Experiences in Russia 1931
Days 14 to 19
First published & copyrighted by the Alton Press, Inc, Pittsburgh, USA in 1932.
Transcription & republication by Dr. M. S. Colley & N. L. Colley. © 2002-03. All Rights reserved. For further information: www.colley.co.uk/garethjones/legal.htm ; the domain from where this file was originally downloaded.
Original Source material from the diaries of Gareth Jones' visit to the Soviet Union with Jack Heinz II , in Autumn 1931. For further Soviet articles by Gareth Jones, please visit: www.colley.co.uk/garethjones/
I went with Mrs. Patterson and her son to see a Prophylactia for former prostitutes this morning. The girls are sent there after receiving hospital treatment. The authorities attempt to change their lives, furnish them work in a healthy atmosphere, pay them, and give them “culture.” There are 120 girls in this Prophylactia. Their work consists of knitting cotton stockings by machine. Even here they have Shock Brigade workers who display red pennants with their records on them.
We had the privilege of visiting Madame Krupskaya, Lenin’s widow, a woman of sixty years, most kindly, most simple, and fine. Unfortunately she would not speak French, only Russian, and consequently I could not understand what she said. However, I could tell by her expression that her heart was in her work in the schools, and that she was proud to tell foreigners of this work.
She had white, whispy hair, brushed closely back from her face, a slightly twisted mouth, and heavy prominent eyelids. One eye was a little bloodshot. Her smile, however, was indeed full of sympathy and love for children. Her speech was clear and simple, without hesitation, and logical to a remarkable degree. It was a wonderful interview, with a really fine person.
As she is at the head of the Primary School System of Russia, education was the subject she discussed. Here are points she made:
Education must teach the child and the worker everything about production. Upon production she laid great stress at all times. The children must learn about factories and mines and farms, and how to increase production, she explained. The workers must also learn, and then help others.
There is a great desire among workers to study, and in some factories practically all the workers go to evening classes.
Then these workers go out to the collective farms to teach organization to the peasants.
Factories have special connections with the Kolhozi, and workers go from the factories to the Kolhozi and give the peasants the benefit of their organizing abilities. The factory workers have learned how to work and organize in groups, whereas the peasant has only been accustomed to work for himself.
Thus the factory worker brings to the village his experience in working and organizing. He also brings cultural education. He teaches the peasant to read and write. This is essential, not only from the cultural viewpoint, but also in knowing how to run a collective farm. I t is necessary to keep accounts, to make contracts, to figure and to budget.
Then she spoke of the children and Polytechnical Education. Polytechnical Education is now the great motto. Its aim is to educate the children to become at the same time workers and collective owners of industry. Thus it lays great stress on the part the future citizen must play in production. Each school has an arrangement with a factory or collective farm. The pupil frequently visits the factory and learns about production by practical experience in handling machines. When the children go to the collective farms they learn about life in the villages, and they also bring culture to the peasant.
This summer, for example, 500 children went from Moscow to Crimea. They all worked four hours a day and thus helped to reduce the shortage of labor that was apparent everywhere in the Soviet Union. In their spare time, they went on excursions, bathed, played games; and then returned home healthy and happy.
Workers and peasants are everywhere learning to read and write. Some people of eighty are trying to learn. In Saratov, there was a Pioneers’ crusade against illiteracy. The Pioneers visited every home and grouped the literate and the il1iterate. They put the illiterate to shame! They formed classes and taught them, and now Saratov has no illiteracy. In the villages, there are cultural centers, children’s gardens, and libraries. Where there are many tiny villages, a central one is made into the cultural center.
“Of course, we don’t teach religion in the schools,” Madam Krupskava announced.
“A German pedagogue wrote and asked me if we wanted to set up children’s towns where all the children would live together. I replied to him, ‘No, that would be a mistake. The children should have relations with their families, because they must learn about life, about factories, and about workers.’ Our idea is to have in the large new communal houses one floor devoted to the children. We must remember that in Russia nearly all the mothers work. They also want to learn, and to go to the cinema; so they are glad when they can devote their time to lessons while the care of children is taken off their hands.”
We heard an amusing story of an American doctor’s visit to the main hospital here. He was favorably impressed, except for the flies. He commented on them and received the excuse that the) were a “relic of the Czarist regime.”
