Armenian Oral History Project
Interview with: Victoria Satenig Kerbeckian Kachadourian
Interviewed by: Jackie Kachadourian
Transcriber: Cordelia Jannetty
Date of interview: 21 December 2016
Interview Setting: Binghamton
(Start of Interview)
JK: This is Jackie Kachadourian with the Binghamton University Special Collection Library Armenian Oral History Project. Today is December 21, 2016. Can you please state your name for the record?
VK: Victoria Satenig [Kerbeckian] Kachadourian.
JK: Where were you born?
VK: College Point, Long Island, New York.
JK: And when were you born?
VK: May 24, 1931.
JK: And who were your parents?
VK: Sapega and Khoren Kerbeckian.
JK: And where were they from?
VK: Arapgir, Turkey.
JK: Why did they emigrate the USA?
VK: Because of the Turkish Genocide.
JK: What were their reasons for coming to America, what circumstances occurred?
VK: Because of the Turkish Massacre, they were being slaughtered. My mother’s father was slaughtered in front of grandmother’s eyes. And there was some other things that happened that I do not I want to tell you, that were pretty bad.
JK: Growing up, what was your household like, did you guys speak Armenian or English or both?
VK: We spoke both languages from the time we were small, you know hearing our parents speak in Armenian, that was how we learned it, from our parents, and it was easier to, you know, converse with them in their own language.
JK: Did you learn how to write Armenian, or just speak it.
VK: Just speak it because unfortunately where they taught Armenian in those days was at the church and the church was downtown New York City and it was very difficult for my parents because they had a fruit and vegetable store which they tended and my grandmother took care of us a lot of the times , they sat– so–
JK: And that was how you communicated with your grandmother, Armenian. Did you attend Armenian language school or bible school?
VK: Unfortunately it was downtown the church, like I said very difficult for us to, you know, for them to take us.
JK: Yeah, what was your mother like? Was it like traditional Armenian, what you think of, um stay at home, cook, no?
VK: She worked with my father, uh they had a fruit and vegetable store and my mother and father worked together and my grandmother was a babysitter.
JK: Um, for your ancestors in your family, how did they come to U.S.? Through what ports or ships, how did they end up coming here?
VK: Well, uh, my mother and grandmother went to Cuba and I imagine they came by ship. When they left Turkey, and from there they came to the United– well wait– no they were in Cuba and they stayed there for a while I do not know how long, not too long, from Turkey and uh what happened was, how my mother came to the United States was my father had a friend and he visited him and his wife and his– the friend’s wife– had a picture of my mother and when he saw the picture he wanted to know about her. [laughter] So what happened was he corresponded with her and he went to Cuba and brought her back to the United States. Oh well.
JK: That is funny. Did they, did they leave Turkey during the genocide or after, your parents?
VK: I do not really know.
JK: Was it in between that time period?
VK: It was, it was like um, mixed up type of thing.
VK: Most of the family was gone, my father was gone. It was just my mother and my grandmother who survived in their family, who survived the genocide.
JK: Now you were saying, you told me that your Grandmother worked in an orphanage?
VK: She was the head of the orphanage, she became the head of the orphanage in Turkey of–where the children whose parents perished during the genocide. All of the orphans were in this orphanage and Grandma was the head of it, they all looked up to her. That is why in Philadelphia or New York you know there were survivors they all called mom.
VK: Even though they had children of their own, she was essentially– when there was a problem in the family like someone was ill or any kind of problem they would call her and right away. If she was in New York she would go to Philadelphia, if she was in Philadelphia she would go to New York. Whoever needed her, she would go.
JK: Now after the orphanage she moved to Cuba, went to Cuba.
VK: Yeah, my mother and her went to Cuba.
JK: And then came to the United States, to Philadelphia or to New York?
