Ruth and Andrew
Early January, I received an email from Ruth and Andrew's daughter, Judy, who said she had been following the stories in my blog and thought her parents would be a good subject. They live in Forest Hills, a neighborhood in Queens, New York. She asked if it would be possible for me to meet them at a diner there. When I spoke with Andrew, we arranged to meet at the T-Bone Diner on Queens Blvd. The T-Bone is an old-time New York City diner, established in 1923. I don't think much of the interior has changed since. Although there were several upscale coffee shops just next door, the diner had what appeared to be the "regular crowd." That is, elderly locals.
Andrew, almost 90, was born in Hungry and is a survivor of the Auschwitz-Birkenau concertation camp. He told me about an experience he had immediately after the liberation of the camp. He came face to face with a German soldier who asked him in German if he was a Jew. Andrew had studied German while in high school and was able to respond in perfect German that no, he was not a Jew. If he had not been able to speak German at that moment, he would have been killed.
Andrew and his sister came to the United States when he was nineteen in 1950. His parents remained in Hungry until 1955 at which time they too emigrated to the United States. Ruth, 86, born on the Lower East Side of New York City, met Andrew when an older friend introduced her to him. When I asked her what it was like when they first met, she told the story of how her mother loved watching Eddie Fisher on television and she thought Andrew looked very much like Eddie Fischer. So, she liked him right away. Ruth and Andrew were married six months later and moved to an apartment in the Bronx. In 1967 they moved to their current apartment in Forest Hills and have lived there since then.
Both Ruth and Andrew are involved in a choir and sing in nursing homes to entertain the residents. They spoke about this with great pride. They described their neighborhood as a "Jewish Ghetto." This presents a problem for them on Friday nights and all-day Saturday when almost all of the stores in the area are closed, causing a great inconvenience for shopping or finding an open restaurant. However, with the experiences this couple has encountered in their lives, it is viewed as a minor inconvenience. As Andrew and Ruth get old and take care of one another, they continue to get out, enjoying their lives together and bringing joy to others.