Magyar News, 1994. szeptember-1995. augusztus (5. évfolyam, 1-12. szám)

1994-09-01 / 1. szám

1 OMAHA BEACH WHAT WAS BEFORE AND WHAT CAME AFTER by Albert (Bert) Kovács This summer United States and Europe were celebrating the 50lh Anniversary of the Normandy invasion. Naturally we were looking for Hungarians who actually participated in this heroic event that turned the course of history around. The answer to our request came from an unusual and unexpected source. As it happened somebody in our midst was very much a part of it. This person is known to us as a gentle, caring, very much lovable man, a devoted Christian, who brings joy to our Hungarian community with his beautiful Hungarian songs. It is none other than Bert Kovács. We find him every Sunday in the church choir, and the audience is waiting for him at our Hungarian events. He always has a smile for everybody. He looks and moves with the vigor of someone half his age. lie first told his story about his experience in World War II. Then we asked him to round it out with his Hungarian background. We were lucky to ask him. So here is the whole story of Bert Kovács.-Editor The village Szilice in the late 30's Bom in Szilicc, Gömör Megye on April 17, 1920, both of my parents names were Kovács. The Kovács family on my father’s side was a very large family in Szi lice. Even today the town’s population is probably onc-third or more somehow related to the Kovács family. My father’s side of the family were middle class farmers. We worked on the land day and night, did not have too much time for fun. We always made time to attend church—we all were dedicated Christians. My mother died when I was 3 years old and 1 still remember it, just like it happened today when the casket was lowered into the grave and saw the people throw d irt into the grave to cover the casket. After my mother died I went to live with my Great Grand­mother on my father’s side. She also lived in Szilicc. My father left for the United States be­fore I was born so 1 did not know him at all until I was 16 when I also came to the United Stales. My Great Grandmother, a gracious loving, lady who was a devoted church-gocr. Each morning and night we said a prayer and sang a hymn. Most of the hymns I sing today at the Hungarian ser­vices at Calvin Untied Church of Christ, Fairfield, CT, I learned from her. I also learned hundreds of Hungarian songs from my uncles, aunts and relatives. I always loved school and was an honor student. The school in Szilicc was run by the reformed church. In the village there were only a few families of the Catholic faith and also 3 Jewish families. They all attended our school. I may point out that I did not know what prejudice was until I came to the United States. At times we attended Catholic services and visited the Jewish synagogue. No one ever said don’t go there because it is a different religion or faith. My G real Grand­mother always said we arc all God’s chil­dren, respect each other for what they arc. This great lady, my Great Grandmother, raised me until I was 16 years old, may God bless her soul, for she was an angel. My father, an American citizen, tried to bring me out to the United States from the time I was .3 years old. Finally at the age of 16 he succeeded with the help of Mr. Géza Kiss who owned a dairy in Fairfield. He would support me or at least give me a job so I wouldn’ t be a burden on the city or state. No welfare for the Hungarians, as most of the Europeans, they were too proud to be on welfare. They all felt that you have to earn everything you get. On December, 1936, just before Christmas I left Szilice and my beloved Great Grandmother and arrived in the U.S.A. for the New Year 1937 on the ship “Bercngaria” which sailed from Chcrburg, France. My father came to pick me up at Ellis Island. Since I did not know him, I carried a picture of him to make sure I recognized him when we met. It was almost like meeting a stranger. When we arrived in New York City, I thought I was in dreamland with all the lights, cars, tall buildings and so many people walking around. In my little town of Szilicc there were only 1,000 residents at the lime, the streets were not paved and it was muddy but to me it was beautiful. The church was on lop of the hill overlooking the town. My destination from New York was South Norwalk, CT where my father re­sided at 180Ely Ave. It was a beautiful city. The streets were lined with (lowers. Mostly Hungarians lived there. In those days Ely Ave., Lexington Ave., Soundvicw Ave., Lowe St., Bouton St. were where the Hun­garians lived. Most of them worked at the Hat Factory or Nash Engineering. (continued on page 2)