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Adrian Kachadourian

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Armenian Oral History Project
Interview with: Adrian Kachadourian
Interviewed by: Jackie Kachadourian
Transcriber: Cordelia Jannetty
Date of interview: 2 February 2017; 3 March 2017
Interview Setting: Binghamton

(Start of Interview)

JK: Okay, so good morning–good afternoon. My name is Jackie Kachadourian and today is February 27, 2017. I am here with the Armenian Oral History Project being conducted at Binghamton University Library and I am here with Adrian Kachadourian and could you please state your full name and when you were born?

AK: Adrian Millicent Kachadourian, born November 20, 1936.

JK: And what were your parents’ occupations growing up?

AK: Growing up, my father– my– me growing up?

JK: Yeah.

AK: Okay, my father was a farmer who had, um, greenhouse and grew hothouse tomatoes and my mother was a homemaker.

JK: Okay. And were your parents immigrants to this county of America?

AK: Yes, uh, not to this county– My father came to this country when he was about three years old but my mother came to this country only after she met my father and married him.

JK: Okay, and, um, were they– where were they– where did they come from?

AK: My mother came from İzmir and my father came from Harput.

JK: Okay, and, um, what caused them to leave their–?

AK: In relation to my father, there was a warning that–about the massacres before 1915. The late 1800 so they came to America but my father was only three-years-old then. My mother was vacationing and they got the word that there was going to be a gen– A massacre so she did not even go home, she left for Bulgaria and her mother followed her there.

JK: So, she could not take any of her things she did not bring?

AK: No, no she had to leave everything because she was on vacation and her mother said you know leave there et cetera.

JK: So, she came– went to Bulgaria, or she was in Bulgaria?

AK: She was in Bulg– no she was vacationing and, I guess, Izmir, you know somewhere along the Bosporus but I am not sure that the particulars and so she was visiting her aunt so, uh, so then she went to Bulgaria and her mother met her there. Her father had died of natural causes and her brother had died of in an accident.

JK: Okay and this was before, right before the genocide happened?

AK: Right. There was word going around and one of the relatives said, “Does not look good we should get out.”

JK: Wow! That is crazy. And, um, growing– where– when they, where they were growing was there a lot of Armenians in the area?

AK: Uh, I would gue– I, I guess so although I do not really know that much about–

JK: –The demographics.

AK: About any of that, no. I know that my mother was going to I think what they called it was an American college and but she had–she did not finish because of this she had to flee.

JK: Yeah. And are both of your parents Armenian, or no?

AK: Yes.

JK: Yes? Okay. So that makes you 100 percent Armenian, yeah?

AK: Yes. [laughs]

JK: Um, so growing up you had a lot, lot of Armenian, uh, ethic, ethnic, like, cultural things such as, like, food and, like, going to church and things like that, right?

AK: Well not where my father lived because he lived in a rural town and in those days the nearest Armenian Church was a good an hour to hour and a half away which was Watertown, Massachusetts. That is where I was born and, um. So, whatever culture was taught us was through my mother and my father they spoke Armenian and we understood what they said. They also spoke in Turkish too, but my mother was did all of the ethnic cooking and all of that and, um, but, my father, on my father’s side even though he was one hundred percent Armenian, his family were protestants so I grew up going to the Baptist church even. Because for whatever reason, I do not know why they, they were all I guess born in this country and, um, even though they were Armenian, they spoke Armenian, they somehow rather tied themselves to the protestant church so I grew up in the Baptist church and really did not know that much about the service. Now my mother, was Orthodox Armenian she could read, she could write, she knew the service but when she came to– when she came– when she married my father, um, she was living in the house with many in-laws and so she felt that she could not, you know, present her background and culture because they were so– they just– she just thought that, you know, with all of these in-laws she did not want to make any trouble.

JK: Yeah, she wants to–

AK: But she knew, she knew all the songs, the Armenian songs and she sang and she wrote and read and that is as far as we went. And as I said, they spoke Armenian, and we understood but we did not– we did not have to speak back to them in Armenian in order to learn they, they, they– my mother was very cosmopolitan and my father, again, coming to this country was very Americanized.

JK: Mhm. Yeah, so, um, did bother of your parents– now your mom did speak and write Armenian as you said but did your father write Armenian too or no?

AK: Um, I am, I am not. I do not think so. He just spoke Armenian.

JK: And now, how did they learn Turkish? Is it because they are from–

AK: From– yes. When they were in Turkey, living in Turkey.

JK: So, what, when in the community? I do not know if they told you this or not but they– did they have to learn Turkey as well as Armenian? Like what was– do you remember–

AK: No, I do not know. No, that I do not know I think they just picked it up and from what I understand, that they might have purposely spoke Turkish so that–to disguise themselves from, from being Armenian. But most, most Armenians at that time did, did speak, um, Turkish.

JK: Oh, okay. Very cool. Do– when you were living– growing up in the household did, uh, did your parents speak Turkish so sometimes you could not understand what they were saying?

AK: I did not understand. So, if they did not want me to know what they were saying, they would speak in, in Turkish.

JK: Yeah? And growing up did you have any siblings? Um–

AK: Yes, I have two sisters and a brother.

JK: Can you, uh, name them and put their relation as to you within age. So like, who’s older and–

AK: Oh all right, then I’ll start with the oldest. My sister, Phyllis, then my second sister, Beverley, then me, Adrian, and then my brother, Clive.

JK: And so, all of you guys learned Armenian growing up as a small child?

AK: Learning only– just to understand just to understand Armenian. Um, we never spoke it even though they did, they spoke amongst themselves and or with family member that may or visitors that were Armenian that would come to the house and they would speak. But we do not– we picked it up. I think that I spoke more because when I was going to college, I, uh, instead of living in school, I lived in with an Armenian woman and she did not know very much English but she knew Armenian so that was I said to her I said “I will teach you English and you will teach me Armenian” and that is about–

JK: Wow that must have been nice.

AK: It was, it was nice.

JK: Um, so do you– when you were younger did you attend Armenian language school or bible school?

AK: No, no language school at all.

JK: Growing up in your area as a child, I know you said you went to protestant church– Baptist church. Was there an Armenian Church near your area?

AK: No, the nearest one, as I said, was in Watertown, Massachusetts which was probably at that time maybe, uh, two hours to get there, you know because, of the, the highway and was not built then–

JK: Yeah, um, did– was there any people in your community that were Armenian as well or was it just you that was–

AK: No, it was mostly, it was mostly my father’s relatives, uh, his brothers and sisters and or there were friends in the next town over and they, they used to talk Armenian with them and play backgammon and, and that is how I learned the numbers because they would say the numbers in Turkish, so that is how– that is my only knowledge of, um, the numbers in Turkish.

JK: Wow! That is crazy. Um, so, in the household when you–when your parents were talking to you, they spoke Armenian, and you just?

