ACOM Book Club News - February 2018

 

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The ACOM Book Club met on Thursday, February 22, 2018, at Joe Tashjian's house. Attending the meeting were Natasha, Barb, Tom, Fran, Dana, Joe, Al, Francis, Cynthia and Leroy. Andrea joined the group by way of a phone call. Our book for this month was "Silences: My Mother's Will To Survive" by Alice Agnes Tashjian, the mother of Joe and Fran.

Joe and Fran mentioned that their brother Ed wrote the preface to the book.

Francis & others noted some things in the book which were familiar from their lives while growing up, such as dyeing Easter Eggs by using onion skins.

Some of their grandmother's memories were not included in the book because they were just too personal or painful.

She lived on the shore of the Black Sea for a few years after the genocide but was forced to move to the U.S. when Turkish troops took over that area.

She worked as a maid for a Turkish family and lived in their house. The wife and daughter of the house resented her and didn't want her there. The daughter would put out cigarettes on their grandmother's hand. In order to escape being killed with others in her group during the genocide she had to hide in a pile of dead bodies. She caught a long-lasting disease from that which almost prevented her from being allowed into the U.S.

She learned English when she got to the U.S. and taught school.

She talked about her experiences in the genocide with her daughter Alice very reluctantly and just a little bit at a time over many years. She would not talk about it at all with her grandchildren.

Bribes had to be paid in order for her to leave the country and come to the U.S. In her later years she always emphasized making enough money to be secure.

She didn't know her birthday, but that wasn't unusual for people of her time in that part of the world.

Various other aspects of the genocide were discussed, such as Armenians hiding money and valuables in their houses because they assumed that they would be returning. They would hide som

e money in their clothes so that it wouldn't be taken away. In some cases, the Turkish troops had all of the Armenians strip so that the clothes could be searched.

Documents have been found which show that the Young Turks had a goal of reducing the Armenian population in any given district to less than 5% so that they couldn't cause problems.

The book for next month hasn't been chosen yet. That will be covered in a follow-up message.

See you next month.

Leroy

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