Art, architecture, history, travel



Iron Curtain: eiserne Vorhang

Iron Curtain: eiserne Vorhang

1977 Supreme Soviet of the USSR declare the dictatorship of the proletariat fulfilled

University of Regensburg 1965

University of Regensburg 1965

Is Putin trying to revive the failed Soviet Union?images imgres imgresI was still in divided Germany in 1977 for the sixtieth anniversary of the Great October Socialist Revolution. Regensburg was less than an hour by car from the Czech border and the Iron Curtain. The outcome of the Cold War was far from clear.

How many more anniversaries would there be after that?
I could listen to their propaganda on my shortwave radio.
The Berlin wall crashes just twelve years later in 1989.

Boris Kustodiev and Nicholas Roerich



Billy Liar

Billy Liar

Billy Liar (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Lindley Players present Billy

This West end play, I first saw in London in 1974 continues to enjoy popularity especially as a new generation of boomerang kids finds itself trapped at home. Billy is a sort of  Walter Mitty character with two fiancées and a rather vivid imagination. Here is a review as well as some original ARTWORK. The 1963 movie stared Tom Courtenay and Julie Christie.

A Musical based on ‘Billy Liar’ by Keith Waterhouse and Willie Hall. Book by  Dick Clement and Ian La Francis, Music by John Barry, Lyrics by Don Black. This amateur production is presented by arrangement with Josef Weinberger Ltd

This riotous musical comedy, based on Keith Waterhouse’s all-time classic play ‘Billy Liar’, is bound to have you splitting your sides with laughter and tapping your toes to its tunes this summer.

Set against the grim background of 1960s Yorkshire life, it tells of the dreams and lies of Billy as he seeks to escape his humdrum job, his overbearing family and his two fiancées in the search for the bright lights of London in the believe that some of us ‘belong to the stars’


Billy (musical)

Billy (musical) (Photo credit: Wikiublished: 2005/05/03 13:24:35 GMT

BILLY (Sony Music)

Like My Sister Eileen and Auntie Mame, Billy Liar is one of those properties that has succeeded in multiple incarnations. The story of a young undertaker’s assistant who escapes his dreary Yorkshire existence through elaborate daydreams, Billy Liar was first a 1959 novel by Keith Waterhouse. The following year, it became a well-received West End play by Waterhouse and Willis Hall, originally starring Albert Finney, who was succeeded by Tom Courtenay. . . .

The lyrics were by Don Black (Bombay Dreams, Dracula, Aspects of Love, Song and Dance, Sunset Boulevard), the music by John Barry, who had already composed the scores for the London musical Passion Flower Hotel and the American road-closer Lolita, My Love. Barry was the winner of several Oscars for his work in films; he and Black had collaborated on the Academy Award-winning song “Born Free” and on the title song for Thunderball, one of several James Bond films Barry scored. In 1982, Barry and Black would reunite to write the score for one more musical, Broadway’s The Little Prince and the Aviator, which closed in previews.

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Billy was a brassy, Broadway-style musical, and it took advantage of the services of top-notch American choreographer Onna White. But its trump card was its star, Michael Crawford, who had done the film versions of A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum and Hello, Dolly! but was making his musical stage debut. At the time of Billy, Crawford was a household name owing to his role on a recent BBC TV comedy series, “Some Mothers Do ‘Ave ‘Em.”

Circle Triangle square after Kandinsky by Ted Gast
Loaves and Fishes Original Artwork by Ted Gast

1986 So this is what happened 1/4

Español: escritor argentino jorge luis borges

Español: escritor argentino jorge luis borges (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Satellite image of the falls

Satellite image of the falls (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Katie and I decided to go to South

America. We had just bought our house on Berry Avenue in Cincinnati. It was 1986.

