Not True. Case Closed.

I was listening to the news this week after the first round of testimonies with FBI Director Comey and NSA director Admiral Rogers. The discussion which followed revolved around the lies of our president, which were no longer presented as “alternative facts” or “untruths.” They are lies.

One reporter ran through a litany of lies, one of which was the infamous “There were people that were cheering on the other side of New Jersey, where you have large Arab populations. They were cheering as the World Trade Center came down.”

I decided to see if any of Dad’s old New Jersey newspapers could uncover any stories regarding these alleged celebrations. I was not disappointed, finding an article published two days after the attack in the Newark Star Ledger. What happened throughout the country to many Muslim-Americans was quite shameful as evidenced by the article.

In Alexandria, Virginia, the window of an Islamic bookstore was smashed, while in San Francisco, a bag containing pig’s blood was left on the steps of thean Islamic center. Parents of Muslim children pulled their children from their classrooms because they feared violence against them. Hotlines were established to ferry out complaints, and police increased security at mosques and Muslim stores. My husband told me of a Muslim coworker who feared for the safety of himself and his family.

I continued reading these disgraceful stories and felt sick to my stomach, knowing attacks again Muslimss are happening more and more in this country today. Then I saw the famous story spouted by then candidate Trump:

             In New Jersey, one of the most persistent rumors—repeated all day on talk radio and on the Internet—was that Muslims in Paterson were celebrating the attacks in the streets of the Passaic County city.

            Angry callers besieged media outlets and local police for demands for action to the point that city officials sent out a press release categorically denying the rumor. For many, that was not enough to quell their rage.

Sadly, the violence continued, and one of the primary victims were Indian-American Sikhs, simply because their traditional turbans and beards looked similar to Osama Bin Laden. The article ended with the story of an Indian-American family who had gone to McDonald’s shortly after the attack on the World Trade Center. The husband, who himself had safely escape from one of the towers, was verbally attacked by a woman who yelled, “That’s what happens in America when they let those immigrants in.”

So there you go. The story of people “cheering on the other side of New Jersey” was proven false immediately. Sad, isn’t it?

We are always looking for a scapegoat. During World War II it was the Japanese, then the Russians during the Cold War when my father was trying to bring his mother home. Now it is the refugees fleeing from persecution and Muslims who just want to live their lives.

Yes, within any group there is always evil, but to persecute and blame them all is just not what I thought the Statue of Liberty symbolized. Again I wonder: What would Dad say?

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History Followed Me Too

I am now back in the saddle again after having received a right total hip replacement just two weeks ago today. It has been surprisingly not bad. The pain level is low, and I am slowly leaving the house for small field trips.

Since I have become quite the researcher while trying to learn my father’s story, I decided to go off topic and look into the history of this surgery just a bit. What I learned was quite surprising.

Apparently, the first surgery to replace a hip was in 1891 using implants made of ivory. While the fact that this operation was first done in the nineteenth century was unexpected to me, what I found even more surprising was the fact that the first metallic hip replacement was done here in Columbia, South Carolina—where I currently live. The procedure was performed by a doctor by the name of Austin Moore. Dr. Moore’s prosthesis was the first metal replacement, which is supposedly similar to what was done to me.

Hey, wait a second. The practice I go to was originally named “Moore Orthopedic Center.” Coincidence? Nope. Apparently, the group which sliced and diced me was founded by Dr. Moore in 1928, and while it has joined with another practice, its roots date back to the original practice. Since my work is all about history and roots, knowing this history is right up my alley.

Next time, back to Dad.

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I Underestimated the Horror

Although I planned on no further posts for a few weeks, I am too excited to wait.

I recently found an article which was posted in the Bridgewater, New Jersey Courier News on July 12, 1945—just five days after my father’s twin sisters docked in Newport News, Virginia after having lived in the Soviet Union since 1931. During all the years I have researched what happened to my father’s family after they left New Jersey, I never read this particular newspaper story.

It was shocking to learn that my pregnant aunt dug trenches for the Russian army shortly before the city of Novgorod fell to the Germans in August 1941.

Planes would come over to fire on us. One day I came home to find my mother had been looking all over the area for my body, because she had heard that all the trench diggers had been killed.

 Aunt Nancy confirmed what I read in the diary, which was that they were eating food from abandoned farms, where they hid for three months until they were able to board a train headed away from the hostilities. While I wrote that they had been approached by soldiers, I was not aware that they were German officers.

We didn’t know what to do.We couldn’t run because they had guns and grenades they would have thrown after us. They thought we might be able to tell them something about the Red Army, but they finally decided to let us go.

 Wow! That sounds terrifying. I always thought what happened to them was horrifying, but I underestimated the enormity of their wartime journey.


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Turning to Google

Today I turned to, where I found two interesting articles. The first is dated July 12, 1945, and is from the Bridgewater, NJ CourierNews. Because I do not have the extended subscription to this service, I am unable to read it, so I am waiting for the assistance from someone on my Facebook group. I am excited to see what turns up, because the piece of the title which I am able to see is “Russian Visit.” Very intriguing!

The second article is also on, dated December 16, 1932, from The Montana Butte Standard. I used an alternate spelling of my name to retrieve this, which I have been able to pull up in its entirety.  (Clearly, the Montana Butte Standard is not as valuable as the Courier-News.)


Who the heck was Donna Burns Wardamsky? Trust me, my name is so unusual that I am positive that anyone with that name must be a relative. My only family in the United States were descendants of my father, so now I need to turn to my genealogy skills and figure out who was the mysterious uncle or cousin she married and what happened to him.

