Tuesdays With Moisi ~ 12

Our Pop’s 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.

The next day we went to the city of Guran in order to buy the wedding necessities.  When we were there, Nadia’s father pulled me aside and said, “Moisi, since we’re here in the city why don’t we make a quick trip to the doctors and have you checked out as to whether you can father children or not.”  I was again so embarrassed that I was looking for the proverbial hole to jump into. I answered, “Listen, if you’re not willing to accept me the way I am, let’s just forget about the whole thing and go back home.” (Ironically we had nine children – more than anyone else in my family). The fact that I was thoroughly offended got through to him and he backed off.  And so we bought the necessary supplies for the wedding and went to work on the preparations. We were married sometime in July but I am not sure of the exact date.

The very first Sunday after our wedding, we were on our way to church.  We had to pass the Baptist church to get to the Molokan church. As we came abreast the Baptist church, Nadia said, “Let’s go in.”  I declined saying that we should go to the Molokan church. We literally stood there for an hour arguing as to what church we should attend.

We finally ended up just going back home.  Why the argument? I was told I was to be the man of the house.  I was told not to forget the religion I was brought up in with its traditions.  I was told that if I attended the Baptist church, they would pressure me to be baptized and that would seal my doom.  So I was afraid of attending that church. Our first years together after marriage were not too pleasant because of our  disagreement over religion. Nadia’s faith was personal while mine was not.

We lived in Iran for four years after our marriage – two years in Rakhmanabad and two years in Teheran.  Our marriage improved somewhat in Teheran because I worked Sundays. This allowed Nadia to attend the Baptist church which blunted the sharp edges of our disagreement.  I worked first for the American military and then for the Russian military as a mechanic. Lastly I worked for a brick factory also as a mechanic.

Somehow when my parents filled out their legal papers coming into the U.S. they chose September 13th as their marriage date. We celebrated that day and our mom died on my parents’ 70th wedding anniversary, September 13, 2013.

This photo was taken a month before our mom left this earth.

Tuesdays With Moisi ~10

Our Pop’s 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.

Our mom here with her friend Zena. She got into big trouble with her father when he saw this photo of her with lipstick on.

When the harvest was finished, on a Sunday afternoon after church, Nadia and I took a walk in the forest.  It was then that I confessed my love for her and asked her to marry me. She told me to ask her mother. But I wanted to know from her – would she marry me if permission was granted.  She said she’d think about it. I told her that as her husband I would do anything she wanted. By this time we had returned back to where she was staying. Nadia did ask her mother but she replied that this decision was her father’s.  Nadia relayed that message to me. That was good enough for me – so far.

Our Pop, Moisi, with our uncle Paul, the future brother-in-law he went to town with.

The next day I, with my brother-in-law, had to go into town to take care of some business.  On the way I told him that I was getting engaged to Nadia and was going to telegraph her father to come to the wedding.  According to Russian custom whenever someone was met with good fortune, he had to treat his friends. This was called mahareech.  So when we went to lunch at a local restaurant, I bought a bottle of Iran’s finest fire water along with the lunch. As we were eating, a buddy of ours from our village happened into the restaurant.  Seeing the bottle on the table he asked what the occasion was. My brother-in-law explained that I was getting engaged to a city girl. He couldn’t believe my good fortune and so ordered another bottle and joined us.  So after eating lunch and downing two bottles of alcohol, we three were definitely two sheets to the wind. We headed for the telegraph office. The telegram my future father-in-law received went something like this: “Papa, please hurry and come to my wedding: Nadia.”

You can just imagine his reaction.  He went to his friends and acquaintances to try and find out what was going on.  He couldn’t believe his daughter would send such a telegram and was quite offended that she would do something like this without his permission.  Of course he could not know that she had nothing to do with the telegram.

Realizing there wasn’t much he could do about the situation from Tehran, he came out to our village.  For some reason there were quite a few of my contemporaries who were against our marriage. So when he arrived, he was met with a barrage of gossip claiming that I was unfit for marriage, I couldn’t have children, I wasn’t a Christian, etc., etc.  But Nadia and I stood firm in our commitment to each other.

I’m adding this photo of the Shvetzov and Katkov families because it’s one of the only photos I have of our maternal grandfather. He is seated next to our Babushka on the right. He was killed in Persia after my mother and father immigrated to the U.S. Later our grandmother immigrated with our Uncle Paul and Aunt Nina (they are standing behind my grandparents in this photo far right). Zena, who was in the first photo in this post is in the back row on the left holding her daughter Tamara. She married a Katkov. The Shvetzov and Katkov families all immigrated to the U.S. and we remained close going to the same church and future marriages intertwined our two families closer together. Our Aunt Nina was one of the Katkov girls. The three young girls in this photo are the only ones still alive in the southern California area. My cousin Alex who is standing between my maternal grandmother and grandfather (Uncle Paul and Aunt Nina’s oldest son) was killed tragically in a car accident in 1979. His three siblings, our cousins, who were born after our aunt and uncle and Alex immigrated are still living in southern California and Florida. Our babushka and babushka Manya, sitting next to her, lived out their lives as widows in apartments next door to each other in Los Angeles, a few doors down from our Russian Baptist church. 

