Friday, December 31, 2010


Very early on, my dad taught us how important it was to have a firm handshake. Don't shake hands like that -- your hand feels like a dead fish (he would say with the sure knowledge of a seasoned fisherman!) Don't you know that your character is revealed in your handshake?

In order to avoid the possibility of our hand getting hurt during the ever so firm clasp of hands, Dad taught us to place our hand all the way in as we clasped our 'opponent's' hand (or so it seemed to us) so that the other guy couldn't crush our fingers! Fast forward a half century. It was 2005, my dad was 93 years old, and a regular at the Newton Marriott where he and his buddies (92 year old Norman Krim and 68 year old Neil Smith) would meet weekly for lunch. One Wednesday, a young waiter complained that the tip Dad had given him the week before was smaller than it should have been, that my dad owed him another dollar. Okay, said my dad, as he took a dollar from his wallet and gave it to the waiter. Dad held his now empty right hand out to shake with the waiter's. The waiter responded in kind (only after pocketing his newly acquired dollar). What the waiter didn't know was that Dad had spent his life tightening the world around him with a pair of pliers and that dad's grip was as deadly as those pliers could be --- and so, soon the waiter was (literally) on the floor begging for mercy -- it was not a wrestling hold but worse . . . it was my dad shaking hands with someone who didn't know enough to put his hand all the way into the hand opposite him in order to avoid being crushed!

Thursday, December 30, 2010


But that leaves my mother who would look out that same window in our living room and every time my dad commented, "I wouldn't go across the street to shake hands with the President of the United States," (see blog of December 29), my mom quietly answered, "I would."

It wasn't until years later that I had the opportunity to revisit the question. Would I walk across the street to shake hands with the President of the United States?

And so it was that when I was given the opportunity to travel to Washington, DC to meet the President, I passed it up (more on that later); I was lucky, though; I was given a second opportunity to visit the White House, for a 'gala reception'. (This time my husband was wise enough to leave out the fact that we would be meeting the President.) Sure enough, we arrived at the reception, and there was Ronald Reagan, not on the big screen, not on TV, but in the flesh, as it were! People were flocking around him to shake his hand, and true to my father, I told Levon, I'm not going across the room to shake hands with the President, and I'm certainly not going to fight the crowds to shake his hand! But then I remembered my mother. Where was the President? Oh, over there, surrounded by his admirers. Okay. Let's see what I can do, Mummy. This one is for you. And so I plowed my way through the crowds, and just as the President was parallel to where I was standing, I reached over the shoulder in front of me and President Reagan grabbed my hand and held it, just for a moment, a moment in which it was just the President and I, holding hands, holding gazes . . . and it was the movie star Ronald Reagan holding hands with my mom and for that moment there were only the two of them, all alone in the room, just like in the movies! Just for you, Mommy! (Whoops -- don't tell Daddy!)

Wednesday, December 29, 2010


'I wouldn't go across the street to shake hands with the President of the United States,' my dad would state on a regular basis as he looked out the bay window in our living room at (what is now) Claflin Park, to which my mother would always retort, looking out that same window, 'I would!'

As it happened, my dad didn't have to go across the street to shake hands with the President of the United States; the President of the United States had to cross the stage to shake hands with my dad! It was 1931, and Peter Bilezikian was attending Watertown High School where the former President Calvin Coolidge (whose ancestors were originally from Watertown, Massachusetts) was to speak. Everyone wanted to meet the President, of course, but my dad had connections! Having worshiped at the Brighton Congregational Church upon first arriving in this country, Dad had become a favorite of the minister of that church. In fact, it was Peter's minister who introduced President Calvin Coolidge that day to Watertown High School and to Peter Bilezikian. Singled out as the only one in Watertown High School's Class of 1932 to shake hands with the President of the United States, Peter never had to shake a President's hand again! As folks today would say, he had already 'been there, done that!'

