Tuesday, November 26, 2013

#32 ~ Detroit ~ 1979 ~ On our Own!

So, here we are! Detroit, Michigan... middle of the winter...Snow, snow, snow everywhere.
Ida, Felix's Mom, rented an apartment for us in Pontiac and her friends helped us to furnish it. We had beds, some utensils, table and few chairs. It looked liked we had to start all over again and I missed my comfortable home in Hartford.. But I don't remember feeling sad or upset or deprived.  Always looking forward to a new day, new discoveries, new experiences.
The very next week Ida moved to Cleveland to start her new job in a private gymnastics club and we were ON OUR OWN!

Ida Davidovich with her new co-workers in Cleveland

I missed my friends and my warm American family from Hartford terribly. Evelyn and Diane called us every week to see how we are doing. Evelyn kept asking me when we are coming back home.
But we were determine to make it work.
I worked in the gym every day. My boss, Steve (who later became Director of Education for the US Gymnastics) and all the staff at the Gym were very friendly, helpful and supportive. They welcomed us, helped us with advice, encouraged us and of course helped with our limited English.
I started my Rhythmic Gymnastics Team right away. I was also teaching floor and beam for the Artistic  Gymnastics. Students called me "Ms. Body Wave". I was not sure if they made fun of me, just teased me or enjoyed my teaching.
We had to hire a babysitter and it broke my heart to see baby Elizabeth cry every time when we were leaving for work.
We took kids with us to the Gym every time we had a chance and everyone loved them.

Soon Masha joined a group of "Hot Shots". So she was officially taking gymnastics twice a week.
And she loved practicing her new skills at home...

Masha practicing her "bridge" at home in Detroit, MI

I was so excited to teach Rhythmic Gymnastics. I did what I loved and I was getting paid!!! Could it get any better than that? Every Friday weall went shoppimg and after that  drove to the bank to make a deposit. We were so careful with our spending... Still never allowed ourselves to go to the movies or to the restaraunt. Secreteley I was still afraid that all this will come to an end and we will end up going back to the Soviet Union.
In a meantime my Mom, Dad and my little brother Eduard were granted exit Visas and they settled in Italy to wait for the US permission to join us. Our little family was very happy!

Saturday, September 21, 2013

#31 ~ Detroit ~ January 1978

Ida was working in Detroit as a gymnastics coach for a year, but soon she was offered a position in Cleveland in a big, very successful gymnastics private school. She arranged an interview for Felix with the owner of gymnastics school in Detroit, Steve Whitlock. Felix flew to Detroit and after a short interview, we both were offered full time jobs as coaches. Scary, frightening, exciting... Should we, shouldn't we? What about the kids? How are they going to handle the move?
But we decided to take the offer. We were leaving behind everything that we knew, sanctuary that only family can offer. Felix submitted  resignation at his place of work (General Elevator Company). I immediately they doubled his salary and offered his own office. But we made our decision.
people that we loved so very much, security of familiar places and the s
I could see that Evelyn, our closest friend was very unhappy. But she helped me to pack, and after we moved out of our apartment in West Hartford, we lived with her in her house.
Felix left very early in the morning. We packed our station wagon with clothes, toys, kitchen stuff and books. It was in the middle of the winter, it was snowing and I was so nervous and stressed. I could not sleep that night and I remember that Masha had a fever. I probably fell asleep around 8am, when Evelyn gently woke me up and said that Felix called and he made it to Detroit safe and sound. What a relief!!! Later he told me how difficult it was driving at night through the snow storm, icy roads and not quite knowing where he was going...
Next morning Evelyn took me and the kids to the airport. All my dear friends, Diane Goldshlager, Sharon Malofski, Masha Lotstein came to say "Goodbye". Tears, laughter, advices, concerns, wishes of good luck and promises to keep in touch, hugs and kisses. I took it all in. What a great influence these great women had on our lives! Girls felt the tension and anxiety and they were very quiet and stayed very close to me all the time.

Flight was short and truthfully I don't remember much of it... But when we landed in Detroit and I saw Felix and Ida waiting for us - it was a very, very happy moment for all of us! It was the beginning of a new chapter of our lives!

