A Vintage collection: Family

“You never see bad days in a photo album, but it is these days that get us from one happy snapshot to the next.”

This week I am participating in Jim`s Magnificent Monday with the theme Vintage. If you would like to participate in the event, please leave your link in the linky section over there or here in the comment sectionย  and we can all have a look. Let`s see how many vintage posts we can link in.

When I visited Russia in 2008 I learned something very important. No matter what culture, religion or colour we are or what language we speak, we all have one thing in common: the love to page through old photo albums.

After lunch one afternoon we sat down in the lounge of my Mother-in-law, Valentina. The conversation drifted to World War II, when she was a teenage girl. I didn`t understand a word of Russian and Andrey had to translate everything. She took out a small photo album and handed it to us. For a moment my thoughts drifted back to days when I used to visit my beloved grandmother and the times when we would page through the photo albums. I missed her more than ever.

I knew very little about the struggles of the people in Russia. In fact, even after 4 years I still don`t understand what they have been through as a nation over the years. Sometimes I could see the sadness and struggle in the eyes of older people. World War II in particular hit them very hard and many, many Russians died at the hand of Hitler. I still get the shivers when I think about it, because memories of my visit to Dachau Concentration camp is still fresh in my mind.

Here I was, sitting in the lounge of a woman who have seen it first hand. She did not hesitate and told us that she grew up in a town called Voronezh. German soldiers occupied the town during the War. The soldiers would come to the house and milk the cows and take the chickens. This left her Mom without food for the little ones. Until one day, when she finally had enough! She went to the Chief in charge and told him what happened and that she doesn`t have food for her children. I sat there mesmerized and Andrey`s mom was smiling. Imagine going to an Army Officer – the enemy. I held my breath..what happened? He told his soldiers to still milk the cows and take the chickens butย  every time they take milk they had to bring some food for the children:ย  flour.

I was amazed. She told us about taking shelter in the basement when the bombs would fall from the sky. How the German soldiers loved her little brother, because he had blonde hair and big blue eyes. Sometimes they had to hide all the young girls when drunk soldiers were loose. My heart went out to her.

After the war she left Voronezh for Kaliningrad. She loved travelling and if it wasn`t for her advanced age she would still be travelling. She took great pride in showing us the photos of her youth. She was a beautiful young woman and I can see the pride in my husband`s eyes when he looks at the black and white photos of his beloved Mom.

She continued to tell us how everybody tried to rebuilt their lives after the war. Cities were in ruins and people were sifting through the rubble to try and rebuilt what was. Life would never be the same again. It was during this time that she met Andrey`s father. They married and she`s been living in Kaliningrad ever since.

She hasn`t been back to Voronezh for many reasons.

We listened to friendships that she`s built over the years and places where she had worked. She`s been through the Soviet era, seen communism fall and now she is adjusting to a life where capitalism is a very new and frightening concept for many older Russians. Not once did I see a single regret in her eyes. She lives life to the fullest. For her and many older Russians the most important thing in life is and has always been: family and friends.

I closed the album and gave it back to her. She told us to keep it. She doesn`t need the photos, it is all stored in a special place in her memory and heart.

Some months ago I took the photos and copied them. Yesterday I turned it into a collage for this post. I really like it. It is something different and special. I hope that next time she will tell us the story againโ€ฆonly this time I would like to record it, something I never did when my grandmother was still alive.

I have been fortunate to have done quite a bit of travelling over the last 10 years. By heart I am an adventurer and I love exploring new places, cultures and food. Travelling can become stressful and expensive. Over the years I have learnt to travel as cost effective as possible, simply by travelling more clever. Nelmitravel.com is a Adventure and Budget Travel site where I review Airlines, Accommodation, Transport, Restaurants and give helpful travel information.


  1. This is a fantastic post Nelieta, wonderful. Recording your Mum in law's stories would be the greatest of all gifts for your children to ensure those stories and experiences never de.When they read or listen to her they will know her in a way that other generations do not know their ancestors because their stories and experiences and feelings have all gone.

  2. Great Idea Nelieta love the collage!! What a story your mother in Law had to tell. In this country it is hard to really understand what it must be like to be occupied. That generation went through hell and helped make world a better place for many!!

  3. Thank you Jim for the opportunity to participate in this event. I always knew I wanted to make something special with the photos and now I had an opportunity to tell the story behind these vintage photos. Some of them are more than 60 years old! What you are saying is so true. She is celebrating her 80th birthday next year and this is something that I really would like to do. Not an easy task to get it all translated into English but maybe I could keep the memories alive for generations to come. I really, really wish I did it when my grandmother and even my Mom were still alive. I have been keeping diaries since I was in my early twenties and who knows what will happen with them one day?

  4. Thank you Jim! I guess some people are just not interested to hear about the struggles of generations before us. I see it different. For me there are stories of hope and hope is the one thing we can never let go of. They sure did make life better for all of us.

  5. That is an excellent idea Susan! I would love to try my hand at something like this. It might not be easy because I will have to get it translated but it good be something very interesting and something to treasure. I will speak to her about it next year when I see her ๐Ÿ™‚ Have a blessed week and lovely to have you back!

  6. Thank you Mary! I have been walking around with this story for almost 4 years now and have`t had an opportunity to tell it. Fascinating stories and like you I can sit there for hours and listen to all the older people have to tell. The most interesting thing is as they get older, they don`t shy away from telling their stories ๐Ÿ™‚

  7. Yes they are! I calculated that some of them must be older than 60 years. That is amazing how well they have been preserved over the years. Like you say, each one has a story and a memory. Hopefully I will get the opportunity next year as she is turning 80 and we will be spending a couple of months there.

  8. Hello.Fascinating story & I love what you did with the old photographs.I have a photo of my mom & older brother (deceased) that is almost 60 years old & still in pristine condition. I should scan it into my computer to preserve it.Thanks so much for sharing & visiting. I appreciate it.Imaginary Dreams

  9. Oh, what a touching post! I was so moved by all that your mother-in-law has gone through, yet she has never lost her positive attitude. Such a blessing!Loved seeing these photos, too!Blessings!

  10. Hi Andy, wow it is incredible to think that photographs 60 years and older are still in good condition. Thank you so much, I thought a collage would be the answer to show all the photos in the mini-album. You know I didn`t scan the photos. I put them on a table and photographed them. It took time but if you do it correctly then the effects are beautiful. You really should put them on the computer. Have a blessed week!

  11. Thank you Martha! One of those posts that comes from the heart and written with much love ๐Ÿ™‚ She is the most stunning woman and I cannot wait to see her next year. It`s been too long almost 4 years. Have a blessed week ๐Ÿ˜‰

  12. Hi Nelieta I have awarded you something and the rule says I should post this on your blog and leave you the link to the post. xoxohttp://rimlybezbaruah.blogspot.com/2011/11/passing-on-awards.html

Thank you for visiting. Have a fabulous day!

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