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The Alchemy of Survival -

One Woman's Journey

John E. Mack, M.D. with Rita S. Rogers, M.D.

Addison-Wesley Publishing Company, Inc., Reading, Massachusetts, USA.   1988.

We thank Rita Stenzler Rogers for permission to quote freely from her book, and to post selected chapters
on the Radauti KehilaLinks web site.
(Merle Kastner and Bruce Reisch)




1.   Home and Childhood in Radauti


2.   A Jewish Family in the Bukovina


3.   Mogilev Podolskiy


4.   A Year in No Man's Land


5.   Prague:   A Taste of Freedom


6.   Vienna:   Displaced in a Divided City


7.   Schloss Tivoli to Camp Rainbow:   The Search for a Country


8.   America and Psychiatry


9.   Psychiatry and Foreign Affairs


10. The Alchemy of Survival






About the Authors




1. Home and childhood in Radauti

Rita Stenzler was born on July 30, 1925, in Radauti, an ancient market town in the northern Romanian province of Bukovina. Like most babies in that time and place, she was delivered at home--number 15 Strada Pictor Grigorescu--by a midwife. In 1925, July 30 coincided with Tishah-b'Av, a Jewish day of mourning. Because of the separateness between Jewish family life and Romanian bureaucracy, and because Mr. Stenzler was too busy with the activities surrounding Rita's birth, he did not register her birth until August 5. In any case, in Radauti, no Jewish family registered a child on Tishah-b'Av.   These circumstances gave Rita's parents the opportunity to celebrate her birthday three times a year--on July 3o, August 5, and Tishah-b'Av, whenever it may fall. Throughout Rita's childhood, birthdays remained a special time of celebration, observed from the moment the family rose. “When you wake up in the morning and opened your eyes, you always had to see your gifts right there in front of your eyes.” Mrs. Stenzler's cooking, always elaborate, took on a special intensity on birthdays.

But the three celebrations of Rita's birthday could not compare with the one for her sister, Nora, born February 26, 1922. On February 26 everybody was at home and in a mood for celebration; July 30 was when all neighbors, friends, and we ourselves were on vacation. Nora's birthday was a big social event in town, celebrated for “at least a week” with parties given “for this group and that” because “my mother loved good things like good parties.” Rita perceived her own birthday parties “more as an appeasement: renting horse-drawn carriages to pull my friends and me all over Radauti, resort parties, swim parties, and so on.”

The Stenzler home was a highly sheltered world. There was a “plentiful flow and a feeling of permanence, a lack of anxiety in the real conflicts, a secure and serene atmosphere, no shattering events. I never saw suffering or illness. I did not see people drop dead. I did not see violence.”

Both girls were pampered. “The law of our household was that anything which upsets the children is not good for them. I was terribly spoiled,” Rita said. “In winter, Resi, the maid, used to come in to make a fire in the little tile furnace before waking us. The down comforters were held against the warm tile in the evening so that the bed was cozily warm by the time we climbed in. In the morning I used to stick my foot out from under the covers for Resi to put on my shoes and socks. I would not get up until the fire was fully going and it was pleasant. She used to bring me hot milk with chocolate, and by the time I got out of bed the whole house was shining, with both fire and warmth.” The sisters did no housework. “I did not know the word chore. Once I overheard my father telling my mother, ‘Helene, really, don't you worry about the girls? They don't know how to cook, and they don't know how to clean, and they don't learn these things.' She said, ‘I don't worry one bit. They will marry men who will spoil and take care of them in the style to which they are accustomed.' ”

The maids were essential to this spoiling, especially Resi, who was to stay with the Stenzlers until the day the family and the entire Jewish community were taken eastward to a camp in the Ukraine. They adored the children and their parents. “The idea of being left with a baby-sitter was unheard of.” All of the Stenzlers' maids came from the village of Furstenthal (The “Prince's Valley”), where poor and industrious Germans lived. They were known for their dedication and honesty (Romanian maids were considered less reliable by Jewish families). Each maid stayed with the family until she married. The maids dated firemen and policemen whose credentials Mr. Stenzler would “make it his business” to check out when they came to ask for a maid's hand. “It was considered natural for them to ask my father. He then would make a trip to Furstenthal to consult with the maid's father and give him a report.” Mr. Stenzler would arrange the wedding, pay for it, “and we all went on gaily decorated horse-drawn buggies to Furstenthal to celebrate the wedding.”

