A 7 yr. old Refugee to England 1938-1939 – EXPAT Files (continued excerpts from Christian Zozaya’s draft memoir, Culture Shock)

When we left off Christian Zozaya was 6 to 7 years old and his family had evacuated to Barcelona because of the Spanish Civil War. Nonetheless he narrowly missed being hit in a bombing raid that killed another school-mate.   As German troops marched into Austria, Mussolini’s Italians increased their bombing of the Spanish coast and Christian’s school was badly damaged.

1938…and that was the end of the school year for us. (Mother’s friend) Molly Stephenson wrote, “Put the boy on an airplane and I will pick him up at the airport in London.

Molly lived in a small rented flat in Paddington fit for a single woman and it had a sofa in the living room in front of the fireplace. If you pushed a hidden button in the back of the couch the back folded down and you had a bed for your guest(s.) Molly taught me what toothpaste was. I don’t remember how I brushed my teeth in Spain but toothpaste was a luxury not available during the Civil War. She pulled out a tube of Gibbs toothpaste and taught me to put a little bit of it on my toothbrush and then brush my teeth with the brush moving in circles.

Molly’s brother took us out in his car for a ride around the town… it was a two-door, four-seat (convertible) with doors cut out at the top so that they sloped down backwards sharply. It was either a Morgan 4/4 Roadster or a Lagonda Tourer. Although I had ridden in cars several times including that famous overnight trip to Valencia I had never seen turn indicators. They consisted of two arms hinged to the top of their respective housings that rested vertically on the hood (bonnet in English parlance) on either side of the windshield. When the driver flicked a lever on the steering wheel toward either side the corresponding arm would flick up.

Chris with Molly Stephensen in England

The Manor House School was in Little Bookham, a town near Leatherhead (where Molly’s parents lived). Molly spoke to the headmistresses and Miss Green and Miss Wheeler invited us to discuss our situation over tea. The tea was accompanied by canapés which are itty bitty little sandwiches. I complained to Mother, “¡Mamá, es que estos sandwiches son muy pequeños!”   I was still hungry from the Civil War.

As a result of our visit Miss Green and Miss Wheeler agreed to cut the school fees in half. Molly was a generous and caring woman. She knew that my parents couldn’t pay the remaining half of the fee so she paid it herself.

I was to be a boarder and I shared a room with a boy named David. When I realized that I was going to be left at the school and that Mum was going away I started crying. It broke Mother’s heart because for all she knew she (might) never see me again, but she was doing it for my own good. She and Molly saved me from some very miserable times that Mum and Dad had to go through. That night I was allowed to play with my toy speed boat in the bathtub.

I had precious little knowledge of the English language and my home room teacher known as “Jane” did her utter best to see to it that I learned it. (A. Z. Granville-Johnson aka Jane was a former girl.) Nobody at the school spoke Spanish…but thanks to her efforts and Molly’s coaching, I managed to acquire a good knowledge of the English language.

i

At breakfast I was introduced to such peregrine fare as herrings, and beans laced with sugar. I was also introduced during my meals to Marmite, a yeast extract with a very tangy taste. I believe it took the place of peanut butter in England.

Every Saturday the school lined up and we walked to Little Bookham. There was a store in the town where we could buy sweets and comic books. Molly gave me a weekly allowance of two pence; a comic book cost one penny and the other penny went for candy… this is where I first read of witch doctors and a plane which folded its wings and plunged into the sea to become a submarine. Nothing can beat science fiction

 

(His parents were able to visit 7 yr old Christian only once that year when his father attended an International Congress on Tropical Diseases in Amsterdam)… He and Mother were granted diplomatic passports. Many people in Spain thought that they would take advantage of the situation to leave the country but they’d always had a deeply ingrained sense of duty. They returned to wait for the final disaster.

On December 8th the school gave me a torch (i.e. flashlight) for my birthday; it had a red and a green filter that you could slide into place to change the color of the light. At supper time I found a cardboard castle from Molly.

