Search Results for 'Soviet'

Nonagenarian autobiographies

Ruth Gruber, woman of letters, tells her own story.
The Truro Daily News

Witness: One of the Great Correspondents of the 20th Century Tells Her Story by Ruth Gruber

With her perfect memory (and plenty of zip), 95-year-old Ruth Gruber – adventurer, international correspondent, photographer, maker of (and witness to) history, responsible for rescuing hundreds of thousands of Jewish refugees during the Second War II and after – tells her story in her own words and photographs.

Gruber’s life has been extraordinary and extraordinarily heroic. She received a B.A. from New York University in three years, a master’s degree from the University of Wisconsin a year later, and a Ph.D. from the University of Cologne (magna cum laude) one year after that, becoming at age 20 the youngest Ph.D. in the world (it made headlines in The New York Times; the subject of her thesis: the then little-known Virginia Woolf).

At 24, Gruber became an international correspondent for the New York Herald Tribune and travelled across the Soviet Arctic, scooping the world and witnessing, firsthand, the building of cities in the Siberian gulag by the pioneers and prisoners Stalin didn’t execute … and when she was 33, Ickes assigned another secret mission to her – one that transformed her life: Gruber escorted 1,000 Holocaust survivors from Italy to America, the only Jews given refuge in this country during the war. […]

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Somewhere Towards the End by Diana Athill 192pp, Granta Books, £12.99

http://books.guardian.co.uk/review/story/0,,2239306,00.html
It’s a relief to find an amusing look at getting old, says Katharine Whitehorn
Saturday January 12, 2008, The Guardian

Diana Athill is 90 and has almost no regrets, despite having lived a life which most women of her class and era might have thought regrettable in the extreme.

And she still thinks so; that’s the joy of it. Although she sees with grim clarity the drawbacks and horrors of old age, illness, death, what comes across most is her acceptance and interested curiosity about the condition. She knows she has to be a carer for Barry, who has become diabetic and has other health problems and won’t control his diet. She dislikes being a carer very much and grumpily asks herself: “If a life so severely diminished is shortened by eating doughnuts what will it matter?” But she accepts it.

From The Times, January 11, 2008
Reflections on the gravity of growing older, Jane Shilling
http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/comment/columnists/jane_shilling/article3166519.ece
I’ve just been reading Somewhere Towards the End, Diana Athill’s memoir of old age

From The Times, http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/comment/columnists/guest_contributors/article3168331.ece

January 11, 2008
Sleepwalking into a crabbit old age– What are we doing introducing more health screening to allow us to live even longer? Valerie Grove

As Jane Shilling wrote, reviewing Somewhere Towards the End, by 90-year-old Diana Athill, Athill is cheered that women in her family “make old bones and good deaths”. But there is a chilly coda to this. Athill looked after her own dying mother.

…Athill has observed that good deaths tend to require the presence not merely of the principal actor, who is too busy dying to take charge of the manner of his or her demise, but also a producer and director, in the person of a daughter.

“But I have no daughter… And I haven’t got the money to pay for care of any kind. If I don’t have the luck to fall down dead while still able-bodied, it will be the geriatric ward for me.”

Even her redoubtable mind shrinks from this. “Fortunately, if a prospect is bleak enough, the mind jibs at dwelling on it,” she stoically adds.

We all jib at it: but for most the geriatric ward is the reality,

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/arts/main.jhtml?xml=/arts/2008/01/11/boath106.xml

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Boris Chertok, nonagenarian, and Sputnik, quinquagenarian

It’s pretty amazing to have outlived the Soviet Union and been able to recall how science is actually conducted (gosh, it’s a human activity!)

Boris Chertok, Oct 2006 photo click photo to view Voice of America article

the first artificial satellite in space was a spur-of-the-moment gamble driven by the dream of one scientist, whose team scrounged a rocket, slapped together a satellite and persuaded a dubious Kremlin to open the Space Age.

And that winking light that crowds around the globe gathered to watch in the night sky? Not Sputnik at all, as it turns out, but just the second stage of its booster rocket, according to Boris Chertok, one of the founders of the Soviet space program.

Chertok couldn’t whisper a word about the project through much of his lifetime. His name, and that of Sergei Korolyov, the chief scientist, were a state secret. Today, at age 95 and talking to a small group of reporters in Moscow, Chertok can finally speak about his pivotal role in the history of space exploration.

