San Francisco’s Jane Bragg is a storyteller by profession and a great one not just for being able to see a story wherever she goes but for telling it with candor and gusto.
Recently the “wherever she goes” was a San Francisco consignment store she loved and explored often. Her almost daily meandering through this store, whose inventory is largely chunks of other people’s history, led to wandering right into her own labyrinthine family history and her not uncommon relationship to Genghis Khan; she says 1/3 of the world carries his genes.
Jane wanted to work at this store that did not seem to need help, but, as they say, lo and behold! A position presented itself, and after some serendipitous moments, well, fluke after fluke really, she was hired to look after the menagerie that lived in the large and mysterious back area of the store, unusual animals every one of them. One day a samovar-looking lamp in the store captured her imagination. So drawn by it she was that she sent pictures of them to her brother, and they started talking samovar and grandfather.
Grandfather was Joseph Lucas-Shevsky, apparently a guard to the Czar of Russia, a world by and large closed to Jews. Be that as it may, Joseph Lucas Shevsky stood out. He was an unusually tall man and an able horseman whose talents were valued by the Czar. And a samovar was not an uncommon honorarium from the Czar to those in his service. So, when Joseph and his wife Basha left Russia, they had some bags and bundles, and that samovar.
The samovar-like lamp in the consignment store at this point, Jane is quick to mention, is not a samovar, just an urn. But, Jane is a firm believer that when you talk about things they happen, and talking and thinking about that samovar she was. Talking and thinking, and bingo! As she is moseying around the store one day, she sees a real samovar with a spigot and it is beautiful and small. She is in love.
Her love letter? She might catch her grandfather up with her own personal continuation of the journey that started in Russia. She might thank him for the very generous genetic gift of ability with animals, horses in particular. She might write a love letter to that very samovar she found. There are so many historically relevant possibilities that she could easily write several of them.
Jane wanders delightfully off her own path only to land right on it every time. Jane’s story is best heard in her own voice with delicious details of migrating generations including the elderly grandmother who died a very happy newlywed. Like most family histories that span centuries, Jane’s is very complicated. Best for you to listen for yourself.
From me to you with love in the air,
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