It Was Freedom I Was Interested in
Coca N.

            Well, I will tell you something. It was so hot, stuffy in there. They worked with steam. Clothes were pressed. There was no air-conditioned. There were only some fans. Sometimes I felt sick. I would almost faint among dresses. Yet, I would tell to myself: three more dollars, three more dollars, another hour has passed, I looked at my watch, three more dollars, and I added them up in my mind because I knew I had to send them home. I had to help my children, didn?t I? And I really don?t know what I lived on.

            I lived with my cousin and I gave her 200 dollars a month, because it was fair like that. In the beginning she didn?t ask me for anything. She lived with her son. She had separated from her husband and she was alone. And I slept in the same bed with her for a year and two months. I gave her 200 dollars for boarding and meals. I earned 400. I had to pay the underground and it was 50 cents then.

            That man, the owner, was so kind. I can?t remember his name. He expressed his regrets towards a Hungarian lady from Romania and he said about me: I?m sorry and I realize that she can do anything else, she shouldn?t brush clothes and I would need her at the office but she doesn?t know English. I stayed with this company which closed for four months every year, since Christmas till April and they kept me for six months, I had come on the 24th of December, to be able to consider me unemployed, they were so kind. It was official. I didn?t work illegally, not for a day.

            The fact that they didn?t accept my political asylum is another long and hurtful story. That moment they asked me: Would you like to bring your family here? I answered in the affirmative and I applied for my mother, my two daughters and my husband. So they came here officially. They had the Green Card when coming here while I had nothing. So they kept me till then and then I went to enroll for the unemployment allowance. The first week is not paid. That was the law. I have a nice empty unemployed book from which one can see I was unemployed only for three weeks at the beginning of my activity. These events were so important for me that they have been left there deep down in my mind. Generally I have a good memory.

            I have never told this story before but I have become a famous person. When it was about Emigration they rang me and sent different persons to me. I had become a kind of an advisor. I had my own golden age. None of my family has ever realized how difficult it was for me. They would criticize me, I seemed to be insane for them. I was lucky. A friend of mine, an Armenian lady, in fact a former sister in law of my cousin, a very nice lady was employed with a very big jewel company. She would go to Money Room, to Alexander too, because, having two children she needed some extra money. There was a chain of shops and she worked there at the cash desk for some hours and she recommended me too. I tried to go there but I didn?t succeed in finding that cash desk and the Alexander and yet I had been in America for six-seven months. She called me, asking me: Have you managed to get there? I answered: It was closed. I mumbled something; in fact I lied to her because I was ashamed to tell her that I had gone round and round the building not finding the proper entrance and so I had left. The next day she called me and told me: Look, this is the address,Fifth Avenue, 43 Street 521 F.A, get on the train and come right away! I got there, I was granted an interview and I asked for five dollars an hour because I had been advisedhow much to ask for. I had started to speak English a little and in the meanwhile in the six months when I worked with brushing clothes and sewing on buttons( that?s why I haven?t sown on buttons ever since) and I was  happy that I could work sitting down, I had got 3.7 dollars an hour, that was a real progress. So I asked for five dollars an hour because they ask you there how much you would like to get when you sit an interview. The supervisor or manager liked me very much and sent me to the lie detector to answer truthfully because you couldn?t have worked otherwise with Finley Fine Jewellery which was the greatestjewellery company and at that time it had about 900 departments covering the whole America. It didn?t offer the jewels under its care but I might tell you that when I went for the interview for the Green Card and they found out that I had been working with Finley Fine Jewellery for so many yearsthey took a look at the papers and said OK. The fact that you had been working there for several years was a guarantee. I worked with them for 17 years and a half. Nobody could be employed with the Finley without passing the lie detector test. The one who goes there, he goes to work. They didn?t make jewels there, they delivered them to different departments; the jewels came from all over Europe or America. So you opened parcels with jewels you walked among them. The truth is that the most difficult step in America is the first job. Why? Because you have to have gained American experience and it becomes a vicious circle. Nobody hires you if you don?t have American experience and you cannot gain American experience because nobody hires you. But I had American experience because I had worked there for six months. So I was unemployed for only three weeks, being paid only one week.

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