I will be taking some time off during the next few weeks while I recover from hip-replacement surgery, which I will having on Monday. There will be lots of time for reading and researching while I am recovering, so the next time I post, I hope to have the answers about “Aunt/Cousin Donna.” I also expect to reveal what was in that 1945 “Russian Visit” news articles.

Take care for now!


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Whee! I Got Invited!

It’s time for the report on my first attendance at a literary festival from the other side of the table—as an invited writer! I admit now that I was more excited than nervous and quite surprised and flattered to have been asked to participate. For new writers who have not yet attended as an author, you may wonder how I managed to score the invitation in the first place.

A few months ago my friend Lynn (the same Lynn who introduced me to the Russian translator of my Russian documents and diary) suggested I contact my local library and ask if they would be interested in adding my book to their collection. So I filled out a form, sent them two copies of my book, and waited see if it passed their library test.

I never got an official okey dokey from them, but I continued to check their online catalog. One day several weeks after I delivered my book, I got a hit. There, in my Richand County, South Carolina library catalog, Do Svidanya Dad appeared—a book written by this damn Yankee! That was a very cool moment for meSo I suppose that’s why I was given the opportunity to be in yesterday’s festival.

There were thirty authors in attendance—two to each table. I shared mine with an experienced writer of what she called “cozy mysteries.” Fran Rizer is the writer of seven Callie Parrish mysteries and three other books including, The Horror of Julie Bates, which is set here in Columbia, SC.

She definitely was a veteran, so the first piece of advice she gave this novice was not to expect much, if any, in the form of sales at yesterday’s event, because apparently, the Richland County Library does not have a good track record for book sales. So although I was prepared for a miracle, I came with only the expectation of meeting other writers, getting more exposure for my book, and learning about the process.

Seated on the other side of me was Millie West, another fascinating and experienced writer. Millie has written two mysteries set in South Carolina and is also a licensed pilot, having worked as one of the first female pilots employed by UPS! The covers of her books are truly works of art. In fact, according to her website, they feature the work of Charleston artist Rick Reinart.

To help prepare for the showcase, I spoke on the phone to another local author, Arthur Turfa, whose book of poetry is called “Places in Time.” He was the one who suggested I bring the dish of candy. I am not usually a reader of poetry, but I think it is time to expand my horizons.

Because I will be undergoing hip-placement surgery in one week, I have to be very careful in avoiding any sort of disease-causing germs—even a cold—so I did not mingle as much as I would have liked. (I even told my daughter that if I see her children this week, it must be outside. I just can’t risk getting sick!) I had to pass on another similar event—a Meet and Greet at the Irmo, SC library. Hopefully, I will go next time.

In the meantime, I am getting ready to be sliced and diced next week. I will probably publish one more time prior to my surgery and then will be taking a break for a bit. I look forward to reading two of the books I brought home with me yesterday. Fran and Millie suggested that we trade books, which was a wonderful idea. So I will be reading Fran’s Murder is on the Clock and Millie’s Catherine’s Cross.

Incidentally, the photo taken below is a recreation of my table at the Showcase. In my excitement at being there, I forgot to take a picture.


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Breathe In Breathe Out

It’s now three days until my big debut at the Deckle Edge book festival Local Author Showcase.  It will be a mixture of newcomers like me as well as seasoned veterans such as Cokie Roberts, who received a “Living Legend Award” by the Library of Congress. Wow! I am just thrilled to be asked to participate in this event.

Let me mention that I am a card-carrying member of the Library of Congress, albeit currently expired.


Check out the award requirements. It is quite impressive:

Established during its Bicentennial celebration in 2000, the Library of Congress’ “Living Legend” award is selected by the Library’s curators and subject specialists to honor artists, writers, activists, filmmakers, physicians, entertainers, sports figures and public servants who have made significant contributions to America’s diverse cultural, scientific and social heritage. The professional accomplishments of the Living Legends have enabled them to provide examples of personal excellence that have benefited others and enriched the nation in a variety of ways.

Past recipients of the award include amazing humans and birds from every walk of life. Note: Big Bird is on the list. See for yourself: Library of Congress Living Legends.

I am assembling my props, including my Russian nesting dolls, and have decided to participate in the live streaming on Facebook Live around 3:30pm. This requires me to come up with what is called an elevator pitch to introduce myself and my book. I have called upon my daughter, the marketing/speech person of the family, to assist me with this.

I can do it. I can do it. Breathe in. Breathe out.


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I’m All Set

It is now less than one week until I make my big public debut at the local literary festival in the southern city of Columbia, South Carolina, which has been my home for the past 8 ½ years. I have ordered thirty copies of my book to sell, and now I wonder if I am kidding myself in thinking there will be that many people interested in purchasing my book. Is there any chance that I did not order enough?

I have the business cards which I already mentioned, (Will Anyone Come) along with the Russian candy and some bookmarks. I learned a lesson from the bookmarks, which is to always order a proof copy. It turns out that the font size would likely be the last line on the chart you read at your local eye doctor, but I waited too long to order that proof. Perhaps I should give out magnifying glasses!


The design consists of the book cover and my website along with two reviews of the book, which include few nice buzzwords and phrases not written on the back-cover blurb: genealogy, family survival, and mid-twentieth century American and Russian history.

So next Sunday, I will arrive with my paraphernalia and high hopes that someone will come chat with me. I hope that the fact that Russia is now a hot topic in the news will help to attract some visitors to my table. If not, at least I will meet some other local authors and learn what to do next time.

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