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d e c e m b e r 2 0 1 6 A L I V E E A S T B A Y 23 I just finished reading the compelling and true story of Ildiko Scott, a Hungarian immigrant whose book, Love’s Orphan: My Journey of Hope and Faith is as hard to believe as it is to put down. Ildiko Scott was born in 1947 to a family decimated by the Holocaust. Her father, a nationally renowned cellist, lost his arm in an escape attempt from a concentration camp and shortly after, married a much-younger woman who, it turns out, was not all that interested in being a mother. After her parents divorced, Ildiko was abandoned by her mother and spent most of her childhood in a Jewish orphanage in Budapest, where she witnessed the Hungarian Revolution of 1956 and the brutal Soviet occupation that followed. At the age of nine, Ildiko and her father attempted to flee Hungary, only to be captured three miles from the Austrian border. Ildiko’s father did eventually escape, and after several failed attempts herself, Ildiko, at the age of 16, was finally able to immigrate to the U.S. to join her father and his new family in Southern California. Two days after arriving, Ildiko was enrolled as a junior in the local high school without knowing a word of English. She showed up that first day, wearing the only clothing she had, the drab school uniform she’d worn in Hungary. Before long, Ildiko quickly rose to the top of her class and after graduation, attended UC Santa Barbara. She has since enjoyed a wonderful career in fashion, a 46-year (and counting) marriage to attorney-turned-judge, Jud Scott, and her greatest pride, her two wonderful, accomplished children whom she obviously raised well, even without the benefit of proper mothering herself. Ildiko speaks of the great love she has for this country as she continues her service as a Blue Star Mom and is as astonished as anyone to think she was raised in a Hungarian orphanage with no hope to speak of and is now visiting her son in Pensacola, Florida as he trains for his position as the newest member of the US Navy’s elite Blue Angels Team. I sat down with Ildiko to find out how it is a person can endure such hardship and still remain so positive and had to wipe tears a couple of times as she shared her unique gratitude for “the blessings this nation continues to be for millions of immigrants who come here in search of a better life.” ALIVE Magazine: It took you a long time to write your story; what prompted you to finally do it? Ildiko Scott: Ever since I came to America, people have asked me how I got here. Every time I would talk about my story, invariably they would say, “You need to write a book about this.” I never really took the idea very seriously but when my family, especially my children, sat me down and basically told me that it is my “obligation” to tell my story because it is their story too, I did promise that I would indeed write a book one day that they could pass on to their children. So finally, about five years ago, I started writing mostly during vacations because I was working full time and involved in a lot of community activities aimed at supporting our troops. AM: What were the backgrounds of your mother and father? IS: To make a long story short, they were a totally mismatched couple with a 16-year age difference between them. My father came from a very affluent orthodox Jewish family, where music and higher education were the primary focus. They were all very successful until the Holocaust. Dad was a well-known concert cellist before the persecution of the Jewish people began. By the time my parents met, my father’s family had perished in Auschwitz and he had lost his right arm while escaping from a Labor Camp. My mother, on the other hand, came from a much more modest background and was raised in the Roman Catholic faith. She was the third of six children, and as far as I know, she never went beyond 8th grade. She was beautiful, innocent and intellectually always very curious. I think her beauty and innocence must have captured my father’s imagination after the horrors of the war. AM: You had a very difficult childhood including growing up in an orphanage, yet both your parents were alive at the time. Tell us about these unusual circumstances. IS: Well, the marriage was pretty much in trouble by the time I was two years old, and they divorced two years later. Everything that was left from my father’s family fortune was taken away by the communist regime and the inevitable divorce was just another loss. Mom was busy discovering her own independence and beauty and there were plenty of men around to feed her ego especially after the divorce. My father, who was still dealing with the shattered dream of never being able to play his beloved cello again, started teaching cello while going beck to school to earn his master’s degree in music. He worked long hours but he took me with him everywhere when it was his turn to watch me. I was in kindergarten from 8:00 am to 6:00 pm, and I spent many evenings in classrooms while dad was teaching, often until 10 o’clock at night. Unfortunately, Mom often forgot to get me from my school, so I was on the street a lot waiting for her or looking for her. My father knew that I needed stability, a safe place to stay and to get a solid education. That is when he made arrangements with the one and only Jewish orphanage in Budapest to take me in. I was six years old at the time. Little did I know that this place would be my home for nearly the next ten years. AM: You lived thru the Hungarian Revolution against the Soviets who occupied Hungary after World War II ended. What are your memories of that event as a nine-year-old girl? IS: I could almost write another book just about this part of Hungary’s history. But as a nine-year-old girl, October 23, 1956 was just another ordinary school day. When we were walking back toward the orphanage after school around 3:00 in the afternoon we


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