WellesleyWeston Magazine

SPRING 2016

Launched in 2005, WellesleyWeston Magazine is a quarterly publication tailored to Wellesley and Weston residents and edited to enrich the experience of living in two of Massachusetts' most desirable communities.

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larisa Beresowskaja McCue was 17 years old when German planes first struck her hometown of Rostov-on-Don in southern Russia near the Ukrainian border. Today, at 91, she recalls her life journey as if it were yesterday: "It was June 21, 1941, when the attacks started in my neighborhood. I was on my way home from using a public telephone in the town center, elated to have learned that I had been accepted into the heavy industry college in a nearby town," remembers Larisa, a resident of Wellesley for the past ten years. Smart and Determined Larisa's ten-year education—cut short by World War II—began at age seven, a year earlier than other Russian children, because, as she explains, "My mother had me read the Iliad and the Odyssey to the teacher." Larisa was the older of two children born to Maria and Dimitri, whose formal educations were limited to third and first grades respectively due to their social class. Dimitri worked on the railroad in a dangerous position fixing train wheels. Maria was a homemaker who, despite her brief time in school, taught her daughter algebra and to read before Larisa started her formal education. As the war escalated and it became unsafe for Larisa to be away at college, she returned to Rostov and enrolled in a teacher's college. Larisa recounts the personal impact of historical events: "The Germans occupied Poland in 1939 and then moved east. Within a month of their first attacks on Rostov in 1941, they occupied our city, but occupation didn't last long. The Russian military pushed the Germans back. All of us able-bodied young people were transported by train to the outskirts of the city to dig ditches in hopes of halting any future German military tank invasions. We used hammers to break through the frozen ground. Ultimately, our back-breaking work was done in vain as the tanks navigated through, and, in about a year, the Nazis regained control of our city." At teacher's college in Rostov, Larisa attended classes in the morn- ing, and in the afternoon cared for wounded soldiers in classrooms transformed into hospital rooms. "The doctors didn't have proper 56 W e l l e s l e y W e s t o n M a g a z i n e | s p r i n g 2 0 1 6 An Incredible Life Journey Shaped by Destiny and Determination E L I Z A B E T H S U N E B Y writer / B R I A N S M I T H photographer an interview with larisa beresowskaja mccue

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