Sunday Gazette-Mail from Charleston, West Virginia on September 3, 1972 · Page 19
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Sunday Gazette-Mail from Charleston, West Virginia · Page 19

Charleston, West Virginia
Issue Date:
Sunday, September 3, 1972
Page 19
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Page 19 article text (OCR)

I here are no toll booths on this'. _,,, only guard houses every 25 or 30 miles. One can get strong coffee or weak gasoline, but there are no comfort stations along the igh ^ » Sitndn (.a c in-rent , /, | A ffairs Charleston. II »·%·/ J irginin I .* 1 Sept. 3,1972 ic STRAIGHT AND NARROW IS MOSCOW TO LENINGRAD HIGHWAY 10 Hitchhiker Is Peasant Woman Off to Market Fruit and Vegetables By Roger Leddingtoa L. T. Anderson No One Salutes Anymore It was only a few short years ago that hysterical judges were throwing into jail cells kids who had sewn small American flags to their clothing or otherwise incorporated Old Glory into their attire. But wearing flag-motif garb, like long hair on boys, was a fad whose time had come. Judges couldn't prevail against it, and gave up the struggle. Congress couldn't prevail against it and ignored its own hastily contrived laws regarding it. It was pretty difficult to determine, anyway, who was violating the law properly and who was violating the law improperly. Policemen who wore the flag as part of their uniforms n e v e r came into courts as defendants because everybody knew policemen were patriots. But what of the American flag necktie so popular at conventions and sales rallies? IT WAS HERE, I think, that the boys down at the Legion hall threw in the towel. And besides, it was obvious that respectable patriots up there in the ·garment district were turning out the flag socks so popular among the more wholesome children in South Hills. In Miami Beach at both the Democratic and Republican conventions there were hundreds of garments made of, or incorporating, the American flag.' We may dismiss the Democrats as traitors who would extend the hand of friendship to Moscow and Peking but we cannot turn our eyes from the flag ties, flag scarves, flag skirts and flag HotPants worn by Republicans. Even casual observation revealed that Republicans made more use of the flag as a garment, and in a greater variety of ways. Flag ties were commonplace, as were flag socks. Consider the flag bikini worn by a rather plump Republican lady at a hotel pool. And the flag shoes affected by a youthful delegate. SOMEWHERE there may lurk a fevered patriot who still clings to the view that only policemen are entitled to violate law, etiquette and tradition of the flag. But if he expects mass arrests, he will be disappoint. No judge would be so imprudent as to sentence to jail an entire slate delegation to the Republican National Convention, In last Tuesday's Daily Mail there was a picture of the rear end of a girl at the Minnesota State Fair. The American flag covered her entire seat. Five years ago her entire seat would have been thrown the can to a chorus of angry American voices. Rut. nobody paid much attention, the mp- tion explained. Only one · aspect of the strange episode continues to disturb me. Are there any kids still in jail because they happened to be trend- setters? HIGHWAY 10, USSR-(AP)-Food? Nyet Coffee? Nyet. Toilet? Nyet. Gasoline? Da, if you can find it. It takes adventurism and a masochistic streak to travel this main road linking Russia's two largest cities. Nothing--not the fearsome Los Angeles Freeway, a Maine logging road or the d a n g e r o u s F r a n k f u r t - M u n i c h Autobahn--can ever prepare a foreign tourist for the "highway" from Moscow to Leningrad. It must be endured to be believed. Jerking the unsuspecting traveler back to the 19th century, the two-lane road is a 400-mile dodge'em route featuring mammoth potholes, stray cattle, drunks and people portering buckets of water on wooden yokes. On the road for the first time, however, the foreigner thinks, "This is the Russia I came to see." The peasants and their villages that flank the highway provide a rare opportunity to glimpse Russia as it existed in tsarist times before the 1917 Communist revolution. But the inns that dotted the road and welcomed the travel-weary nobility in those days are gone. . . and nothing has replaced them. ONLY THE ever-present television antennas atop village log houses remind tourists that this is the 20th century. Most of the houses now have electricity, but their occupants still have to walk to the village water pump with buckets and yokes as their grandparents did 100 years ago. That a few of the pumps are now operated electrically does little to dispel the feeling that Highway 10 somehow got left behind in the Soviet push to modernize Russia. While the houses have electric lighting, the highway does not. Street lamps are non-existent except in the principal .towns along the route, and between them, nothing but total darkness at night. Should the inquisitive tourist decide to stop for a closer look at Russian village life, there is always the alert GAI. or highway patrol, to make sure he does not. Perched in glass booths above the highway every 40-50 kilometers 25-30 miles, the GAI is there to keep foreigners on the straight and narrow path between the Soviet capital and Leningrad. All cars--Russian and foreign--are required to crawl past the GAI post at 25 m.p.h., allowing the cop to check foreign ' license plates and number of occupants. Satisfied, he will wave you on and telephone ahead to the next post. Woe betide the foreigner who doesn't show up at the check points on schedule. Horses, ducks, cows and Russians may wander unperturbed. But the rule for foreign tourists is no straying and no stopping. Break the rule and a patrol car complete with two indignant officers will suddenly appear. There are no .such things as extenuating circumstances when it comes to a Soviet militiaman. He's never head of them. WITNESS THE CASE of one American tourist who, desperate for a men's room, made do with the only available spot--the woods--and was caught in the act. Discarding the Yank's protests that he had already driven 150 kilometers and the next large town was another 100 down the road, the trooper declared: "That's your problem. You're not allowed to stop," and promptly made out a report on the lawbreaker. The American was not alone in his predicament. Russians lucky enough to own an automobile face the same problems: Where to grab a bite to eat and a coffee and find a rest room? The Soviet government. facing increasing domestic demands for greater attention to the consumer, has frequently proclaimed that highway restaurants and motels are on the planning board. And that's where they remain. The few "stolovaya" coffee stands intermittently located on the road are either closed or serve a sweet lukewarm nightmare that's passed off as coffee. The Russians may enjoy it. but most foreigners take one sip and hope the next town offers better fare. Hunger and thirst can be satisfied by adequate preparations, but few tourists carry enough gasoline to make the entire trip. Gas stations are to be found, although it's · an unnerving experience to drive mile after mile across Russia watching the fuel needle slide to "empty." The few signs announcing stations are peeling, painted wood strips more often passed than noticed. When spotted, they often are run by a woman with the n.-anners of a first sergeant who commands an array of gas pumps with not enough octane to power a lawn mower. If you're lucky, there's an "extra" pump. No one but foreign tourists use it since Russian engines are detuned to consume cheap fuel. An estimated 80 per cent of this country is forbidden territory for foreigners. And if Highway 10 is Russia's showcase auto route, then one wonders what the roads in that other 80 per cent must look like. Should you make it to Leningrad in one piece--a tourist bus recently didn't: It collided with a row--your troubles are not over. Where's the town center? Where are the hotels? Street direction signs apparently have never figured in the state economic plan. Take the advice of one tourist: catch a cab, slip the driver a ruble and follow him to the hotel. THE MILK MAN COMETH.. .ALONG HIGHWAY 10 Peasants Still Use the Old Transportation to Leningrad A PEASANT VILLAGE FLANKS HIGHWAY 10 IN RUSSIA'S BOONDOCKS Building in Center Is Local Genei**l Store

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