Alabilikian, John

"I'm an Armenian, and in 1915 my parents were killed by the Turks, and I was left an orphan, age of approximately about six years old. I think their ages were somewhere around thirty-six years old. The way they were massacred, Turkish government took my father away from his business one morning and locked him up. Next morning there were five hundred them, arms tied together and taken out of the city. Later on, we were wondered where they went. But nobody knew. Finally we were told that they were killed. There were no males, men, left, except the children and the mothers and grandmothers. Then one morning they did the same thing with women. They came along. They said that, "You are gonna be taken out of the city." And the question was asked to them, "Where are we going?" The answer was that, "You're gonna meet your husband." So we left the city."

JOHN ALABILIKIAN
BIRTH DATE: JANUARY 21, 1908

INTERVIEW DATE: OCTOBER 23, 1985
RUNNING TIME: 50:00
INTERVIEWER: NANCY DALLETT
RECORDING ENGINEER: BOB BIELECKI
INTERVIEW LOCATION: HAVERTOWN, PA
TRANSCRIPT ORIGINALLY PREPARED BY: NANCY VEGA, 1986
TRANSCRIPT RECONCEIVED BY: NANCY VEGA, 11/1995
TRANSCRIPT NOT REVIEWED

TURKEY (ARMENIAN), 1922
AGE 14
"THE KING ALEXANDER"

DALLETT: My name is Nancy Dallett, and I'm speaking with John Alabilikian on Wednesday, October 23, 1985. We're beginning this interview at 3:50 PM. We're about to hear the story of Mr. Alabilikian's immigration from Turkey in 1922. This is Side One of interview number 058. Let's start back at the beginning, and could you tell me where and when you were born.

ALABILIKIAN: I was born in Turkey, name of the town is Yazgat.

DALLETT: Could you help me spell that?

ALABILIKIAN: Y-A-Z-G-A-T, Yazgat. And I was, I was born in 1908.

DALLETT: Tell me about your family, family life there.

