Thursday, September 26, 2013

Travels of the Trunk Part 1-Grandma Lidija

In my memory it was always there like the linoleum in our kitchen. Truly it could have arrived, filled with books and papers, after grandmas’ death. It sat in our garage for years; out of the way, under the work table. It wasn’t practical to hold onto the thing but it seemed wrong to get rid of it. It was afterall the trunk that carried everything my grandfather, grandma, mom and uncle owned. It was the trunk they carted with them as they fled Latvia eventually ending up in the United States as sponsored immigrants.

My grandparents Lidija and Augusts Mitrevics were famous actors in the 20s, 30s and 40s. Sensing and seeing the effects that the Molotov-Ribbentrop treaty would have on Latvians the family fled. Obtaining sponsorship while waiting in a refugee camp my grandparents took up residence in Connecticut where my grandfather worked as a janitor. Grandpa does not live in my memories; dying while I was still a child of four years old.

I remember Grandma Lidijas’ apartment in North Hollywood with its’ wood floors and the stand that held the black and white television ever broadcasting Days Of Our Lives (Like sands in an hourglass…). A visit to Grandma’s meant Hershey’s mini-chocolate bars. If my sister and I were really fortunate there would be “Roommates’ Bread.” I don’t remember the roommate yet she got credit for making the bread. Roommates’ bread is a traditional Latvian sourdough rye whose real name is Saldskaaba Maize, which I will go out of my way for even today.

Some years later Grandma Lidija left the invisible roommate and went to live with her son and his wife aka Uncle Ed and Aunt Audrey. They bought a house in Shadow Hills with horse property and a dog. These were soon followed by the appearance of my cousin Tiffany. While my aunt and uncle worked Grandma’s days were full. She took care of the horses and raised my cousin. In my mind life went along like that for my grandma many years. Life changes and dreams evolve. Ed, Audrey and Tiffany took up their trunk and moved to northern California. My grandmother gathered her belongings and that infamous trunk and moved into a small apartment in Woodland Hills. This was the beginning of the hard years for Lidija--- to be continued tomorrow.

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