The beautiful, tall, slender, white-haired woman you may see out walking with her daughter is Mrs. Mary Kartal and she has called North Avondale and two addresses on Burton Woods Lane home since 1960. She originally bought at #10 and moved to #4 in 2010, where, interestingly, Charlie Taft, son of President Taft, once lived.
The Kartal’s came to Cincinnati via Hungary, Austria, Switzerland and Australia. Mary knew a person in Cincinnati from her days as a medical student in Lucerne that helped her husband get a job at Jewish Hospital as an intern. At that time, all medical interns were foreigners as the hospital would accept a doctor’s training outside of the USA. Unfortunately, Mary was never able to finish her medical degree. The Kartal’s liked Cincinnati! They enjoyed concerts, operas, theatre, chamber music, the LaSalle quartet at CCM, the orchestra and when older doctors would offer them free tickets to these events!
When the Kartal’s moved to Burton Woods Lane, they came with three children in tow, plus Mary’s mother and her parents–in–law. They all lived together! Early on, Mary recalls going to work at the EEG lab at Good Samaritan Hospital and leaving the care of her house and children to both her mother and mother-in-law. Mary’s children, Andrea (deceased, formerly on Red Bud), Annette (lives on Mitchell Ave.) and Andrew (lives in Blue Ash) all went to North Avondale School and the girls on to Walnut, while Andrew went to Woodward. The kids all have “A” names because Mary liked the names in both Hungarian and in English! The children did not attend nursery school, because Mary said they could not afford it and they did not speak English. Mary grew up speaking Hungarian and German and she later learned French, but English she learned from a book and it was HARD!
Mary’s husband liked the Burton Woods Lane. The couple did not want to live on Rose Hill. They didn’t feel they would fit into the Rose Hill society of the day with butlers, maids and catered parties. They enjoyed the diversity of the street, with black and white neighbors, plumbers, mailmen and surgeons. Some favorite memories of #10 include the oak wainscotting and beveled glass windows in the dining room, which the family ate in every single day! She also recalls her husband being called into the Jewish Hospital ER to see a patient during the riots in the 1960’s. He was speeding to get there, when the police stopped him. Mary said he was furious. He told the officer that he should be escorting him to the hospital not giving him a ticket, and the officer ultimately did!
Mary did not participate in many neighborhood activities. She says she is not a group person and that 1945-1947 cured her of having any interest in involvement outside of her home, having seen more “combat” than imaginable. Mrs. Kartal was born in Budapest, Hungary and the war came when she was 14. She recalls that she was a “rich” kid whose family lost everything. At that time, she says, “you had to have a religion”. Even though she was baptized Catholic, she had to wear “the star” sewn on to her outer garments due to the fact that she had three Jewish grandparents. Not surprising, she doesn’t consider herself religious now. Her step-brothers both went to concentration camps while she and her mom both were taken to a camp in Budapest. She recalls her father “buying her out” of that camp, paying enormously, where she then travelled alone at age 16 to a safe house that kept her until the end of the war.
About 10 years ago, Mary returned to Hungary to visit her brother for his 90th Birthday. He still lived in the house her parents built. Longevity seems to run in Mary’s family but her lifestyle may contribute as well! Mary enjoys knitting and crochet, crossword puzzles, and reading books in three languages. She is not a drinker or a cook, as she prefers sandwiches, nor does she take vitamins. While she does not do formal exercise, she walks three flights of steps to the laundry and takes outdoor walks because she likes too. She doesn’t much believe in the afterlife, rather saying you “live on as long as someone remembers you”. There is much to know and remember about Mary Kartal!