…although I don’t know if Charlie Getty actually prayed on the field. Probably not.
A recent article on a forum based in the Russian city of Yaroslavl attracted my attention. It talks about a time capsule that was sealed in 1960 to be opened 50 years later during the 1,000th birthday of the city.
Some production notes: this will conclude my ground–breaking series on this subject. I received requests not to link self-respecting bloggers to posts of this nature, all I can say is some people don’t recognize greatness when they see it. I would also take requests for subjects you’d like me to cover in the future.
The last installment will just tie up some loose ends. Enough with crappy puns, we are moving on to the subject of:
The one thing that stands out about public restrooms is that there weren’t that many. There were few maintained by the city in the parks and other public places and that was it. Public restrooms were just as dirty, nasty and smelly as you would imagine. But so were every dark corner and every hallway in apartment buildings that couldn’t be locked. Citizens who did not exercise total control over their bladders and bowel movements found other ways to express themselves. The stench was legendary. The problem was made worse by the fact that there was no fast food or other public places where a person could stop by in case of emergency. Even some popular comedies and jokes of that time depicted someone knocking on the random apartment door and offering money just to be able to use the restroom. Every soviet citizen got the joke. I myself was in a similar situation, although it didn’t seem that funny when I had to do it.
After the perestroika many public bathrooms became privatized. Newly minted attendants collected a fee, dispersed toilet paper, cleaned and freshened the air. 20th century luxuries finally made it into the USSR but the country didn’t last very long after that. Maybe the whole foundation of the Soviet system was based on the toilet hardship.
Long time ago I realized that my daughter cannot pee without a toilet. As a father I am not sure how to explain the process and describe what needs to be done. I tried to talk my (then) wife into teaching this necessary life skill to a child but all I got is a shrug. I am awaiting in horror when during one of our driving trips we would not be able to find a restroom. On one hand, I am glad the the restroom problem is solved here and my kid will not to have to use one of the smelly, nasty and slimy restrooms of my youth. On the other hand…
For a little musical interlude I present the video that has Gorbachev, zombies and plenty of hammers and sickles operated by pretty women. Last 20 years of the post-Soviet era replay right in front of your eyes. Enjoy!
The band ANJ can be found here.
I had to double-check the title to make sure that the word “old-timey” doesn’t have any dirty meaning known only to Chimpo. Seems like I am safe for now but you can’t be too sure with him.
Long time ago, before the word “mail” got itself attached to the letter “e”, people wrote letters and exchanged postcards. Even I was in on the pen pal craze writing a couple of letters in broken English to some unfortunate American girl from Minnesota who wasted her parents’ money on a trip to the Soviet Union. Nowadays the post office is dying a slow death surviving only by delivering junk mail and bills. The email is faster, easer, more convenient and free, but one thing that’s being lost is the appreciation of the distances it travels making our world seem smaller and without borders. When an old card or a letter traveled for weeks crossing many countries and continents , it was an event to open a mailbox to find something touched by your friend or a relative and then be every mail person on the way. Email arrives instantly and no one touches it except the government’s supercomputer which makes sure you are not an evildoer. Many Americans grow up to think that the world looks like this. Many studies have been done to show that Americans can’t find other countries and even their own states on the map even if threatened with waterboarding. I always hated geography myself but I can still point out most countries on the map and even the majority of American states, except the little ones in the East, but they don’t count anyway.
Recently I’ve found an interesting website that preserves or, maybe, even resurrects an old hobby of exchanging postcards. Postcrossing.com has 43,693 members in 178 countries who connect through the website to send and receive postcards to each other. After registration you can initially send up to 5 cards to random members and then become eligible to receive up five cards from others. In the first batch my daughter and I mailed cards to Taiwan, Finland, Australia, Netherlands and Germany for a total of 23,344 miles traveled. Some of these arrived in less than 5days. We received messages from all of the recipients thanking us for the cards. Many people post their cards online and one local girl even made a presentation in her club with cards from around the world.
Hopefully, after some time our map of the world will be filled with cards we mailed. So far it looks like this. Again, like many years ago, I run (OK, walk) to the mailbox to see if there is anything there for me, besides bills and pizza coupons. I like the feeling. Try it for yourself.