Moving to the United States--1949
|When the family was ready to leave Italy,
they knew they couldnt return to Yugoslavia because
it was communist. Marianne had her brother Richard
Hahn in Sacramento, California and a cousin, Fred Georgi,
in San Francisco. Richard and Fred had to provide
affidavits when the family applied for immigration; then
they had to wait for the quota to move. First they
registered on the Austrian quota because of Marianne
(Alex and Vera were both still minors and could register
with their mother). Then Alex turned 21, so he was
put on the Yugoslav quota and Vera was eligible for both.
The Yugoslavian quota moved first. They traveled to the consulate in Naples for their papers. Marianne was required to go through the Refugee Organization. At that time, people had to be processed through a German camp under the Refugee Act. However, Alex and Vera had connections and so they called a friend in Germany to find out how they could bypass that country. It turned out the man was coming to Capri for vacation and would bring the stamp with him. The ship was set to sail at noon and Mariannes papers were not stamped until 10:00 that morning.
They traveled tourist class and befriended a young American who had spent a year abroad mountain-climbing. He always wore jeans and ratty clothes, so of course Marianne didnt like him. When the ship docked in New York City, he invited Alex and Vera to his house for dinner. Marianne was horrified, but Alex and Vera had promised and were looking forward to it. As it turned out, the family lived on Fifth Avenue, the father was the CEO of Shell, they had a butler, the works....it was unlike anything they had ever seen! Alex and Vera returned to their hotel and joked to mother that she had been absolutely right in her estimation of him, to which she replied in her inimitable way I knew it....I knew it....you shouldnt have gone! The family didnt go through Ellis Island. When they arrived, the immigration authorities had never seen refugees enter by way of Italy--Marianne was the first. Nine months later the first official refugees from Italy were coming directly through.
They stayed in New York a few weeks and then left for California via train. During a stopover in Chicago, they got off the train to look for a snack and went in the wrong direction to skid row. They asked for directions from a policeman, who looked at them knowing full well that they didnt belong there. They were so out of place, yet they were acting very nonchalant, thinking that skid row was the norm for Chicago. The cop wisely pointed them in the opposite direction.