Posted by: dutchimport | October 11, 2007

Woman waiting for ride

Almost every day on weekdays I walk pass this elderly woman waiting for a ride to Day Health Care for Adults by this van. I always pass her at the time the van actually arrives, and this guy gets out, almost every day with a cigarette in his hand and opens the door. It’s an Armenian Day Care for Adults, so I assume that the woman is Armenian.

She is alone, so her husband must have passed away. Her dyed red hair was slightly lighter then her red lipstick today. Very well put together. She probably likes a man at the Day Care, and she’s trying to impress him. She’s being doing this for a couple of years now, but will never make the first step to approach him and tell him she likes him.
She is a first generation immigrant to the United States. She was born in Armenia in 1921, and her life changed dramatically in 1933 when Hitler came to power and Armenia soon became a supporter of Nazi Germany. As an Armenian Jewish family, it became extremely difficult to for her, her parents and brother and sister to live a normal life. There had always been anti-Semitism against the Jews in Armenia, and most Armenians were getting behind Nazi Germany. Rosa, the woman in my neighborhood, fled with her family to a remote area of Armenia in 1936, and was able to live peacefully, hiding their Jewish identity. Armenia was mostly sparred from most cruelty of WWII, until a few years into the war. In 1942 roundups were coming close to where Rosa and her family lived. They were able to escape to a nearby forest and build a hut to hide in. But neighbors found out where they were hiding and soldiers found them. It was a cold November night when Rosa and her family were dragged out of their hiding place. Rosa had to witness her father and brother being executed in front of her. They were shot in the back of their heads. Rosa, her mother and sister were send off to Siberia. After a horrible train ride they arrived at their POW camp, early December 1942. Rosa’s mother got ill on the train, and died in early January of 1943. Rosa and her sister, Esther, were able to stay close together, and survived the war. They were told they could leave the camp in August 1945 when the guards told them the war was over. Rosa and Esther were able to catch a train to Athens, Greece from where they got on a boat to Marseille, France with the intention to immigrate to America. On March 11, 1946 Rosa and Esther arrived on Ellis Island, New York, and they could begin their lives all over again. The Armenian community already established in New York helped them with everything they were able make it on their own. Both Rosa and Esther met their husbands in the Armenian community. Rosa husband, Yuri, was rounded up in 1943, and ended up in Auschwitz-Birkenau where he was liberated by the Americans on January 27, 1945 by the Americans. In the late 60s, Rosa and Yuri moved with their 3 children to Los Angeles. Yuri and Rosa started a taxi company, and became pretty successful. The children were able to go to college, and they became very successful themselves, and Rosa and Yuri became the grandparents of 9 grandchildren in all, with 1 great-grandchild born in 2004. Shortly after that, Yuri passed away in 2005 after a short sickness. In 1973, Yuri and Rosa were able to move into a two bedroom apartment on Norton, West Hollywood. And outside that building she now stands there waiting patiently for the van to take her to the Adult Day Health Care, every morning around 7 am.

I should say hi to her one of these mornings. I wonder what her story really is. At least I still have my curiosity needed to be an actor. Or maybe I heard too many Holocaust survivor stories when I worked for the Shoah Foundation…


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