Tuesday, December 28, 2010


Let me live in the house by the side of the road and shovel my sidewalk and encourage my neighbors to shovel theirs so that we can all still go for walks, even though it's winter and the wind is blowing and the land is covered with snow! Maybe that's what being 'a friend to man' means in New England in the winter!

My father would say, 'Mind your own business! What do you care what other people do as long as you're doing what's right!' But I do care. I'd really like, on a beautiful sunny day following two days of blizzard, to be able to take a walk along the side of my short little street. Maybe the answer is to buy a snow blower and do what my dad may have wanted me to do. Snow blow my way down the length of the avenue's sidewalk, so that we all can take a jaunt whenever the spirit moves us and the weather permits. Either that, or buy a pair of snowshoes!

Monday, December 27, 2010


14 of us lived in the two family house at 474/476 Lowell Avenue, Newtonville, 6 children, 4 steps for each of us, but I shoveled them all because I was so excited to be the first out in the snow! Whoops -- wait a second! I don't really know how many steps were in front of our house, (or how many steps I shoveled) though I climbed them every day for 18 years, and then on and off for all the years following until November 30 of this year.

How can we do something every day and not know what we're doing? I started asking people if they knew how many steps they climbed in their houses . . . Nancy said 4 -- Four? I asked her . . . In your home of 3 floors? -- No, she said, you were talking about shoveling steps! We had only four steps to shovel (I think). So I started asking . . .

Do you know how many stairs you climbed every day?

Do you know how many stairs you climb every day?

Aline, my 7 year old granddaughter, asked, What difference does it make?

Well, I wondered, what difference DOES it make, if we do something every day with no idea of what it is that we're doing . . .

Sunday, December 26, 2010


Need I say more?

But I promised Marion she would be in my blog today, so I must go on, dear reader.

85 year old Marion was at the end of the long line at the speedy check out counter where I met her as I queued up behind her -- very soon we were no longer at the end of the line, as there were now conservatively 15 people behind us! As we looked back(the line now wound past the bakery counter and up one of the aisles), we looked at faces that were grim with tension . . . and this was only December 26! Marion and I laughed and chatted. Marion had been born in Germany but had to move to Holland where she grew up (she didn't have to explain why she had to move to Holland! We both knew. . .) Feeling compassion for the folks standing behind us silently staring straight ahead, Marion suggested that were the others to chat with each other, they may not feel as grim as they appeared (of course, she dared not make this suggestion to them!) -- she said, we can't have been standing in line for more than (and we both said at the same moment) seven minutes -- at which point we both burst out into gales of laughter. My daughter Karoun, who had been observing us from a distance, grinned and shouted out, "Will you two stop making such a racket!!!" Everyone looked at Karoun in agreement, but Marion and I and now Karoun laughed even louder!

Saturday, December 25, 2010


Every Christmas, Uncle Paul (my father's older brother) would call us together (all six of us children ranging in age from 3 to 9 by 1949 -- my three cousins and my sister and brother and me). We were going to sing Christmas carols for my grandfather's brothers (Uncle Arakel who lived on the second floor of a commercial building in West Newton Square and Uncle Vartan who lived on the second floor of a commercial building in Newtonville Square opposite the train station), and my grandmother's sister, (Mayry Baju, who lived on the second floor of a two family house between Newtonville and West Newton, along Cheesecake Brook.) Although we didn't see Uncle Arakel as often, we saw Mary Baju every Sunday when we picked her up to go to church with us in order to hear Uncle Vartan preach at the Armenian Brethren Church on Arlington Street in Watertown. We were torn between wanting to stay home to play with our new toys and the excitement of going visiting with Uncle Paul. Our mothers would bundle us into our warmest snowsuits and boots (as it was invariably snowing and already dark), and Uncle Paul would shepherd all six of us into his old Chevrolet. (This, of course, was possible only because it was way before the law requiring seat belts and car seats for kids). What can I tell you about those visits? After climbing the creaking old wooden stairs to the second floors and hugging our uncles and aunts, we would sing O Little Town of Bethlehem and Silent Night, Away in a Manger and We Three Kings, Hark the Herald Angels Sing and Joy to the World. Somehow I always felt that the visits and the caroling were more for Uncle Paul than for our great uncles and great aunt who nevertheless graciously accepted our gift of song as well as the honor shown them by our visit. It was not until I was older that I understood that the visits were more for us, the children, than for our elders.

