Tuesday, October 30, 2018

#27 ~ April 1976 ~ Elizabeth

Winter slowly turned into the spring. Felix was working, I stayed home and took care of baby Masha. She loved playing outside, and one of her first words were:"One, two, three, jump!" Oh, my baby could speak English...
I watched TV in the afternoon when Masha was taking a nap. I could not understand most of it, but when I caught a word or a fraise, that I knew, it was so exciting. Our landlady Dorothy helped me with so many day to day things. She gave me a book with recipes and I was learning what some of the items meant. I was trying to make sense out of oz, cup, pint, quarts, gallon...
Our friends were coming to visit every day. And every time they would bring something for me, for Masha, for the house or for the soon to come baby.
One night Felix said that it was time for me to learn how to drive. It was a scary thought. Before coming to America I was inside a car only twice in my life. Now that we had our own car, I felt that it's probably possible, but still it was very scary for me to think that I will be able to operate this bid car. Well, let's just say that after the first lesson, Felix said that I need a lot of help. And we decided that I need to take driving lessons. And I did. The teacher came down to pick me up. It took several lessons for me to relax and trust myself. I was shaking and did not see where we were going when I actually driven a car for the first time. After 3 lessons my instructor said that I am ready to take an exam and get licence. I studied, and passed the written test easily, but the driving test was a different story. I don't think I did very well, because the officer said that he will give me licence if I promise not to drive by myself for a while... I guess he felt sorry for a young pregnant woman who did not speak English.
Finally the day came and Felix drove me to the hospital. I was in pain, but every step of the way I could not help but comparing my experience with my first baby and this one. Hospital in Vinnitza looked and felt like prison. And how we were in the hospital, with beautiful, bright, clean rooms, and everyone so friendly and calm. Thankfully labor did not take long, and in a few hours after being admitted, I held my beautiful, healthy baby girl! With big blue eyes, dark hair, perfect tiny fingers and toes!!!! And exciting thing was that Felix was right there with us. He did not have to wait a week to hold his new baby!
1976 ~ Hartford, CT ~ Newborn Elizabeth
They put me in the room which I shared with another woman (I think her name was Linda). We had our babies practically at the same time. We started talking and I was telling her how I had my first child. She kept asking me questions and then telling the stories to all the nurses. So I had visitors all the time. Nurses and even women from other rooms loved to hear about how I had my first child: the rooms, shared by 18 women, lack of fundamental hygiene items, having robes that were so old that they had holes in them and shoes that were 5 sizes larger. That we were not allowed to bring anything from home. "It was not sterile..." Visitors were not  allowed in the hospital, so we showed our new babies through the window from the 4th floor. I was fascinated by every little thing: meals at your bed, special table with the mirror, call button, our own bathroom with the shower, recliner. I can't even remember most of the things that were so mesmerizing...But I had big happy grin all the time. I kept saying "thank you, thank you, thank you".
1876 ~ Hartford, CT ~ Our happy family

Thursday, October 25, 2018

#28~1976~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.

Sunday, October 14, 2018

#29 ~1976 - Simple Beginnings

Back to the Beginning
Previous Post: 1976 - Coming to America

Today is a very windy day. Great for completing tasks at home. Last night I started a blog and now I can't stop thinking about the times we left Ukraine, our 2 weeks stay in Vienna, 6 months wait in Italy, our arrival to America... It's still very fresh in my memory. Lots and lots of people are telling me to write a book about our family, our "adventures" while immigrating from Ukraine to the States, running our business, my career as a gymnastics coach... It will take a long, long time to bring it all to life. I am not a writer, but I can talk and I have a lot to talk about. I apologize in advance for mistakes, typos, etc

I started teaching women in New Britain YWCA around September 1976. My girls were so young at that time, but we all drove to the YWCA once a week, since I could not drive yet. I had my drivers licence, but was terrified driving, especially on the highway. But one day I did it. Felix stayed home with kids, and I went on my own. I don't know who was scared more: him or me. Drivers on the road honked at me since I was going very slow. But I did it!
We did not have any equipment to teach gymnastics, so I improvised: we used volleyballs instead of rhythmic balls, I bought ribbons in the fabric store and made my own ribbons for my students to use. My English was very limited, but it did not stop me. I demonstrated everything. Around December 1976 one of my students, Jane told me that there is going to be a Modern Rhythmic Gymnastics (yes, that was an official name back then) clinic in Boston. First, I was confused about the word "clinic". It sounded like someone needs medical attention. Jane explained that it's a workshop. I was so excited. When we came to the gym and I heard music, saw girls dancing and using ribbons, balls, hoops, ropes, I felt that I came home! Monika Heilbut was teaching that particular workshop. When I joined the group, she wanted to know who I was and where I came from. That was my initiation into the world of Rhythmic Gymnastics in the USA.
I was writing down words, expressions, terminology. Loved every minute of it!
Maria Bakos, Monika Heilbut, Norma Zabka, Ellem Nyemchik - these were the pioneers of this sport in the USA.
My mother-in-law, Ida was my first coach back in Ukraine. She was one of the top Coaches and Judges in the former Soviet Union.
1960, Kiev, Ukraine ~ Ida Davidovich ongratulating gymnasts after the competition. By Marina Davidovich
Ida was coaching gymnastics in a private club in Detroit, Michigan at that time.
She told her boss, Steve Whitlock about me. And he invited me to come to Detroit and teach clinic for his students around Christmas time. So we went and he offered me a job as a gymnastics instructor.

Next Post: 1976 ~ June 16 Hartford, CT

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

#30~ 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

Monday, October 1, 2018

#31 ~ 1976 ~ June 16, Hartford, CT~ Jewish Wedding

Back to the Beginning
Previous Post: 1976 - Simple Beginnings

Marina Davidovich is getting ready for the wedding. Still not sure what to expect...

Frm L to R: Bernie Malofsky, Sharon Malofsky, Marina Davidovich, Felix Davidovich, Ida Davidovich, Diane Goldshlager, Rabbi Hans Bodenheimer, Michael Goldshlager. In front Marianna ( Masha) Davidovich

It was like a dream. I did not think that after telling my wonderful friends from National Council of Jewish Women that we did not have a jewish ceremony at our wedding in Kiev, they will get this idea of giving us a JEWISH WEDDING!!! Complete with the beautiful dress and veil for me, tuxedo for Felix, Rabbi, flowers, guests, presents, cake, the whole nine yards...We were celebrities: TV, Newspaper, interviews. Here is one of the articles. It was such a beautiful, happy, wonderful day!

Next Post: 1978 - First year in Detrot, MI