In the early 1960s, my husband and I ran an “Esperanto Domo,” where we offered free housing to Esperantists from around the world visiting Washington, D.C. Here are a few of our experiences.
Maria Murphy and her sister Sophia stayed with us soon after they’d arrived from Poland. Maria became a physician and an ardent spokesperson for Esperanto her entire life. Several years ago, I wandered into the kitchen of my church in Columbia, MD, and there sat Maria, wearing a t-shirt with a green star. She was on her way to a conference in New England. One evening our guests were a man from Denmark and a woman journalist from Sweden. We spent the evening catching up on news about mutual Esperantist friends from around the world.
Many of our guests were Japanese. We asked one of them if Esperanto was difficult to learn for a speaker of Japanese. He said it was not and that it seemed to him that Esperanto was based on Japanese! A Japanese woman who stayed with us identified herself in a photo on our wall of an early Esperanto conference. These are just a few of the Esperantists who visited us and left lasting memories.
I am a novelist and in a burst of nostalgia, I included an Esperantist in my latest novel. The Esperantist in my book is a refugee from Hungary and an idealist who is a university student, working as a waiter and teaching Esperanto classes.
Eileen also sent a description of the novel, titled The House on Hatemonger Hill, a historical suspense set in Washington, D.C. in 1964: “Plain, timid Sue Millard turns femme fatale as she’s pulled into a dangerous plot to rob American neo-Nazi George Lincoln Rockwell. Robbery is a crime, but Rockwell is an angry man with evil plans. Sue and her gang of thieves succeed and donate the stolen stash to civil rights organizations to help pass the Civil Rights Bill of 1964. Their plot is perfectly planned—nothing can go wrong, but Rockwell finds out who robbed him, and Sue becomes caught in an escalating campaign of terror as she fights for her life.”