Friday, December 24, 2010


Johnnie Flynn was a Catholic, a good Catholic, and a very good friend of Peter's.  "Why don't you become a Catholic, Peter, so that we can spend eternity in heaven together?" Peter, a devout Christian, had accepted Christ as his Lord and Savior at a very early age, and so Peter knew that he would be spending eternity with the Lord and hopefully with Johnnie Flynn.

Johnnie had 8 children and lived in Newtonville on Edinborough Street.  On Christmas Eve, 1951, Dad got a call from a friend reporting that Flynn’s home had no heat and Flynn had no money to pay for a serviceman -- it was 10 degrees above zero. 

Soon after the phone call, Harry Moosheghian,  a good friend of my dad's, happened by our house, as he was wont to do. "Mooshegh, let's go over to Johnnie Flynn's and see what's going on with his furnace."   Dad and Harry drove over to Edinborough Street, and while the Flynns were asleep, Dad and Harry broke into the basement through the bulkhead door, flashlights in hand. Dad found the problem immediately:  the motor on the oil burner was burnt out, and all of the supply houses were closed, of course. It was Christmas Eve! But Peter was not daunted. He and Mooshegh went to Dad's basement where he stockpiled used parts (for just this kind of emergency) and -- he found the exact motor -- make, style, & model -- just waiting to give heat once again. . . And so it was that Peter gave warmth to Johnnie Flynn and his family on Christmas Eve.

A few days after Christmas, Johnnie Flynn stopped by Newtonville Electrical Company (Dad's store) to report the good news.

"Peter, it was a miracle. Last week we had no heat, our furnace wouldn't turn on, it was 10 degrees above zero, but on Christmas Eve . . . a miracle, Peter . . . the heat came on! Now will you become a Catholic?"  Peter said nothing more than,  "Johnnie, that was truly a miracle."

Thursday, December 23, 2010


Sumner Lavine greeted us yesterday at Costco:  Shnorhavor Nor Dari!  My daughter Nisha did a double take -- Who was this random person wishing us  a happy new year in Armenian at Costco?  Well, of course, my dad had befriended yet another interesting character. During his weekly jaunts through Costco, my dad would sample tasty tidbits as he chatted with the dispensers of food samples, and,  if passing a couple who were chatting or arguing, he would invariably join in.  Paregam, Sumner would call to my dad. Paregam, my dad would call back to Sumner.  And that would be the beginning of a long philosophical dissertation at the end of the dairy aisle.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010


When I was in the third grade at Claflin School in Newtonville, Massachusetts, our teacher Miss Griffin required each of us to memorize a poem every week, and to recite that poem in front of the whole class.  My father took this as a signal to delve into his treasured books of poetry. (He found such gems as the Gettysburg Address, which granted was not really a poem but I still had to memorize!) He coached me daily until I had committed the poem of the week to memory.  Of course, my third grade class had no idea of the significance of what I was reciting, but my father understood (and he made sure I understood) the true meaning of the verses. Among the longest poems I had to memorize was Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's THE VILLAGE BLACKSMITH; Daddy himself would often go around reciting at least the first verse.  He identified with the Smithy.

I not only learned the poem I have copied below 'by heart' (as we used say), but committed to heart my love for the mighty who work by the sweat of their brow and owe no man.


Under a spreading chestnut-tree

The village smithy stands;

The smith, a mighty man is he,

With large and sinewy hands;

And the muscles of his brawny arms

Are strong as iron bands.

His hair is crisp, and black, and long,

His face is like the tan;

His brow is wet with honest sweat,

He earns whate'er he can,

And looks the whole world in the face,

For he owes not any man.

Week in, week out, from morn till night,

You can hear his bellows blow;

You can hear him swing his heavy sledge,

With measured beat and slow,

Like a sexton ringing the village bell,

When the evening sun is low.