Katie’s dad Mr. Finn was scared he didn’t want us to go. He came over to the house to take us to the airport but really he wanted to talk us out of it. He couldn’t talk us out of it so he took us to the Cincinnati airport, which is in in Kentucky CVG.
Then we got on the plane and flew  to Buenos Aires in Argentina EZE. I’m sure we didn’t fly direct. Stopped in Brazil had a free coffee in the airport, Rio GIG I think. We had this big game with us called He-man space mountain it was for Fracisco Arrenetta. Katie carried that thing all over SA until we got  Peru. It was for the Arrenettas who lived in Peru. We left the airport on the bus and went to the hotel. It was beautiful. The highway was modern and just like any highway in the United States.
The hotel was great. It was a residence hotel on Maipu and it turned out Jorge Luis Borges, the famous blind Argentina poet lived there. Although he lived there we never met him. He died soon after that. I was a nice old style hotel with a beautiful lobby.
We had dinner one night at a wonderful restaurant called El Palacio de la Papa Frita, the french fry palace, with red wine a sparkling mineral water mixed together white table cloths and  a huge steak called baby beef. It was very crowded and busy but the waiters  did a great job. When we got to Peru, Pancho told us he had heard of it and had eaten there too. He even knew about the baby beef.
Florida avenue in the Retiro district beautiful pedestrian shopping street with lots of nice furniture and antique stores and  cafes and bars. Lavalle street and the plaza de Mayo are also main sights.We got a tour of the beautiful Teatro Colon Opera house by and opera student. Maybe not as well known as the one in Manaus in Brazil, but I’m sure the operas are better these days. The one in the Herzog movie Fitzcarraldo starring Klaus Kinski. We sort of did our own walking tour. The pink house or Casa Rosada, the white house of Argentina is pink. It felt very much like Europe especially Italy which I also like very much. Argentina is beautiful and the people are very sophisticated and fashion conscious.
My friend Beatriz, who worked for Procter & Gamble in Cincinnati had been helping us with our Spanish before we Left. She said now Ted just stop at any pub and ask for dos cervesas, por favor that means two beers please. Well the first time we tried it the waiter looked at me and replied dos cervesas o una grande, which means two or one big one? We couldn’t stop laughing. We hadn’t thought of that one. Beatriz would later return to to Peru and be elected Prime Minister the first female PM of any Latin American Country. That night we went to a fancy restaurant, nightclub, milonga and tango. Katie had been working hard so she had gotten a$100 bonus award. We tried to spend it all but it was impossible even with dinner, champagne, nightclub tango, milonga and taxi tour including la boca barrio. I think we spent about half or $54.Image In the 70’s Argentina had been known for wild inflation, death squads and the Dirty war when tens of thousands of people just disapeared.
I’ll never forget I was in Spain when the infamous Argentine dictator Juan Peron died. We saw it in all of the newspapers.
Then we took a plane to Iguazu falls IGR and back to Brazil and an over night stay in Paraguay, Ciudad del Este not Asunción the capital. I had to buy the plane tickets at the airport using my Spanish.  Bought them the day before and then came back just to be sure there was space. It is a very popular place I think it was a Tuesday It was a small plane with the old stairs no jet way and the cockpit door was open the whole flight. Many people had never flown before so they just got up and started talking to the pilot, pre 911 of course.
The Iguazu falls straddle the border of Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay. It’s a triple border. It is one of the most amazing places I have been in my life and I have been to some amazing places. Three times the volume of Niagara Falls. In Brazil they speak Portuguese of course and the Falls are know as the Cataratas de Iguacu.
From Puerto IguazuImagewe missed our bus to the falls. We should have just followed the crowd. You must see the falls from both the Argentine and Brazilian side. The views are quite different, although I now understand Brazil now charges Americans $150 for a
visa. Back then you could just cross back and forth across the border as many time as you wanted. The    view from Argentina is up close. The view from Brazil gives a better perspective of the immensity of the falls.
Misiones province We took a cab across the friendship bridge from Foz de Iguacu, Brazil to Puerto Presidente Stroessner now Ciudad del Este. Named for the cruel dictator who had ruled this land locked South American country with an iron fist since WWII(1954). Foz de Iguacu will play host to part of the ESPN Summer X Games in 2013.
ImageThat night we met a charming guy with Scotch whisky and a pick up date at a cool hotel with an outdoor restaurant and colored lights. It reminded me of Christmas even though it was August.
There was an outdoor  market and Katie bought a purse. Katie said, I never even knew Paraguay was a place and all of a sudden I was there. When we got back to Cincinnati Mr. Finn was sure I meant Uruguay but that was one place we hadn’t been, yet. I would love to take the hydrofoil from BA to Montevideo some day like in the movie Gilda with Rita Hayworth.

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Our plane to Peru LIM had mechanical trouble and was delayed one full day. That’s the way they do it in SA no planes today, come back tomorrow. Lufthansa flew over the  Andes and with a stop in Santiago SCL those mountains are so high it seemed the plane had just enough altitude to make it over them.

London:A Toby Jug for myself 1974

May Day Parade 1957. Left to right Georgy Zhuk...

May Day Parade 1957. Left to right Georgy Zhukov, Nikita Khrushchev, Nikolai Bulganin, Kaganovich, Georgy Malenkov, Vyacheslav Molotov and Anastas Mikoyan (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

7/29 Monday London

Last day in London. I got up early today to get David a present. I think I have something for everyone now. I got a nice porcelain vase for my grandmother.

Finally found a Toby jug for myself. Harrods didn’t have any. Can you believe it?? After that I came back and went to a pub with Cindy to use the rest of my luncheon vouchers.

Flew back to Chicago on TIA, then back to St. Louis by bus. The longest bus ride of my life. I’m so excited. What a great trip! I had a great time and have so many new friends now. I can’t wait to tell my friends about it.

A week after I got home Richard Nixon resigned. August 1974.

FINIS! End of Post

Nikita Sergeyevich Khrushchev was born in 1894 to an illiterate peasant family in Kalinovka, a village near Russia’s border with Ukraine. To supplement his family’s meager income he began working at an early age, but despite this, and despite his father’s second job as a coal miner, Khrushchev’s family was unable to survive as farmers. In 1908 they moved to an industrial center in Ukraine, where young Nikita began working in a factory. It was the beginning of his activist career: at the age of 18, Khrushchev joined a group of workers who had organized a strike protesting working conditions. He was fired.

