TRIP TO UKRAINE
Nicholas Senkus, his wife Anna, and their five children: Bill, Nettie, Murray, Olga, and Mary.
Granddad at harvest time. He grew wheat, oats, and barley.
Nicholas and Anna, Saskatoon, 1962
Granddad's farm, 1974
My grandfather was very proud of his Ukrainian heritage, and instilled that pride in all of his children, especially my father, who has always maintained his knowledge of the language (which was the primary language of his home as he was growing up). He has always subscribed to Ukrainian newspapers (such as Ukrainian Weekly), corresponded with friends and relatives in Ukraine, supported Ukrainian causes, etc. Teaching his children to speak Ukrainian was less practical, since we lived in areas where there were no other Ukrainians, and grew up during the post-WWII era of McCarthyism and fear of anything that looked or sounded Russian, but Dad tried to share with us his love of his ancestral homeland.
In 1965, during a period of relative friendliness between the US and USSR, my father (with my mother and sister) made his first trip to Ukraine, and met his relatives there. Sadly, his father's younger brother Ivan had died the year before. Travel within the USSR was still very restricted, so Dad was not allowed to visit his relatives in their villages. Instead, they visited him in his hotel in L'viv, though with lots of gestures to indicate that the room was probably bugged.
Dad was unable to make a second trip until 1992, after the disintegration of the USSR, and Ukrainian independence. By that time he was able to travel around freely, and visit his relatives in their homes.
Since that time Dad has visited his homeland at least once a year.
In 1999, Dad invited me to accompany him on his yearly pilgrimage, and I gladly accepted.
Since I expected this would be my only chance to visit Ukraine, I asked if we could visit more than just the area where our relatives live. Dad arranged for us to be part of a tour group, with visits to Prague, Kyiv, L'viv, and Budapest. The dates of my trip were to be September 16 through October 4, 1999. I was to fly out of San Francisco, meet my Dad in Newark, fly to Prague for a one-day tour there on September 17, then join our group and continue to Ukraine.
Then came Hurricane Floyd, which hit the North Carolina coast on September 16, and cut a deadly swath northward through Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, and New England. All flights into the area were canceled, including mine from San Francisco to Newark.
Dad was just able to get to Newark by train (on a harrowing trip during which the train derailed, and the passengers had to get out and push - or at least that's the way Dad tells it), and flew out one day late, straight to Ukraine with the group. I was stuck in San Francisco until Sunday, September 19.
Send feedback to the author: CLICK HERE
Created -- 03/22/2007
Revised -- 03/22/2007