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The Beautiful Doily by Eleanor Erber

My Great Grandmother, Barbara Veres Ajkor, made this doily for her daughter Suzanna Zander, my Grandmother, over one hundred years ago. This is the story that goes with this beautiful doily.

In August 1916, during World War I, the Romanians were advancing into Hungary. Suzanna’s landlord, who was a minister, was a traitor to the Hungarians. One of his lady boarders answered a phone call warning of the Romanians advancing over the mountains. He was angry and he didn’t want the people warned, so he pushed her away from the phone saying, “Down with you Hungarians!” But the lady told my Grandmother so she fled with her children and sister late that night into the valley, across the river and into the mountains on foot because the train bridge had been bombed in their town. They traveled first North and then West. They traveled by whatever means of transportation they could—many times walking, sometimes a carriage ride, and occasionally sneaking on a train. In one train yard there were six trains and they were filling up with refugees very fast. They could not get on the first train as it was loaded, so they crawled under the train to the next one. It also was filled so they continued to crawl under each train to the next. This was very scary and frightening, especially since Suzanna’s youngest child was still a baby and being carried in a basket. At one point Suzanna collapsed from fright and her sister had to urge her on to the last train where they were able to find room in a boxcar.

They traveled for over three months as refugees and finally returned to their home in December. Most of their belongings had been stolen and their home was filled with straw as their minister landlord had given it to the enemy soldiers to sleep in and keep their horses there.

Several years later Suzanna was invited to a wedding at the minister’s home. While she was in line for dinner, she noticed the doily her mother had made her on the minister’s buffet. She told her friend that it was hers and it had been stolen while she was away. Her friend said, “Take it—it’s yours!” My grandmother took it and stuffed it down her dress, and we now have this doily to pass on to our children with this wonderful story.

4 thoughts to “The Beautiful Doily by Eleanor Erber”

  1. Great story. Your grandmother Suzanna must have been a very strong and brave women. Good for her she took back what was hers’ I know you must be very proud of her.

  2. WOW! What a story! How sad to know that people have to live under such fear. We are so blessed here in the United States of America!!! I am so happy for you that you have such a precious treasure as your grandmother’s doily.

  3. A story of courage and fortitude Michael. I agree with Bonnie that you must be very proud of your Grandmother. So sad that this fortitude had to manifest itself under oppression – I’m sure she would have been just as brave had she had a life without subjugation.

    I have to take issue with your comment ‘How sad to know that people have to live under such fear. We are so blessed here in the United States of America’
    Just think what was done to the indigenous peoples of ‘America’. Then you might be equipped to comment on Michael Booth’s story. Until then, restrict your comments – because they are on the side of the oppressors.

  4. Great story – I could see how this could be made into a book and movie. Our freedom is so fragile and precious.

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