One of Rita's earliest memories is of her first trip away from home -- to Furstenthal with the maid to visit her family. “I wanted to see her family because she kept telling me stories about them. I had a very good time, but I woke up in the middle of the night and realized I was very homesick. The maid had a huge family, and all of them -- her father, her mother, her brothers and her sisters, and her uncles -- got onto horses and a carriage; a whole caravan took me back to Radauti right then in the middle of the night.”

Each summer the family journeyed to Vatra Dornei (“the heath on the Dorna”), a popular spa by a river in the Carpathian Mountains. “It was like a pilgrimage,” with rows of suitcases gathered on the train platform. “Papa would join the family on weekends. The idea of basking lazily in the sun didn't appeal to him too much. I remember leaning out the train window during the ride to Vatra Dornei, with the train whistling -- the way it whistles only when one goes through the Bukovinian mountains -- and seeing the water rushing down from the mountains with a single log on it and a peasant standing on that log -- that's how trees were transported down the mountains.” On the way, they would often stop in Cimpulung, another mountain resort, where Mr. Stenzler's sister Minna lived with her husband, Jaacov, and their four children. Unlike the chubby Stenzler girls, Minna and Jaacov's children were thin, so their parents would “send them to my mother's in the summer to fatten them up. It never succeeded. But I used to get envious when my mother would run after Schella -- one of the children -- trying to get her to eat a piece of chocolate. Nobody ever had to beg me.”

In the heart of Vatra Dornei is a beautiful park, stretching up from the river and town through evergreen forests and meadows. Bathhouses with hot springs and a tower, in which one could drink the special mineral water from the mountains, are at the base of the park. The family would stay at a villa in town. Rita's memories are full of gaiety: colorfully dressed, well-to-do families who came for the holidays from the towns and villages of Bukovina and other provinces; music, dancing, and lavish food in the many outdoor restaurants with their white tablecloths.

When Rita and I traveled back to Vatra Dornei in July 1981 to retrace the scene of her childhood, it was still a resort, but frequented by working people brought in groups for their vacations from the state-run industries in towns and cities. It was shabby, and litter and trash were everywhere, especially in the bathhouses and the tower. Although beer could be brought, food was scarce, and we were fortunate to be able to buy mamaliga (a Romanian staple made of cornmeal mush and topped with sour cream or cottage cheese) at the Villa Syndicat, one of the few local restaurants that was open. The management also proudly produced some peach drink from Bulgaria, kept “fresh,” we were told, by a special Bulgarian process of “preserving it in the bottle.”

Illness was very rare in Rita's childhood. Rita had a bout of diphtheria while the family was on holiday in 1929; it was the only serious threat to her health as a child. She became delirious from a high fever. When Rita was three, she was taken to the eye doctor. “My mother told me that I was diagnosed as being nearsighted and in need of glasses. I remember leaving the doctor's office, which was in his home in Czernowitz. There was an impressive stone stairway, and I threw my first pair of glasses down it. They got smashed and my mother declared, ‘I don't like you to wear spectacles.' Neither did I, obviously, so I didn't wear glasses and I didn't see.” In school this meant that Rita had to sit in the front row. Even at the university she would not wear glasses. (In the United States, later in life, Rita started using contact lenses, which did not have the same stigma for her.) Rita's childhood intolerance of myopia extended to other children who were similarly “defective.” One day she reported to her mother that she did not like Hilda Abraham. “Hilda wore glasses, was nearsighted and cross-eyed. As far as I was concerned, Hilda was no good.”

On our trip to Romania, we journeyed by train from Bucharest through the Moldavian Soviet Socialist Republic to the Ukraine. Rita found it difficult to change her contact lenses in the inadequately lighted train bathroom. At the Soviet border we were searched in our compartments at 4:00 A.M. by Russian customs inspectors, and Rita was shaken by the experience. Later, when the train slowed without apparent reason, she remarked sardonically that the engineer was slowing down to make it easier for her to change her lenses. I realized that she had felt doubly vulnerable: the weakness of her vision blended with memories of dehumanizing government treatment evoked by the customs search.

But Rita never let the burden of poor vision daunt her. Many times I have seen her hold pages close to her face, straining to read, even with contact lenses. She takes tennis lessons, and her teacher marvels at her determination on the court. He knows that the ball can appear as little more than a blue. In the late 1970s, by which time her father had become totally blind from glaucoma, Rita's vision in the better of her two eyes was threatened by a cataract. In January 1981 she underwent surgery to have it removed. Talking with her in the hospital before the surgery, which turned out to be quite successful, one could not tell that she was facing the possibility of almost complete blindness.