AK: Not all the time. It was English, it was primarily English and, um, yeah.

JK: So, um, when you were growing up, there was not a lot of Armenian community around you except with your family, and so how did you keep the Armenian culture in your life strong?
[phone rings]

JK: We can stop. [pause in audio]

JK: Okay so, um, so how did you keep the Armenian, uh, Armenian culture in your life strong like with the food and, um, because I know you go to church regularly and still have that Armenian culture in your life.

AK: Well once in a while, my mother would take, take me, I do not know about my sisters, but my mother would take me once in a while I remember we used to– we would go to the service but it was so strange to me because I did not understand anything and, um, and so as far as the culture, all I knew growing up was that my mother and father– if there were Armenian friends they entertained a great deal and it would be there were distance cousins from Providence, Rhode Island, but they were all very, very Americanized. That is the only thing I can say so it was not like oh we must speak Armenian and we must, you know, um, learn to speak Armenian and this and that and it was– I just did not think very much about the Armenian culture, only the food and my mother and father entertained and I would listen to them speak, you know, Armenian to them to the friends and that was that was about it.

JK: So, growing up, did you think that you because more Americanized because of your father, he lived here longer and–

AK: Oh, I definitely felt, you know, Americanized and, you know, at one time at some– one point if, um, my father’s family if they spoke Armenian in public they were embarrassed. So, um, and I really did not, you know, I, I did not learn to speak so I just did not– I just thought nothing of it because I had a wonderful childhood and I loved being on the farm and you know being Armenian was, was and I did not have to marry an Armenian, you know, like there are some families that feel that, you know, have to marry an Armenian. My father was not like that and he said he just wanted me to marry someone who was not lazy and, and that was about it so it– that was not– it was in the background, if you will, as far as growing up.

JK: So, um, going back to marrying an Armenian, so, you did not feel pressurized to marry someone who was Armenian?

AK: No.

JK: Okay.

AK: Although, um, when I was in college, I met, I met two girlfriends that were Armenian and that is when we started to go to the Armenian dances and we would go everywhere together and that is and then that is how I learned the, the steps because there was a group of us, boys and girls, and so it was really very nice because when I went to when I went to college, Boston University, I lived with a woman. This was while I was in college. I lived with this other woman when I was working, um, and I and I lived right in Watertown so– which is the heart of Armenians, and I– it is like little Armenian and so that is when I met people my age and that is what started me in going to the dances and I enjoyed going to the dances and it was my only way of meeting anyone because to meet a non-Armenian, you would have to go be the introduced to someone or go to a bar or pickup type thing. But at least that is one thing I, I was thankful for that with the Armenian, they had dances and, of course, thanksgiving we would go right into Boston to the big dances and, and, um, Christmas eve or New Years’ eve that is when they would have them it was wonderful.

JK: Yeah, so, um, going back to when you were in like growing up with your like family, did you guys ever have any picnics that you would attend, or like Armenian Christmas?

AK: Uh, no.

JK: No? Because I know–

AK: No, only, only when I was beginning to get in the social when I was socializing with Armenians and I had girlfriends that is when– if we, you know, heard there was going to be an Armenian picnic we would go. But my parents did not go, no.

JK: So, when you got into college, it was kind of like a rekindle of the culture–

AK: Yes.

JK: –So that is nice. Um, did you enjoy, like, meeting new Armenians or Armenian people that you have not really met when you were growing up, like, being introduced to the culture that you have not really like–

AK: Well it was not. You mean to all̶ being introduced to older Armenians?

JK: Or like other Armenians because you were saying growing up, you did not really have that much connection–

AK: No, all I had– wait, [indistinct] you know all I had was, uh, my girlfriends from my public schooling in, in the town that I, that I went to. I mean it was such a small rural town and, um, but in relation to when started to go to college and then started to meet Armenian boys and girls my age, you know, we, we went everywhere and then, of course, my sister also came with me, my little sister, she would come with me because my oldest sister was away, uh, going to music school and–and becoming a musician. So it was my middle sister and I who really, um, went to Armenian functions and I would say that she, um, also tried to meet, you know, Armenian boys and she met Armenian boys and my brother did not mingle in the, um, socially, growing up with Armenians. So it– you might say it was me.

JK: That is, that is interesting. Um, when you guys were growing up, did– when you like had friends over or something like that, did they, did your household have any, like, Armenian, um, decorations or anything like that, that like really stood out to you at the time?

AK: Decorations?

JK: Or like because I know there a lot of craftsmanship like a lot of people have sewn things or like things that or pictures or photographs that just–

AK: Of Armenian?

JK: Yeah.

AK: No.

JK: No?

AK: No.

JK: So did– when you were growing up, you know, how like people would say oh I am from here or I am from here did it, did you, when you were talking about Armenia if you ever did, did people know about it or knew where you came from?

AK: Uh, non-Armenians I would not say anything about me being Armenian, you know, and, you know, unless they asked, uh, and I did not know that much background either, um, about it and of course I did not know about the division and, um, and my mother, you see my mother and father were not victims of the genocide because they fled before, you know, and they were like my husband’s family, they were, they were direct victims you know of the genocide and so they talk about it a lot, so it is very hard for me to feel the anger because, uh, or of course born here in United States and my parents being very Americanized, um, there was–there was not that same feeling and, of course, you know when we celebrate April twenty fourth we–I celebrated, of course, but I– it is not like I had any serious feeling because my mother and father were not victims of the genocide.

JK: Yeah. They fled right before. Interesting. Um, so, uh, when you were growing up, uh, did you move around a lot after college, or–

AK: No.

JK: No? You stayed in the area?

AK: Well I got a job, uh, working in, um Boston and so rather than commuting from home because it was long distance, I stayed with this Armenian woman in Arlington, Massachusetts and that is when I began to, you know, speak a little bit more Armenian with her.

JK: Okay. And, um, you gra–you said you graduated from Boston University–

AK: Boston University.

JK: And what was your degree in?

AK: It was in Psychology and I minored in Sociology.

JK: Oh wow, very interesting, very good. Um, and, uh, when you were going back to your childhood, did you in your family celebrate Armenian Christmas at all or like normal–

AK: Uh, I do not remember.

JK: You do not remember?

AK: No, the big Christmas was December 25th.

JK: Okay, and as you grew up, did you start developing more of those Armenian traditions into your household? Like once you got married and –

AK: Once I got married, yeah.

JK: And, um, what, how old were you when you got married?

AK: Twenty-two.

JK: And is your husband Armenian?

AK: Yes.

JK: And how did you guys meet?

AK: At an Armenian dance in Massachusetts.

JK: Oh wow!

AK: [laughs]

JK: Um, that is really nice. Um, so after you guys met and everything, moved to where you are now–

AK: Well he was still in training at– physician, so when we got married we moved to Brooklyn, New York because he was doing his internship.

