• Pragerisms

    For a more comprehensive list of Pragerisms visit
    Dennis Prager Wisdom.

    • "The left is far more interested in gaining power than in creating wealth."
    • "Without wisdom, goodness is worthless."
    • "I prefer clarity to agreement."
    • "First tell the truth, then state your opinion."
    • "Being on the Left means never having to say you're sorry."
    • "If you don't fight evil, you fight gobal warming."
    • "There are things that are so dumb, you have to learn them."
  • Liberalism’s Seven Deadly Sins

    • Sexism
    • Intolerance
    • Xenophobia
    • Racism
    • Islamophobia
    • Bigotry
    • Homophobia

    A liberal need only accuse you of one of the above in order to end all discussion and excuse himself from further elucidation of his position.

  • Glenn’s Reading List for Die-Hard Pragerites

    • Bolton, John - Surrender is not an Option
    • Bruce, Tammy - The Thought Police; The New American Revolution; The Death of Right and Wrong
    • Charen, Mona - DoGooders:How Liberals Hurt Those They Claim to Help
    • Coulter, Ann - If Democrats Had Any Brains, They'd Be Republicans; Slander
    • Dalrymple, Theodore - In Praise of Prejudice; Our Culture, What's Left of It
    • Doyle, William - Inside the Oval Office
    • Elder, Larry - Stupid Black Men: How to Play the Race Card--and Lose
    • Frankl, Victor - Man's Search for Meaning
    • Flynn, Daniel - Intellectual Morons
    • Fund, John - Stealing Elections
    • Friedman, George - America's Secret War
    • Goldberg, Bernard - Bias; Arrogance
    • Goldberg, Jonah - Liberal Fascism
    • Herson, James - Tales from the Left Coast
    • Horowitz, David - Left Illusions; The Professors
    • Klein, Edward - The Truth about Hillary
    • Mnookin, Seth - Hard News: Twenty-one Brutal Months at The New York Times and How They Changed the American Media
    • Morris, Dick - Because He Could; Rewriting History
    • O'Beirne, Kate - Women Who Make the World Worse
    • Olson, Barbara - The Final Days: The Last, Desperate Abuses of Power by the Clinton White House
    • O'Neill, John - Unfit For Command
    • Piereson, James - Camelot and the Cultural Revolution: How the Assassination of John F. Kennedy Shattered American Liberalism
    • Prager, Dennis - Think A Second Time
    • Sharansky, Natan - The Case for Democracy
    • Stein, Ben - Can America Survive? The Rage of the Left, the Truth, and What to Do About It
    • Steyn, Mark - America Alone
    • Stephanopolous, George - All Too Human
    • Thomas, Clarence - My Grandfather's Son
    • Timmerman, Kenneth - Shadow Warriors
    • Williams, Juan - Enough: The Phony Leaders, Dead-End Movements, and Culture of Failure That Are Undermining Black America--and What We Can Do About It
    • Wright, Lawrence - The Looming Tower

A Delay At The Hotel In The Good Old USSR

I spent a couple weeks in Kiev in 1966 as well as in 1990. The city was not unattractive in either year, but a bit shabbier in 1990. Shabbier maybe, but much, much more enlightened, more thrilling, a much more wonderful place to be. The human spirit had been reborn in this part of the good old USSR.

Funny. I can’t remember either hotel name, but I remember events at the earlier hotel much better, especially the night they locked me out.

The 1966 hotel was new…newer looking than it was. It had been built a full year earlier, yet the scaffolding, tons of construction debris had never made it out of the main lobby and reception area. It was a seventeen floor structure, one elevator, capacity 4. Furthermore the lift ran infrequently. I am not sure whether the slowness was according to Government plan or simply a freak of nature, or both, but it seldom operated and when it did operate it rose slowly, very slowly.

I asked various employees and those seemingly in charge why all the debris and scaffolding hadn’t been taken away. Why was the construction dust all over everywhere? Why wasn’t it swept away, at least? Answered all…”It’s not my job.” Couldn’t you call someone who’s in charge?..”It’s not my job.”

