My mom was the first born child of Olympia and Ferdinand Pokorny who altogether had nine children, two boys and seven girls. One of the girls died at three years of age.
Ferdinand was a well-educated man who worked in the telegraphic company and could speak and write in five languages. He had been in the military, but was dismissed due to health problems. He died at the early age of 59.
My grandmother, Olympia was born in 1882, immigrated to Canada in 1953 in her later years, and died in 1971. I heard through my mother, that either her mother's grandmother or great-grandmother came from aristocracy, but because she married out of her class she lost her inheritance and title. Who knows, we might have owned a castle?
My mom had a privileged early life. Her family attended operas, symphonies, plays, and travelled by train throughout Europe. Her brother Karl was a violinist and a conductor in the orchestra. My mom belonged to a theatrical group.
Photo taken in 1926. My mom is seated on the far right.
Location is unknown, but I assume this is her theatre group.
As I mentioned before, my aunt Eleanor married my father's friend John Trebych on March 5th, five months after she and my mom immigrated to Canada, in the Romanian Greek Orthodox Church.
They had a reception with many relatives and friends and it was said that the celebrations went on for a week! Refreshments were provided by the new groom as he owned a butcher shop and grocery store on Beach Road in Hamilton. They had three sons, Johnny, George, and Ed, and a daughter Eleanor. Their marriage lasted for over fifty years and their fiftieth anniversary was celebrated with a party at their home in 1977.
I remember Aunty for the many occasions of celebration at her house. Her Christmas trees were spectacular with exquisite ornaments, lights, and frosted with white snow. We always spent Christmas at her house when I was young. There were tons of presents under the tree, something for everyone! Aunty always remembered everyone's birthday, even after we grew up and moved away.
She was a beautiful baker and an amazing cook. Her cakes were always so delicious. Her cooking was superb ~ cabbage rolls, pirogies and many delicious roasts and stews.
She had a beautiful garden filled with every variety of rose imaginable. Uncle John would go to the market on Saturdays and bring a new one home for her to plant in the yard, or a special perennial that she didn't have. She was the one that inspired my love of flowers and gardening. I learned the names of the various plants from her as we walked through the paths and admired the blooms and fragrances of them all.
I mentioned a few events that I think led to my mom's breakdown, so I would like to summarize them at this point.
1. Arrival to Canada in 1927 leaving all her family and friends behind - never seeing them again.
2. The Depression in the 1930's and loss of two homes due to foreclosure.
3. My dad's accident at the factory where he worked leaving him with a damaged hip.
4. My brother Roman being born with cerebral palsy and dying at the age of seven.
5. Financial difficulties all her married life.
6. Ralph being severely burned in the explosion while in the Navy.
7. Enduring the electrical shock treatments in her menopause.
So I believe all this led to her mental condition and it was not an inherited factor. Back then, they called it hardening of the arteries. Today it has many different names, but stress is what I believe led her to her condition.
My grandmother lived to be eighty-nine and was of sound mind until she passed away and I did not know of anyone else in her family who had a mental problem.