Continuing the story of my life in bits and pieces I thought you might be entertained also by my stories of the Latvians who lived in mom’s apartment building. Some were colorful and illustrious and most interesting while others were ordinary but each of them had stories to tell. The woman whose husband was once the superintendent in my mom’s apartment building in New York had to vacate the super’s apartment once her husband died.
She found it difficult to live on her own and there was another Latvian woman who had lost her husband in an accident so it seemed logical for the two women to come together and share an apartment. At first, it seemed a good situation, and the two women who were getting on in years kept each other company. They would occasionally invite neighbors over for get-togethers and everything went along fine.
Then the other woman Austra started to act very strangely according to her roommate Anna. My mother would go there from time to time to see how things were getting on and she too began to notice that there were certain problems. One day things started to get out of hand. Austra insisted that Anna was stealing her food. They shared a refrigerator and kitchen cabinets and at first, everything seemed to be alright. So Anna made sure to start labeling her food to show Austra that she wasn’t stealing any.
At first, they were both always very hospitable when anyone came to visit and my mom would spend some time there having coffee with the ladies. Then one evening she went to visit and was shocked to see the floor, the kitchen cabinets, even the fridge full of cockroaches. So she asked the ladies why they let this situation get out of hand and why they hadn’t called an exterminator. Austra simply said that cockroaches were the souls of the dead and no one should kill them. She was absolutely insistent so when she didn’t notice Anna would do some spraying in her room but the problem remained until Austra got sick and passed away.