Check it Out

When you ask your elderly parent or grandparent a question about their past or to identify a loved-one in a photo and they say, “I just don’t remember,” what do you do and how do you feel? For me, that was the moment I knew I made a terrible mistake in waiting so long to sit down and have a chat with my dad. I felt sick, and could blame no one but myself. I feared I would never know his story.  But I don’t give up easily!

After he died, I decided I owed it to him to try to learn the tale of his past. It took a lot of work and years of research, but I was able to find the answers to my questions by becoming a genealogist, snooping in my father’s dresser drawers, and visiting the National Archives.

I spoke to people who lived where he lived and followed a blog of a woman who was traveling a similar route as he did over seventy years ago (Bumblebee Trails). I read books covering the history of the time period in which he grew up, which helped me understand how his family was reacting to the current events of the time—The Great Depression, life under the regime of Joseph Stalin, World War II, and the era of McCarthyism here in the United States.

I assembled all this information together and was finally able to understand what made Dad tick—why he was satisfied living in a small house with our large family, why he had no interest in accompanying us on a family cruise, and why he was always writing letters or picking up the phone to voice a complaint of offer advice to anyone.

After assembling all this data, I decided to write it all down and was surprised to see I had written a book. When I began to tell my father’s story to people outside my family, I realized there was interest beyond just my relatives.

This is a story for amateur genealogists and lovers of history.  It is a tale of persistence and overcoming adversity again and again. As one of the reviewers of my book stated, it is a true account of a “family’s struggles to search for justice and freedom.”

If I have piqued your interest, I hope you will consider reading Do Svidanya Dad. Check out my new website for details:



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, visits to the National Archives, and local libraries I used to uncover this story.
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3 Responses to Check it Out

  1. Chris White says:

    I really identify with your sentiments. I’ll be sure to check your book out.
    All the very best. Chris.

  2. Chris White says:

    Hi again. The link to your site isn’t working at the merest moment. 😯

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