Angel took it up on herself to be our very own angel, considering herself to be of a somewhat higher class than most of our visitors. She spent her time watching and listening for anyone or anything that might be amiss. If she heard a knock on our door, she immediately rushed over and tried to shoo them away. "Don't bother them, they are important Americans!"
During that particularly cold winter, the heat was only on so many hours a day. There was a hospital around the corner where many Russian soldiers were patients. They would walk through the snow and ice in their flimsy hospital slippers and come to our door, begging for vodka. It was heartbreaking to have to turn them away.
Angel would also hear when I left my apartment. She would immediately open her door and announce that she was coming along, for my protection. Outside, there were tables set up like lemonade stands with folks selling things—almost anything they had to make ends meet. Sometimes heirlooms that had been in their families for generations had to be sacrificed to feed their children. Often, I would see crystal, china and silver being sold. I wanted to help and would try to make purchases. But Angel would step in and dicker them down, which was very difficult for me. I wanted to give more than they were asking. The thing is, once she got the price reduced, she would then purchase items herself for the reduced price! What a gal!
But, she lived, as many Armenians do, with generations. In their apartment, she lived with her daughter and her granddaughter. Many apartments had also been in families for generations and as one died off, there were new babies to be raised in them. There would be as many as 4 or 5 generations living in an apartment, with the elderly watching the little ones, so all other adults could work.
On particular time when we went "shopping" we came across an old man selling off his heirlooms to buy food. It broke my heart. Angel, of course, did her thing and got him down to half price. Once we returned to our apartments, I waited and sneaked out, barely closing my door and tip-toeing down the hall. I went to the man and gave him the other half of what he was originally asking. I felt better after that.