Family HIstory

Hard, Not Happy Times

  • September 26, 2010


You know I got to thinking. The perspective of (cousin) Anne’s story is from Aunt Stell who was 6 years younger than my mom (Olga Babij Balboni).

Aunts Estelle (R) and Olga (L) with Jimmy

Aunts Estelle (R) and Olga (L) with Jimmy

It wasn’t easy and there weren’t happy times.

Things were hard. Uncle Paul stayed at home because he was needed on the farm but Uncle Pete and my mom (Olga) were farmed out to go to school and work for their room and board. My mom was about 13 or so and where she stayed in the winter was cold. She told me that she’d take the rugs off the floor and put them on the bed to keep warm and if it was kinda of nice she’d sit on the porch and cry for her mom —- that’s sad stuff. And it wasn’t much better for Uncle Pete — he had to work too, guys work. Mom learned to set the table and a black woman taught her to sew and iron.

And then there is the story when Grandma Babij (nee Anna Chuda) emigrated to New York City, she stayed with her first cousin, also named Anna Chuda. Grandma worked for a Mrs. Brown then who happened to be Jewish. She (Grandma Anna) told my mom that if Grandma’s mother (Lenka Leninskya) knew her daughter was working for a Jewish woman, she’d rather have seen her dead.

These stories I heard all my life and when Grandma was sick some of the earlier stories came out — like why move from NY to Cleveland — have Pete and then move to Wayne MI and have mom and such. (ed. Why indeed?) And then there was the famous one when Aunt Stell was born — mom heard Grandma say to name the baby “Stefania”. Instead the guy who came from the office to record the birth wrote “Estelle”. If you look it up there are a bunch of “Estelle’s” during that time period. Not sure if it’s the broken english or what (ed. assimilation conspiracy?)…

AND the rest of the story was .. my mom was really excited because she had a baby sister. One night there was this milk on the night stand and because they couldn’t afford to get fresh milk and Grandma looked at my mom and said if you want it drink it , you can – and she did. It was breast milk – which my mom learned about many years later.

Incorporate all the stories Jimmy — they had a very hard life. Absolutely nothing was easy — mom said they moved 3 times in one day. 3 times in one day. That doesn’t show up in Anne’s account.

Anyway, more story telling.

Sue Balboni Roth.
September 26, 2010


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