I lived on the twelfth floor. I dragged my bags up the stairs the first night we arrived, and dragged them down when I checked out. I decided to spend as much time away from the stairways and therefore the hotel as possible. In each corner of each floor sat the inevitable dezhurnaia spying and recording comings and goings of those she was assigned to “serve”, by guarding guest’s keys. I have no idea if, as in the Hotel Europa, the same key fit all rooms of the same floor. My main suitcase had no lock, for the lock had been cut off the bag after my first night in Leningrad.

I did alot of people hunting in Kiev in 1966. Chairman Khrushchev had been ousted recently. That had deeply interested me. I had so many interesting conversations with people I met in the parks, once on the beach here in Kiev, in some restaurants, and on the streets. People waiting, sitting on benches. They were very reluctant to start talking. Maybe it was because so few other people talked in public simply from habit. I picked my “victims”. I was rebuffed by many.

One afternoon I just decided to see what would happen if I wore my stylish American sport jacket, chartreuse, yes, but not loud, summer hat of matching chartreuse, a first rate off-gray dress shirt, dark green summer slacks well fitting and wearing my American sunglasses. I looked Hollywood. I would not have looked Hollywood if I had worked downtown Minneapolis in 1966, however.

All eyes were on me before I even left the hotel. I got about 25 feet away from the entrance and the black market boys started to call out prices what they would pay for articles of clothing which I was actually wearing. When I laughed and returned responses to them in Russian, they more or less dispersed.. With the exception of three guys who persisted pursuing. They were dressed rather sharply themselves and I noticed they had rather bullied away a few of their perceived competitors. I sat down to talk with them. They did have a sense of humor. I wanted to know who they were, because they acted differently…so sure of themselves. Their dress, their carriage. They talked loud and proud. Very unRussian characteristics. Yet, my heart was pounding.. I was worried, but not as much as I was curious.

Even they were shocked when I told them I was American. They said they had never met an American. They thought me German by looks, but I didn’t speak Russian with any accent. One of them did say that I sounded like those “out of date” people. Although my pronounciation was at that time immaculate, I did know that some of my words were too perfect and stiff. We actually had a good discussion. They were about 20 to 23 years old. So on top of the world. I knew what they were after…some clothing …something I owned. Not to sell, but to own and wear.

How much money did I make? Have I ever been to New York? What was it like there? What about California. Did I come from money? How big was my house? Did my wife work? What kind of car did I own? Why didn’t I drive a convertible?..I teased them and they would laugh. They finally told me they were Komsomoltsi..Young Communist League members. Which meant their fathers were active Party members and that gave them the confidence they were free to display. Their future as Party members would be assured. It also would mean that if they got into a bit of trouble their fathers would be able to cover for them. And they joked about it. They bragged about some such experiences.

Finally I told them I had to go. They approached me with a favor. They would take me out to a top spot restaurant of Kiev, if I would agree to wear the clothes I was wearing with one additional twist…”Please don’t let on that you speak Russian”.

“Whatever for”, I asked.
“We’ll tell them you’re from America. We’ll get the best table. They’ve got a good show there. You’ll like it.” I accepted. We went the very next evening. Yes, I was treated like a king from the moment I entered the place. The imperious receptionist proudly waved us past all the tables to the very front, about fifteen feet from a very pleasant sounding quasi jazz quintet. The Komsomoltsi were disappointed. Although they claimed they had never been there before, they had expected music something “younger”.

Somehow I believed them. I was really enjoying myself, but I was quietly nervous. No one there seemed to recognize them. Food was quite good. Something like salmon. I told them I would buy wine because in America no one drank vodka. So we had wine accompanying our three or four course meal leading off with a very good borscht. Crowd was good..dressed quite well for a State Socialist country. No one wore chartreuse, so I did steal the visual show for the evening. Toilets weren’t fragrant. A young gal sang along with the quintet for awhile, which turned more nostalgic than jazz. It would have been an enjoyable evening anywhere. I insisted on paying. They argued. I won.

I didn’t see these young Communists for several days. They said they were going to a family’s dacha. Some folks are more equal than others in the good old USSR, and these more equal folks are Party members.

