Shared Photo: Survives Russian Terror, Gets High School Diploma

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I wanted to share this family photo of Yasha Venar with the community. Location: East High School, Cleveland, Ohio, USA. Date: June 1923.

June, 1923 (Author Unknown)


Boy Who Works Nights and Goes to School Days Will Finish East High Next Week.

Alone and ill in fire devastated village of Kiev, Russia, his parents dead, their money stolen - that was Yasha Venar three years ago.

Safe in America, with a steady job and new friends, ready to be graduated from East High school next week - that is Yasha Venar today.

How the seventeen-year old boy has managed to master the English language and support himself while finishing his high school work is a marvel to those who hear his story.

Every afternoon and evening after school he works in the Peerless drug store, Superior Avenue, N. E. and E. 55th street, so the he will not be dependent upon his uncle, W. M. Kotovsky, 10404 Barrett Avenue, N.E., with whom he makes his home.

Then studying begins, even though it is after midnight, for he must have his lessons ready for recitations the next morning.

School Was Refuge

“I didn’t have a chance to go to school regularly after 1918,” he said yesterday, “because things were so uncertain in Russia. Sometimes we’d have to stay at school all night because it was dangerous to leave. I was in the gymnasium, which corresponds to high school here.”

His father was the head of a manufacturing concern, a leather findings shop in Kiev, and was prosperous in those days. But with the revolution things became different.

“We were all sick with fever” said Yasha. “Most of the town was, but nobody could help, because there was no medicine. There wasn’t a drop of iodine, for instance, in the town.”

Then one night a gang of bandits came to rob the house. They shot Yasha’s father and mother, and although they did not die at once, their wounds hastened their death.

“I was alone in the house and sick with fever when an American friend of my father’s came to see him,” the boy said. “He was a lieutenant in the A.E.F, and his name was Solomon Peter Conn. He asked me if I’d like to go to America with him, and so I came.”

“I was in New York with him for a few weeks, and when my relatives heard about it and asked me to come and live with them. And so I came in July, 1920, and started to go to East High school in September. Anything I’ve been able to do is because of East High school and Mr. Lothman, the principal. I wish you’d say that.”

The boy who survived fever and starvation in Russia and has been able to learn a new language and finish his high school work in three years does not intend to let anything keep him from going to college.

“I want to be a pharmacist.” said Yasha. “I’m going to try to go to college next fall. And now I must take that Physics test. Goodby."

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WikiTree profile: Yasha Venar
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Fantastic story!
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