|Floyd Miller's Classic Story|
|Children boarding their train for Turgoysk|
* * *
The oldest could not have been more the twelve and the youngest probably four. The three boys stood outside Akulina's door asking for food. “Please, Tetka―Auntie, we are hungry,” the oldest said. “If you could just spare some bread or perhaps some old beets and cabbage we would be eternally grateful.” Akulina looked down at their basket and saw a few crusts of bread and wilted vegetables. “Please, Tetka. It is not just for us. We have little sisters who are too weak to beg. But with your help she will regain her health and the Lord will truly bless you for your compassion.”
* * *
The story of the wild children rates high in the truth is stranger than fiction category, as they become the target of an American Red Cross worker named Riley Allen. Riley located the children and together with the Czech Legion guided them safely to Vladivostok and beyond. The story of Riley's quest captivated American newspaper readers just as Stanley's search for Livingstone through Africa had enthralled an earlier generation. It was these emotional news reports that prompted Massey to become involved.
* * *
"A few of the children returned home but the civil war left most stranded. The camp officials fled leaving about eight hundred children behind. They were just two to fifteen-years old.”
“So what? We have problems enough without them.”“Ah,” Locko replied. “We may not solve their problem, but they might solve ours.” Now he had their attention. “An American went to Russia last fall searching for the children and found them. The rumors were true. Now American newspapers are interested in following the actions of this Riley Allen and what they are calling, 'The Wild Children of the Urals.' I propose we change our name to the Urals' Children Fund.”
* * *Massey and his fellow expatriates eagerly followed the children's travails as they traveled east across Russia to safety.
|The Lost Children head east to Vladivostok|
|Red Cross Ship|
* * *Massey foresaw standing alongside the tracks as the train stopped in Joliet. He would be holding two baskets full of food and well wishes. They would not just contain his gifts, but from many others in Rockdale. Sam’s wife volunteered to bake klotchie and potisa; Marko planned buying tarts from Smith's bakery, and Massey would fill the remainder with fresh fruit and sweets. Massey's baskets, however, were not intended for just anyone. Surely among the hundreds there were two brothers the same age as Stefan and Ivan. Massey would search the railcars and find two boys leaning out their windows and reaching for him with outstretched arms. Massey would smile, give them the gifts, chat and be thanked profusely.
* * *
However, politics and disunity among Russian refugees derailed the Red Cross plan and the children were force to continue by sea to New York and eventually Russia.
|Russian boys arriving in Helsinki|
* * *
Following the children’s departure from New York, Massey's baskets remained leaning against the wall for several weeks. They, like his dreams of seeing his boys, would remain empty.
* * *Two and a half years after leaving their Saint Petersburg homes, the children were reunited with their families. They had circled the globe on foot, train and ship. Unfortunately for many in 1921 Russia, the children's past hardships were but a prelude to what lay ahead.
|The Children's World Circling Journey|