Tonight, after an early dinner, from 8:30 to 10:00, we visited the famous Red Square and Lenin’s Tomb. The huge square was lit by search lights, illuminating the ancient Kremlin wall, with the Red Flag (illuminated) flying atop. The tomb stands against the wall; simple and beautiful in red and black marble. A line of 1,500 people, two abreast, were waiting to enter. Within, two sentries stood motionless - one at each end of the glass topped coffin. There lies the great man in state. It was quiet, except for the shuffle of feet. We passed out, thrilled by the sight of the body of men dead seven years.
We visited a communal prison with Mrs. Patterson and her son this morning. Expecting a highly disciplined jail, it was a surprise to find the prisoners wandering around quite freely and casually in their cell blocks and the prison yard. Murderers, thieves, and miscreants of all sorts mingled together. The warden told us that they are very proud of their penological ideas. They have educational and manual training classes for the men, there are no uniforms, and the "trusty" receives two weeks’ vacation every year. The whole place was far from clean, and we were very glad to leave after a brief inspection.
Mr. S., of Albert Kahn Inc., the great industrial architects, called at five and we walked home with him for dinner. He was very nice to us, and it was a most enjoyable evening. He lives with twenty-five other American engineers in some specially built apartments, the neatest houses I have seen anywhere. He and his wife share an apartment with another couple.
During a very good dinner, our host told us about some of his experiences. He has an office staff of 550, mostly very young boys and girls, and he is expected to turn out 700 million rubles worth of buildings with the help of his twenty-five American engineers. It is difficult to keep the Russians at one job - they want to learn everything before they know anything well. Their thirst for knowledge is tremendous.
Last November the workers got no pay for a month’s work because of a change in the Soviet bookkeeping system.
They had a “Chistka” (cleansing) in his office, and two of his best Russian engineers went off to Siberia.
There is an amazing system for reporting inefficiency to the Workers’ Discipline Committee, which is elected in the office. The method is simply to place a written charge (unsigned) in a box, and this leads to almost incredible extremes. Even the youngest girls will report an American engineer if they think he is not working.
The trouble is that there is no central authority outside of the Workers’ Committee. Mr. S. cannot discharge a man if he desires. But he can keep order, at least, and when he leaves, “God knows what will happen!”
The office employees also go to the country to teach, or to dig potatoes; or to a factory to work on their “off” days.
“It’s often a case of bluff all round," said an engineer, speaking of Soviet engineers and their estimates and projects. “They dare not say it can’t be done, for, if they do, off they go to Siberia. Hence many figures are inaccurate.”
In the case of signing drawings which he knows are not right, Mr. S. is always sure to have some trust chief OK them. For instance, recently they wanted him to OK the use of 100-foot rails, instead of the standard 60 - foot.
“But how can you transport them or ears?” he asked. “You can’t get them around turns!”
Yet they insist on having the longest rails in the world!
The Soviets claim to build a flat brick arch lintel of six metres without a steel beam. Mr. S. figures that two metres only are safe. Yet they insist on the other!
They mix concrete flooring sixteen parts gravel, one cement, one lime, four sand. Any engineer knows the mixture is not right and will not last. But the Russians are short of building materials!
Here it is a case of a new method of attack; the engineer must save material, and not worry about wage costs. This is just the reverse of conditions at home.
Lack of co-ordination and planning are two of greatest faults. In the South, there will be a steel plant two and a half times the size of the one at Gary, Ind. Right now the American production manager has been waiting down there for four months at a $1 5,000-a-year salary and expenses, and even the timber is not cleared yet. Just today, Mr. S. had plans submitted to him for building a huge carburetor plant - bigger than the one constructed for Ford. But they want to locate it six miles from the railroad! All materials must therefore be trucked six miles. Mr. S. warned them, but the plant must go there!
At the cement plant they erected a huge new building, but at the last minute changed from American to some other machinery. Result - they have improper hook-ups, and must transfer them from the old factory to the new one every six months, so that they can say both are operating.
The difficulties of building are great. Mr. S. said he designed a steel sash, only to find it could not be made, owing to the lack of steel. Glass, too, is scarce. Window sashes, instead of being produced in lots in one factory, are often made individually on the job by carpenters. Consequently, costs are double those in the United States.
We went to a church service for a little while tonight, and enjoyed the beautiful singing. Quite a crowd of people attended - about 200. As usual, everyone stood up, and the priest walked through the crowd at certain times, swinging a censer. There was much bowing and scraping, crossing, and kissing the ground, with a great contrast between the poverty of the people and the rich robes and gold crown of the officiating priest. Lighted candles, much gilt work, and innumerable icons with lamps in front, completed the picture - side from the usual Russian smell!
