Transferring through Union Station

A Gift from an American Soldier

"I still carry it with me at times. Just to remind me..."

"That night we were taken off the train in Washington, in Union Station. Very, very late, late at night. This was the day before Thanksgiving of 1950.

The five of us. My mom holding Ethel, and my dad holding my hand, and my, my sister Ann’s hand. Trying to figure out where to go. None of us spoke any English. There wasn’t anybody. Again, the sight of this train station in Washington was just humongous. Really. And there was a group of soldiers not far from where we were standing, and for some reason one of them walked over to us. He would recognize we were immigrants. I mean, the way we were dressed, and I was still in my German, you now, lederhosen, and whatever jacket I had. My sisters were, you know, dressed in--they looked like little checkerboards--dresses they had my mother had made. They both, you know, looked alike, and this young Jewish soldier walks over to us. Well I say Jewish, we find out. And he spoke Yiddish to my dad. He looked at our papers, my father’s papers, and was able to get us on the right train.

He had a big bag of tangerines. First time I’d ever seen a tangerine. and he took some tangerines out of the bag and gave one to me. Gave one to my sisters. And he also somehow or other--out of his pocket--had brand new fifty cent pieces, and he gave all three of us a brand new fifty cent. I still have mine. I asked my sister awhile back what she did with hers. She said she spent it a long time ago. But I still have mine. I still carry it with me at times. Just to remind me. And he put us on the train."