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My Childhood Home
Of the whole Salamon clan, I was the first and only child to be born in Budapest–the only one without a trace of rural background. There were approximately one million people (10% of the country's population) living in Budapest at that time, 20% of whom were Jewish.
Budapest was a thriving, rich and cosmopolitan metropolis. Majestic museums, theatres, opera houses and concert halls were constructed. The Danube river was lined with expensive apartment houses. Wide avenues and ring roads provided plenty of room for the growing traffic. The elegant restaurants on the ring roads–the city's principal thoroughfare–were packed with pre-theatre crowds and the cafés with post-theatre revellers, enjoying modern jazz and gypsy music. In short, it was a lively, marvellous place to live.
We lived in a suburb called Kobanya. Our two-bedroom apartment was on the second floor of a low-rise building. Next to our building, there was an empty lot, overgrown with wild bushes, where we fought battles, played football and cops and robbers, and chased each other around.
Steps away from our home was the Gruenfeld Brothers, a Jewish firm of wholesale distributors, where Father worked as warehouse manager. In my pre-school years, I used to roam the large courtyard, climb on top of wagons loaded up with crates, or walk around the offices and get in everyone's way.
In short, I lived a normal, happy childhood.