The following is an email we received last September, containing a lovely story of a very special photograph. The email came from a longtime reader of the paper, Violet Dagdigian of Westford, Mass. and was in regards to a photograph of Soghomon Tehlirian, the Armenian revolutionary who assassinated Talaat Pasha on March 15, 1921. As it so happens, Tehlirian was the godfather of Violet’s aunt, Annette, who kept this photograph of him and his fiancée. We felt our readers would enjoy reading the original correspondences from both Violet and her aunt, so we have included them here. We apologize for the delay in publishing these letters—we felt it would be more appropriate shared closer to one of the commemorative dates associated with his life.
Letter to the Editor:
I am enclosing a letter that my aunt—Annette Tashjian, who now lives in a suburb of Cleveland, Ohio—wrote several years ago. I just recently found it packed away with other saved memories. I had sent my aunt a photo of Soghomon Tehlirian that I had seen posted in the Weekly because I knew how proud she was of being Soghomon’s godchild. She sent me this letter/essay shortly afterward, and I made copies of it for myself. My aunt is a widow and is now 94-years-old and lives in an assisted living facility in North Royalton, Ohio. Friends bring her copies of the Weekly to read. I asked her permission to submit her letter to the Weekly, with the photo of Soghomon for publication. She said she would be honored to have it published and treasures the photo she has of him that was given to her by her parents. She always tells anyone—and everyone!—that Soghomon was her godfather and describes how this honor was bestowed upon her so many years ago!
I can’t remember when she wrote the enclosed letter/essay, but I know it had to be at least 10 years ago or probably even more… I’m not sure if she even remembers when she wrote it. Although she now has numerous ailments, her mind is still sharp. She reads constantly, and loves talking about the “old days” to family and friends. I try to talk with her at least a couple days a week, and I send her books, e-mails or articles we find on topics I know that would interest her—Armenian and non-Armenian topics! She also reads the Cleveland Plain Dealer daily. She has no children, but our family, including my brother and my cousins and the many other Armenian and non-Armenian friends she has in Cleveland, make sure she is well taken care of and has all she needs.
By the way, my aunt loved our good friend Tom Vartabedian and his wife. Tom visited with my aunt many times when she was in Massachusetts visiting me and my family! Tom and my aunt became great friends here, and when she traveled back to Cleveland, she wrote many letters to him and received letters from him in return. While she was here, he showed her slides of his trips to Armenia. She was honored to have his friendship and loved to hear his stories. I wish I had found this letter from my aunt earlier, before Tom passed away… He would have loved it.
Explanation Behind the Photo:
This photo is an unforgettable part of my life.
From the time I was a child, I remember my parents, Alexander and Elizabeth Eminian, telling people I was Soghomon Tehlirian’s godchild. The people would hug me, pinch my cheeks, and kiss me.
I never realized, though, until I was old enough to understand, how honored they were, and how honored I should be. I was born on October 14,1923 in Cleveland, Ohio. My parents had a large home, and it became a “hotel” for transient and visiting Armenians. My parents were preparing for my baptism when Soghomon Tehlirian came to Cleveland.
When he learned that I was to be baptized, he said, “I would be honored to be her godfather, and I would be doubly honored if you named your child Anahid after my fiancée.” Needless to say, my parents and relatives were thrilled.
Soghomon’s fiancée Anahid lived in France and was called “Annette” there. That is how I got my name.
I never had the honor of seeing my godfather again, but this photo of Soghomon and Anahid is a treasure.
Annette Eminian Tashjian