Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Lanka Ilkow - October 12, 1991

Psychological Effects of Holocaust

Can I ask you a question? Do you think that um, this need for privacy, that this--you said that people were everywhere and you had one toilet...


may have something to do with your experience during the war?

Yeah, yeah.


Because we didn't had privacy there. Never privacy. Here I bought a house--first I rented a house from a German fellow and he give us a break. He says, "I have nothing to do what happened in Germany." So he--but then he sold the house and we had to go. So uh, we had four thousand dollars saved up and we bought uh, reached the mortgage. We couldn't buy in Oak Park because uh, he--my husband wasn't qualified just for twelve thousand. And we didn't have to put down. It was seventeen thousand the houses that time, so. I wanted in Oak Park, but I couldn't. So we bought it Evergreen and Seven Mile area there in Plainview and there was the shul on the corner. So I started to go there to the shul, you know. And I always--and I started to work for caterers. Blum and all over, name it, I worked for them. Then one for guy Larry Horowitz, I worked. He was nice guy, but he, he went bankrupt. He owed me--my daughter had a big surgery of the hip, the youngest daughter. And I--and the cook left him, so uh, he was going to the hospital, Children's Hospital to pick me up all time I should come and I should work for him. And I was going to school before uh, and learned how to decorate cakes. I got the interest to decorate cakes because in Sweden I was learning how to decorate foods. But here you have no need in America. Make a sandwich and you eat. But in Sweden, you make open face sandwich and you decorate so beautiful that uh, and they cut with a knife and eat like it would be a big steak. And they are laughing Americans are coming, folding together and uh, eat it up. So they used to say, thi...this Americana one. This American people. That's American eating. 'Cause I didn't believe 'em 'til I come to America really. So uh, anyway uh, I went and I learned how to decorate school and I win a scholarship you know, and uh, to Snieder's Decorating School. But I was going three months, you know. He was working nights, my husband and I couldn't afford a babysitters. So my neighbor was sitting for me and So--and I bought her something all the time. And I bought a book for fifteen dollar, never needed it. And that book you know, the cakes uh, to see how to decorate. And, because once you know how to decorate you don't need a book. You just make wherever it is. So when--so I didn't lea...learn the, put sugar and so that how to make, but decorate it. And I worked for a guy uh, a gent...uh, he was Jewish but he was a convert to Catholocism--uh, on ??? Street. It was a restaurant. All the Jews was going there and he making bar mitzvahs and he was laughing from the Jews. He says, they come here--in Hungarian he told me, "they--the Jews are coming in evening, pork and dancing the hora." He was right, it was crazy. So uh, he couldn't--he was shivering, he couldn't decorate already so--and I was going to school so he let me do it. So I had a practice. And he make gorgeous cakes and very delicious the cakes. So anyway he uh, taught me a lot, that guy in the business.

Let me interrupt for a second. I want to take you back again to this idea that uh, maybe some of your experiences in Auschwitz may have affected your, your life here.

Yeah, very much so.

???. What, what kinds of things--you were in Auschwitz for six months, right?

Yeah. Yeah.

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