Friday, November 18, 2016

Fast, Cheap, & Out of Control: A Russian Orthodox Baptism in 1976

To honor Organized Religion Day, I thought I'd post this fast, cheap, and out-of-control collection of vintage baptism snapshots. They were taken at the Holy Trinity Cathedral, the Russian Orthodox Church on Green & Van Ness in San Francisco, and they can only be described as Instagrams from Hell.

Russian Orthodox Baptism at Holy Trinity Cathedral in San Francisco in 1976

These dinky little prints really are holy terrors. I wish I knew who took these lemons so I could properly shame them. A baptism is a big deal. They could've at least spent over $10 on a camera, or called Sears Portrait Studio, or something.

Russian Orthodox Baptism at Holy Trinity Cathedral in San Francisco in 1976

How am I supposed to take my relationship with God seriously if this picture taker couldn't take his/her assignment seriously? If they won't do their job, then I can't do mine! Sorry, it's not Christ-like to judge vintage snapshots so harshly, but seriously—this photographer blows.

Russian Orthodox Baptism at Holy Trinity Cathedral in San Francisco in 1976

In case you haven't figured it out, I was the baby—and these were my Godparents, Seoul Sister Tatiana "Tanya" Sarsfield née Vasilev (left), and Alexander Sven Zabelin (right). Godparents present a child at baptism, respond on its behalf, and promise to take responsibility for the child's religious education. But Tanya was an atheist, and Alex left a week later for Italy to appear in "art films," so my subsequent religious education didn't end up being very comprehensive.

Russian Orthodox Baptism at Holy Trinity Cathedral in San Francisco in 1976

Once again, I just have to mention—these pictures really are bad. But there's something kinda cool about them, like my baptism into the Russian Orthodox Church was an Andy Milligan movie. I don't remember who this priest was, but he may as well be Guru the Mad Monk.

Russian Orthodox Baptism at Holy Trinity Cathedral in San Francisco in 1976

I can hear you right now: "You spoiled little child! Who cares that they used an inexpensive, semi-disposable Kodak 110 nightmare camera to commemorate your unholy baptism and make it look like lost stills from a horror film? You should be grateful that someone cared! Nobody took pictures of my baptism! They drunkenly sketched it with charcoal, then buried the drawings in the backyard to be dug up by raccoons and pissed on!"


Russian Orthodox Baptism at Holy Trinity Cathedral in San Francisco in 1976

In that case, I guess I should be a little more thankful. It is Thanksgiving season after all. What would the Great Pumpkin say?

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Trick or Treat: Halloween in Piedmont in the 1980's

Halloween has always been my favorite holiday. I love horror movies, and I love barging up to strangers' houses and demanding things. So put the two together, and you've got the best day of the year. Speaking of, check out these eerie-sistable 35 year-old snapshots commemorating All Hallow's Eve. They were taken in Piedmont, California between 1979 and 1982.

Me (as the Pink Panther) on Halloween at 19 Ramona Avenue in Piedmont, California in 1979

These pictures were taken in 1979. That's me in the Pink Panther costume. That little board game with marbles next to the stuffed dog has me curious. Can anyone identify it? I remember playing it, and I remember liking it—but I have no idea what it was. I already tried Googling "board game with marbles from the 1980's" to no avail. *** UPDATE *** Reader MH has identified the game as Trouble.

Rory Sarsfield (as a devil) and me at 19 Ramona Avenue in Piedmont, California in 1979

Not sure who the devil is. I think it may have been my late cousin, Rory Sarsfield. Strangely enough, these photos terrified me as a child. I was already watching movies like Halloween and Dressed to Kill on cable (and loving them)—but then show me a snapshot of myself dressed like the Pink Panther, and I'm hiding under a couch.

Jessica Butz (as a cheerleader) and a mystery ape at 19 Ramona Avenue in Piedmont, California in the early 1980s.

This was my babysitter, Jessica Butz, dressed as a cheerleader. I'm not sure who the monkey is. I feel like it could've been me, but seriously.... Socks with sandals? I hope it wasn't me.

Me (as a green-faced monster) at 19 Ramona Avenue in Piedmont, California in the early 1980's.

I remember being very proud at having picked out this "costume" myself—a sweatsuit and a rubber monster mask. I had all year to plan a dynamic outfit to knock everyone off their feet, and at the last minute, I just threw on play clothes and a cheap Payless Halloween mask, and called it a day. That's pretty much a metaphor for my entire life.

The annual Halloween Parade outside PIedmont Avenue School in the early 1980's. Jean Gamboa as the witch.

This was the annual "Halloween Parade" outside Piedmont Avenue School. We all dressed up, and then took to the streets to terrify everyone within a two-block radius. The witch was my kindergarten teacher, Mrs. Jean Gamboa. It was a more innocent era, when billboard alcohol advertisements weren't frowned upon.

The annual Halloween Parade outside PIedmont Avenue School in the early 1980's.

Here are some random kids who aren't me.

The annual Halloween Parade outside PIedmont Avenue School in the early 1980's.

There I am! I distinctly recall feeling like a bad-ass, bouncing down the street in my track suit.

The annual Halloween Parade outside PIedmont Avenue School in the early 1980's.

Happy Halloween everyone!