And children coming home from school

Look in at the open door;

They love to see the flaming forge,

And hear the bellows roar,
And catch the burning sparks that fly

Like chaff from a threshing-floor.

He goes on Sunday to the church,

And sits among his boys;

He hears the parson pray and preach,

He hears his daughter's voice,

Singing in the village choir,

And it makes his heart rejoice.
It sounds to him like her mother's voice,

Singing in Paradise!

He needs must think of her once more,

How in the grave she lies;
And with his hard, rough hand he wipes

A tear out of his eyes.


Onward through life he goes;

Each morning sees some task begin,

Each evening sees it close;

Something attempted, something done,

Has earned a night's repose.

Thanks, thanks to thee, my worthy friend,

For the lesson thou hast taught!

Thus at the flaming forge of life

Our fortunes must be wrought;

Thus on its sounding anvil shaped

Each burning deed and thought.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807-1882)

N.B. When I was 8 years old, there still was a 'smithy' working in one of the sheds in the village of Newtonville, Massachusetts,  on Washington Street between Lowell Avenue and Walnut Streets, where the public parking lot today has wiped away all memory of the Village Blacksmith!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010


My dad's cherished volume of poetry by Robert Burns was gifted to him by the Scotland born dad of his lifelong friend Ian MacDonald.  As we were growing up,  Daddy would recite for us in perfectly accented Scottish brogue,  "A Man's A Man For A' That"  . . .  And then translate the poem into plain English.  Just to make sure that we got the message!

Robert Burns: A Man's A Man For A' That (1795)

Is there for honest Poverty
That hings his head, an' a' that;
The coward slave-we pass him by,
We dare be poor for a' that!
For a' that, an' a' that.
Our toils obscure an' a' that,
The rank is but the guinea's stamp,
The Man's the gowd for a' that.

What though on hamely fare we dine,
Wear hoddin grey, an' a that;
Gie fools their silks, and knaves their wine;
A Man's a Man for a' that:
For a' that, and a' that,
Their tinsel show, an' a' that;
The honest man, tho' e'er sae poor,
Is king o' men for a' that.

[and Dad's favorite verse follows:]

Ye see yon birkie, ca'd a lord,
Wha struts, an' stares, an' a' that;
Tho' hundreds worship at his word,
He's but a coof for a' that:
For a' that, an' a' that,
His ribband, star, an' a' that:
The man o' independent mind
He looks an' laughs at a' that.

A prince can mak a belted knight,
A marquis, duke, an' a' that;
But an honest man's abon his might,
Gude faith, he maunna fa' that!
For a' that, an' a' that,
Their dignities an' a' that;
The pith o' sense, an' pride o' worth,
Are higher rank than a' that.

Then let us pray that come it may,
(As come it will for a' that,)
That Sense and Worth, o'er a' the earth,
Shall bear the gree, an' a' that.
For a' that, an' a' that,
It's coming yet for a' that,
That Man to Man, the world o'er,
Shall brothers be for a' that.

Monday, December 20, 2010


In January of this year, my father was admitted to Newton Wellesley Hospital for observation.  The woman who had been assigned to night sit was Haitian and unusually distant. She courteously nodded to Tatoul and me when we entered the room.

As Dad and Tatoul and I proceeded in our typical fashion to joke and laugh about life, she listened.  Are you Armenian? she asked at last. Yes, we answered.  Oh, she said.       I . . . I used to care for a woman who lived on Coolidge Hill Road in Watertown . . . She was Armenian . . . Her name was Mrs.  . . . . . ian.  My dad responded with certainty,  I knew her! surprising all of us.  He went on.  She lived at  number  . . . Coolidge Hill Road.  That's right, the woman replied, astounded.  I was engaged to her son, she whispered, but we never could marry . . . She stood up, walked over to my dad and hugged him, turned to Tatoul, and then to me, and embraced us.  From that moment on, we were khnamis.