Mr. S. told of the fuel shortage of last winter; it was serious, only the industries being allowed to have coal. But Mr. S. wanted to heat his apartment and knew the head man in a Moscow factory which had a lot of coal, although the plant was not operating; so he got him to send coal, a lump at a time, in sleighs at night, so that people would not ask questions. Then he had “two heats” a day. All the windows were sealed with putty, and the steam heat was turned on at about 5:00 a.m. and again at 8:00 p.m., each time for about an hour. The result was not an exactly even temperature.
We passed a toy shop today having this amazing caption on a box of building blocks for children:
“A Mass Political Toy According to the Resolution of the 16th Congress of the All-Union Communist Party.”
Imagine children with such significant political playthings!
Jones translated the following remarks by the servant girl (a peasant) of two old Russian noblewomen living quietly in Moscow:
“The peasants are terribly dissatisfied. They have been forced to join the Kolhozi; they want their own patch of land, their own house, their own cattle and pigs, and to work for themselves. My two cousins worked day and night. With their own hands they made bricks. They built houses, and what happened. They did not want to join the collectives and they were taken away to the Urals, where it is very bad. My other cousin had two cows, two pigs, and some sheep; he owned two huts. They called him a Kulak and forced him to sell everything. Only three hundred rubles did they give him. In the Kolhozi, nobody wants to work.
“In my village, I hear they have murdered two Communists.
“The peasants cannot kill their cows or their pigs without getting permission from the Natchalnik, the village boss. They were told that if they did not join the Kolhozi, everything would be taken from them. Many were sent to Archangel. They eat very little now; they used to have meat, but not now.”
On the way home from this visit, Jones asked a worker in a restaurant if he now ate more or less meat than before the Revolution.
“Less, of course,” came the abrupt reply.
Today is Sunday, but no one knows one day of the week from the other - business goes on as usual; for some it may be a rest day, that is all. It is a strange feeling, not finding one day in the week when people drop their daily tasks and rest.
We saw a fine sign today - for Sunday:
“Alcohol is the Friend of Religion.”
I had a talk with Spencer Williams, of the American Chamber of Commerce here. He is a rather mild man, and it is a tough job he has these days. He gave us the following opinions and information:
“The Five-Year Plan is only a slogan not necessarily a schedule which must be fulfilled. “Stalin’s new policy is merely a temporary phase.
“There is little private trade left in the country now; and next year there will not be any!
“Diesel engines are being turned out in quantity, but quality is lacking. Two or three boats on the Black Sea have proceeded at too fast a tempo, and, also, there is a general tendency for managers to be easy in making inspections.
“Labour has too high a turnover and is nomadic. Food and housing rumors fly about to the effect that better conditions exist elsewhere, so workers move off.
“A decline or rise in the exports of the U.S.S.R. will depend very much on the world crisis.
“Last year was the test year for agriculture. The Russians succeeded. This year is the test year in industry.
“Most of the orders for machinery are now going to England.
Later, a worker said:
“Only when we are dead will conditions be better. They are much worse now than before the Revolution. The peasants are very angry. We only get salt fish, but in the Kremlin they get everything.”
On the way home through the park we passed a little girl, about eight years old, seated on a bench reading a book. It was titled “New Shock Brigade Workers.”
Farther along, a man was just about to be “framed” by one of those ten-cent-on-the-spot-for-the-folks cameras. He was in overalls and cap, dirty of face and hands, and evidently proud of being a worker - the new philosophy of the “dirty shirt” as opposed to the “white collar.”
We walked along a side street, entered an open gate to a courtyard, knocked on the dilapidated door, and asked if we might look around.
Here lived, in the greatest squalor, forty persons in thirteen rooms, and only one kitchen!
“Most of the people in this house are Communists,” said the young woman who appeared at the door. “There isn’t such a split between the young and old. We let the old believe in religion. My old mother is religious and lives in the country, but it doesn’t make any difference to us.”
In discussing the Loan, a window washer said:
“Plokho! Plokho! [Bad! Bad!]
I get 120 rubles a month. When the Loan came I was forced to pay a whole month’s salary. Each month I pay twelve rubles to the Loan. It is voluntary, they say! And all the time there are new Loans! I don’t want to waste twelve rubles each month; I can’t afford it, but I have got to pay.”
The following statements were culled from a conversation with two factory workers, one railway man, and a caretaker.
