Friday, February 29, 2008
Hungarians in the Attic
I was out walking Molly today in a different neighborhood than the usual route, and as I passed a yard I got a whiff of an odor that brought back -- what?
what is it this smell reminds me of--
a smell I hadn't experienced in almost fifty years.
It was the smell of the Hungarian refugees who lived in our attic one winter, at the time of the Hungarian Revolution. Their name was Szivos, George, Maria, and Laszlo.
Whenever you'd open that attic door a strange smell, probably paprika, garlic and liquor, would drift down. One time I went upstairs and there were catfish in the bathtub. It was utterly weird to me. Laszlo was my age, and he had a lot of trouble in second grade, biting students and the teacher too.
Maria painted exquisite Easter eggs and left them behind when they moved to a duplex in Summit, with other Hungarians. These eggs were incredibly beautiful- intricate folk art patterns. But she never blew them out before hand so they ended up smelling like-- rotten eggs. She seemed primitive- they were loud upstairs. She had red red hair.
One last story about them. There was a ceramic portrait of me that was done by an art teacher who had stayed with us around this time. But it was never fired. My mother kept it on a back bookshelf.
Years passed. My father died. I was in college. My mother came in the house one day (a house that was never locked) and there was a young man with a ski cap standing by her desk, looking at the sculpture. When he saw her he ran out. Nothing was stolen. She always thought that was Laszlo.