Cleaned by: Julia Pappo
Transcribed by: Unknown
Interview date: June 19th, 2018
Interviewer: Henry Green
Total time: 1:13:47
Helene Daniel: Born in Karmasha, Iran in 1925. Arrived in Montreal in 1953.
[07:56:27] Interviewer: This is an interview for Sephardi Voices. We are in Montreal, Canada. Today is June 19th, 2018. My name is Henry Green, I am the interviewer. I am with Helene Daniel, the interviewee. And the cameraman is Hugo Dufort-Proulx.
[07:58:48] Interviewer: What is your full name?
[07:58:51] Helene Daniel: Helene, maiden name Sharahabane [ph], married name Daniel.
[07:59:00] Interviewer: And was this your name at birth?
[07:59:04] Helene Daniel: Shaharabane.
[07:59:05] Interviewer: And Helene, was that your name also at birth?
[07:59:08] Helene Daniel: Yes.
[07:59:09] Interviewer: And where were you born and what Year?
[07:59:15] Helene Daniel: I was born in Karmasha [ph]. I think 1925, yeah.
[07:59:24] Interviewer: 1925. And that was Iraq or Iran?
[07:59:28] Helene Daniel: Iran.
[07:59:29] Interviewer: Iran. So first, let me just say how pleased I am that you have, that you're part of the Sephardi Voices project. I very much appreciate that you’re doing the interview.
[07:59:44] Helene Daniel: Thank you. Very much.
[07:59:47] Interviewer: So the first question I want to ask you is just a general question. Tell me something about your grandparents, your parents, your family background.
[07:59:59] Helene Daniel: From my father's side he was orphan my father, from mother and father. Only he had his sister but from my mother's side I was small. I remember my grandfather and my grandmother. My grandmothers [overlap]
[08:00:26] Interviewer: Your father was an orphan you’re saying.
[08:00:32] Helene Daniel: Yes.
[08:00:32] Interviewer: So who took care of him when he grew up?
[08:00:37] Helene Daniel: I don't know, really. I don't know.
[08:00:41] Interviewer: And your, do you, and what was your grandfather's name? DO you remember his name? Your father's name?
[08:00:52] Helene Daniel: My father's name? Asara [ph].
[08:00:55] Interviewer: And your grandfather, do you remember his name? No name.
[08:00:58] Helene Daniel: I don't know really.
[08:01:00] Interviewer: And your, your mother, okay, your mother, what was her name?
[08:01:04] Helene Daniel: Farah [ph].
[08:01:05] Interviewer: And what was her parent's names?
[08:01:08] Helene Daniel: Uh, her mother was Hatoun and her father was Hesrei [ph].
[08:01:15] Interviewer: And do you remember being with your mother's parents? Your grandfather, your grandmother?
[08:01:22] Helene Daniel: My grandfather I don't remember but uh, grandmother Yes. She lived long. She took care of my uh, cousins. The [inaudible].
[08:01:39] Interviewer: So do you remember some stories with her that you can tell me? When you were with her? Do you remember stories?
[08:01:46] Helene Daniel: Not really.
[08:01:47] Interviewer: Did you ever go shopping with her?
[08:01:48] Helene Daniel: Oh no.
[08:01:49] Interviewer: Did she, did you go visit her at her house ever?
[08:01:55] Helene Daniel: Yeah, she lived, she firsts she took care of my cousin Deshiri [ph]. They were orphan from their mother died at young age. And uh, she took care of them, yeah. They used to come to us, visit, often she brings the children and uh, we used to go to her, that the, Shiri [ph] my cousins uh...they stayed with us two years. [08:02:33] When the mother went for uh...treatments at that time was Palestine.
[08:02:43] Interviewer: So she went to Palestine for treatment.
[08:02:45] Helene Daniel: Yeah, she had breast cancer.
[08:02:48] Interviewer: And when would this be? In the 1920's? 1930's?
[08:02:52] Helene Daniel: Oh no, in the 30's maybe I'm talking '36 something like that.
[08:03:02] Interviewer: And um, your parents, um, do you know hoe they met each other? How they?
[08:03:10] Helene Daniel: No, of course not. At that time it was always matchmaking. Even at my time it was mostly matchmaking. But me no because my husband, my mother and his mother they were fri - first cousins. And they knew me. And his sister was uh, married to my uncle Menashe Mashaal. Yeah. [08:03:42] She came one day and she told my mother, "We want Helene for my brother." And I got, at that time we used to live in Iran but we went for a few months to Baghdad and that I got engaged by proxy, his father uh, he had a [inaudible] and I got engaged. It was 19 - late, '44, yeah.
[08:04:15] Interviewer: 1944.
[08:04:16] Helene Daniel: I married 1945. I went back to Iran and we got married in Teheran, 1945.
[08:04:26] Interviewer: And you were, how old were you when you were married?
[08:04:30] Helene Daniel: I was 19.
[08:04:32] Interviewer: 19. And your husband, what was his name?
[08:04:35] Helene Daniel: Abraham Daniel.
[08:04:37] Interviewer: Daniel. And how old was he?
[08:04:38] Helene Daniel: 39. [laughs]
[08:04:41] Interviewer: 39. So and when did you first meet him? In Baghdad?
[08:04:45] Helene Daniel: I used to know him because his mother and my mother they were cousins.
[08:04:51] Interviewer: Ah.
[08:04:51] Helene Daniel: Yeah. We used mostly married the - in the family.
[08:04:55] Interviewer: So it was family marrying family.
[08:04:59] Helene Daniel: Yeah. At that time most of my family they are all married cousins and second cousins.
[08:05:09] Interviewer: Had you ever visited Baghdad before 1944?
[08:05:13] Helene Daniel: Oh yeah, I went to nun's [ph] school there till we went to Baghdad but we used to come back to Iran in summer. And in '41, by luck, we were in Baghdad and when the farhud, these were in Baghdad it was there about like we had neighbours, rich neighbours. Muslims. [08:05:45] They protect us like, they uh, if the mob came near our house they told them that they are our houses and that we - they didn't do harm to us at all. But after few days we went back to Iran. I don't know. I grow up, people they love Iraq, the Iraqi. Me I don't - to say the truth, I never care for it. [laughs] [08:06:17] But we used to love Iran. The Shah was very nice to the Jewish people. When like, Israel came into existence all the Arab countries declared war on Israel except Iran. And it used, he used to let El Al comes once a week to pick up they used, at that time, they used uh...[08:06:55] How to say...with the Jews they didn't let them go out. And they were not well treated. They used to cross the border without a passport. He put word the Shah in the border that any people when they come and they cross the border without passport, without visa, and they say we are Jewish, they let them in. [08:07:27] And he gave the Jewish agency they accept far like, you say now here and up north. They, he let them, the Jewish agency have a big land and uh, people they cross the border. They pick them up there. [08:07:49] And El Al comes only once a week to pick those people up and they used to let us send stuff but we pay. I remember my husband's parents, they leave for Israel with a suitcase only. They were uh, they were allowed. We used to send, send everything for them from carpet, from blanket, from food, everything. [08:08:26] Israel had nothing at that time. But she welcomed all those people.
