|ALMOST HOME IN AMERICA
A young man learns the art of survival in a new land, a foreign war, and the rocky shoals of love
Simon Jeruchim was ann older teenager, but still a boy, when he first set foot on American soil in 1949. But this boy from France had already lived through more danger and experienced more sorrow than most Americans his age. As a Jewish children during the early 1940s, he and his siblings had been separated from each other and from their parents. They were hidden in the French countryside with Christian families in order to escape from the occupying Nazi forces. They would never again see their parents, who perished in the Auschwitz concentration camp. After the war the children were sent to live with relatives in Brooklyn, in a land where they had no money and did not know the language.
But surviving World War II had taught young Simon the value of high hopes, and so he arrived on the American scene and entered the American workforce with optimism, energy, and a desire to express himself artistically. And as a healthy young man, this teenage Frenchman had another goal to reach as well: to learn about and enjoy the secrets of love.
Young Simons dreams began to come true, one by one. He learned English quickly, he found a job in the field of commercial design, and he began to meet young women, including a lass who, enchanted by his looks, his talent, his sense of humor, and his French accent, gave him her love. He did not yet know that this was only a first affair, one hed never forget and never regret, but not the love of his life.
But history intervened, throwing this young Holocaust survivor into harms way again. He was drafted into the the U.S. Army and sent to the front lines of Korea to fight a war he did not understand. He endured the daily danger, the extreme weather, the discomfort and lonelinessand once again he survived. The strength of his spirit helped him make friends with his fellow G.I.swho gave him the nickname Frenchyand he was even able to put his artistic talent to use, drawing cartoons of army life that were published in Pacific Stars and Stripes.
When Simons rotation was up and he left Korea and returned to civilian life in America, he was older and wiser. It was time to find a home. It was time to build a career. It was time to fall in love for keeps. It was time to be a man.
Simon Jeruchim lives in Pomona, New York, with Cecile, his wife of nearly 50 years. He has had a successful career as a noted package designer specializing in the creation of new lines of fragrance and cosmetics, and as a book jacket and graphic designer and painter.
A Young Jewish-French Immigrant Discovers Love and Art in Americaand War in Korea
256 pages, paperback, $14.95
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