Tag Archives: Soviet Union

Small Potatoes

Back in the Soviet Union, you had to stand in three lines to buy potatoes.

I know: I stood in those lines. I spent a semester in 1980 as an exchange student in what was then Leningrad (since rechristened St. Petersburg). I have a lot of memories from those days, none clearer than how people bought their vegetables. Continue reading

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Keeping the Glass Filled

More years ago than I’d care to admit, I spent four months as a Russian language exchange student in what was then the Soviet Union. One night I went to a hockey game – the local team against the Red Army team – and, as was customary at all public venues there, not only theaters or museums, we had to check our coats as we entered the arena.

After the game, I gave my coat check to the grizzled, WWII veteran (conspicuously bedecked with military ribbons), and he grumpily went off to get my coat. I was honestly out of money that night – not a single kopeck for a tip. Instead, after he handed me his coat, I offered a cheerful “Spasibo!” (Thank you!)

He looked at me, shook his head dismissively, and growled, “Spasibo, my friend, doesn’t fill the vodka glass!” Continue reading

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