Tuesday, November 1, 2011



Gerhard decided to return to South Africa.
Andre Louw who opened David Hicks South Africa - died unexpectedly of a heart attack at the age of 41 . His partner in the business Chris - asked Gerhard to come back to South Africa and become his partner in the interior design company .This was always Gerhard's passion so he jumped at the chance. The company was renamed  Gerhard Kokt Interiors. The company went from strength to strength. It was a great move for him and made him one of the top interior designers in South Africa.
He still came to the USA twice a year and I would visit South Africa so we still saw each other regularly.

Jerry, Doreen and Donna in Sanibel - their vacation home in Florida .

Soon after  Bob introduced met to Jerry and Doreen Megna .Jerry was a professor at Brooklyn College and Doreen was a pre-school teacher. They had little girl of four ,Donna and lived in Brooklyn.

Jerry joined the Brothers at the age of 14 .He became a Franciscan Monk and stayed with the order until her was 31 years old. He and Doreen got married soon after that.
His parents were retired and living in Melbourne  Florida. Jerry's  father was Italian and his mother Irish.  Doreen's parents were  on Long Island. They were both from Lucca Italy and her grandmother only spoke Italian so I would chat to her to keep up my skill. They both had brothers that I also know well. Jerry's brother Bill, lives with his wife in Arizona ,and Doreen's brother Ron, lives with his wife Ellen and family  in New Jersey.

Jerry and I have a lot in common as we both loved opera and classical music. We go to the Metropolitan Opera regularly. He is very well read and I find him a very stimulating person- we have a great time .When it comes to politics we are  opposites- and  stay clear of that topic.
They have become my family in America and I don't know if would have survived without their help. We share trips and spend holidays together. We have been through family funerals and weddings and when Donna got married she asked me to walk Doreen down the aisle.

Lake Afton in Yardley

They moved to Yardley Pennsylvania in the late 90's  when Jerry became the Dean of Rider University near Princeton, New Jersey.

Rider University .

Jerry and I visited Europe and South Africa and we also went on the Queen Mary 2 to Canada .Doreen does not enjoy travelling much, but she did go on the Queen Mary 2. When my family and friends visit they all met Jerry and Doreen and Donna.It is a friendship that has survived 27 years- and still going strong.


The USA  was going through a bad time and the economy tanked once again. Rosella was having financial problems and had to let me go. I was devastated as I still did  not have my green card and this could mean that I had to return to South Africa. After all I went through this would have been a disaster for me.

I immediately went to see a head hunter and she told me she could get me a temporary position with Regina Kravitz Inc. as a draper. Regina was a young designer who made a big name for herself as a designer of disco wear .By know she had moved into a dress line that was very successful.

It the USA the new patterns are  made by draping the garment  in muslin on a dress form so that the designer can see what it would look like. I have never done this before but took the job in any case.
I missed about a day without working. I was very great grateful for that.

The other draper at the company was Grace Bavarro. She was an Italian lady and a great draper.
 I confided in her that I  knew how to do  flat patterns but not draping .We are in the same room so she told me to watch her and by looking I taught myself how  to do it. I would work flat and then go to the form and drape it for Regina to look at.

Regina Kravitz.

As luck would have it the girl that I had to replace -- while she took care of some personal business -- resigned and  Regina offered me a full time position.
I  was honest with her and told her that I could only accept it, if she would sponsor me for the green card. She readily agreed as long as I paid all the immigration  lawyer's  fees. I did not feel comfortable with my old lawyer anymore, so I went to see a new guy that told me he could bring me in to the country as a person with a Outstanding Ability. He said he thought  he could do it within a two years.
Elsa Kruger a South African reporter came with a TV crew to do a story on me for South African TV .We shot most of the working shots in Regina's studio on the 29th floor overlooking the Empire State  Building.

Empire State Building.

I was hoping to go on my own again after I got my green card and started making plans. The problem was how to do it on a shoe sting as I had no backers. I still had some time before I would have my permanent residence papers in order.

At last I had my interview with the Immigration Office .It was a great day  when I received my Permanent Residence papers to the USA. I never realized what pressure I lived under until this was done .I could now plan my future. It took almost five years to accomplish - and  a lot of money  that I had to pay immigration lawyers. The sun was shining brighter and the skies were even more blue than usual.

 I promised myself  that I would give up smoking as soon as I got my green card. It took me a week and I have never smoked again.

The first thing I did was to plan a trip back home. I had been  gone for almost five years and I wanted to  see my family and friends . It was great to be back and feel the African sun on my face again.
 I also realized that even if I was living in the USA that South Africa would always have a place in my heart.

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