[Dates and anniversaires]

A hundred years ago, on August 12, Alexei Romanov was born in a summer palace by the Gulf of Finland. Only a hundred years–it feels like a thousand: no continuity in Russia’s newest history, a race against time. But Prince Alexei (St. Alexei, actually) was born at about the same time as major American politicians whose names remind of a very recent past, a past that is still here. Alexei was just four years older than LBJ; Barry Goldwater was born five years after the Russian heir apparent. And Strom Thurmond, who died last year, was two years Alexei’s senior.

Regarding the calendar, I suspect I quoted the Julian-style date, which leads to another one: Russia entered WW1 on August 1 (old style). The first of August, the first day of a disaster. That’d be Aug. 14 on the Gregorian calendar, and since most major participants declared war within a few days from each other, we’re nearing the 90th anniversary of the first world meatgrinder.

UPDATE. I managed to forget this: My wife’s grandmother was born in Moscow in the same year as Nicholas II’s son. Her father was one of those responsible for keeping the Kremlin, the czars’ residence in the old capital, in due order. (According to one version, he was a keeper of the premises; another says he supervised the servants.) When Nicholas and his wife visited Moscow, his daughters were allowed to play with children of the Kremlin staff, who were mostly of humble descent. The hemophilic Alexei was not, naturally.

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