The hotel was called Gasthof zum Kutcherhof and was not quite a hotel, more like a rooming house. There was a restaurant and bar at ground level that had a street entrance. The rooms were on the first floor and were accessible from the back court yard. There were 10 rooms in the building. The bathroom and the toilet were shared. The dining room was in a separate building adjacent to the main building.
We were housed in a large room that had two beds and a bunk bed, an armoire, a table with four chairs. There was also sink in the room.
The owners were Hubert, a man in his thirties and his wife Renate, who looked younger.
They had two elementary school aged children. It was a family business and they all worked long hours from early morning until late at night. Hubert’s father and mother also worked there. She was the cook and he was the butcher. They also had a rooming house that housed about 10-15 families on the property next door. We all ate together in the dining room. They had three employees, two were cleaning the rooms and one worked in the kitchen. Hubert was the boss, he also worked in the restaurant/bar at night.
As soon we settled in our room, it was time for lunch. We went down to the dinning room and met the other guests/refugees. Most of the families were from Poland, two families from Czechoslovakia, one family from Bulgaria, one Romanian family and one couple from Hungary.
The Hungarian couple Vali and Laci, invited us to their table and we ate together from then on until their departure in the summer. Because we spoke the same language and were the same age group, we spent a lot of time together telling each other our life stories, our dreams for the future and we went on hikes together in the forests surrounding the town.
The town people were very kind and did not show any hate nor discrimination against us.
In Traiskirchen we noticed a different attitude toward auslanders (foreigners ) as they called us.
One week after our arrival to Purgstall it was Christmas Eve and the town people invited us all to Church to midnight mass. It was a beautiful night that left a lasting impression on us especially because the birth of Christ was not celebrated and Christmas was not an official holiday in communist counties. The church was brightly illuminated and filled with people. Some of us had to stand in the doorway. Locals and auslanders we all felt the spirit of Christmas and worshipped together. Before we headed back to the gasthous every family was given a little package as a Christmas gift. It contained Christmas cookies, sweets and chocolates so we can enjoy them in our rooms giving us a real festive feeling.
The days passed at a slow pace. Breakfast in the morning, then waiting for the mailman to deliver letters from the embassy or letters from home. At noon we ate lunch, then afternoon walks and dinner at night. The time spent there was like an extended all inclusive vacation , free of charge, at an alpine resort. Except we did not feel like we were on a vacation. We were anxious to move on. Our old life ended when we left Romania and our future was uncertain. The daily discussions were about who was granted a visa from the embassy and who was rejected. Most of the Polish families chose Australia because the waiting period was only two or three months and the chances of being given immigrant visas were better. The Romanian family and Hungarian couple applied for visas to the USA. People wanting to immigrate to the USA needed a sponsor who had to sign an affidavit of support that showed that the immigrant will have financial support once in the US and will not become a burden on the state by using benefits. The Romanian family was sponsored by a religious organization from Detroit. The Hungarian couple was sponsored by Laci’s brother who was living in NY York state. In Canada once accepted we would receive state sponsorship. We were all waiting for the good news while days, weeks and months passed.
Spring came. then summer. We had to buy summer clothes because we had only winter cloths.
When we got there we bought a hot plate to make tejbegriz (cream of wheat) for Krisztina. From home we brought with us a red and white polka dot, 1 litre pan, a small bowl and a spoon. We used those all the way to Canada to make tejbegriz and I made it almost every day for her because she didn’t like the food we were served there. We bought a stove top espresso maker and coffee to brew our own coffee in the afternoon. We bought every once in a while a bottle of whiskey and bottles of beer that we shared with Vali and Laci. Arpad was a smoker, so we bought cigarettes.
We started spending the money we had to supplement what we received from the camp. Every months we received from Traiskirchen toiletries ,personal hygiene items and the equivalent of 20 US dollars per family.
To make up for the money we spent, Arpad found work that paid him daily.
It was very hard work, digging ditches for telephone cables. He worked from morning until night every day, sometimes even Saturdays. He worked there four months when he developed a lump in his palm at the base of his thumb. He went to see the doctor in town who sent him to the hospital in Sheibbs, a neighbouring, town, to have it removed. After the surgery he could not work there anymore. He didn’t have to, because soon after, in August, we received the good news: we have been accepted by Canada and on August 11th we boarded the plane in Vienna that took us to Toronto. The final destination of our great escape.