Maryanne Novotny - Words of wisdom
This week I caught up with the beautiful Maryanne Novotny. Maryanne is very proud of her family and it certainly shows; her eyes light up when she talks about them. “I have had an amazing life, I am very happy and very grateful for the many blessings in my life, including my children, my grandchildren and my great grandchildren.
Where and when were you born? Czechoslovakia, 1925.
What are the most important lessons you've learned in life? Don’t be greedy and be happy, and free.
What’s the secret to a happy marriage? You really have to love your man.. my husband (Albin) was a good man and a good father.
What big world events were the most memorable while you were growing up? In my last year of school World War II began, during the German occupation of Czechoslovakia, many young people were sent to Germany to work in ammunition factories, because I was working on a farm, they left me alone.
What was your first job? When the War was over, I left home and got a job training as an assistant Nurse at a hospital which was run by Nuns. One day, a Policeman came into the hospital, I was changing the bedsheets with Sister… she came in and said there is a young Policeman here, and sister said, no he has come for her, I saw him for the first time and he was very sick, he had Typhoid fever, he needed a blood transfusion, we had the same blood group. I said, I will give him blood.. he was getting better and then I got Typhoid fever. After all of that, we met again, and we married a year later.
What do you miss about the good-old days? Not much because there was always trouble, with the war, and I didn’t get on with my stepmother, I really don’t miss anything.
Describe yourself in three words. Just one word.. courage. You have to have courage.
What is your favourite childhood memory? I didn’t have a happy childhood.. I liked to go to school though. One day my teacher came in and said, ‘anybody want to learn German?’ Of course I put my hand up. When I started, she said ‘Give it up, you’ll never learn another language’. In 1950 my friend was in a group where that same teacher was. The teacher asked about me and my friend said, ‘Oh she’s in Australia’.. she could not believe it, I bet she remembered what she said to me, but when you have to, you have to.
What life advice would you pass along to your grandchildren? I have lovely grandchildren and great grandchildren that I am so proud of, always listen to your parents and be good in school.
What could you tell me that I would be surprised to learn about you? In 1948, Russia took over, Albin (my husband) was being forced to work under the communist rule and he knew he couldn’t do it anymore. He said we had to run away from the country, I said alright.. We spent three days trying to get to the border, walking through mountains, snow and hiding in bushes to avoid border patrol guards. Every bus station and dock, there were police checking everybody’s identity. At four o’clock in the morning we got to an icy river, we had to take our shoes off, tie them around our necks and waded across freezing cold rough, water and slippery rocks, it was so cold. The water was up to our necks and I was pregnant.
We came out the other side and reached the boarder safely. We came upon a Pub where the owner took us in, and we asked American Army soldiers to help us. They took us to a refugee camp for four months, and then we were moved to another in Binoly, Italy where I gave birth to my son.
I was only 23 when we were on the run, I wasn’t that frightened, I didn’t have time to think much. From Italy, we immigrated to Australia. My husband was sent to work for the Sydney Waterboard and I was in Parkes, in a Camp for women and children. He couldn’t see us much; the train took 24 hours from Sydney to Parkes.
What did you want to be when you grew up? My heart was set on a career making continental cakes. Because of food rationing and shortages, I was unable to pursue this career.
What are you most proud of? My children, they are very good to me.
What did you get up to when you were young? I used to like watching soccer, I had a lot of fun with my children and that was enough for me.
Who is the person who influenced your life the most? Why? My husband, he always showed you can do what you wish to do, and he worked very hard for his family.