VK: She um, grandma was still in Cuba when my mother, when my father went and brought my mother to the United States, grandma was still in Cuba. Now I do not know if I should tell you this or not but I am going to. I do not know– she had–the way Grandma came to this country–she had a fake marriage with this Armenian guy and it was a marriage but it was never–
VK: Never um, together in order to come back to the United– to come to the United States she had a fake marriage certificate and that was how she got into the United States. My mother was already here with my father.
VK: Because he brought her over, he married her in Cuba that was where they got married and when they came here they got married in the Armenian Church so they were married twice. But Grandma, that is how she came and not– [phone rings] She had to improvise, in other words, to get into this country otherwise she could not come in.
VK: They had stricter rules for– um– foreigners in those days, now anybody can come in.
JK: Yeah. How about your father and your Grandfather on your side– on your dad’s side, do you remember?
VK: I do not remember anything about my Grandfather, um, I do not know anything about him. But I have a great uncle.
JK: Do you remember how your father came to the United States, or his family?
VK: Oh, he had brothers here and, through them, I think he came.
VK: He had family here, he had two brothers Sahag and Philip and I believe that is how he came through. And he lived in Philadelphia with them for a while and then, um, when he got married with my mother then they lived in New York and he had the fruit– started his fruit and Vegetable business.
JK: Yeah, um, do you have– did when you were growing up– did you have any siblings?
VK: Him? Me?
VK: Yeah I had an older sister, Jervina, she was named Jervina translated into English, Vrejuhi which meant revenge on the Turks that, the Armenians are having children they are not annihilated and a brother, Sarkis.
JK: And um, what were their ages relative to you?
VK: My sister was uh three years older and my brother is a year younger than me.
JK: So you guys all grew up together and you guys lived in New York, right?
VK: We lived in New York, yeah.
JK: Was there a large community of Armenians where you lived? Like did you have Armenian friends or family friends?
VK: Not in the, not at first, not in the area we lived in. College Point is a small town and, uh, no. There was no Armenians in that area. There were Armenians in, um, like, there were little towns like College Point, Fleshing, Long Island that, um, not there. I think there was maybe one other family, I am not sure.
JK: Um, so did you go to, when you guys lived there, did you guys go to the church at all when you can?
JK: Because it was so far?
VK: You had to take, I think in those days it was trolley cart, nowadays it’d be a bus and then you had to take the elevator or subway. It was like a, really a–
JK: A commute?
VK: An hour, almost an hour trip just to get to church.
JK: Oh my gosh, so would you go on like Holidays or when would you usually go if you did go-like important days?
VK: Tried to, yeah.
JK: Yeah. Um, let us see when you guys were in school, when you saw your siblings or whatever did you guys speak Armenian to each other, out and about, or English.
VK: If we did not want anyone to know what we were saying we speak Armenian [laughs], which was not very nice but [laughs] we did not want them to know.
JK: Um, a lot of people say um that their parents, like your parents, would speak Turkish if they did not want you to hear what–
JK: So that is what your parents did, they spoke Turkish, if they did not want you to know something. Did you pick up on certain things or no?
VK: No not Turkish, we did not even want to know Turkish.
VK: Not they were multi– they picked up English very easily.
JK: Okay so that is good.
VK: As a matter of fact my mother went to Flushing High School at night and I would go with her, sometimes, to learn how to read and write.
JK: That is nice, so did your mother and father, did they go to high school or college or classes?
VK: I do not know how, I know my mother was taking some classes, night classes in Flushing High School. I would go with her to learn English. You know, to read and write.
VK: Um, but my father was here before her, so he, he knew how to read and write. He knew, um, how to speak English and all that yeah.
JK: So, he owned the farm stand, the fruit and vegetable stand before your mother came from Cuba?
VK: That I do not know, that I do not know but I know when, when uh I can remember when I was a kid that he had a store in Flushing– fruit and vegetable store in Flushing and at that time we were living in College Point–
VK: And uh um, let us see, then we moved to– from College Point to Flushing so he would not have to commute back and forth.
