22. (1959) America and the Angel in the Sky
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AMERICA AND THE ANGEL IN THE SKY AS WE LEFT the ship, everyone was required to go through customs. The process was extremely long, and it involved having to show all my documentation, including my medical records and X rays. First, customs reviewed all my possessions in a separate room. They told me I had to pay a fee for the silverware I had purchased in Israel. I told them that they were gifts for my family. They decided to waive the fee. Then, they sent me to the Immigration Health Department room. Here, they reviewed my medical records and X rays. Then, wishing me luck in America, they stamped my passport. Another one of Meir’s cousins was waiting for me at the customs exit. I stayed in New York with him and his family for one week. I found it easy to maneuver through the city with a map. I traveled by bus and the subway. During one of my forays, I went to Brooklyn to visit my old schoolmate, Márkus Kohn. When I got there, his mother said he was out. I never met up with him but, later, learned he had mental health problems. Meir’s cousin took me around the city of New York where we saw Times Square and went to a show at a theater. I was amazed by all the people of different nationalities and couldn’t stop staring at everyone, especially the black people. I recalled reading newspaper reports in Budapest about how black people were treated poorly by the white people. I felt sympathy toward them because I knew what hatred was all about. I also decided that, while I was in New York, I should visit a man named Henry Feldman. My friends from the Stockholm deaf club had told me he had been a student in Budapest at the institute. They had given me his address, and I was curious to meet him. When I arrived at his apartment, his deaf American wife answered the door. She told me he was at work and gave me his business address. I left 160 22 C H A P T E R (1959) ch22_193032_Gallaudet_Dunai 5/14/02 11:56 AM Page 160 immediately to find Henry. As I approached the address, I could see nothing but jewelry stores. I entered the business and asked for Henry. He replied that he was Henry. I began talking to him in Hungarian , explaining that I was a student from the institute in Budapest and that my friends from the Stockholm deaf club had given me his name and address. He was very excited that I had come to visit him. We sat down over coffee and pastry and began discussing the institute days and the events of the war. Henry had left the institute in 1938, which was one year before I had entered the school. He had been sent to a concentration camp. Surviving the camp, the Red Cross shipped him off to Sweden, just like they had done for my sisters. We also discussed America. I was curious to know how he got himself into the jewelry business. His response was a rich wife and rich in-laws. His in-laws had bought him the business that he was now running. When I told him of my plan to go to Los Angeles, California, he said that Los Angeles was boring. In his opinion, California was a bunch of farms and cows. New York was the place to be, according to Henry. I was amused because he had never been to California. He had only heard about the place. Although the visit was interesting, we made no plans to meet again, but I told him that, if I visited New York in the future, I’d stop by. My stay in New York had rushed by, and unfortunately, I had no time left to check out the New York deaf club. I sent a telegram to Irén in California with my estimated time of arrival at the airport. I was to fly for the first time in my life—on a brand-new Boeing 707 jet! The day we were to leave, it was raining heavily. Nevertheless, the plane was scheduled to take off despite the conditions. I boarded the plane, feeling excited and nervous. As we lifted off, I personally named our plane the “Angel in the Air.” I was still concerned about the poor weather conditions. But...


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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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