I couldn’t find any article or a reference to any specific bombing in Kansas City for this set of the Life Magazine photos taken in 1953. I think they just illustrate a few unrelated episodes in a day of the KCPD’s Bomb Desk.
Who wants to identify the hotel visible in the window? And what is the headlight-shaped object on the desk – intercom?
Well, I am actually not so sure about it being Russian, but it’s definitely a gourmet recipe shared by my Mom. What prompted me to make it was a visit to a local soup place where I paid four dollars for a ladle of mushroom soup. For some reason that price really bothered me; I’ve always thought that the soup was a poor man’s meal, often seen dispensed to the hungry people waiting in line in the Depression movies. Unless the soup is made of some exotic ingredient, I don’t see why it should be pricey, and mushroom soup is no exception. So the same night I called my Mom and wrote down the recipe.
Back in the Old Country© mushrooms were sold at the farmers market by the individuals who looked like they’ve spent their days in the woods, rarely coming out to sell their bounty.
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In December of 1979, when my age was barely in the double digits, the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan didn’t really make a big splash on the the government-run news. The New Year 1980 celebration was coming up, people were busy buying presents and stocking up on hard-to-find delicacies for the holiday table; and the TV mumbling something about helping out our Afghan brothers sounded exactly the same as it did every other time the Soviet Union was fighting a remote Cold War battle by proxy. I don’t think that many people knew then that these events will affect the country for the next ten years, destroy tens of thousands of Soviet and millions of Afghan lives, and ultimately contribute to the end of the USSR.
I wondered how the first days of the invasion were covered in the American press, so I stopped by the library to look at the old newspapers. Looks like it made front page news almost right away but there was some uncertainty about the extent of the Soviet military deployment. In less than a month it made it to the cover of the Time magazine. In Kansas City the invasion coincided with the firefighters’ strike so most of the front page space was dedicated to the coverage of the union negotiations and how the city was handling the lack of fire protection.
All the articles should be large enough to read if you click on the image. The microfilm quality is not the best, but it has nothing to do with me.
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Soviet people were genetically predisposed to reading between the lines. When on November 10, 1982 all three available TV channels started showing non-stop symphonies and ballets, we knew that something wasn’t right. Rumors and predictions started circulating among the population and finally, when the government couldn’t keep it a secret any longer, a news anchor in a most somber voice possible announced that the General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union and the Chairman of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet Leonid Ilyich Brezhnev died just a few weeks short of his 76th birthday. Twenty six years ago today many people didn’t know what would happen. Brezhnev was in power for a generation and became so associated with the Soviet Union that it was hard to imagine the next leader taking his place. Little did we know that his successor was already picked while Brezhnev’s body was still warm. It wasn’t that many people thought that Brezhnev was actually running the country; long before he died, he became a butt of many jokes (still not openly told), his 5-hour speeches broadcast in full length and couple of books someone wrote for him were required and unwelcome reading in schools and everywhere else. The regime change is always a time of uncertainty and many people didn’t know what to look forward to. During later Brezhnev years the quality of life, still very low compared to many developed nations, somewhat stabilized, people felt better, happier and more upbeat. The same years were also marked by huge levels of corruption, bribery, Brezhnev cult of personality and total disillusionment with socialist ideas.These were the years of Brezhnev Stagnation.
When we went to school the next day, the building was decorated in red and black colors of mourning. We had a meeting where the teachers read the announcement and some even pretended (?) to cry. However, the most exciting thing about your country’s leader dying is a day off. Unfortunately all the movie theaters were closed on that day, so there was no other entertainment available except watching the funeral, and it was a funeral of a lifetime.
The funeral procession was led by high-ranking officers each carrying a small pillow with one of Brezhnev’s 114 medals. At 12:45 the Red Square and the rest of the country went silent for a moment so everyone heard thunderous sound of a dropping coffin. Then every siren and factory whistle in the country went off. No other head of state funeral ever matched Brezhnev’s.
Unofficial accounts of Brezhnev’s life painted him as a very personable guy, with a great sense of humor, generous and sensitive, movie lover and a fan of Chuck Connors – The Rifleman. Most of us didn’t know any of that, we just saw an old man who half the time didn’t seem like he knew where he was and what he was doing and still remained one of the most powerful men in the world.
Every year I drive thousands of miles on Missouri highways encountering the most bizarre religious billboards, and every time I pass one up I feel like going back and taking a photo to prove that I didn’t make it up (like the one about Jesus and porn somewhere around Columbia, I think). Some day I will drive to St.Louis and Springfield with the only purpose of documenting religious and anti-abortion billboards, but until then there are few in the Metro to keep me entertained.