[08:08:34] Interviewer: And did the, when the people came from Iraq to Iran, did they go through, up to Mosul and - through the Kurdish territory? How did they -
[08:08:46] Helene Daniel: Some they come through the British territory. Some they cross, they go to Basra.
[08:08:52] Interviewer: Through Basra.
[08:08:53] Helene Daniel: Yeah. And from Abedan and they come, yeah. That, I think it was like that.
[08:09:02] Interviewer: Right, so it's either from the port Basra..
[08:09:06] Helene Daniel: Yeah.
[08:09:06] Interviewer: Or they [overlap] north to...uh huh.
[08:09:10] Helene Daniel: I think so.
[08:09:11] Interviewer: So let's go back to you, you're in Iran but you go to school in Baghdad.
[08:09:18] Helene Daniel: I went till grade 6 in Baghdad.
[08:09:20] Interviewer: And what school did you go to?
[08:09:23] Helene Daniel: To the nuns [ph?] school. Public school.
[08:09:25] Interviewer: And what was the name of the school?
[08:09:27] Helene Daniel: We used to call it nun's school. I don't know.
[08:09:31] Interviewer: And was the school in French?
[08:09:33] Helene Daniel: French, all they were French. All they were speaking the French.
[08:09:38] Interviewer: So vous parlez français aussi? Oui?
[08:09:39] Helene Daniel: Aussi.
[08:09:41] Interviewer: C'est la langue deuxième? Arabic would be your first language or Farsi?
[08:09:45] Helene Daniel: Oh my first language? No, Arabic from my parents.
[08:09:52] Interviewer: Farsi?
[08:09:53] Helene Daniel: Farsi Yes, I speak. I learned not in school. I learned it through the maid or - and that.
[08:10:01] Interviewer: And French you learned in school.
[08:10:04] Helene Daniel: In school, that's right.
[08:10:06] Interviewer: And English?
[08:10:07] Helene Daniel: English also in school.
[08:10:10] Interviewer: English also in school.
[08:10:11] Helene Daniel: School, yeah.
[08:10:12] Interviewer: So you're very educated.
[08:10:14] Helene Daniel: Not really educated. Till certificated, for my age it was good at that time.
[08:10:20] Interviewer: Four languages. [laughs] So you go to Bagh - and what area of Baghdad did you live in when you were -
[08:10:29] Helene Daniel: Oh, they call it Babashergei [ph].
[08:10:35] Interviewer: And um so you're not in the mellah, you're outside the mellah, the old Jewish quarter.
[08:10:42] Helene Daniel: No, no, no. But mostly in Babashergei they were Jewish but we were mixed, Muslims also.
[08:10:50] Interviewer: And Muslims also.
[08:10:50] Helene Daniel: Yeah.
[08:10:50] Interviewer: And did you uh, you would live in Baghdad for what? Nine months of the year? Or...and then go back in the summer to Iran?
[08:10:59] Helene Daniel: Always in the summer we use dot go back to Iran and we - as children we used to look forward to go back to Iran. Because in Baghdad I don't know, my, the maid or something, I remember we are very scared, I was very scared. The maid like, I was small girl she used to tell me, "You don't go to sit outside, the Muslim will pick you up, will get you." [laughs]. I don't know. [08:11:28] And we had that in our mind, I was very frightened in Baghdad. Till now, if I dream I am in Baghdad, people they love Baghdad, I have no right to say that but me I was frightened. And because in the farhud also we were by chance in Baghdad. I used to be very frightened in Baghdad. I used to look forward to go back to Iran.
[08:11:58] Interviewer: Did, during the farhud did members of the Daniel family or other relatives, did they get hurt?
[08:12:06] Helene Daniel: No, no.
[08:12:09] Interviewer: They family was okay.
[08:12:09] Helene Daniel: [overlap] It was okay. Yeah.
[08:12:12] Interviewer: And do you remember uh, going maybe swimming or things in the Bosphorus, in the river?
[08:12:21] Helene Daniel: We never we - our parents were very strict. They used to go, go to swim in the river but never our parents allowed us. Only the boys used to go.
[08:12:34] Interviewer: Only the boys.
[08:12:34] Helene Daniel: [overlap] My brothers, but us, the girls, no.
[08:12:38] Interviewer: And what about extracurricular activities? Did you do any sports? Or did you?
[08:12:45] Helene Daniel: Nothing. Nothing, the truth.
[08:12:48] Interviewer: So you basically stayed close to the house all the time.
[08:12:50] Helene Daniel: That's right.
[08:12:52] Interviewer: Were your parents members of the Jewish clubs? Like the Kadouri or the, were they members of a -
[08:12:57] Helene Daniel: No because they were going back, back and forth always to Iran, a little bit in Baghdad. We were close only to the family. The truth, was [?] not to go to a club or anything.
[08:13:13] Interviewer: And did, you had help in the house?
[08:13:16] Helene Daniel: Oh yeah. Oh yeah.
[08:13:18] Interviewer: And were there, was the help Muslim?
[08:13:21] Helene Daniel: In Baghdad we used to hire only Jewish but they say later on, I don't know people till '41, while our, we were living there only the help they were Jewish. But in Iran they were so nice the Muslim to the Jewish people, I used not to mind a Jewish or a Muslim maid. I used to trust them. They were very nice to us. [08:13:50] Now changed with the Khomeini but before it was very good.
[08:13:57] Interviewer: Do you know if the people who helped you in Iran, your maids, your help, your chauffeur maybe, were they Shia or Sunni? Do you know?
[08:14:04] Helene Daniel: When I went to Israel I don't know, twenty years ago? Yeah. Who came she heard, one of our maid of Iran, she came and she was really so happy and she was dressed very good and she had gold chain on her. [08:14:31] She told, "I came to take you to see how I am living." I went to her apartment, they were very nice furniture. She said because she had many children now in Israel they own worth [?]. Not like in Iran. She told me, you see, I remember when I used to work for you, this is true. [08:14:59] When she used to go home to her children I used to give her cheese, eggs and whatever I can I give her. She told me, "Do you know, she remembered, I used to look forward. My children were hungry while you gave me those food." And now she opened the fridge full of food. She said God bless Ben-Gurion. [laughs] [08:15:30] All her children they were either taxi people or they work in factory. Very happy. Yeah, I met two, three of my uh, maids there in, in Israel.
[08:15:45] Interviewer: And they were Jewish or they were Muslim?
[08:15:48] Helene Daniel: One was Muslim, one they was - no, no, they were all Jewish. All Jewish.