“Before the Revolution we could get everything, and cheap. We had plenty of meat, butter, eggs, and milk, and they were cheap. Now we have to pay ten rubles for a kilo of sausage. Before, it cost only thirty-five kopecks. We have had only ten eggs since January 1st.
“Moscow is the best place. In the provinces, it is far worse. And as for the peasants, they are worse off than they have ever been.”
“There is no opposition left now. Bukharin wanted to give more food to the workers, but Stalin said, ‘No, we must hurry up, quicker and quicker to industrialize.’ It is dangerous to be in opposition.”
“What about the figures they publish?” asked Jones.
“Figures!” the speaker exclaimed. “You can’t eat figures! You see that tree there. It is not an apple tree, is it? But the Communists say, ‘Tomorrow that tree has to grow apples!’”
“In our factory, we can’t say a single thing. They say everything is voluntary. Voluntary, indeed! They get up a meeting, and pass a resolution by asking who is against it. Nobody wants to get into trouble by putting up his hand. If he did, they would say, ‘Oh, you’re against the government, are you?’ You may disappear. Oh, yes, a lot have disappeared! They have been shooting people, too, and they have places in Siberia for the opposition.”
“People do not like Stalin. He is too hard. I would say that only two percent of the population respects him.”
“It is much worse for the peasants than for the workers.”
“No, the Communists do not on the whole live better than the others.”
“In our factory, if four of us are friends they put a Communist in between us to listen to our conversation. We must be very careful about what we say.
“Now, it is almost impossible to leave one factory for another. They make you stick there.”
“It was fine under the NEP. [New economic Policy, 1921-27]. When we had private trade, those were the days. We ought to have private trade again.”
“The Five-Year Plan is all on paper.”
“The newspapers are terrible. One cannot read them. Nothing but industrialization, collectivization, and silly words like that.”
Fair weather again today. I wish I could go swimming. No exercise for weeks. We walked a long way to find Eugene Lyons this morning. He is the A. P. correspondent in Moscow, and lives quite nicely.
“They are trying to raise the standard of living now,” he said. “All the devices and announcements are in the same direction - toward the betterment of living.
“Russia does not want to dump. She has undersold because of the sheer necessity to secure foreign credits. The whole question could be settled by a large loan. Their new methods of finance are theoretically not justified, but they have found justification.
“This is a period of easing up, and a new deal for technicians. Shortage of labor is forcing the government to accept the aristocrats and old-regime engineers.
“Now, there is a complete absence of organized opposition. The Party has never been so unified.
“Coal production is planned to reach 140 million tons by 1933. If they do not do as well as estimated they put up the figures. This quota has been raised from 125 million just to give them more to shoot at.
“The Koihozi give more control to the government. Young people want the Koihozi.”
Later today a somewhat drunken fellow came up to Jones.
“Oh, so you’re from England, are you?” he leered. “That’s the country we are feeding, that’s where we are sending all our food. How can we live now? They are shooting workers and exiling them. We are forced to do everything. There is always a show of hands at meetings - f only we could vote secretly!”
We visited the private market this afternoon. This market, as the name implies, is not State owned, and as one might expect, there is a tremendous amount of second-hand stuff for sale, much of which is bought by peasants. The peasants are also allowed to come into town and sell their food if they wish to do so. Last year many of the old aristocracy were selling their jewelry and family heirlooms here, but although we visited the private market in Moscow on two different occasions there was practically no one selling anything of that character. This is, no doubt, due to the fact that those of the old aristocracy who remain are becoming afraid to show themselves.
There were hundreds of little booths, selling everything from vegetables to a balalaika, with crowds of people in the narrow passage ways between the booths. There seemed to be an ample supply of vegetables, but no meat. Many odd traders stood around, too. One woman wanted four rubles for a cake of laundry soap; another asked the same price for a pair of child’s cotton stockings. Old clothes, patched shoes, anything may be found for sale at exorbitant prices.
“Where can we buy icons?” we asked.
“What’s the use? They are only pieces of wood. Wasting money on wood, indeed!” replied a woman of forty, who had an old piece of fur for sale. And she laughed!
Another woman beside her added:
“Very few buy icons nowadays. What’s the use of them?”
Many gypsies were there in colorful India print dresses. Most of them were women, fingering dirty packs of cards. Sharp of eye and cozening of smile, they try to tell one’s fortune. Half-naked children and babies scuttle around them rags and tatters, dirt abounds - these, the gypsies.