JK: Okay now when you were– when you guys were growing up in the area did your dad side have all of his family in the area as well? Or were they all–
VK: No his two brothers that were in this country lived in Philadelphia.
VK: One was married and one was single. No, they were both married I think.
JK: Okay, what about your father’s parents, did they come to America ever or no?
VK: They were gone.
JK: They were gone?
VK: Yep. They were not around.
JK: Now how did you end up in Binghamton?
VK: [laughs] Unfortunately, [laughs] the person who came to visit me, when I was living in Philadelphia told my mother someday I am going to marry your daughter and I just looked at him, like who do you think you are. That was how I came to Binghamton because I married a Binghamtonian.
JK: [Indistinct] Um, how did you, so you went from New York to Philadelphia to Binghamton and then moved around after that, obviously to like–
VK: Well here yeah, we had different places, in here. We lived Clayton Ave, then Highland Ave, and then came here to Westland Court.
JK: Yeah, what was it– when you– when were you– how old were you when you went to Philadelphia or moved there.
JK: Twenty-seven? And when you moved there was it with all your family or yourself.
VK: Just myself.
JK: And what were you doing there?
JK: In Philadelphia.
VK: Oh you mean talking about Philadelphia?
VK: Oh we moved to Philadelphia, I think I was about um, I thought you were talking about when I came here. I am sorry I misunderstood. Uh, let us see twelve I think, I think I was twelve.
JK: Oh you were still young and all of your family– now why did you guys move to Philadelphia?
VK: Because um there were hard times at that time, the depression years and uh my father’s business– he was not making money anymore. So uh we moved to Philadelphia because his two brothers lived here, he had family in Philadelphia. And, uh, that was why he decided to move there. He moved, he went first to you know to establish a place for us to live. And then we all moved.
JK: Did you like Philadelphia better than New York or vice versa?
VK: I think that, I think it was a little difficult because it was more sophisticated in New York.
VK: You know, even though it was hard sometimes, it was, um, there was everything there and Philadelphia was a little bit quiet– Well where we moved it was like a small town, it was called Wissinoming and it was just like uh a cute little town but it was, it did not have that excitement of New York City because you know once in a while we went to the city as kids, go to Radio City and, you know.
JK: Yeah, enjoy yourself that is nice. Um when you lived in Philadelphia did you attend Armenian school or church? Did they have a big Armenian community or no?
VK: Fairly big, but everything was far, everything was far and um it was hard to take, you know like um when they taught the Armenian classes it was at night and uh if my parents were working like during the day if their working and at night it was hard for them to– like it was downtown.
VK: You had to take a trolley car, at that time it was a trolley car and then you had to take the elevated in Philadelphia to get downtown and it was not convenient, it was very difficult. Although I wanted to learn, it did not happen.
JK: Okay, now what were some of the traditions in your household growing up that you can remember, that consisted of Armenian traditions and upbringings?
VK: [laughs] I got to think about that one, that a little–
JK: Now just for the record your parents are both Armenian, a hundred percent Armenian correct, yes, okay.
VK: [speaks Armenian and laughs] Yep, yep I never knew my grandparents, my father’s parents, I never knew them but I had a great uncle and we essentially called him grandfather and, um, that was, that was nice you had relatives at least.
JK: Yeah. Now for the traditions, do you remember like any favorite ones or– in the house with like food or crafts or anything that you guys did?
VK: Well, we always had Armenian food.
VK: And we wanted to be, you know, sometimes you want to be more Americanized, you know, like a brat [laughs] but um yeah, food was Armenian I miss it all, I miss it all because both my grandma and my mom were good cooks. As a matter of fact, my sister was a good cook too but now Victoria took over [laughs] she was a pretty good cook, I do not know about Armenian food though, um. No I know my grandmother loved to sew, so I learned that from her, you know sewing, I have not done it for a while but I used to sew quite a bit um what else. Drawing, painting you know artwork, I loved that, that is about it.