[08:15:54] Interviewer: And these, the people who worked for you in Iran.
[08:16:00] Helene Daniel: Yeah.
[08:16:00] Interviewer: In Iran. So let's go back to Baghdad for a second.
[08:16:05] Helene Daniel: Also I met one of the maids of Baghdad. She heard and she came. Also the same story, so happy, she please come to my house. I went. I did. I accepted and I went. She was so happy. The fridge, she never seen such a thing in Iran or in Baghdad. Most of them they, the furniture they were very happy in Israel.
[08:16:36] Interviewer: So in Baghdad you would go back to Baghdad after farhud or did you stay in Iran after 1941?
[08:16:46] Helene Daniel: We went only few months after the farhud and that, when I got engaged and we went back to Iran and that was the last time.
[08:16:55] Interviewer: That was the last.
[08:16:56] Helene Daniel: Yeah.
[08:16:57] Interviewer: So after '44 you did not go back to Baghdad.
[08:17:00] Helene Daniel: No, no, no.
[08:17:02] Interviewer: Okay, now the Year you were born again is which Year were you born?
[08:17:07] Helene Daniel: 1925.
[08:17:09] Interviewer: Ah, okay so from 1925 to uh, 1944 it's 19 years you say so you're a teenager, you're growing up, going to school in Baghdad. Do you remember uh, like a Shabbat at your house in Baghdad?
[08:17:26] Helene Daniel: Yeah, they used to, were religious. They never cook - in Baghdad they never cooked on Saturday. No it was kosher house. In Iran also we had a kosher house but we had Muslim, mostly Muslim maids, they used, if we want, they cooked for us on Saturday.
[08:17:50] Interviewer: And what was, your mother, would she go to the market or who would go to the market?
[08:17:55] Helene Daniel: Oh never, at that time a woman goes. It was really very, what you call?...never a woman goes to buy grocery or meat. Very low-class it means.
[08:18:12] Interviewer: So who would go? The help or would your father?
[08:18:16] Helene Daniel: My fa - I remember as a girl, my father used to go. Yeah.
[08:18:21] Interviewer: And what kind of business did your father do?
[08:18:24] Helene Daniel: He was with the Mashaal. I don't know.
[08:18:29] Interviewer: Was he a merchant? Was he a, did he sell import-export? Did he...
[08:18:37] Helene Daniel: No, no, he was with them. I don't know. He worked in the office.
[08:18:41] Interviewer: In the office, right. And for uh, your mother, did she dress, what kind of clothes did she wear?
[08:18:55] Helene Daniel: Nice clothes, till now it is nice. My grandmother they used to dress up differently in Baghdad but not my mother.
[08:19:05] Interviewer: What would your grandmother wear? What would she be wearing? Would she have a veil? Chador? Would she have a scarf? How did she dress?
[08:19:16] Helene Daniel: She - while I grow up she dressed like us only mostly I think she had a scarf on her head.
[08:19:24] Interviewer: But she didn't have her face covered?
[08:19:26] Helene Daniel: Oh no, the Muslim they wear a black veil with they cover their face yeah, the Muslim they [overlap] used to go.
[08:19:36] Interviewer: But your grandmother...
[08:19:36] Helene Daniel: No, no. But some Jewish people some, they mostly in Baghdad they used to wear this Abaye [ph].
[08:19:45] Interviewer: Abaye, so you would see this.
[08:19:47] Helene Daniel: Mostly because more protected but the Jewish people they used no - the majority no, they used to, not to wear abaye.
[08:19:58] Interviewer: So your parents, your mother would not but maybe the generation before did.
[08:20:04] Helene Daniel: [overlap] She used to wear my mother abaye, I remember if she was out Year.
[08:20:09] Interviewer: She would wear it if she went out.
[08:20:10] Helene Daniel: Abaye yeah but she won't cover face.
[08:20:12] Interviewer: But she would cover her ...
[08:20:14] Helene Daniel: No, no, no. Just like that.
[08:20:18] Interviewer: But your grandmother might do, might cover herself or not?
[08:20:21] Helene Daniel: Uh, hardly she was out, I don't know. She is not to go out as I remember her.
[08:20:31] Interviewer: So let's go back to Shabbat. Shabbat, would you, would many family members have a Shabbat together?
[08:20:36] Helene Daniel: Yeah, my cousin, they come yeah.
[08:20:39] Interviewer: Which cousins would come?
[08:20:41] Helene Daniel: Oh the Mashaal.
[08:20:43] Interviewer: The Mashaal would come?
[08:20:43] Helene Daniel: Yeah, the Shiri [ph] they used to come mostly and Gabbai.
[08:20:48] Interviewer: And Gabbai.
[08:20:49] Helene Daniel: Yeah, the other side, sister of my mother. Yeah, we used to - and they used to make tbit.
[08:20:57] Interviewer: Tbit.
[08:20:57] Helene Daniel: The tbit because they don't like uh, fire. Yeah tbit and they make eggs on top of it yeah, for breakfast.
[08:21:09] Interviewer: And did they make the bread too?
[08:21:12] Helene Daniel: Yeah. Every, I think it was Thursday we used to, we had a maid sleeping in but she used to come when that she know how to make the bread in the tandoor.
[08:21:27] Interviewer: [overlap] In the tandoor.
[08:21:27] Helene Daniel: Yeah. And she usually had to bake uh, to bake very nice sanbousek and babatemor [ph] and she - every week she used to come and bake for us.
[08:21:41] Interviewer: And did you, did she teach you how to do this yourself?
[08:21:45] Helene Daniel: I never worked in - not in Iran, not in Baghdad. I was very lazy, very spoiled to say the truth. When we came here, oh my god, I had small children. Frankie five, three and one Year old. I have to learn to cook. I will say three months a the Mashaal because she is my uncle and the Mashaal - Victor mother, she is my husband's sister. [08:22:22] We stayed three months because here was not to get when you rent an apartment only in May they used to move the people, not another month. We stayed with him January, we stayed till May at the Mashaal. I used to see my mother-in-law and my aunt how they were cooking. [08:22:47] When I moved, oh my god, I have to touch with my hand the raw chicken and meat. I used not to say anything. I called one day Raina Shiri [ph]. I told her, "Please Raina [inaudible], I coo - I am cooking meat and chicken but the whole time I smell my hand it has the smell." [08:23:19] Raina told me, I know, me too. Wash the meat- the chicken with soap. [laughs]. Maybe after there is no smell. [laughs] I did it. The truth, I did it. And after, really, I learned to cook and bake not to brag. Excellent, I cook and bake excellent really the truth. [laughs].
[08:23:51] Interviewer: That's a great story. So when the family came together you had Shabbat, did you go to synagogue at all? Did the men go to synagogue?
[08:24:00] Helene Daniel: Yeah.
[08:24:00] Interviewer: No, not here, in Baghdad.
