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I just met Tolstoy!

Discussion in 'The OT' started by AntAltMike, Oct 5, 2010.

  1. AntAltMike

    AntAltMike Hall Of Fame

    Nov 20, 2004
    Honest. Not the dead one, but probably a great grandson.

    I was repairing the master antenna system at a senior citizen apartment complex and was given a list of four apartments to check before I left the property. I saw the name "Tolstoy" on the door of the first unit I visited, but I wasn't too startled because there are a lot of retired Russians living in Senior Citizen communities in Washington, DC, and Tolstoy could be as common a Russian name as Kennedy is an Irish/American one.

    No one answered my knocks, so I opened the door a few inches and yelled, "maintenance" but when no one replied, I just closed the door and headed to the elevator. When the elevator door opened, out came a guy who looked just like Tolstoy. I did a double-take and then made a U-turn and as I did, he, too had made a U-turn, because he was expecting the TV system repairman to eventually get to his apartment, and I said, "Are you the resident from apartment XXX", and he lit up and said, "Yes. I'm Tolstoy". I started laughing and said, "You have a pretty famous name", and he said. "No, really, I'm that Tolstoy!"

    Well, anyone looking at him would have known immediately that he was either a descendent of "that" Tolstoy, or he was one of the Smith Brothers. When we got into his apartment, he showed me his picture in a current edition of a newspaper. Apparently, the diary of his grandmother was just published, so his family is back "in the news" at the moment.

    We had a great time talking about our ancestors and how they emigrated here and there, and he offered to give me some "Russian" vodka that he had distilled himself. I declined the offer, so he gave me an apple instead, which I took even though I don't eat apples, but when I see him again tomorrow or the next day when I complete the repair, I'll probably take him up on that Vodka offer, because then I'll be able to add, "drank home made Russian Vodka with Tolstoy" to the other colorful chapters of my life, which include my business partnership with one of Fidel Castro's 1950s gun runners, who actually said to me, "When Che Guevara gives you his word, it's like gold"; breaking into the Watergate Hotel not just once, but twice; having a business partnership with an international flim-flam man so notorious that I once Googled his name and found a mid 1970s Singapore Straits headline: "International manhunt for missing tycoon continues"; and I'm one of the few people who can say that Michael Jordan, who I watched puff on a big cigar one evening when I was called out to restore his DirecTV service at midnight, was not my most famous customer.

    Because he seemed like such a good natured guy, I might buy a copy of, "War, What is it Good For?" and see if I can put him up to writing some kind of a gag autograph on it.

  2. Nick

    Nick Retired, part-time PITA DBSTalk Club

    Apr 23, 2002
    Very interesting story, Mike. Let us know how the follow-up goes.
  3. Richard King

    Richard King Hall Of Fame

    Mar 25, 2002
    Was he peaceful? ;)
  4. AntAltMike

    AntAltMike Hall Of Fame

    Nov 20, 2004
    Seemed at least as peaceful as Cat Stevens. Not like that Ghandi fellow who took the Joe Weider course...
  5. AntAltMike

    AntAltMike Hall Of Fame

    Nov 20, 2004
    My sister somehow has even more free time on her hands than I do, and came up with this:

    Sergei Tolstoy, the great-grandson of Leo Tolstoy, hopes to pen his tale

    BOHEMIAN? Sergei Tolstoy, the great-grandson of Leo Tolstoy, jokes he lives like one. (photo here, if anyone can figure out how to post it http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/photo/postphotos/orb/style/2010-06-26/1.htm)

    By T. Rees Shapiro
    Special to The Washington Post
    Saturday, June 26, 2010

    As a vestige of Russian aristocracy and heir to a literary legacy, he is an unlikely resident of St. Mary's Court, a low-income assisted-living facility in Foggy Bottom.

    The 87-year-old with the wispy silver hair bounces about his humble efficiency, cluttered with bottles of antibiotics, stacks of medical records and old newspaper clippings. He's looking for a book.

    "I have something I want to show you," he calls to me over the blaring television.

    Here, on the top floor of St. Mary's Court, lives Count Sergei Tolstoy, great-grandson of the "War and Peace" novelist Leo Tolstoy.

    Not so long ago, he reveled in the luxuries his last name and aristocratic status afforded him. He dined with dignitaries in Washington's finest restaurants. His taste was so exquisite and his style so extravagant that a cigar company named a Cohiba for him.

    Now he says his only income is a $213 monthly check from Social Security. His monthly rent at St. Mary's Court, where he has resided for 19 years, is $64. After utilities, what's left he spends at the nearby convenience store on magazines and licorice.

    "I'm living like a bohemian," he jokes with a rascally grin. "I beg, borrow and steal."

    According to people who have known him for more than 30 years, Tolstoy's money is gone, vanished, lost at the betting windows of the Laurel, Bowie, Timonium and Pimlico racetracks he used to roam six days a week...

    "Many rich ladies wanted to marry me and become Countess Tolstoy. It is too late now, but I could have been a millionaire."

    The book he wants to show is a Tolstoy encyclopedia sold at the museum of his great-grandfather's Russian estate, Yasnaya Polyana.

    This August, Tolstoy says, he hopes to travel to Yasnaya Polyana to mark the 100th anniversary of his great-grandfather's death. It will be a celebration of the writer's life and works and a reunion of the Tolstoys.

    Before Leo Tolstoy died at age 82 in November 1910, he had 13 children. During the Bolshevik Revolution, the Tolstoy family fled Russia seeking refuge across Europe. Today more than 200 descendants are spread across four continents; the Yasnaya Polyana estate keeps a record of all members of the vast family.



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