JK: Oh wow.

AK: And then after the internship, we spent, um, five years in Jersey City when he did his surgical residency and then he wanted to do an extra year in, uh, vascular surgery so we stayed there in, um, for five years.

JK: Okay.

AK: And, um, it is interesting because when he told me that, you know, he grew, he grew up in the Baptist church because there was no Armenian Church services here, maybe once or twice a year, but his mother was determined that, you know, he gets some religious, you know, um teachings, so I thought oh well this is going to work out fine, we can get married in the Baptist church. But no way were we going to get married in the Baptists church so I had to become baptized in the Armenian Church which was, at that time, in Cambri– not Cambridge, it was outside of Boston, Shawmut Avenue, uh, they were building a new church and it was supposed to be ready when we got married but it was not so, uh, anyway I, on my lunch hour because I worked at the Jordan Marsh, on my lunch hour, I went there and the priest there, um, baptized me, you know, he–with the oil and all of that. And I liked that service it was very meaningful to me and so because, otherwise I would not be able to get married I guess in the Armenian Church but I, I do not know, but anyway, um, so that was that.

JK: Wow, and then so after that you did get married in an Armenian Church–

AK: We got married in the Armenian Church, yes, and, of course, our children were all baptized in the Armenian Church but by then, you see, uh, I liked the service of the baptism it is very, very meaningful to me and, and I understand it and it was, it was nice.

JK: And what made you want to get more involved in the church and the culture of Armenians?

AK: Well the, uh, the– well first of all, some man from this church here approached me and asked me if I would like to teach Sunday school and, uh, at that time, of course, you know I had missed going to the protestant church because I had missed the sermon– the message. I, I need a message to guide me, if you will, through the, through the week. And, of course, in those days, the Armenian priest really did not give, you know, real messages like the protestant priest ministers do. So, um, I was– when we moved up here, I was going to the congregational church, um, and because there was a profound minister there that I– you know, I came home one Sunday and I said to my husband, you’ve got to come and here him. But anyway, um, they had so many different departments, the had adult bible, they had children’s they had teenage, they had this, so when this man asked me to teach Sunday school, I said how could I say no to a church who has so little, whereas the congregational church had so much. And so, but I did not have any books! So, I went to Davis college bookstore to get some basic things and then whatever I had could get from the dioses and that was, um, that is how it all started.

JK: Oh wow. So, did you enjoy teaching Sunday school?

AK: Yes, I did, because it also helped me to learn a little bit about, um, you know, the church and its teachings and, um, then of course I got into the music end because I, I love organ, I love music and, um, and Father Daniel Findikyan at that time was the organist but he was going to be going off so I took lessons on how to quickly learn the music because the, the service is practically all music and so I, I took lessons and, and learned and even though, even though I did not understand a lot of the words, I did not have to. To me, the music was so beautiful and it was a way for me to worship and, um, I, I just, uh, did not, uh, I did not have to know the meaning– you could kind of guess anyway. You do not have to know in order to feel it here in your heart and, um, and so then, of course, I got involved with the central counsel and I went to the dioses for meetings and, um, and I never realized how dedicated these women were for the love of their church. So, uh, it was very interesting because they were talking about, uh, doing the service in English and cutting it short. And I remember going to the archbishop and I was saying, you want to use me as an example you can because I knew nothing about the service, I did not understand it, it was boring and, uh, so I am a– you might say that I am a non-Armenian, you know, spouse coming to the church and I said you cannot–you cannot cut something off and that priests are now doing some things in English which are fine but, um, anyway, it is very interesting. But the most wonderful thing I think is that my mother was able to see because when she was elderly and living here with me, she would come to church and she would sit right in the front pew and she would– she knew all the songs and so she would sing while I am playing. And so, it was nice that she saw that.

JK: And so, she really enjoyed it I am assuming.

AK: Oh, yes. Yeah, she really did, she, she enjoys [coughs] excuse me– she enjoyed singing the songs. She knew, she knew it all but she felt that, you know, in those days you went with the religion of your husband. You know, uh, and so– I– you know, before you know when we first got married, of course, whenever he had a Sunday off or was not on call, we would go to the Armenian Church. But I missed the protestant church because that is what I was brought up, you know, in that and um but anyway, um–

JK: And so, you still played the organ today in church?

AK: I still play the organ and go to the service, yes.

JK: Oh wow, and, um, what, when did this start? Like when you started teaching Sunday school, did you have kids during this, or–?

AK: Yes, I did. Oh, it was about eighteen years but I cannot, uh, I must’ve had, I must’ve had all my children by then. So, it had to be probably in the seventies, I would say, in the seventies when we–because there was once we came back here and he started his practice, we– he got drafted and we went to Viet– to Atlanta, Georgia for, um ,two years. That was during the Vietnam War and, of course, there was a possibility that he could go over but he did not get– it is all about the numbers I guess I am not sure. So, for two years we were down there and, um, I had just had two of my children then, Talene and Anise at that point and so, um, then we came back. So yeah, I, I would have to say late seventies–maybe in the eighties, late eighties. Might have been summer but I cannot remember.

JK: Oh, that is okay. Um, when you were moving around, like, to Brooklyn and to Jersey City you said and to Atlanta, did there– was there Armenian like did you have an Armenian community there or–

AK: Well not right around us but we would go to church service whenever he was free if he was not on call.

JK: Okay.

AK: You know, because he was doing his residency and so, um, he would say that he’s not on call or we would go to the Union City Church when we were in, um, Brooklyn and in Jersey City. And sometimes we went to the Bayside Church but it was mostly the Union City Church and, um, but when we went to visit my mother, you know, when we went to Massachusetts we did not, we did not go to church, you know–

JK: So, like that part was not very, uh, alive with Armenian culture like where you were growing. She stayed where you guys were growing up, right, when you were little?

AK: Right, right.

JK: So, that is interesting. Um, so by the tie you got to Binghamton you really felt like there was a great definitely an Armenian culture and you really felt, I guess, in your place? Did you feel like oh wow this is wonderful like the Armenian culture–

AK: Well, I remember when there was the first time there was church service after we were married because I never– we– I never came to Binghamton until after we were married and so, um, when they, when they had a– their church dances if we were in New Jersey we would come up for the weekend and we would go to the dance and I remember, um, being pregnant with [indistinct]. Anyway [laughs]. Um, so, um, so–and then I and then I met a–people in the church–the Armenian people in the church and, you know, and that was it.

JK: And do you think that the Armenian Church is like a sense of connection with the Armenian culture or do you not–or do you not think that you need the Armenian Church to have like the Armenian background and culture?

AK: Well it all depends on where you are living. In this case; up here, you do need the church. Yes, if there was no church, um, and–and they were a lot–this–a lot of Armenians who, um, um, do not come to the church their parents may have both been Armenians but then the children may have married once spouse was not Armenian and they usually went with the um

Unknown: [indistinct] Hi Jackie.