ALABILIKIAN: I'm an Armenian, and in 1915 my parents were killed by the Turks, and I was left an orphan, age of approximately about six years old. Both of them, my parents, mother and father. I think their ages were somewhere around thirty-six years old. The way they were massacred, I'm gonna call them massacred, Turkish government took my father away from his business one morning and locked him up. Next morning there were five hundred them, arms tied together and taken out of the city. Later on, we were wondered where they went. But nobody knew. Finally we were told that they were killed. This happened about three times in the city that I was living in. There were no males, men, left, except the children and the mothers and grandmothers. Then one morning they did the same thing with women. They came along. They said that, "You are gonna be taken out of the city." And the question was asked to them, "Where are we going?" The answer was that, "You're gonna meet your husband." So we left the city. They took us away, one hour a day, ten days. Many of the people died in their travels. We went to a village which was occupied by Turkish people. In this particular spot that we stopped at, there was a bridge there, small bridge. And this being a woman, women, there was four women standing on each side of the bridge asking you a question, "If you wanna change your religion, you will be saved. If not, you will be killed." This was your choice. So my turn, my mother, myself, my sister and a little baby in her arms, baby maybe a year or so old and my aunt, my mother's sister with her three girls, their ages were somewheres around a nine to about thirteen, fourteen, something like that. My mother said that, "Come on, children, we're going in." So we went in. She didn't wanna change her religion. Before we went in there they asked us to drop all the valuables that we had on us into a bag and most of the people did drop it in there. After they got all of us in, we're talking somewhere around about five hundred people now, all ladies. After they got us into this here spot, they, someone gave a command to start killing. And you never saw anything in your life, I hope no one else will see it. They started. The reason why I was saved was that, my aunt's husband's partner was one of the organizers of this crime. When he saw us in there, when he saw my aunt in there, said, "What are you doing here?" Said, "Follow me." My aunt got her three daughters and myself and we came outta there. Now, my mother, my sister, and the little baby, and grandmother was left in there. Now we're on the outside waiting for the killing to be over. After it was over, matter of fact, while we were waiting on the outside, my aunt's oldest daughter said that, "My aunt's in there. i'll go over and get her." But the Turkish man, he says, "If you wanna get killed," he says, "go ahead." So she didn't go in. From there, we came to a little inn after everything was over. We came to a little inn and there were Armenians saved like us, not too many, maybe twenty, thirty, something like that, that the Turks had taken outta here, young girls, young women. Someone in there told my aunt that, "Your sister's daughter was just here and the Turk took her away." So we knew that she was saved. So, we went to a little town, stayed there for a while, with this Turkish man's help. Finally, we ended up back in Yazgat. Now we're in Yazgat. My aunt with her three girls and me. One of the girls married a Turkish man, young man. My aunt married the fella that took us outta there. Now, I changed my religion, of course, I didn't know what was happening but, uh, automatically I had changed my religion. Now my aunt, God bless her soul, she was so smart marrying this man, gradually sent away her daughters out of this little town to Constantinople, which was the capital of the Turkish. The first one that came to Constantinople was the married one. So, uh, followed her another one. Finally, finally my sister and I and the oldest daughter of hers came to Constantinople. Oldest daughter put me into an orphanage, and my sister into an orphanage. She went to a girls' orphanage, I went to the boys' orphanage. This orphanage was in Constantinople. There was one thousand young boys in there and this orphanage was taken by the English government. It was the military school of Turkish government and they had rented it from the Turks to, gave it, gave it to the army so they can have the orphanage there. Now, I was in the orphanage for three years. My sister was in the orphanage for two-and-a-half years. She was sent to America before me. Finally, finally my aunt made an excuse that she had to get a breast operation and the man that she was married to, he realized that, what she was doing, he was no dummy, but he was in, sort of, uh, favoring her letting her go. He didn't object to it. So she came to Constantinople. Now there's three of us, my aunt, her oldest daughter and I. So finally, in 1922, they took me out of the orphanage and we got the boat, the ship which was owned by Greek organiza--, or, company, company, company. Name of the ship was King Alexander.

DALLETT: Let me ask you. Before you tell me about the boat trip. Um, you mentioned, um, a party was given to you How, was there a formal way that you changed your religion? Did you have to go through some sort of ceremony for that?

ALABILIKIAN: Well, of course, automatically we all had to change our religion because we're back to the same city that we are. And she, one of her daughters married Turkish farmer, and she's married to a Turkish man. And the Turkish man that she was married to, he accepted me as his son. So automatically, this change in the religion had be. Unless, if we didn't, we wouldn't have been saved. We had to change our religion. And this is when we changed our religion, this is when I was circumcised to become really a Turkish young man because this is their, uh, religion, boys must be circumcised. So this is how the religion was changed. There was no ceremony, anything like that, but an automatically, automatically. So, uh...

DALLETT: Did you know that, were you old enough then to realize that that was how you were going to be saved?

ALABILIKIAN: Well, yes. Yes, I did. I remember a lot. Although I wasn't old yet, I remember a lot. Everything is in front of my eye like it just happened yesterday. I remember going into that, to be killed in that group of people. I remember coming outta there. I remember staying in the, uh, wagon that brought us to the little village. And matter of fact, I went to Turkish school. And this gentleman that, I'm gonna call him a gentleman because he was a gentleman, he, he was put in jail.

DALLETT: The man who married your aunt?

ALABILIKIAN: That's right. He was put in jail because he was one of the supervisors of this, carrying out the massacre. And he was in jail and I carried meals for him to the jail. He was a rich man. He was well-known in the city, well-known. One of the richest men in the city and, uh, but he was in jail. I carried, I remember carrying meals to the jail. So, uh...

DALLETT: Was there, was there a difference in language then, too, between Armenian and Turkish?