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Kharitiniya, We Hardly Knew Ye: Harbin in 1936

To honor Business Women's Day, I thought I'd post this 80 year-old snapshot of my Great-Great-Grandmother Kharitiniya Afanasyevna Kozyreva (Козырева Харитиния Афанасьевна). It was taken in 1936 when she was 74 years old.

Козырева Харитиния Афанасьевна, 1936, Harbin, China

Not much is known about Kharitiniya, but I do know she was something of a business woman. And she had a fondness for head scarves.

She was born in 1862 in Staro-Konstantinov, Ukraine. At the age of 14, she married Ukrainian merchant Yakov Kozyrev, and—at some point in the late 1800's—they migrated to Ust-Karsk, Zabaykalsky Krai, Russia (Усть-карск Забайкальск) to run a department store. They had five children that I know of—Stepanida Yakovlevna Kozyreva (b. 1877—d. 1958), Ivan Yakovlevich Kozyrev ("Vanya"), Mikhail Yakovlevich Kozyrev ("Misha," d. 1918), Aleksandra Yakovlevna Kozyreva ("Shura"), and Zinaida Yakovlevna Kozyreva ("Zina").

BREM file for Kharitiniya Afanasyevna Kozyreva.

According to family legend, Misha was killed by the Bolsheviks in 1918. Yakov may have been as well. The now-widowed Kharitiniya fled to the Russian community in Harbin with her surviving children, in-laws, and grandchildren—including her also recently widowed daughter Stepanida Mitrofanenko née Kozyreva and her daughter, Natalia Feodosievna Mitrofanenko. You can read more about them here and here.

Obituary for Kharitina Afanasyevna Kozyreva, Jan 11 1941, Harbin, China.

"The grief-stricken son, daughter-in-law, grandsons, and granddaughters notify friends and acquaintances of the death of their beloved mother and grandmother Kharitina Afanasyevna Kozyreva. The body will be carried from the home at No 23, 7th Street, Zelenyy Bazar (Green Bazaar), to the Uspenskaya Cemetery Church (Church of the Assumption) today at 12:00 noon. The funeral service will be held at the Uspenskaya Church at 2:00 p.m."
Khartiniya (or "Kharitina") passed away sometime around January 11, 1941 at the age of 78 or 79. I don't know the cause, but I theorize old age may have had something to do with it.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Afternoon Delight: a 1970's Baby Shower

If one thing drives blog traffic, it's baby showers. Baby showers and cats. And apparently some broads named Lisa and Lena. We get a hundred hits a day from folks Googling Lisa and Lena. Who the hell are they?


Anyway, in late celebration of Labor Day, here's a cool little collection of 1970's baby shower pics. These snapshots were taken in the Spring of 1976 at 5 Coronado Avenue in Daly City, California. People ask why I'm so specific about locations. It's because—okay, if I Googled my address, and found a bunch of old snapshots taken in my house with, like, old Russian ladies, or foxy 70's chicks hanging out on Harvest Gold couches, I'd totally be psyched.

1970's baby shower cake

This is Lena, the youngest of the Seoul Sisters. She was expecting a little bundle of joy in what appears to be three-to-four months. I feel like it'd suck to be pregnant in the 1970's; no sonograms, no epidurals. And then after you have the baby, there are no baby monitors—so you'd actually have to stay close and listen for your own baby. What a hassle.

Elena Vasilev's baby shower in 1976 at 5 Coronado Avenue, Daly City, CA

Here's an authentic baby shower cake from 1976. That means, the baby just celebrated his 40th birthday. You know who else had a birthday around the same time?

Elena Vasilev's baby shower in 1976 at 5 Coronado Avenue, Daly City, CA

That's right; the evil monster babies from It Lives Again (1978). I'm not saying there's a connection, I'm just saying it's interesting.

Elena Vasilev's baby shower in 1976 at 5 Coronado Avenue, Daly City, CA

Women love small things. I forget who, but some comedian used to joke about women going nuts over miniatures, and baby booties, and crap like that. They say it's instinctive, like using a Crockpot, or knowing how to stretch your husband's hard-earned dollars at the grocery store.

Elena Vasilev's baby shower in 1976 at 5 Coronado Avenue, Daly City, CA

Far-left is a bored time traveller from 2016, obviously checking Snapchat. The others—being authentic citizens of the 1970's—are paying attention. And smoking. And drinking. Old Timers lament about when we stopped talking and started texting, but what I wanna know is: When did we replace smoking and drinking with texting? That's the real tragedy, there.

Elena Vasilev's baby shower in 1976 at 5 Coronado Avenue, Daly City, CA

If you ate this picture, it'd taste like Shalimar, Woolite, and Virginia Slims.

Elena Vasilev's baby shower in 1976 at 5 Coronado Avenue, Daly City, CA

That's my late cousin, Rory Sarsfield (b. 1965 - d. 2000), stage left, brandishing a stuffed bear. Does anyone remember the episode of Charlie's Angels with, like, a bomb hidden in a Teddy bear? Or was that CHIPs?

Elena Vasilev's baby shower in 1976 at 5 Coronado Avenue, Daly City, CA

And this is the last picture in the collection. Maybe because the party ended soon thereafter—but most likely because the Teddy bear blew up, and this roll was found among the wreckage.