Wonderful photos from Esquire magazine. These women are hundred years old and over. They were about 10 during the revolution and they were 30 when they suffered WWII. They lived during different governing epochs, under rule of the tsar, Stalin and Putin. So they have their own opinions of everything in the world.
Raisa Korneevna Komisarova, 100 yo, Moscow
Was born in Kashira.
She worked in Magadan as a head of a warehouse, train operator and Morse specialist.
“I had a family but they all died. From 11 family members only me is alive. Don’t know when I die. I am even afraid… who knows how long I am going to live! I am tired to live. In my three rooms I am all alone.. Even have nobody to speak with.
Once I killed a person. In 1925 I worked as a telegrapher and a Morse specialist. 6 years later I was employed to work in the metropolitan. And once I ran over a woman who commited suicide this way – she put her head on the rail and I didn’t manage to react in a right way. I applied the brakes but the train didn’t stop and kept going though slower. The woman was beheaded. She had a letter to her mother in her pocket “Dear mom, I lied to you, he was married for the second time. I can’t live this way… Say hello to daddy”. It was not my fault and I was not punished.
When I wake up I am not sure if it’s daytime or night.. here’s how my life goes…
Authorities send me letters asking to live long, they seem to respect me.
I was a party member for 50 years. But was not accepted to Komsomol, couldn’t answer one question. And I’ve never gone to churches.
I have always had money, never incurred debts. And I wouldn’t work for pennies. I’d choose the place where I am well paid.
I do not like greedy people. Yes, I’ve always had money but always helped others.
I watch TV only at 9 pm, newscast. I already do not think anything about the country, politics, anything. I am just waiting for death. But current president is a good person, I guess. And he has a modest wife. I’d never invite anyone but close people to celebrate my 100′s anniversary – doctors and a social worker Tanya.
My sisters died early because they had lunch only. As for me, I get up at night and eat or drink milk. If I want fish I eat fish.
What should I expect now? I was expecting a centenary, but should I expect the 200′s anniversary now? They say “Live long, we need you”, but why do they need me? Don’t know.”
Khanna Moiseevna Shklovskaya, 101 yo, Moscow
Was born in Ukraine.
Moved to Moscow from Leningrad when retired. Worked as a supervisor at a military plant.
” I am one year and 8 months… In this new century of mine.
In May, 9th everybody laughed of happiness but I was crying, I knew that my husband died. My sister was hiding a “killed in battle” notice from me, he had been killed in 1944. Since that time I have been living alone and growing our two children.
Children and old men take tragedies easier. When the war was over me and my daughter came back to Leningrad. The flat was open, littery, but daughter was so upset that a box with X-mas tree decorations was stolen. She was 5 years old then. I told her: “We have no father anymore and you are crying because of X-mas toys”, she replied: “I didn’t know my father anyway, and I feel more sad about the toys”.
I forget many things. Even when I start to tell about the brightest moments I forget a word I wanted to pronounce. But will you be better at my age?
When I was young I ate standing to keep a nice figure. And I always worked much.
There is one thing I regret about. One homeopath-professor was in love with me but I always rejected him. Once I earned 831 rubles for 5 days while engineers earned 90 rubles monthly. I fell ill after that and that professor came and gave me a medicine. I felt better the next day and went happily to work. When I went outside I saw the professor, when he saw me he took his hat off but I just rushed by and didn’t say him a word. It was the last time I saw him. He fell ill and died after that.
Sometimes I wake up and think what a fool I’ve always been. Did so many stupid things. And never became smarter. I have a bad character, I have never been able to swallow my pride.
I’ve never had “the best time in my life”. Only deeds and work, work and deeds…
In 1914 Germans came to Russia, they brought special gymnastic apparatuses. We performed in theaters and I did better than other girls and was presented so many boxes of chocolate!
I’ve always looked elegant. I had beautiful hair and I cut them short, went barefooted, had a man’s cap on my head, and wore old clothes. And I was told anyway that I looked suspicious.
Even when electric light bulbs appeared we continued to use kerosine lamps, we didn’t believe in electricity.
When radio appeared we all gathered at the post-office being promised to hear something special. It was amazing! The place was crowded. People could hear sounds from Moscow…
They said I was beautiful. And various women wanted me to belong to their “heaven born” sons.. I was so tired of them all. I’ve never believed in God.
I am afraid of nothing. I was born in the time of the tsar, underwent the Jewish mess, the war of 1914, hunger in Ukraine in 1922, WWII… What should I be afraid of after that?”
Goarik Artemyevna Balasanyan, 103 yo, Moscow.
Was born in Ashkhabad. Been in Moscow since 1913.
Teacher of music (piano), secretary-stenographer, translator from English.
“There is nothing funny about being that old. The most terrible thing is that my eyesight is worse and worse and can’t read Pushkin. I love him, his portrait hangs over my head. I also like Byron, Goethe, Dostoevsky. Even glasses and a loupe are not helpful anymore.
I have so much respect to the Englishmen. I remember one Englishman who came to Russia with Churchill, he was so strikingly handsome! Women just died down when saw him!
My life has been very long and very interesting. It consists of beautiful episodes. The best years are of the tsar epoch. I may be blamed for praising tsarism, but what intelligentsia was in Russia then! Poets and artists lived in the free country. And this is what they call “terrible tsarist time!” Hah!
I knew one girl who came from St. Petersburg to Moscow in winter just to send a wonderful bunch of flowers to her boyfriend in Kislovodsk by train!
I am an atheist. When I studied at the Moscow gymnasium, there were some Armenian girls there, just as I was, one priest used to come to us, and every time I saw him I burst into laughter! When he asked me to read a prayer I started laughing and other girls followed me. He got angry or laughed with us but nothing could help…
The most awful moment of the revolution was when I knew that tsar Nikolay’s family was killed. During the French revolution children were not killed, why did they do it in Russia?
I had a very beautiful sister. She died. I also had two brothers – musicians and composers. One of them knew Indira Gandhi. But nobody remained. Only me. It’s hard to talk or think about it. Besides, so little remains in my memory. Each new day takes my memories away.
Elegance is the most important for a woman. Not even beauty. But an ability to present yourself. I remember one German woman who lived with us in a boarding house. She wore a coat in winter, it was purple! And the fur was purple too!
Many young people leave for America today. But I do not like this country.
I dream to see Paris. French literature has impacted me so much. The French are so courteous! There are many things in the world which I haven’t seen. But it’s hard to say where I felt better. It’s always best where we don’t belong”.