The Melnick / Melnyk Family

Chapter 9


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 memories.

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 way.

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.


Copyright © 2006 Robert Stephen Melnick. All rights reserved