Sunday, December 19, 2010


Boursalu Mari lived on Dexter Avenue, around the corner from Nichols Avenue which led straight up to Coolidge Hill Road in Watertown, where my dad lived during his junior high school years.  Boursalu Mari  had not always lived on Dexter Avenue in Watertown;  she had escaped a genocide in the faraway city of Boursa, faraway from Giligia from which most of the Armenians in Watertown had fled.

In the fall, when the apples were ripe, young Peter and his friends loved nothing more than the challenge of climbing the fence surrounding Boursalu Mari's yard because Boursalu Mari had the only apple tree on Dexter Avenue. After clambering up her apple tree, they stuffed their pockets with apples. They knew Boursalu Mari was tough and brawny and loud and that she would beat them if she could catch them.  So day after day, they would jump the fence, climb the tree, take what apples they could, and flee, Boursalu Mari shouting after them. One day, however, Boursalu Mari came out of her house before the boys could climb out of the tree.  She hollered out to them in her loud, husky voice:  Bedros, you don't have to jump the fence to get apples, or run away when you see me;  you do not have to steal the apples; you're welcome to all you want any time.

Somehow  Boursalu Mari's generosity worked in reverse.  The boys no longer wanted the apples as the fruit was no longer forbidden.

Saturday, December 18, 2010


Whenever we had company (which was often, believe me), my mother would say, "Chai yapiim."  Excusing herself to the kitchen, she would fill her 3 quart stainless steel pot with fresh cold water and place the pot to boil on her new all electric stove. Private smile on her face, she reached for her cinnamon sticks and broke off a piece or two. That done, she  carefully opened her bottle of cloves and took out 3 or 4. With a flourish she tossed the cinnamon sticks and cloves into the now boiling water. The kitchen filled with the most wonderful air of spice and mystery; that was her signal to take the pot of water off of the stove and pour the spicy mix into her favorite teapot where a tablespoon of dry black tea leaves awaited.  We were about to experience my mom's chai, years before any yuppy knew the word.

Friday, December 17, 2010


One of my earliest memories is that of my mother (Jennie Vartanian Bilezikian), my aunt (Zabelle Apovian Bilezikian) and my grandmother (Epros Kurtgusian Bilezikian) rolling out dough into solid circles in preparation for making  lamejun.  The three of them would sit next to each other at the breakfast nook table. At the end of the table was the dough they had prepared, cut into lumps about the size of a snowball, and rising under a clean damp towel, next to the 'hamour' a small pile of white flour in which to dip the balls of dough before rolling, and three wooden rolling pins with red handles.  It was always fascinating for me to watch my mother (born in Cambridge, Mass., Aintabsi) roll out not so perfect solid circles with uneven edges, my aunt (born in Palisades Park, New Jersey, Marashtsi) who made sure her solid circles were perfect by placing a pot cover over the rolled out not so perfect circle of dough and cutting around the edges of the pot cover, and my grandmother (born in Marash in 1887) who with no effort at all rolled out a perfect solid circle every time.  Now here was my dilemma.  My grandmother was blind.  How was it that she could roll out such perfect solid circles?  And anyway, what was perfect and why?  My mother's lamejun was always the most delicious. Was it because she was my mother?  Or because her lamejun circles were uneven and thus had more crispy edges? Or because she was Aintabsi and even Marashtsis know that Aintabsis are the best cooks!

Thursday, December 16, 2010


I learned two important lessons early on from Miss Eleanor Sprowl, my 2nd grade teacher. The first was  how to look up a word in the dictionary, a skill which has served me well to this day. The second was multi-faceted.  Thanksgiving of 1947 was approaching and World War Two was still on everybody's mind.  To honor the soldiers who were stationed in Germany and to provide them with joy at Thanksgiving, Miss Sprowl proposed that we, her Claflin School second grade class, make Cranberry Orange Relish, an old New England Thanksgiving treat, to send the soldiers, a gift from all of us back home.  Miss Sprowl asked each child to contribute some fresh cranberries,  an orange, or a cup of sugar. (My mom gave me an orange for the relish.) Miss Sprowl provided the sterilized jars and covers. Set up in the classroom were several stations with what my mother and grandmother called chekejeks (hand grinders).  Our second grade class was about to make cranberry relish to send to 'our boys' in Germany.  I remember and make the recipe to this day.