[08:24:03] Helene Daniel: I never went. Only once I went it was [inaudible] I don't know. I never went to the synagogue. But my mother on high holidays in Baghdad and my father they used to go.
[08:24:16] Interviewer: They used to go.
[08:24:17] Helene Daniel: And I don't know why as the children we never went with them.
[08:24:24] Interviewer: Did you learn any Hebrew?
[08:24:27] Helene Daniel: I learned here with [inaudible]. [laughs] One day I went to [inaudible], I told him I want to follow in the synagogue. After my hus - Yeah. I want to follow in the synagogue. He told me I had a course but they are in the, now in the middle. You won't be able. [08:24:49] I told him no, I know Arabic, it's easy for me the Hebrew, I didn't know nothing, really. Within a few lessons I became very good. I got another course with [Abitan?] and I used to follow in the synagogue very well.
[08:25:10] Interviewer: You have a good ear for languages.
[08:25:11] Helene Daniel: No, no, I Abitan [ph] was good and I used to go every Saturday but not now.
[08:25:20] Interviewer: So in uh...Baghdad uh, Pessah, Passover would come.
[08:25:30] Helene Daniel: Yeah.
[08:25:30] Interviewer: So would your mother prepare for Passover in a special way?
[08:25:35] Helene Daniel: [overlap] Oh yeah. She had a special dishes, special pot, she never reused like we had a cupboard I remember, in big cupboard and used, they used to put it that the Pessah has stuff, yeah. And they erased [?] they used to say they make a [chalah?], they boil water. I used to see, the maid does it, she boil a big pot of water. She put, I don't know inside it a brick or something and she used to put the pot that she needs it, she, she makes it [inaudible] they call it. [08:26:22] But we had dishes, we had special dishes, cutlery, all it was for Pessah.
[08:26:30] Interviewer: And how was matzo made? Do you remember making ...?
[08:26:32] Helene Daniel: Oh yeah. The [inaudible]. You can buy it ready made. You can make it at home. You make the dough with water only. They used to do it with water only but me here I make [djerador?]
[08:26:50] Interviewer: Oh you do?
[08:26:50] Helene Daniel: Yeah, sure. I became a good cook uh, I put a little bit of canola oil. It comes delicious.
[08:27:00] Interviewer: Ah.
[08:27:00] Helene Daniel: Yeah.
[08:27:01] Interviewer: And your children love it?
[08:27:03] Helene Daniel: Oh definitely. Especially Frankie. [laughs]
[08:27:10] Interviewer: And so you get married and you go back to Teheran. Is it Teheran? But you weren't born in Teheran. So how did you...
[08:27:20] Helene Daniel: [overlap] I was born in Karmasha [ph].
[08:27:22] Interviewer: So how did you get from Karmasha to Teheran? How do you...?
[08:27:25] Helene Daniel: Driving, by car.
[08:27:27] Interviewer: But at what age did you move from Karmasha to...
[08:27:31] Helene Daniel: Oh, when we went to Baghdad from Karmasha and after we used, when we used to come oh, we used when to go to Teheran the last time that I also we passed through, we go by car, we go through Harnarhin [ph] from Harnahim Karmasha and after Teheran. [08:27:55] And the last time, '41, when we left Baghdad, we went to Karmasha we stayed at the hotel. Who was with us in the hotel? Rashid Ali [ph]. The one who throw Abd al-Ilah the region and after they overthrow him he, he, it looks, he went to Iran. [08:28:17] He came in, in, in the, in Kashmasha hotel. He was with us. I think from there uh, maybe he went to Germany or something, I don't know the truth. Yeah, but he was with us in the hotel.
[08:28:35] Interviewer: So you stayed in the same hotel as the person who was responsible for the farhud. And he was in charge of the government.
[08:28:44] Helene Daniel: Yeah, Abd al-Ilah, yeah.
[08:28:48] Interviewer: Ah, and did your, your parents weren't worried? Weren't afraid?
[08:28:52] Helene Daniel: Oh they were worried. For them they used always to go back to Iran, I don't know. People the truth, my friends they loved when they talk about Baghdad they loved Baghdad. They say the club, they used to enjoy it. I don't know. As we were very, the only the - when we used to live in Baghdad close family only. [08:29:20] Me I remember the farhud, I don't know. I...if I dream I am in Baghdad I get, when I wake up I am all sweaty. I am scared, I don't know. I uh...
[08:29:36] Interviewer: [overlap] So you were now living in Teheran and you're married. And how many children do you have?
[08:29:42] Helene Daniel: Three boys. Frankie, Emile and Freddy.
[08:29:45] Interviewer: And what year is Frankie born?
[08:29:48] Helene Daniel: 1946.
[08:29:50] Interviewer: And Emile?
[08:29:51] Helene Daniel: '47, September.
[08:29:53] Interviewer: And your last child?
[08:29:54] Helene Daniel: 1950.
[08:29:57] Interviewer: 1950. And they were all born in Iran?
[08:30:01] Helene Daniel: Yes.
[08:30:01] Interviewer: All born in Iran. And what does your husband do for a job? What does he do for a living?
[08:30:08] Helene Daniel: Oh he always worked for my uncle uh...Mashaal, yeah. I don't know, he...bookkeeping, the Mashaal, my uncle when he used to go, all in the state always he had his proxy yeah. He managed his money.
[08:30:36] Interviewer: And what area of Teheran did you live in? What was the neighbourhood called?
[08:30:43] Helene Daniel: Kuchebahrami [ph], close to uh, I forgot the main street, the name. But I know only Beherami [ph], the coo- our street.
[08:30:57] Interviewer: And was it an Iraqi community that you lived with?
[08:31:00] Helene Daniel: No. No they were all Iranian but not far from me my mother used to live, not far from me we, [inaudible] my cousin used to live and not far also in the same street my uncle Gourgi [ph], the Mashaal brother. Yeah, he used to live also.
[08:31:22] Interviewer: So you could walk uh,
[08:31:25] Helene Daniel: Oh yeah, walking were near, few minutes.
[08:31:29] Interviewer: A few minutes so, but it wasn't an Iraqi comm - neighbourhood. It was.
[08:31:33] Helene Daniel: No, no we were scattered.
[08:31:35] Interviewer: Scattered. And the, the, what was a typical day? What would you do with your day? You would wake up and what would you do? Take care of the children? Or would you go and, what would you do?
[08:31:49] Helene Daniel: Really, practically nothing. [laughs] Really. I...
[08:31:58] Interviewer: Go shopping?
[08:31:59] Helene Daniel: No. Yeah, I go shopping not for food. I go shopping, I go to the dressmaker. I go, like that. Not really, I used to watch the maid when she cooked but I never cooked. Yeah, I used to watch her always.
[08:32:22] Interviewer: Did you, did you have a chauffeur?