During the following evenings I stayed out till an hour or two after midnight. When I returned to the hotel the same quiet old man would let me in without any fuss. About the fourth evening I returned about 3AM and the same fellow was on duty. I did ask him if this was inconvenient for him. He replied it was not. I spent these times in a nearby park picking out someone to talk to. Some gals going to beauty school, a student jounalist. This was late July. There were many people there in small groups till late hours of the night, talking. Not much drinking. I don’t remember seeing any, as a matter of fact. If so, it was all very quiet. In 1990 there were drunks everywhere.

Finally one night about 12:45 I returned to the hotel. The door was locked. Some of the lights were turned off. I wrapped and wrapped on the door. Then I pounded and pounded. The same man on duty for the ten or more days I had lived at the hotel, slowly and reluctantly shuffled toward the door.

“Go away”, he both ordered and motioned. “We close at midnight sharp!”….
“That’s not true, and you know that’s not true!” I reasoned rather loudly. “You have let me in after twelve every single night since I got here and never made a fuss. Don’t lie. “Go away”…and then..”Come back in the morning!” It went on and on…but I noticed he was weakening. Then I changed tactics. I was getting cold. “Who told you to lock me out?” “Tell me..Who told you to pretend you don’t know who I am?….Then he said, “Wait a moment”, and left the entryway with the door locking as it shut.

At least an hour later with me sitting against the entryway of Kiev’s major newest “downtown” hotel, the old man asked, “Are you the American on the twelfth floor”…He knew darned well who I was all the time. I had talked with him nearly every night since I had arrived. “Yes, indeed.” He let me in, locked the door and turned away quietly. The door was not locked at midnight the next evening, nor the next. This little two and a half hour delay getting into my hotel would never be forgotten.

Got Tea?

Prager Fans:

If I can get a few Prager fans to help out at the Tea Party on April 15 from 5-8 pm at the capitol in St. Paul, I can get the Prager Group listed under the local sponsors and get recognition for the group! We need help with “crowd monitors”, the water station, etc., etc. Please let me know ASAP by adding a comment to this post if any of you could help out and I will get our group added to the list before the next press release. Please pass this on to other members in the Prager Group and people you know. ~Jeanette~

Bring your signs — bring your friends — bring a teabag — bring your voices!!

The tea parties are for everyone (all parties and people) that are fed up with gov’t spending and the taxes we will ALL have to pay to support it. Spread the word!

Tea party MN:
http://teapartymn.com/

Nationwide Tea Parties:
http://taxdayteaparty.com/

May God Bless Rick Monday

If someone asked me who Rick Monday was, I would have answered, a major league baseball player. I am a sports fan, but one who has faded away from pro baseball over the last twenty years or so. I could have said no more.

I never knew he was such a great American Hero….until a few minutes ago. One of our faithful Prager fans, Gayle Lacny, sent me a video email of goings on in right field of a baseball game about 33 years ago. Two very small people were at work. For nearly a decade previous to these very small people, Bill Ayers, Huey Newton, Stokely Carmichael, and in my view the worst of the lot, now Senator John Kerry, became the founders of the Burn America revolution. They and many others gained great fame and many great wealth from their violence of deed and word corrupting truth and history for their moments of glory. Their cancers are with us today and will be with us tomorrow.

Some of the corrupters are advisors to commune-organizer Barrach Obama. Beware America. Know what they have wrought.

State Socialists have never expressed in public what they plot in private. In a democracy their conspiracies would never wash. They have always opposed American ideals because State Socialists prefer the trained sloth over liberty. State Socialists ALWAYS have spoken sugar words to the public. State Socialists have ALWAYS used social and racial jealousies to stir discontent. State Socialists have ALWAYS accused their democratic opponents of injustices they themselves commit. The result ALWAYS is the same, the loss of liberty and the deflation of the human spirit.

Until the John Kerry era of deceit I didn’t know any Americans who were trained to Hate America. These two very small people types in the video now teach at our schools and universities. Jeremiah Wright and hundreds like him preach in some of our churches. Others play act in Hollywood and write for the New York Times. Women’s and Black Studies programs spread their poisonous hatreds onto ensuing generations, producing thousands of Ward Churchills. All basking in the sun of American tolerance, gaining fame killing the “American” out of American youth. All in the name of ACADEMIC freedom. “Teach your poison of the day and build a stronger America”…the most revered freedom in contemporary American socializing.

