Thursday, March 31, 2011


My brother and I are sitting at the dining room table. Grandma is in the house. Brother finishes whatever he is doing and decides to run off as usual to be with his friends. First he runs down the flight of stairs, out the door located in the front of the house, comes around the house, more steps down the hill to the road in the back of the house. Now he is ready to disappear to where ever he intends to go. Grandma opens the window to the street and hollers "T..., come back and push your chair under the table".

Now, if this is not a way to teach children how to live the "proper way", what is.

When I'm finished at the table, I always put my chair back. I wonder why. 

Friday, March 18, 2011

Wheat fields (1947-1948)

Late in the summer when the wheat was ripe and its stems all dried up, the farmers would go and cut it down, form bundles like a bouquet of flowers, leave them on the ground and then come and pick them all up with their cart pulled by oxen. Actually, the ‘wealthy’ farmers used oxen and the poor farmers had to use their cows. Cows were not supposed to work so hard in order to give lots of milk and be fit to bear the next generation. After the war when bread and many other foods were rationed, people searched for fields where the farmers had finished gathering their wheat. One would go, walk the fields and pick up each wheat head that had fallen off and had been left there. Sometimes someone else had been there and nothing could be found, other times enough was found to take to the flour mill. There it was weighed and the miller would give a bit of flower to take home.

One day my friend Maria heard of a ‘finished’ field and decided to go leftover picking. Of course I wanted to go with her. Bread and flour was still rationed but for whatever reason our family would get bread through some outfit called UNRRA. We always had more bread than anyone else but still could not eat as much of it as we wanted. So, I asked Tic-Tac Oma, my grandmother, to make me a special sandwich because I was going out to pick wheat heads and bring some flour back. She did and Maria and I took off. Well, it was a field that someone else had gotten to already. We stumbled around in high heat, pricked our bare feet on the dried up stumps of the wheat plants and returned empty handed. I felt sooooo guilty for having been given  a special sandwich - for nothing.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011


Way way back then, maybe in 1965, many office buildings had a small snack bar in the basement so that people could get a quick lunch without running out to a restaurant There was one such snack bar next door to where I worked. I liked to go there whenever I did not bring my own lunch in. It was a small hole in the corner of the basement floor. A long counter with stools with this full cheeked, full everything lady behind the counter. We would perch on the stools, ask for our chicken sandwich or grill cheese, make friends with the other people hanging around and watch the snack lady prepare the food.

Sometimes it was a long wait because other people had called an order in and she was preparing that so that she could send her husband off with the delivery to the upper floors in the building. Mrs. Soandso from the Trust Company upstairs was often there. She had very dark straight hair, a pale face and was very skinny - I always thought that she would be a perfect fit as scarecrow in a vegetable patch. Mrs. Soandso would always say to the snack lady “Don’t forget, my toast must be burned for my liver to accept it”.
One day Eileen and  I were sitting at the counter enjoying our sandwiches while watching the snack lady clean the milk bottles. In those days milk containers were glass bottles. And, while swirling the brush around inside the bottle under running water, the snack lady said “milk bottles have to be washed with cold water. If you use hot water the film of milk will curdle and you won’t be able to clean the bottle properly”.

Now, why do we remember small nonsense advise so well? Ever since then, each time I wash a glass or cup or any other container that held milk with ‘cold water’.    

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Cheese and Olives

The last time we came back from Greece to live in Germany was in 1942. I was 7 years old. 

When Janos, Patricia and  I arrived in Canada I was 21. What was the thing that exited me most?

St.Lawrence Boulevard, the Main. I was so happy to be able to buy Greek Feta cheese and Greek olives. And Janos, of course, was delighted to find Hungarian food.

No wonder I always say that I’m more Greek than German. After living all these years in Germany I still craved Greek Food from my very young days.