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Yuri Alekseyevich Gagarin

Юрий Алексеевич Гагарин

Yuri Alekseyevich Gagarin

In September of this year my collection has been supplied with one very precious item; this is an envelope with the autograph of the first cosmonaut of the world – Yuri Alekseyevich Gagarin. Y. A. Gagarin’s portrait is etched on the envelope with an inscription above The first cosmonaut of the world and a date – 12.IV.61; at the top right corner of the envelope there is a postmark with the stated value of 10 kopeks and inscriptions, The Post of USSR and A Man of the Country of Councils in the Outer Space, which portrays Vostok spacecraft with a date – 12.IV.61; next to the postmark there is an autograph of Y. A. Gagarin and a special franking stamp of Moscow Post Office dated April the 12th of 1961.

Although there has been many articles and memoirs written about Yuri Alekseyevich Gagarin, but I liked more the article, which is posted on the web-site

Yuri Alekseyevich Gagarin was born on March 9 of 1934. There is a legend, narrated by Lydia Obukhova, according to which Yuri was actually born on March the 8th, but his father, Alexei Ivanovich allegedly said, “Being born on the women’s day for a boy? No, it is not good. Write down his birth day on March the 9th.” Contrary to that, his mother, Anna Timofeyevna says in her book that he was born on the night between March 8 and 9.

His parents lived at that time in the village of Klushino in the Smolensk region. Gagarin was the third child of the family; he had older brother Valentin and sister Zoya. After them, came the youngest one – Boris. His father was working as a carpenter. He made many things, which were so much needed in the country side. His mother, Anna Timofeyevna also did any work, which would bring some money to the family. There are many books written about Gagarin’s native places, about his father, Aleksey Ivanovich, who had a reckless and troublesome Ivan Fedorovich Gagarin, born in Kostroma, as his father; or his mother, Anna Timofeyevna, who was brought up in a family of Saint-Petersburg’s worker, Timofei Matveyevich Matveyev, who worked at Putilovsky factory. Her childhood passed at Bogomolovskaya Street, which now bears the name of the Renaissance Street and is close to the present metro station Kirovsky Zavod.

On September the 1st of 1941, Gagarin went to school in the village of Klushino. His first teacher was Ksenya Gerasimovna Fillipova. His studying did not last very long. As early as in the October of 1941, Germans occupied the village. During the first months of their occupation, the teacher still tried to teach the kids. Almost every week they changed their venue for the classes. The last one was the house of the Zubovs – Gagarin’s fellow-villagers. But even there they could not continue to study either. The Germans used that household for a horse barn and when the horses were brought there, the kids were forced to leave the house.

Gagarin’s family lived in a hut, which they dug in the yard. After the deliverance from the occupation, the school was lodged in the house of the former local priest, where his daughter, Vera Dmitrievna Kliukvina lived.

On the eve of the new year of 1946, the Gagarins moved to Gzhatsk; now this city bears the proud name of Gagarin. Upon their move to Gzhatsk, Yura was accepted to the third grade of Gzhatsk elementary school affiliated with the local teachers’ college, where its teachers and college students taught the classes. He was given a place in that school through his parents’ acquaintance, Yelena Fyodorovna Lunova. Nina Vasilievna Lebedeva, who had just finished the college, was his teacher there. The school’s building has not survived till our days.

Gagarin had been growing as an ordinary child and studied with devotion. But this school was just an elementary one, so, for his fifth and sixth grades, Gagarin went to the secondary school in Gzhatsk. In 1973, this building was just an ordinary residential building at Sovietskaya Street 91. This fact is confirmed by many sources; at the same time, there is a testimony, for example, which states, “Certificate, issued to the 5th grade student by the Gzhatsk elementary school #1 to testify of the fact that he won the 500 meter race competition with the result of 1 minute and 36.2 seconds.”

From his sixth grade, Yuri Alekseyevich started to attend a club of the students of physics and was accepted into the pioneers’ organization. At the same time, Gagarin became very active in sports. In the winter of 1948, Gagarin became the winner of the all-school tournament; it was the contest called “Who will do more chin-ups?” His record was 16 times, while for the rest of the students it turned out to be beyond their capacity.

