Anniversary of Coming to the U.S.A.

The following story was transcribed by my sister-in-law Kelly as she listened to my parents tell some of their story on immigrating to the U.S.A. in September of 1947. My parents were visiting my brother Steve and SIL Kelly on Labor Day September 5, 2011.

“Spent the afternoon with  Mom and Pop and wanted to share some of what they had to say.  This is the unedited copy filled in as Pop was talking…so excuse the grammatical errors, if I wait to edit you may never see it.”

(This photo is taken after my parents and sister Kathy settled in Los Angeles. This was sometime in late 1947 or early 1948. My mom is pregnant with my sister Vera in this photo and Vera was born in February of 1948.)

“Pop said he’s never shared all these details because…no one asked.  What started the retelling is that tomorrow marks the anniversary of their first arriving in NewYork…Sept. 6, 1947.  They arrived in Los Angeles on the 12th.

When Mom and Pop left Iran they got a flight on a Red Cross cargo plane..the propeller variety, that had dropped off supplies and was heading back to New York.   It was very loud he said…no seats, just benches along the sides.  Due to refueling and frequent stops it took 4 days to fly from Tehran to New York.  At  most of the stops they got out and ate…and in four places spent the night. He said they had 27 people on the plane and it was full.”

(This is probably what the inside of the Red Cross cargo plane looked like. I hope the Navy is ok with me borrowing it…)

“This is the basic itinerary.  (Pop had made a detailed journal of the trip, but lost it in the last few moves.)  From Tehran to Cairo…spent the night.  From Cairo to Rome..spent the night, got to drive by St. Peters.  From Rome to England, where they were not allowed off the plane so they had to head to Ireland to a US military base.  They spent the night there.  From Ireland they went to Iceland, then to Greenland…where they again spent the night.  From Greenland they went to New York.

Upon arrival in New York they were taken directly to the train station.  Unfortunately, the ‘coupons’ that one of pop’s brother’s, my Uncle John, secured for them weren’t signed, so they couldn’t be used. They were suppose to be vouchers for travel purchased in Iran from an agent.  So since the coupons didn’t work they were stuck in the train station with no money, no food, with a one year old. Mom and Pop were 23 and 24 at this time.

Some nice people helped them and Pop had a card with the name of a Russian church on it.  They took them on the subway to the church and arrived in the evening just as the minister was locking up.  There was no time to find a home for them to spend the night so they took them to a hotel.  Mom said, ‘They put us on the 9th floor, I was so scared..”  And the other couple they were with were on the 14th floor.  The next morning was a Sunday so the streets were empty and Mom said she looked out the window and down and there was trash blowing along the street.  Very frightening to look that far down.

The minister showed up with milk and bread, they hadn’t eaten the day before, and they remember that delivery making them feel like orphans.  They had no money, no food, and Pop only spoke a little English.  (Which he had learned working on an American Military Base in Tehran…I’ll get to that.)

The pastor took them to church and that night they stayed with a family.  On Monday they put them on a train to Chicago.

Two vivid memories of their time in NewYork…  It was the first time Mom had seen toast, and she couldn’t figure out how they got it perfect on both sides.  She also got stuck in a revolving door and couldn’t get out.  She said, they weren’t educated enough to be in New York.

In Chicago another group from a church met them, fed them, gave them a place to stay, and then put them on a train to Los Angeles.  It should be noted that Kathy was very good during all of this, only cried a little.  At some point in this US leg of the journey they were able to contact people in LA to wire them money for the train tickets.  Pop figured it took them about 2 years to pay back all of the costs of their trip to the States.”

(This is a photo of my sister Kathy in a park in Los Angeles, California. Love how the older folk sitting on the benches in the background all have hats on.)

My parents were the first of their families to arrive in the U.S.A.

“In the course of telling this story Pop mentioned other jobs he’d had so I made him list them in order…here is roughly the job history.

His first job was driving horses plowing the fields in Russia.  There were four horses hooked to the plow.  He worked plowning.  (Think clowning)  He also worked threshing the wheat.

Then he worked as a shepherd.  A group of families had cows, sheep, and goats and it sounds like the kids from each family took turns watching the animals.

When they moved to Tehran he worked as a babysitter/houseboy doing whatever the woman of the house wanted him to do.

