I imagine that my grandmother and aunts were frantic with worry not knowing what had happened to my grandfather. At the next station, two of my aunts, Helen and Nancy, got off the train to look for him, leaving my grandmother and Aunt Nancy behind. Unfortunately, the girls were left behind when the train began to move. They had no choice but to walk, using only the train tracks as their guide in the heavy snow.
Fortunately, the train moved very slowly. I found one reference which called it the Kuibyshev Komet, so knowing how little territory was covered each day, my two aunts were probably hopeful that they would find my grandfather. According to the diary, they trudged through the snow for about six miles before reaching the train. It must have been a tough trek in the brutal, sub-zero weather with the ground now covered with deep snow and slippery ice.
Cold temperatures and snow were not unknown to any of them. They had experienced cold winters in New Jersey as well as Leningrad, but they had never experience the frigid arctic air which dipped as low as forty degrees below zero back in Rockaway.
I recall the burning sensation on my skin while being outside in single-digit temperatures; however, I cannot even begin to imagine the pain they must have felt walking that distance under those conditions. Did they feel hopefullness or despair?
Miraculously, my aunts found my grandfather at the next station along with the rest of the family. They were so lucky! The next day, Christmas Eve, had to have been particularly joyous. Most of the family, except for my father and Uncle Pete, was all together, and they were given a special meal at the Sverdlovsk Station: bread, soup, cereal, and bologna.
Could they really celebrate not knowing what was happening to Uncle Pete and Dad. Were they safe or were they casualties of the war?