I am lucky that despite war, revolution and immigration, old photographs from my maternal family have survived. I do not know how some of these photos made it through the Russian Revolution. I do not know who grabbed them and threw them in their luggage as they were fleeing Russia. I am just grateful they did.
My luck ran out with the paternal side of my family. I have very few photographs of them and almost none of my grandparents in their youth. My paternal grandparents also endured war and they immigrated and relocated many times. I can only assume that keeping old photographs was not a high priority for them.
The collage above comprises of photographs of my maternal grandparents, taken over the years. On the top very left is my grandmother, Olga Woronoff, neé Countess Olga Konstantinovna Kleinmichel, as a young girl. I think she looks somewhat wistful and shy. I know when she was a girl, she was very proud of her long hair and once told me it was so long she could sit on it. Here we see most of it pulled back off her face and bundled on top of her head. I love her eyes; they are full of expression.
On the bottom very right is a photo of my grandfather, Paul Woronoff, in his youth. I think he has a slightly cheeky grin. He looks as if he is proud to be photographed in his uniform. I know he was always proud to serve Russia.
The photograph in the top row middle was taken when my grandparents were on their honeymoon in Nice, France. They were married in February 1914, so I can only assume this photograph was taken in the same month. I wonder if the happy memories they had of their honeymoon prompted them to settle in Nice years later, after their escape from Russia. My mother was born in Nice.
The photograph in the top row very right is of my grandparents in France. There is no date. In the photograph album it was a few pages before the first photographs of my mother, so it might have been taken before she was born. My grandparents fled to France in 1920 and my mother was born in 1923.
The photograph in the bottom row on the very left was taken in Wayne, Pennsylvania. If you look closely behind my grandmother, you will see my mother standing in the background. My grandparents immigrated to the US in 1928. The US Census in 1930 placed my grandparents in Wayne, Pennsylvania. By the 1940 Census they had moved. So I can assume this photo was taken some time around 1928 – 1929, as my mother looks quite young in it.
The last photograph, in the bottom row middle, is of my grandparents and me at my kindergarten graduation in 1965. My grandmother looks as poised and elegant as she always did. When I look closely at my grandfather, he does not look well. He died only four years later.
These are just a handful of the photographs I have inherited. There are at least seven photo albums and many more loose photos spanning several decades. I am very lucky indeed!