Sleep must have been difficult as the military aircraft rumbled overhead throughout the night. My grandparents and aunts were not far from the fighting. On September 4, less than three weeks after their hurried departure, Dad’s family was chased out of their current shelter by some military men, who tossed all their bundles from their wagon. The soldiers probably cared little about them. They were just annoying hindrances in the war effort.
The five of them spent the day trudging along wet, muddy roads. According to the diary, “the weather was very bad, muddy wet roads, awful.“
This was the beginning of the rasputitsa, an event which happened in the spring and fall. During that time, the heavy rains would turn the roads into rivers of mud, making them virtually impassible. Having spent the past ten years living in the city, were they aware that they would soon be unable to travel? I wonder.
Although they had been moving for twenty days, not much distance had been covered because of the weather, poor road conditions, and the nearby fighting.
On September 5, they took shelter in a house in the village of Plashkino, which was only about thirty miles east of Novgorod. They remained there two days, knowing it was too dangerous to stay at any location for long and fearing that they would be discovered and killed by Hitler’s troops.
Despite the heavy rains, my grandfather did not allow his family to linger in any one place too long. The goal was to reach a train station as quickly as possible.
As a mother of several children in their twenties, I cannot imagine how my grandparents must have felt not knowing if their surviving sons-Uncle Pete and Dad- were dead or alive. The worry must have been overwhelming.
On the other side of the world, Dad was waiting for word from the State Department on the repatriation of his siblings and watching the news, while Mom had just started eighth grade.