My childhood experiences in Hungary ended in 1956. I was then 10 years old. When I now think back on my early experiences, it seems to me as if I had a childhood which may be the stuff of fancy and phantasy. Everyone views their own childhood from a purview of a tale told a long time ago, I’d venture, one not seeming quite real and yet one that has had left profound scratches on the soul and memory. Feel the welt left from this scratch, and memory seeps back into consciousness.
I have been pondering the nature of personal history and of how experiences during every moment one lives leave traces which become over time a palimpsest of history written over and over again on the same page. New experiences are marked over older ones, in the end the page may seem an indecipherable mess in which one can grasp a word here, a phrase there, isolated letters, an obscured sentence. Memory is tricky, as well, so in recounting incidences from the time/space of 50 plus years ago, how much is true in a tale? You decide!
Let’s say you are reading this in 2022. You are fifteen years old. But here I am writing this at age sixty, in 2007, right now and my world is much different now from what you will be experiencing in your present. Different place, details, characters, activities, beliefs – a much changed world. I can tell you a little bit about what my life was like as a pre-teen child. It will seem as foreign to you as my Grandmother-s life stories did to me as she told me them.
So, where am I going with this rather confused introduction to the stories that follow? Simply that my tales introduce bits and pieces from my memory bank of persons, situations and circumstances, places that has been my experiential lot in life. You will find a jumble of photographs, to accompany this sheaf of stories. The ancestors in these all have a personal history that is largely obscured by the passage of time. I can only tell you about what I know, either from witnessing directly or having been told by an older family member, whose memories are also fallible. The freyed book, constructed over a period of time by ancestors, will be full of missing sections, gaps in continuity. I am only trying to preserve the chapter for which I am directly responsible.
As you yourself grow older, you may, like I have, discover a need to recount your personal history and what you have learned by persistent questioning of your parents and other family members. I hope you do because it does help you realize just how much richness is provided by memory that is worthy to be shared. Everyone has stories; hear them, listen to them and marvel.
This is a first attempt at articulating what may become an introduction of the compilation of my stories. The first version will probably undergo many revisions. It has occurred to me that I have bitten off a project more complex and difficult than anticipated, and that I have jumped into the task in my typically gormless fashion. But perhaps, if looked at in another way, all these written sketches are like pages in a sketchbook, and maybe that is one way of approaching this telling of tales.