Marina Davidovich, Felix, Ida, Masha, Elizabeth, Ida's friend Misha ~ One of the first days in Detroit.

Monday, June 24, 2013

#30 ~ 1977 ~ West Hartford, CT

Our life in West Hartford started to have some sort of a rhythm, schedule and consistency. The fear that it will be all gone was fading away. I was with kids during the day and not even knowing it,  I turned into a real housewife: cooked, cleaned, talked on the phone and took care of the kids. During their nap I watched soap operas. "One life to live" became an important part of my day. I watched actors, listend to their dialogs, mimiked their expressions and it helped me  agreat deal with my English. I was learning how to talk, how to dress, how to cry and how to tell jokes. My English was improving. Between the TV, talking to neighbors, reading recepies in the cook book and listening to the "Sesame Street" with the girls, I felt very comfortable. On Saturdays I was driving to New Britain's YWCA to teach. My first drive on the highway was terrifying, to say the least. I was probably going 35 miles an hour and when other drivers would honk at me, I would just smile and wave my hand. I can only imagine how many angry people drove by me...
At the YWCA one of my students, Jane who was not much older than me, invited us to come a spend a weekend with them at the Cape Cod, on the beach. They had a small house, close to the beach and at that time I could not understand how can anyone have 2 homes? Unheard off!!!!!
It was such an exciting trip for us. Elizabeth was tiny, about 4 months and we used her playpen as a crib and a place for her to play. We enjoyed our time on the beach with everyone!

August 1977 ~ Cape Cod

Later that year Jane took me to Boston to the Rhythmic Gymnastics Clinic/workshop and that's where I first met Monika Heilbut and Norma Zabka, who were my first contact with the Rhythmic Gymnastics community of the US.
In September, Masha started Hebrew Academy and in return I was teaching classes gymnastics there. Only now I understand how difficult it was. It's one thing when you talk to adults and can explain what you want with your hands, facial expressions, etc. But when you have 30 little kids, and they are waiting for you to lead them, tell them what to do, how to do it, organise them and make sure they are all safe... I don't know how I handled it. But I did it and with each passing day I was more confident, composed, more at ease with everyone and to summarise it: cool, calm and collected.

On Friday night we all went grocery shopping. It was like Christmas shopping every time. We never got tired of going to the grocery store. I was thinking about my family back in Ukraine all the time. We were all very anxious to have them come and join us in America.

Monday, March 25, 2013

#29 ~ 1977 ~ West Hartford, CT

Elizabeth at the park ~ West Hartford, CT
I was so much in love with my life, my babies, my home... I was happy! Felix was working at the General Elevator company and I stayed home with the girls. Mashoonya was growing so fast, and Elizabeth was such a cute and easy baby. I loved taking care of them, I changed Elizabeth's clothes 10 times a day, we all went shopping Friday nights, and I was learning the American way of life. In the spring of 1977 we moved to the house in West Hartford. It was on the first floor and we had a yard and garage and bedrooms for the girls. We even had a small sun room, where we kept all the toys. We rented the house, but I was already dreaming of having our own house. I could see that it was possible!
Ida was offered a job as a coach at the New Britain YWCA. But she was already working. So naturally, I said that I would like to try. We all drove to the YWCA and I had an interview with the director. Since I did not speak English very well yet, I just conducted a class and I was hired right away. They did not have any equipment, so I used whatever I could find: volleyballs, ropes, odd looking clubs, hoops, etc. I made my own ribbons. My students were all grown women, much older than me. And I made them do things that they could never imagine doing: bending, arching, jumping, dancing, kicking and of course we all had such a great time!

The only sad thing in my life was, that my family was still in Ukraine and they had a very hard time getting exit visas. But we were all hoping for the best.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

#28~ 1976~ Summer


How exciting everything is when it's your first time! First time going shopping, first time driving a car, first time writing a check, first time celebrating 4th of July and so much more. Our first picnic with friends...We had such a great time with food, fireworks, stories, kids running around, people laughing and telling stories!

