My mother, Aranka Csiszar, was born on October 22, 1935, in Mezofalva, Hungary, the middle one of Anna and Frank Csiszar’s seven children: Vilma, János, Annus, my mom, Eszti, Edit, and little Ferenc, born in June 1944.
Her father was a gentle spirit who didn’t believe in violence. She remembers checking his pockets for candies whenever he came home. Her mom spoke Romanian and Hungarian fluently and did the best she could for her family.
While waging war against the Soviet Union, Hungary engaged in secret peace negotiations with the United States and the United Kingdom. Hitler discovered this betrayal, and in 1944 German forces occupied Hungary. My mom’s father was conscripted to fight in the German army against the Russians, missing the birth of his youngest son. Read the rest of this entry »
Our little house on Hoskins Road in North Vancouver was one of the first cabins built in the old-growth forests of the North Shore. There in the kitchen sat my mother – jet-lagged from her long flight from Australia, holding my newborn daughter in her arms, cooing and muttering a mixture of Yiddish and Hungarian blessings over her first precious grandchild. I was stunned by the vision of the immense cultural changes we three women had witnessed. My mother had grown up in a small village in Czechoslovakia, then part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. They had no electricity; she never learned to ride a bicycle, let alone drive a car! And here was her grandchild on the threshold of a fantastic, unimagined digital age. My amazing mother had lived to see this earth-altering shift, which meant surviving through two world wars and the Holocaust. Read the rest of this entry »
My mother was born Julia Veronica Szappanos in Szarvas, Hungary on June 16, 1933. Her mother, Margit (Lazar) Szappanos and father Janos Szappanos were performers with a dance act that toured Europe under the name “Rita and Ray”.
Janos was also a circus performer and developed a blindfolded knife‐throwing act with Margit. Shortly after my mother’s birth, due to the busy traveling schedule her parents had, they moved to Szeged, Hungary to live with her grandparents, Janos Lazar and Juliana (Karolyi) Lazar. Her grandparents had a small farm with an attached bakery, and her grandfather Janos was a master baker. My mother’s grandparents raised her and her parents dropped in from time to time as their touring schedule allowed (she was always thrilled to spend time with her dad, who did dote on her, but she described her mother as “distant”). My mother had a happy childhood helping with chores on the farm (loved the animals especially) and described herself as a tomboy, climbing trees and getting into fistfights with the local boys. Read the rest of this entry »