Monday, June 20, 2011

Red Square at Christmastime

Our First Christmas in Moscow.  When you are in the capital of “Godless Communism” you appreciate your Christian faith and all its traditions much more.  However, I always had the feeling that many of the most dedicated communists still had buried deep in their psyche a rich religious tradition. 
            At Christmastime we attended Russian Orthodox religious services, which were beautiful, with priests wearing splendid robes, incense, and chanting parishioners. 
            Our maid, whom we figured was a Major in the KGB, and was assigned to report on all of our doings, had her husband, the plumber at the East German embassy, find us a Christmas tree.  It was a rather pitiful tree, but we appreciated their thoughtfulness.  Ludmila may have been a KGB agent, but she was a wonderful woman, and we learned a lot about life in Russia from her.
            Our middle son, Mark, had spent the last several months living with us in Moscow, and our daughter had been attending high school at an American school in High Wycombe, England.  She arrived by air from London.
Son Mark at the Train for Helsinki

Leningradsky Vokzal (Station). Our oldest son John and his friend Ned Walsh, both seniors at University of Rochester, had been conducting a low-cost, backpacking trip across Europe for several months, and the plan was for them to arrive by rail in Moscow three days before Christmas.  However, we had not heard from them for several weeks.   
 This was before cell phones and email, etc. However, surrounded as we were in the USSR with much uncertainty, we didn’t think there was much of a chance that the two college boys would actually make it across the Soviet frontier by the overnight train from Helsinki, Finland. 
            It was snowing lightly as we walked through Leningradsky Station.  Moscow has 14  train stations, most of them large termini for trains going to destinations all across the USSR. This station was for trains between Helsinki, Leningrad and Murmansk and other points in the far north.  Across the street was another rail station, for the Trans-Siberian Railway.  Other stations around the city served Kiev, Odessa, Poland and the rest of Europe, and so on. 
            Russian train stations were pretty much like a scene from “Doctor Zhivago”.  Grim-faced travelers with huge, heavy bags.  The women often wearing babushkas and the men wearing wool hats, or fur shapkas, but you’d also see a few Turkomans or Khirgiz or Uzbeks or Tadzhiks in their native dress.  Then there were the drunks. Large stations had a room where they would put the very drunk men seen staggering around the station, and you could look in where they were jammed in so tight they could hardly fall over.
            We reached the track for the train from Helsinki and shortly the train chugged in, and the people poured off.  They were mostly Soviet citizens, but there were a few international travelers, including young people with back packs. There were also Soviet soldiers and sailors.
            But no John or Ned!  We began to wonder how in the world we would catch up with them.  With everyone off, the train began to back out, to go over to another location to get cleaned up for the return trip.

Gals like this keep order on the trains.
            Then, just as the train started to move faster, our son and his friend jumped off, with all their backpacks and jackets flying behind them.  One of the sturdy, officious Soviet women who ruled the trains with an iron hand had found these two laggards still asleep in their compartment!  They had thought they had another 12 hours to travel. She booted them off unceremoniously.  Welcome to Moscow!
            We gathered the boys and their belongings and rushed them back to the Embassy, and Christmas.
            Chinese General Decorates our Tree.  We had a Christmas party, and one of our guests was the Chinese Defense Attaché, a large, burly man who resembled Mao Ze Dong.  Chinese military did not wear insignia of rank, but we figured this guy was about a Major General. 
            He brought for a gift a very beautiful set of Christmas tree ornaments made with bright colored feathers, and he insisted upon putting them on our tree himself.  He was as excited as a little boy doing that!  We still cherish those ornaments today, 30 years later.
            At that Christmas party we also had the Swedish, British, West German, Japanese, Italian, French, Turkish, Norwegian, Canadian attachés and wives, officials from South Korea, Chile, India, Egypt, our Ambassador, and other Americans.  But no Russians, as our government was showing the USSR our displeasure at their invasion of Afghanistan.
             It was a good Christmas.