Those of you who know me know how profoundly I agree with Dennis Prager’s claim that America is in the era of its “stupidist” generation. What breed will be bred by this, the stupidist generation, when truth will be further sugared by plot designed by ignorance? Commune organizer Obama wants all Americans to go to college at tax payers’ expense where they will learn more about communal work from the Ward Churchills. Listen carefully to commune organizer Obama’s promises. Then, THINK!

As the two very small people were using their cigarette lighter to enflame the American flag, Rick Monday, Dodger right fielder, sensing what they were about to do, with the power and athletic grace of a bald eagle swooped from his perch in right field, intercepted the object of the impending fire and flew to home base with the Stars and Stripes in tact.

May God always bless you, Rick Monday and every Rick Monday-like person. May God Help America.

Daniel Hannan MEP: The devalued Prime Minister of a devalued Government

MN Tea Party – April 15, 5-8 PM, at the capitol in St. Paul

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Tea party MN: http://teapartymn.com/

Nationwide Tea Parties: http://taxdayteaparty.com/

Private Enterprise In The Good Old USSR

Josef Stalin ran the Soviet Union as an 8 million square mile prison camp from 1927 till his death in early March, 1953. He claimed to have been sanctified by the primary orchestrator of this nightmare, Nikolai Lenin. Extermination of peoples was a policy of no complexity whatsoever. Friendships, marriages, relatives, generals, doctors, ditch diggers, pedestrians, poets, composers, premiers, state advisors, wives, sons, nearly an entire middle class, millions of peasants disappeared. Nothing mattered, nothing had any meaningful value except Communist Party loyalty. Interpretations of that very Communist Party loyalty changed often, and often dramatically,depending on who was murdered, who had disappeared, who had reappeared, who had been demoted or promoted. Tides rose and fell monthly and annually. Histories were erased. People who once existed were “unexisted”. Comrade Stalin pulled the strings. Last month’s killers were this month’s dead. Fear spread fear.

Public confessions at public trials were well staged, after private tortures. State Socialism was the gospel and the supreme god. Up was down, cold was hot, freedom was slavery, happiness was grief. State Socialism’s Grand Linguist had been Lenin. Language always determined the State! Own the Language, Own the Universities. Own the Press. Own all Ownership…everything owned by the State.

Every American citizen should be profoundly worried about his own country’s ownership over the last five years. Its Democratic Party owned the Schools and Universities, owned the Press and the Entertainment Industry, owned the Nation’s blacks, gays, single females, atheists, unions, Latinos and Speculators of Big Business, especially the ones who love Big Government. The groundwork is already established for State Socialism. Its leaders have advanced controls of free speech. University students learn there was no difference between the US and the USSR during the Cold War. State Socialism is advanced unopposed. Party line science is awarded with huge taxpayer handouts. Opponents to Democratic Party science are silenced. Histories are rewritten. Democratic Party propaganda is passed as daily news.

If the leaders of the Democratic Party were honorable Americans, they should be equally concerned with the collapse of fairness, honesty and responsibility in our American institutions, especially the schools. It is the same Democratic Party that never shouted loud and clear that its gangs stirring the bombings, riots, staged Communist style strikes, threats, attacks, raids, invasions of offices, and murders during the disorders of the late 1960s by the druggies, lefties, black extremists, peaceniks, groupies, and anarchists, was not acceptable, now and never in a democratic society. Lefties of the university faculties then advanced the State Socialist rules of Political Correctness. This Correctness cost Americans jobs, promotions, forced some into confessions,some had to attend Communist like sensitivity training classes, and since have been brainwashed to believe there is no difference between male and female except for socialization, no difference between East and West, between Jihad Islam and Christianity, or good and bad, for all is relative. None of this is good for America, but the country is not yet the Soviet Union. We still live in peace.

Republicans are silent because they don’t want to offend anyone. And, they too do not know history. What is good for the country isn’t often mentioned in Republican dialogue either. What is good image for the Party counts.