Along with poor vision Rita also experiences a high degree of difficulty with spatial orientation and has a poor sense of direction, but she turns this handicap to her advantage. Porters, friends, colleagues, and even strangers are inevitably at the ready to rescue her from hapless straits. The secondary advantages of this failing were evident to Rita at a young age. She remembers a scene in Vatra Dornei. “I had walked up to the well groomed hill to collect wildflowers and got lost. Suddenly I found myself in a meadow where the grass and flowers reached up to my chin. I remember not searching for a way back. Shortly after I realized that I was lost, I heard my mother call me. ‘Riterl, Ritonzka, wir kommen' {We are coming}.”

A lack of concern about money added to the atmosphere of security during Rita's childhood. Mr. Stenzler's huge textile business, with a wholesale store on the main street in the center of town, brought a feeling of permanence. Even as small children, Rita and Nora could go into the various stores in town and get whatever they wanted without paying, for “father had accounts with all the storekeepers. I never thought about money. Nobody ever talked to me about money, and I never heard conversations about money.”

Mr. Stenzler traveled frequently to the textile factory at Arad, in Transylvania, in which he was a partner, and to Bucharest. “I hung on his tales about these grand cities. To him and us, they were the ‘far west,' at least as occidental as one could get in Romania. He would come home from the trips loaded like Santa Claus with packages and packages and packages . . . dolls and clothes and things like that.” In Radauti there were daily visits to the several sweet shops. “I used to eat coffee ice cream with whipped cream every day . . . I was very fat.” When Rita was twelve, her mother was hospitalized in Vienna because of fibroid tumors. Four people from two families moved into the house to look after the children, even though the maids were there. Nevertheless, “my sister felt responsible for my happiness. She would come to me and say, ‘Ritula, I want to take you to have coffee ice cream. You haven't had it yet today.'”

Beyond comfort and security was the sense of joy about living radiated by Mrs. Stenzler. “My sister and I thought she would have permitted us anything as long as it was fun. Once we said that if she heard we had been faithless to our husbands she would probably ask, ‘Do you have fun?'” She was always in the house when the girls came home from school. “I would walk in the gate, and she would come out with her hands full of dough, or whatever . . . She would walk to meet me, always with a sparkle in her eyes. This was so in Israel.” Rita describes herself as “very naughty,” but remembers no harsh punishments or scoldings.

In the garden at 15 Pictor Grigorescu stood a cherry tree under which Rita sat as a small child, “telling my dolls stories about the wide world I had not seen.” One day it was time to start kindergarten. “There were children I had never seen before. I did not like the dirty fingernails and things like that and complained that the children were dirty. My mother came to the school and agreed. But I probably used that as an excuse because I longed for my mother, my dolls, and home. I was not a very clean of fastidious child, and my beloved dog rolled in the Radauti mud.” The next day, Rita did not return. The kindergarten teacher came to the house “for a fact-finding visit and found me under the cherry tree with my baby carriage stuffed with dolls.” She said to Rita's mother, “I think your daughter is right. It is much more pleasant to be here than in my kindergarten.” The teacher and Mrs. Stenzler agreed that Rita was better off at home and “that was the end of my kindergarten career. Nobody ever talked to me about going back. Besides, I was surrounded by friends to play with. That is how the ‘pleasure principle' operated in Radauti in those years.”

Rita's dearest friend was Mikki Drimmer, who had been too young to start kindergarten. Mikki's sister, Nini, and Nora were girlfriends. The girls' mothers had been intimate friends, and their mothers had been closest friends -- “We were third generation.” The next year, when it came time to start first grade, a new “crisis” arose. Mikki, whose birthday came in October, was, according to the local rules, not old enough. “You were supposed to be six years old by September.” So she was not permitted to go. Mikki cried for many days that she needed Rita, and “I cried that I needed Mikki. My father and my grandfather were very instrumental when the law needed to be changed in Radauti. I don't know what was done, for suddenly Mikki joined me in the first grade.”

Another problem arose because Mikki and Rita were among the tallest children in the class -- “something that disappeared later in both of us” -- and were therefore seated in the last row. Rita, whose nearsightedness kept her from seeing the blackboard, had to be moved to the first row. “But Mikki has to sit with me,” Rita insisted. Dr. Drimmer, Mikki's father, and Rita's father again appeared at the school “to demand that Mikki be seated next to me in spite of the protests of the children behind us who could not see the board. Shamefully I must admit that I did not feel guilty. There was not an ounce of social consciousness in me.”