Khrushchev found another job but continued his activism, helping to organize strikes in 1915 and 1916. In 1917, after the Russian Revolution had ousted the Czar, Khrushchev joined the Bolshevik forces of the Red Army in the Russian civil war, serving as a political commissar. He was now a dedicated communist.

After the war, Khrushchev was given a series of political assignments and received his first formal training in Marxism at a Technical College. After graduation he was appointed to a political post in Ukraine, where Lazar Kaganovich, a protege of Joseph Stalin, was head of the Communist Party. Khrushchev joined Kaganovich in supporting Stalin in his power struggles against Leon Trotsky and Nikolai Bukharin. With Stalin’s success, Khrushchev’s career soared. In the 1930s Khrushchev was promoted from one political position to the next, until finally, in 1935, he became second in command of the Moscow Communist Party. In Moscow, Khrushchev oversaw construction of much of Moscow’s subway system, and in 1939 he became a full member of the Politburo.

Khrushchev’s rise to power coincided with one of the darkest periods in Soviet history: the Great Terror. During the 1930s, Stalin began a series of bloody purges to consolidate his power. The terror spread throughout the Soviet Union, and Khrushchev was part of it, denouncing several fellow students and workers as “enemies of the people” and willingly taking part in the extermination of the Ukrainian intelligentsia.

By the time Nazi Germany invaded the Soviet Union in 1941, Khrushchev had been sent to head the Communist Party in Ukraine, which put him near the front lines. He saw the devastation of war first-hand as the Germans routed the Red Army, then again as the Soviets turned back the Nazi advance.

After the war, Khrushchev was called back to Moscow, where he soon became one of Stalin’s top advisers. When Stalin died in 1953, Khrushchev and Nikolai Bulganin won a power struggle against Stalin’s successor, Georgi Malenkov, and secret police chief Lavrenti Beria. Beria was executed, and Malenkov was forced to resign. Bulganin became premier, but Khrushchev, in charge of the Communist Party, soon became the dominant figure.

Khrushchev’s leadership marked a crucial transition for the Soviet Union. From the beginning, Khrushchev set out to make the Soviet system more effective by curbing Stalin’s worst excesses. In an historic speech to the 20th Party Congress in 1956, he attacked Stalin for his crimes — acknowledging what many people believed, but which no Soviet leader had ever dared mention. What Khrushchev dared not mention was his own complicity in those crimes.

Khrushchev’s advocacy of reforms contributed to a groundswell of independence movements among Soviet satellite nations in Eastern Europe. While promoting change, Khrushchev would not tolerate dissent: he supported sending tanks into Budapest in 1956 to brutally suppress a Hungarian rebellion. The Iron Curtain remained in place.

In relations with the West, Khrushchev’s tenure was marked by a series of high-stakes crises: the U-2 affair, the building of the Berlin Wall, and the Cuban Missile crisis. At the same time, he was the first Soviet leader to advocate “peaceful coexistence” with the West, and to negotiate with the United States on reducing Cold War tensions.

By 1964, his reforms had alienated too many powerful Soviet constituencies. A group of conservatives led by Leonid Brezhnev ousted Khrushchev, and he retired to a dacha in rural Russia, where he died in 1971.

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Bairisch als Sprachbezeichnung bezeichnet den oberdeutschen Dialekt, der in Ober- und Niederbayern, der Oberpfalz, in Österreich (Ausnahme Vorarlberg) und Südtirol heimisch ist. Im heutigen Bayern gibt es daneben noch das Schwäbische, das Ostfränkische, das Rheinfränkische und das Thüringische. Bairisch war einer der Hauptdialekte im späten 8. Jh. Bei den sprachlichen Merkmalen fällt auf, daß die zweite Lautverschiebung im Bairischen besonders konsequent vollzogen worden ist.


Bavarian, as a language designation denotes the upper German dialect, which is spoken native in Upper and Lower Bavaria, the Oberpfalz,  Austria (with the exception of the Vorarlberg) and South Tirol (Northern Italy). In  Bavaria of today, there also exist the dialects of Swabian, East Frankish, Rhine Frankish and Thuringian. Bavarian was one of the main German dialects of the late eighth century.  What is notable, linguistically is that the second sound shift is particularly consistent in Bavarian.

Simply stated, the Bavarian dialect is not spoken exclusively in the German Land/state of Bavaria, where other dialects are also spoken, but also in other countries such as Austria, Slovenia and N Italy. (trans. tcg)

Does London remind anyone of Italy, 1974? 1974

7/27 Saturday London

Rome Piazza Navonna

Walked down Oxford Street today and then went to Harrod’s. I like going out by myself because I can do what I want. When I meet someone from the group I can stay with them awhile but I don’t feel obligated to stay with them. Harrod’s is really a fantastic place. I still can’t figure out its shape, but I think it’s square. When I ask people on the street where to get things, they name a few shops and then say “Try Harrod’s. It has everything.”

Went to Fortnum and Mason. What a fantastic store!