[08:32:25] Helene Daniel: No.
[08:32:27] Interviewer: And did uh, there's a group of Jewish people they are called Mashhad, Mashhadi...
[08:32:35] Helene Daniel: Mashhad.
[08:32:37] Interviewer: Yeah, did you know any of them?
[08:32:39] Helene Daniel: Oh no, they were very Jew - Muslim Mashhad. They live only uh, I don't think Jewish they live in Mashhad, all ver- very uh religious Muslims.
[08:32:53] Interviewer: But there were some that were also Jewish that practiced secretly. Did you every meet any of them?
[08:32:58] Helene Daniel: No. No.
[08:33:02] Interviewer: They uh, did uh, in Teheran, did you go to a synagogue ever?
[08:33:08] Helene Daniel: We had synagogue uh, they had the, the Iranian synagogue of course but the Jewish community they had uh [inaudible name] he was a rich uh, person Iraqi. He used to live in Iran and he opened a, he built a synagogue [Miril Abdalah?] and for also school, the one they used to go if they want to go to [Miril Abdalah]. [08:33:42] Some of the Iraqi people they sued to send their children to the community school they had and they - and the, some to [Mirial Abdulah] school.
[08:33:55] Interviewer: So did Frankie go to [Miril Abdullah]?
[08:33:57] Helene Daniel: No, they were very small. There was a teacher from - American. I used to send to Frankie, just to her house like she was American but, and really Frankie she taught Frankie like a little bit of, of English. Yeah. Yeah, she was good but he did - he was very small. I didn't send them to school there.
[08:34:29] [technical adjustment]
[08:34:49] Interviewer: Can I continue? Okay. Did you have American friends then or uh...in Teheran? In Iran?
[08:34:57] Helene Daniel: No, no.
[08:34:58] Interviewer: You just knew this one...person that you sent Frankie to and that's it.
[08:35:03] Helene Daniel: Yeah and I forgot her name.
[08:35:06] Interviewer: But otherwise your friends were just family friends or were they...
[08:35:11] Helene Daniel: Yeah.
[08:35:12] Interviewer: Did you know Iranians?
[08:35:13] Helene Daniel: Iranians yeah, a few, like the neighbours.
[08:35:19] Interviewer: They were Jewish or Muslim?
[08:35:20] Helene Daniel: No, Muslim. They used to love me my neighbours. They used to call me Hanahem Arab [ph]. It means Mrs. From the Arab country. They used to love me. Across the street he was...I forgot his name...[08:35:43] When [inaudible] used to go away in...his travels he used to be in his place. They used to love me the uh...his wife and him. I remember when we rented the house I was expecting Frankie. And one day, I saw when they used to have as maids, soldiers [?] they use in Iran, they had two. [08:36:15] I saw one of them came with a tray full of uh...plates of, of, pickles, each one has one kind. Delicious pickles. I was so impressed really. My grandmother was with, visiting me and my mother. They were really surprised. [08:36:46] When I went to thank her, she told me my husband says if you have a boy will you promise you invite us for [bris] milah. I told her, the truth he came. Oh [inaudible] his name was. Now I remember. He came and really he was very impressed and very happy that he was, he was able to come. [08:37:21] He loved me the Muslim neighbours. All of them.
[08:37:26] Interviewer: Did you experience any anti-Semitism in Iran?
[08:37:31] Helene Daniel: While we were living? Never. They used to love us. They used to call me Hanam Arab and they respect me. No, they lo - they had no anti-Semite at that time, there were [overlap]
[08:37:45] Interviewer: Were there any incidents where there was a robbery or something like this that happened to you?
[08:37:51] Helene Daniel: Oh, when the Mashaal came to the state they left four children in Iran. They didn't have in mind that they are going -
[08:38:03] Interviewer: This is Victor's parents.
[08:38:05] Helene Daniel: Victor's parents. They didn't have in mind that they are going to stay in the state. They uh, they, when they wanted to leave she prom - she promised me, Victor mother Helene, in six months we will be back. Come to our house because my house was small. They had to maid and a chauffeur. [08:38:31] And I had two maid, it would never work. I...uh...I took one only of my maids, I let her go [?] and I went there to live. Frankie was, I wasn't even kindergarten, it was 1949 I think. And I went there. [08:38:57] After a month, something like that, I was sitting in the room, it was around nine o'clock in the evening. I was sitting and my husband was his back like that. Was hearing the radio news and that, and I saw the door ope - they pushed the bedroom door. And they were maybe four, five all with revolver. [08:39:27] Really I thought at the beginning I am dreaming. I didn't say a thing, only they were looking at me and I was looking at them and after I saw one of them came in and he told me get up. While he told get up I went at husband instead of going to the door and I told Abraham, Abraham. [08:39:54] At that time my husband realized it on it face, he saw there is a few men in the room. Anyhow, they put us on the bed and they put blanket on us and they go and they come back, they were hitting my husband. My husband was bleeding from the nose. And I heard my youngest son, he was one year old. [08:40:28] Frankie was with me on the bed. I told, I realized that he's in the room. I told him please give me my child. They gave me right away and I had some jewellery [inaudible] on me. I took it off. They didn't ask me. They didn't want that. I took off the jewellery; I had a bracelet and rings. I gave it to them. And they go and they come back, they hit my husband, "Where is the money?" [08:41:07] After we were lucky, next door there was an empty lot. They used to come some people, they have no garage to put their cars for the night and there was a watchman. By luck, the watchman was sleeping. [08:41:29] And they started, the man that came to put his car, he started to knock at the door of the lot. He [unintelligible] and he was crying uh, that open the door, open the door. The thieves, they thought that somebody saw them and he is telling on them. We heard steps going down, running down at that time...[08:41:59] My husband got up and he was saying, the uh, there is nobody, nobody here. There was no answer. We got up, my hu- so - brother at that time Naim, he, I told him at night, please Naim, sleep here, Maurice is alone, keep him company. [08:42:21] Oh, I saw my brother, he said I, he was bleeding from the chest. We, at that time it was very hard. No one from the neighbour accepted to come. They were scared. By luck, more, when we got up we saw like, my husband he takes off his suit in the evening. The suit was already gone. [08:42:53] There is nothing to wear, only with the slippers and the pyjama. We had no money because they took all and they cut the telephone and they took the car keys. Then my husband went to the door with Maurice and by luck they saw somebody uh, that they know in the carriage going [inaudible]. They stopped him and they went and they called my mother and at that time and my brother they came. It was very bad. [08:43:31] Very, very bad.
[08:43:32] Interviewer: And did your uncle go to the hospital?