Later, in Iran he had a job feeding cows.  Then after they were milked he would walk around town to the customers they had and sell milk from a bucket by the cup.

After that he went to work on some of the Shah’s land doing farming.  When it wasn’t farming season he would deliver sand and bricks to road crews.

Then he had jobs on Military bases…he worked on the American base in the kitchens washing out the pans. They would feed him while he was there, and give him food to hide on his body to take out to his family.  (Not technically allowed to take the food, but the cook was nice.)  It’s also where he learned to speak some English.

He also worked on the Russian military base as a mechanic.  He said he ‘fix em’ Chevy’s and Studebaker’s, when they had been in accidents, we fix em up.

His last job in Tehran was in a brick factory.  It was far away so he needed to have transportation.  He said, he and Mom lived in an apartment with 4 other families above a sauna house owned by a Turkish man.  He sold Pop a bike that he had stolen…  When I asked, ‘he stole the bike?”  He said,’Yes, but he sold it to me real cheap, and nobody would recognize it because they changed the color.”  He rode the bike to work every day.”

Ellen’s thoughts…

When I think of what my parents went through to get to the United States I’m so grateful. Grateful to God for giving them the courage and faith to face the unknown. Just the language barrier had to be scary. They had a little toddler and my mom was pregnant with my sister Vera during this journey. Sitting on a bench in a loud cargo plane with 24 other people with a little one in diapers, amazing. They had no idea what kind of life they were going to have in the United States. They had only lived in villages where maybe there were a few 2 story stuctures and here they were in New York City with tall buildings. When they arrived in Los Angeles my dad worked odd jobs in carpentry and construction. They helped the rest of their extended family immigrate to the U.S. over a number of years. Each of these family units lived with my parents until they could get into a place of their own. My mother’s father was killed in Iran after my parents came to the U.S. My mother’s mom immigrated to the U.S.A. with my Uncle and Aunt as a widow. So much hardship endured and they persevered over the years and have always expressed their thankfulness to God for bringing them to the U.S.A. They had 9 children total. Their first daughter died in Iran when she was a toddler. Here are the 8 of us in age order…this is an old photo taken in 2003 at the 40th birthday party of Leonard and Lana, our youngest siblings (twins).

Kathy, Vera, Fred, Ellen, Tim, Steve, Lana, Leonard

My mom and pop in 2009.

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My mom and pop at my niece’s wedding in April of 2013.

We had a 90th birthday party and early 70th wedding anniversary party for my parents at the end of April in 2013. This is our clan minus a few at the party we had for them. We were so happy to have had this celebration as my mom took ill later that summer and never recovered. My mom went to be with her Savior on September 13, 2013 on my parents’ 70th wedding anniversary. My father is now 92.

This is a post from a few years ago but I decided since it is the anniversary of my parents arriving in the U.S.A. today I would re-post it with a few updates and added photos.

Hope you are having a restful Labor Day Weekend. We have been taking it easy at this old house. This is a long post so I’ll sign off here.

History and Heritage…

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I posted this on the Mennonite Girls Can Cook Blog on Sunday for our Bread for the Journey and I’m re-posting here for my own records on The Happy Wonderer. That’s wonder not wander. I’m adding a few more photos from Russia and Persia in this post. Today I’m linking up with ABC Wednesday with thanks to Mrs. Nesbitt, Roger and the ABC Team! I’m also linking up to Testimonial Tuesday #5 at Jerrelea’s Journey.