JK: Hi.

AK: They usually went to the, um the church of their spouse, in other words if she, if the wife was not Armenian the husband would go to her church. In other words, they were not that dedicated and in wanting to have their children come to the Armenian Church when there was service. Uh, it was not like that, with my husband’s family. It was–it was important and–and, um, because they again they were direct victims of it and, and they all knew how to speak Armenian and not so much write, but some– one of them knows how to read and write.

JK: Did you–does your husband know how to speak and write Armenian or just–?

AK: Nor write, but speak. He–he–he–we did take a course when we were living in Brooklyn; we took a course at Columbia. There was an Armenian professor.

JK: Oh really? Wow.

AK: Yeah, and so, um, after work, I would stay in New York and then he would come from Jersey City and we would take this course and–because I was not that interested. He was because he was exposed to that importance when he was growing up, versus my parents, even though they were Armenian they did not think it was important to just, you know, got to speak Armenian, got to read, got to this–you know. It depends on where one is living at the time and, of course, you know, my husband said that our girls had to marry Armenians and I said, well, in this area. I said I do not know how you can expect that so I made a point of having them go to summer camp, Saint Nersess, uh, and, and they enjoyed it and they met their friends there and that is what prompted them to go to social functions. They, they– you had to do that otherwise there was no opportunity here to, you know, meet an Armenian boy.

JK: Yeah, so you took them, growing up you took them–y our children to summer camp?

AK: Yeah, when they were in like junior high, high school. Maybe ninth or eight grade, ninth grade.

JK: And do you remember when they were growing up, did they have a lot of Armenian friends that they were, that were their age?

AK: Not here in the community.

JK: Not in the area?

AK: No. There was not.

JK: Wow! So, the only really exposure was the church and then the summer camps.

AK: Uh-huh. But it–and at the church that one time there was a youth group and, um, only one or two of my, my children fit in with their age. And, so, the mothers of those aged children took on being, you know, being in charge of youth group and for a little while, we, you know, did drive them to like, say, Watertown if there was an ACYOA function going on and–and they went to Armenian functions, uh, social functions dances, um, when they were in college but, um, let me see, especially one, the youngest. My youngest, she met–she met friends and even though she was in Buffalo where there was no Armenian community, the friends would call and they would say come on down and I said you go–you go so they did want to meet Armenians if they could. But if they did not that was not going to stop them from, you know, marrying someone who was a, a decent good boy, you know?

JK: Yeah, exactly. So, um, going back to when you were married, what was your husband’s profession?

AK: Well he was studying to become a doctor, a physician.

JK: Okay, and, um, did you– could you please name your children and their age in relevance to each other?

AK: Say that again.

JK: Name your children.

AK: You want me to name my children?

JK: Yeah.

AK: Okay. Uh, Talene, um, Anise, Carnie, Alicia and Lori. And my husband wanted them to have Armenian names, okay? So, of course, me and, you know, um if it was going to be a long Armenian name I said, uh, I am going away [laughs]. And so of course the priest in Union City church at that time said well I have a niece named Talene so we said oh alright I like that. So, then I would give them an American middle name so my mother’s Virginia is Talene Virginia. And you see that was another thing with my mother, all of our names are not Armenian names at all. I mean, they are English, my brother Clive that is not an Armenian name. But my mother was very cosmopolitan type of person even though she knew how to read and write it was it was interesting. They and then from Bulgaria they moved to Paris and, and lived and she lived I think I am jumping around–

JK: Oh, go ahead, no!

AK: Oh, anyway it was just her and her mother because again her father died of natural causes and her brother died of–in an accident so it– she used to go to this factory and sew these very fine, fine sequins on, uh, royalty gowns.

JK: Oh wow.

AK: And she would pass by the ca–the Notre Dame Cathedral. And she would always go in there and light a candle. So, um, anyway. What were we saying? [laughs] Oh, uh, the names! And then of course, um, Anise is a really–Ani but I said well that is too short, Ani, no that is too short so I added “S-E” on it and her middle name is Anne. And then, um, Carnie is really, well her godparents their daughter’s name was Carnie so I said if I need to–if I need to use that name, if I am having trouble and they said, of course. But Carnie is really after a town–not or a town I guess–Garnie see, Gar-nie is really what it is. But, he, he made it Carnie so she’s Carnie Noelle because she was in December baby. So I got my American name in there, you know, and then, of course, Loring–my–Loring is–means quail and that is [phone rings] that is an Armenian name.

JK: Yeah.

AK: Do not forget your, do not forget your–

(End of Recording 1)

JK: So, this is a continuation of Adrian Kachadourian’s interview, part two. This is Jackie Kachadourian and I am interviewing with the Binghamton University Armenian Oral History project and today is March 13th, uh, 2017. So, um, what does it mean for you to be an Armenian here in–living in America today?

AK: Well I always feel that, um, to be a good American I would, um, want to show what a good Armenian I am. Uh, and I have always said this in–in speeches that I have made, that to be a good American you should be a good Armenian in the sense of you know, um, be for your citizen uh to support your culture and to be proud that you’re Armenian and share it and–and rather than, you know, not being proud that you’re an Armenian.

JK: And do you consider yourself–what do you consider yourself to be? Like a American or Armenian-American, or Armenian or–

AK: I consider myself an American-Armenian because I was born in this country.

JK: Okay, and, um, do you think that you can remain Armenian without the Armenian language?

AK: Yes.

JK: Or the church or the homeland?

AK: Yes.

JK: And now why is that?

AK: Well because, I would, um, continue with, um, the, uh, my culture in my home and, um, and expose what it is to be an Armenian to my grandchildren, uh, you know, the food, the language, well, I even try to you know teach some, some words in Armenian. They know certain words and, um, and that is that. It would be more difficult, I think, for my grandchildren because now we are, we are now all we are in our elder years, but for them if there was not a church, uh, it would be harder, uh, for them to perpetuate. Especially up here in this community because it is, um, all–spouses are not all Armenian, you know, and so it, it, it could be more difficult unless grandparents, uh, pursue the idea of showing and teaching their grandchildren.

JK: Now, um, have you travelled to other places in the United States that are– have a bigger Armenian population in their community but do not necessarily have the church as their kind of connection? Or have you seen anything–

AK: No, I have. Yes, I have. When I was, um, involved with Women’s Guild central council which is sort of like the national, um, um, organization that oversees all the Women’s Guilds and when I was chairman, I did go to, um, different states, you know. And, uh, and I realized how strong the, um, the women were in relation to love of their church and, um, and how it– they, they were very active. But because they also had the, um, population, you know, uh, certain cities like Watertown, Massachusetts and Jersey and New York, well not so much New York, but New Jersey so, um, there is a bond. They all, you know, do things, uh, for their, uh, for their church but it is more the older women because the younger mothers are working, see so it is a different, different thing now. It is the mothers, the women, the grandmothers who are in the kitchen, you know. But, uh, anyway, yes it, it does.

