Thursday, July 1, 2010

If You Had Any Doubts as to the Existence of the Notebooks...

I just got hold of my grandfather's first notebook, the one he bought in a train station in Harbin, China, to document his adventures. I hope this is, at least, partially legible so you can see the date, 1904, written in the upper right hand corner of the first page on the left.

In truth, my grandfather realized later that it wasn't 1904 but 1905, and not summer but autumn. While you or I can get the date or even the day of week wrong, we would likely only be one day off. Imagine what it would take to be so disoriented that you'd lost an entire year!

BTW, you won't be able to read the text; it's in Yiddish, which, BTW, reads from right to left, like Hebrew.

Prior to getting this, I hadn't realized that there were photos from newspapers pasted in here. This is a photo of Czar Nicholas II taken from a Yiddish newspaper.

And the picture of the Czarina (which also hung in the barracks, and which the soldiers were expected to kiss).

There are several occasions when my grandfather heads off on some dangerous mission (or adventure) and refers to giving his diary to a friend to hold for him, and to give to his parents if he doesn't return. THIS is that book. (It cost a nickel in China in 1905.)

Even though I always knew it was real, it looks different than what I had pictured (I imagined a cardboard cover, like today's black-and-white marblized, composition notebooks, but this is cloth, and it doesn't look too bad for being over 100 years old and going through a war, and then some. I was also surprised to see just how much my grandfather wrote during the war. He labeled up to page 262.

I don't know who this merry band of Russians is, but I can find out what the text says. And on the right-hand side is my grandfather's name which, it appears, he wrote as Jakob Marteck.

1 comment:

  1. Fantastic find. Just thinking of all this notebook has been through gives me goosebumps!