My parents met in Budapest in the early 1940s, my father being a native Hungarian and my mother a Polish refugee. They met and worked at the still-standing Central Hospital in Buda, my mother as a nurse and my father a doctor. During World War II my father was a doctor in the Hungarian army, fighting on the Russian front. Toward the end of the war he obtained a leave and went awol, hiding out in Budapest.

During the siege of Budapest, in the winter of 1944-45, in which Germans and Russians fought all over the city, my parents remained inside the Central Hospital for several months. They bargained health care for the survival of the hospital staff and non-combatant patients. With cavalry still in use my father occasionally snuck outside to carve meat from a fresh horse carcass to supplement their meager diet. They once arranged for General Zhukov’s brother to obtain a suit from a good tailor as yet another barter. By 1946 both my parents had escaped from Hungary with my father arriving in Vienna on Good Friday 1946 hidden in a Russian railroad car. His suitcase contained ski medals and his tails. My mother had been across the border several times already posing as an Italian nurse and member of the International Red Cross.

By 1947 they were in New York city having made their way by Paris and the hospitality of members of the French underground they knew in Budapest during the War. With the birth of my older sister they became US citizens. They moved to California to take advantage of better employment prospects for my father, who would repeat his medical residency requirements and board examinations in English, studying in the sand dunes near Fort Ord where my godfather, Bela Maday, was teaching Hungarian to intelligence agents and would-be spies.