JK: Nice, um, what about holidays like Armenian Christmas or Easter would you guys do anything like that, what kind of tradition.
VK: Yep, made special foods and went to church and it was like a festive day and uh if we were near relatives you know we’d visit each other homes and be together like a family you know if we had cousins or um that type of relatives, we had, wherever we lived we had cousins and aunts and uncles. We would go to each other’s house get together for the Easter or Christmas something like that.
JK: Nice, now you guys made um [speaking Armenian], right? and did you guys do the eggs or–?
JK: And then play the game.
VK: Yeah [laughs] whoever cracked the egg well then you lose the egg to that person you know it was like a game.
JK: Yeah, that is so nice, um, when you went to high school or when you were younger you went to school did you guys want to assimilate to the– more of the American culture or did you guys keep your traditions, like you and your brother and sister?
VK: We kept our traditions.
JK: Yeah, when you were growing up–
VK: But when we went to school and you know you were a new student going to that school you just transferred when the teacher asks you about your religion or your background and you tell them, they did not know what we were talking about.
JK: Oh really.
VK: Or they sort of looked down at their nose at you, yeah you know you got that, discrimination, not all the schools. When we were younger ̶
JK: Because you were not certain ̶
VK: Was not American.
JK: That is crazy.
VK: And they never knew what our, some of them did not even know what Armenian was.
JK: So you were one of the few, or the only ones who were Armenian in your schools right, or did you know any other Armenians.
VK: No, from the time I was little I cannot remember about other kids you know but um, in my class I was the only– my brother and sister and I would be the only ones.
VK: In the very beginning because where we lived there were not Armenians near us and um, uh like they would not be in that range for that school so uh you were out of loop. You know what discrimination means.
JK: Yeah, so do you want to stop here or ̶
VK: I do not care whatever you want to do.
VK: There was a transition when we um moved to– right before we moved to Philadelphia, times were very bad, it was the depression time and all that. So uh, when we moved to Philadelphia we went to the area where my father’s two brothers lived. So he bought a house right down the street, a block or two away from where they lived so there was a family connection with his family.
JK: Oh wow.
VK: Yeah, so um that was how we moved to Philadelphia because of him going to be near his brothers when things got tough and my great uncle uh was hospitalized and he was dying so– at that time after he passed away my grandmother had to um, get a job and she was working in a– sewing– an Armenian man had like a business where the women did the sewing, I do not know exactly what they were making but she um, she had lived there in College Point for a little while and then uh, she left most of her things in College Point whatever she had and moved to Philadelphia to live with us. So that was what was kind of hard for her but.
JK: Yeah, do you have any other family members that you know of that are not living in the U.S.?
VK: Yeah, my grandmother’s brother, well I think he passed away but his son um, they live in France, he has a family and uh his daughter came and stayed with us.
JK: Oh wow.
VK: She was really ̶ Verginne, I think um your dad met her, Verginne. And uh yeah her sister and she, she went over when he was dying and then she had a sister too in France, and grandma went over when she was passing away so. She was really something else.
JK: She went all over the place.
VK: I do not even know how she did it, I hated traveling, I did not like going on ship and I hate going on a plane. I do not know how she did it. She had, she had some vitality, yeah.
JK: Did she ever go to Armenia or?
VK: Armenian, no.
JK: No, never.
VK: Not back.
JK: Never went back.
VK: No. never went back.
JK: Have you ever been to Armenia. If you got the chance would you like to go?
VK: I do not think so.
VK: I do not think so, I think uh it is– where they were it was like a killing field and I do not think I would want to– I know it is not like that now but.
JK: Just the memories.
JK: Did they actually go through the march, the– through the desert or no?
VK: I do not know, my mother did not tell me everything.
