After publishing Revolution from Within, I was thrilled to be introduced to remaining family members of one of our heroes in the story, Paul Anderson. You can read about this fortuitous meeting in my post Synchronicity!
The family have shared many beautiful memories with me and, in many ways, done what my extensive reading and study of the historical archives could not … namely brought so many of these people to life in all the complex and wonderful multidimensionality of what it means to be human! I am so blessed.
Deciphering The Wedding Plate Signatories
Along the way, they asked if I could help decipher who the signatories were on a wedding plate their parents received from Russians at the YMCA press and the Russian Students Christian Movement. It’s astounding! I’ve done my best and post this hoping other people around the world can help me fill in the blanks. Especially with regard to the Russian traditional saying printed around the edges of the plate which is obviously a blessing on the happy couple’s union, but which I’m not proficient enough in Church Slavonic or Russian sayings to translate. 🙂
Here’s a brief introduction to the story written by their daughter:
This Spring, Catherine Baird “found” me so we have talked, corresponded and I have read her book, “Revolution from Within”, with great interest. She has identified the names on the back of the PBA wedding plate and has given us information about each name. I am particularly fascinated by her book and all of the details at the Press that Dad was dealing with in Paris in the 1922-25 period when he was courting my mother, (by ship mail), at the same time. It has made good reading as an addition to Matt’s book [Matthew Lee Miller – The American YMCA and Russian Culture] on the Y and Russian culture.
You may know that they had gone to the U. of Iowa and, at one time, both were living at Prof. Uncle Carl and Aunt Roberta Seashore’s house in Iowa City. Carl was Dad’s uncle and Roberta was my mother’s aunt so Mother and Dad shared the same cousins. Mother used to say that they were 8 cousins there in the Seashore house, “all fun and no romance”. Uncle Carl started the Dept. of Psychology at the U. of Iowa in the 1890s. Mother graduated in 1921 and went to work as a teacher then on to the YWCA in Freeport, IL.
It was perhaps in February or March in Freeport that she received the telegram from Dad asking her to marry him in June. “Yes! Too soon- July?'” she cabled back careful not to spend extra money on extra words. So the date was set for July 8, 1925. Paul sailed home, took the train to Iowa and they were married on Aunt Woodson’s farm in Whiting. Iowa.
Their honeymoon was at a YMCA conference in Stockholm then off to Paris where Margaret would meet the YMCA staff. I marvel at my quiet mother’s strength to have successfully made the move from rural Iowa to the grand world of Paris and the Russians. Her schoolbook French wasn’t much help. Yet, surely she must have felt the sincere welcome offered by Dad’s Russian friends when they gave the couple the beautiful plate which you see below. It was in their home for many years, then in Bill’s and mine and now it belongs to our daughter Barbara in Seattle. Barb is our family historian and now “knows” Catherine Baird too. The family is appreciative that Catherine has taken the trouble to identify the names on the plate and to tell us more about them. With Matt’s most interesting book and Don’s edition of Dad’s “No East or West”, plus Don’s stories of time with mother and dad, I and the family feel greatly enriched and proud as we learn more and more about the voluntary work of the YMCA Press and it’s effects on generations of Russian émigrés.
My Research- So Far!
And so here, without further ado, is my rough take on identifying the personalities and translating the plate. I do hope you enjoy!
Catherine Baird, Sept 1, 2015.