Men in morning suits assist people with their shopping. It’s really cute. The crowds are similar to those at Via Veneto, but not really. Anyone can walk along Via Veneto and window shop. Not everyone can or would come to Fortnum and Mason. People on Via Veneto are well dressed (those who buy), but in a different way. Some people send their butlers to Fortnum and Mason. No one would do that on VV. The FM crowd is more quaint the people are older and there are more women. Also, FM isn’t as crowed as VV.

The Kremlin Moscow

VV sells more clothes and other things than FM. FM is most famous for its food hall. Personally I like Fortnum and Mason better than the Via Veneto.

English: The Clock striking One at Fortnum and...

English: The Clock striking One at Fortnum and Mason (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I really liked Billy, the musical we saw. I thought I wouldn’t after seeing the pictures on the marquis. After the play Ann, Lisa and I went to Trafalgar Square and had a riot with the pigeons. I took a little boy’s picture and he thanked me in a cute way. When his sister told him people swam in the fountain on New Year’s Eve; he wanted to swim right away. I helped another boy fish tins out of the water.

The crowds at Trafalgar are different from those at Piccadilly. There are more English at Trafalgar and people of all ages. There are many more young people at Piccadilly. Many families come to Trafalgar. There are more typically English at Trafalgar and more children. From the above stories, I’ve decided people are friendlier at Trafalgar. I had no experiences with kids at Piccadilly. Nevertheless, this doesn’t mean I don’t like Piccadilly. Piccadilly is more a night place. I was there during the day and it’s really different; nothing happens. We saw no student hangouts or squares in Moscow, or places where people really hang out, but then Red Square was closed.

The Kremlin seemed really empty, despite the long line everywhere in Russia I wouldn’t call a museum, store, etc. a hangout. Those people were there for a different reason. The Piazza Navona is similar to Trafalgar. There were lots of kids there too, but not with their families. There was a street soccer game. There were old people too, but there were fewer people at the Piazza Navona than a Trafalgar.

Kremlin and Piazza Navona

For Dinner we ate at a Chinese restaurant. I had roast duck that was really good. I tried the girls’ food too: Sweet and sour pork and curry chicken, which was also good. I also had Chinese tea, strange but good. After dinner the girls left and I went to Piccadilly. I saw a building on fire and watched that for awhile.

From what I’ve seen and heard people say, England (at least London) is a lot like the U. S, besides having a common language and history we share many of the same problems: Inflation, housing, pollution, and energy. From signs in the tube it looks like they’re having trouble with mass transit (not enough employees). On top of it all they have Ireland, a sore thumb like Watergate that no one really understands or can explain. Maybe there were the same similarities in other countries, but because of the language barrier I didn’t notice them (not being able to communicate with ordinary people or read signs or newspapers).

7/28 Sunday London

Cheri Queen of the Tootses

Sunday a day to relax. My first day of breakfast since Moscow. I had Corn Flakes. Was it good! Went to Hyde Park with Cheri ‘queen of tootses (toots (toots) pronunciation like took n. Slang. Babe; sweetie. Girl or young woman) , Kim, Susie, Lisa, David and me. Made a hilarious pose with a statue (wait till you see the pictures). Went for a rowboat ride and had a ball. My first time in a rowboat. Ate lunch in the park. Went to speaker’s corner. Located on the corner of Park Lane and Cumberland Gate, opposite Marble Arch tube, Speakers’ Corner is the spiritual home of the British democratic tradition of soapbox oratory.

Every Sunday since the right of free assembly was recognised in 1872, people from all walks of life have gathered to listen to speeches about anything and everything… and to heckle.

The coherence of the speakers varies greatly as do the topics of discussion, but as a whole it makes for great street theatre. So, if you have a burning desire to share your opinions with the world, take something to stand on and start pontificating.

Although Sunday morning is the best time to visit, speakers can now be found on the corner throughout the week.

What are you waiting for?

We saw communists and socialists, but the most interesting was the anti-American. We had just been in the Soviet Union so we had lots to say.

We had fun defending America against him, along with other people. One of his points was that America didn’t send enough aid to countries like Greece, Chile and Bangladesh. Then he contradicted himself by saying we were involved where we shouldn’t be. He said we had no business in other countries like Vietnam. Basically, when we weren’t involved we should have been and when we were we shouldn’t be. Despite what he had to say, the fun was in arguing with him. Even though, I didn’t agree with him, it’s good he had a chance to say it. Some of his speech was sarcastic and funny.
He said he was a CIA agent sent to start revolutions and wars in other countries. When he started attacking Blacks a Black man came over from another soapbox and they started arguing. It was hilarious.

After speaker’s corner I looked at the artwork on the railings and ran into Mr. Cordell. I bought a beautiful acid etching of the Tower Bridge.

For dinner we went to Oliver’s. I went on the metro and passed right by it. The food was good and I liked the dessert, especially. I think Susie had a good time for her birthday. After dinner Kent, Phil and I went out to a Pub and had two pints of beer apiece. We talked and listened to people and watched two dogs playing in the pub, one was a cute bulldog. When we got back we all had to go to the John so bad it was funny.