VK: As a matter of fact, I think some things happened to her that she would not speak of so. When she said Turk it was like ‘Turque’ like–
VK: Although she said that if it was not for their neighbor– Turkish neighbor– who hid them from the Turks, they hid them and I do not know they hid them, my mother and grandmother. They saved their lives, that neighbor so that one, one neighbor was a good person.
JK: So they would come around, the Turkish soldiers and take them?
VK: Oh yeah just ̶
JK: That is crazy ̶ oh sorry go head.
VK: Like I said, you know they beheaded my grandfather in front of my grandmothers so, and they committed atrocities and they come back and try to, you know, but the second time around the neighbor, the Turkish neighbor hid them so they could not you know do more damage than they did in the beginning.
JK: Were there a lot of Armenians in that area?
VK: Oh yeah, Arapgir ̶
JK: So a lot of Armenians and Turkish, right?
VK: I do not know if, I do not know if it was even or what the ratio was but they lived together, they were neighbors, you know they were friendly but this Atatürk I do not know what his game was just to get rid of all the Armenians or what, I do not know what his aim was to annihilate them but it did not work.
VK: It did not work. Like everybody that came here had children.
JK: Hmm and grew, now um where they grew up, what did– in Turkey, did they– because I know Armenians who grew up in there, their last name like Kerbeckian it means something of their occupation. Do you remember what it means?
VK: I think it, I do not know if it means snake or not [laughs], I think I am not sure.
JK: I can ask my mom, because she said Kachadourian which is your name now from grandpa that uh it means to catch or keep the cross, hold on to the Armenian cross.
JK: That was she was saying?
VK: Oh well ask her what Kerbeckian means.
JK: Okay, I will write that down. Now do you remember if they had church in Turkey or like churches or anything?
VK: They had church, yeah.
JK: They did?
VK: As far as I know they had church, because I do not think my, my um mother’s, my grandmother’s– I think one of my grandmother’s brothers was a priest yeah.
JK: Oh wow.
VK: I think so, yeah they had church.
JK: Now going back to your life here in America um how– did you go to college or attend night school or anything like that or have a job growing up?
VK: When I was growing up in– um– I could not get a job, my brother could not get a job because we both look like little kids, you know they just look at you and forget about it. So uh I did not get a job until I was seventeen, after I graduated so at seventeen I got a job for the– with the Bell telephone and then uh after that I started working for the Navy, so. But in the beginning when I was in school I could never get one. My brother could not get one either until he graduated.
VK: And tried to look a little bit older.
JK: Um, so did you attend college or–
VK: Night school.
JK: And where did you attend night school?
VK: Uh, what the heck was the name of that school?
JK: The art school in Philadelphia?
VK: I went to, one was oh I cannot remember the name of it now, the Moore Institute for Women, I went at night and then I think the other one was a, there is another art school for– I am trying to think of the name of it. I have to look in the directory or something, there is another art school for everybody and then I went there. I went to school five nights a week and then there was a– oh I cannot remember, if you look up the thing about art schools in Philadelphia directory you will probably find out. I went to three different schools five nights a week.
JK: Wow and you worked as well right.
VK: Yeah so, I never got home before say nine thirty, ten o’clock at night.
JK: Oh my goodness.
VK: I do not know how I did it, three different schools for five nights a week.
JK: Wow, with your other jobs as well, that is crazy.
VK: Yeah for quite a few years I did that.
JK: Very busy.
JK: Now any of those schools– were there any Armenians or it was just yourself.
VK: No, it no Armenians that I knew of, I knew one Armenian girl, Sophie, she went to um, Moore Institute but she went during the day, she won a scholarship.
JK: Oh wow.
VK: And the girl who won the scholarship in my class, I could just kill her– she was my friend she was at that time, she was taking day class– she would go to art school on Saturdays so she had more in her portfolio than I did. I only had what I had in high school I did not know you had to add to it and uh which I did not think was fair. And I still do not think it was fair only your work from your high school that you–
JK: Went to?
