Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Lanka Ilkow - October 12, 1991

Finding Family (continued)

You weren't married at this time.

No, no I was already widow. I didn't know my husband, nothing. With the Red Cross we couldn't find him, nothing. So he wrote to me, if I don't have nobody and So--and he, he knows that uh, they are both Jewish name Moisha. But he was Mark and the other was Morris. So he knows that Morris is not living and that uh, and that uh, if one God something bashert that we should meet after so many years and we have to get married. He wrote me right away. So he sent me a picture and he was so handsome in that picture. And the woman who I was living with, she says, "Yeah he looks a li...handsome, but he looks like he is very strict and a man just for himself." She said that, you know. And before that he was playing cards uh, you know, and one Danish girl, she took one palm and she was reading and she said, "A man from your past which once you loved very much will come over the oceans from very far and he will marry you." And she said, "You will have a miserable life with him and you will have four children." And all this she told me. At that time when I got the picture, it got to me, what she told me is right. Here he is and over the big waters he will come, I will bring him to Sweden. And I did bring him to Sweden and we had hardship, awful hardship because my husband is a very intelligent man. He is really made gymnasiums in Europe. And he's well educated. And he had a hard time. He had a big business and uh, he didn't want to just go to work. So in Sweden was free schooling and I ask him he should go to school. I say, "I will work and the state which they will help us, we can be on welfare. And uh, you go to school." He says, "I'm too old, I'm thirty-three, I don't want to go to school." So he didn't want to go to school. So then we come here, we had other hardship. He found here a cousin, a millionaire and he put him to work for ninety cents an hour and he was working very hard. So after awhile he looked like he would be in concentration camp, just come out, he looked horrible. And I was pregnant with my second daughter and I wanted go back to Sweden. Because those Sweden--the Gentile people they set me up an apartment, they give me furniture everything. And what do I have here? We come to our aunt, so I couldn't go to the Jewish welfare to ask for help because the aunt brought me here. So we stayed with her two weeks and we rent uh, rented an apartment. Hundred dollar under the table, we got apartment. Forty-four dollar a month--that time was cheap, but everything was cheaper. So uh, but we had no furniture. So we slept on the floor and we struggled and so on. And he went to work for the cousins. And uh, after uh, you know, he brought like sixty-five dollar. He worked overtime and he brought like sixty-five dollar. And I found out other people work by Ford and make hundred and fifty dollar and so. So I told my husband, "Go and look for a job." So I nudged him so long that he went to Abe Harris, hisHaHarr cousin and told him that I want to go look for a job. So he says, "You know what, go, take two days, I pay you and you go look." He was thinking he won't get a job because people was laid off. And he went all over--didn't get, went to Chrysler, didn't get. He got in Willow Run someplace they hired him by the planes, but it was too far. "How will you get there?" So I say, "Why don't you go to Ford?" "Well there are peoples laid off." He went to Ford and he got a job, he was hired. So right away he was making hundred dollar a week and so on and overtime he was working and he was hundred fifty. So he stayed there for thirty years, never changed. And uh, he was laid off. Once we bought a house and he was laid off at eighteen months and we were struggling 'cause I will lose the house. I took in borders in every room. We slept in the basement, just to keep the house. And this was hardest thing in my life that I did, to take strangers in my house you know, and rush and cook and wash and work and do and... No privacy, one toilet you know, one bathroom. No privacy whatsoever. And I cried, I say to my husband, "I don't know what--I just can't take it anymore." So one day I threw out two guys you know, two brothers. They was fighting all the time and I threw 'em out. I say, "That's it." He says, "What will be--why did you do that?" I say, "I need the room in my bedroom and I need this for the girls and whatever will be." But he was peddling with eggs and bread and, and bagel. And he made sometime like twenty dollars a day, sometime more you know, peddling. Couldn't go to those people everyday, but once a week they all bought from him. He's ??? Jewish houses, they still remember him. Then finally the last border I couldn't stand it already. My--he was very educated in uh, Yiddish and my husband is too. So all they discussed all--is the Bible. Always. It was spinning in my head already. So one day I say, "Eugene, you have to leave. I can't take it anymore and you have to leave. And I just chased him out. My husband come home, he say, "Why did, why did you do that? Why?" I say, "I'm going to work and I want to have the house for myself."

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