- Posted March 26, 2014 by
Brooklyn, New York
This iReport is part of an assignment:
"Ukrainian girl with a cat." A personal journey.
Although I am only half Ukrainian I was raised in a Ukrainian household in Westbury LI, NY. with grandparents and relatives that escaped the Ukraine during the communist regime. I remember so many conversations around the dinner table at our house.
We had many relatives in the Ukraine who I wanted to meet, but my grandmother said we could never travel there because of our last name, we would be detained. My grandfather, Marchenko was a cousin of the soviet dissident writer, Marchenko who was sent to a work camp for speaking out. We used to send items and clothing, such as warm coats, to our relatives which they never received. I also remember we hid my uncle Raymond and his Polish girlfriend above our barn in my grandmother's other house whenever we heard rumor of authorites. When it was safe, they would come down and join us for meals. Eventually they were able to find a place somewhere in New York and establish a life, I don't remember where. My grandmother owned a grocery store as the part of Westbury we lived in at that time was mostly Eastern Europe immigrants, etc. I grew up with the perogies, Borscht. cabbage, pickled vegetables and even pickled pigs feet and knuckles, which I wouldn't eat. But I had plenty of eggs, brown bread, and Babka.
Being born in America, and especially with such a heritage of unrest, we quickly moved on, at least I did, My mother was Italian, Naples, but we cooked and ate and did most things Ukrainian until we moved away sometime after the tradgedy. My grandmother's farm house, which had the chickens,cow and a goat, animals which gave us food burnt down. My grandfather perished. My grandmother came to live with us in our house which was really her house, she owned it. Most of the treasures, the things that were familiar to my eye, the tablecloths, paintings, knickknacks, collectables were not salvageable. We all moved on. Life in America continued. But perhaps part of my heart is always there. The current unrest in Ukraine today brought up strong feelings. I wanted to examine what is going on around here in the New York area. I went to Brighton Beach, Brooklyn, which is called "Little Russia" or "Odessa by the sea." where I have many friends, to see if I could find something. I always had a cat, even a Russian Blue cat, for seventeen years who was my soul mate. Now I have a fat 5 yr. old cat named Tupac .He is a common black and white alley cat, no match for my Russian aristocat, Tolstoy, but I love him and this brings me back to Brighton Beach. I have been shopping there, now, meeting friends. I found a store that carries Matryoshkas, Russian nesting dolls and I saw one of this beautiful art form that stood out. It was called "Ukrainian girl with a cat." Now that fits. I bought it and took it home.
The shop that I bought it at is called, St, Petersburg on Brighton Ave. We all, Russian, Ukrainian dialects seem to get along in Brighton Beach, as far as I can tell.
The first picture is of the girl and the cat, painted by the artist, Golubeva. Picture #2 is my real cat, Tupac.
March, 26, 2014.