The Hodosys in the Hannover victory garden
Tracing the Story of One Immigrant Family
I had met Sándor Hodosy’s and László Laky’s grandparents, Sándor’s dad-to-be and aunt (and László’s future mother) in a refugee camp in Germany after World War II. Their story is worth recalling, as it shows us another facet of the great Hungarian saga.
Their grandparents were Hódosy László (Laci bácsi) and Ani néni. Laci bácsi was a lathe operator, living with his family in Arad, which since 1920 belongs to Romania. Because so many German men were lost at the fronts, they needed factory workers to carry on towards the end of the war, and German recruiters enticed many Hungarian industrial workers with promises of great jobs and decent housing. Thus a trainload of skilled Hungarian workers arrived in Hannover, Germany in early 1945, some with their furniture, so glowing had been the picture painted by the recruiters.
By this time, much of Hannover lay in ruins as a result of Allied bombing. Instead of the nice apartments the Hungarians had been promised, the Germans wanted to house them in a movie theater that had lost its roof in an air raid. Most of them wanted to go back right then and there. Finally, they were persuaded to stay, and were accommodated in a Russian camp (you can imagine how well that went over!) where they were infested with lice. Then during an air raid, their barrack burned down, and they lost their furniture, their belongings and the food they had brought with them.
They went to work in the Hanomag factory, but when air raids came, they were chased out of the workers’ air raid shelters at gunpoint!
Soon the war ended, and so did their employment. They were finally housed in the cabins put up on little victory garden plots near the Hanomag factory. That is where we found housing too, and that is where we met the Hodosys. Our families became friends, and my brother Remy and Frank, being the same age, shared a bench in high school once the schools reopened in 1946.
We moved on to Essen almost two years later, and eventually emigrated to America in 1949. The Hodosys also began the process, but Laci bácsi had an accident in the processing camp, and they had to wait until he was recovered. However Anikó, Frank’s older sister, immediately received a scholarship to a college in White Plains, NY, and a job offer as a nanny, and she came to the States ahead of the family.
We met her at the boat, where her sponsor also awaited her and wanted to whisk her away to White Plains right away. It took a lot of persuading to allow her to come visit with us in New Jersey for a couple of days before starting her new job.
In Germany, Anikó had corresponded with a young man named Tibor Laky about student affairs. Originally from Székesfehérvár, he had also emigrated, and for her first vacation, Anikó decided to visit him in Texas. Well, as the saying goes, the rest is history: She never returned to White Plains, but married Tibor and eventually had six children.
When the family could follow after, the Hodosys settled in Queens, New York, and were instrumental in having us move from New Jersey to Queens as well.
Frank joined the Air Force, and moved to Colorado to the Air Force Academy. He met Vizma Zarins, a Latvian artist, in Denver, where four of their five children were born. After his military service, he studied engineering at the University of Colorado at Boulder, obtained his degree and moved to California. He designed their beautiful house where they raised five children, one of whom is Sándor, who has his own landscaping business. (And who, when the need arises, rescues people from mudslides! He also brought in his own equipment to help with the Montecito clean-up. He is the father of two adult daughters.)
Sándor’s twin brother Ferenc, named after his father, is a tennis pro, and his own twin sons Christian and Ryan, seniors in high school, regularly make the newspapers with their exploits on the tennis courts.
Frank’s oldest is also named László, and works for the local newspaper in Santa Barbara.
Anita, the only girl among the siblings, raised four children of her own, one of whom was a special-needs child. Another is now learning the ropes of his father’s winery business. In addition, Anita raised her youngest brother Andris, since both Frank and Vizma passed away early. Andris now has his own technology-based business.
Anita recently retired from the Santa Barbara County Clerk’s office.
Of Anikó’s children, the oldest was a special needs child, whose siblings made provisions for her after their parents died. She passed away in 2011. The oldest son, László, is now Chief Motor Officer of Dallas Gateway Traffic Safety, and every so often sends us material for MNO. He has three younger brothers, one of whom, Zoltán, is a Dallas Police Officer; another who works for Sprint; and the third is a contractor in Florida who builds malls. Anikó’s other daughter is married and has five children.
It is quite interesting to follow the story of a family from Transylvania to California and Texas, to see how they eventually contribute to the Great American Dream.
And the immigrant story continues ...