VK: And so she got the scholarship because she had bigger portfolio and uh she said to my art teacher, well who was second, and he saw me standing there but finally he blurted it out.
JK: You [laughs], rather have not known. That is crazy. Do you guys ever keep in touch out at all when you were– after that or no?
VK: No right before graduation she moved–her family moved to Florida so we lost complete touch. Yeah, she was my– you– a friend of mine.
VK: Like, we both liked the same things like ballet and art and stuff like that so you but um yeah, oh well, who knows.
JK: Now during your twenties um or like even before that did you guys have any Armenian dances or anything?
VK: Oh yeah.
JK: And that is where you communicate with like everyone from the community.
JK: Were they in Philadelphia or just around Philadelphia or?
VK: Yeah in um they would have it at a hotel or they would have it in the church hall. It was just you know it was like a getting together with your own age and it was nice.
JK: Oh that is nice.
VK: Yeah and you would meet somebody, they would take you home from the dance or they would ask you out for a date or you know. It was, it was nice.
JK: That is cute. Okay. We can–
VK: We associated with Armenians.
JK: Now, growing up, did your parents want you to marry an Armenian, like did you feel pressure?
VK: No, I did not feel any pressure but if there was, most of the guys that I– well let us see, well there were some guys that outside of the Armenian loop, but um it was in my mind try to marry an Armenian.
JK: You wanted to keep–
VK: And there were some nice, really nice guys– Armenians good looking yeah they are all gone now, unbelievable, their all gone every single one. Yeah I remember walking down the hall, my girlfriend says do you know him, I said yeah from church [laughs] and he has gone. “Do you know him” you know like he was the big shot in school, you know I was like a meekly–‘yeah I know him!’
JK: Of course, that is so funny.
VK: As a matter of fact, I had a cousin who was really handsome, he was so handsome and he died of cancer– young– and his little brother, before he passed away, his little brother was hit truck and ran into the street to catch a ball, he was around five years old. My aunt was deva– oh devastated, she was devastated, never the same. You never know. A lot of them are gone; a lot of them are gone. Grandpa says how come we are still around [laughs] I said shhh shh.
JK: [laughs] That is so funny, now when you met your husband, grandpa did you know he was Armenian before you guys communicated and all that?
VK: Um, I met his brother at a dance.
JK: Was it an Armenian dance or?
VK: Armenian dance, yeah, my cousin and I, this fella that I knew, he was an Armenian hairdresser in New York City, I knew him from other dances and when were downstairs at the hotel, at the desk um he said, you know, come to our party, we are having a party in our room, so we said okay because we were together, my cousin and I. We would not go alone, so uh and I knew the guy, he was a nice guy. Um, not one of those you know–
VK: So any how we went there, we went up to his– the room and they are having the party and we were in a foyer like you know a hallway, we were sitting down talking to each other, my cousin and I and we did not go into the party so uh. Art comes in opens the door, we need another girl for our party. So I say, I look at my cousin and okay, and he says oh no just one girl and I said I do not think so. [laughs] So then when we were leaving we stopped at the desk, my cousin and I stopped at the desk at the– asked the girl at the counter, what time the bus was coming so we could go to Silver Bay to Toms River and um, who pops up is Art.
JK: Again, which is your husband’s brother, for the record.
VK: Yeah, so he wanted to know my name and address, I said this guy does not have a pencil and paper he was not going remember. My name was long, my address was long and I said, I just rattled it off and
guess what, the next thing I know your grandfather pops up at our door.
JK: That is crazy.
VK: I mean it is like ̶
JK: How did he remember it, oh my gosh?
VK: I do not know how he remembered but he remembered it because. [laughs] So any how um I cannot remember if he called beforehand or if he just popped up in his uniform, he was in the Air Force.
JK: And this was in Silver Bay?
