The Racine Journal-Times Sunday Bulletin from Racine, Wisconsin on July 11, 1965 · Page 7
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July 11, 1965

The Racine Journal-Times Sunday Bulletin from Racine, Wisconsin · Page 7

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Sunday, July 11, 1965
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Russians Talk Freely of Pasts During Long Journey Strangers Meet on a Train Crossing Vast Siberia Editor 's Note — Siberia is more than a prison camp. To many, it is home, and here an American crossing the vast land on the trans-Siberian Railroad talks with many Siberians, gaining insights to a people and a country known to few. CROSSING SIBERIA By Henry Bradsher -(/P)— "It 's a hard life.' er She said it in a simple, factual way, without any sign of self-pity or bitterness. She had stopped in the corridor of the trans-Siberian train in which I and oth^. foreign correspondents — plus interpreter — were traveling from Moscow across Siberia to Vladivostok on the Sea of Japan. She set down her rack of steel bowls that had contained Ukrainian borsch, sold to passengers jammed iMo' third class for 36 kopeks (40 U.S. cents) a bowl. Worked as Waitress The woman was one of the many Russians I met on the trip who told of their lives and intimate thoughts. "I used to work in the Berlin Restaurant in Moscow as a waitress," she said. "It was an interesting job and I got maybe 100 rubles ($111) a month, including what foreign tourists would sometimes leave on the tables. "But I didn't have enough time at home with my children. I've got a son and a daughter, 4 and 8 years old. "My husband? That's the trouble. He drinks a lot. Always vodka. He's a mechanic. "Really, he's a drunkard. I don't see him much, and I only get a few rubles from him. How much can a drunkard earn? "So I took this job. It's 15 days away from home and then a month and a half at home before the next trip." Double Staffed The train trip across Siberia takes 7'/2 days each •vay. The same staff takes care of passengers for the 11,500-mile roundtrip. Some jobs like conductor — or, usually, conductress — are double staffed. "This is a very tough job," the woman said." I have to be up by 6:30 every morning and, what with selling up and down the train and washing dishes in the dining car, I sometimes don't get to bed until 1:30 the next morning. "It comes out to more hours in two months than people who work normal weeks." The Soviet norm is 41 hours. "I usually lose four kilos (8.8 pounds) on a trip. "When I first took the job, it was paid by commission on what I sold. But now it's straight salary with maybe a bonus for overfulfilling my quota. ' Cut by Taxes How much? Only 67 rubles ($74.44) a month salary, every month, even when I'm at home. But when I'm at home the taxes and such cut it down, to maybe 50 rubles ($55.55) or so. "And no extra change. .1 have to give people back the exact kopek of change on this job. People who eat in the dining car might not count their change, but they do in third-class. 'At least I can earn a little extra this way. I make dresses while I'm at home and sell them. My mother helps. She takes care of the children while I'm gone and helps while I'm sewing at home." She smiled, a bit wanly, and summed it all up before moving along with her load: "It's a hard life." In Tractor Factory The man struck up a conversation in the dining car. As he talked about himself, he looked younger than his 54 eventful years. His wavy hair was untouched by greyness and his physique had a youthful slenderness. In the 1930s he had worked in a tractor factory started by American auto mechanics in Stalingrad, where he learned rousing American drinking Report '65 Crop Acreage 1.5 Million Above '64 Total WASHINGTON —(/P)—The Agriculture Department reported that crops planted for harvest this year totaled 308 million acres—or 1.5 million more than last year. In its first major crop report of the season, the agency made no forecast as to total crop production. The first such estimate will be made 'Slashing' Sale Is a Nasty Cut CLOVIS, N. M. —(JP)— A Clovis furniture store advertising slashed prices opened its doors Saturday morning to find slashed furniture. Owners said vandals had broken into the store during the night and destroyed about $2,000 in new sofas and chairs, apparently with a razor blade. The store plans a slashed furniture sale. 10 Are Convicted as Reds in Portugal LISBON, Portugal — (JP) — A three-judge political court Saturday convicted nine Portuguese students and a government employe of belonging to the outlawed