JK: And so, do you think without the church here in Binghamton, uh, we would have a less, lesser bond in the Armenian culture and–

AK: Yes. I do because of, um, first of all, uh, a lot of the Armenians that came here to this church, uh, when we did not have a church and maybe they had services twice a year, uh, and if their spouses were not if one spouse was not Armenian they would go to Protestant Church or Catholic Church. Uh, depending on what uh the spouse’s religion was, and they do not have that sense of, um, well, you know, for Armenian Christmas I should come to the Armenian Church they do not have that feeling too much of the children now, the mothers have and, and grandmothers they’ve all gone. But now the mothers, uh, of the children and there is a lot of Armenians here but they–they are not interested they have not been brought up in the church I guess, maybe, I do not know the reason, uh, that, uh, they do not come. And I have I have said to some of the women, um, I said, you know, I said maybe for these feast days you might– our Women’s Guild is having the dinner, the Armenian dinner maybe you could come after your church service, but they do not have that strong feeling.

JK: Yeah. I see that too. Um, so you said you were part of the Women’s Guild with the church, can you explain some of the things that, uh, you as a group do?

AK: The idea of the Women’s Guild is to help, um, uh, support, uh, functions, uh, in the church and, um, we, uh, if the Parish Council wants us to do something, we will do it. We, we have fundraisers, well, primarily the dinners, the Armenian Christmas Dinner the Lentin Dinner, um, and, uh, and we, uh, we pay for, for example we pay for the flowers on the altar, the Women’s Guild takes care of that. We take care of the gifts for the children at Christmas time and, uh, and Easter the flowers, uh, and if, if they need help, you know, if the Parish Council needs help. But it is very interesting because at one time, not so much now, but at one time the Women’s Guild was really involved in every aspect of the church. There were some that sang in the choir, there were some that were on Parish Council, uh, and so they really were and, um, I have said in my speeches to other, um, churches I said the, um, Women’s Guild is not like the gardening club or, um, or the, um, oh what’s that organization, Junior League. I said you join those because you want to get something out of it, but in relation to the Women’s Guild, it is what you put into it and, um, because it is a church, you know, organization and, of course, some Women’s Guilds say they, you know, so large they’ve got hundreds of members. We only have nine but, uh, nonetheless, if we need them to make a dish or they put on a coffee hour, for our purposes its, its fine.

JK: Yeah. And when did you start coming–working with the Armenian, uh, Women’s Guild with the Armenian Church here in Binghamton?

AK: Uh–

JK: Do you remember?

AK: Well, when I was married and we finally came here after my husband’s training and he started to practice, um, that is when I began to get, uh, involved but not that much because my children were little. But, you know, if they needed help, and then one gentleman from the church asked me if I would like to teach Sunday school and, of course, I knew nothing about, uh, um, teaching Sunday School in relation to teaching them the Armenian religion. Okay, so and at that time, they did not have a good curriculum at the Diocese that I could tap so that is how I really learned by teaching them. And I, I just went to the, um, Davis College, they have a wonderful religious store so, um, I got material from there and, um, I picked up some material from the Diocese, they would put out a letter or whatever and, uh, I would, uh, teach them that way and I taught for eighteen years.

JK: Oh, wow that is amazing.

AK: Right, and then, of course, with the organ, because being musically inclined, and I’ve always loved the organ, that when father Daniel, you know, left because he was the organist. [mutters indistinctly] Is that alright? Yeah, okay. When he left, I sl– I kind of slipped in there, like the back door and I took lessons on how to play this music right away because the following week, or whenever, there was the service next, I said oh I am how am I going to play this? Because our service is continual music. And so, I went to an organ teacher and she helped me to quickly learn the right hand and the left hand quickly and, uh, as I you know played more I, uh, I was able to do it. But that was another problem because every priest that came, if–we did not have a full-time priest, every priest that came, his idea of what I should do was different from the next priest!

JK: Oh yeah.

AK: So, there was not coordination there, of course, now there is and I thought mm what is he talking about? I did not learn this, you know! [laughs] and, um, uh, so–so that was that, but you know I grew up in the Protestant Church so all of this was very, very strange to me and even today when I am playing, I do not know the words to all the music. But it is so beautiful I do not have to know the words.

JK: Yeah, you can feel it.

AK: Yes, exactly.

JK: And did you play the organ all your life and then you just–

AK: No.

JK: Oh no, so you started learning during the time you were going to the church or–?

AK: Well, we were–we were musically involved because I play the harp, see, and I learned to play the piano from the harp. And, um, I even when I took lessons from the teacher, she would come to the church and she told me about all the keys you know as far as I am concerned, if I am going to do this, I want to do it right. And, uh, so you know she told me, um, how to do this and, um, but I, I, I love music I belong to the organ theatre, uh, society here and, um, so that was not difficult. But the reason I accepted being a teacher even though I did not know anything about the Armenian religion, really, was because I used to go to the Congregational Church and, um, and I, I joined the adult bible group and they were all senior citizens and at that time I was expecting my second child. And here I am, very pregnant and all of these grandparents in the class but it was the class that I liked and so when he asked me I could not say no because here this big church with all of several bible classes that you could pick from and this organization and that, uh, organization and the women’s group. I felt very guilty so that is why I said yes to this little church, um, even though I did not know what I was doing but, uh, I– my roots were because of the protestant church and that is how it, you know, that is how it began.

JK: And do you think, uh, this– let’s go back to like the size of the church. Do you think it is still the same like now than it was before, because you were mentioning it is small, uh, compared to–

AK: Well, we used to have a youth group and, um, what’s happened now is that, uh, our, our community is getting old and but what something is more beautiful is that we have all these little children. So, we have all these little children and all these grandparents and great-grandparents, uh, that are in the church. So, these children are going to be the future of that church if they do not move out, you know, sometimes we will get students from SUNY [State University of New York] and that is nice but there is no, there are not any teenagers, so we do not have a youth group. We did have a very active youth group and, of course, these, uh, children, uh, they did not stay here with the exception of one or two families. They, they left and got married and, you know, and, you know, we have often, we have often thought of, um, tapping the alumni of this church if you will uh to um well we, we were going to have something– I guess on the anniversary of our church. We kind of asked them if they would like to give you know, uh, something for their church because that is where they grew up and um and uh so that is um that is what it is. And, um, you know, ultimately, um, I do not think we will ever have a full-time priest again because it really is not, it really is not necessary now. And, of course, we have two wonderful priests twice a month and, uh, so and they are very dedicated. If you need them for anything, even though they are travelling, um, they will, they, they help and of course the ̶ of Father, Father Arshen, she will teach the children, the older children so now they are kind of looking for maybe someone who might teach the younger ones because it is too much of a, a, a, a gap, yes. So, um, so right now, uh, and it is wonderful just, you know, just to see that. But our church, our little church has ordained let me see, one, two, maybe three priests, you know, uh, and of course one of them grew up here. And so again, our little church is like a mustard seed but we do manage to perpetuate, if you will, and, um, and that is it.