ALABILIKIAN: Well, we didn't speak Armenian. We all spoke Turkish.

DALLETT: You all spoke Turkish.

ALABILIKIAN: You were, matter of fact, they weren't encouraging you to speak Armenian. You had to speak Turkish. And Turkish language was nothing new to us because we knew it. We knew it. So, I, uh, if it wasn't for my aunt, matter of fact, I wouldn't have known that I was an Armenian. I myself, was hating the, uh, Armenians. You know, Turks call the Armenians, uh, well, they have a name that they call Armenian. And that's what I was calling Armenians, that's a hatred name. "Gouver." "Gouver" is the name.

DALLETT: I'd ask you to spell that but I'm not. (she laughs)

ALABILIKIAN: (he laughs) Nah, that's too hard. They call it "gouver." When you say "gouver" that means Armenian Christian people. Christian people. So I start to hate Armenians because I was so young I don't know the difference. But thank God for my aunt. She was the one that put all of these things together and get us outta that city. And that's how we got saved. That's how we got saved. Coming back to my sister. I said that she was taken by another Turk. My aunt, when she married this rich man, well, she got to know the tax collector. Over there, the tax collector has a lot of power. He goes around the little villages collecting taxes, so he has a lot of power. My aunt told this man, "If you see a young girl . . ." she gave him the looks of her, how old she is, and the blonde, matter of fact, she was a blonde girl, blue-eyed. So says, "Look around, see if you can find this girl." After a few months he came, he says, "I think I found that girl." So he took my aunt. They went to this here little village. When they entered the village there was this little girl carrying water from the spring. When she saw these two she run away. She was scared. She didn't know who these people were. So they followed her, and she went to a house. They went in there and this tax collector, of course, told the fella, he says, "This is the aunt of this little girl and we're here to claim her." Says, "Oh, no. You can't have her." He says, "I accepted her as my daughter," says, "I had her for so long." They bought my sister from this Turkish man for five gold dollars. And he hated to give her up but, again, he had a lot of influence because he was a tax collector and the guy, the fella didn't object to it too much. So that's how my sister was saved. And she was brought back to...

DALLETT: So then you were reunited...

ALABILIKIAN: That's right, she was brought back to the same city where we were and sent to Constantinople.

DALLETT: Okay. Tell me what happened once, you're in Constantinople now. And you, and you're, you've come out of this orphanage in 1922?

ALABILIKIAN: Hmm. 1922, uh, I left the orphanage and aunt, aunt's daughter, and I, we got the boat and came, start out to come to America. The reason why we could do that was one of her daughters, the married one, was sent to America. She married a fellow here and he sent us the papers. Money was no problem. We had the money because my aunt came from a rich Turkish man's house. So we had the money. And, uh, now, this was at the time of Kamelpasha [ph] was entering the city. He was gonna take over the city 'cause he was taking lead of the Turkish government. Kamelpasha [ph]. So we got, uh, so scared. We were so scared. Usually, when they take a city over there's quite a few people killed. Fortunately, we left a week before he entered the city. So, uh, it took us thirty days to come to America. Usually fifteen, eighteen days, something like that. But there was a storm, and, uh, it took us thirty days to come to America.

DALLETT: Where was your aunt living who lived in America, who had come to America to live?

ALABILIKIAN: Philadelphia.

DALLETT: And did you get letters from her? Did you hear from her?