Communist Party and "advocating overthrow of the present government." The government workers and three students were sentenced to prison terms ranging from 17 months to 4I/2 years, six were given suspended sentences. Two students were acquitted. The trial revolved around a bomb plot, masterminded by the son of a wealthy Lisbon businessman, Arthur Gouveia. next month. Nevertheless, it said prospects were more promising on July 1 than a year earlier when a near-record volume was harvested. The report said production of food grains may be 4 per cent more than last year and livestock feed grains 8 per cent more than last year. The acreage of soybeans—n 0 w one of the top moneymaking crops—is 12 per cent more than last year's record high. The first estimate of production of this crop will be given in August. But smaller crops of tobacco, sugar beets and sugar cane were forecast. The report said development of crops is somewhat behind the normal pace due to unfavorable weather conditions in some areas. songs that he tried out on foreigners. After that he had been chief mechanic on a Soviet tanker. At the beginning of World War II he was deputy director of a shipyard and by the end of the war he commanded a Black Sea destroyer. In 1949 he visited both East and West Germany buying diesel engines for the Soviet merchant fleet. He returned to Moscow while Stalin was conducting his second great purge. "I was in my hotel when some men came and said some old friends from Mur­ mansk wanted to see me. I always like to visit with old friends so I went with them. They took me to Lubyanka." Lubyanka prison in downtown Moscow is the dreaded investigation center of the Soviet Secret Police. Not Tortured "What for? I never knew. No one ever told me. I never saw a prosecutor. I wasn't tortured. I just sat on my tail for eight months. Then they took me to a concentration camp in the Siberian Arctic." Was it as Alexander Solz- henitsyn described in "One Day in the Life of Ivan Denis- ovich," the book that has given the West its most graphic impression of Soviet concentration camps? He exploded in angry denunciation of the book. "He wrote about criminals, pickpockets, pimps. Maybe they were like that, stealing crusts of bread from each other, lying. "But my camp was an honest place. I could leave food and it wouldn't be taken away until it spoiled. Or money, it wouldn't be touched. Tliere were intellectuals, political figures, army officers in my camp. One of the men —he had been there since the 1937 purge—was an associate of Lenin in the Bolshevik Revolution." Given Pardon In 1956 he was called to Moscow and given a pardon, still without explanation, the man said. This was during the thaw after Stalin died. "The (Communist) Party leaders are more reasonable now," he commented. "I decided to stay in Siberia. The weather suits me." Now he is the chief mechanic of a factory at Tayshet, on the trans-Siberian Railroad. He lives in a factory house and has a factory car at his disposal for business or for going hunting. "I've known a lot of Americans. W e remember what they and the British did for us during the war." Why do Moscow and Washington oppose each other now? "It was high politics that spoiled that wartime friendship — crazy ideas, on both sides, that people had." And now the Soviet Union and China are at loggerheads? "The Chinese, they're crazy," the Russian declared. MODERN SCIENCE ii.u liUVES PAINT AND ADDS PROTECTION' TO Biological Geographer "A transcontinental train trip takes a long time. Let's play chess." With this introduction, he came into the compartment. His receding hairline and owlish eyes behind thick- rimmed glasses gave him the inquisitive look of a research scientist. He said his name was S 1 a V a and he was a scientist — a biological geographer specializing in vegetation along Siberian rivers that drain north into the Arctic Ocean. He grew up in Moscow and came to Siberia in his mid- 20s, seven years ago. For the first two years he was in Novosibirsk, the new scientific center of this vast region, and since then he has lived at Irkutsk, near Lake Baykal. His work brought him into contact with scientists in many fields. They included plant genetics, a field long ruled by favorites of Stalin and former Premier Nikita Khrushchev whom foreign scientists regarded as quacks. After Khrushchev 's fall last October, some top scientists were fired in the name of restoring scientific objectivity. Had S 1 a V a noticed any changes since then? "Indoctrinated Wrongly' "Our great scientists had never changed their opinions just because of politics," he