If there was any private enterprise during Stalin’s days, it was rooted out and most of its adherents were murdered. After his death, and associated political readjustments, a thaw did occur. In 1956 certain Communist Party leaders, led by Nikita Khrushchev gambled. In the Surpreme Soviet, he denounced Stalin and his “personality cult”. Intrigue continued. Fear continued, but the stakes were no longer so lethal.

By the 1960s people were allowed to grow vegetables in small private plots. Selling such produce was permitted at certain restricted markets. Profits began to be allowed. I remember reading statistics of tomato production. The private plots outproduced tomatoes grown in the collectives by about 100 to one. When I returned to the Soviet Union in October, 1990 there was a serious food crisis. Apparently the crops grew well, but the government fouled up the delivery system. I remember reading 90% of the cabbage crop rotted in the railroad cars because there were no locomotives to move the produce.

By 1990 the black market in the USSR was probably the greatest exchange of money in the country. Its entrepreneurs were interested in capital and an open market. Bribery was always part of the State’s economic system. Favors occured when paid for, or in Stalin’s time died for, or spent time in Siberia for. My dollars in 1990 were universally preferred to the ruble, the country’s currency. The State still owned nearly everything and still pretended the ruble had value. The shelves were nearly empty of goods. The pride of the Soviet propaganda’s supermarket, Moscow’s GUM had fewer than 50% of its shelves filled with merchandise the day I visited it in 1990.

That same year MacDonald’s opened its first restaurant in the USSR. It was a spectacularly beautiful MacDonald’s with all the stuff MacDonald’s usually sells. The quality was reliable. The menu was reliable. The long lines were reliable. The day I stopped by, 400 people or so were in each of two lines. By agreement MacDonald’s had to contract local growers for their vegetables, and the State for the beef and chicken. They paid well. Service was efficient especially when one considers the numbers served. Workers worked without mood swings. No abacus was in sight. One expansive wall was a huge map of the world beautifully lit as if it were projected in three dimension. Everything was clean including the restrooms. Rarities in USSR State run “businesses”.

In 1966 I stopped by a “breakfast” place. I think it was in Moscow. It was a cold, echo reverberating cement block building about a 4,000 square foot square with a smell of toilets in the air. No matter, I was still hungry.

At one line a person could order bread or a kind of currant roll. About 100 persons were waiting in a line, patiently. However, if one wanted coffee or tea, one would have to stand in a new line all over again at the opposite side of the building. About another 100 were waiting in that line. After purchasing my currant roll I moved over to the other line to purchase a cup of coffee to go with my roll. After thirty minutes only three customers were ahead of me. Suddenly there was an argument between the abacus “cashier”, and a fellow awaiting his coffee. Harsh words were said. Whereupon the abacus gal left her post disappearing into a small kitchen area. There she stayed for twenty minutes. I asked the fellow in front of me to explain what had happened. He said that this gal had worked at “this shop” a long time. She was quite tempermental. She often picked arguments with people and would get mad and go to the back room for a smoke. “She’ll be out in five or ten minutes” he assured me with total calm. And he added, “She’ll be allright”.

He had heard the spat. The man in the battle had ordered coffee. He had been heard to have ordered coffee. The girl at the abacus apparently thought tea, and handed out a cup of tea. She was offended when he said politely, according to witnesses, that he had ordered coffee. While she disappeared in a snit, the man waited patiently until the woman reappeared. She had recovered. The man finally got his coffee. Not a single person of about 80 in the line left the line or noticeably complained.

In 1966 almost no one talked in public. There were no discussions on trains, buses, along walkways or in restaurants. People walked but just did not talk except in very small groups in large expansive parks. There were no private autos crowding the streets. By 1990 all that had changed. Traffic and conversations were everywhere. Police no longer appeared or behaved threateningly. Fewer of them carried weapons. Yet there was rebellion in the air. In the morning of my third day in Kiev it began with screaming whistles around 10:30 in October, 1990.

The beginning of the end of the USSR had begun.

Barack Hussein: The Climatologist – Geologist

There is a flood along the Red River of the North. Barack Hussein, our Big Brother of the American political scene reminded us this morning that the rising river was another example of the ubiquitous threat to peace and prosperity in the world caused by global warming. Unlike updated left wing climatology politics, our leader referred to now outdated term, global warming rather than climate change. He must have forgotten the revision.

