The story continued…
This is our Pop’s story dictated verbally by him a few years ago. I’ll be sharing excerpts every Tuesday. When I add to his story or explain a photo I will Italicize my words. Our Pop’s words will not be italicized. Our mom does not come into Pop’s story until “Tuesdays With Moisi ~ 9” even though I’ve posted photos of her before #9. I have very few photos from our parents’ life in Russia and Persia. At the end of my Tuesday posts I’ll add links to all the other posts.
Eventually, another group of people decided to make a second try for Iran. But, unknown to us, it was a plot engineered by the GPU-the Russian Secret Service. They formed a group of which my sister and her husband, Simyon, were participants. My mother decided to send only two of us with this group while keeping the younger children. So one evening the group, with my brother Michael and I, left. As we made our way out of the city, we walked up a small hill and down the other side. As we were descending, we were suddenly surrounded by the militia, ordering us to put up our hands. In so doing we dropped all of our possessions. We were then ordered to march in a different direction, leaving all our possessions behind. We were all loaded onto a truck and taken to the local GPU headquarters. When we arrived there, Simyon was taken inside and we were all herded outside underneath the open window of the room where he was being interrogated. We could hear everything that was going on inside. This was done purposely to intimidate. The interrogator showed no mercy. Simyon was ordered to empty his pockets. Among the items in his pockets was a handwritten book of hymns. The interrogator used the book to slap Simyon across his checks repeatedly and threatened to execute him if he lied in any way. The interrogation lasted four to five hours. Simyon was taken to a holding cell. A soldier then came out and mockingly shouted at us “Now you can go back to your dad.” We were released and went back home. My mother was naturally shocked to see us. We told her what had happened and that Simyon was now in jail.
To add to my mother’s increasing woes, my brother John was suddenly arrested one evening without warning. His job was a source of income for our family. We were now left totally destitute. My mother in desperation would go to the railroad yards and sop up spilled oil with rags. She would then wring out the oil from the rags into buckets and sell the buckets. She also used it as heating oil for us. This was an incredibly difficult time for us. We became intimately acquainted with hunger and cold. When we had absolutely nothing to eat, my mother would go to the local brewery and there beg for the mash that they discarded as pig feed. She would again go to the railroad yards and scratch for the spilled flour in the dirt. She would then combine this flour with the mash and so bake a sort of bread with these ingredients. It was very difficult to swallow this sort of food. We would soften it with our saliva and swallow it whole. We couldn’t chew it because of the dirt.
As a result of our desperate situation, I came down with a serious case of pneumonia. My fever rose to such a degree that I became delirious and my mother lost all hope that I would survive. But eventually I did come out of my delirium and remember very clearly my mother and another woman standing over me. My mother was crying and the other woman was comforting her. They gave me some soup and I began to improve. Eventually my health was slowly restored. So the years 1931 and 1932 were especially difficult for us.
Since John was mentioned in this segment, I added the photo above of the surviving Bogdanoff’s in the 1980’s with their spouses. Uncle John is the one on the top right with the beard.