At Christmas recess I spent a delightful vacation with Molly and Terry, the boy next door as my constant companions. Terry had all the accouterments to play cricket and he did his best to introduce me into the secrets of the game but I am afraid that I did not learn very much. My Christmas present was a pirate costume complete with eye-patch and wooden cutlass.

The Manor House School Magazine” was published in April, 1939. Everybody wrote an essay or a poem. I wrote about my situation as a war refugee… The situation was dire and it was obvious that the family would be forced to leave Spain.

In September my mother brought me to the Manor House School because there was a war in Spain.  I am still in the school because Franco has taken Barcelona and I have no chance to go back home.  My father is in Paris and my mother in Villa Pourcon.  My uncle, aunt, grandfather and grandmother are in Paris too.                                                                 Christian Zozaya (age 8) Form II.

… Like hundreds of thousands of others my family crossed the border into France; all they had with them were the clothes on their backs except for Father, who carried a packet of medical books in one hand and a violin in the other. Feeling extremely tired he pondered which one to drop. He figured that if the worst came to the worst he could always earn a few ‘sous’ by playing the violin. He dropped the books. For the moment I’ll spare you the details of their stay in an “internment” camp until they were taken in by some hospitable French people. At first only women and children were allowed to cross the border. ( CCM’s note:The couple was separated and endured more hardships before reuniting with Christian.)

unlabeled-photo-fr-hawaiian-libertarian-blogspot

Eventually all my family managed to cross the puddle…my grandparents and my uncle and aunt boarded a ship and went to Mexico. As they boarded the ship Lady Astor, who was the head of the British Committee for Aid to the Spanish Republican Refugees, helped my grandmother to cross the gangplank and board the ship.

sp-men-in-exile1

I am re-posting this “EXPAT File #7” For those of you who may not have seen it originally – it was very popular. Let me know if you are interested in me posting the next segment of Christian’s disrupted early childhood as an expat.arriving in Colombia circa 1940.

from Franco’s SPAIN to COLOMBIA

via from Franco’s SPAIN to COLOMBIA via England: EXPAT Files #6

I posted this about Christian Zozaya memoir in 2014, shortly after I started blogging.  At the time I had fewer followers; some have left but many others have joined the journey. I think it is such a fascinating story that I have decided to revisit it for those of you who may not have seen it. 

I met Christian Zozaya a few years ago online through my school, Colegio Nueva Granada’s (CNG), website. He read a chapter of my book and asked to read the whole thing even though it was not yet edited – much less published. To my surprise and delight he wrote back with helpful cultural comments and edited some grammatical mistakes he had found in the Spanish.

He is writing a memoir of his fascinating life. I have two posts from Prof. Zozaya, the introduction from the draft of his memoir, Culture Shock and the text he wrote to commemorate the 75th anniversary of CNG (he was one of the first students). At the recent reunion in Bogota I was very pleased to run into several of his classmates and hear stories about the old days (my parent’s generation and the earliest days of CNG).            Cinda

Culture Shock

Born in Madrid the son of intellectuals (my father was an M.D. and my mother a Licenciada en Filosofía y Letras – roughly equivalent to a Master in Arts) my life was expected to be that of a well educated Spaniard……It was going to be a nice, orderly, settled life but fate would not have it so.

The onsets of the Spanish Civil War, and afterwards of World War II were to change not only my life but that of millions of people. This book is about what it did to me and to a lot of kids who found their lives changed forever…

Click above for more and to see his photos from the early 40’s.

A 7 yr. old Refugee to England 1938-1939 – EXPAT Files # 7 (continued excerpts from Christian Zozaya’s draft memoir, Culture Shock)

When we left off Christian Zozaya was 6 to 7 years old and his family had evacuated to Barcelona because of the Spanish Civil War. Nonetheless he narrowly missed being hit in a bombing raid that killed another school-mate.   As German troops marched into Austria, Mussolini’s Italians increased their bombing of the Spanish coast and Christian’s school was badly damaged.

