I was born in Belgrade, Yugoslavia, and grew up during World War II. Dad sent us to a farm on the outskirts of Maribor to be away from the city bombings, and he went to Austria to make arrangements for us to move.But with the war ending, he was unable to get back.
When I was 9, my mother wanted to escape Yugoslavia to reunite with my father. So in 1945 she paid a man to take me across the border to Austria, but we were caught. He was arrested, and I was released. My mother, sister, and I tried again several days later but could not get anyone to take all three of us.
So she paid another man to take me across, but he only took me part of the way. He told me to stay on the road until I came to the house at the top of the mountain. There was only one house visible in the distance, and I walked and ran toward it. It was getting dark, and I was scared. I could hear voices and several gunshots. Inside that house my father waited for me. My mother and younger sister followed months later.
Back then I had only two dresses to wear to school, and they got shorter and shorter as I grew. I hated feeling out of place and really wanted to have clothes that fit and were appropriate. Having a limited wardrobe, I always dreamed of clothes.