13. (1950-1952) The Mechanical Trade School
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THE MECHANICAL TRADE SCHOOL THE APPRENTICESHIP that I had been accepted to included a threeyear program at a mechanical trade school called the United Izzo Tungsram Electric, Inc. The company was controlled by both American and western European firms. Because the Hungarian government did not have the rights to the wolfram (tungsten), they couldn’t control the firm. The wolfram consisted of a hard, brittle, metallic element used in materials and electrical elements that had to tolerate high temperatures. Its most common use was in lamp filaments. The Hungarian government needed the company’s business and, therefore , did not impose its communistic laws on the school. The school provided boarding; however, no rooms were available at the time of enrollment. Dr. Kanizsai allowed me to stay on at the institute because I had satisfied him by landing a job. I had to commute between the school and the institute. After two months, the trade school finally had a bed available. I transferred permanently to the school, making it my new home. The school provided me with meals and a bit of pocket change. Approximately five hundred students, all of whom were boys, lived in the one large dorm building. Each room contained five bunk beds and housed ten students.The counselor of the dorm assigned each bed. The school taught primarily hearing students, although approximately fifteen deaf students attended. Two of the deaf students stayed in my dorm, and two were at my level. Our schooling, which included chemistry, design, mechanics, and so forth, took place three days a week. For the other three days, we performed general machine work, which included plumbing, lathe work, and blacksmith-type work. The school had a very strict, military-like atmosphere. Students wererequiredtowearuniformsandtokeepthemcleanedandpressed. 97 1 3 C H A P T E R (1950–1952) ch13_193032_Gallaudet_Dunai 5/14/02 11:17 AM Page 97 I had only one uniform and, therefore, washed it nightly. I didn’t have an iron, so I placed my uniform between the mattresses at night to keep it neat and pressed. Everyone was required to wake up at five o’clock each morning, get dressed, and march outside to the field for exercises. If we did not exercise, we couldn’t receive a meal ticket. Without a meal ticket, we couldn’t receive breakfast, and no lunch was packed for us to eat while at school or work. Unless we had a bad storm, we had to exercise in all weather, even snow. I never missed a day of exercise because I knew what it was like to go hungry. Another strict regulation was evening inspection. A counselor scrutinized each room, checking to see that we met certain standards, including having clean feet. At about ten o’clock every evening, while we were sleeping, the counselor lifted the sheets, inspecting our feet. If anyone was caught with dirty feet, he was woken up and told to go wash his feet. The student was given half an hour to clean up. Usually, the counselor would come back later and do another inspection , giving special attention to those who had had dirty feet. Any student who still hadn’t cleaned up properly was dowsed with a bucket of water. His mattress would end up getting soaking wet and would remain wet for a long time, which provided a strong reminder to maintain clean feet. Thank goodness it never happened to me. I had plenty of friends at my new school. Most of the students liked me because I was a competent table tennis player. I also became more involved with the deaf club, attending on a daily basis and involving myself with as many deaf functions as possible. I became good friends with a guy named Herman who was the youth junior champion for chess in Budapest. His accomplishments motivated me to improve my chess skills. Although I had plenty of new friends, I missed my close friends from the institute. Ábrahám was now a part of my past. Ernö had left to live in Israel. Márkus had moved to New York. In addition, I had not received any letters from anyone in my family for a while. Everyone had moved to new locations, including myself. I felt lonely; I was deaf, feeling isolated in a hearing world. CHAPTER 13 (1950–1952) 98 ch13_193032_Gallaudet_Dunai 5/14/02 11:17 AM Page 98 Not until summertime would I get a letter. Dr. Kanizsai contacted me, saying that a letter...


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Subject Headings

  • Jews -- Hungary -- Biography.
  • Holocaust survivors -- Biography.
  • Dunai, Harry I., 1934-.
  • Jewish children in the Holocaust -- Biography.
  • Holocaust, Jewish (1939-1945) -- Hungary -- Personal narratives.
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