1938…and that was the end of the school year for us. (Mother’s friend) Molly Stephenson wrote, “Put the boy on an airplane and I will pick him up at the airport in London.”

Molly lived in a small rented flat in Paddington fit for a single woman and it had a sofa in the living room in front of the fireplace. If you pushed a hidden button in the back of the couch the back folded down and you had a bed for your guest(s.) Molly taught me what toothpaste was. I don’t remember how I brushed my teeth in Spain but toothpaste was a luxury not available during the Civil War. She pulled out a tube of Gibbs toothpaste and taught me to put a little bit of it on my toothbrush and then brush my teeth with the brush moving in circles.

Molly’s brother took us out in his car for a ride around the town… it was a two-door, four-seat (convertible) with doors cut out at the top so that they sloped down backwards sharply. I suspect it was either a Morgan 4/4 Roadster or a Lagonda Tourer. Although I had ridden in cars several times including that famous overnight trip to Valencia I had never seen turn indicators. They consisted of two arms hinged to the top of their respective housings that rested vertically on the hood (bonnet in English parlance) on either side of the windshield. When the driver flicked a lever on the steering wheel toward either side the corresponding arm would flick up.

 

w MOlly in ENgland

Chris with Molly in England

The Manor House School was in Little Bookham, a town near Leatherhead (where Molly’s parents lived). Molly spoke to the headmistresses and Miss Green and Miss Wheeler invited us to discuss our situation over tea. The tea was accompanied by canapés which are itty bitty little sandwiches. I complained to Mother, “¡Mamá, es que estos sandwiches son muy pequeños!”   I was still hungry from the Civil War.

As a result of our visit Miss Green and Miss Wheeler agreed to cut the school fees in half. Molly was a generous and caring woman. She knew that my parents couldn’t pay the remaining half of the fee so she paid it herself.

I was to be a boarder and I share a room with David Corroder. When I realized that I was going to be left at the school and that Mum was going away I started crying. It broke Mother’s heart because for all she knew she (might) never see me again but she was doing it for my own good. She and Molly saved me from some very miserable times that Mum and Dad had to go through. That night I was allowed to play with my toy speed boat in the bathtub.

I had precious little knowledge of the English language and my home room teacher known as “Jane” did her utter best to see to it that I learned it. (A. Z. Granville-Johnson aka Jane was a former girl.) Nobody at the school spoke Spanish…but thanks to (her) efforts and Molly’s coaching, I managed to acquire a good knowledge of the English language.

At breakfast I was introduced to such peregrine fare as herrings, and beans laced with sugar. I was also introduced during my meals to Marmite, a yeast extract with a very tangy taste. I believe it took the place in England of peanut butter in the United States.i

Every Saturday the school lined up and we walked to Little Bookham. There was a store in the town where we could buy sweets and comic books. Molly gave me a weekly allowance of two pence; a comic book cost one penny and the other penny went for candy… this is where I first read of witch doctors and a plane which folded its wings and plunged into the sea to become a submarine. Nothing can beat science fiction.Sci fiimages

(His parents were able to visit 7 yr old Christian once that year when his father attended an International Congress on Tropical Diseases in Amsterdam). He and Mother were granted diplomatic passports. Many people in Spain thought that they would take advantage of the situation to leave the country but they’d always had a deeply ingrained sense of duty. They returned to wait for the final disaster.

On December 8th the school gave me a torch (i.e. flashlight) for my birthday; it had a red and a green filter that you could slide into place to change the color of the light. At supper time I found a cardboard castle from Molly.

At Christmas recess I spent a delightful vacation with Molly and Terry, the boy next door as my constant companions. Terry had all the accouterments to play cricket and he did his best to introduce me into the secrets of the game but I am afraid that I did not learn very much. My Christmas present was a pirate costume complete with eye-patch and wooden cutlass.