Moscow Novodevichy Convent Part 18/27

English: Russian alphabet

English: Russian alphabet (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Map of the Volga watershed with the Moskva hig...

Map of the Volga watershed with the Moskva highlighted; the two rivers are directly connected by the Moscow Canal. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Louise Fletcher as Nurse Ratched in the 1975 film.

Louise Fletcher as Nurse Ratched in the 1975 film. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

English: took using mobile phone on 7 Septembe...

English: took using mobile phone on 7 September, 2008, in Moscow. River Moskva with Novodevichy Convent in the distance. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Repin, 2004.06.21, Helsinki

Repin, 2004.06.21, Helsinki (Photo credit: Kitruk)

7/17 Wednesday Moscow

This morning we went to a Kindergarten it was fun.  The kids looked scared at first but when we left they were friendlier.  They played the cutest games.  A woman explained the way they indoctrinate the kids. (I was amazed as the woman claimed these kids would be brought up by the state, with practically no need for parents, who are busy working.) Alla said that most people accept things without thinking about them.  I guess that’s what they do to the kids.  Everything is ordered.  At the Kindergarten they even have a set method to teach the kids how to count.  I wonder what these kids will be like when they are grown up in 1984, hah-hah.  I was sorry we didn’t have more to give them.  The one matron reminded me of big nurse Ratched  in One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest.  Every time the inspector came they put on an act for him. We saw a kid with a bloody nose.  They said he had been playing with the chickens.  I bet that kid with the bloody nose wasn’t playing with the chickens.  I didn’t even see any chickens.  They could at least have washed his bloody face. In the afternoon we went to the Tretyakov Museum.  I liked many of the paintings, but the icons did not impress me.  Many of the landscapes looked almost real. Ivan Kramskoy Christ in the WildernessMoscow Novodevichy Convent Khrushchev new grave and tombstone There was an interesting portrait of Christ’s return from the dessert Alexander Ivanov  although the commentary was biased also liked the Death of Ivan the Terrible’s Son by Repin. Nikolay Gay. Peter the Great Interrogating the Tsarevich  The pictures with political themes were the best. In the evening we took a boat ride on the Moscow River.  It was nice  to see some of the buildings, but the most interesting part was my discussion with the man from Poland.  First he helped us pronounce Aeroflot and then the  Russian alphabet. Then I discovered he did not speak Russian or English only Polish and German. After that I had a very nice discussion with him.  I guess I didn’t realize until this time that Polish was a separate language.  I have been having interesting conversations with Alla and Roger, sometimes.

Yes, there is more 1974

hours, Industrial Instruments and Equipment      DISTRICT REPRESENTATIVE

7/15 1974 Monday

Today we take a plane to Moscow. Domodedovo Airport   July, 1974

This is the first time on the trip I can say I’m actually excited about going somewhere on the trip. It wouldn’t matter how bad things are in Russia; I’m looking forward to the experience. I don’t know why but I have a feeling I got gypped in Austria, both on money and sightseeing. The flight to Moscow was bumpy but the service was the best so far (Austrian Air). I talked to the man sitting next to me in English and German. He laughed when I asked him if Red Square was closed. If there were any KGB men on the plane I would swear one of them was the man sitting next to me. I t was a long ride from the airport to the Hotel Sputnik, built in 1967. It is managed by the agency for Russian and eastern bloc tourists and students, not Intourist, which caters to westerners. It is near the exhibition of economic achievements VDNKh and Mukhina’s Worker and Farmer monument statue from the 1937 Paris and 1967 Montreal worlds fair is visible form our metro stop. So is the Soviet space memorial

Saint Louis Arch

Reminiscent of the St. Louis arch, just nine years old. Everyone bitched when we got to our rooms, but I didn’t think they were so bad. I just kept thinking if the Russians lived any better. Someone said we had horsemeat for dinner. If we did it was not that bad. I’ve decided that I won’t bitch about the food. If it gets to be really bad I just won’t eat it, but I don’t think it will be too bad. The thing I’ll miss most is water. I couldn’t resist. I drank some from the tap. I hope I don’t die. The guys that were already here told us all kinds of stories about how bad things are but I don’t believe them. I’ve already been approached by some black marketers, some of them are quite strange. I’m having fun with the language. I had fun talking to the receptionist, it tool me five minutes to tell her I wanted to go for a walk. She kept telling me that the restaurant was closed. When I asked her if I needed my passport she told me that it wasn’t her job but at block B they would know, so I assumed that meant no. I know she never understood me. I hope I’ll be able to get around here.

7/16 Tuesday

VDNKh was one of the first places we visited. We saw a famous gold fountain depicting each of the Soviet republics. Had a long discussion about whether they are truly free to secede from the Soviet Union, not likely any time soon. I’m beginning to understand what is meant by red tape; we have to wait for everything. Too bad the Russians didn’t learn from the Germans, who imported granite for a statue commemorating the victory at Moscow, before they had won. The line for food is ridiculous.

