Written by Joe Scotchie Friday, 30 July 2010 00:00
This past weekend, there was the usual number of birthday celebrations held in Massapequa for youngsters and adults alike. But only one of them was for someone who turned 100 years old.
That is what happened in the household of Anica Skrokov, better known to people in Massapequa as Baba.
Born on July 25, 1910 in Nevijana, Croatia, Baba celebrated her centennial this past weekend at her longtime home in Massapequa, all in the company of children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. Up to 90 people, mostly friends and numerous family members attended the festivities to pay tribute to a life that was witness to the dramatic events of the twentieth century.
As a young woman in Croatia, Anica married Krizan Skrokov, a man who also hailed from Nevijana. The couple soon had two daughters, Maria and Diana.
Krizan was a merchant seaman who came to America in 1939 to make a life for his family. Krizan had always intended to have his wife and daughters join him in America. Meanwhile, Anica and her children had to survive World War II. On April 6, 1941, German and Italian forces attacked Yugoslavia. From 1941 to 1945, Croatia and the rest of the former Yugoslavia lived under German occupation. During that time, Anica, her children, her in-laws and immediate family members all did what they could to survive. That included hiding in the mountains and for a time, subsisting on turnip greens. Up to 1.7 million citizens of Yugoslavia perished during the war, but Anica and her young family did survive the occupation.
Anica and her children were also able to relocate to America. After the war, Krizan united his family members in the United States. Anica and her two daughters arrived in America on Feb. 11, 1948.
Once settled in the United States, Anica and her family lived in Brooklyn. She wanted to become an American citizen and went to night school to achieve her goal. The couple also worked as superintendents of a building in their Brooklyn neighborhood. Their daughters married, started families of their own and eventually moved to Massapequa. With money saved from their superintendent duties, the Skrokov’s were able to purchase a home in Massapequa. The couple moved to the village in September 1963 to be near their daughters and an extended family that had now grown to five granddaughters—-Donna, Debbie, Tina, Jacquie, and Jennifer.
In Massapequa, Anica worked for the Massapequa School District in the high school cafeteria, where she became a much beloved employee.
As she celebrates her centennial, Baba, in addition to her children and grandchildren has seen her family grow to 13 great-grandchildren—-David, Jessica, Kristina, Tommy, Sean, Mia, Matthew, Ryan, Shannon, Abbey, Rileigh, Caden and Cammie. Incredibly enough in this age of widespread dislocations, all of Baba’s children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren still live in Massapequa.
According to her granddaughter, Donna Alonso, Baba has always lived a clean life, eschewing cigarettes or alcohol. A secret to her amazing longevity has been her desire to remain active outdoors, especially by tending to her garden at the house on Van Buren Street, where Baba has been a Massapequa resident for the past 47 years, nearly half of her eventful life.