“The Manor House School Magazine” was published in April, 1939. Everybody wrote an essay or a poem. I wrote about my situation as a war refugee… The situation was dire and it was obvious that the family would be forced to leave Spain.

In September my mother brought me to the Manor House School because there was a war in Spain.  I am still in the school because Franco has taken Barcelona and I have no chance to go back home.  My father is in Paris and my mother in Villa Pourcon.  My uncle, aunt, grandfather and grandmother are in Paris too.                                                                 Christian Zozaya (age 8) Form II.

… Like hundreds of thousands of others my family crossed the border into France; all they had with them was the clothes on their backs except for Father, who carried a packet of medical books in one hand and a violin in the other. Feeling extremely tired he pondered which one to drop. He figured that if the worst came to the worst he could always earn a few ‘sous’ by playing the violin. He dropped the books. For the moment I’ll spare you the details of their stay in an “internment” camp until they were taken in by some hospitable French people. At first only women and children were allowed to cross the border (They were separated and endured more hardships before reuniting with Christian.)

unlabeled photo fr  HAwaiian libertarian.blogspot

unlabeled photo of Spanish refugees (from Hawaiian libertarian.blogspot)

Eventually all my family managed to cross the puddle…my grandparents and my uncle and aunt boarded a ship and went to Mexico. As they boarded the ship Lady Astor, who was the head of the British Committee for Aid to the Spanish Republican Refugees, helped my grandmother to cross the gangplank and board the ship.

 

Sp men in exile

(Christian’s grandfather second from left)

Next month: the Zozaya family arrives in Colombia.

(Next week I am leaving for Europe and hopefully will have some pictures and stories to share. We start in Frankfurt and make our way to Budapest along the Danube River via Vienna.     Cinda)

The Spanish Civil War Begins: 1936: EXPAT Post #7

Christian Zozaya’s memories as a five year old boy.  (Continued from his draft memoir, Culture Shock.)

Madrid, Spain:  The year started as usual; the winter was cold and I was still going to (kindergarten) school (Institución Libre de Enseñanza (I.L.E.). This was a lay school that had been founded in 1876 by a group of liberal-minded professors who objected to the governmental policies on education.) The novelty was that I started taking piano lessons.

 

Christian's (Swedish ancestry on his mother side) blond hair stands out among his schoolmates.

Christian’s (Swedish ancestry on his mother side) blond hair stands out among his schoolmates at ILE.

The political situation in Spain was SNAFU… there’d been all sorts of strikes, disturbances and riots. The right was reasonably compact but the left, was split into several factions ranging from the moderate Republicans to the Socialists to the Communists and Anarchists. Although some of the strikes were of an economic nature most were politically motivated…

In the midst of this situation, of which I was totally unaware, I gave my first and only piano concert. My parents’ intimate friends were invited and sat in the living room as I proudly poked at the keyboard with one finger. And so matters stood until July 18th. …Life was never going to be the same again.

CZ w DadIt was a Saturday and Dad had taken me for a walk on the Sierra de Guadarrama, north of Madrid… We took a rail car in the morning, but before lunch Dad got restless that we should return to Madrid – a good decision because we caught the last train to the city. That day rebel troops under General Francisco Franco occupied Spanish Morocco and Sevilla. The generals misjudged the situation and their clean, surgical operation degenerated into a bloody civil war that was to last almost three years.

On the night of August 28th we heard a lone plane flying overhead. It was a biplane with tandem cockpits; the pilot was in one and the bombardier threw hand grenades over the edge of the second. We went downstairs and took refuge under the stairs. The rest of the neighbors stayed in their apartments and derided us. A few nights later the air raid sirens sounded again; now the raiders were not two fellows with hand grenades but a squadron of Italian SM79 trimotors and the bombs were for real.

The following morning we found a corpse in the empty lot across the street. The poor fellow was either a Fascist or suspected of being one. The scene was repeated several times. September rolled around and we went back to school. The killings continued. At age five I was well aware that all life had to end in death and somehow I wasn’t shocked.