I met a charming American girl in a Torgsin store this afternoon, and went over to see her later at her hotel. She hailed from Sheridan, Wyoming, and had been over here with her father for ten months. She had driven from Berlin to Moscow with two boys, and slept in haystacks on the way. Quite a girl!
Tonight Jones and I went to call on an old Russian gentleman. We walked miles, up dark streets and down dirty alleys, and finally discovered the building where he lived. We climbed several flights of dark, creaking stairs. We knocked on a dilapidated door. No one came. We knocked again. The door opened a few inches, and a bedraggled woman asked what we wanted.
“Is Mr. N. at home?”
“No, he is not here now.”
“Could you tell us—?” we questioned.
“Well, you see, he has moved!” she interrupted.
“Oh—it is far away, quite far.”
“Well, he has gone to the Urals, but not of his own accord,” she replied.
Thus vanish the members of the old nobility.
We dropped in to see Podoiski again today. He is the acting secretary of the Press Bureau, and a very brilliant and suave man, with a hard, steely eye. He had been getting some information for us.
We finally made an appointment to see Karl Radek, editor of the Izveslia, and quite a famous person in Russia. He belonged to the Trotsky “Right Deviation”, and lost out in the Party machine when Trotsky fell. He is a man of amazing appearance, with great horn-rimmed glasses, coarse features, and a set of under-the-chin whiskers like the cartoons for Pat and Mike stories. He looks as if he had tied a piece of fur around his face from ear to ear. His English is atrocious, mostly on account of the inflection.
He spoke of President Hoover:
“A fine man, a good engineer, but he does not know men!"
This was a little surprising, but he may have meant that President Hoover is not conscious enough of the public’s opinion and the attitude of his advisers.
“For the next twenty years we shall be absolutely occupied with our internal development and markets,” he said. “The masses need so much! The peasants, also, want to have better clothing and commodities. Dumping is not done. Could we receive a higher price for our products we would be very glad.
“It is nonsense to say that Russia will be independent and self-sufficient. The more a country develops, the greater its foreign trade relations will grow. Thus we have every reason for peaceful relations, and for strengthening them. The needs of the country are growing. I believe relations with foreign countries will be better.
“There is a greater feeling of power in the country. It is an argument for a quieter policy. We are growing stronger in Russia. Every year more peasants realize that the tractor is better than the horse. We are stronger."
He paused with a display of considerable pride after these warmly spoken words, filled his pipe, and lit it.
“Now!” he exclaimed in his strange imperative manner.
He spoke of Soviet Russia’s attitude toward various European countries.
“Does Russia want Poland?” he asked. “If things in Europe stabilize why should we have a common frontier with Germany? It would be worse to be next to a strong Capitalistic nation (Germany). If there is a. revolution in Germany, how can Poland stand between revolutionary Germany and revolutionary Russia? Poland would probably revolt, too. We can wait and see.
“Germany! Every nation must be its own savior. A feeble revolution in Germany would be a great set-back for us. We would be obliged to help them. I do not think that a German revolution is a concrete possibility. First, because the German worker realizes that Germany’s location between imperialist France and Poland would force him to fight, from the very first day, against intervention. Second, Germany is dependent upon foreign nations for raw materials and food. This was not the case with Russia.
“Before the war, France made Russia a tool against Germany by her loans to Russia. Now the situation is different. We can do without loans. We shall no longer be the tool of the policy of others.
“As long as two worlds exist there is always a danger. If Poland or Roumania attacked Russia it would have the support of other Capitalistic countries. The sharpening of the crisis in Poland gives an opportunity to adventurers. But on the other hand, war with Soviet Russia would be very difficult.”
Radek’s newspaper articles have been spreading the cry of intervention, but I think he himself does not believe in that theory.
“With the new Franco-Russian relations, will Russia’s attitude towards the Versailles Treaty be modified?” Jones asked.
“At a time when the Versailles Treaty is crashing on all replied Radek, “it would be nonsense to think that Russia would defend it. The treaty will not be a basis for world relations.
“America and France have great resources; they will prosper at the expense of England and Germany. But the Capitalistic world cannot have general prosperity! The greatest danger for England is not English Communism but American Capitalism!
“Russia is the country with the worst propaganda. It is weak in spreading propaganda because foreign newspapers suppress it. But every Ford car makes propaganda for America. The Soviet government only makes propaganda when Litvinoff speaks in Geneva. I know of no evidence that we spread propaganda in America.”