This is a photo of our babushka Vera and Babushka Manya Katkov in the United States.

Tuesdays With Moisi ~ 8

Our Pop’s 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.

The photo above is of our mom and some of her friends in Iran. This is well before my pop met my mom. I chose this photo to show how our Russian friends who immigrated to Persia dressed. Our mom is the girl seated on the left.

At this time in history the Shah issued a decree that Iranian women were no longer forced to wear head coverings.  He wanted to Europeanize Iran. This was met with fierce resistance from Muslims to the point of violence. We Europeans began to fear for our lives because we were blamed for the existence of this edict.  The Shah also wanted to scatter us Europeans among his people in order to teach them modern farming methods. We resisted this because we realized if we were to acquiesce, we Russians would be picked off one by one, resulting in our eventual extinction.  We had to cluster in order to effectively defend ourselves. So when a rich Iranian offered us substantial acreage for farming purposes, our community of about twenty families took him up on it. It was an abandoned village with surrounding farm land. Within the first year, however, some of us began to come down with malaria.  It grew to almost plague like proportions among us. Six of our group actually died. We then concluded that this area was not conducive for living, let alone farming, and so eventually we all left.

After this episode our family moved to a village near the Caspian Sea in Iranian territory.  We stayed there about two years and moved to another village. We stayed at this village for two years and moved to a town called Rahmanabad.  In my first year there, I worked as a driver delivering rocks and sand for the construction of roads and bridges. Then for the next three years I became a tenant farmer.  The Shah leased us the land and our payment to him was one-fifth of the harvest.

Tuesdays With Moisi ~ 7

Our Pop’s 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 thought 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.

My paternal grandfather is in the gold and black shirt with his red bear waning and filling in with grey. My dear paternal grandmother is next to our Pop. Pop’s sister and her husband are on the right. This photo was taken at our home in La Mirada in the USA in the 1970’s. Red Beard, Timofey, my paternal grandfather died July 23, 1979, the year our first son was born, he was 91. Martha, my maternal grandmother died inJuly of 1986, she was 98! Our pop’s sister shown here is the last remaining member of the family alive.

About two or three hours later we came to the town of Sherevan just before sunset. Some of the townspeople came out with bread for us.  We were so thankful for their generosity. We were directed to a motel for the night.  But shortly thereafter, border guards came to the motel and took us all to the local police station in order to start the process of deporting us back to Russia.  We did not know this at the time. But then at that moment, a truck happened to arrive at the station. The driver saw us and asked, “Whose family are you?” My mom answered, “Bagdanov.”  He said, “Do you know that they are planning to send you back? But don’t worry, I’ll take care of it.” He then went to the town mayor and asked, “Do you know whose family you’re sending back?  It’s Red beard’s family.” (My father had a rather prominent red beard.) The mayor immediately released us back to the motel, gave us a large room and brought us food. Later on that night my father came with a loaded truck (he was in the delivery business).  The next day he delivered his load and came back for us. We then headed for the town of Meshed where my father was living while he was waiting for us.

If you want to read the rest of the story you can search my Tuesdays With Moisi posts.

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…

Catsup or Ketchup?

This is a little catch-up post from my weekend doings but I thought I’d ask this question. Which spelling of that red accompaniment to french fries or hamburgers or scrambled eggs do you prefer or do you use both? On to my catch up weekend!

Open house 028On Saturday I arrived to John Wayne Airport in Santa Ana and commandeered my sister’s car and headed to my Pop’s apartment. To be honest he wasn’t doing well on Saturday at all. We sat with him and cried with him and encouraged him to eat some of the food my sister Vera provided for all of us.  After several hours we left the apartment. I checked into my hotel. On Sunday all of us who could gathered at my sister Kathy’s house through the afternoon and into the evening. The above photo is of all the grandchildren of my pop’s who were able to make it to the open house. My father was doing a lot better on Sunday.

2014-09-14 Open house2There was lots of good food. I didn’t get photos of all the amazing desserts but I did get photos of my niece Melissa’s cup cake creations for our little Miss Avery’s 5th birthday celebration that we enjoyed during the open house, too.

2014-09-14 Open house3She was so so cute and delighted with each and every gift running to give a hug to whoever bought the gift! Today is Avery’s actual birthday. Happy Birthday dear Avery. Now you are five!!!!!

2014-09-14 Open house1My Pop was happy to see all of us but it was a special treat when these next two gals arrived.

