• Old Photos: Kansas City ROTC Ball 1945

    As a veteran of the Cold War from way back, I am always happy to congratulate the American Veterans with their day. Last year I wrote about Bert Berkley – a local Jewish Veteran and a Civic Leader. This year I hope you will enjoy a set of old photos taken at the ROTC ball in Kansas City in 1945.

    As always, if you recognize people and names in these photos, I’d be happy to hear from you. As unlikely as it sounds it had happened at least twice before. One of the images below is of Robert E. Arfsten – a long time owner of the Dime Store in Brookside.

    Teenager Joanne Warren, wearing a strapless evening gown, sitting at dressing table mirror making final adjustments before her date. ©Time Inc.Myron Davis

    Continue reading →

  • Old Photos: Art Conquers Attica, KS

    A recent post on Kansas Travel and my own visit to a gallery this week, where I was chastised by my daughter for not understanding art, reminded me that I had this set of photos from 1955 bookmarked for a long time.

    It’s no Paris, but a tiny Kansas farm town grows its own crop of painters.

    Up to now Attica, Kan., for all its classical name, could pass for any other tiny town in the wheatlands – a slowdown point on a rural highway leading to Wichita. But today traffic through Attica not only slows down but stops and looks. Encamped with palettes and drawing boards on the sidewalks, along the railroad, in the wheatfields are painters – singly or in bunches – recording the surroundings with the earnest concentration of Paris professionals. The painters are members of the Artists Guild of Attica, a burgeoning group that in course of three years had made the town of 622 people aware, curious and eager about art. Continue reading →

  • Old Photos: Lawrence Lions High School Football

    These photos were taken for the Novemebr 7, 1960 issue of the Life Magazine.

    High School Fevers at Football Time:

    On the tingling eve of the big high school football game, drama was being played out in thousands of U.S. cities and towns. Girl students swirl like autumn leaves as they lived and breathed their hopes and fears in high-pitched whispers. The biggest men in school, the football stars, brooded over their assignments and the hundreds of friends who were counting on them. Mass pep rallies in front of school or on practice fields built up the excitement. Coeds mooned over their heroes in class and the popular girls set their caps for coveted dates with the team’s star players.

    The tension of the adult world – even college football – seems tame beside the bubbling pressures of high school football. In Lawrence, Kan., a city of 33,000, the pressure is even greater for the Lawrence High Lions have the longest current winning streak in schoolboy football – 45 games. As Lawrence, on the weekend reported in these pictures, prepared for its big game against Shawnee-Mission North, the 1,100 students urged the ream on with usual fighting, go-get-‘em slogans. But the players themselves faced things a little differently from most. Booted in the strict religious environment of Kansas, they attend a prayer meeting and Bible discussion at a barn outside of town, where on of them wisecracked, “He who playeth hardest beateth Shawnee-Mission North.”

    © Time Inc.Grey Villet

    © Time Inc.Grey Villet

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  • Behind The Iron Curtain: Shortages

    In my recent post about shopping in the USSR the following photo and its caption raised some questions about the shortages:

    Cheese display with names and descriptions of various cheeses. In 1983 a display like this would’ve looked like an insulting joke.©Time, Carl Mydans

    I implied that by the time when I was growing up® no elaborate displays or advertisements were necessary, items appeared in stores sporadically and people swept them off the shelves. Even everyday groceries like bread and milk  frequently required standing in line. Any imported clothes, perfume, shoes, and even toys had the lines snaking out of the door and around the block. Supplies depended on the city; Moscow where the government was located and frequently visited by foreigners was known for its well stocked stores with items that were never seen elsewhere. People from surrounding areas were making long-distance shopping trips to Moscow to stock up on food and imported hard-to-find retail goods. Those who lived too far from Moscow had to either know someone in retail or pay black market prices.

