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Bohdan Zukewycz looks back on Ukraine

“I think President Zelensky should have compromised with Putin”

Bodie (Bohdan Zukewicz) stays fit by detailing cars and eating organic.
Bodie (Bohdan Zukewicz) stays fit by detailing cars and eating organic.

Ukraine? Bohdan Zukewycz has seen it all before. “My parents were slaves of the Nazi regime. What happened was, Hitler started cattle-car [transporting] people to work in his factories, so young German people could go into the military. My parents were taken at gunpoint from the Ukraine in 1941, transported to Germany to work in the fields. That’s why I was born in Germany, outside Munich, and lived there till I was five. My mom was subservient by nature. After the war, we were able to come to the U.S. Of course, my dad didn’t let us speak English in the house. Only Ukrainian. Then something funny happened. Mom had subjugated herself to my dad in the traditional way. But when he died, she came to life! She morphed into her humanness.”

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Bohdan — “Bodie” — teaches philosophy, but he earns his walking around money detailing cars. He has been watching Ukraine absorb the shock of war all year. Yet he, like his mom, has been toughened by his experiences, and learned to roll with the punches. “Mom had always kept Ukrainian pictures and icons in the house. But when Dad died, Ukraine became a closed chapter in her life. We never spoke about it. It was a door not to be breached. My mom and dad were both that way. It was, ‘Hey. The past is the past, we got to America, let’s move on.’ Now, with the war, it’s not that I dissociate myself from the Ukrainians. It’s that I think President Zelensky should have compromised with Putin, because Putin was reacting to NATO getting too aggressive. The Ukrainian [conflict] is totally insane. It’s barbaric, stupid. The Russians will eventually level the country, and then the United Nations will rebuild. But you know something? Ukraine is so far removed from my consciousness. Zelensky’s decision to fight the Russians was idiotic. I mean I’m not surprised at the tenacity of the Ukrainians. For six months, they’ve been fighting the Russians, and the Americans have sent billions of dollars [worth of arms], but these are empty gestures. Even the Russians want to keep the breadbasket of the world functioning.”

Bodie’s half Polish as well as Ukrainian. But he considers himself more Ukrainian. At age 77, he is still driven by “an insatiable desire to work. It was instilled in people that you had to work and claw your way to success. On the other hand,” he says, “Ukrainians always taught their kids to be subservient. Most Ukrainians were serfs for centuries. They [saw themselves as] second-class citizens. My mother was very subservient to my father. And me, up until my mid-twenties, I practiced being subservient. I played second fiddle, until my mid-twenties. Every culture has its own culture of psychological essence, and assertiveness. Now, I choose assertiveness.”

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Alpine Planning Group, SDGE power cuts, no high school yet, Farlin Rd. after Viejas fire, coyote woman on Deercreek Canyon, Alpine Beer Co.
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The Sushi Stand packs rolls like confections

New Liberty Public Market vendor wraps its rolls in a pretty box
Bodie (Bohdan Zukewicz) stays fit by detailing cars and eating organic.
Bodie (Bohdan Zukewicz) stays fit by detailing cars and eating organic.

Ukraine? Bohdan Zukewycz has seen it all before. “My parents were slaves of the Nazi regime. What happened was, Hitler started cattle-car [transporting] people to work in his factories, so young German people could go into the military. My parents were taken at gunpoint from the Ukraine in 1941, transported to Germany to work in the fields. That’s why I was born in Germany, outside Munich, and lived there till I was five. My mom was subservient by nature. After the war, we were able to come to the U.S. Of course, my dad didn’t let us speak English in the house. Only Ukrainian. Then something funny happened. Mom had subjugated herself to my dad in the traditional way. But when he died, she came to life! She morphed into her humanness.”

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Bohdan — “Bodie” — teaches philosophy, but he earns his walking around money detailing cars. He has been watching Ukraine absorb the shock of war all year. Yet he, like his mom, has been toughened by his experiences, and learned to roll with the punches. “Mom had always kept Ukrainian pictures and icons in the house. But when Dad died, Ukraine became a closed chapter in her life. We never spoke about it. It was a door not to be breached. My mom and dad were both that way. It was, ‘Hey. The past is the past, we got to America, let’s move on.’ Now, with the war, it’s not that I dissociate myself from the Ukrainians. It’s that I think President Zelensky should have compromised with Putin, because Putin was reacting to NATO getting too aggressive. The Ukrainian [conflict] is totally insane. It’s barbaric, stupid. The Russians will eventually level the country, and then the United Nations will rebuild. But you know something? Ukraine is so far removed from my consciousness. Zelensky’s decision to fight the Russians was idiotic. I mean I’m not surprised at the tenacity of the Ukrainians. For six months, they’ve been fighting the Russians, and the Americans have sent billions of dollars [worth of arms], but these are empty gestures. Even the Russians want to keep the breadbasket of the world functioning.”

Bodie’s half Polish as well as Ukrainian. But he considers himself more Ukrainian. At age 77, he is still driven by “an insatiable desire to work. It was instilled in people that you had to work and claw your way to success. On the other hand,” he says, “Ukrainians always taught their kids to be subservient. Most Ukrainians were serfs for centuries. They [saw themselves as] second-class citizens. My mother was very subservient to my father. And me, up until my mid-twenties, I practiced being subservient. I played second fiddle, until my mid-twenties. Every culture has its own culture of psychological essence, and assertiveness. Now, I choose assertiveness.”

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Previous article

Peutz Valley – the fire did not kill our spirit

Alpine Planning Group, SDGE power cuts, no high school yet, Farlin Rd. after Viejas fire, coyote woman on Deercreek Canyon, Alpine Beer Co.
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The very early days of computers in San Diego

Editor's picks of stories Dave Zielinski wrote for the Reader
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