JK: Do you see it, uh, growing in the future at all, like with the youth group coming back or no?

AK: The youth group that left?

JK: Or that– like disappeared because the generation kept– got older do you see like the church coming back with like Sunday school or like bigger populations or staying stagnant?

AK: I, I, I do not see it, of course, with these children, uh, and–we have–you have to look at the parents of the children, uh, uh, are they going to stay here and grow old here, uh, which probably most likely they will. Um, so I, I do not know if it will. I, I think it will be perpetuated but I do not think it is going to be something that will be like it was a long time ago unless we have a big influx of people but, uh, I do not see that. I, I may be wrong but I do not see that.

JK: Yeah. Um, there is also a lot of, or a few, Binghamton University students that come in here and then– here and now, like, to the church services. And do you see that as a as a good influence? Do you see a lot of Binghamton University students come, or is it like once in a while, a few of them?

AK: Uh, once in a while. Now, there was one that came, uh, and, um, he knew Father Daniel and he also knows the service, he has had served on the altar, uh, and he can also play the organ. So, I thought, hmm, this is good, uh, when I cannot play and, um, but then he–he got transferred to Michigan. Because I asked Father Daniel about him I said, you know, I have not seen Arthur, where, you know, and he said well he got transferred. So, students coming, uh, they– you know, it depends I guess where they come from. If they come from, um, a big church like, um, uh, in Queens, Holy Martyrs for example, um maybe they do not want to come to church because they moved away from home and–and then they go home for, for the holidays. So, um, but we did have a, a se– a couple from Armenia and, uh, and they were wonderful. They– that is came and they would help if we needed help and then they went back and, of course, we were sad. And one family, and he had children, they di– the children did not want to go back, they wanted to stay but, you know, but, uh, I do not know, they, they went back so.

JK: Very interesting. Um how do you think your children define being Armenian compared to yourself? Um, do you think there is a difference or its–

AK: No there is not a difference, uh, because I was, um, I was very Americanized okay see so, um, and, uh, the fact of the genocide and all of that is not as– I mean I do not even, uh, they know about the genocide but we do not talk about it on a regular basis. My mother never told me the differences between a Tashnag and a, um, a Ramgavar and this thing and that thing. She knew all of that but she, she did not and I think it is because she married into a family that was very Americanized and Protestant and she just put all of that on the back shelf, if you will. It is like she gave it up. Um, and, uh, but my husband’s family, uh, they are direct victims and, of course, they talked all the time about the genocide and about his parents and how they fled and so it is more meaningful you know to them. And, of course, they, um, learned Armenian, uh, they spoke ar– they were, they were–spoke to them in Armenian and expected them to respond in Armenian so it really, uh, I was like an outsider when I first went to, to the service I did not understand it, it was– So, I think my children are also the same way. But they, they like going to church. My youngest daughter is trying to get her baby, you know, baptized and, um, but that is important to her but, you know, as far as her when she was in Connecticut living, there is a wonderful Armenian Church there I knew the priest, I said go to church on Sunday, go to church and she did, see. But it is, it is oh, well, it is, you know, it is not that different, it is a different generation.

JK: Yeah, and how do you see it with your grandchildren, do you think they are going to have–

AK: They will be exposed to the church, uh, as far as, um, speaking Armenian in the home, not, uh, and, uh, but they will also–as they grow up will be exposed to opportunities. That is one thing about the, uh, Armenian culture the–the social aspect is wonderful and I am thankful because being up here not having a large social– I was going to make sure that they went to Saint Nersess camp because that is where they met their friends. You see, and even though they were not near each other, when they went off to college, the friends would call and they would say, you know, this weekend why do not you come down from Buffalo? And so, I would encourage that, I would say you study Monday through Friday, you take a couple days off and you go, and this is how they met Armenian friends because being girls, you are not going to go to a dance by yourself. So that is why it, it, it that is one thing I will have to say. Now do the Irish have anything like this? Probably the Greeks do, but do the Italians have anything so that you can meet an Italian? But, um, this–this was this was how I got involved by meeting some Armenians when I went to college.

JK: Now why do you think the Armenian heritage is like that here in America compared to like other uh ethnicities like you were saying Italian or um Irish or other uh ethnicities do not really do this. Why do you think the Armenians have a tendency to stay together?

AK: Well the Armenians love to socialize amongst themselves and, um, they fight a lot you know they are very, thing, but when it comes to food and the culture and the socialization, it really is ̶ they, they enjoy that. Yeah and, and the service is really very beautiful and, um, going to the cathedral, it is just–it is just wonderful.

JK: Yes, of course. So, um, what would define you as an individual, what makes you most Armenian? What did–what would you say for yourself?

AK: That is a good question. Um, I would– uh, it is a good question. I’ll have to think about that.

JK: Of course, do you want me to go to another question?

AK: Yeah, okay.

JK: Okay, um, so let us see, uh do you think uh the dis–hav–being a diaspora has affected you or your Armenian identity or like living here in America compared to like let’s say living in Armenia, being connected with the homeland compared to–

AK: I do not really have, no. I do not really have any, uh, I do not even care to go to see Armenia to visit Armenia. Um, first of all, because I do not like to fly, but I have never been, uh, one of my daughters went and, um, uh, they–they do not have that desire to go to the homeland and I think it is because in the small community like this when you are immersed with non-Armenians, um, uh, I, I do not know. They are not, uh, they are not ashamed that their Armenians. In fact, when I, um, when I am talking to someone or if I am speaking to someone that has an accent I will ask them, oh, what nationality are you and then they, they would tell me and I would say well I am Armenian. And uh I said you know if they look kind of puzzled because they do not know what it is, I will say it is like the Greeks and, um, but that is, you know, I would not go to times square, you know, when they have that big, uh, celebration of the genocide, you know, in times square it is a big to do. Uh, eh, I, I do not care to go there and say, you know, here I am Armenian, that type of thing and of course I know that some Armenians will say oh vote for this man who is running for president because he’s for the Armenians, that does not bother me. That does not faze me as being patriotic in that sense, no it is just that I am Armenian and if the opportunity arises, that I would say well I am Armenian that is what I would do. I would not hide it but, you know, if somebody looks at my name they will say oh that is an interesting name I said well it is Armenian and I-A-N means the son of and the word Kach is cross and they say “Oh that is nice!” You know, so, um, but there are some people who do not know it at all and I remember when we went to, uh, when we were going into the army in Georgia–Atlanta, Georgia now this was in (19)67, okay? Or (19)76, okay? And so, uh, she was asking me about the name. We were definitely in a southern store and she was asking me about the name and I said, uh, I said oh well it is Armenian and she said “what is that?” And so, I tried to explain, you know, and she–never heard of it. She was a southerner and so, uh, she asked where we were from and I said “New York,” she says “Well.” She says “We love all you Yankees.” So, right then and there I could tell the, the south, the Deep South, uh, how they are, you know, it was interesting. I never–what is that? But that was, you know, in the (19)70s so.