I am for global warming. Citizens along the Red River should be as well. As Dennis Prager reminds us, cold causes many more deaths around the world than a warmer globe. But more importantly, if the Fargo – Moorhead community would stoke up to climate zone 4 or 4 and a half. it would be a prettier spot and might not have any floods at all. It is all in the snow piles and when they melt. Climatologist Barack Hussein might be interested in heating up the area for economic reasons. A warmer North Dakota and Western Minnesota would explode with new riches. Save energy as well. Might even rid our state of its Democratic Party overspending.

By tomorrow though, Barack Hussein might read something geology. He is so exciting and rich in ideas. Don’t miss a single chapter of Big Brother Barack Hussein’s morning report to the Nation. He may decide to invest in moving the Washington DC landmass, monuments and all northward…to Maine, maybe. He’d like the cooling. Stay tuned.

Although Barack Hussein announced his flood of grave concern was reaching a record high with elegance and poise mixed with august certitude without teleprompter aid, further proof he was in transition to become an authority perhaps from powers beyond mankind, he didn’t mention that the record high flood level was reached in 1898. I wonder if he ran out of will. Or did the second place finish of the 2009 flood take all the wind out of his bag?

I don’t think Barack Hussein is interested in the flood exactly. He is interested in how special he has become to be able to talk so authoritatively about his discovery of modern climatology…the script Al Gore wrote. Yesterday he discovered the benefits of soaking the rich to bribe the poor. The day before, more accurately during his campaign to become President, in the same sentence he discovered he was against gay marriage, but that he thought we all should understand that there should be gay marriage. In between, after, and before… name any time since we have come to know our Big Brother Barack, he has prayed for more getting along, reminding us we should all be one. He cheerily sells the idea that the way to make money is to borrow and print…borrow and print..a trillion here and a trillion there, and four trillion in between.

I wonder what he says elsewhere without teleprompters. I am sure it is said with a smile.

“Students” From The USSR On Tour In The USA

In 1962 just 4 years before my great trek through the Soviet Union I was teaching Russian at the University of Minnesota High School located on the University’s Minneapolis campus. I got a call from a State Department official. He asked if I would like to accompany him with a group of Soviets around the Twin Cities area for about ten days. It was March and spring break. At that time no one was spoiled and wealthy enough to prowl the Mexican beaches.

I wouldn’t be paid, but to me that didn’t matter at all. I was expected to add conversation. My first opportunity to be with the real deals. I had met Yuri Morozov and a couple of his hockey team mates a few years earlier, when his Soviet squad came visiting to crush the University of Minnesota hockey team. I don’t remember much about the party evening except there was vodka and the place was crowded.

There had been an exchange “of equals” agreement. The Soviets needed cash. We needed friendship and to be loved. The agreement went like this…straight out of Washington. The US would send the USSR twenty young professionals. The Soviets agreed to receive a group of YMCA member students no older than 20 years. The USA seeking friendship rather than converts, didn’t push stipulations and were given 20 Soviet “young professionals” in return. Well, I can only remember Gennady by name. He was at least 40 and had been an editor, it was claimed, for ten years. The nineteen others were all over 35, all members of the Communist Party, and nearly all took notes as they passed through the show places offered by Twin City folk. This was by agreement considered “equal”.

Soviets liked younger Americans. These were a happy lot, gullible, naive, and, as always, simple minded when it came to understanding world realities. (They might become little Reds in no time, it was thought.) To these young folk the World was just like home…everyone having a peaceful time eating pizza, a food new to the Twin City college palate. They learned it was just what the schooners of beer needed at the college bar. Especially when entertained by Doc Evans Dixieland Jazz band shaking the floors in Mendota Heights. My memory tells me we took the 1962 Gennady led group there for an evening, which every one in this entourage did much enjoy.