Cranberry Orange Relish

2 cups fresh cranberries, washed, sorted and stemmed
1 juicy orange with skin (washed)
1 cup sugar

32 of us took turns putting the cranberries through the hand grinders (coarse blade in place) and turning the handle to watch with delight as the large bowl filled with multicolors of red, pink and cream.  We cut the oranges into quarters (leaving the skins on) and removed the seeds before putting the now seedless unpeeled oranges through the hand grinder.  We added the sugar and stirred.  At another station, some of us spooned the Cranberry Orange Relish into bottles and secured the lids.  Our reward was to carry home a copy of the recipe.  (I don't think we were allowed any tastes!)

I begged my mom to make the Cranberry Orange Relish with me for Thanksgiving, using our chekejek at home, and of course, my wonderful mom (who loved to cook and try new recipes) complied.  That Thanksgiving, as we ate the simple yet delicious mix of cranberries, oranges unpeeled and sugar,  I had my first lesson in how bitter can be sweet.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Marashtzi or odar?

In the 1920's and 1930's, when my father was growing up in Watertown, Massachusetts, Armenians identified themselves by their towns of origin.  To be Marashtzi was paramount!  Because my father was fair (blue eyes, blonde hair, light skin), spoke English without an accent, and had many friends in the American community, folks would warn his mother Epros that for sure, he would marry an American.  Epros would always respond in Armenian (she knew no English): Don't worry. Peter knows what he's about. In 1939, my father became engaged. When he shared his good news with his  compatriots at a meeting of the Union of Marash Armenians,  (and my father loved to tell this story), a fellow Marashtzi inquiring about Peter's fiancee, asked, Is she Marashtzi or odar?  My father, given that choice, had to tell the truth.

Peter:   She's odar.
Compatriot:  Is she Italiatzi?
Peter: No. 
Compatriot: Amerriigatzi?
Peter: No. 
Compatriot: Irreesh? 
Peter: No
Compatriot: Eengleesh?
Peter: No
Compatriot: Grriik?
Peter: No
Compatriot: Vell, godammit, vhat ees she?
Peter: Aintabsi!

My father married my mother, Jennie (Lucille Mae) Vartanian,  on January 15, 1940.  On that day,  as the time of the wedding approached, it became clear that Peter's family  would have to move the location of the wedding celebration from the little Armenian Brethren Evangelical Church in Watertown where they had planned to hold the ceremony,  to a church large enough to accommodate the Boston and Watertown Marashtzi and Aintabtsi communities who, invited or not, flocked to the church to celebrate their wedding.  Peter had, after all, married an Armenian girl.

Marashtzi = Armenian from Marash or whose family originates in Marash (city in Eastern Anatolia, rival to Aintab)
Odar = "Non-Armenian" or Foreigner
Italiatizi = Italian
Amerrigatzi = American
Irreesh = Irish
Eengleesh = English
Grriik= Greek
Aintabtsi=Armenian from Aintab or whose family originates in Aintab (city in Eastern Anatolia, rival to Marash)

Tuesday, December 14, 2010


Whenever I peel an orange, I think of my father's brother, my father's 'ede', my Uncle Paul Bilezikian. Uncle Paul taught me the rare skill of how to peel an orange and he taught me why.  We children always loved to watch Uncle Paul pulling his trusty jack knife out of his pocket (which he often used to strip the rubber coating off of electric wiring, an action that also fascinated us -- I still know how to do it!). Flipping open his jackknife to a special blade, he patiently and perfectly removed the peel from the orange. Starting at the top of the orange, he would peel carefully, around and around, in almost concentric circles, until he had achieved a perfect bouncing  spiral  orange peel -- a gift for one of us children.  The lucky child (be it one of my cousins or one of my siblings, or if it was a wonderful day, me) would bounce the orange spiral for as long as it would remain in one piece.  