said. He named several men in different fields with worldwide reputations. "But there is a problem. Many of our other scientists were indoctrinated wrongly. They got bad ideas in the universities, drop by drop, at a time when objectivity was not officially encouraged. "Now many of them have risen to senior posts. What can we do with them? We can't just tell them they are fools, to go away. They must be reindoctri- nated." Slava smiles shyly. He had a wife and a 4-year- old son in Irkutsk, Slava said. His wife has been studying English in the foreign language school there for the past two years, with the son going to kindergarten. "I don't know what work she'll do when she finishes school in another three years," he said. "The government will decide." Assails "Landlords" He stopped in the train corridor and looked into the compartment, which was not unusual because everybody else was curious about the two foreigners. But he wanted to talk. "Where are you from?" he asked. The answer came; the United States. "Ah, in the United States people are landlords. I'm not a landlord. I'm a laboring man. "I earn a salary, and I spend it on what I need. "But in the United States people are landlords. They don't work the way I do. I'm a buyer for my company in northern Siberia. "They give me a checkbook and I go off and buy the supplies, bricks and concrete and things they need, and I hire railway cars to take them back, and then I go back and report to the head of the company and in a month or so the supplies arrive." He swayed a bit more than the train and he breathed liquor at his listeners. He deposited a cold cigaret stub on a ledge within a foot of an ashtray. "But now I'm sick. Has Tuberculosis "I was fishing and I fell out of the boat and got under the ice but then I caught hold of the boat. So I've got tuberculosis, a spot on this lung"— he pounded his sweaty khaki shirt over his heart. I'm going to a sanitorium now for two, maybe three months. It's a nice place up on a mountain near Chita with a pine forest and lots of women to chase." Family? "Yes, I have three sons in the army and a daughter at home with my wife. "It's my second wife now, the first two sons were my first wife's and then I paid alimony. I'm a honest man, mind you. "I was in the army during the war. No, I didn't fight. I was in Mongolia," he said with a motion out the train window to the south where Mongolia was passing 125 miles away. "After the war I was still a young man—I'm 48 now—and I loaded 10-litre barrels of wine on barges for 8 kopeks (9 U. S. cents) a barrel, and then I took them down the river to the north." Northern Siberia gets supplies in the summer by the north-flowing rivers crossed by the trans- Siberian Railroad. "Younger Then" "I built a house in the Yakutsk region," one of the most northerly developed parts of Siberia. "It's a good house, 675 square feet big with four rooms, and I bui it myself. "I was younger then, and not sick. "When I got sick, I was off work for two years. I was in a sanitorium near Krasno yarsk, beautiful place on an island in the river, and"—1 suggestive look —" lots of women to chase, oh, lots. "Now I've got this job, and it's a good job, and they'll pay me 100 per cent of my salary while I'm in the sanitorium The sanitorium is free. I didn't have to pay for this train ticket, either." He stopped. "Say, what are you doing here?" "Don't Understand" "Sometimes I don't understand what our leaders say," the member of the Soviet Communist Party said. "Did you hear what (Communist Party chief Leonid) Brezhnev said about Stalin's great leadership in the war? Yes, I know Khrushchev said different things about Stalin. "That's part of what I mean about not understanding. "But Stalin did some good things in his t i m e, and Khrushchev did some good things, too, and it's not for us to judge." This rank-and-file member lives in a gold mining town of 4,700 persons, located near the northeastern tip of Siberia. It is 435 miles north of Magadan, at the end of a gravel road into the frozen wilderness. Some party members in more sophisticated areas had asked questions about the sudden dismissal of Khrushchev last October and gotten explanations that went beyond age and health into personal criticism. But not this comrade. He is a follower in the party that leads the Soviet Union. Lathe Operator "I was born in Leningrad 37 years ago. My parents died during the German siege and I went to work during it, at the age of 13 years and 10 months, as a lathe operator in a military factory. "Workers got 250 grams (8V2 ounces) of bread a day while those