. But we made popcorn in those days, it, it was very good. And it's healthy, you see. Popcorn-- pop. Corn is good for you actually.

© Board of Regents University of Michigan-Dearborn