I’m really interested in finding out how the Russian people live. Today I talked to Alla, our Russian guide about schools. I’m having fun trying to communicate. Sometimes I am shocked at how rude some of the Americans are to the Russians. I’ve really begun to appreciate the classes we had before leaving, except that they made me so afraid to eat the food here. I remember what a hassle it was to fill out the Soviet visa. We had to make three copies with no mistakes or start over. They gave Susie such a hard time because she still has relatives here. The whole thing made Edie very nervous. Mr. Cordell caught a man trying to walk off with his suitcase and all of our passports. This is making him very anxious to leave Moscow.

The big movie in Moscow now is MacKenna’s Gold with Gregory Peck, Julie Newmar and Omar Sharif.

What a loser! I don’t think I ever saw it. They made such a big deal about it though to show proof of the lack of censorship, that they get to show Western Movies. Cowboys and Indians is that really what they think of the United States.

Many of the Russians are afraid of Americans, many will not smile but some smile and try to be friendly, especially the black marketers.

I had an interesting experience with a black marketer who I call Charlie. When I came to my room from lunch Charlie, dressed in American clothes, asked me in perfect English if I was from Missouri too. Since I had met another Missouri group in the lobby I said yes. Charlie followed me into the room and locked the door, which I quickly unlocked. Then he sat on David’s bed and started offering us Commie flags and belts, all cheap junk. He wanted to trade for clothes, especially pajamas. Then he wanted gum, but more than anything he wanted records. I told him that Barry had some records and to ask him. After David had given Charlie the fictitious Barry’s room we all ran down stairs. What an experience!

The opera tonight was fun but I wouldn’t go back too soon. Boris Godunov at the modern State Kremlin Palace.

It was fun making up my own endings. Some of the food they had there was delicious. Champagne, caviar and other things. I still hope we get to go to the circus. There are many things I want to do on this trip that I would not do at home, just for the experience.

7/17 Wednesday

This morning we went to a Kindergarten it was fun. The kids looked scared at first but when we left they were friendlier. They played the cutest games. A woman explained the way they indoctrinate the kids. (I was amazed as the woman claimed these kids would be brought up by the state, with practically no need for parents, who are busy working.) Alla said that most people accept things without thinking about them. I guess that’s what they do to the kids. Everything is ordered. At the Kindergarten they even have a set method to teach the kids how to count. I wonder what these kids will be like when they are grown up in 1984, hah-hah. I was sorry we didn’t have more to give them. The one matron reminded me of big nurse Ratched in One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest. Every time the inspector came they put on an act for him. We saw a kid with a bloody nose. They said he had been playing with the chickens. I bet that kid with the bloody nose wasn’t playing with the chickens. I didn’t even see any chickens. They could at least have washed his bloody face.

In the afternoon we went to the Tretyakov Museum. I liked many of the paintings, but the icons did not impress me. Many of the landscapes looked almost real. Ivan Kramskoy Christ in the Wilderness. There was an interesting portrait of Christ’s return from the dessert Alexander Ivanov although the commentary was biased also liked the Death of Ivan the Terrible’s Son by Repin. Nikolay Gay.Peter the Great Interrogating the Tsarevich

The pictures with political themes were the best.

In the evening we took a boat ride on the Moscow River. It was nice to see some of the buildings, but the most interesting part was my discussion with the man from Poland. First he helped us pronounce Aeroflot and then the Russian alphabet. Then I discovered he did not speak Russian or English only Polish and German. After that I had a very nice discussion with him. I guess I didn’t realize until this time that Polish was a separate language. I have been having interesting conversations with Alla and Roger, sometimes.

7/18 Thursday

Today at breakfast I met a man from Baghdad. He is working on secret project in Russia. I think he is an engineer. I didn’t even know Baghdad was a real place people were from. It was an epiphany moment for me. He gave me a post card and wrote on it in Arabic. Baghdad is just about due south of Moscow. Iraq is a client state of the USSR.

Red Square

The old convent museum was a beautiful building.

The Orthodox Church service at Novodevichy Convent made me so sad. I’m afraid I offended some women, by not knowing the rules in the church. Such as standing with both feet together and keeping my hands at my sides. I would have lit a candle but they might have misunderstood. It was so sad to see the old women bending on their knees. It appears that only old women remain in the church. I didn’t see many men. The treasures in the convent are beautiful. I guess I am more impressed by a whole wall decorated with icons than just one, because I didn’t like the ones at the Tretyakov. We were one of the first people to see the newly unveiled tombstone of Nikita Khrushchev.

The party for us tonight was fantastic. I finally got the feeling that the Russians were trying to do something nice for us. I got to talk to more Russians. One in German. One man was a member of the party, one a worker, and one I don’t know what he did. But more about them later. The Lenin Library was also interesting and I also enjoyed the collection of rare books. I’m glad that I’ve had opportunities to talk to Russians. I’m glad they took us to the tomb of the Unknown Soldier in the Kremlin. I wanted to see it and would have made an extra trip. Our hosts were at the Lenin library the equivalent of the Library of Congress. We met some important people and were even on Russian t. v. They even gave us a book, OTETSCHESVO (Fatherland) to take back to our school. One of the men had been a translator in Washington for the Brezhnev summit at Camp David in 1973. He gave me a key chain. President Nixon had been in Moscow just this month to sign a historic document with Brezhnev and the USSR.

