Why I Was Born...and It's A Strange Story!

My mother’s maternal side of the family was directly blood-related to Nicolas, Czar of Russia, and they lived in a palace in Krakow, Poland. When the Russian Revolution reared its ugly head, they all fled to the US, changing their last names and living under the radar of whatever Russians were out to get them. My mother once wore a pin with our family crest on it and went to a banquet with my father, where a contingent of Russian soldiers met her in an elevator; and at the banquet, and they stood up when she stood up, sat when she sat, and escorted her to the ladies’ room. She freaked out so badly that she insisted that my father take her home, and the soldiers followed them out to the front of the hotel until their car arrived. As the only living child of that side of the family, I technically have as much ‘right’ to the theoretical thrones of both Poland and Russia as anyone…. Like I care at this point!

My mother’s father was a University-educated baron, who skipped out of Poland before the revolution started because his family wanted him to become a priest. (Like we needed our very own Rasputin!) He was an incredible entrepreneur and started the first laundromat in Philadelphia, owned restaurants, banks, and a ton of real estate, and was a very good match for my grandmother, who he could support in the manner to which she had become accustomed. His family wasn’t so lucky during the revolution, though… They had had their houses invaded by dissidents, who rode horses through their houses, up and down the stairs, etc. and either exiled them to Siberia or took them out and shot them.

My father’s ancestors were the Hessians that came to fight the Americans, and who George Washington surprised one Christmas Eve during a drunken party ‘surprise attack’. Despite the advice of his lieutenants, who insisted that all of the Hessians be executed due to lack of food and materials to care for prisoners, George Washington declared such a thing ‘uncivilized;, and gave my family a couple of choices: go back to Germany, or stay and not fight. (is it a wonder tha Geoge Wasington is my favourite historical figure?)

Needless to say, the Hessians, who were all conscripted to fight against their own wills, were delighted, and my great-great-whatever-grandfather sent for his entire family… grandparents, parents, siblings and cousins… all of whom landed in the US before it was even a true country. They had dairy farms, mills, bakeries, butcher shops, and a plethora of entrepreneurial endeavours going on. In those days, it was okay for cousins to marry cousins, so my great-grandparents sort of screwed up my family tree a bit with that caper!

My mother met my father when they were both working at Temple University in Philadelphia. She was an oral hygienist and he was teaching dentistry; and she had a mother whose jaw was constantly dislocating….. So she sought out the help of my father, a maxillo-facial surgeon, to teach her how to put her mother’s jaw back into place. He would go over to her home and help her, and they fell in love.

…. And here I am! Life is weird, isn’t it?
fishsweeper fishsweeper
56-60, F
May 24, 2012