In the spring of 1949, he finished his sixth grade. It is hard to say why the decision was made to send him away to study in Moscow and stay with his relatives – his uncle, Saveliy Ivanovich Gagarin. There are different assumptions concerning this matter.

One of the most widely spread versions is the difficult financial situation, in which the Gagarins were at the time.

Later, when the purging winds of perestroika started to blow, it was stated that Gagarin did not see any future for himself in Gzhatsk, because it was more difficult there to “hide” the fact that he was once under the occupation, and that his sister and brother were driven away by the Germans; although they escaped from German captivity and served in the Red Army during the war.

Some believed that there were many reasons behind this decision, but what really mattered was the fact that in a big city – and he was moving in with his relatives in Moscow – there were more chances “to rise above the crowd,” especially, if compared to the chances in Gzhatsk. It is worthwhile to mention that his mother, Anna Timofeyevna, spent her childhood and early years in Petrograd, which was the capital city at that time. So the desire to see her son happy could also prompt her to make this decision.

At any rate, while the decision and preparations were being made, time was lost. Attempts to place him into some schools specializing in the field construction – Saveliy Ivanovich was working for a construction company at that time – failed. Admission had been already closed everywhere.

Then Saveliy Ivanovich’s daughter, Antonina took the matter into her hands. She lived with her husband Ivan Ivanovich Ivanovsky and three-year-old daughter Galya at Sretenka – on the Ananievsky Avenue in Moscow in one room of 14 square meters in a communal flat. She received Yura into her home. But here the situation was also far from being comforting. All vocational schools of iron and steel industry stopped receiving students in Moscow. There was only one hope left – to enter a school, which was located in Lyubertsy. So, Gagarin and his sister-cousin went to Lyubertsy.

There were available vacancies only at the Foundry Faculty. The school’s deputy principal, Vladimir Ilyich Gorenshtein, yielding to the blandishments of Yuri’s cousin, entered Y. Gagarin’s name into the applicants’ list and Yuri immediately went to take the exams. He got one “four” and one “five.” The applicants had to write an essay and solve mathematical quizzes. As a result, Gagarin entered the Lyubertsy vocational school #10. There is a record preserved of the first quarter – he had wonderful grades. On December 14 of 1949, he was accepted into the Komsomol organization. There is an extract from the protocol #55, dated December 14 of 1949, made by the Uhtomsky city branch bureau of VLKSM, where Cherunov and Novgorodtsev are indicated as his recommending party. There is also a resolution: “Grant the membership of VLKSM to comrade Gagarin Y. A., born in 1934, 6 school years of education, Russian, student of foundry.” During his studying in 1 CHVAUL, he received a new Komsomol membership card № 02959544, date of issue – January 20 of 1956.

When he studied at the vocational school, Gagarin and his two new friends – his fellow-countryman Tima Chugunov and Sasha Petushkov went to a night school to receive the certificate of completing the seventh grade. It was done on the initiative of his fellow-townsman Tima Chugunov.

The name of the school was Secondary School № 1 for Working Young People in Lyubertsy affiliated with the plant named after Uhtomsky. Y. Gagarin and his friends studied there in the school year of 1950/51. There is a Certificate printed on the form of the Ministry of Education of RSFSR, number 014511, confirming the completion of the seventh grade of this school, issued to Yuri Gagarin. Besides his exemplary conduct, his grades are given, and all of them (11 in total) are just “fives.”

Also, there is an honorary certificate for his victory in the vocational school’s Spartakiada Games – in the 100 meter race, where he had the result of 12.8 seconds, and for the relay race 4 х 100 meters. In the relay race he ran one hundred meters in 12.4 seconds. No wonder it was faster, since in the relay race the runners picked it up in motion.

On April 29 of 1951, the student of the vocational school № 10 affiliated with the Lyubertsy plant of agricultural machines received certificate № 1295887 to confirm that he fully matched the given requirements and had the right to bear the badge Ready for the Labour and Defense of USSR.

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