On November 6th we abandoned Madrid for Valencia with the Republican government…via Alicante. The trip on the train was a classical trip in Spain. Every now and then somebody would shout, “¡Que viene un túnel!” and everybody would rush to shut the windows. The locomotives were steam driven and the cinders and ashes would cover everything and everyone unless you closed the windows while the car you were riding in was in the tunnel… Father found a car and driver in Alicante to take us to Valencia. We left at night with the headlights blued out and the bulbs removed from all the other lights.

Things got tough in Valencia. Food was hard to get even though it was rationed. I remember going one night from restaurant to restaurant trying to get something to eat. It’s the only time that I cried because I was hungry… Father spent a lot of time in the field. Although mother and I worried because he had to spend a lot of his time on the front lines there were advantages. Every time he was out on the countryside he would try to bring vegetables back home. It might be potatoes, or carrots, or once a huge cabbage.

Picasso's Guernica

Picasso’s Guernica

On April 26th 1937, the Condor Legion bombed Guernica. This was an experiment by the German Luftwaffe to find out what effect carpet bombing would have on a civilian population. (Thus) in May, 4,000 Basque children were evacuated.

Guernica after the bombing.( Photo: www.albavolunteer.org)

Guernica after the bombing.( Photo: http://www.albavolunteer.org)

On October 28th the Republican government moved from Valencia to Barcelona…Two Italian cruisers shelled Barcelona during December. Mother went out shopping and I was with Consuelo (the maid). I could hear the shells whistling as they passed over the city and the explosions as they hit the buildings. I was afraid and I started crying. Poor Consuelo didn’t know how to console me in spite of her name. I stopped crying when the women returned home. The sense of relief was enormous.

…food was still scarce and it was rationed very strictly. Because I was a child I was allowed one egg a week. One day Mother couldn’t stand the temptation; she made a one-egg omelet and split it between the three of us.…(there was) a female cat with a litter of kittens sheltering under a bush and one day the cat and its kittens disappeared mysteriously – someone probably ate them.

In December the Italian Air Force operating from Majorca started carrying out a series of air strikes against Republican ports especially Barcelona…The school, L’Ecole Française, was in downtown Barcelona and the air raids sometimes took place in the day-time. I was standing by a door watching some airplanes fly overhead. (My friend) Trini saw me and came to warn me.

“Please come inside,” she said. “They might be enemy planes and you’d be in the way of any shrapnel that might fly this way if they bombed the city.”    I answered, “They’re not enemy planes; the air raid sirens didn’t sound.”

Burnt out cars Barcelona 1936.

Burnt out cars Barcelona 1936.

 

Trini was firm. “You know very well that the air raid warning system hasn’t been working very well lately. Come inside.”         I did as she said and another boy took my place at the door. Two minutes later he was dead. Thank you ever so much for saving my life, Trini. I’ll never forget you or that day.

Next time: Christian is evacuated to England and separated from his parents.  Can you imagine what it must have been like for a child so young to deal with bombs,death and hunger?

Barcelona: Spanish civil war (photo from  www.english.illinois.edu)

Barcelona: Spanish civil war (photo from http://www.english.illinois.edu)

from Franco’s SPAIN to COLOMBIA via England: EXPAT Files #6

I met Christian Zozaya a few years ago online through my school, Colegio Nueva Granada’s (CNG), website. He read a chapter of my book and asked to read the whole thing even though it was not yet edited – much less published. To my surprise and delight he wrote back with helpful cultural comments and edited some grammatical mistakes he had found in the Spanish.