My father told us that in Marash, on the rare occasion that the family would have an orange to share, Uncle Paul would create the same spiral of orange peel, and his mother (Grandma Epros Kurtgusian Bilezikian) would lovingly present each child with one dilim (section) of the orange.  Grandma Epros would then hang the peel  in the attic to dry (where the resident snake apparently protected the peel -- more on the family snake later).  When finally dried, the orange peel would be placed into the fire and would fill the small house with the most wonderful of aromas.

When I shared this story with my Albanian friend at WBUR's fundraising  this morning, her eyes went alight with recognition:  we did that too, she said!

Monday, December 13, 2010

100th Anniversary of Union of Marash Armenians, Watertown Chapter

Who could ever imagine that almost 100 years after my father, Peter Bilezikian, left Marash, the land of mountains and valleys, the land of the water that never stopped flowing, the land of vineyards and olive orchards, the land of joy and sorrow . . . who could imagine that soon after my father died, my father who was  born in this city of Armenians, Turks, Jews and Kurds, in this city of water and blood – who could imagine that I, the daughter born in Newton, Massachusetts, who grew up listening at nights to stories of the old country in Armenian, Turkish, and English, that I would be attending in Watertown, Massachusetts, the 100th anniversary of the gathering of the descendants of the survivors of the Marash aksoroutioun, that I would join in the  celebration of our survival, our ability to live and love and laugh again, our ability to help our compatriots around the world again, to conquer death with life, sorrow with joy, ignorance with learning.
But so it was that on October 23, 2010, the Union of Marash Armenians, Watertown (Massachusetts) Chapter celebrated their Centennial with laughter and song (the Marash anthem – yes, there is one), feasting on traditional Marash fare (home made by men and women who consider themselves to be  Marashtsis, of course) –  ichli kufte and gurabeh, (to name a few) blessed by the Lord’s Prayer in Marash Armenian ('parpar') (Any corrections to the transliteration gratefully accepted!):

Mir bobu ki irginkn is kinid adounit sourp to'nno
Kinid Tekeviuroutant togh ko.
Kinid Gomkit To'nno,
Choth ki irginki inden e gidenan ivren.
Mir amenaviour hotu ehoseor miz dour.
...Chem mir bordkdeku mez baghusechoth ki mink e mir bardagondotsu gu baghushink.
Chem miz portsutan mu'dana,
habo choren miz prge.
Inch ouki kinid e tekeviouroutanu, zoioutanu, por ku,
havidyans havidenits. Amen

Միր պոպը քի իրկինքն իս,քինիտ ատունիդ սուրբ թօ'ննօ.
քինիտ թէգէվիւրիւթանդ թող գօ.
քինիտ կոմքիդ թօ'ննօ,
չոց քի իրկինքի ինտէն է կիտենան իվրէն:
Միր ամէնավիւր հոցը էօսէօր միզ տուր:
...Հէմ միր պորտքտէքը միզ պաղըշէ,չոց քի մինք է միր պարտակոնտոցը կը պաղըշինք:
Հէմ միզ փորձըթան մը'տանա,
հապո չորէն միզ փրկէ:
Ինչուքի քինիտ է թէգէվիւրիւթանը,զօրիւթանը,փոռ քը,
յաւիտեանս յաւիտենից.


Sunday, December 12, 2010

Being the daughter of an Armenian who was born in Marash

Peter Bilezikian, my dad, August 7, 1912-March 24, 2010, is my inspiration for this blog.  Born in 1912 in Kumbet, Marash, Historic Armenia, my dad (born Bedros Bilezikjian) survived the Genocide of the Armenian people, and immigrated to the United States in 1920 with his mother and aunt and sisters and brother.  He was a story teller and always prodded me to record his stories.  As an obedient daughter, of course, I did not!!! But it's never too late, I guess, and in the spirit of remembering, I dedicate this blog to him.