ALABILIKIAN: My sister, my aunt's oldest daughter, oh, yeah, they were in constant, uh, communication with each other. Yes. And, uh, well, I was seasick for, uh, twenty-eight days, I think. And I slept with my aunt. We came in third class. She took care me down below and, uh, she, but, uh. I didn't know what was going on. I couldn't lift my head up. Just sick as could be. But after the twenty-eighth, twenty-ninth day, we were entering the harbor. Well, coming out of a country that we were depressed, no freedom, and here we are entering a harbor, the boat's blowin' its whistle. And, uh, all of a sudden we saw the Statue of Liberty. Well, I think you really have to live this thorough to be able to realize what goes through your mind; how you're affected. What it does to you, something that is great big out there. You're looking at it and, uh, you're saying, "Thank God. I am free. I'm coming to a place where I can be free. Do as I please." So, this was a great, of course, we, the reason why I'm saying this, again, twenty-eight days sickness, but we anchored in the harbor. There was some kind of quarantine on the ship that they would not let us come through. And we stayed in the ship. When we stayed in the ship I picked up. My sickness went away. And this is why I'm saying that when we, when I walked out on that, uh, young boy, twelve years old, going through what I did, and seeing something out there like that was a big, big experience for me. Big experience. So we stayed on that ship for one day. Next day we were in Ellis Island. Went through the examination.

DALLETT: Do you remember what, what you had brought from Turkey when you came? What you were traveling with, baggage, did you bring any special things from home?

ALABILIKIAN: Yeah, sure. I think most of the people brought their, they called it "yorvan," which is their blanket. It's made out of wood, uh, wool, and we thought that this was a great big thing because it's wool and it, but that, most of the people, this is what their, nothing, because what can you bring? We were, didn't have anything, what can you bring? Things that we brought we thought we were bringing something, but it was valueless. I think the best thing I had on was a boy scout's suit. I was a boy scout in the orphanage and I had the suit on, the boy scout suit. And I had the belt, which is in Armenian, and it says on there "be educated and educate." This is the Armenian boy scouts saying. And I kept that belt for quite a few years. Finally I gave it to my nephew so he can wear it, have it, and remember me. And he still has it. We talk about it when I go to see him. Now, that particular day that we were on the bay, or the harbor, my aunt's daughter and her husband came to pick us up from Ellis Island but they could not get to us, get us out, but they hired a boat and came alongside the ship and we had conversation with each other. So next day is the time that we were released from Ellis Island.

DALLETT: When your aunt came through, uh, did she have to have so many American dollars with her to come through, do you remember?

ALABILIKIAN: We didn't have to have money because this man that sent for us, he was sponsoring us. He was responsible for us. He was pretty well-to-do so they had accepted his suggestion or his whatever accommodation, recommendation. But the one more thing, before we got out there was interpreters and you were in front of the judge and they asked you questions. And, of course, the interpreter interprets it to the judge. What's your name, and this and that, and you must be able to read and write. If you can't this is held against you. So my aunt, being the oldest, she could not read and the interpreter, Armenian, he says, "Say the Lord's Prayer. Take the book and say the Lord's Prayer." And that's what she recited. Looking at the book like she was reading it. Of course, everybody, I'm pretty sure, the judge knew and interpreter knew this was being done like that but they wanted to make it legal. They wanted to make it legal. So that's how we got out.

DALLETT: Did you have to go through a medical examination?

ALABILIKIAN: Yes, yes.

DALLETT: Before you came or at Ellis Island?

ALABILIKIAN: At the Ellis Island.

DALLETT: Tell me about that.

ALABILIKIAN: It's very simple. Very simple. A few questions asked, mostly they were checking the eyes. That was the most important thing as far as the examinations were concerned, the physical. Then if your eyes were no good they put a little mark in back of you, chalk mark. Then you were detained until further examination or whatever had to be done. But we were fortunate that the three of us passed without any problem. So we came through there pretty nicely.

DALLETT: So the your, let's see, would it have been your cousin then? The woman who came to meet you with her husband?

ALABILIKIAN: Uh, well, my aunt's daughter, yes, my cousin, sure. First cousin.

DALLETT: So, uh, she was there when you came out of your...

ALABILIKIAN: Next day, next day they stayed in New York overnight. Next day they came there, got us out of there. So we came to Philadelphia.

DALLETT: Did you, do you remember how you felt about seeing the skyline of New York at that point or did you see anything of New York?