    In the early 80’s standing in line was pretty much the norm of life. Once I was walking home from school in the 4th or 5th grade when I noticed a huge line to the kiosk selling mandarins. Mandarins were a rare find, available only in winter. I didn’t have any money with me so I got a spot in line and had a number scribbled on my hand to verify my place. Then I went home, got the money and was back before too long. By then the people were worried that the mandarins will run out and people in the back of the line would have to leave empty-handed. I showed my number and got back in line, although some people where not too happy that I came back. Even with me running home I still had to stand in line for several hours. Not sure if I wanted the mandarins so badly or just didn’t want to leave half-way to the end of the line. Somehow I remember this one night and tell this story often, and, of course, I am eating a mandarin as I type this.

    The reason I remember standing in line that night is that I wasn’t exposed to shopping very often. My parents did their share of waiting in lines or found other ways of getting stuff they needed like farmer’s market for foods which weren’t that cheap or black market for other things. Knowing someone in retail or grocery store was a goldmine. These people knew when the deliveries were scheduled and could hold on to an item for their friends, relatives and people who were willing to overpay. There was also barter going on, a retail employee would trade a favor with a doctor who could in turn try to find a rare medicine, or an auto mechanic who had access to hard-to-procure spare parts. Trading favors and black market led to some items never appearing in the front of the stores for general public, they were gone as soon as the delivery truck left the dock.

    And now for some photos. Unfortunately not too many people had a bright idea to photograph the lines and empty stores; in some cases it could be interpreted as some anti-Soviet activity. Many photos floating around the internet are taken from here and I found a few more elsewhere.

    Clothing store line.

    Stores usually closed for one hour lunch break. People are waiting for the store to open.

    Line in the produce store

    Line to buy shoes, probably imported. Soviet shoes were ugly, heavy and uncomfortable.

    Another line.

    People are looking at the meager selection at the meat store

    People in line always worried that the stuff will run out and the time will be wasted.

    People are forming a line in anticipation of delivery. Many times it never happened.

    If a delivery did occur, pushing and shoving was not uncommon. Sometimes there were fights but not very often.

    Another line


    Buy lingerie first then see if it fits.

    Not so fast food

    No comment

    Bread line

    Liquor store

    Empty shelves

    Liquor store inside view

    Unwanted items

    When people think socialism, they often have these images in mind, but in all truth this has nothing to do with socialism; this was the result of many years of corrupt power, terror, breeding out competition, trying to force rules and principles on people that were going against common sense and human nature. Labels applied to what was built in the USSR are irrelevant; was it communism, socialism or just a big lie – what difference does it make. The only thing that matters is learning something from this experience. Then the years the Soviet people spent standing in various lines would account for something.

    My kid gets annoyed when I walk out of a store or a restaurant when I see too many people waiting in line. I tell her that all the time in my life that was allocated for standing in lines has been used up already and I have little patience for waiting in one.

    And then I buy more mandarins.

  • Summer Cooking: Old Recipe Compilation

    Over the years I posted some easy recipes and now, when the City Market is brimming with fresh produce, is a good time to revisit a few of them. Some of the posts may look miss-formatted and Flickr stopped showing some of the photos when they took away their free photo hosting that used to come with the my internet service. If something is missing please let me know.

    Zucchini Caviar:

    Pickled Watermelon:

    Stuffed Bell Peppers:

    Eggplant Dip:

    Red Borscht:

    Green Borscht:

    Red and Green borscht recipes are vegetarian, and can be eaten refreshingly cold on a hot and sweaty day.

    Dill Pickles ( I have a fresh batch on my kitchen counter as I type this):

    Pickled Tomatoes:

    Roasted Bell Peppers with Garlic:

    Kompot (fruit drink):

    Eggplant salsa – caviar:

    Garlicky Eggplant Tomato Sandwiches:

    Marinated Leaf Lettuce:

    Pickled Jalapeños (new crop is coming in right now):

    And Honey-Marinated Bell Peppers :

    As always, these recipes may or may not be authentic, but that’s how I cook them so deal with it. I know of at least one person who tried a few of these and survived, and hope so will you.