Yorkville #hungary


peter bakos <pgbakos@...>
 

Dear fellow SIGgers;

At last a subject with which I am intimately acquainted.

Yorkville was where my aunt had her house and art academy on East 85th
street betwen York and First. I remember taking the train >from Bronxville
and then the Subway >from 125th street to 86th Street and walking. We would
pass under the El on third avenue. There were actually stores with signs
indicating that they spoke English! The neighborhood was German, Slovak and
Chech and Hungarian. There was a sizeable Jewish community north of 86th
famously the home of the Marx brothers.

On 82nd street where I lived in the sixties and seventies, we had the Magyar
Haz, the Reformed Church and St. Stephens RC church, all Hungarian. A few
blocks away was St. Elisabeth which was Czech. At the corner of 79th and
Second is a large Synagogue, but I think it was not necessarily ethnically
oriented.

Across second avenue was the importer Paprikas Weiss (my friend Tim Huber in
California now owns the catalogue) a wonderful place where one could smell
and touch and taste the flavors of Hungary. On 77th street is still
Orwasher the baker where one could get Salt Stangli and Hungarian Potato
Bread. At 82nd and third was Mrs. Herbst the Strudel house. Second avenue
was lined for some blocks with Hungarian stores of various types, a lot of
them having to do with food, none of which was Kosher, to my recollection.

For some years I was a part of the Hungaria Folk Dance Ensemble (not as a
dancer!) which was made up of young Hungarians as well as assimilated
Americans, and people >from various backgrounds, including a Jewish couple
and an excellent Greek violinist. Yorkville was a special place. Two
things killed it.

First was the development of high rise high cost apartment buildings. The
pressure of develpment drove out the low cost cold water tenements which
were the homes of many immigrant and first generation families.

Second was the American problem (not really a problem) of assimilation which
Hungarians seem to do easily. By the third generation people had
intermarried and moved to the suburbs and remembrances of Mom's cooking
became a dim memory as no one could even read the recipes anymore. The
ethnic shops first became curiosities to the middle class and then no longer
interesting as the food is certainly not healthy.

I think Jewish families in the U.S. have also experienced this problem of
assimilation and loss of neighborhood. It is sad for the culture, and the
religion too, but I suppose it is the price of progress.

Peter Bakos
Paris (one more week) and Sarasota, Florida
researching Moskovits, Rosenber/Racz/Rona/Ronai >from Kassa/Szina
Schuster >from Gyor/Papa
Podvinecz >from any place

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