A Little Boy And A Little Old Lady

By Peggy Strait

Shortly after my husband’s death I discovered his journal.

Scanning through the pages, I came across this note: Peggy was busy today planning another one of those family trips that I hate.

I smiled when I read those lines since Roger had often acknowledged that some of our most precious family moments were on those trips.

One such trip came to mind. Continue reading

Apartment For Rent

By Peggy Strait

It was June 1957.  My husband Roger and I had just completed our graduate studies in Cambridge, Massachusetts when the idea of a life as young bohemians living in the intellectual and cultural capital of the world captured our imagination.  So, like many young couples before us, we loaded our barely functioning 1938 Buick sedan with our few belongings – mattress tied on top – and drove to New York City. Continue reading

My Mother

By Tiana Leonard

My mother was born in Crimea in 1906, the youngest of six children in a family of German Mennonites. The Mennonites were a pacifist Christian sect whose communities moved around Europe trying to escape conscription. Catherine the Great invited them to settle in Russia in the hope that they could teach the Russian peasants their farming practices. But my grandfather was an unsuccessful farmer. Each place he settled, locusts or drought brought disaster to his crops. When he finally gave up farming and started a mill in Pavlovsk, a town on the Don River in Ukraine, he became prosperous immediately. My mother was four then, and, until the collapse of the monarchy, the family lived a comfortable life although my mother barely survived a series of childhood diseases – diphtheria, whopping cough, and a episode of scarlet fever that left her deaf in one ear.
The family became Russian subjects and my grandfather was even elected to the Duma-the city council. Since there was no Mennonite colony in Pavlovsk, my mother went to a Russian school. She spoke German at home and grew up bilingual and multicultural. Her mother cooked German, Tatar, and Ukrainian dishes like meat Borscht with Peroshki and sour cream. They celebrated Christmas with German cookies and Russian Orthodox Easter with smoked fish, caviar, Sernya Paschka and Kulich. She read James Fennimore Cooper, Dickens, Balzac, Tolstoy, and Dostoevsky. Continue reading