On the Shelves: What’s Happening at the Vernonia Library

Please welcome Evelyn Banko to the Vernonia Public Library Saturday, March 9 at 4:00 PM

Evelyn Diamont was born January 21, 1936 in Vienna, Austria. Her father, Joseph, was an engineer and her mother, Frieda, was a housewife. In March of 1938, the Nazi’s marched into Austria and annexed it as part of Germany. Hitler’s persecution and murder of Jews was rampant in Vienna and after being tipped off that Joseph was to be deported within twenty-four hours, Joseph gathered then two year old Evie and Frieda and fled to Riga, Latvia.

When the Russians invaded Latvia, Evie and her family took the Trans-Siberian Railroad across thousands of miles to the eastern side of Russia. When Evie’s family reached China, the typhoid and cholera epidemic was severe. Arriving in Japan, they were able to board one of the last ships to leave Japan for America before Pearl Harbor. Everyone became seasick during the journey and they were not used to the Japanese food they received on the ship.

The trip to America took about six weeks, but eventually they arrived in Vancouver, British Columbia and then Seattle, Washington. They were given the choice of going to Portland or San Francisco, so they settled on Portland. In Portland, they were put up in an apartment in the Jewish community where Evie attempted to make friends, but found that the language barrier was a challenge. Evie was four years old at that time and her mother was able to find a job sewing on a power machine to help provide for the family. Her father became a janitor and was able to take care of Evie during the daytime, until he was able to open up a service station for Texaco in 1941. After the war he took a job as an auto parts salesman with Niehoff. Evie went from preschool through high school in Portland and graduated from the University of Oregon with a degree in elementary education and taught in Portland for thirty three years, marrying and raising two children.

Although Evie and her family survived the war and the trip to America, many of her family did not survive. Those members that were lucky enough to have escaped from Hitler ended up scattered across different parts of the world. In time Evie was able to reconnect with a few of her family members but her uncle and aunt and grandparents were murdered by Hitler.

Evelyn Banko will be in Vernonia Saturday, March 9 at 4:00 PM to share her story.