POMPTON PLAINS, NJ - Cedar Crest resident Olga Valcoff vividly remembers her trip under the Golden Gate Bridge in 1951. It was a foggy night and she recalls the stunning sight of the bridge which pierced through thick nighttime fog.
As the ship passed under the bridge’s towers, people began cheering, laughing, dancing, throwing coins in the water for luck and smiling from ear-to-ear. This was not a vacation. It was a new country and new destination following her 18 year trek through Asia.
Now Mrs. Valcoff, who was born in Kagoshima, Japan, has released a new book entitled Hello Golden Gate- and Goodbye Russia, which chronicles her early life and many places she lived as her family fled Russia during the 1917 Russian Revolution.
“There was a lot of bloodshed and brutality that my family endured during that time as Communism was born in Russia,” Mrs. Valcoff said. “The story is my memoir of how my family risked so much to build a better life for us.”
Her family fled Russia in 1918 and went through Siberia via the Euro Mountains, just east of Moscow. About 200,000 Russians escaped the country and settled in China. Mrs. Valcoff’s family arrived in the Chinese city of Harbin, which was a Russian settlement.
After living in China, the family had to leave, as Communism became more prevalent throughout the country. They then moved to Japan, where Mrs. Valcoff was born in 1933. As World War II occurred, the family had to once again leave her beloved home and go back to China.
“I was very sad to leave Japan,” Mrs. Valcoff said. “It was delightful and I was very happy growing up there. It had good climate, parks, beaches and it was very, very enjoyable.”
As for the recent earthquake, tsunami and nuclear reactor meltdown in Japan, Mrs. Valcoff said that she has deep sorrow for the country because of her personal connection. “I am heartbroken about the events that have taken place – just utterly horrified.”
Following her arrival in San Francisco, her family moved to Seattle, Washington where she lived in her late teens and twenties.
As far as what Mrs. Valcoff wants to readers to take away from the book, she wants them to understand the suffering that took place in the early 20th Century in Russia. “Many people in the United States don’t know what it was really like growing up during the Russian Revolution and the suffering that so many people endured. This is a new story for Americans.”
The book, which is published through Author House, is 240 pages and contains around 40,000 words, including about 40 photos and three Russian recopies. Those interested in purchasing this book may go through Amazon.com, or have it ordered through a local book vendor.
More than 2,000 people live at Cedar Crest, an Erickson Living full-service retirement community that promotes a vibrant lifestyle. Erickson Living develops and manages 16 full-service retirement communities that provide worry-free living for America’s seniors – the country’s fastest-growing population segment. Erickson Living’s refundable entrance deposit and predictable monthly service fees provide residents across the country financial peace of mind. Comprehensive health and wellness services, integrated into every community, lead to demonstrated resident benefits. For more information, visit www.ericksonliving.com.
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