Learning about my grandparents and aunts being pushed eastward, with gunfire and bombs exploding nearby, was so disturbing to me. Then I read about the heavy winds and temperatures which dipped to as low as -40° F/C and I not imagine the suffering and fear they had to endure. (For those not in the know, -40° is the temperature at which Fahrenheit and Celsius are the same.)
Adding to the misery of the war was the snow, now a blizzard, which meant strong winds and low visibility as well. It must have been like a loud trumpet announcing the arrival of that most dreaded season. Nothing could have prepared them for what they were experiencing.
On the morning of December 8, the diary entry stated that “Mother and Pa went hunting for a meal. Received a good meal. A very good opinion of the city.” Clearly food was the acceptability barometer for any city, according to Aunt Anna.
The Soviets attempted to keep their citizens informed about the current state of the war. It was not uncommon for news to be blasted on loudspeakers throughout the train stations, so while my grandparents were looking for food, my aunts may have heard the reports about the attack at Pearl Harbor which had occurred during the early morning hours of the previous day. They must have known the United States would no longer be a bystander in the war. My grandmother and grandfather, in particular, probably wondered what the implications would be for Dad, but they would have been unable to do anything but concentrate on moving as far away from the bombings as possible.
They all remained at that station for several days awaiting a seat on the next train. A doctor at the evacuation center gave them some citramon powder to calm my Aunt Helen’s nerves. She was still agitated from the bombing of the train at the previous station. It would be over a month before their journey would be completed.