We are in the middle of a new series on Sundays called “Movement”. As we launched into this series our pastor encouraged us with this statement: “The book of Acts tells the story of a group of first-century, rag-tag followers of the Risen Christ who became the movement that would change the world; it’s God’s movement because He is a God on the move, and He invites us to get on the move with Him.” As a follower of Jesus “I am an integral part of the most powerful, life-changing movement in the history of the world.”
It’s an encouraging exercise to look back over your life and the life of your ancestors to see how God has led and moved you to where you are today.
 My father’s family
My mother with her brother and younger sister.
 For me part of my story is God moving both sets of my grandparents to flee Russia on foot with their children to Iran in the early 1930’s. Both sets of grandparents settled near Tehran where my parents later met and got married. God moved my father with the desire to come to the United States. One of the things that influenced this desire was how my father was treated while working in an U.S. Army base kitchen in Iran. The soldiers were kind to my father and let him take food home to his family because they knew my father’s family was struggling.
My parents with my oldest sister shortly after arriving to Los Angeles, my mother is pregnant with my sister Vera in this photo.
 My parents filed the proper paper work and were granted permission to immigrate to the U.S.A. With my oldest sister they traveled to the U.S.A. settling in Los Angeles shortly after World War II ended. In 1963 my father went to hear Billy Graham at the Los Angeles Coliseum and my father was born again. My father’s decision to follow Jesus turned my family’s world upside down in the right way. That same year I accepted Christ and my new life in the greatest movement of all time began. We won’t know the whole story on how our own lives impact God’s movement till we see Him face to face but we can see part of the story now and be encouraged to carry on and follow Him where he leads us. He doesn’t call us and then leave us alone. He has given us his Spirit, He intercedes for us, He gives us strength. He multiplies the little that we have when we are willing to step out in faith with Him. What an amazing movement to be a part of! You, too, can be a part of this movement. Ask God to reveal Himself to you, to show you the way.
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. John 3:16-17
Jesus said to them, I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. John 14:6
Here are a few more photos from Russia and Persia that I promised… Sorry about the quality of some of these but after all they have traveled a long distance!
This one was taken in Russia before my father’s family fled to Iran. This is my paternal babushka’s relatives, the Sisoev’s, in Prelestnaya Village in Russia.
This is my mother next to her brother Paul on the right. My mother is standing next to her future sister-in-law, Nina. Nina is to the left of my mom and Nina’s brother Nikolai is next to her on the left.
My mother with her brother Paul.
These are two families, who were close friends in Iran and considered family to each other. There were also marriages that connected these two families together further. This was taken in Persia after my parents had immigrated to the U.S.A. I believe all but two of them made it to the U.S. My maternal grandfather seated on the lower right was killed in Iran and my maternal grandmother seated next to him immigrated to the U.S. as a widow with my Uncle Paul and Aunt Nina (pictured together upper right). Aunt Nina was part of the Katkov family and the others in this photo are her siblings and mother and father. The little boy between my grandmother and grandfather is my cousin Alex. One of the sisters from this family married a U.S. Soldier stationed in Iran and she is not in this photo. I’m not sure if who I lovingly called babushka Manya (seated next to my babushka Vera) came to the U.S. as a widow, also, or if her husband Nikolai was able to immigrate with his family.
Well this post is long enough for now. When I scan more photos that I came across from Russia and Persia I’ll share.
Hope you have a happy day…

Friends

img615My flashback this week is all about friends and family in Persia in the late 30’s and in the 40’s. These two friends got into trouble for applying lipstick before they took this photo. My mother on the left and our friend who we always called Aunt Zena on the right.

funeral007-002The same friends over 60 years later in California. Aunt Zena on the left and my mom on the right.

Most of the people in the following photos immigrated to the U.S.A. from Persia. Unfortunately my maternal grandfather died before he could immigrate. My maternal grandmother came to the states as a widow.

img594My mom is sitting down on the left. I need help identifying the other girls in this photo. I think some are Katkovs and the girl on the left is Vera (Leleland). Hopefully someone who sees my post that knows our extended family and friends can help me out with some names.

img617This is my mom on the left, her sister who died young, and her brother Paul.

img613My mom and my Uncle Paul

img596My mom and her cousin Luba

img595My mom on the right with her cousin Luba on the left and the two gals in the middle are Vera Leleland and Lyda Hamzaeff (married last names).

img589Nicolai, Aunt Nina, my mom and Uncle Paul

img588The Katkov and Shvetzov families in Persia. My parents and sister had left Persia already for America. My maternal grandfather is sitting on the right next to my maternal grandmother with my cousin Alex standing between them.

img592My Uncle Paul’s wedding day with my Aunt Nina and her family and friends. All the people in this photo are single except for my aunt and uncle. It was a tradition for the bride and groom to take a photo with their single guests and family.

Here we are in March already. We’re fighting off a cold bug at this old house. Dear is down for the count and I hope I don’t have to join him.

Have a good week everyone!