He is writing a memoir of his fascinating life. I have two posts from Prof. Zozaya, the introduction from the draft of his memoir, Culture Shock and the text he wrote to commemorate the 75th anniversary of CNG (he was one of the first students). At the recent reunion in Bogota I was very pleased to run into several of his classmates and hear stories about the old days (my parent’s generation and the earliest days of CNG).            Cinda

Christian's friends dancing the Sevillana

Christian’s friends dancing the Sevillana

      CULTURE SHOCK
Born in Madrid the son of intellectuals (my father was an M.D. and my mother a Licenciada en Filosofía y Letras – roughly equivalent to a Master in Arts) my life was expected to be that of a well educated Spaniard. I would go to the Institución Libre de Enseñanza (a liberal school); college would be followed by graduate studies with a scholarship from the Junta de Ampliación de Estudios. Eventually I would be a respected professional living a life of comfort with the occasional trip abroad. I would probably speak, apart from my native Spanish, French and possibly have a good knowledge of the Germanic languages. It was going to be a nice, orderly, settled life but fate would not have it so.

The onsets of the Spanish Civil War, and afterwards of World War II were to change not only my life but that of millions of people. This book is about what it did to me and to a lot of kids who found their lives changed forever…

The Spanish Civil War broke out on July 18, 1936 and the government moved in November, first to Valencia and then to Barcelona. My family all tagged along. My grand-parents went because Antonio was a prime candidate for a firing squad given his Republican antecedents 1., and my parents because father worked for the government as head of the civilian anti-malaria campaign….

…in the spring of 1939 I was in England where my parents had sent me. Like hundreds of thousands of others…. (… to be continued)

1. Cinda’s note: Christian’s grandfather, Antonio Zozaya, was a columnist for liberal newspapers in Madrid.

~~~~

Slide3

Riding through a cafetal on horseback.

     

Reflections on the Earliest Years of Colegio Nueva Granada in Bogota (I attended from 1939- 1946)

I went to Colombia after having spent a year in England while my parents stayed in Spain to the bitter end of the Spanish Civil War. My parents did not want me to forget the English that I had learned during my stay in England so they enrolled me in the Anglo-American School in Bogota.

The school was backed by the oil companies. Exploration was intense in the Magdalena River valley and the companies had hopes of finding a second Lake Maracaibo. Their employees came to Colombia with contracts for several years. This was too long a time to keep a family apart or to interrupt the kids’ education. The solution? The Anglo-American School.

Slide2

I bore the school flag for the Independence Day parade.

The school changed its name from The Anglo-American School to Colegio Nueva Granada during his period. The Colombian government had declared a state of neutrality during WW II and all the international schools had to adopt names that did not reflect nationalities. Le Lycée Français had to change its name as well; I think it became l’Institut Pasteur.

With time Colombia changed its neutral stance against the Axis powers. When the school moved into a building previously occupied by the German Club, the occupants vacated it in such a hurry that they left a photograph of Der Füehrer hanging on the wall. Eventually there was another move, to the former Japanese Embassy. It was on Carrera 3 and Calle 75, a steep climb from the end of the tram line to the gate. That’s when the school bought its first bus.

Although the principals were professional educators the faculty was made up to a great extent of the children’s mothers. One of the teachers was an English lady who had her ship torpedoed under her by a German submarine as she was crossing the Atlantic from East to West. Mrs. van Schjeik, a Dutch lady, spoke excellent French and she taught us during the first year. Mr. Righthouse, a South African lawyer (we all suspected he was working for MI6 – British Intelligence) taught us a second year of French as well as algebra and geometry. Whether professional educators or not they were all excellent teachers with a full grasp of the subjects that they taught.

Slide4

With fellow Spanish emigres in the mountains. (Christian is on the left).

In 1947 my family moved to Venezuela. In the ensuing years I had several encounters with people from the old days in Bogota. Fast forward to today. My wife and I are retired university professors and we live in Venezuela and Baton Rouge.

Christian Zozaya

Cinda:   Time will tell if Christian is able to live out a peaceful retirement in Venezuela. I find his story fascinating and urge him to keep working on Culture Shock.                                                                                                                    Want to read more of his disrupted life after Franco and Hitler came to power?