Chance Encounters Aboard the ACAA Heritage Cruise

A reunion decades in making happened aboard the ACAA Heritage Cruise

BY TOM VARTABEDIAN

Chake Boloian got more than the warm Caribbean sun when she boarded the ACAA Heritage Cruise Jan.21.

The Andover (Mass.) resident met three of her former school chums from Aleppo where she was raised more than 60 years ago.

It all began at the dinner table when talk hovered around their childhood days in Syria. An introduction was made by another guest — Sona Aslanian — in what turned into a rather emotional reunion for the quartet.

With 1,250 Armenians aboard, finding each other after so many decades was akin to a pearl in an oyster.

The group included Dr. Raffy Hovanessian, 72, an internist from New Jersey; Dr. Missak Abdulian, 75, a Los Angeles urologist, and Barkev Bablouzian, 73, of Boston, who spent 41 years as an engineer at Brandeis University.

“These were the boys in my life,” Boloian smiled coyly. “We were all very close. As I recall back then, I had feelings for one of them.”

Not that she ever had any regrets wedding her husband Michael Boloian, a Raytheon engineer, back 48 years ago. Out of it came three active AYF children and six grandchildren, all of them Armenian church-oriented. Her employment days included a stint with Nazarian Jewelers in Merrimack Valley.

Chake hadn’t seen Missak for 55 years until they were aboard the Costa Atlantica. For the Boloians, this was their fifth junket with church friends.

“It makes any trip that much more worthwhile,” Boloian admitted. “We talked about the good old days in Aleppo and it was like going back home again. You leave the ship with fond memories.”

The two physicians left Syria bound for the new world and served with the U.S. Army in Vietnam before parting ways. Hovanessian wound up with three children and seven grandchildren. Abdulian has two children, one grandchild and another on the way. Some 3,000 miles connected the two specialists on this trip. For Raffy, this was his fifth ACAA junket.

All eyes invariably turned toward Boloian, the lone female in the crowd, who seemed the focal point in their discussion.

“When I heard the first name and saw the face, I was startled,” said Bablouzian, who has two children and five grandchildren of his own. “I knew Chake by her maiden name (Minassian) and not her married name. Had we not gone on this cruise, none of this would have occurred.

“Being a single child, it’s like finding two adopted brothers and a sister.”

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