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THE DEAF CLUB AND THE COMFORTS OF HOME I WILLINGLY accepted the job at the electric company. However, because I was now an employee and not a student, I could no longer live at the school. I was a little disappointed that I had to find my own place. Apartments were hard to come by and were very expensive. At the same time, I was fed up with living in a military atmosphere with a group of people sharing a room. The first place I moved into had terrible conditions. The woman landlord was bossy and manipulative, and tried to control everyone’s lives. Every room housed two people. My living arrangements provided no more than a place to sleep. In hopes of finding a homelike atmosphere, I continuously searched for a better apartment, making many moves. Luckily, my involvement at the deaf club allowed me breathing space outside the room rentals. In essence, the deaf club was really my home and a major part of my life where I would participate in sports and daily social activities. It was the positive aspect of my existence. In our competition with the hearing team of Budapest, the deaf club’s chess team made a historical mark that excited us all. I was player number six, representing the ten-member deaf chess team. Player number one was the strongest player, and player number ten, the weakest. The hearing team sat facing our lineup of strength at a long buffet-style table. We won five-and-a-half games, and the hearing team won four-and-a-half games. For the first time in the history of the deaf chess team of Budapest, we had won first place. I had been visiting Sári néni quite regularly after work. I knew she wanted to move to England, and every time I visited her, she shared her disappointment of being rejected by the Hungarian Communist government. Now, her dream had come true. Her third request had 104 1 4 C H A P T E R (1952–1956) ch14_193032_Gallaudet_Dunai 5/14/02 11:19 AM Page 104 been successful, and her application for immigration status had been approved.As we said our good-byes and hugged, we promised to find each other in the future, unsure whether we’d ever see each other again. She also promised to write to me with her new home address. I knew I would miss her very much. She and her family had been my second family. Now, I was alone, away from the people who were dear to my heart. I felt like parts of my life were crumbling again. Apartment living was awkward. Sári néni left for England. And I was no longer happy working for the firm. They had me on a schedule of rotating shifts, which was very hard to get used to, and the pay was unfair. The pay was based on a system of completing piecework, with the foreman being responsible for disseminating the work. The foreman consistently gave me the lower paying piecework while distributing the higher paying pieces to his buddies. I never complained to him, because I felt too new on the job to object. By 1953, I decided I had to quit the firm and find other employment . At the deaf club, I shared my frustrations about work with my friend, Kálmán Kentner. He told me not to worry about getting a job. THE DEAF CLUB AND THE COMFORTS OF HOME 105 For the first time in history, the deaf club’s chess team, on the left, triumphed over the hearing team, on the right. ch14_193032_Gallaudet_Dunai 5/14/02 11:19 AM Page 105 His employer was the City Gas Company, and he promised to inquire about job opportunities for me. The next day, I saw Kálmán at the club. He gave me information on the few positions available at his work site. I was so pleased by his thoughtfulness. The following day after work, I went to the City Gas Company and applied for a position. About a week later, I was hired. My employment with the gas company would end up continuing until 1957 and would be the stepping-stone for my future. I went straight to the electric company after receiving the news and gave my notice. They were flabbergasted that I was quitting and told me that I’d have a difficult time finding a job. It...


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