Outside of the nine hour vodka party at the lower floor duplex on Erie Steet Southeast where my wife and I lived, I well remember two trips during the Soviets’ ten day visit. The first scaling a skyscraper sized flour mill high above Hiawatha avenue, and the other examining a new health facility out in rural Buffalo, Minnesota. On each occasion I was cornered by a Soviet visitor. At the mill it was by a Ukrainian. At the Buffalo facility a Lithuanian pulled me aside. In both cases the visitors appeared frightened. They made roughly the same plea. “Glenn, this is for you. Don’t tell any of the others I am giving you this.” The one from the Ukraine put into my pocket a little glass elephant. In the health clinic the Lithuanian handed me something tightly rolled up and made of cloth with a rubber band around it. “This is for you. Put it away. I’m Lithuanian.” He looked exactly like S. Z. Zachal, a Hollywood comedy character actor of the 1950s, but with no smile. “Be my friend”, he mumbled in English. The gift turned out to be a hand woven chartreuse and blue tie..something Lithuanian. All but one of the visitors was blue eyed. The exception was Gennady. Remember, folks Russians used to be Vikings.

We will meet Gennady again four years later in an unbelievable circumstance with odds about 200 million to one. At the beginning of our tour the State Department man reminded me that there would be likely two KGB (secret police) members in the group. They would be unknown to the members and to each other as well. This was the way it was. One had to spy on the others and reports had to be made. Files had to be filled. I had learned that from my studies. The State man asked me to think about which of the group might be the agents. After the visitors had left the area there was a gathering of five or six volunteers who had helped host the group. We agreed Gennady was likely one of the agents. He was always asking political questions. Oppression of blacks was always on his mind. Yet, he was an editor of a Komsomol (Communist youth) magazine. He might have been doing that job and the spying one as well. There was no agreement about who might have been spying on Gennady. These were only guesses anyway. We really didn’t know.

The going away party started at my place at 7 PM.. The visitors stayed at the University dormitories just off Oak Street, a couple of blocks away. I had picked up 36 bottles of vodka at Walt Sentyrz market in Northeast Minneapolis that morning along with other appropriate goodies. The flight for our guests would leave shortly after 6AM, but promptly at that time.

Guests, that is, the 20 Soviets, two State Department leaders, and three local Russian speakers, immigrants from Eastern Europe who had helped as interpreters mingled with about ten of my iinvited friends. Eventually the crowd swelled to about 50, perhaps more when the rumor spread their was a party on Erie Street with real Russians attending. By 4AM there were about 15 bodies lying around mostly on the livingroom floor. I knew I was going to be sick. Not from foolishness, but from custom. Each of the Soviet guests, except Gennady, and two others, cornered me in my kitchen for a special personal toast, a friendship secured by a guzzled glass of vodka. Some came back a second time having forgotten their first visit. Maybe some returned a third, but by that time I was just trying to hang on.

At about 4:05 someone whistled with a real whistle..Everyone was toast. Still, those who had a flight to fly, struggling and stumbling, with no idea where they were, including Gennady, somehow made it out my door. I stumbled with them, and contrary to custom, I was told later, I and two students who had been at the party, both total strangers to me, were allowed to enter the Soviets’ rooms in the dormitory. We helped them pack, that is, throw things into travel bags. Everyone panicked for fear the flight would be missed. I remember pushing bodies into a very crowded but quiet van destined for Wold Chamberlain airport as the Northwest hub was usually called in those days.

It was a cold evening with deep snow still on the ground. I walked the two blocks home alone. My head was ringing. I was sick for two days. I had done my duty. Except for the aftermath, I had enjoyed every minute of the tour.

Dinner At Boris’ In The Good Old USSR

At last I entered a Russian’s world of family and friends. No one said a word except for Boris. Silence among somewhere between twelve and fifteen people squeezed wall to wall around a large makeshift table in a room part parlor, part bedroom.

At home and among the large Russian community in San Francisco I had visited many, many emigre homes. None of them were sterile and modern. Pictures of friends, family, ancestors; doilies, throws, curtains, drapes, samovars, end tables, momentos, ottomans, every space had its belongings. All above a massive rug. But never a large table, makeshift or otherwise in the middle of the room or anywhere else. I had entered another century. With the exception of the “table” and its attendant chairs (no two alike) every form of furniture and everything associated with it was piled up along the walls of the room.

