A Very Capable Life: The Autobiography of Zarah Petri (Our Lives: Diary, Memoir, and Letters)

A Very Capable Life: The Autobiography of Zarah Petri (Our Lives: Diary, Memoir, and Letters)

John Leigh Walters

Language: English

Pages: 196

ISBN: 1897425414

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


Zarah Petri was just a little girl when her family left Hungary to find a new life in Canada in the 1920s. She showed spunk and a great imagination that would serve her well as a new immigrant and young married woman. Zarah and her family lived through the Depression, and she learned to make ends meet in any way she could, even bending the law if necessary. Her son John writes this touching memoir, told in the first person, in Zarah’s own unique voice. Her remembrances are sometimes funny, sometimes sad but always entertaining.

Readers will not soon forget the expressive, albeit at times ungrammatical, voice of Zarah Petri - a woman whose courageous spirit, generous heart, and fierce independence as she confronts whatever challenges fate conjures make her worthy of our attention and respect, as she beckons us to join her in discovering anew the country to which she journeyed so many years ago.

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waiter to pick up from all the money placed on the table, the correct amount. How naïve! How silly! Learn the values! Learn what the denominations should be when changed from forints to dollars. It’s elementary! How much longer can you continue on your trip, giving responsibilities to others, doing nothing for yourselves, and then requesting additional money as need be? How much more will be required? But, on the good side, they give you free Ogden’s tobacco on the train, my father wrote, and

that was the case, I wasn’t starving to death, the pain being plentiful, but I was indeed, hungry. A hunger such as I had never felt before. Can you imagine in your own life, looking down into a stranger’s quart glass bottle containing floating frankfurter pieces, and wanting it? Just wanting it? How lucky is this owner of this jar! Well, that’s exactly what I was experiencing as the train approached the port city of Trieste. I had spotted a lady with a jar on her lap filled with frankfurter

is still on the map of Canada if you look at the province of Saskatchewan, to the eastern part near the Manitoba border you can still see Esterhazy, the town started by the Count, who said by bringing Hungarian families to Esterhazy, he would be bringing a European culture to the New World, which he said was only full of Indians and no culture at all. It became clear later, that he was not doing it for culture’s sake, but doing it for improper reasons, and the Indians had plenty of culture of

then losing everything, the farm turning into a rented house, the Ford Phaeton becoming a pig slop truck. None of this should have been for me. I am a natural person, not appreciating the city or cars or the shiny things of a shiny life. I am never a jaybird filling her nest with shiny objects. I can spend an hour more amazed by the activity of a single beetle trying to move a piece of cow dung than all the modern wonders of man, everything he touches becoming condemned, green scum floating on

me. And I offer the prayer up, my son just sitting across from me, smiling, waiting until it’s over. Not to become too talky on this matter but I would also say that too many people claim the chicken as a simple creature. They are wrong on this. I observed the lowly chicken for many years in Becse and also here in this country, and too much the chicken goes unnoticed. If you have interest in these things, take the time to watch the chicken in its natural setting, not in pens as they are kept

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