No Money; Nowhere to Live

Unfortunately, no one seemed to know that Dad was no longer in Rockaway, New Jersey, so the requests for  money by the State Department on his sisters’ behalf did not get to him as quickly as they had expected. While he was instructed to “inform the Department as expeditiously as possible of any action taken in compliance with your sisters’ request”, he was in the dark since he was now stationed at Fort Oglethorpe, Georgia.

In reading all the correspondences, it appeared that approximately two hundred dollars were needed to cover expenses as well as transportation home. My aunts probably assumed Dad had a job now and could have afforded those expenses. Little did they know he was currently a private in the Army, drawing a salary of only $420/year.

The influx of refugees like Dad’s family due to the mass exodus away from the hostilities in the western area of the Soviet Union resulted in the population of Kuibyshev ballooning between three and five times its prewar size. Housing was at a premium and the infrastructure could not handle the demands of the increased number of inhabitants. There were only four paved streets, the sewers regularly backed up, and there were few bathtubs in the entire city. [i]

It was clear to me that my aunts were getting desperate. At the beginning of February, I found a telegram which they sent to my father—at the address in New Jersey where they still believed him to be living. Dad continued to be unaware of what was happening with his family.

Telegram from Dad's sisters requesting money.

Telegram from Dad’s sisters requesting money.


[i]Quentin Reynolds, Only the Stars are Neutral, (New York: Random House, 1942), p. 156, http://archive.org/stream/onlythestarsaren009148mbp.

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About kjw616

I am a genealogy detective. I have already written one book about my Irish family's journey from 19th century Ireland to the United States- a family history sprinkled with personal anecdotes. My second book was intended to be a similar story about my Russian ancestors. Instead, it turned into a tale of just my father's immediate family. It is the tale of what happens when 6 children from New Jersey are moved to the Soviet Union by their Russian-born parents during the Great Depression. It details who lives, who dies, and who is able to return to NJ during a time when leaving the USSR was not an easy endeavor, particularly during World War II and the Cold War. It is my hope that those interested in history during this time period will find this story fascinating as well as those fellow amateur family historians who will learn some of the tools such as ancestry.com, visits to the National Archives, and local libraries I used to uncover this story.
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