When Rita was a small child her father would bring her dolls from his journeys to the West, and she began to collect them. Rita grew up with a series of German books, starting with Nesthackchen und ihre Puppen (The Youngest and Her dolls) and Nesthackchen als Grossmutter (The Youngest as Grandmother). “Particularly in vogue then were Curt Mahler's romantic novels. All the heroes and heroines were from aristocratic backgrounds and carried pretentious names like Udo von Axelrod. As a result, all my dolls -- I still had twenty-one when we were deported to Mogilev even though I was sixteen years old -- carried aristocratic names and had intricate family relations. Only my first Russian doll, a babushka with twelve babies of diminishing size nesting in her tummy, had a Romanian name. And so did all her children. Papusa, Printesa, and so on.”

Rita's grandfather Zaziu, as a good Chassid and Orthodox Jew, was forbidden to look at, or acknowledge, any artificial likeness of human beings. (“Only God could do that”). “So dolls were forbidden. One day my father brought me the most magnificent doll from Bucharest. She was child-size and wore a splendid green silk dress with a matching green hat. Since I was living in a kingdom, this doll, the most splendid, immediately became Queen Sylvia -- Sylvia was probably the heroine I was reading about at the time or perhaps related to a piano piece I was practicing or an audition, the Pizzicato Concertina from the opera Sylvie . Anyhow, my doll Sylvia was grand and my father rejoiced in my joy. Zaziu did not look at her, but with a chuckle would inquire every day how Queen ‘Sylvia' was doing. I think he mispronounced her name for the same reason he did not look at her.”

Later in her life, Rita continued to collect dolls, as embodiments of the uniqueness and preciousness of men, women, and children all over the world. She picks up new dolls wherever she travels and has assembled an extraordinary collection. Her living room shelves look like the United Nations. “People who are special to me still bring me special dolls from special places.”

Radauti in the 1930s before the rise of fascism was, for Rita, a circumscribed world of certainty and plenty. Promenading in the lovely town park and watching people arrive and leave from the train station were important entertainments. Rita also went to market with the maids and later with her friends. Every day the villagers would come to the large cobblestoned marketplace to buy butter and fresh ricotta and other cheeses wrapped in big green leaves. Friday was the special market day. Before 5:00 A.M., when the selling began, processions of horse- and donkey-drawn carriages and carts would clog the tree-lined roads leading into town. The peasants, dressed in brilliant home-sewn and embroidered blouses and trousers, brought earthenware, catrintzas (embroidered material wrapped as a skirt), chicken, geese, tomatoes, cucumbers, fruit, delicious-smelling vegetables, and nuts. At the height of the growing season buckets of corn on the cob were sold at each corner, as well as baskets of peaches, apples, pears, and other fruits. At the market the vendors sat on carpets and beckoned potential customers to buy their clothing, foodstuffs, and other commodities. It was a great social occasion, a time for bargaining, storytelling, and testing of wits.

When Rita and I returned to Radauti, the market was still held on Friday, and much of the peasant color remained. But the goods were scarce, fresh vegetables and fruits virtually absent, and the peasants seemed depressed emotionally as well as economically. Yet bargaining and wit were still in evidence. Rita and her daughter Sheila spied a beautiful bondita , a hand-embroidered leather vest, fringed with lamb's wool. Rita bargained for it in Romanian. Once a price was agreed upon, Rita went with Sheila to change money at the bank. When they returned a friend of the seller's was wearing the vest and the seller announced with a straight face, “I sold it.” Rita quickly entered the game. “How dare you wear my bondita!” This banter was routine and pleasurable -- perhaps essential -- dividend of the transaction.

Gypsies added a note of exotic excitement in Rita's childhood. They rode into town in covered wagons with skinny dogs and dirty, neglected children -- “with gorgeous big, black eyes” -- running behind the wagons. All kinds of lore and mystery clung to these people. It was said that if one puts a money purse on one side of a newborn boy and on the other side a violin, then depending on where the baby reaches first, he will become a thief or a violinist. A Gypsy boy supposedly reaches for both simultaneously and, therefore, becomes both a thief and a musician. For us children in Radauti, the arrival of the Gypsies at their temporary camps above Pictor Grigorescu was frightening and exciting. They loved children and were said to steal and sell them. This added color to our family romance fantasies. We could pretend to ourselves that we were really a prince or princess, stolen by the Gypsies and purchased by our parents. The fact that their children ran around naked until about age ten was captivating for us wohlerzogene gute Bokowiner kinder {well-bred, good Bukovinian children}. On summer evenings, we used to sneak out toward their campsites and, shivering with excitement and fear, watch their frenzied dances by the fire. Maybe the Romanian song “Uite aja as vreau sa mor {Look, this is how I want to die} Cu tiganul linga mine {With the Gypsy by my side} Cu tiganul si cu tine {With the Gypsy and You}” was written by someone who still felt his childhood excitement while hiding to watch the Gypsies dance.

