Archive for October 18, 2008

Maiya’s Version of Two Babushkis Visit

I enjoyed our “interview with babushkas” very much! They were so kind to share their personal stories with us.

First one, whose name is Lydia Timofeevna, was born in 1939 in Bryansk region, only 2 years before the Great Patriotic War started. Even though she was 2 at that moment, she remembers her dad going away to fight in the war. Her parents went through WWI, collectivization, famine in 1933 and WWII.

Lydia Timofeevna remembers hiding in the forests from fascists, because they were taking away all the belongings of soviets. Also, she is reminiscing that some of the fascists were nice to them and gave her candies, if they met her on the forests while she was looking for her dad there.

She had 3 siblings, and she was the youngest out of 4 children in the family. Her dad was an artillerist. Unfortunately, he died during the war. And when it has ended, the oldest sister was only 10 years old.

In 1946, she went to school, but in the village her family lived in, there was no paper or pens. They were writing using carbon-black or beetroots. Also, the citizens of the village had only 1 bag and 1 book for their children. Lydia Timofeevna was studying very well, had only highest marks, even though at that times there were no conditions for that – no paper, no books, no tools, no light, nothing.

At the age of 7, she started to look after sheep of the kolkhoz. And once, she fell asleep while doing it, and when she woke up, none of the sheep were in the field. She remembers coming to her house and telling her mom she lost the sheep. She is very thankful to her mom fir the fact that she never yelled at her, even though the case like this one could have had terrible consequences for the whole kolkhoz. These were post-war years when people were barely surviving. But, luckily, one family has found all the sheep and brought them back. Not single sheep was lost.

In 1953, after 7 classes of school, she continued her education in textile technical secondary school. And after that she has moved to Almaty to work at the cloth factory. And even though she could have worked as the main master there, she decided to be and ordinary weaver. She says that the experience she got from going all the way to the top position has helped her a lot. She was respected by all the co-workers and was a member of delegation to Italy that was trying to build friendly relationship with youth there.

At the age of 39 Lydia Timofeevna found out that she had cancer, and this part of a story was the most powerful one she made it through 8 surgeries overall. And she says that her faith in God has helped her to survive.


The second lady we listened to was Galena Allaevna. She was born in 1932 in Ashgabat. Her mom was Russian, and she worked in Turkmenistan as a doctor, and that is where she met her husband. But they separated before the Great Patriotic war started because her mom couldn’t live in Ashgabat.

  About her childhood, she remembers that everyone had like only 1or at most 2 pieces of clothes for each season and that would be it.

Her family moved to Oren burg in Russia and she finished 10 classes of school and a music school there. When the Great Patriotic War started, she was only 9 years old and since her grandma was too old and her mom was always busy with work, she had to get the food, stand in lines to get it and she told us how once she was walking home with bread and it was very dark and there was a man behind her. She was so scared that he would take it away from her and she wouldn’t bring it home.

Since her mother was a doctor, they lived right at the stationary. And Galena Allaevna told us that once in a month her mom was responsible for trying the food cooked for the patients, and she would give her lunch for her daughter. That’s when Galena had a little holiday. Later on, her mother got sick herself with tuberculosis. It was all due to endless work hours and malnutrition.

Her dad was a party member and was a bank director. Galena Allaevna said that once she was watching the TV and heard 2 very familiar surnames – Atabayev and Aitakov. It turned out that those were her uncles from dad’s side who were under repression and got killed in 1938. in Ashgabat, there is a monument for them.

Unfortunately, her grandmother died during the war and they moved to Almaty. Galena Allaevna started to work here. She worked as a teacher for 13 years in one school, and then for 40 years in another one.

She told us a cute story about one of her pupils in Oren burg. He loved Galena Allaevna as a teacher so much that he wanted to give her a nice gift, but it was a time when nobody had anything. So, he asked his father what to do and it turned out he was a patient of Galena Allaevna’s mom. The dad told his son that a gift has to be very special, something that his son really likes. And this little boy brought her little box with small feathers that he was collecting! For him, it was such a treasure! I loved this story.

To sum up, I would like to say that this interview was very helpful to get a better picture of how life was during the Soviet times. And I think, we should ask our grandparents and other relatives and their friends about those stories while they still can tell them to us, while it’s not too late. Also, this will make us appreciate their generation much more because of all the things they had to go through.

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