Persiaearly UTamara and Milla are the daughters of my mom’s best friend in Persia, Aunt Zena. My mom and Aunt Zena took this photo with lipstick on in Persia and got in big trouble from their parents for wearing that lipstick! We were close enough to Zena to call her our “Aunt”. What a treat for Pop to be able to talk to Tamara and Milla in Russian and to talk about some of the good ole times our families enjoyed together. Tender moments were shared.

2014-09-15 Molokan Cemetery1On Monday I picked up Pop and my sister Kathy and we drove to Slauson Avenue in Commerce to find my grandparents grave site. We spent lots of time at this cemetery in our youth. Funerals were always just another part of our experience. As children we were never shielded from death and we attended every funeral that our parents did. Some of my father’s brothers and sister-in-laws are buried here, too.

2014-09-15 Molokan Cemetery5I took a lot of photos before I saw the sign in this next collage.

2014-09-15 Molokan Cemetery4Because of where this sign was positioned I think it refers to taking photos at an actual funeral procession, etc. That’s my explanation and I’m sticking to it!

I recognized a lot of common names from growing up but I was really surprised to see the family name Tolstoy in the Molokan Cemetery.

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2014-09-15 Molokan Cemetery3This is my Uncle Pete’s grave waiting for my Aunt to be buried beside him. My aunt Anna is the only surviving sibling of our Pop. She is ill and her days are numbered. She’d like to be buried here in her plot that is paid for but since she became a believer she hasn’t obtained permission to be buried here. We are doubtful that she will get permission. Since this is a “Molokan” Cemetery I do not challenge them not permitting non-Molokans to be buried here. I do have questions about the Molokan church, though. I wonder if a true follower of Jesus can remain a Molokan? Can the Molokan church truly be classified as a Christian church? You know me…I’m always wondering.

Molokan Cemetery 009A close-up of my grandparents marker. We see that they got my grandmother’s birth year wrong…she died at age 93, not 98. That means she was born in 1893 not 1888. My mom was not buried in this cemetery and my pop will not be buried here because he left the Molokan church in the late 1960’s. Most of our friends and family members from the Los Angeles area are buried at Rose Hills Cemetery. Our former Molokan friends who were ostracized from the Molokan church when they decided to follow Jesus wholeheartedly and separated from the Molokan religion are buried at Rose Hills or elsewhere.

HyeAfter the cemetery we tried to go to a favorite restaurant in Montebello called Golden Skewers that specializes in Armenian food but they are closed on Monday. My sister remembered another Armenian restaurant that is in Montebello and we were happy they were open. Hye Cuisine was a hit with me. The food was delicious. After lunch I dropped my sister off at home and my pop off at his apartment saying our goodbyes till next time. We had worn him out really good over the three days I was there.

I headed to Newport Beach to check into the next hotel I’d stay the night in before heading to the airport on Tuesday morning.

food SeptOne last hurrah! On Monday night two of my sisters and my niece met up for dinner at Seasons 52 at South Coast Plaza. We had a wonderful time.

2014-09-15 Molokan Cemetery6The first two nights in Orange County I stayed at the Tustin Fairfield Inn which was very nice with a complimentary breakfast. The location was great for going back and forth to my pop’s part of town. Dear had enough points for me to stay free at the Hyatt in Newport beach for one night and that’s why I switched over. No free breakfast here but I enjoyed room service breakfast.

The oppressive heat that we all experienced in Southern California over the weekend and that they are still experiencing today really takes a toll on your activity. The only time we were outdoors was at the cemetery. That lovely deck off my room in Newport Beach was not used. Even the beach towns were too hot to enjoy out of doors. I’m enjoying being back in the Seattle area sitting in my home in temperatures that are very comfortable.

Reminiscing…

We have always called my mom’s friend Zena, Aunt Zena.

img615This photo of my mom and Aunt Zena was taken in Tehran, Iran in the 1940’s. In the late 1940’s our families immigrated to the United States.

These immigrant families got together often in the 1950’s in the Los Angeles area.  My mom upper left next to Aunt Zena, Mrs. Hamzieff, my aunt Nina, my aunt Anna, Mrs. Katkov and Mrs. Titov.  I’m not even going to try to explain the fact that all but one of these ladies are sister-in-laws to one or more of each other. There was also a photo taken of the “guys” on this occasion. I’m wondering why there are so many more guys than gals…

mom-zenaThis photo of my “Aunt” Zena and my mom was taken in 2007.

Aunt Zena’s daughter Tamara, who we called Timi, is in Seattle visiting her daughter, son-in-law and grandchildren. We connected via email and planned to meet for coffee on Thursday morning. Timi came with her daughter Tamara and Katie came with me for our coffee date.

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Tamara, Tamara (Timi), Ellen, and Katie.

So much history and good memories between our families. We had a lot to talk about and the time flew by quickly. Thank you, Timi, for contacting me and making time to meet.

Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. I John 4:7 (ESV)