ALABILIKIAN: No, nothing too much. Nothing too much, because we were anxious to get home or wherever we're gonna go and we were there. The only thing I remember is getting into a train. And outside that I don't think, there's nothing there that made a big impression on me.

DALLETT: You didn't stay overnight at Ellis Island.

ALABILIKIAN: No,no.

DALLETT: You stayed on the boat.

ALABILIKIAN: On the boat. Next morning we were, we went to Ellis Island. And Ellis Island was just, was, at that time it was a place where you went through. (he laughs) It's a place where you went through and they were nice. They were nice.

DALLETT: So you didn't have difficulty because of the language because you had interpreters.

ALABILIKIAN: Well, interpreters were the ones that really worked for us. Worked for us. They were trying to help us. And just like I said, he knew aunt couldn't read, but he helped her that way.

DALLETT: Anything else you can remember about just the physical details of Ellis Island itself? What you might have had to eat there or anything like that?

ALABILIKIAN: I know we went through a lot of glass. Let me put it that way. I know we went through a lot of gates. And the gates were closing and opening and it's, it's (he laughs) it's a place where they take you in and let you out, at that time, at that time. I don't know what it is today. I don't know what, how much improvements can be made. I hope some improvements can be made that, you know, Ellis Island is being remembered by many people.

END OF SIDE ONE BEGINNING OF SIDE TWO

DALLETT: This is the beginning of side two of interview number 58. Once you, once you settled here, uh, you must have been confused somewhat whether you were Turkish or Armenian or, did you have divided loyalty because of what you had experienced?

ALABILIKIAN: No, no. I knew I was Armenian when I came to America. I didn't know I was America when I came to Constantinople before I went to the orphanage. When I went to the orphanage I couldn't speak one word of Armenian. All I could speak was Turkish.

DALLETT: Then you had really grown up in a Turkish environment.

ALABILIKIAN: Turkish environment. Absolutely, absolutely, absolutely.

DALLETT: And that's very different than an Armenian environment.

ALABILIKIAN: Certainly, certainly. I didn't know one word in Armenian. Three years that I stayed in the orphanage is when I learned Armenian. And then I realized, of course, you're in an Armenian orphanage and they tell you that you are an Armenian. They told us all about the history and we studied all of that in there. And I was [ut in a classroom in the orphanage. It was forty-eight, fifty of us. That was the worst class in the whole school, because I could not speak Armenian. They picked all of the kids that could not speak Armenian, they were bad, some of us were very bad. As a matter of fact, I ran away three times from the orphanage. And my sister, I call her my sister, the girl that raised me, my aunt's oldest daughter, up to this day I still call them sisters. One of them died, the one that married. And the other two are still living. And my sister died. So, but today we call each other brother and sister and people get a big kick out of it when I call her "quidick," which means sister. So, uh, orphanage is where I realized that I was Armenian.

DALLETT: And then, so when you came, when you came to this country...

ALABILIKIAN: I knew I was Armenian. I knew I was Armenian.

DALLETT: Tell me about the first house that you moved into in this country.

ALABILIKIAN: Well, we came to Philadelphia from Ellis Island and 5212 Rodman Street, R-O-D-M-A-N, is where we came to. And, like I said, this gentleman that brought us here, that married the daughter, he was well-to- do, he was well-to-do, this was a nice house. He was the first, or maybe one out of ten or so, had electric in his house. It was gas in them days. He had electric put in the house. So this was new to us. Electric. My God, America. (he laughs) So we came to 52nd Street and I went to the school, 52nd and Locust, for about six months. Then from there we moved to 5601 Springfield Avenue. He was wheeling and dealing in real estate and so we moved to a little larger house. We lived there a while and I got married from that house. And my sister got married from that house. She went to New York.

DALLETT: Did your aunt have contact with her husband who was in Turkey?

ALABILIKIAN: Never, never.

DALLETT: So he really just let her go.