All room alterations had taken place since Monday afternoon. By now it was 7:15 Wednesday. Since everyone worked equal full time, this was a major effort.

I was introduced to everyone but remembered only four or five. I know the Sokolov’s kitchen partner’s family was there in full force. They had helped prepare the feast. They were thirtyish with one boy about seven years old. I gave him a Lincoln penny and told him Mr. Lincoln was my favorite American President. (I had stocked up with a half dozen rolls before I left the states. Needless to say the penny won me a bunch of points.) Boris’ brother, mother and her sister, and his wife Elena, I remember. We soon sat around the table for an introductory round of vodka, and some bread to go with it if you needed some to soften the bite. I pretended I didn’t need the bread.

I answered questions, one right after the other. Family…everything centered on my family for about the first hour or more, while we ate…while we drank.. God was with me. I talked so much I couldn’t drink as much vodka. Food kept being poured onto the table. Chicken, rice, beans, mashed potatoes and butter, lots of butter, fresh garden tomatoes, cabbage and more cabbage, and small imperfect, very imperfect apples, probably crabapples, and then more rice, etc. Tea from the samovar, hot, of course. And vodka here and over there, enough to make me worry each time there was a new question. Periodically, there was a toast, two , three, and then four. I faked the best I could. I was never a booze drinker. Only once had I suffered alcohol poisoning. That occured four years earlier when a group of 20 Soviet so called “young professionals” had visited the Twin Cities via a program with the US State Department. I was asked to accompany the group for language help. My wife and I had hosted a blast for these guests of about 50 at our southeast Minneapolis apartment, room for about 12, highlighted by a dozen crates of vodka. I hardly could make it out of my kitchen. Each individual Soviet visitor except three, quietly and secretly cornered me for a personal toast…bottoms up vodka. Figure it out…17 toasts.

I felt right at home at Boris’. Fortunately, I had learned a few vodka tricks.

There was a great difference between friends to Russians and friends to Americans. It was my observation then as now, that Americans have many, many acquaintances, but very few friends. Friends who would just about die for you. I found Russians of that day much more emotional about friends. They had few acquaintances. Whom could one trust? With whom could one speak with any kind of honest inquiry? or anything honest in a country based on political show. And with a secret police to back it up!

I cannot emphasize enough the emotional strength in this Russian bond of friendship and how infectious it is when one is among their congregation of friends.

Eventually, I felt comfortable enough to ask about the consequences of me, an American who speaks Russian, being with them. That opened up some mild differences of opinion. Boris, who commanded more respect probably because he was the host, claimed they were all vulnerable. He thought he was safe in his position, but if authorities of a meaner stripe ever inserted into his file that he had met a Russian speaking American and hosted a party for this dangerous foreigner, he felt he would never be promoted and probably in the future would be demoted to make room for someone more loyal. That opened up a rousing series of “can you top this story” about someone fired or frozen in his or her job.

By this time I had accumulated much less vodka than anyone else except for the boy, and some of the stories became more heartrending. Boris’ father had “disappeared” shortly after the war. A few others admitted to lost loved ones in the war, and yet others were arrested and just disappeared. Some had starved to death. It is probably true to claim no one, even the most devoted sycophants to Soviet Communism escaped these losses. Citizens in this Dictatorship of Equality were equal victims in this State Treachery. Yet, 1966 was not the time of Stalin, one of the great thugs of all time, far more natively evil than Hitler.
And I asked that very question..”What would happen to you folks if this were 1950? They all laughed. “Nothing…nothing at all. We would never have met you, Glenn. You! You’d be long dead by now!”

The seven year old boy listened to every word spoken that night.

Somewhere around midnight Boris took me aside. I had given him everything I could to help continue our friendship..addresses, phone numbers. He accepted but said that we could not meet again. He looked very embarrassed. Everyone heard what he said. I could see they concurred. I didn’t ask why. We were all upset, but tried very hard not to show it. The only souveniers of this moment of my life is my memory, this writing, and a little notebook Boris gave me at the airport with nothing more in it than: Boris Sokolov.

Dream Act Returns – Struggling to pay for your education . . . Want to pay for illegal alien college tuition? Yes you will . . .

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