[08:43:35] Helene Daniel: No, we call the doctor came and now he's in - when we came he left Iran to [inaudible] surgeon and went to Toronto but I was sacred to stay anymore at the Mashaal house. I told my mother I am going to the hotel. I take my children and go to hotel. I want, I want to stay uh, at that time even from the office of the Mashaal they said we sent a few men watch, they will come two men to sleep at night in the house. [08:44:12] I told them, I am very scared, really, I am very scared. My mother offered to move to my mother's house. We stayed for, I think around three months, four months until my, our house because the place we used to live I told a woman I knew I will give it to you half price but only after six months you give me the house back. [08:44:41] When, after a month, this happened, the lady didn't accept whatever we pleaded her, we move he, we paid expenses. She said no way you promised six months, six months. And that we stayed a few months at my mother's [inaudible] and at that meantime they were, the...they Iraqi passport, they didn't accept to renew for Mr. Mashaal. And it was very hard. [08:45:13] You couldn't come back. That it took around two years till my husband fixed for him the passport. Meanwhile he made a passport as Iranian subject for Maurice and Maurice left for, for college in the states. But the Mashaal, it took two Years till he renewed his passport and he came to pick up Victor, Sue and Emile.
[08:45:49] Interviewer: So during this period, where you're talking care of Maurice who is older but also Victor, Sue and Emile, who are younger -
[08:45:59] Helene Daniel: Yeah, they were very small Sue and Emile. Emile he is the age of Frankie.
[08:46:06] Interviewer: But they were in the house too when the robbery happened. Were they?
[08:46:09] Helene Daniel: Oh yeah, oh yeah. Victor was sleeping. He stayed asleep, he didn't wake up. My mother, when she came where she sleep, we were so scared. We sleep four, five on the bed, double bed. But my mother where she went she went on the bed with Victor. [08:46:33] Victor didn't wake up. When he woke up in the morning Auntie [Bella?], why? Who brought you here? Why you are in my bed? My mother didn't [inaudible] she told him, "Victor, you were sleeping last night?" [laughs]
[08:46:53] Interviewer: And Emile and Sue, they were too young to uh...
[08:46:56] Helene Daniel: Very small, not hey didn't [overlap] understand. Very small.
[08:47:00] Interviewer: So Frankie was the only one that uh...
[08:47:02] Helene Daniel: Frankie also very small.
[08:47:04] Interviewer: But he didn't, doesn't remember...any of this.
[08:47:07] Helene Daniel: Yeah. They were very young.
[08:47:11] Interviewer: And so when you, did, you had your three children. You had the Mashaal three children plus Maurice...
[08:47:22] Helene Daniel: Maurice left after one year.
[08:47:24] Interviewer: One year. So you had six children to take care of.
[08:47:27] Helene Daniel: Yeah but we had maid and a chauffeur.
[08:47:32] Interviewer: And you stayed in the Mashaal house then.
The Mashaal had two, no I moved - I went [overlap] I moved out, I was scared to stay.
[08:47:40] Interviewer: And you took the six children with you.
[08:47:41] Helene Daniel: To my mother yes. [laughs]
[08:47:45] Interviewer: She said, "Thank you."
[08:47:48] Helene Daniel: Because my mo - when...my uncle was in uh, in Paris at that time Victor father, when he, his mother, Victor mother they were, she was at my house and my mother and my aunt and my uh, Victor mother she was telling my mother and my aunt that your brother called me and he is very lonely and he doesn't want to come back not to Iran. [08:48:18] She, they told her, go, go. She said and how about the children? My mother told her, and my aunt, Helene, she will come to your house. That, when I was scared, when the robber came, I told her you volunteer, now do something.
[08:48:40] Interviewer: So you moved in with your mother but did you move back to the Mashaal house? Where did you...?
[08:48:45] Helene Daniel: No, I moved to my house [overlap]
[08:48:48] Interviewer: So it was your house after six months you moved back to your house.
[08:48:50] Helene Daniel: Yeah [overlap]
[08:48:51] Interviewer: With Victor [overlap]
[08:48:54] Helene Daniel: My children. Till now I looked [?] them at, like my children.
[08:48:58] Interviewer: Like your children. And do they see you like a mother? Does Victor?
[08:49:03] Helene Daniel: We went, we were at, I don't know at a wedding or some, something was. Last year or two years ago and I saw my husband's nephew came to me. He told me, "Auntie, Victor is, no Emile is drunk, about Emile, Emile is drunk." I told him, why? [08:49:30] Get like, do something. I told him why? Why? He said, because he's saying he used to think you are his mother. I told him no, he's not drunk, it is true. He was uh, three years, I don't know. Like that. Of course, two years with me he thought I am his mother. [08:49:52] He's not, he's not drunk I told him.
[08:49:59] Interviewer: The uh, so here you are taking care of these children, living in Iran so why do you leave Iran? Why do you decide to leave?
[08:50:10] Helene Daniel: Oh, Victor mother used to write us, to write for my, for my husband, "Please come." Do you know, they came they said they didn't give them [?] at the end uh, to stay in New York. [08:50:28] They found out here anyhow that here uh, it's giving Canada immigration for Jewish people and non-Jews also. If you put 25 000 in the bank. And that time they came. And they were one only, two Iraqi people here anyhow...to yeah, something like that. [08:50:58] Yeah, they came here. She used to write my husband, come I am very lonely here and that and come. And it was the situation at that time bad it started Iran they wanted to throw out the Shah. Once he went out I forgot and then British again brought him back. [08:51:23] We were scared and uh, not really to be scared. I don't know. My husband decided, he told me let's - we go to Canada. The children will grow up there.
[08:51:37] Interviewer: What Year was that?
[08:51:40] Helene Daniel: We came 1953, January.
[08:51:43] Interviewer: January. So let me go back to Israel questions okay? So for example, why didn't you go to Israel? In 1953?
[08:51:54] Helene Daniel: Oh when we came her, oh my husband wouldn't go at that time to Israel for first reason because we, he had two houses. One it was his and one it was his father's but his father out it in his name. [08:52:12] Because they went, they were scared like if something happened to [inaudible] ...for that reason my husband told me even we won't take - he like, he liked the truth to see Israel but he told me I don't want to give any excuses. They will take, the government Iraqi our house, the houses. [08:52:41] When we came here my husband, there was somebody that he asked that he accepted that he was in Baghdad that he will sell the houses for him. He went to New York, to the Iraqi embassy, he told him, I want to make a proxy because I have uh...houses in Iraq. [08:53:13] He told him, do you know, we heard your wife went to Israel, that I never put my feet in Israel at that time because we were scared, we knew. Yeah. He took the passport and tear it into two pieces and he throw it uh, away. He told him, we heard your wife went to Israel and they took the uh...threw, threw the passport away.
[08:53:44] Interviewer: And the homes were in what country? In Teheran?
[08:53:49] Helene Daniel: Yeah [inaudible, overlap]. But he went to the embassy in New York because [overlap]
[08:53:53] Interviewer: But the homes were in Iran, not in Iraq.
[08:53:57] Helene Daniel: Not in Iraq. No, in Iraq the houses.