ALABILIKIAN: He knew, he knew. And she was so good to him, I think, that he didn't want to cause any trouble. If she wants to go it's all right. And he realized that, because she sent the girls out one at a time. I mean, who wouldn't realize it. He was no dummy. He knew it. But he agreed to, to do this. He agreed to it. He agreed to it, I think. So my aunt, she was the last one to leave. And never heard from him. No, nothing whatsoever.

DALLETT: Was there an Armenian community in that area in Philadelphia?

ALABILIKIAN: Yes, yes, quite a few. Most of the Armenians lived between 52nd and 60th Street, which was almost called an Armenia. And most of them were relatives and the reason why we came here or reason why these people come here is that their relatives are here. They're the ones bringing them. So there are quite a few Armenians in that area.

DALLETT: And how did you pick up your English? Just in the public schools that you went to?

ALABILIKIAN: In the public schools. Unfortunately I didn't go to school too long. My brother-in-law, I call him my brother-in-law, the one that brought us here, he, he wanted me to become a cabinetmaker. Of course, I went to school for three years. That was the length of my schooling. And when I told him that I wanted to go to work, I was too proud to be, shall I say, supported by someone else. And I wanted to go to work. So he said, "Okay, if you want to, go to work, but please go to school." He said, "You'll miss it." He really wanted me to go to school, but I didn't do it. I don't know whether I'm sorry or not. ( he laughs ) It would have been nice, I guess. But, thank God, I didn't do too bad. So he wanted me to become a cabinetmaker. Which was paying nice salary at that time. So I went and worked six weeks and I didn't like it. I came to him one day and I says, "I don't like that work. I want to quit." He said, "What do you want to be?" "I want to be an automobile mechanic." So he says, "It doesn't pay as much." I says, "Well." I got a job, two dollars a week, learning the trade. I worked there six months. The poor fellow died. I got another job. I lied a little bit when I went to the second place. He wanted to know how much experience I had. I only had two months. I said, "One year." And I worked for him. He never knew how much experience I had because I had worked hard and this was the thing that I liked. And the man that I was working for, he loved me just the same as he did his children. And did everything for me. Finally working for him six years, depression came along. I had eight hundred dollars. I went broke. So did my brother-in-law. He went down to nothing. Half a million dollars worth of real estate. And I lost eight hundred dollars in the bank and I worked for this automobile mechanic three weeks. I had twenty-five dollars in my pocket and I went out and rented a place, opened up my own shop. And I went to my boss. I said, "I just rented a place." He says, "Where?" "Up the street. Six blocks away." He says, "Can I take a look at it?" Him and I went up there. I opened the door. He went inside with me. We're coming out. He got a hole of me, squeezed me. He said, "Anything that you want from my shop. My advice, my tools, don't hesitate." So that's how much he liked me. It was a good, good relationship there. So, thank God, I didn't do too bad. I was in business for about forty years. I retired twenty years ago.

DALLETT: When did this fascination with cars, how did that come about?

ALABILIKIAN: He had bought a brand new Model T Ford. He had a barbershop. He did the real estate work on the side. He had a barbershop. And he put this Ford in front of the barber shop. I got involved in that thing. I used to polish it.

DALLETT: Was that the first car you had seen?

ALABILIKIAN: That's the first car that I seen. And I started to drive was less than sixteen years old. (he laughs) I quit school when I was fifteen- and-a-half years old. And I did go to night school, but that didn't continue too long. So, unfortunately, again, my schooling is...

DALLETT: How about your sister, what, how did she make out?

ALABILIKIAN: She married this gentleman. There were three brothers. And she married one of them. And the other brother married my wife's sister. My wife's sister. But she had three lovely boys, three lovely boys. They lived in the Bronx at that time. And she died about twelve years ago from a heart condition. She had a lovely life. She had a good life. She had a good life. A very good life. Again, she was in the orphanage two-and-a-half years.