7/19 Friday

Monument to Labour and Agriculture

A free day at last!

Walked around downtown and ran into some people from our group at the hotel Rossiya.(torn down in 2006 at on time the largest hotel in the world) Had lunch there. It was more of a Buffet, just sausage and cheese. Is this really the best food Moscow has to offer? St. Basil’s was fascinating. I wanted to see it very much. The cupolas really have an order to them; they look like a hodgepodge from outside.




Plan view of St. Basil (dia. by author TCG)

The icons inside were beautiful. Next I went to the Pushkin and saw the Mona Lisa.

I really didn’t want to, but now I can say I’ve seen it. I thought I really didn’t come to Moscow to wait in line two and a half hours. I’m sure I’ll get to see it some other time. It was fantastic. I just could make people understand what I wanted to do. The Mona Lisa was on special exhibit in Moscow, New York and Tokyo. The first time it had left the Louvre in almost a hundred years.

Many of the other galleries in the Pushkin were closed, like the Picasso, el Greco, Rembrandt and others. There were many copies of Michelangelo statues (David, Moses, Pieta, Day and Night). There were even copies of unfinished works (the prisoner, standing pieta). The David was top heavy and had to be screwed to the wall. A real testimonial to Michelangelo’s genius.

7/20 Saturday

Today I set out on an adventure of my own. The Moscow subway is beautiful. People have been very helpful helping me get around by myself on the subway. The Moscow Zoo. I’m dying to see the pandas. Saw a lot of animals including tigers. I was very disappointed to find out that the pandas are dead. The Moscow zoo is one of the finest in the world. I also saw many children there. It was crowded.

Took the night train for Leningrad. Moscow Leningradski [daily 23.30] – St Petersburg Moskovski [7.05]. Total time: 7h55m.  Arrived at Moskovski Station.

7/21 Sunday

Leningrad looks a lot nicer than Moscow. At night during the Summer they raise the many brides over the Neva. If you stay out late and are on the wrong side of the bridge it can be very expensive to get back to your hotel. However I’m dying for a drink—of water that is. This is the first city in which I can’t wait to leave. I got that feeling a lunch, but I hope that changes. Being sick doesn’t help my attitude either. I hope I don’t offend to many people but I think I’m turning mean. We are staying at “Druzhba” (“Friendship”) Hotel. It is on sic Vyborg Island (actually it was Krestovsky Island) in the gulf of Finland. I’m rooming with David. They gave us a suite, because they said blacks are oppressed in the United States and David is black.

The tour of Leningrad was much better than that of Moscow. Alla seemed to know a lot more, or at least told us more than the other guide. I once did a project of Russia, which involved the revolution. I’m glad I can see some of the things I read about. like the Aurora, winter and summer palaces Finland station and other places. I don’t see why a Czar would have a winter and summer palace in the same city. I also can’t see a Czar spending the winter in a cold place like Leningrad. The ballet tonight, Swan Lake was good but I don’t like ballet. It seemed that we went to a tourist place the titles were given in English. In addition, half the performance was taped, not live. Nevertheless, I still had a good time although I didn’t like the ballet. I hope I can find some water to drink soon.

The PISKARIOVSKOYE MEMORIAL CEMETERY is dedicated to the men who died during the siege of Leningrad.There are mass graves androw after row of them, two million in all. The statue is dedicated to Mother Russia; she looks out over all her sons who died in the war. They also have their own Trevi fountain in the cemetery. It works the same way. You through a coin over your shoulder and you are guaranteed to return.

Mother Russia

Leningrad was originally named St. Petersburg, it was changed to Petrograd during WWI, and after Lenin’s death changed to Leningrad. Peter the Great founded Leningrad on May 16, 1703. The city was built in order to help Russia hold the land it had won from the Swedes. Peter wanted Russia to have a sea outlet so he fought the Swedes, won. Took some land, and built a city on part of it. The first building was the Peter and Paul fortress, which soon came to be used as a political prison. Another early building was the Peter and Paul Cathedral. St. Petersburg was the capital of Russia until after the revolution, when it was moved to Moscow. For many years no stone buildings could be built anywhere but in Leningrad, during the Czars.

Peter and Paul Cathedral

7/22 Monday

I’m beginning to feel better about Leningrad now I want to stay. This morning we went to the Peter and Paul fortress and saw the prison, then we went to the cathedral. Many of the Czars are buried in this cathedral.

I’m afraid to write things because I don’t want my journal taken away, and I don’t want to get Alla in trouble but I have been having good discussions with her.