[08:54:00] Interviewer: Oh the houses were [overlap]
[08:54:00] Helene Daniel: Iran were very good but one day we were in London and my husband told me, Helene, they say Hyde Park, we are close in the hotel to Hyde Park. Let's go to Hyde Park we walk there. And we saw there really, somebody, a crowd and somebody on the chair giving them lecture saying about the Jews they throw the Muslims in the sea when the - Israel came to exist. [08:54:37] And there was an English woman standing only she was saying, I want to kill him. I want to kill him. And she back up and she back up she was scared. And he was preaching to the people, the Jews are so bad in Israel, they do so bad, they treat so bad the Muslims and that and I said, oh I am in England, I am not scared, I came, I told him, "You are all what you are talking is nice. You told them the Jews to go out and uh, and uh...the Muslim to go out and to come back. They throw the Jews in the sea." [08:55:23] Anyhow, I told him uh, you uh...you all lies. You took all the uh...you let all the Jews go out with one suitcase. You confiscated everything. He told me, from, from where you are? I was scared to say I am Ira - from Iraq. I said I am from Iran, but I know what is happening in Baghdad. [08:55:53] He told his, all the men around him, let's go as long as this woman she is here in the park, let's go. He took all the, his uh...friends and he went out of the park.
[08:56:11] Interviewer: Your, so you travelled on an Iraqi passport not on an Iranian passport?
[08:56:17] Helene Daniel: Oh...Yes. The, the Iranian. At that time I am Iranian but when I married, I asked, I asked that I will be Iraqi like my husband. After my husband, when the Iraqi they were treating bad and that what, in Iran they had at that time, they don't accept any foreigner he buys property in his name. [08:56:52] My husband at that time had no, not in mind to come to Canada. He told me Helene let's buy a house but, and be back [inaudible] Iranian. They never accepted me. How, how much he bribed, they told him once she refused he identity we'll never accept her back. [08:57:18] They never accepted me back the Iranian to give me. But when we are leaving Iran they Iranian they did - they didn't accept, they wanted my children to travel with Persian passports and they Iraqi didn't accept. They wanted my children to be Iraqi like me, like me. [08:57:41] And that, they had Iranian passports when we came here.
[08:57:46] Interviewer: So you and your husband had Iraqi passports and your children had Iranian passports.
[08:57:51] Helene Daniel: Iranian passports.
[08:57:52] Interviewer: And did you go via London when you came?
[08:57:55] Helene Daniel: London didn't acc- we wanted to take the boat from England to come. We had immigration at that time England they were refusing. They never accepted us to go even take the boat from there. Not to take the boat...they didn't let us and at the end we came by plane. We wanted to come by boat but when England refused we came by airplane.
[08:58:28] Interviewer: So you came by plane from Iran to Canada.
[08:58:31] Helene Daniel: No, Paris.
[08:58:33] Interviewer: Paris and then Canada.
[08:58:34] Helene Daniel: Yeah.
[08:58:36] Interviewer: Let me ask another question about Israel. You were, in 1948 you were now 20 Years old, 22 Years old. Do you remember 1948, when Israel was created as a state?
[08:58:47] Helene Daniel: Yeah, I was so happy at night. When they were, the United Nations were, we didn't have TV at that time, on the radio that when they said they claimed the vote was uh...they were voting and they accepted, yeah.
[08:59:08] Interviewer: And then when Israel was created in May 1948 was this also on the radio?
[08:59:14] Helene Daniel: On the radio, yeah.
[08:59:15] Interviewer: Did you, were you with friends? Or family when this happened?
[08:59:20] Helene Daniel: No...no, in our house.
[08:59:22] Interviewer: Do your remember, did any of the people who were escaping Iraq in 1949, '50, '51, '52...did any of these people stay with you at your home?
[08:59:35] Helene Daniel: Do you know, I don't know, I forgot how it happened. Only I remember I had a teenaged girls one day. I don't know, I went to this [inaudible] when they used to put these people that they used to come from Iraqi with - across the border. [08:59:54] I remember a teenaged girl, I took her with me to [lalezar] it means there they sell uh, clothes and everything. And I remember, I don't know what I bought her really but I remember whatever she needed I told her [became?]. She escaped. [09:00:17] They wanted, she was in the what you call it, with the group with the, with underground, with the Isra - the, the if the she said she, she ran away if they catched her they would have hanged her. She came only a dress. I remember I had this girl and I took her with me to the shops and I told her whatever she need to buy. [09:00:47] Only that I remember. I don't remember her family name or anything but after one month, after a few months he said, do you know so and so came, also he crossed the border and he was talking to him. I am, I worried what happened to my daughter like, he told her, him, don't worry. The - a nice woman, about me, took her and she bought her everything what she need. [09:01:19] And after she left, of course, I was saying El Al comes every, once a week and she went to Israel. I forgot her name or anything. Her family...
[09:01:32] Interviewer: Was your husband or your father or your uncle involved in helping the underground or these people?
[09:01:41] Helene Daniel: No, no, they were scared. They won't - I remember I was married and one day I came and tell him, I told my husband I want to learn Hebrew because I didn't learn in school. I went to nun school. He, he told me no way you go to learn Hebrew. I don't - if something happens like Baghdad I don't want ever, ever like they say you went to learn he, he never let, let me, no.
[09:02:14] Interviewer: So you come to Canada in 1953, you stay with the Mashaal family, Victor's family for three months you said?
[09:02:22] Helene Daniel: Yeah.
[09:02:22] Interviewer: And what was that like? Was it lots of people coming in and out? What was it like?
[09:02:27] Helene Daniel: Oh the Mashaal always was open house. Yeah, every evening after supper they used to come whatever people without phone or anything. They come always uh, their door was open the Mashaal. And they used to live in Outremont [inaudible] a very nice house, big house, yeah.
[09:02:51] Interviewer: And so all these people could be living in the house at the same time? It was a big house?
[09:02:55] Helene Daniel: Yeah, yeah.
[09:02:57] Interviewer: And did, what language did people speak in the house?
[09:03:01] Helene Daniel: Oh we all spoke Arabic. Because yeah, we all spoke Arabic.
[09:03:07] Interviewer: And the cooking was uh, Iraqi food or...
[09:03:12] Helene Daniel: Oh yeah. Iraqi food. My mother, you know, be brought her with us but she, after she lived with the Mashaal her daughter yeah.
[09:03:22] Interviewer: So and uh, the, there was Victor's father began a club, an Iraqi club. Do you remember?
[09:03:32] Helene Daniel: Yeah, yeah, Ile-Bizard, at Ile-Bizard.
[09:03:35] Interviewer: Did you ever visit that?
[09:03:36] Helene Daniel: I was mem - we were members [overlap]. Yeah, sure.
[09:03:40] Interviewer: And you would take the children?