who didn't work got only half as much. There was not even enough food for the ration cards." The solidly handsome man with light brown, wavy hair looked coldly out the train window and went on: "I can cry when I think about those days. "Look, here" — he pulled out a Soviet document — "it says I am exempt from military service because of the effects of malnutrition. I'm not proud of that. "I joined the Komsomol (Young Communist League) when I was 14 and became a member of the paity 10 years ago." As a factory worker then, he was the kind of member sought to maintain the worker image of a party now predominately composed of bureaucrats. "In 1957 the party committee in Leningrad asked me to volunteer for the north. I went to the Magadan region, to be a bulldozer mechanic. Power Plant "It's at a power plant. We have our own coal mine and the bulldozers have to push the frozen coal from the piles. We have to work all the time, even when the factories are stopped, because the military base needs power." He lived in barracks for the first six months there and then brought his wife out to live in one small room with him. Three years ago they got an apartment and two years ago a son was born. They also have a daughter, now 19. "I like it there. I work a 41- hour week and can combine overtime to get four or five days off for hunting. We have a club and new movies as soon as Moscow. And I'm well paid. "We get the 'island' pay of an extra 70 per cent, even though it's on the mainland, and I have the annual 10 per cent increase for eight years now." These are special incentives for northern Siberia. So I get 350 rubles ($390) a month." That is about four times the average wage for a Russian worker. Expenses Higher "It's expensive, though. I spend 150 rubles ($167) a month just on food for myself and my wife and baby. Potatoes cost 36 kopeks (40 U. S. cents) a kilo (2.2 pounds)." In Moscow they cost 10 kopeks. "But we have money in the savings bank. "Now? I'm going on vacation, my first vacation since 1961. For four months. My wife is a nurse and they are shorthanded so she's still there. She'll go on vacation ater. "I've just left our son with my mother-in-law on the Amur River, where 0 u i daughter lives all the time, and now I'm going to Kha­ barovsk to fly to Moscow. "I have 2,200 rubles ($2,444) given me as vacation money, and 220 rubles to travel and a free ticket for 24 days in a resort on the Black Sea." RACINE SUNDAY lULLETIN 7 A Sundoy, July II, 1965 ' r\ 1,272 Attend Peace Parley in Helnsinki HELSINKI, Finland— The World Congress for Peace, National Independence and General Disarmament opened in Helsinki Saturday with 1,272 delegates from 92 countries. In his opening speech to the Communist - dominated congress, Finnish Premier Johannes Virolainen said — the policy of peaceful coexistence his country has followed since World War II has giVen good results and Finland will continue to make an active contribution to the work for peace. "As a symbol for peaceful coexistence and the good relations between Finland and the Soviet Union we will erect a peace statue in Helsinki," Virolainen added. Personalities attending included authors Jean-Paul Sartre, Oablo Neruda and liya Ehrenburg. The Russian group also includes female cosmonaut Valentina Teresh- kova. Another guest is Czech distance runner Emil Zatopek. Prof. J. D. Bernal of England, president of the International Preparatoiy Committee, warned delegates against discussing too controversial subjects. "The congress must be held in an atmosphere of peace and understanding," he asserted. SMASHING HIT-RUN KNOXVILLE, Tenn.—(yP)- Police said a drunken driver drove a car through a dish display at a service station here Saturday, broke all the dishes, then sped away. For each pound bought, a chicken yields 51.2 per cent of cooked edible meat. KNOWN FOR VALUES Suniiner Clearance! State Budget Deadlock Delays Unit's Meeting MADISON ~ (m — The Co-ordinating Committee for Higher Education announced Saturday postponement of its July 15 meeting because the Wisconsin Legislature has nor passed a budget. The meeting was rescheduled for Aug. 10 with this comment on a staff memo: "We trust the Legislature will have completed action on the biennial budget and other pertinent educational matters by early August." YOUR HOME,.. WITH mm IN DEVOE SUPER ALL-WEATHER HOUSE PAINT Modern chemistry has improved on the original two-coat paint system with DEVRAL-a special ingredient in the undercoat that combats blistering, peeling or cracking, and discourages mildew. 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