This is Radek’s plan to improve American-Russian relations:
1. End the embargo and anti-Soviet crusade.
2. Mutual recognition is necessary. The political aspect is important.
3. America must drop the policy of America for Americans.
“We are a country like America,” he said. “Without your help, development would go slower. But there is no power that can check us.
“Intervention would mean the destruction of Germany and Poland. We do not intend to intervene in other countries. History will decide which is the better system.”
We visited the Kremlin this morning with a group of Intourist people, and encountered an interesting man from New York, a Mr. Richmond, a book collector. I confess the Kremlin was a disappointment. The exterior is romantic in appearance, with all its towers and Byzantine domes sticking above the old brick walls, but the interior is only a confusion of modern Renaissance plaster buildings, and some of the old 15th century churches, with Russian domes from which the gilt had been stripped.
Immediately after this, I ran most of the way, because of an appointment, to the office of S. O. Zuckerman, Chief of the Supply Department of the Narcomsnab (the people’s food commissariat). He was a pleasant man, who spoke excellent English and proved very friendly. He explained the organization of his department, with its thirty independent units assigned to such industries as meat packing, canning, sugar, milk, butter, poultry - trusts. He said they had no program for the export of any of these products, but that they sold when they could, or when necessary to have valuta.
“We are exporting sugar, and shall continue to do so,” he said. “Last year two million tons were produced; this year two and a half million. The ‘vegetable front is much better than last year. Everywhere there is plenty. In fact, the vegetable program was overfilled. In one year, we changed the entire situation.
“Two years ago there were no margarine factories. Now we have two modern plants, and next year there will be nine more.
“There is now a shortage of meat and fats, for two reasons. First, the cattle stock is not so large as it should be. Second, the meat industry is not yet modernized.”
He made no comment on the serious undernourishment of manual laborers on this account.
“When the canning industry is complete,” he said, “it will be as modern as the American industry. Cold storage and refrigerator plants will be built. We are now building three dry ice plants sixteen new cold storage houses were put in operation this year. Eventually we will have some sort of refrigeration in every meat shop.”
There’s a pipe dream for you!
“You find private trade only in the villages, in the bazaars and on the streets,” he continued. “The bazaar cannot supply the trade necessary. It is an abnormal way of trading. Private trade is hardly noticeable in volume, nor is there any wholesale private business. It will all disappear soon, and the State and Co-operative organizations will do everything. There is far less private trading than a year ago.
“Under the new system much responsibility is placed on the plant manager. Before, it was bad, and the State was expected to support a losing organization. Today if it is not OK, the manager is moved. It works wonderfully. No one will order more than he needs.”
Canning Industry (In millions of tins)
Plan 1931 1932 1933
Meat 220 390 750
Fish 265 450 700
Fruit 60 110 260
Vegetables 205 375 855
Tomatoes 130 215 485
Mr. Zuckerman was kind enough to send us off in an auto, with an interpreter to see the president of the Torgsin stores concerning the purchase of the “57”. It was a lot of fun, and I arranged to send him samples, after giving him a fight talk through my interpreter. I also told Mr. Zuckerman that the prices charged for the goods in Leningrad were too high, and he said he would fix that, as he regulated such charges. I wanted Mr. Jdanoff, of Torgsin, to try some hot beans, and made an appointment to see him in an hour. Just as I arrived, with my hot tins, the rascal drove off in his car. Audible comment on Russian politeness and business ethics!
Here are a few more observations about Moscow:
There are many new restaurants, but prices are all very high. Meat dishes cost three to four rubles, and fish four to six. Jones and I had lunch at the Grande Hotel one day, and got a kind of beef stew for four rubles. We decided it was much cheaper at the Metropole where you pay in dollars. There you can get soup for fifty cents, meat and potatoes at $1.00 or $1.25, and ice cream (very good) at forty cents.
We had some laundry done. For washing a handkerchief I was charged fifty kopecks, and for shirts two rubles.
A bath at the hotel cost $1.50, without soap.
The Hotel Metropole is really a swell place, and quite typically there is a radio in every room, but no toilet paper anywhere. Of course there is no writing paper. Every night they have gypsy music with a troupe of eighteen women and six men who dance and sing. The gypsy group is rather picturesque, but only half are gypsies. There is a jazz band, too, that plays very poor music after 11 p.m.
We left Moscow tonight for Nijni. It was cold and rainy. The taxi cost $3.00
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