by Sam Sloan
In 1950, when I was going to be six years old, my mother wanted to enroll me in first grade. However, in that year, in order to get into first grade, a child had to be born no later than September 1, 1944. I was born 6 days too late.
My mother decided that I should attend first grade anyway. My mother was the psychiatrist/director of the Memorial Guidance Center in Richmond. She had Miss Hoglan, a psychologist on her staff, give me an IQ test to see if I was smart enough to handle first grade work. After I received a satisfactory score on the IQ test, my mother found a loophole to get me into the first grade.
Since I could not attend first grade in public school, my mother enrolled me in Collegiate School, a private school, just for that one year. Once I had successfully completed first grade in Collegiate School, I would be allowed to enter second grade in the public school system.
My parents were both staunch believers in public education. They had always attended public school themselves and had attained their advanced degrees (my mother was a doctor, my father was a lawyer) at the State University of Iowa. They also did not like the elitism which was characteristic of private schools. This is the reason why I only attended Collegiate School that one year.
During that one year in Collegiate, there was a girl in my class whom I did not know well, but she invited me and all the other members of my class to her birthday party. My mother was excited about this. My mother told me that this little girl in my first grade class was a Princess from Russia and that she was a relative of Anastasia, the long lost Russian princess. It was then that I first heard the story of Anastasia.
However, my mother told me the story too well. I can still remember this incident well, even though it happened when I was six years old. My mother got me and my brother, Creighton (who was two years younger than I) dressed up in our Sunday best. She took us to the place where the party was being held. However, outside on the street, I got scared. I was so overwhelmed by the occasion that I would not go in. My mother almost tried to drag me in the door, but I refused to move. I just would not go into the birthday party. Finally, my mother gave up and took me and my brother home.
After that year, I started in JEB Stuart School, which was a public school near our home at 3019 Montrose Avenue in Richmond. I never saw that little girl again, but I have always remembered the incident.
Years later, rethinking these events, I realized that Anna Anderson, a fake Anastasia, was living in Richmond, Virginia at that time. This led me to the conclusion that the "Russian princess" to whose party I had been so afraid to go, was perhaps not really a Russian princess but perhaps was a relative of Anna Anderson. However, this did not make sense, because Anna Anderson, whether she was fake or real, would not have brought any relatives over with her from Russia. Anna Anderson also did not have any children.
Another possibility is that some of the Russian nobility may have come to Richmond, Virginia at that time in pursuit of the Anastasia story. Although the Czar of Russia and his immediate family were all presumably executed, perhaps some more distant relatives survived. In that case, the little girl whose party I was to attend might have been a real Russian princess of some sort.
In 1991, I went to see my god-mother, Page Williams, in Westminster Canterbury in Richmond, where she was then living. I asked about this incident where I had refused to go to the party of the Russian princess. Page Williams remembered the incident well. She told me who the Russian princess actually was. Unfortunately, it was a complicated story and I did not take notes of the conversation. I have forgotten what she said, except that she said that the Russian princess was not involved with Anna Anderson.
Page Williams died in 1993.
Now that the movie "Anastasia" is out, I have been trying to find anyone who can remember who that Russian princess was. Unfortunately, all of my mother's old friends, who knew the story, are dead and gone now, or cannot remember.
Does anybody out there know of a Russian princess (fake or real) who was born in 1943 or 1944 and who would have been living in Richmond, Virginia in 1950 or 1951?
Looking at the photos in the school yearbook for the 1950-1951 school year, the only person in my age group she could find with a Russian sounding name was Francesca de Gogorza Cline.
I would be interested to know if that is a possible name for a relative of the Czar.