The Daily Star, Oneonta, NY - otsego county news, delaware county news, oneonta news, oneonta sports


December 10, 2012

Three found gift of freedom in area in 1940s


Regarding the brothers, the Star wrote, “They had the job of adjusting themselves to the strangeness of good food, of warm lodging and friendliness. They had the job of wiping from their memories the horrors of Nazi brutality.”

The Turczas were eager to find employment, but their speech was an obstacle.

Francis went to work in February 1947 as a dishwasher at the Diana Restaurant, then found at 156 Main St. By December, he had become second cook.

“He’s the best worker I ever had in the kitchen,” Harry Lambros, proprietor, said. “He’s never idle a minute. And he has picked up enough English to know the foods and dishes. He’ll make a good chef.”

Walter got a job at the Oneonta Grocery Co., then found at 50 Broad St. His employer, J. Merville Bell, gave equally impressive remarks about Walter’s ambitiousness, and how during every lunch hour, he studied his English.

Ruth Sandman also struggled with her English, but had excelled in recent years while living in Schenevus and attending high school at both Andrew S. Draper Central School and later in Oneonta.

The Star featured Miss Sandman as the winner of the Oneonta American Legion’s oratorical contest in December 1947. Her topic was, “The Right Which We Defend.”

Just as with the Turcza brothers, the Sandman family saw the Nazis come to power. In their case, they were living in Duisburg, Germany. Ruth’s father became a member of the underground, fighting Nazi rule. He was arrested and thrown into prison.

Family and friends got Mr. Sandman released, and the family escaped to France. They were in Paris four years before the Nazis took power in that city. The Sandmans were aboard the last train to leave the city, eventually moving into Spain, where they secured passage on a ship going to America. They lived in New York City for two years, after arriving in 1941. They moved to Schenevus in 1943.

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