This little, battered suitcase sat forlornly on the table awaiting the fall of the auctioneer's gavel. It was marked with a sticker reading "Heiligenblut" and labeled with a handwritten note written in Hungarian ( a guess). A batch of postcards and pictures were sticking out, so I a left a low bid for a friend to execute on my behalf. The bid was low, not because I felt the suitcase and its contents were worthless, but because later documents prove difficult. How much about a family should be disclosed, especially as some members are undoubtedly still alive? Yet, these papers do no one any good sitting around in a suitcase. The worst-case scenario would be that the contents picked through and then scattered. Once that happens, the documents can never be regrouped again and these tell a cohesive story about the Vidovich family.
When I received word that I'd won the suitcase, I retrieved it and headed home. Upon opening it, instead of revealing a suitcase filled with pictures and postcards, I realized I'd opened a chronicle of the lives of the Vidovich family. The suitcase is filled with pictures and postcards, which were thrown in without fanfare leading to some damage.
The photos span decades. Family gatherings, vacations, work, babies, and family events are all revealed through the snapshots. Postcards, a concert ticket (La Cage Aux Folles), pictures from all over the world (many in the same hand) all are in the case. A couple of the postcards are from a seaman named "Roland" who wanted to send a picture of his ship to the family. I believe the latest photograph is dated 1992 and shows a child "K. Newkirk" at the age of one.
In fact, a majority of the pictures are later (sixties or seventies and up), the black and white snapshots quickly make way for color photos and later postcards.Most of the postcards are addressed to Tibor and Trudi Vidovich, the logical start to my search for the original owners.
The earliest artifact in the suitcase is a photo, possibly of Tibor Vidovich, in uniform. It is labeled "Budapest--1943. The date and age of the photo's subject fits with information pertaining to Vidovich that can be found online. He was born on July 31, 1919 in Hungary. If this is a photograph of Tibor, he obviously got caught up in World War II.
In 1949, Vidovich immigrated to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. In fact, some of the postcards are from Brazil indicating a tie to the country even after the family came to America. Vidovich's Brazilian immigration card indicates he was married, presumably to Trudi, but they had no children at this time. On the card he also indicates he was from Budapest.
After an unknown amount of time in Brazil, they immigrated into the United States and settled in Stamford, Connecticut. A majority of the postcards were sent to their Connecticut address. That the couple celebrated their silver wedding anniversary is evident, for there is a card commemorating the event (it does not, however, have a date on it). Tibor Vidovich died at the age of 90 on July 31, 2009. I can find no information on Trudi, except for many pictures of an elegant woman that I believe to be Trudi Vidovich.
Given that the contents of the case involve some living people, I won't get anymore detailed.
The battered suitcase? It is a piece of luggage manufactured by "Rekord." I found no information about the company, but love thinking that it might have carried the family from Hungary to Brazil to America. If so, it has done its job well for the Vidovich family, for the photos and postcards are safe in their battered little suitcase now residing in Dover, Delaware.* Best, Pat 4 September 2015, Dover, Delaware
*A Vidovich family member was searching for his family online, but that was in 2003, when Tibor was still living. The post is on ancestry.com. I do not know if they ever had the opportunity to meet.
**As stated, they received postcards and pictures from all over the world. I unfortunately, cannot read some of the languages, to give all of the names found, but the Hunt family sent a series of three cards as their children grew. The above mentioned Newkirk family sent baby pictures, so those are at least two of the names that appear.
Pat Earnest, currently lives in Dover, Delaware, with family, both two- and four-footed. I am a published author and history enthusiast, who has great regard for the past and is especially proud of the Pennsylvania German culture. In addition to Passed Time, I am currently working on a project for the German Historical Institutes Immigrant Entrepreneurship: German-American Business Biographies (http://www.ghi-dc.org). I also contribute to various newsletters and I am working on another book...or two. Feel free to email me at email@example.com with questions, comments, information, a shared love of history, an idea, because you want to chat or you have an great idea for PT. Please be aware, Files With Attachments will not be opened, but immediately deleted.