VK: Your grandfather and oh my mother and grandmother– and I say, I said to myself who the hell does this guy think he is. [laughs] I did not want anything to do with him. [speaks Armenian] Yeah so what, who cares. [laughs] And he gets himself stationed in New Jersey from uh where was he was he–
JK: In Silver Bay?
VK: He was in Texas or where he was some place, I cannot remember or down south someplace– the air base– gets himself stationed in New Jersey [laughs] and that was the beginning of– but I just– I did not think much of it when I– because I thought ‘he is too cocky, he too sure of himself, he is too– you know– who does he think he is?’
JK: He is a hot shot.
VK: Yeah and grandma– my mom– oh [speaks in Armenian] [laughs] so we just started writing to each other, you know, just casual letters. And when he got stationed in Jersey, like he would tell me when he had time off or something and he– we would go to Jersey and stay at the house. It was just getting to know each other. But he was so sure of himself and I– that is what I did not like. [laughter]
JK: That is so funny.
VK: Oh we went to the supermarket yesterday– every place we stopped at, you know, that we had to do business with, he had the people in stitches and I am just rolling my eyes.
JK: Nothing has changed.
VK: No! I am just–
JK: Too funny. I cannot believe he went to New Jersey, chased you down.
VK: Oh, boy! Yeah he, he asked me to marry him, I think, was it the second time we met? I think so–
JK: You can ask grandpa. The second, the second time you met, he asked you to marry him? Oh my goodness.
VK: I think so.
JK: Did–what did you say?
VK: His mother wanted him to marry an Armenian girl, but– oh she was a witch.
JK: She was?
VK: She hated– she bought this house, or she had him buy this house. It was like a rat trap. It was awful, it was filthy, I mean that place was a nightmare. And she had me scrubbing around the floors and all, I almost lost–
JK: Like Cinderella?
VK: I almost lost Corrine.
JK: Oh my god. When you were pregnant?
VK: She called me lazy so my grandmother was with me at that time and she– we went to the house to the house to clean up because she kept calling me lazy and I did not do anything so in order to pacify this woman, I started getting– scoop down– scooch down and started rubbing the baseboards because it was cat pee all over the place. And that night, her blood was all over the sheets and she said ‘look what you did to my’–it was her fault because she was calling me lazy. She was a nightmare. I do not know why she never liked me.
JK: That is terrible!
VK: Never. Never said a kind word.
JK: Aw, I am sorry. Terrible.
VK: But he idolizes her.
JK: But he– she wanted grandpa, your husband, to marry Armenian for sure?
VK: For sure.
JK: So even all his– all of his siblings and everything like that, all Armenian? Yeah? Crazy.
VK: No, Louise married a Greek, Carl married an odar [stranger, foreigner in Armenian], Oslin married an odar, Art was the only one who married an– Adrian’s not full blooded Armenian, I think her– she is half and half.
JK: Because I know her, her mother, she ex–went through the Armenian genocide like your family. And she was, remember how she was over one hundred years old and they could not find her birth certificate because they had to leave everything and they did not know how old she was.
VK: Oh my god!
JK: Yeah, isn’t that crazy? Now did your family have to leave everything behind when they went to Cuba? Yeah?
VK: As a matter of fact, when we moved to Philadelphia we left everything behind.
VK: Yeah and when we moved– before we went to Philadelphia from Flushing, we moved to Long Island City into an apartment building and we had to leave everything behind then too.
VK: Yeah. So we– you know, everything was starting from scratch.
JK: Do you guys have any pictures or passports or anything like that from Turkey or– that you can remember like birth certificates or all that is–
VK: No birth certificate or something like that, no. I do not know if there is anything from Turkey or not, I do not think so. There was a fire, a lot of things were destroyed in the fire. So, that was at the apartment in Philadelphia.
JK: Yeah. Do you think grandpa has anything from–
VK: He might, I do not know. He might because they still have the old house and whatever Louise did not take out of there that was important, you know, it would still be there.
