Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Bea’s Russian Connections

While abroad, Bea journeyed to Russia. Paul didn’t go. My dad knew that if he returned to his homeland, everything would feel so familiar that leaving again would be problematic. He had a new life in the United States, and Beatrice needed him by her side.

Bea thoroughly enjoyed her guided tour of St. Petersburg. At the Hermitage, my mother managed to get separated from the group, so taken was she by the art on display. I imagine her wandering through the marble corridors, lost and a bit panicked, but pleased to have an experience all her own. If Bea was able to throw herself so totally into writing and editing Private World of the Last Tsar with my father, it is surely in part due to her personal discovery of my grandfather’s world, previously limited to his diaries and photos.

While Paul was working at Dartmouth in 1944, my parents had made friends with Professor Dimitri von Mohrenschildt. They would stay in touch with this fellow Russian émigré who spent the last years of his life at Sri Auribindo Ashram in Pondicherry, India. Bea and Paul followed the situation in Russia closely and contributed every year through International Orthodox Christian Charities. When Dimitri mentioned the desire to help the children of Russia, Bea suggested IOCC and acted as liaison. Dimitri acknowledged her assistance on a postcard, September 12, 1996:

“Just a word to tell you, dear Beatrice, that I finally got in touch with Alexis Troubetskoi. I sent him a check on Wells Fargo Bank, California, for $10,000 and received a reply dated Sept. 2 from Moscow. He will come to the States on Sept. 26 and will return to Russia in October when he will attend to the disbursement of these funds as I suggested. Thank you so very much for your help.”

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