Constantin and Alina Kogevin

Сonstantin Kogevin was born on July 17th, 1891 in the village of Mekhonskoye, Shabrinky uezd, Perm gubernia, into the family of forester Vladimir Kogevin and the daughter of manager of the Stroganov's Perm estate Vera Ilynichna Rogova. Along with his brothers and a sister (my grandmother Zinaida) he spent his childhood in the Biklyan forestry.


Just as his brother Eugene, Constantin was a graduate of the Institute of Transportation Engineers in St. Petersburg but because of the First World War and two revolutions he could get his graduation diploma only in 1920. On August 22, 1914 Constantin married Alina Dorn, a native of Riga. Notably, Alina had been the first wife of my grandfather Sergei Belanovsky who married my grandmother Zinaida Kogevina after the divorce.


The Kogevins early emigrated from the Soviet Union. It’s hard to say when exactly, but among our family photographs is an Italian photo of the Kogevins dated 1927. According to family legend, a permission to leave the country was obtained thanks to Natalia Plyusnina (the one who had met with Lenin in the Kogevin forestry!) who still had some influence in the government circles due to her Bolshevik past. 

 

The Kogevins first went to Czechoslovakia to Alina’s sister and later to Italy. There Constantin Kogevin worked as an engineer and his wife became a professional masseur serving wealthy clientele. In 1937, the Kogevins left Italy for New York. Constantin was an engineer with Gibbs & Hill at Penn Station while his wife continued to provide massage services.


For many years Constantin and Alina Kogevin were helping our family in Moscow and brother Nikolai in Leningrad by sending food and merchandise parcels. I still feel the flavor of American chewing gum that was not produced in the Soviet Union. In the late 1950s – early 1960s, my mother started to correspond with Constantin and Alina who, over the years, began to treat her almost like a daughter. My mom, in turn, highly appreciated the intellect and human merits of Constantin who became for her a close relative. Unfortunately, this relationship remained only on paper – travelling abroad was a privilege of high-ranking Soviet officials and spies.

 

In the course of time, the relationships between Eugene and Constantine, who did so much to pull his brother out to New York, have cooled. For a period of time Eugene and Raissa resided at Kogevin’s New York apartment but living together was a hard experience for both of them, so Constantin bought his brother a small house (“duplex”) in Miami, Fl., one part of which they rented out. However, despite Constantin’s expectations, Eugene was not willing to seek job, which eventually caused the two brothers to break up. The relationship between them restored shortly before Eugene’s death in 1965. The most likely reasons for such tension were different mentalities and mutual misunderstanding. Constantin had a huge work experience in the West and the American mindset while Eugene, who had lived through the Nazi occupation, deportation to Germany, a DP camp and, on top of that, had a poor command of English, could not, of course, qualify for a good job in America.

 

Constantin died of cancer on May 13, 1967 at the age of 76. After his death his wife Alina fell seriously ill spending her final days at the Alexandra Tolstoy Farm. Constantin and Alina Kogevins were buried at the Novo-Diveevo Convent in Nanuet, N.Y.