| It Has Been A Rough Year |
I am adding this additional chapter to my introduction, because after I initially wrote the introduction, it was very difficult to come back to it and try to make sense of all that I have experienced through the various stages of my life and the trials that I have endured or overcome. I wish ...
| The Birth of Charles Leonard Wiggins |
The story has already been written for awhile on my blog "From the heart of Praise, Prayer and Perseverance. 0; Here is a link to that posting, Below are the pictures of the blessed event.
http://fromthehea rt-dotwigg.blogsp ot.com/2008/03/an other-2-prayer-re quest-answered.ht ml
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Richard 's Story > Chapters > Invitation and Visit to Russia USSR 1979/80
| Date Range: 1979 To 1980 ||
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| | What we see in movies is often very different from being involved an actual account of an incident or incidents. This story is factual. Nothing is changed to augment or otherwise 'Hollywoodize' the events. This particular event can be viewed from the newspapers of Arizona Daily Star, Tucson Citizen and University of Arizona Papers of Jan.1980 (Copies on archives)
I was invited in Jan 1980 to visit the Soviet Union accompanying my father, Pianist Ozan Marsh on a tour of the former USSR to the cities of Moscow, Leningrad, Belarus, Ukraine and Baltic states.
Leaving from Tucson Arizona my father (Ozan Marsh)and I flew to New York City and then via London to Frankfurt Germany. The flight from there took us via Prague to Moscow.
It was during a blizzard and the plane was not filled and the flight rather rough, several fly-overs before the final landing at Moscow.
We arrived and went through the big hassle known as "control" at the Moscow airport. (Control may be similar to what one goes through on flights today. They go through the luggage and seperate items as well as ask questions, provide a packet of paperwork, visas etc before leaving a mustard colored room with guards in every corner. They were often rude, no smiling faces in this troupe, rather the ghost-like, poker faced Soviet guards each armed and officially well dressed. I could only think about something in the order of "Operation Smile" which would be something like- Welcome to the Soviet Union, we are so happy to see you, please fall directly on the floor and spread your hands and legs and we will be with you shortly...oh you can keep your shoes on during this phase of search and interrogation since we are not trained in removing soiled socks..." When one goes through the control one is expected at most times to encounter one problem or another. They were efficient and got to the point. "Any religious articals, bibles etc or books of a certain (abstract) nature...a copy of the capitalist times or Playboy"? Since this was the Soviet Union they had strict moral standards in vetting what came in to the USSR. No Bibles, Religious Material and No Art, Artifact or things of that nature . It was a strict environment and forceful. They went through our luggage and found....a Bible and another book of religious nature.
"Ahhhh what do we have here!!!" One Commando questioned. He was taken aside by another.."Its ok...all is well (stamp..stamp-paperwork moved aside) We were not the common tourists on this trip. Raising above and through the crowd was a lady wearing a perfectly fitting blue dress of rayon or some similar fabric. She was an official and sent to us from GOSK Koncert...(The National Arts Agency which is similar to a combination of Police State meets Hollywood)
The former USSR was an interesting place to remember. Everything was done and moved in a rank and file manner. Everyone had their place. (similar to a visit to the Phoenix MVD...only positively no pictures of smiling faces or advertisings of promises or postings of new licence plate styles...everything was forcably exactly the same...now one can get a jist of just how things were)
One knew their place in this society. It was in many ways similar to the way a truck stop is run...they call for drivers, deliver by numbers and if anyone complains...well it simply comes to lined against a wall) No Complaint!!! Dont even dare to try!!!
About the Society
It had a feeling of being stone cold in many ways. There was little decoration to anything. Efficiency seemed to be the name of the game and everything seemed to air of this with things lagging. It was obvious that there were people of class though this was seemingly discouraged. Union suits and workers outfits seemed to prevail marking the different classes. There were the officials (wearing simple gray suits or those of similar nature..badges and-or military kaki. People generally walked with their heads turned down with little eye contact. It was obvious there was little choice among what you could or could not buy. Everything was self-service oriented. State stores were like a conglomerate of all stores. Fashion was only limited to a very few types of durable fashion. Since the common people could not afford much...everything they could find in the store was more or less durable, big and fashionless. I never forgot my visit to GUM. It was like a gigantic Wal-, well there we have it..only most things were in faded colors and selection of style was not an inclination...no style was. There were hundreds of people in line for shoes, even more in line for medical perscriptions. (It is similar to a state of general welfare...if one was not sick enough to stand in line, perhaps some friend could stand in line for one) It was obvious that food and such commodities were controlled. One picked a number when visiting the meat shop. When all the chicken was gone...there was pork, beef or various other animals on hooks to purchase. (One town I visited I saw...well cat on a rack and horse head) Generally people were poor...very poor and could only purchase what was available. Foreign goods could be bought! Yes foreign goods could be bought too...at great expense from small shops that were importing these. They were at least 10X the expense as anything domestic and one had to have a coupon to purchase these. Amazing enough there were people purchasing! And there were people with clout. Needless to say everyone had a job and earned relatively the same amount of money and were provided with suitable living conditions (by western standards maybe a room that would have a bed in it for singles, possibly even shared) Families would have more options. People with certain clout would have their choice (sometimes). If one was an artist or scientist one had more privilages sometimes yet the ditch diggers and trough makers were paid more. It was a assisted living state...for everyone. There was little unemployment too. By fact of law everyone had to work. (A Workers State) If there were no positions available the State would make a position sweeping floors or washing windows...or simply as a guard for a door or monitoring washrooms. Ones education generally gave privialige. The State payed for education and found jobs for their educated through a system of rewards which started in grammar school through gymnasium (high school) The system and incentives were based on intensive competition for any field that involved State education. It was quite obvious most everyone was well educated except for those who couldnt compete or were not offered this possiblility. A PhD earned a PhD job. A Mill worker was a millworker. A trucker, a trucker. Sometimes family status determined the outcome of the next generation. (there was not money...but status...and this was a determining factor) A person who was a construction worker had little or no opportunity to do anything better with his life. It was a fixed position...his children were more than likely to be determined the same path in life (unless they were determined Brilliant at some trade or craft that would see the favorable light of State sponsorship-aka scholarship)
Communism of the Soviet type is a strange bed fellow-Imagine being under the force of the State at all times to comply with each order and directive or else punished. Not just a fine...but trouble made for ones family and then one!
Its no wonder why this type of centraly directed system called Communism wouldnt last. The word fear was written on every post and in every human face except for those in charge and in control. (It was not a classless system...but seemed to be)
Of course this is my observation....