“I can never hear a Gypsy song without remembering the flicker or their campfires, the heartbeats of my girlfriend Mikki and me as we hid in the bushes. We were in our nightgowns because these clandestine escapades were carried out after we were supposedly sound asleep in our beds. The cozy nursery with its warm white and pink linen was so wonderful to fall asleep in after ‘escaping' from the Gypsies.”

To be a child in Radauti in the 1930s also meant ice-skating at night, hayrides through the countryside, swimming by a mill in a river that ran through Dornesti, a little village nearby, and of course, parties at home with friends, family, and lots of good food. Rita's father adored music. “He was a wonderful dancer with a splendid ear for rhythm, and whenever a tune was on the radio we rolled up the carpet and he dance with us girls.”

Between Nora and Rita there were inevitable jealousies. In Radauti, such feelings were overt and expected. The rivalry between the two sisters was diluted in part by their differences in build, natural abilities, and predominant interests. “Nora and I looked alike, but she was taller and more slender; I was very chubby. She was a wonderful figure skater; I skated only fast and often. She played the piano beautifully; I practiced diligently, but never did the piano sound as soft and tender as under her fingers. Nora was beautifully dressed and kept her clothes neat and tidy; my clothes got easily messed up and untidy.”

The relationship of Rita and Nora with the family dog reflected their contrasting personalities. He was a mutt, “a street potpourri,” given to Rita by a boy in the town. She named him Leandi, after the Greek hero Leander, and he acquired several nicknames such as Leanderrucu, Rucucucu, and Prince Leandi, a reference to a reputedly royal (Polish) ancestor. Leandi followed Rita everywhere, and when he could not find her he would park himself in front of the Meth konditorei , a local patisserie, confident that she would show up sooner or later. She would receive messages -- “Leandi is waiting for you.” Leandi was not particularly clean. “He bounced in the mud in Radauti and would greet me exuberantly when he found me, jumping on me. Nora would cross the street and hide from Leandi when she saw him sitting in front of the konditorei. Leandi would run across the street -- there was only one car in Radauti -- and, to Nora's consternation, jump up on her, mud and all. Leandi was a big dog. Nora felt that I put him up to it. Maybe I did!” On the night when the Stenzler family was taken away by the Germans, a peasant came from a nearby village to take Leandi. The dog got away and ran all night until he found the train where, “covered with sweat and saliva, he lay exhausted at the train station and howled.”

Nora and Rita always dressed alike. “My mother would take us to the dressmaker, where we would select a pattern. I always wanted Nora to select hers first and then I would insist on having the same. She hated this. She did not want me to be dressed like her. It never looked the same because she cared for her clothes so well.” According to Rita, Nora tended to be soft-spoken and did not usually stand up for her rights. “Whenever she had to straighten something out, I had to do it, like returning something to the store or telling somebody off. When she started dating, which she did relatively early, I had to invent excuses and cancel the dates she did not want to keep.”

Mikki and Rita terrorized Nora and her friend Nini. “We spied on them, and when we heard of their doing anything our parents were not supposed to know, we blackmailed them. We appeared at the parties they went to and insisted that they ask their boyfriends to dance with us, otherwise we would tell this and that. I used to memorize conversations we heard between them and their friends, love letters they had received, and threaten to recite these at embarrassing times.”

Rita excelled in school. “I took and loved private lessons in languages. Nora did not, and she skipped them. I would deliver notes to her boyfriends, telling where and when she would meet them instead of taking French, English, or whatever lessons. Then she would meet me at a prearranged place and we would come home together as if we had both attended the lessons.” As Nora grew prettier and began to dress fashionably, Rita sensed “a tinge of envy in the teachers' voices.”

From early childhood Rita experienced “an almost sensuous joy from learning,” particularly reading and languages. The talent for languages was one Rita shared with her father, and, to a lesser extent, her mother. After his wife died in Haifa in 1970, Mr. Stenzler stayed with two Hungarians who maintained their privacy by speaking Hungarian. Their privacy lasted only three months, because Mr. Stenzler, then in his late seventies, learned to understand and speak Hungarian. Love of books was tied intimately to her mother's enjoyment of reading, especially in German, and to the exciting glimpses of the world outside Radauti to which Rita was exposed as a child through the stories and gifts her father brought back from his travels. Languages, too, became her bridge to worlds outside the family and the Radauti community.