JK: Yeah. So when you were in– la– one of the last questions–so when you were in Silver Bay in Toms River, New Jersey, did you live there like during different periods of time or just like for the summer or–?
VK: Mostly it is the summer or mostly if it is in the like offseason it is just to go and make sure everything is working in the house to adjust the heat and everything else and the boats and whatever, make sure everything is okay.
JK: And when you guys lived there did you guys– did they have any Armenian churches or anything like that?
VK: Yeah there was an Armenian church in New Jersey.
JK: Did you guys attend that when you could?
VK: Yeah. If we were– If we get up early enough, [laughs] getting there on a Saturday night or Saturday afternoon.
JK: Did you like attending Armenian Church when you were little? Did you like attending church?
JK: Were there little kids your age or people your age?
VK: Yeah, in Philadelphia, yeah.
JK: Oh that is nice.
VK: Yeah, Philadelphia, let us see– get dressed up and–
JK: Yeah, get all ready.
VK: Yeah, I liked going to church. It was hard, though, you know, it is not like here where you could just–
JK: In Binghamton, yeah, you drive.
VK: Yeah. It was– you had– and then Sunday it was hard because like the busses and things did not run like they would during the week where people always were going to work or what and they had more of a schedule. Unless you had somebody to drive you, because at that time we did not have a car. Only when my brother, my father bought the car, but he never drove the car. My brother drove– waited until he was old enough to drive. [laughter]
JK: Did you ask your brother to take you to all these places like, like he was your chauffeur at all or no?
VK: No. Once in a while, very rarely. Because I would go with my girlfriend or my cousin or something like that. Yeah sometimes, he would just drop us off or sometimes, yeah, sometimes he would go with us.
JK: Well that is nice. Okay, anything you would like to add before I finish?
VK: It has been a long journey, a real long journey. You know, there is a saying [speaks Armenian] ‘Where were we, where are we now?’
JK: Yeah. [laughter]
VK: I like the sayings the Armenians have.
JK: Very clever.
VK: Yeah. We were just two people, now we have got a big family.
JK: Yeah, it is so nice.
VK: We are so lucky to have your mom, she is a good person.
JK: That is funny, Uncle Art, you know how he, he set you up with grandpa, he– they were in an Armenian church in New Jersey, and then he set your son up, my dad with my mom, Nora.
VK: Wow. [laughs]
JK: I think, because they were all sitting–
VK: He is a matchmaker!
JK: I know. I think they were sitting at different tables and they– Uncle Art and your son, my dad, went over and sat with them because he wanted to– I think that was how– I think that was what happened, I have to ask.
VK: It is great! Oh my gosh, oh my gosh. He was sitting back in bin like a godfather. Oh boy.
JK: It is crazy.
VK: Oh, there was a time when– there was a time in our marriage where it almost–
VK: Because of her ̶
JK: Oh no.
VK: Because of– and the weeds.
JK: Oh yeah.
VK: Oh and you know my grandmother would say [speaks Armenian] ‘she is crazy, do not pay any attention to her.’
JK: Exactly, exactly.
JK: Okay, well I have to later– sometime later we will interview you for– because I have to do more about your–
VK: Fun! I enjoyed them, all of them were– just so cute together. And you could not part them. You could not part those two. Everything they did, they did together. They were the– you know the best kids, I am telling you, they were so good. I do not know what happened to them! [laughs] Do not tell them that! Yeah, that– you know I never thought that– they were just, they got along with each other and whatever she did, he followed, you know, where she went, he would follow and it was great. I said to my husband, I said– grandpa– I said you know I said we were very fortunate, the two of them. She went to college, he goes– same place! And then he goes to Syracuse. When she– it was, I do not know, it was good. I just wish she did not live so far.
JK: I know Michigan.
VK: Yeah. I hate driving out there, it is a long drive, and I hate flying out there. I do not like either one. And she wanted to come for Christmas but I said you were already here, you know, and then to come again I–
(End of Interview)