On the cold Sunday of January 9, 1905, the pallid sun hung over the rooftops of St. Petersburg trying to burn its way through a thin layer of clouds. By two o'clock in the afternoon the dull light had done little to warm the thousands of people milling in the streets.
With these words, Alla Crone-Hayden began one of her first historical novels and set the scene of a anquished and life-changing day.
That day in '05, troops of Russian Tsar Nicholas II opened fire on workers massed for a peaceful march. The Tsar's brutal response tripped a revolution that failed, except as a precursor to the Bolshevik rebellion in 1917 that vanquished the Tsar and installed Vladimir Lenin.
Crone-Hayden, who lives now in Oakmont, writes knowingly of that convulsive period of Russian history.
She was born in Manchuria to a woman who'd fled Russia after her first husband was killed by the Bolsheviks. Crone-Hayden grew up with White Russian émigrés and as a young woman endured the Japanese occupation.
She came to the U.S. after World War II and, in time, wrote novels from the saga of her mother's life and her own, and from her knowledge of the events that overtook Russia and China in the first half of the 20th century.
In 1983, Dell Publisher printed her “Winds Over Manchuria.” It and all of her books are available on-line.
Last year, 30 years after its release, her agent submitted “Winds Over Manchuria” to a publisher in Russia. Won over, the publisher had it translated into Russian and renamed it “Migrant Birds.”
Crone-Hayden now has received her first sales statement. In its first six months in Russia, the book sold 27,000 copies. Most any novelist will tell you that's quite a lot.
“It shocked me,” the author in Oakmont said.
But it occurs to her that in the ex-Soviet Union, where people long had access only to the government version of the revolutions that followed a grey but bloody day in 1905, readers may remain hungry for other points of view.
TEETH KILLING YOU? If you need to see a dentist in the worst way but can't afford what treatment normally costs, you may want to see Santa Rosa's Dr. Andrew McCormick on Feb. 8.
That Saturday, he and a team of dentists will provide emergency care — first-come, first-served — at 855 Fountaingrove Parkway.
If you go, know that, in the past, folks began to line up the night before.
DRIVE ON HOME, BEAR: Bill Krumbein laugh-cried to read a Lost Dog poster on Rincon Valley's Badger Road.
The flyer describes the missing Bear as a tan “Chihuahua-Datsun mix.”
(Chris Smith is at 521-5211 and email@example.com.)