DALLETT: Did anyone else, once you were settled here, did anyone else from the village where you were from then come here?

ALABILIKIAN: After us, you mean, or before?

DALLETT: Yeah, after you.

ALABILIKIAN: After us, no. This, the ship that we were on, that was the last one that came to this country for longest while. They stopped it for a while. We were the last ship to come to Ellis Island. After that the quota started and then they tighten up on the immigration and they passed laws for various reasons. But we were the last one to enter this country without too much trouble, without too much trouble.

DALLETT: Let me just ask you this one other thing. Do you have any of the original papers, passport or visa or any of those affidavits, anything like that?

ALABILIKIAN: I have my birth certificate. When I wanted to become, when I wanted to get my social security they would take no excuse, they would not take any school records, they would not take any records whatsoever. And they told me that I had to write to the Turkish government and get a birth certificate. So I came home, I routed through my papers, found my birth certificate I took it to it and they sent it to Baltimore where there us a Turkish office there, I guess, whatever you want to call it. So they sent it back saying that yes, 1908, January the 21st is his birthday. I have that. I have my visa papers with my aunt. I was a little boy and I have those picture right in that visa papers with her. As a matter of fact, I'd like to bring one thing out here. She brought me into this country as her son. Her name was S-A-T- I-A-N, Satian. And he brought me into this country as her son. When I came to become, when I went to become a naturalized citizen the last question they will ask you is do you want to change your name. And you are entitled to do that if you want to. So he asked me that question and previous to that my aunt, she was still living. She said, "I want you to take your own name. You are Alabilikian. You're not Satian. I am Satian. I brought you into this country as my son, but you are Alabilikian. I want you to take your father's name." When I went to become a naturalized citizen I told the fellow, I says, "Yes, I want to change my name." When he saw Alabilikian, on the other end Satian, he laughed. He says, "Most of the people change it from long name to shorter. Now you want to change it from the short to the long. Well, I told him the story how it became, so, again, my aunt, God bless her soul, she was a wonderful, wonderful person. She just didn't save her children. She saved about fourteen other young girls while she was in Yazgot that was taken away from their parents. She saved them and they are in Detroit. They are in Chicago. They are in New York. These ones that she saved.

DALLETT: She sounds like a wonderful woman.

ALABILIKIAN: Wonderful, wonderful woman. Wonderful woman. I can't praise her enough. I can't praise her enough. And every one of these that she saved, of course she's dead and gone now, but they all, all loved her, kept on writing to her. Always in contact with her.

DALLETT: Well, I'm really glad you've told us this story and if you don't mind I might ask you for the names of these other girls, older women now.

ALABILIKIAN: That I would not be able to give it to you, honey. Because I'm not, how shall I say, you know, this was happening when I was a little boy. And I know she saved these but there have been, I have not been in contact with them myself. So I don't think I can, I don't want to.

DALLETT: Maybe in our travels we'll come across one.

ALABILIKIAN: You may. You may. Someone may tell you this story that this woman S-A-T-I-A-N, Satian, is the responsible person for her to come to America.

DALLETT: Right, right.

ALABILIKIAN: You may. Although most of them are gone now. Most of them are gone now, not too many left. Here I am almost seventy-eight.

DALLETT: Well, this was a really wonderful story and I, I thank you for writing it. (break in tape)

ALABILIKIAN: Well, when the horns started to blow and we saw the Statue of Liberty I thought I was in heaven. Really. It was something that, there it is, she's up there and saying, "Come on in. From now on you are a free person. You do as you please. And as long as you behave yourself you're coming to a country where you can, if you want to make success it's up to you. I think my experience really sticks with me and this here few words that I said. Because that's the first thing you see when you come to this country. And you don't know what the rest is. But especially like coming out of a jail, you are free, do as you please. And I want to thank America. I want to thank our Constitution that gave us all of this.

DALLETT: Thank you. That's the end of the interview and the end of side two of interview number 58.

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