This week I decided to change my subscription to newspapers.com so that I could increase my access to now just under 5000 newspapers spanning a time period from the 1700s until today. Since then, I have been having a grand old time checking out my family as well as my husband’s family. What juicy stories will I dig up, and what will I learn about them that I did not know?
So far, I learned that three of my siblings achieved exemplar grades in high school, each being listed on the high honor rolls in high school. I discovered that another sibling was involved in a war with the town where we were raised when they slapped him with an $8000 sewer bill after he sold his home, and that this same sibling loved to write letters to the editor of the local newspaper. His dog took first place in a tail wagging contest. (I never knew!)
I found the obituaries of my father, Russian grandmother, and several aunts and uncles; the interview with my aunts when they returned from the USSR in 1945; and many, many stories about the wife of a family member who disappeared and later was pronounced dead in a house fire with little evidence except the bones of a woman near the age of the missing woman. This is the story I need to investigate more. It’s too good to let go.
How I wish I had this tool while I was writing my book. With my enhanced subscription, I was able to locate the newspaper my father may have purchased for the mysterious Russian diplomate (Andrei Gromyko or another?) on the day his shipped docked in Honolulu on the morning of June 22, 1945. I now know that the Kamakura Maru did not remain in port for three days like my father had remembered. Instead, it arrived at 8 am and left at 10:00 that night.
The newspaper Dad saw that day confirmed the horrible rumors he had heard while aboard the ship. The headline blasted the chilling news: Nazi, Romanian Armies Cross Russian Frontier.
When he left his family the previous month, he never dreamed this could happen because Hitler and Stalin had signed a nonaggression pact two years ago. (Lesson learned was that one should never have trusted Hitler.) So while my father was returning to New Jersey, the rest of his family was trapped in what now becoming a war zone. How frightened and helpless he must have felt!