Thankful for Extended Family

***Please scroll down for Fridays Fave Five…

Thankful in November

I am thankful for family and friends that go back to Russia, escaping to Iran, and finally by God’s grace immigrating to the U.S.A. Our families used to be more connected when they all first arrived as immigrants to the USA after WWII and through the 70’s. After the first generation kids got married we drifted off from each other. We always enjoy getting together for big events and reconnecting.

 

 

This photo was taken in Iran in the late 1940’s after my parents and sister Kathy had left for the U.S.A. The two families represented here are the Shvetzov Family (my mother’s family) and the Katkov Family (my Uncle Paul’s wife’s family). My Maternal Grandmother and Grandfather are seated on the right. My Uncle Paul and his wife Nina are standing on the right. My cousin Alex is at my grandmother’s side. The rest of the family are all Katkov’s and their spouses. The little girl standing on the left is the lady in the collage below with the yellow mickey mouse hat on. :0) The gal with the red and white polka dot hat on is the little girl being held in the top row of the photo from Iran. She was 5 when her parents immigrated to the U.S.A. The three young girls in this photo from Iran are the only ones still living, Tamara, Vera, and Zena. My cousin Alex died almost 30 years ago in a car accident.

 

Dear and I traveled across L.A. to Mission Viejo for a Nifty Fifty birthday party for Tanya, my youngest cousin on my mother’s side of the family. My mother had one brother Paul Shvetzov and he married Nina Katkov. My uncle Paul and Aunt Nina had 4 children. We were able to spend a few hours reconnecting with my cousins Valia and Tanya and some of their Katkov cousins and aunts that we all grew up with. It was great to get together for a fun celebration because we’ve had our fair share of funerals in the last few years. One of our Shvetzov extended Kasimoff cousins was there too (Hi Helen). It’s confusing people and that’s why we called everyone our cousin and our aunt or uncle growing up!

 

Aunt Nura is the oldest surviving Katkov. All her siblings except for her two youngest sisters, Zena and Vera have all gone to be with the Lord. She’s not in the photo from Iran either because she married a U.S. soldier and came to the U.S. before this photo was taken, too. Top row is Tamara, the daughter of Nura’s brother Vasilli, (Tamara is the little girl in the photo from Iran being held by her mother Zena in the top row) Valia (my cousin) the daughter of Nura’s sister Nina, Michelle (Valia’s daughter) and Shirley (Nura’s youngest daughter). Shirley and I have some fun history together from our teen years.

 

This is my side of the family that attended the celebration photographed with the birthday girl Tanya in the middle in red.

Photobucket is holding all my photos from 2007-2015 hostage and demanding a ransom for me to access them. I’m slowly cleaning up many of my posts where PB have added ugly black and grey boxes where my photos used to be. So frustrating!

Happy 65th Wedding Anniversary Mom and Pop!

From The Old-Time Family

We were eight around the table in those happy days back then.
Eight that cleaned our plates of pot-pie [blintzes] and then passed them up again;
Eight that needed shoes and stockings, eight to wash and put to bed,
And with mighty little money in the purse, as I have said,
But with all the care we brought them, and through all the days of stress,
I never heard my father or my mother wish for less.

~ Edgar A. Guest

These are the 8 Bagdanov siblings from oldest to youngest. Kathy, Vera, Fred, Ellen, Tim, Steve, Lana and Leonard

Now here’s a funny discovery we found out from my father this past weekend. It seems all these years they’ve been celebrating the wrong day as their anniversary. My parents were both from a peasant background. They both with their families escaped out of Russia into Iran in their pre-teens. They did not have great record keeping. There are no birth certificates or wedding licenses for them. They chose a birthday when they entered the U.S.A. They knew they were both born in the Spring. They chose September 13th as a wedding date because they thought they remembered that their wedding coincided with a Jewish holiday in September. Come to find out from a date they found on the baby picture of their first daughter who died at the age of 2 that they could not have been married in September but it was probably July just after harvest in Iran. Most of their friends got married this time of year after all the work was completed. Our first sister Kathy was born in April so they know they were married well before September 13th! Yes, strange but true, after they lost their first Kathy they named their second daughter Kathy, too.

Photobucket is holding all my photos that I posted on my blog from 2007-2015 hostage and replaced them with big black and grey boxes with threats. So discouraging…as I’m slowly trying to clean up thousands of posts!