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LJ Idol X - 7: Where I'm from (~800 words)

Let me tell you stories of four people who once were led by circumstances to the town Slavyansk, in the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic, in the summer of 1939.

Two of them, Lev and his girlfriend of eight years, Lydia, where slightly older that year than I am now. Lev was 38, and Lydia, 36.

Lydia was one of the three children born into a solid middle-class family who, before the October Revolution, had two properties in Moscow, a small restaurant in the city center and a large apartment nearby, and who, because of it, very nearly were not granted Soviet passports in 1917. They did become citizens in the end, but the mother was sent outside of Moscow and forbidden to live closer than 100 kilometers from it, a very common restriction laid on criminals, homeless and various other undesirables during the Soviet era. The children were not obliged to join her, but the youngest, Kira, left with her mother while Lydia and their eldest brother Apollon remained in Moscow.

Apollon went on to become a Dr. Sci. in Technology and a Professor at the Moscow Aviation Institute, which was not easy for someone of his origins. It was rumoured that at one point he either denounced or was pressured to denounce his mother, another common practice in the Soviet Union, and this understandably caused a lot of tension between the three siblings.

Lydia, for her part, occupied a senior administrative position in a publishing house which was where she met Lev, an accountant.

Lev came from a family with seven children that, while less well-to-do than Lydia's, was still solid enough to put all of their children, two boys and five girls, through gymnasiums and then give them whatever career education they desired. Lev's elder sister Tanya, the one he was closest to, became a school teacher and taught Russian and Russian Literature for more than 50 years.

Before meeting Lydia, Lev had served in the Red Army and been in a short relationship in which he had a child, a girl also named Lydia, who died when she was two years old.

Lev and Lydia spent their summer holiday in Slavyansk and returned to Moscow, where three years later they had a little girl of their own.


In the same year in Slavyansk there also lived a younger girl of 21 whose name was Anya.

Anya was born in a large peasant family in a village near Orel town in Russia, and was the only girl to survive infancy along with her five brothers. As the only girl, she was her mother's favourite. As her mother lay dying, she made Anya, who was only 11 at the time, promise that the girl would continue to learn past the primary school in the nearby village where all of the children went on foot, or on ski, or on rare occasions in a neighbour's cart.

Anya kept her promise, something she would have been unable to do under the "Old regime", and first went to a boarding school in Orel, and then to a railway college in Moscow, where she stayed with the family of her elder brother Mikhail. After graduation, she was sent to Ukraine, worked on the railway in Slavyansk and was also part of the town's komsomol committee.

Both in college and in Slavyansk, Anya had many suitors, and then a fiancé called Boris, a miner. And it was in Slavyansk that she met Nikolai, another railway worker who came from a family of railway workers living in the Russian town Tuma. Nikolai, who was then 24, was smitten with Anya, but she was neither free nor interested.

But then tragedy struck, and Boris was killed in a mining accident. Nikolai continued to pursue Anya and ask her to become his wife during his work trips to Slavyansk. After two years, she gave in, married Nikolai and returned to Russia with him. This happened not long before Ukraine was occupied by the Nazi Germany. All of the members of Slavyansk's komsomol committee who remained in town were killed during the war.

Nikolai and Anya moved a lot during the first years of their marriage due to the nature of his work. At one time, Nikolai was assistant head of the entire railway system in Vladimir, a town 200 kilometers from Moscow. He would hardly have been given a post this high under the "Old regime". Eventually, they settled in Vladimir and had two boys.


Lydia and Lev are my maternal grandparents, and Anya and Nikolai are my paternal ones. They never met in Slavyansk to our knowledge, and Lev died before my mother finished school, but it is curious that that one long ago summer all four of them were in the same small Southern town so far from home.

Comments

( 15 comments — Leave a comment )
kehlen_crow
Jan. 31st, 2017 08:54 pm (UTC)
ConCrit is welcome.

Like last week, I have told part of this story before, but also from a different angle.

I wonder if I got you lost in all the names and details; it was not my intention :).


Edit: per majesticarky's suggestion (and because I don't edit entries after posting).

There were three levels of deep involvement in the political life of the country: pioneers in secondary school, komsomol in high school, college and a bit after that, and (the one and only) party membership still after. If the Nazis knew you were of the two latter, and they did not need you for something specific, they basically killed you at once.

Edited at 2017-01-31 11:33 pm (UTC)
majesticarky
Jan. 31st, 2017 10:15 pm (UTC)
Fascinating family history! Makes me realize I don't know much about my own. I think it would be helpful to explain what a "komsomol committee" is.
kehlen_crow
Jan. 31st, 2017 11:28 pm (UTC)
You should ask your parents and write it down, because all the little facts get forgotten really fast: I asked my mother a lot of questions to write this.

And you are probably right about the komsomol committee, I did not think about it. I don't normally change the entry after posting a link to it, unless it is a typo, so I will add this to the not in the end.
rswndrlst
Feb. 1st, 2017 07:51 am (UTC)
Wow, that is an interesting thing that they were in the same city for a time but never met there.

This was well told and makes me wonder how your parents eventually did meet.
suesniffsglue
Feb. 1st, 2017 03:52 pm (UTC)
What a rich piece! Thank you for sharing this bit of your history; it was really cool to read.
rayaso
Feb. 1st, 2017 09:42 pm (UTC)
This was so interesting! It was easy to follow. I really enjoy these entries on Soviet life. Your grandparents lived through some dangerous times. I find it fascinating that there was such a thing as a railway college.
kajel
Feb. 2nd, 2017 12:47 pm (UTC)
What an interesting tale! It's always those strange coincidences that grab our imagination.
oxymoron67
Feb. 2nd, 2017 10:02 pm (UTC)
That's an interesting coincidence.

I appreciate a good family story, and this is one.
eternal_ot
Feb. 3rd, 2017 11:39 am (UTC)
I liked the way you presented a true incident in form of a story. It was easy to read and felt like a start of a novel. A nice read. Thanks for sharing it.
beeker121
Feb. 3rd, 2017 10:48 pm (UTC)
Isn't it fascinating the connections we can see looking back that no one would have guessed at the time?

My paternal grandmother lived next door to my maternal grandfather when they were in school. She just remembered my great-grandma shouting for "all those crazy Rochon boys".
bleodswean
Feb. 4th, 2017 03:54 pm (UTC)
This is a fantastic way to look back at your own relatives and ponder a scenario you know never took place! Nicely done!
halfshellvenus
Feb. 5th, 2017 08:00 am (UTC)
There were a lot of close calls on the way to your family line forming the path to you!

It is surprising that the two sets of grandparents never met. That doesn't sound as if it was a very large town.
penpusher
Feb. 5th, 2017 07:47 pm (UTC)
It's a fascinating exploration of history and family and how they can intersect to change both.
alycewilson
Feb. 5th, 2017 08:42 pm (UTC)
I love finding out about family stories like this. You are lucky you have so much information about them!
murielle
Feb. 5th, 2017 10:03 pm (UTC)
Fascinating history of your family. I love your entries because you share your life, country, and culture with us. I always learn something new.
( 15 comments — Leave a comment )

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