Rita's mother encouraged her to read and learn not so much through insistence upon their importance as by example and support and the creation of a warm home atmosphere surrounding the school experience. “When I came home from school my mother ran from the summer kitchen to catch my stream of reports as I opened the gate, entered the garden, and told of my school experiences. I don't remember what she said or whether she had time to say anything, but I remember her hugs and embraces. Some decades later in Israel, on my visits to the United States, she would furtively kiss me the same way on my eyelids, on my shoulder, and so forth. When I would come back from a walk to her apartment at 51 Herzl Street, she would spot me from her balcony the same way she had spotted my return from school on Strada Pictor Grigorescu three decades earlier. I never returned to an empty house in Radauti from 1925 to 1941 or to an empty apartment in Haifa during my visits between 1953 and 1970.

“My mother treated my reading more respectfully than my homework. I can't remember her ever asking me if I did my homework. Quite the opposite. She would come in and suggest that I had done enough, and she was worried about nearsightedness. But when I read she walked on tiptoes, and when she walked by she would only pat my hand or give me a passing kiss on the cheek. I read Lion Feuchtwanger, Ibsen, Zola, Baudelaire, and Voltaire. I read German, French, and Romanian, and always things which were above my head and understanding . . . Finally at night my mother used to come into the children's room to beg me to put out the light and to put away the books so we would get rest.”

Many of the readings were in German. Through these, Rita developed warm feelings about Germany and the Germany people. “The memory of reading these books in my cozy Kinderzimmer is also mixed with the smell of freshly baked sweets.”

The memory of reading Schnitzler brought other associations. Mrs. Stenzler had a much younger friend who apparently did not have a very good marriage. This woman, a Mrs. Beer, “shared her confidences with my mother on their walks, and I used to be asked to walk in front whenever the conversation became really interesting. My mother was reading a book by Arthur Schnitzler at the time, and I used to read along -- clandestinely. Whenever anything really sexy came up Schnitzler would substitute words with ‘. . .' My fantasies about what Mrs. Beer was reporting to my mother became strangely entwined with Schnitzler´s book.”

Other nostalgic literary moments linger in Rita's memory. Nora had practiced Chopin valse for a recital “while I was reading The Rise and Fall of the Romanovs. It was spring in Radauti, and I was deeply involved with the fate of the Romanov families. That particular Chopin waltz, the czar's family, and the mysterious tragedies and enigmas of Russia have remained forever joined in my consciousness . There was another piece Nora practiced, “Fruhlingsrauschen” (Spring Whistles) by [the Norwegian composer Christian] Sinding. While she practiced that I remember reading Romain Roland.”

Rita attended four years of public school, which was like an American elementary school, after which the children took an entrance exam in order to be accepted into the liceul [high school]. Rita attended the girls' Liceul Elisabeta Doamna. The entrance exam was “tough, and only bright and privileged children passed it. The liceul covered eight years of study. After four years, one had to pass a matura mica (little baccalaureate) in order to continue at the liceul.

“There was a lucky match between my natural endowment and what was cherished and appreciated in that part of the world at that time.” “Teachers were always a very important part of my life,” Rita has written. Her memory of her teachers, including an eccentric spinster who taught French and had as a pet a fly to whom she spoke during class, is warm and detailed. “While in elementary and high school I was always the best in academic subjects and worse in athletics.” She is convinced that if she had grown up in the United States three or four decades later and gone to an elementary school here, she would have been tested for her lack of spatial orientation and competence in “all technical things” and been “called, interchangeably, hyperactive or suffering from minimal cerebral dysrhythmia.” She might then “have gotten placed in some classes for the educationally handicapped, my teachers might have recommended Ritalin, and my pediatrician might have prescribed it, though my mother would not have accepted such recommendations. Anyhow, in Radauti I was safe from testing, and nobody knew about Ritalin there. While my language teachers were thrilled with my talents and diligence,” she observed, “my piano and music teachers were impressed only by my diligence. My gym, tennis, ski, and all athletic teachers were always impressed with my fundamental lack of talent and lack of ability. The only asset I had and still have for these physical athletic endeavors is determination and perseverance.”

We thank Maren Reisch, Geneva, New York, for her typing expertise.