JK: It is crazy. Um, so, how do you think, uh, your children, uh, will be defined as being Armenian? How do you think they will do, they do, they consider themselves more American than Armenian, in that sense, or–

AK: Well, um, I think they are proud that they are Armenian. They like the food, they love the food and the dance, the music.

JK: Yes.

AK: Um, and of course they bring, they bring their children to the Armenian Church and, of course, one of the spouses is non-Armenian and, um, so that is, that is not a pri–it is important that they can have, um, them learn, you know, like the Lord’s Prayer in Armenian and some of the songs. And what’s interesting is towards the ends of the service two of my grandchildren, um, come right up and sit with me at the, at the organ; one on each side and so, uh, and I can hear them singing the songs so that is good. And, and, uh, they will, that will ultimately be their church it–it is their church they were christened in the Armenian Church. That to me is more important that they are, um, baptized in the Armenian Church because they can go to any church and, and they are members so, uh, of the Armenian Church and I, I think that is what important. Not, you know, being die-hard it is the Armenian Church and no other church type thing because that is not how we were brought up. My mother and father exposed us, you know, to, to the protestant church, of course, and a little bit of the Armenian Church but, of course, distance was a problem then, too. There was no Armenian Church in rural Massachusetts where I was living so and I used to get embarrassed if they talked Armenian in public, see?

JK: Oh yeah.

AK: So, um, but then when I got married and we came to New York, on the subway, I would talk in Armenian to my husband [laughs] and so and it was funny because we went to France one year to the to the, um, one of the islands. I cannot think of it now where all the French go. And In those days the French did not like the Americans so, instead of speaking English, I would speak Armenian so they would not think were from the United States. [laughs]

JK: That is so funny, that is so funny I like that. Um, so you said your husband’s side of your, the family was very Armenian–

AK: Yes.

JK: And did you see like when you were raising your children the differences uh in certain uh circumstances that would ha– to partake like for example if he would want something more Armenian more cultured, effect or would you be more Americanized and do something a different way, did you see that ever?

AK: I am not sure I, I understand, honey.

JK: So, like if, um, since he was grown up, uh, with more of Armenian uh background very, it sounds very strict like Armenian uh traditions.

AK: The, uh, the– a language. It was important that they spoke to them in Armenian.

JK: Okay.

AK: And, and answered in Armenian because, excuse me, when they were growing up, there was not a–they went to the Baptist church because my mother-in-law felt that, um, it, it, it was good, it was good that they went to the Baptist church. And he learned a lot of his bible verses which, you know, and, and was taught well. But one time, um, my husband said to his mother, you know, uh, these the kids are getting baptized in the Baptist church I want to get baptized in the Baptist church. And, of course, uh, she, she would not allow that. She said no, she said when there is church, uh, Armenian Church service you are going to go to the Armenian Church service and ultimately, he did get baptized but it was like he was a teenager. He did not understand, uh, because there was no service but, but that that strong Armenian feeling was instilled in them in the home even though they did not have church every Sunday, that was, you know, speak the language was very important to them.

JK: Very interesting. Um, so uh going back to the diaspora, what do you think uh are the differences between the Armenians of the diaspora and those who are live in the homeland? Do you see any, like, differences or things you’ve read about or–

AK: Well, uh, yeah. I do not think they have, uh, uh, the, the Armenians in this country. I do not think the, the second generation. Okay if the grand–parents and grandparents came from abroad and came here that is one thing but if the parents are born in this country, their children, um, I do not, I do not know it, it all depends on which community you go to. If there is a, a huge Armenian community with all sorts of things going on, ACYOA, ASA all of these things, they are going to, uh, perpetuate, you know, and some, some parents insist, insist, that their children marry Armenians. And I have seen I have seen in one case when I was in college this, uh, Greek boy, uh, was in love with this Armenian boy was in love with a Greek girl and the pain that the parents put them through because she was not Armenian, uh, I could not believe this. See this was totally, this was not what my parents would, would, uh, say or do, you know, they were not that way at all so um and–and they ultimately did get married but it, it put a strain, it was terrible. So, I do not know if the parents were from abroad or if they– some, some are even born here. Some priests are born here but they are very strict about certain things. You know, so, uh, its, it is hard, it is hard to say but I, I, you know, there are some parishes where the families are American born and more Americanized and so they–they want a priest that is more Americanized if, you know what I mean.

JK: Oh, okay yes, that is interesting. Um, do you think the diaspora has its own identity here in America, or–

AK: Identity in what sense?

JK: Like their own, uh, Armenian tr–like they develop new Armenian traditions that are different than you would see in traditional Armenia back in, before the genocide or when, uh, families used to live there before they had to migrate here to the United States or other places. Do you see it as, uh, different traditions developing in the United States rather than Armenia? Or like food or culture or anything like that–?

AK: Hm, no, uh, I do not think so. But, again, I would not know what the traditions are in Armenia, not, you know, I mean not going there but I think from what I understand that, um, that the cathedral, uh, in Armenia I th– I do not think you can sit I think it is standing only. Uh, I am not sure but um I, I, I think that some habits of, of Armenians that have come here to this country, um, it is a different, it is a different type of, um, feeling. They have the feeling, they have the feeling no matter if there is a church or not, okay, and if they– when they came to church if there was a church in the community, it was not to worship. That is it, I do not see that they, that the, the worship part of the service is meaningful to them. I, I do not think they are religious in that sense and, uh, coming from abroad, I think the reason they found this church here was to come together to talk in the back, okay, to play cards or backgammon or whatever. It was, um, it was not important that they come real–the service was not that it, it was more like, um, there is a church we got to go to church, that is it. Whereas for me, it had to have a meaning and, of course, the meaning through the communion. Now, I know there is a lot of grandparents, older people that do not take communion because it is not something they feel here, you see. So that may be more of an American, you know, type thing. Um, but it, it is, it is, it is beautiful it really is to go up there and confess. But there are some people, even young people, in our church, uh, for whatever reason, they do not go up. It does not mean anything to them and I think the older generation that came from abroad, uh, there was a church that meant it– they could socialize that they are in a country where now–where they can speak Armenian to another friend. And my mother told me she said the word “odar” which means, um, a non-Armenian, in other words if, if I saw somebody, oh, they are odars. She said “That is wrong,” she said “We Armenians that have come to this country, we are the odars” because odar in English means stranger. So, we are the strangers that have come to this country, and I never forgot that. So, when I hear somebody saying odar I said “No we are, we are the odars, not the not the others.” So, I say, you have to say non-Armenian. [laughs]

JK: That is interesting. Um, going back to, uh, I forgot to ask earlier. So, Kachadourian is now your last name and the I-A-N means son of or some–the occupation that the family would do. Um, uh, for your last name, your family’s last name, do you know what it was, or–?

