Romania After the Cold War

Joseph McAuliffe

In 1987, I was invited by Colonel Donor (I would tease him about his name—that he was neither), to be a board member of his International Church Relief Fund, based in Santa Rosa, California. He asked me to direct the organization’s relief work in eastern Europe, with special attention upon Hungary and Romania. I made four trips there, beginning in 1990, shortly after the Cold War ended, when all the former iron curtain countries severed their subservience to the former USSR. 

My work consisted of overseeing, through local churches and government agencies, the distribution of the food, medical supplies and clothing allocated to those countries. The copious and much appreciated supplies were delivered by 18-wheelers that were loaded in Amsterdam and driven to southeastern Europe …
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This year marks the 35th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, the dissolution of the Iron Curtain and subsequent eradication of Soviet-style communism in Eastern Europe. Today’s story is the first of a pair of accounts by two OLLI contributors involving journeys to Romania in the months and years after these events. Joseph’s narrative references the political and societal challenges he witnessed and their effects on the population at large. The second story is an intimate portrait of one family who faced alienation and personal hardship at the hands of the police state, as well as their response to family reunification after the Romanian revolution. Look for that story in a future blog over the next few weeks. — Editors

Hiking the Appalachian Trail

Marilyn Myerson

Appalachian Trail — The Hike, 1988                                         

My friends Maxine, Etta and I were open to adventure: a five-day hike on the Appalachian Trail (the AT). It’s 1988, we’re all in our 40’s, elated to take on this challenge. Maxine is a serious hiker, she has helped blaze the Florida Trail, she’s sinewy, brave, and fun-loving. Etta is a racewalker, many miles on her sturdy legs, and my best friend. I feel fairly fit, ready for something different, wanting to prove myself physically adept. “Mens sana in corpora sano”, as my high school motto had it, “a sound mind in a sound body”.

Maxine took me under her wing, and we spent several enjoyable weekends on Florida hikes. I learned to read trail blazes, hammer in tent stakes, tie food way up high in a tree to keep it safe from raccoons and bears. Various incidents are blazed in my memory: trudging cautiously across an endless field dug up and horribly disfigured by wild boar, the uneven trenches ready to turn an ankle without a moment’s notice. Then there was the brownie incident.

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