4th of July picnic with Simon Yavener, our English teacher and friends.
We were invited to many dinners with our friends. But Felix was always so hungry, that he would eat right before we would go to dinner and then, of course, he would not eat. So everyone thought that he was a food snob. Sharon even asked me to let her know what is his favorite dish and she would make it. And I just could not explain that Felix does not want to be seen eating in front of people, so he just just eats before. I don't think anyone would understand.
When Elizabeth was just a baby, we went to visit our very good friends Marsha and Ed Lotstein. They had 2 kids, Deborah and Seth. What a lovely house they had. Kids had so many toys, and the kitchen was huge, with so many gadgets, I had no idea what they were for. Marsha had a lot of fun showing me an electric can opener, toaster, grill, electric skillet. I was just mesmerised! One of the memorable memories I have is when they served steaks. Each person, even kids had a huge piece. I kept looking at Felix and we understood each other without uttering a word. One of these pieces would feed an entire family in Ukraine. I had very mixed feelings: sadness, happiness, sorrow, pleasure... But when Marsha started cleaning the plates and throwing away the uneaten meat, I could not stay quiet. I said, "No, please, don't throw it away. You just can't" I can't remember if I cried, but they understood, they felt my pain.
By that time we already sent invitations to my family in Vinnitza. They started the process of inquiring the exit visa. My brother was already 16years old and missed him, my parents, my sister and my 6 years old niece terribly. We were hoping that they will not have any problems.
And then a very interesting thing happened. We were asked if we had a Jewish Wedding ceremony. What? What does it mean? We had no idea. So the local group from National Council of Jewish Women decided to "give" us a Jewish wedding. I was very excited, not even knowing what it all meant. Well, it was an unforgettible, happy and joyful day!
Jewish Wedding Ceremony in Hartford, CT

Friday, January 18, 2013

#27~1976~May~Hartford, Ct

When we brought Elizabeth home from the hospital, I felt like I am the happiest woman ever lived. All the cute, adorable clothes, toys, crib, mobile, wipes, powders, lotions and diapers... How easy it was to take care of the baby. We did not have to spend countless hours on washing, drying and ironing the cloth diapers. I did not have to bundle the baby and she had a real crib to sleep in. Oh, what a joy!!! Mashoonya became a big sister. She was watching me change the diapers, rock the baby to sleep, nurse her and play with her.
One beautiful May afternoon we had a visitor. He was a photographer and said that he is here to take pictures of the baby. And it was free!!! I was not surprised, since we had pretty much everything free at that point. He did have me sign some papers, which I did not read. Why bother?! He  set up the table in the kitchen and was taking pictures. Elizabeth was only 3 or 4 weeks old and was so well behaved, cute and adorable. I was a very proud mama. When Felix came home from work, I told him about the photo session and he said that it was too good to be true. He was not very happy that I let strange man into the house.
In a few weeks, I was outside with kids playing. Our landlady, Dorothy came up to me and said that I had a visitor. It was a photographer with the pictures. But it was a different man, not the one who was taking pictures few weeks before. When I saw the photos of Elizabeth, I was ecstatic!!! They were beautiful!!! I said: "Thank you very much!" And he answered "You are welcome. It will be $50.00 for the package". WHAT??? $50.00???????? We did not have that kind of money! And I was told that it was free! Yes, taking pictures was free, but to have them it's $50.00. You signed the papers...
He saw how upset I was and said: "Why don't you think about it, show it to your husband. And I will be back tomorrow" When I asked him what is he going to do with the pictures if we will not buy them, he said he will just throw them away. I was so sad, upset and mad at myself... When Felix came home and I told him the whole story, he said:"I told you so, It's too good to be true". Ah, my husband, the realist! After long and hitted arguments, we decided to pay the man. And I am SO GLAD we did! I learned a great lesson that day:
DO NOT SIGN anything without reading!

Elizabeth 3 weeks old. Already holding her head!!!

Felix and Elizabeth

But life was good. I was learning the American way of life. Every day was an adventure, a new discovery, new breakthrough. We loved going shopping, visiting friends, having people over. The highlight of the week was our English teacher, Simon. He came every Tuesday night to help us with our English, USA history, politics and just every day life. He was a language professor at the University and Russian was one of the languages that he loved to teach. So we were helping each other and loved every minute of it.