Yeah, I got a long-life story. I’m 99 years old.
I got two grandsons and five great grandchildren. And I always say, ‘I don’t want to be here by Christmas.’ They say, ‘oh, no you’ve got to have your hundredth birthday next year.’ I say, ‘Oh, no, don’t remind me.’
I was born in Czechoslovakia. I worked in Munich for two years. I was an apprentice through a milliner. Then the war started. And they took me out because I was the youngest. I had to go to an ammunition factory for the war effort. I was so upset I cried for a week, from a millinery shop to a factory, that was a big difference. But you get used to it. Then they started to bomb Munich. So I thought I better get away if I can. And I went back into Czechoslovakia, and there was this big factory, as big as a village, and there I worked in the office, adding up the numbers by the end of the month. I was there until three weeks before the war finished. I said to my boss, ‘I’m going home.’ So I went to this railway station and he said, ‘I can’t give you a ticket, the Americans are on one side, the Russians are on the other side.’ I said, ‘I gotta get home, no matter what you say.’ So he gave me a ticket. On the train there were aeroplanes flying around all the time. And if something moved, they shot at it and they killed people right on the street. Finally, I got to the railway station. I still had 12 kilometres to go. So I walked home, and every time I heard the plane I snuck under the tree, because if it had seen me move it would have shot at me. I was frightened, I ‘spose. But where I grew up, there were all apple trees along the road, so those trees were big in the summertime and I was always able to stand under and wait till that aeroplane went. And then I walked a bit further, and I got home.
I was about 23 by then. But we were lucky the Americans came where we were living, because about 60 kilometres away, the Russians came in. Oh, they attacked the women. But with the Americans, they weren’t allowed to talk to us. After the war, they threw all the Germans out. So my parents had to go and they started again in Germany. I was young. I didn’t care very much. I was the oldest in the family. So I went every night across the border from Czechoslovakia to Germany, carrying the sewing machine for my mother, the radio, and I don’t know what else; it was expected of me. Just trying to take some things because my mother and father had to go with nothing. Then on the way back one night I got caught, the police were there and they shot at me. But they didn’t get me because they were the border patrols. And so we got into a cottage where the police was, and they were painting there. I wasn’t the only one that got caught that night. There were some more people there. And you know what we did? We pissed into the paint pots. We all went and relieved ourselves into the paint pots. Imagine the painters coming in next day! I couldn’t go back over the border again with things. When I came back, my mother said, ‘now they got your name. You can’t stay. You have to go.’ So, I went and I got over the border, nobody caught me then, because you got used to it. I was in the dark, a big forest there. And so I got over.
I’m very happy the life I’ve had. What else is coming, I don’t know.