In 1929, one of the most
prosperous years for the family, a two-week trip to the United States was
undertaken. Maria’s oldest brother, Fred Klemkovich, lived there. Maria and
Fred had not seen each other in thirty years for he left the Ukraine in
1899, 10 years before Maria. He had first gone to Germany where he worked in
an enamel factory. When Fred came to the United States he was able to obtain
a similar job and worked his way up to foreman. Fred had entered the States
illegally and therefore, did not want to leave the country in the event that
when he returned he may be caught and returned to the Ukraine.
However, Fred wanted to see his only sister Maria. He arranged for the
entire family to come to New Jersey to see him. Fred was a bachelor and
lived with a New York family by the name of Andreason.
A month before leaving for their trip, the Melnicks had bought a new car, a
“Graham Paige”. It was with this car that Ivan, Maria, Joe Stone, Sonia and
Ann would travel to New Jersey. This was the highlight of Melnick’s family
While in New Jersey, the family and Fred visited Coney Island. To the family
members, Fred seemed to be a millionaire. He bought each member of the
family a wristwatch and clothes and treated them kindly in every possible
The remainder of the family, Peter, Nick, and Paul stayed home and were
looked after by a housekeeper who cooked and cleaned for them. These boys
would never get another chance to see their uncle. He died in 1940.
Many years later, Ann would try to contact her relatives in the Ukraine. In
1972 she, with her only daughter Shirley, and Shirley’s husband Dale, would
visit the Ukraine. The closest she would get to her parents’ homeland would
be thirty-five miles from Ivan and Maria’s native village. The Russian
government would not permit her entry into Chernaletcha for several reasons,
most of which are unknown. One explanation is as follows. Shirley’s husband
was an American citizen and the United States and Russia were not on the
friendliest of terms during this time. There was supposedly a military base
located near Chernaletcha.