April 18, 2003

The Revolutionary Council calls for a vote

Pedantry is, to put it bluntly, not a democracy. My posts, my choice, my editorial authority. I am the General Secretary, the Chairman, El Presidente and the Great Helmsman. That's what blogging is all about: low cost, small market self-publishing. We babble, you decide.

Nonetheless, today I'm going to try an experiment in "guided democracy" in order to show the masses that I am not without populist impulses.

Those of you who have been following the semi-regular postings of my Grandfather's papers know that we are now up to part seven. Grandpa is 23 years old and has managed to win an indefinite postponement from his draft board during the Second World War.

One of the problems with this project has been the size of Grandpa's papers. They fill four substantial binders, and I have not read them from end to end. Consequently, there is material I am only now discovering that I would have liked to have posted earlier, particularly about life in Russia.

I should have put all this stuff together when I was still talking about Russia a month ago. Unfortunately, it's buried in a binder marked "Farm Credit Guidelines - Accountant's Manual" in the middle of a lot of obituaries of people I don't remember and some stuff about my own father and his death that, frankly, is a bit depressing for me to read. So I've only gotten to it in the last few days.

I have come across a lengthy section containing Grandpa Dick's (my Grandfather's adopted father's) first person account of his experiences in the failed 1905 rebellion and during the Russian Civil War, his memories of his family's business and estate and about his life in Russia. There is also Grandma Dick's (my great-grandmother's) account of her parents' murder in 1907 and of her life in Russia, along with a love letter she received from my great-grandfather Kornelius Petrovich Martens. There are also a variety of official documents which will, no doubt, test my remaining knowledge of German and Russian. Furthermore, I found the one and only document Grandpa ever asked me to translate and my only direct contribution to this material: Grandpa Dick's Russian birth certificate.

I am aware that early 20th century Russia is probably more popular than rural life in Saskatchewan. My last post is intended to be the only one set primarily in Saskatchewan before moving on to more interesting stuff.

1943 is a pretty good place to pause in discussing Grandpa's life. The very next paragraph after end of the last section is something I considered including, but I wanted to end with Grandpa's praise for how, according to him, God took care of him during the war. Here is the cut paragraph:

One winter on the farm, when there was less work to do and only the cows to milk and the livestock to feed, I was wondering whether it would be more advisable for me to go logging for the winter. We prayed about it and wondered what to do. I vivdly remember how the answer came. I was up in the hay loft throwing down feed when an absolute peace about staying on the farm simply flooded my soul, and I had complete assurance that that was what the Lord wanted me to do.
I'm strongly tempted to leave him there in that moment of peace for a little longer, because whether or not it was what the Lord wanted him to do, it isn't what he in fact did. His faith led him into a very different life than he would have expected at that moment. The next fifteen years of his life take almost two binders by themselves, and I don't know how many posts it will turn into.

So, I'm soliciting opinons. I have good stuff from Russia that I can work with. It includes not one, but two sets of brutal murders as well as a lot of details about old Russia from an admittedly unusual perspective. Alternatively, I can press ahead with Grandpa. I have been vague in my posts about where he goes and what he does, but my readers who know me in real life have some idea where Grandpa is headed.

I don't promise to just count votes and go with the majority - this is after all a guided democracy - but I want some sense of my audience's interest in this tale. For those who feel whole sentences are too much work, feel free to just leave the word "Russia" or "Canada" in the comments, although you should also feel free to leave any other commentary you like. I won't decide until at least Monday and I'll read the comments over the weekend and answer questions if anyone has any.

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Posted 2003/04/18 23:26 (Fri) | TrackBack