Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Lanka Ilkow - October 12, 1991

Talking about Food


Talked about food.

Ta...food. And you felt like you're eating it. You wouldn't believe it, but ooohh. You shiver and you feel you eating that food. And today I have to diet and I te...tell myself many times, why do I have to diet? I was so hungry and now I have, why should I diet? But I have a heart problem, so I can't afford to eat and be fat and I don't want to be fat. I was very fat. I had a business, catering. After I worked by all these people. And Larry Horowitz owed me seven hundred dollars and the shul was there built already on Seven Mile I went there and I ask him if I could use the kitchen there. Because that time was no caterers in the shuls, everybody could go to any shul. So I started cooking there and so and they let me. And uh, I worked very hard myself and I had non-union waitresses. And like Horowitz, the caterer let them be where he is, poor guy. He sent to, to--they should uh, you know, the union should come and uh, walk around and for, picketing. But uh, it didn't hurt me that they was there. Because I had for half money, the union waitresses wouldn't touch the food nothing, didn't help you. This--non-union waitresses came in and they did everything for me. Put the food on--and the salad they helped me to put on. They helped me. So why should I take union waitresses? So I wasn't a big caterer they should picket me all the time. Well--I--so let 'em picket. Uh, my customers came anyway, so what do I care? And uh, so I worked very hard and I begged my husband that he should go with me in the business because it was good money in it. But he never wanted. He didn't want to leave the factory. And after he retired...So he say he don't want to do nothing. So I think to myself, okay, you want to sit home, I am sitting home too. That's it, I don't work anymore. But the shul moved. And they wanted to give me the shul there out you know, in Bet Abraham. We belonged for twenty-seven years there and I did for that shul, all I got is a Bible and I show you. In Auschwitz, what they did with me. Uh, ??? Rabbi Schnipper and he come and he was with me and that's what I got for a present when they uh, uh, make them a testimonial dinner and, uh...

That's a gold embossed Bible.

Yeah. And I uh, you know, did for them everything for nothing. For three hundred people I prepared food and didn't charge 'em nothing, you know. So uh, and then when they moved, there was another caterer and he wanted that I should join him, but he wanted fifty thousand dollars and I was lucky I didn't give him because all I would have had a job by him and he would be the boss and he would have taken all the money and I would have lost everything. So I didn't want to join him. And I was doing like from the house you know, in the houses--the parties. I just start not uh, long ago doing that, you know. So I had a neighbor here, a Jewish and he sent to the health department in my house. So they come in and the house is clean, so he says "Can I see your business?" I didn't have to take him down and show him. At that time was uh, I wasn't doing nothing. So I took him down in the basement and I have big grinders, I got rid of 'em already and freezers and so I show him my license, I say "Well I have those things for my business and I'm not doing nothing." I say, but he's talking--he's on dope. So he thinks that I uh, reported him. He was on dope. So he was growing do...dope all, all over. So the third house from me was a detective and he come to pick up his little boy, he was playing here with my grandson and he saw it so he broke off a piece and then the police came and took it. And they ask me and I say, "I don't know. I started to grow it myself, I broke off and I put it and start to root." I say, "I thought it a plant," I told the police, I say, "It's a plant." They say "No, this is, uh..."


he say, pull it out because you can't grow it. But they knew that I don't know. So uh, in uh, the shul I was very disappointed, you know. Be...it was in that shul, I give 'em everything. The nations, the roof was leaking, I give 'em money everything. And then my daughter got divorced and she could not afford to buy a ticket and I had her in. She never came to shul. She had--I picked up her ticket every year and I had an empty seat next to me, because she never came. I just--if, if my daughter belonged with her husband to Sharey Zedek so she come visit me, so she had a seat next to me. That time she was using the seat because uh, so they wrote me a very nasty letter, I will show it to you, from the shul that... And they put on my charge three hundred and fifteen dollars for my daughter's seat. So I say "No, you won't get it. I worked for you, the seat was paid," I said, "by my aunt." I didn't do nothing. "It's not allowed to transfer." I say, "I know, but this is my daughter and I did so much for the shul, I deserve that from you." And my husband was already going about eight years to Sharey Zedek and they liked him very much. And he showed them the, the letter. And they say, "Martin, this is very nasty. You come here and belong here." And we pay less by Sharey Zedek we paid there. They, in Sharey Zedek they don't ask you for donations. If you want to you give, if you don't to, don't give. Nobody's twisting your arm. Never-- they ask you for nothing there. So, it's a place for me. They don't ask me for money, I give wherever I want to give. Like, we have Yizkor we give there. Some rich people I never say their name inside.

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