Letters to the Editor

Forged in adversity

For our family, Thanksgiving marks the 90th anniversary of a friendship forged in the immigrant experience.

In 1916, my maternal grandmother Noyemzar lost her entire family in the genocides of the Ottoman Empire.

Wandering into a refugee camp, she encountered the Melkon Kurkjian family. They invited my grandmother to accompany them to America. Traveling eastward across Russia, they reached Angel Island in 1919. The Kurkjians continued on to Massachusetts.

They never met again but exchanged correspondence for 40 years. The youngest Kurkjian, Maritza Mary, married Suren Hekimian, operator of William Bond & Son, the venerable Boston clockmaking firm. Aunt Mary passed away last fall at the age of 93, one of the few remaining genocide survivors in Middlesex County. Decades earlier, she had sent my grandmother a Bond & Son carving set. These Thanksgiving utensils will be used once again at the Nov. 23 gathering in my sister's home.

Philip Tavlian