After lunch I went to St. Isaac’s the third largest cathedral in the world and waited to buy tickets. Just as I go to the window to buy tickets the office closed, What a gyp! Met a Russian student in line who was very eager to speak English to someone. He said he had never spoken to anyone before outside of his English class. He was a Marxist philosopher and wanted to know about American philosophy and other things, especially American music. He wanted to know the top singers and rock groups. He said a Beatles Abbey Road album costs about 110 rubles unofficially (black market) but that there was no way to get records. He told us the big hassle there is to leave Russia (even for a vacation). He wanted to show us the bad parts of Leningrad, but I didn’t go because I didn’t know if it would be safe. He did take us up and down the Nevsky Prospekt and to other places, though. The Nevsky Prospekt is the big shopping street of Leningrad. It is 4 kilometers long and has many shops including a Beryozka. It is similar to the Via Condoti and Via Veneto of Rome and of the main district in Madrid too, but it is much more crowded and the goods they sell aren’t as high-class. This guy took us to two Beryozka shops one on Nevsky which had high-class things—jewelry, watches, china and appliances. The other shop was in the Astoria. I liked it better. I bought a Russian lacquer box there and also a book of stamps. The people were really friendly. I met a girl there from Connecticut who handed me a piece of gum for a pin, as a joke. She was dying for news from the sates but I had been gone almost as long as she had. Wadum kept trying to spend his foreign currency there but they kept giving him other kinds. He gave them Marks, they gave him Francs, and finally they gave him 5 cents and a 6p stamp. We tried to get home on a bus. I have never seen a bus so crowded before in my life. I lost Wadum on the bus, because I couldn’t get off. When I finally got off, I asked a man for directions in German. He understood me. He walked all the way down to Nevsky Prospekt with me to the train station and made sure I got on the right train. This man had an interesting life. He was 70 years old and had lived in Leningrad for 50 years during WW I he was in Hungary and Rome. He learned German in school and I had a good time talking to him. After I got off the train I asked for directions again. I discovered that the young people would not help me only the older ones. I don’t know if this is because they’re afraid of strangers or Americans or just don’t know the city, but I doubt it.

Tonight I learned how to play a Yugoslavian card game from a Yugoslavian student and later went to a party in a guy’s room who was from Bulgaria. We had Havana rum and Bulgarian cigarettes. His name was Todor. I had and interesting experience as a translator. Going from English to, German to French to Russian to Bulgarian. He invited me back tomorrow for Russian Vodka and five Russian girls. (I nicknamed him Billy, I still corresponded with him while I was in college.)

7/23 Tuesday

This morning we went to the museum for the history of the revolution. After the tour we saw a propaganda film on the siege of Leningrad. The film was in English with a few Russian subtitles. They kept talking about the fearsome, fascist forces and other things. It was so obviously propaganda it was funny. After lunch we went to the Hermitage, winter palace. The palace is just beautiful. I especially like the use of gold everywhere. Saw two paintings of da Vinci and other famous artists, including Raphael, (copies, original in Uffizi). The Raphael collection was not very large. The throne room was fabulous, it’s hard to describe the splendor of the palace with sounding corny, but it is definitely the best on so far.

The map of Russia is just beautiful. It was added after the revolution and is made of stone and precious and semi precious gems. The sea is lapis lazuli, the green (part of land) is malachite, the route to the North Pole (by the first Russian) is set in diamonds, and a Ruby represents the capital of each Soviet Republic.

I made some very good trades outside the museum and finally got a package of those backwards Russian cigarettes.

After dinner we went to the circus, on the bus I talked to two Russian in Russian (not at the same time) or at least the talked to me.

One was nice but the way the second one kept smiling I think he was calling me names or something. The circus was fun and I made some more good trades. After the circus I went back to Todor’s and had a screwdriver made from Tang (with tap water) and Russian Vodka (I’m still living from the water and Vodka (at midnight I called Lisa; it was her birthday and she came up for a while. I also called Ann.

7/24 Wednesday

Went to the museum of Scientific Propaganda to see the technology of Russia, It was fun. Many of their newest products are already obsolete in the U. S. The thing that summed up Soviet progress the best was the leaky roof (Hahaha). After the museum Alla, R. C. and I stopped to buy a cake for Lisa. She was really surprised at lunch. I didn’t notice in the store but the cake had a treble clef on it and Lisa is a musician.

After lunch we went to the summer palace and I gave a tour on the way. We only saw the outside gardens but they were beautiful. I loved the guilt fountains. I saw some of the trick fountains, but would have liked to have seen more. I walked with Mr. Cordell for a while. On the hydrofoil back I talked to Alla again. This time about my being left-handed. She had never heard of it, or seen anyone left-handed before. I’d noticed other people staring at me too.( see:This is the Start of the big Orient Trip) You’d think in a commie country they’d want everyone on the left. After dinner I went up to the party for one last time. 270px-Finland_Station,_St._Petersburg,_RussiaOn the train from Leningrad Finland Station to Helsinki Helsingin päärautatieasema, I kissed all the girls good night. I also got their autographs on a deck of cards. (I still have that deck somewhere.) Lenin did that trip in reverse. The Germans sent him back to Russia from Switzerland in 1917 during WWI. It turned out, one of the biggest mistakes in history. Russian revolution.From there to London by way of Copenhagen. Al in all a 23 hour trip.