“Each of these first rockets was like a beloved woman for us,” he said. “We were in love with every rocket; we desperately wanted it to blast off successfully. We would give our hearts and souls to see it flying.” …

The satellite, weighing just 184 pounds, was built in less than three months. Soviet designers built a pressurized sphere of polished aluminum alloy with two radio transmitters and four antennas. An earlier satellite project envisaged a cone shape, but Korolyov preferred the sphere.

“The Earth is a sphere, and its first satellite also must have a spherical shape,” Chertok, a longtime deputy of Korolyov, recalled him saying. […]

I hope the story stays up on the news site. It is an interesting read.


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Dr. Lydia T. Black

Dr Lydia T. Black, at Kenai Fjord, July, 2002 by grandson, Andrew McEvoy

Dr. Black survived Stalin, forced labor under the Nazis, refugee status, and never suffered fools, the pompous, the bully, nor laziness or sloppy scholarship. She was fond of cats, dogs, children, and those needing a friend in a strange land.

The following is summarized from documents at Lydia T. Black 1925 to 2007 and from the Kodiak Daily Mirror

Widowed with young children at 44, she went to college and finished her BA and MA in two years and her Ph.D. in another two years.

She studied at Northeastern University and Brandeis University in the Boston area before receiving her doctorate from the University of Massachusetts Amherst. She joined the faculty of anthropology in 1973 at Providence College in Rhode Island. She moved to Alaska in 1984 as Professor, University of Alaska Fairbanks, whence she “retired” in 1998.

She continued her work in Kodiak, where she helped translate and catalogue Russian archives of St. Herman’s Seminary. The Orthodox Church in Alaska recognized her contribution by awarding her the Cross of St. Herman.

She wrote at least 66 more books and articles appearing in publications as diverse as Natural History, Arctic Anthropology and Studies in Soviet Thought and was a contributor to various exhibits and conferences on the Arctic, including the Library of Congress’ Meeting of the Frontiers, the New York Museum of Natural History’s Jesup Centenary Congress and the Smithsonian Institution’s Crossroads of the Continents.

One of her best-known books, “Aleut art — Unangam aguqaadangin” is a collection of beautifully photographed and carefully documented art made by Alaska Natives of the Aleutian Islands. Another, “Russians in Alaska, 1732 to 1867,” was published in 2004, the year Lydia turned 79.

In 2001, Russia awarded her the Order of Friendship, honoring her contribution to promoting cross-cultural understanding between Russia and America. She received the Alaska Anthropological Association’s Lifetime Achievement Award in 2000 and the Alaska Governor’s Lifetime Achievement Award for the Humanities in 2005.

Lydia was born in Kiev, where her grandmother came to live with the family. Her grandmother instituted an educational regimen for her which included two days per week of speaking Russian, two days per week of speaking French and two days per week of speaking German. On Sundays, the family could relax and speak Ukrainian. It was decreed that Lydia would study English in school. Lydia’s grandmother would take her to the ‘secret church’, hosted by three elderly women – the KGB eventually did arrive to arrest them.

Lydia’s father was executed when she was eight years old. At 16 (1941) her mother died of TB. Lydia was picked up into forced labor for Germany. At war’s end, Lydia was in Munich and got a job scrubbing toilets in American officers’ quarters. They realized Lydia could speak six languages (she had learned Polish during the war) so she became a translator at the UNRRA’s displaced children’s camp.

Lydia met and married Igor A. Black. They then emigrated to the U.S. in 1950. Igor became a thermodynamics engineer whose work on the Apollo Mission was officially commemorated by NASA. Lydia was a full-time wife and mother. Suddenly Igor died in 1969, leaving Lydia alone with three teen-aged daughters and a toddler. With her older daughters’ consent, Lydia returned to school as a full-time college student.

Dr Black died in Kodiak, AK, with family, friends, Orthodox services, and the feline sibling companions Masia and Vasia present. Masia, brother Vasia, and companion human Lydia Black
Masia, faithful guardian during Lydia’s illness would wake Lydia in the middle of the night, to great complaint. However, Masia seemed to be sensing something physically awry in Lydia’s breathing while asleep and was waking her to “reset” her. Masia would reach over and: Slap-slap-slap, at which point Lydia would sputter and tell the cat to stop it. [Click on small picture to enlarge.]

Anthropologist Lydia Black Dead at 81
Casey Kelly, KMXT

KODIAK, AK (2007-03-13) Anthropologist Lydia Black, author of many books on Alaska Native culture and Alaska history, died Monday morning of liver failure at her home in Kodiak. She was 81. © Copyright 2007, apti

audio file (mp3 format), click to play or right click to download and save.


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