[09:03:42] Helene Daniel: Oh yeah, of course, and I used to drive. And Victor father used to, liked, he comes like with us in the car. I used to drive slowly. [laughs] Yeah.
[09:03:57] Interviewer: And what was, where did you live when you, after you found a place in Montreal?
[09:04:03] Helene Daniel: Oh we lived on Van Horn...
[09:04:04] Interviewer: On Van Horn.
[09:04:05] Helene Daniel: On Van Horn near Hillsdale, yeah.
[09:04:08] Interviewer: [overlap] And the kids went to what school? Did the kids go to school?
[09:04:15] Helene Daniel: Frankie went...uh...I forgot the name. On Darlington was uh...
[09:04:25] Man: Logan.
[09:04:25] Helene Daniel: Logan school.
[09:04:28] Interviewer: And did an organization call JIAS, or HIAS, the Hebrew Immigrant Aid, did they help you at all? Did Jewish organizations help you?
[09:04:39] Helene Daniel: I didn't need help. We didn't need help.
[09:04:43] Interviewer: And your, you spoke French?
[09:04:47] Helene Daniel: Yeah.
[09:04:48] Interviewer: Or did you, or was it an English community?
[09:04:51] Helene Daniel: No I, I never, after I got married till we came here, I never spoke French here also Till Lévesque [?] came. Even I forgot what uh to speak the French. When Lévesque came I went to get [crash course] French.
[09:05:12] Interviewer: So but when you came in '53 until Lévesque, the community was...
[09:05:17] Helene Daniel: It was grown up. [overlap]
[09:05:21] Interviewer: English community you were part of?
[09:05:24] Helene Daniel: No. Iraqi, we were only all Iraqi. But the community grow up.
[09:05:32] Interviewer: And did you belong to a synagogue?
[09:05:35] Helene Daniel: Yeah. Of course, the [overlap] Spanish and Portuguese.
[09:05:40] Interviewer: And were the children bar mitzvahed here?
[09:05:43] Helene Daniel: Yeah uh...no, Frankie it was Young Israel [?].
[09:05:50] Interviewer: And your other children?
[09:05:51] Helene Daniel: At home...
[09:05:54] Interviewer: And did they go to a Hebrew school at all? A Jewish school too or not?
[09:05:59] Helene Daniel: Not really. Only Frankie went to Jewish school. Yes, they studied, Emile studied for his bar mitzvah with a private teacher I think.
[09:06:11] Interviewer: And so your, your...you spent time with the Iraqi community and what about, did you meet Moroccans or Tunisian people who came from North Africa?
[09:06:23] Helene Daniel: No, with Iraqi. With Iraqi. Just Iraqi.
[09:06:25] Interviewer: Ashkenazi? Did you meet?
[09:06:28] Helene Daniel: Not really.
[09:06:29] Interviewer: Not really. And so what was your life like in uh, you were taking care of the kids now, you had to learn to cook. What did you do everyday? What was your schedule?
[09:06:41] Helene Daniel: Oh I have three children at home yeah, and no help. Don't forget, it was very hard, it was very, very hard. I learned to cook, I learned to bake, I learned to sew, I learned everything.
[09:06:59] Interviewer: And what about the winter? How did you survive the winter?
[09:07:02] Helene Daniel: I used to cry. To tell, [overlap laughing] I tell my husband, "Take me back wherever we go, I don't mind." I used to cry every night to say the truth. I wanted to go back. The winter was terrible. We didn't have a car. My husband, because he never accepted to drive or to learn. [09:07:24] After in...maybe four, five years I told him I will learn. He told me, if you learn we buy a car. I learned to drive. Yeah, it was terrible. The winter was terrible here. The, they...they didn't have at all what they have today, the coat, it was the coat the duffel [?] coat was only felt and the boots to wear over the shoes, this is plastic. [09:08:00] It used to be terrible cold. And the snow, they used not to, they push it to the side, you, I don't know if you remember.
[09:08:13] Interviewer: I remember.
[09:08:13] Helene Daniel: They push it. You can't cross the street unless you go to the corner. I don't know.
[09:08:18] Interviewer: You had to climb a mountain.
[09:08:20] Helene Daniel: It was terrible to say the truth. It was really bad.
[09:08:26] Interviewer: And your kids grow up and they get married. Yes?
[09:08:31] Helene Daniel: Oh yeah.
[09:08:31] Interviewer: You have grandchildren?
[09:08:32] Helene Daniel: Yeah.
[09:08:33] Interviewer: And so, when you, you uh, you know, think back to uh, over your life uh, I'm just trying to...When you think back over you life, how do you, how do you uh, think in terms of your of who you are. Are you’d do you think in terms of being an Iraqi, or an Iranian or...how do you see yourself?
[09:09:03] Helene Daniel: I feel Iranian.
[09:09:05] Interviewer: You feel Iranian. And do you still uh, you spoke Farsi, do you speak Farsi to anyone anymore?
[09:09:13] Helene Daniel: Oh...now not I am at [inaudible] senior home. There is a woman volunteer, she is Iranian. She love me and I like her a lot really, really. She comes nearly every day. Her husband is a doctor [inaudible] or something at the hospital, the new one and she is extremely nice woman. I speak with her sometime Persian yeah. [09:09:43] And there is a few of the maid there, they speak Persian, yeah, they know, they are Persian. Yeah.
[09:09:53] Interviewer: And you Arabic in the home too? Or more Persian?
[09:09:57] Helene Daniel: No, I speak English.
[09:09:59] Interviewer: Right, English is the number one but...
[09:10:02] Helene Daniel: Persian a few. No, I never met any - speak with my friends. I have a few friends at home with me. I have around four, five friends there.
[09:10:16] Interviewer: And the language you speak to them is...?
[09:10:19] Helene Daniel: Arabic we speak.
[09:10:21] Interviewer: And...and does uh, do , because you left Iran in 1953, did you, do you see yourself as a refugee? Or just an immigrant? How do you see yourself when you look back?
[09:10:38] Helene Daniel: I look back I became Canadian and that's all.
[09:10:43] Interviewer: So you don't, you feel you left because - why, you feel you feel you left because you had to leave? Or because...
[09:10:50] Helene Daniel: No, voluntarily.
[09:10:53] Interviewer: Voluntarily. And uh...so let me ask you one last question. And that is that people will listen to this interview right? Because the idea is to share it with people. What message do you want to give them? When they listen to this interview?
[09:11:12] Helene Daniel: I don't know really. [laughs]
[09:11:16] Interviewer: What message would you like to give them? When someone listens to this.
[09:11:24] Helene Daniel: I don't know. That I am happy I am here, really, the truth. I am very happy here. My children grew up here, they studied here and thank God. They are all very good.
[09:11:49] Interviewer: So thank you so much.
[09:11:51] Helene Daniel: Thank you. Thank you very much.