AK: Uh, it does not have any meaning and my last name did not have any I-A-N on it. It Encher and, um, from what I understand, my mother said that they cut it short when they were over in, uh, Harput. For whatever reason, I do not know, but they came to this country as Encher and she said that at probably at one point it was Encherion. Now, I do not think it has any specific meaning as to, you know–

JK: –Yeah, the occupation. What about Kachadourian because, um, kach means cross, right, and I-A-N. Do you know any relation that has to do with anything or¬¬, um–

AK: Keeper of the cross. That is what it stands for.

JK: Okay that is what my mom was saying. She was saying it means to hold onto the cross and like–

AK: Keeper of the cross, yeah.

JK: Oh, okay is not that interesting. Very interesting. Um, so, uh, do you see the diaspora here in America different in different places for example let’s say Binghamton in comparison to like new places in New Jersey that have, uh, bigger Armenian population. Do you see differences in that? Like–

AK: Differ– what kind of differences?

JK: Um, like culture or the way they view the church?

AK: Hm, no I do not think so.

JK: No?

AK: No. It is, um, it is more, um, uh, no. They, they have their dances. They– the service is, the service is, is the same. Wherever you go the service is the same. They may have, em, um, early, uh, mode type of service, you know, type of thing but it is basically the same. Yeah.

JK: So, you think the, um, do you think that the service is really the foundation for like the church and everything like that-that is what really, like, uh, hones us to the Armenian culture.

AK: Yeah.

JK: Yes. Okay, interesting. Um, let’s see. Uh, what role do–does the homeland–homeland play in shaping the diaspora identity? Do you have any comments on that or–?

AK: You mean influence? Um, I, I, I do not, I do not think it can in influence us but I think that they, they– the Armenians do have a love of their homeland I mean some, a lot– some of them do. They go over, uh, and, uh, so I– and they support, you know, through organs–through fundraising and–and what not. There is a lot of orphans and so, uh, they, they do help their homeland I believe. Uh, we help by, by supporting, um, orphans, you know, uh, in Armenia. I– when I say we, I am talking about the guild, the Women’s guild. They support, uh, they support orphans, uh, as far as, uh, uh, my husband and I, you know, supporting their– they do have, um, uh, huge organizations. There is AGBU, there is that– we, we do not give on a regular basis, once in a while we may but we–we support by–by way of the church, you know, or that diocese here sends–sends out a, uh, uh, letter that, um, this is what’s going on, the church will support. Some individual families do, you know, there are foundations and–or if, if a loved one dies they will start a foundation, you know, so but the, uh, up here it is through the church.

JK: Yeah. Um so going back to uh the question earlier, what makes you Armenian, uh do you have an answer for that or are you still–

AK: Uh, it is, uh, it is just because I am Armenian, that is my nationality and, um, I, uh, I enjoy, uh, the culture and the service and–and that is, uh, that is I would say that is it.

JK: Do you think there is going to be a difference, uh, between the older generation and the younger one, uh, living in this community, uh, of what makes them Armenian and, like, uh, the events they might go to or, uh, cultures they might stick with or, uh, or may not utilize as they have their own family. Do you see that growing into them? Like, for example, they might not speak Armenian or learn it to their children do you see that happening or–?

AK: Well, uh, it is, it is happening with, uh, our children, uh, we do not, uh, we do not speak Armenian to them in the home and we do not expect them to res–. When they were growing up, uh, we taught them the Lord’s Prayer in Armenian and, uh, but that was it. It was more important, I think, uh, for my husband to–that they marry an Armenian, okay, and I think that that was instilled in them by his parents. Okay, and, um ,but that is not, that was not important to me but, yet, on the other hand, um, now, uh, certainly, uh, my grandchildren I think would be, would go to like Saint Nersess camp to, to–to meet, uh, Armenians so that they can, you know socialize, and go to these functions. Because otherwise how else would they meet someone? In other words, it would be easier to meet an Armenian versus meeting a non-Armenian, uh, uh, unless, of course, somebody introduced you to them, a non-Armenian or unless you went to a bar, you know, in other words, that is the one thing about the, uh, uh, Armenian culture, there is opportunity to meet, uh, um, Armenians.

JK: And do you think because of that, uh, sense of nature I guess, uh, that is what really kept the Armenian, keeps the Armenian culture strong today? Especially in America–

AK: Yeah, I think so. But, of course, we have our churches and, you know, that feeling is, is very strong and, and the children growing up, uh, like just say in New Jersey, Saint Leon’s church, it is so big that they, um, the only non-Armenian friends they have is when they go to school. And depending on, I guess, but on the weekends, okay, they are involved in Armenian Church functions. Um, now up here, we do not have Armenian Church functions so I know my grandchildren are involved in, um, sports and soccer and baseball and what have you. And, uh, so they are–they mingle with all of these people, you know, they get together with the parents and they socialize but, um, growing up, now will they be forced to marry, try to make– marry and Armenian? I do not think so but going to, uh, because they were brought up in, in the Armenian Church, uh, see the church in that sense is important because during the rest of the week, they are with non-Armenian people and non-Armenian parents and their friends and whatnot, yeah. So, uh, I know that, um, my daughter will most likely send, um, uh, you know, send her children to an Armenian camp and, um, and, and go, you know, go from there.

JK: Alright, well thank you so much would you like to add anything else that I may not–mentioned or asked?

AK: I do not think so, honey.

JK: No? Okay thank you so much.

AK: Well that is that? Okay. Tell me when the–

(End of Interview)

Date of Interview

2/27/2017; 3/30/2017


Jacqueline Kachadourian


Adrian Kachadourian

Biographical Text

Adrian was born in Watertown, Massachusetts to Armenian parents. She attended Boston University and earned a degree in Psychology. While in college, she lived with an Armenian woman who taught her the language in exchange for English lessons. At university, she became more involved in Armenian traditions, attending dances and other cultural events. After graduation, she got married and moved around a bit before settling in Binghamton. Currently, she has five children and plays the organ in a local Armenian church.





Digital Publisher

Binghamton University

Interview Format


Rights Statement

This audio file and digital image may only be used for educational purposes. Please cite as Armenian Oral History Project, Binghamton University Libraries, Binghamton University, State University of New York. For usage beyond fair use please contact the Binghamton University Libraries for more information.


Massacre; church; Turkey; culture; Americanized; Massachusetts; Sunday School; Bulgaria; traditions; language



“Adrian Kachadourian,” Digital Collections, accessed July 6, 2022,