Monday, July 23, 2012

#23 ~ January 1976 ~ Good bye Italy!

1976 New Year celebration was very bitter sweet for us. We had about 10 families get together to celebrate the New Year. Some families were already informed that they will be leaving Italy to go to the United States, but most of us were still waiting.
Our first choice of destination for permanent residency was Canada (we were told by the "experts" that Canada is in great need of PE teachers, coaches and Physical Fitness instructors). But as soon as it was known that I was pregnant, we were refused the entry visas to Canada. We had to re-apply for the entry visa to the United States.
We said "good bye" to many families that we got to know during our 7 months stay in Italy. We all promised to keep in touch, but we also knew that once someone left Italy, they never looked back.
On January 5th we had an appointment at the HIAS office. Without any hopes or expectations we went to Rome. It was a full day affair. But to our great surprise and delight, we were informed that the Jewish Federation of Hartford, Connecticut agreed to sponsor our family and we will be leaving Italy on January 15th. We had only 10 days to get ready, pack, and prepair for the journey. We came home that day very excited and energized, pulled out the map of the United States and started looking for Hartford on the map. Where is it? Where is our new home going to be? Not only we could not find the city, we could not even find the state! We were told that Hartford is the world capital of insurance, that it is located in New England. Well, it did not tell us much. I've heard of New York and Los Angeles, Detroit and Chicago, Miami and Las Vegas, but we had never even heard of Hartford.
But it did not upset or disturb us. We were very excited and looked forward to our journey across the Atlantic from Italy to the US. What bothered me all of the sudden was the memory of the lectures in school and college about America: all the daunting images of the "evil" American people, intimidating and angry police, poor people being exploited by the capitalists, images of black people in jail, war hungry government, etc. I knew that it was nothing but propaganda, but it was so powerful. And I started  questioning our decision again, if we were doing the right thing. But it was NO TURNING BACK...
So, on bright and sunny day on January 15, 1976 we said "Arividerchi" to Italy and set on our way to the United States of America!
Flight was very long and I did not feel very well. Although I enjoyed the comfortable seats, great food, wonderful service and free movies!!! And  everyone was very attentive, thoughtful and kind. And before we knew it, we landed in New York City. Looking out of the window of the terminal we saw houses, roads, cars, huge cars. I've never seen such long and big cars in my life. This was our new home. Are we going to be happy here? Are we going to make it? I was so nervous and excited and the same time. We were told that we will spend one night in New York and in the morning we will take another flight to Hartford. I was looking around, looking for monsters and "evil" people, but all I saw was friendly and pleasant looking crowd, smiley men, lovely women and beautiful, healthy children. Everything looked so clean, organised and orderly. So where are the "war loving monsters" that lived in America???!!!
We were met by a very nice man who welcomed us to the US, took us to the nearby hotel, gave us vouchers  for dinner and said that he will come and get us in the morning. Wow! I felt that I finally came home! We were safe, happy and secure. My baby girl was safe and fed and happy and the new life inside of me gave me even more strength, vigor and confidence that everything is going to be OK!

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