The Personal Navigator offers these books and papers for your enjoyment:

Cambridge of 1776, The; Theatrum Majorum;  an Account of the Town, with which is incorporated the Diary of Dorothy Dudley, now first published; together with historical sketch, poems, etc. Adorned with Cuts and a Map Dorothy Dudley.  Diary by Greely, Mary Williams. 1876 Cambridge, MA: Ladies Centennial Committee by A.G. 123 pp. + adv. 14 x 21 cm. Miss Greely has concocted "Dorothy Dudley" to tell the story of Cambridge a century ago (1775-76) and W.D. Howells includes a poem to the "Fair maiden, whom a hundred summers keep forever seventeen.."  "History of Cambridge from 1631 to 1776"  by David Greene Haskins, Jr.  "Influence of Cambridge in the Formation of the Nation" by Andrew P. Peabody. D.D. "The Guests at Head-Quarters" by H.E. Scudder.  Light brown cloth on board finely decorated with gilt picture of the Washington Elm, blindstamped image on back cover. Tape label on spine, two or three pencil notations in margin of text, else very neat and a very good condition. (2739) $37.00. History

Canning:  Sketch of the Character of Mr. Canning. From the National Intelligencer of Sept. 15, 1827 By  Rush, Richard (?) 1828 Washington, DC: Gales & Seaton. Blistering picture of Great Britain's Foreign Minister, George Canning (1770-1827) published shortly after his death, apparently written by Richard Rush, but also attributed to John Quincy Adams.  Sketch accuses Canning of "British selfishness", toryism, undeviating support for monarchy, ridiculing popular movements. Canning was never the political friend of the U.S., writer states. "From Mr. Canning, literally nothing has been obtained -- no, never; though we have held frequent and protracted negotiations with the British Government, during his administration of the Foreign Office." 22 pp. 13 x 21 cm. Paper booklet, pencil notes on cover wrap: "Richard Rush, author". Minor foxing.  Good. (7929) $42.00. History/Great Britain

Chelsea Fire: Souvenir Book of The Great Chelsea Fire April 12, 1908; containing 34 views of the burned district and prominent buildings also a descriptive sketch 1908 Boston, MA: N.E. Paper and Stationery Co.  Fire that started at about 11 a.m. in the Boston Blacking Company on West 3rd St. near the Everett line. So intense was fire that buildings made of solid granite crumbled and were entirely destroyed. Number of buildings destroyed was about 1500, and between 10,000 and 12,000 people were rendered homeless. Photos show various scenes of damage, including Stebbins Block, looking up Broadway from Third St., Everett Avenue, corner post of Granite Block, Cherry Street, Odd Fellows Building, Bellingham Hill, Chelsea Savings Bank Building, Williams School ruins on Walnut street, Shurtleff School ruins on Essex St. Also Ruins of City Hall and City Hall School on Central Avenue, more. 32 pp. 15 x 10.5 cm. Paper booklet, good. (7958) $48.00. History/Boston

Coronation of King George V and Queen Mary, Illustrated London News Coronation Record Number, with 24 coloured and other platrs and many illustrations and portraits; price half a crown            Ingram, Bruce S., Editor           ca. 1911    London, England: Illustrated London News, 172 Strand, W.C. Elaborately and richly illustrated with full-color plates, many tipped in, with tissue shields. Elegant border designs for illustrations. Paintings of King George V and Queen Mary in coronation robes, painted especially for Ill. London News by C. Ouless and G.C. Wilmshurst, respectively. Painting of Heir to the Throne as a Naval Cadet, Edward, Prince of Wales. Paintings of Coronation-year Battleships and Vessels the King has Commanded, including Super Dreadnought "Neptune" and Battle-ship Cruiser "Indominatable". Painting of the British Dominions Beyond the Seas: Natives of the Greatest Empire the World has ever known.  Painting of officers in various uniforms of the King's "Own" Regiments of the Indian Army. Also includes advertisements. 29 x 41 cm. Pasteboard cover, 5 cm tear in spine top and bottom, edgewear also; small wrinkles in some tissue shields; good condition. (7821) $64.00. History           

British Charge at Balaklava in Crimean War

Crimean War: Memoirs of the Brave: A Brief Account of the Battles of the Alma, Balaklava, and Inkerman with Biographies of the Killed and a List of the Wounded, by James Gibson, Late of Sidney Sussex College 1855 London, England: Effingham Wilson, Royal Exchange. This little book about the Crimean War is dedicated to Rt. Hon. Sidney Herbert, M.P., Secretary at War. This edition includes letter from "our Most Gracious Queen" noting accounts of Miss Nightingale and Mrs. Bracebridge, and expressing her sympathy to families of those lost and wounded. Letter is dated Christmas, 1854, from Windsor. Brief accounts of battles of Alma, first Allied victory; Balaklava, second victory  with great disaster to British troops; and Inkerman, called "the soldier's battle". Memoirs of officers killed include Major-General Henry William Adams; Lieutenant-General the Hon. Sir George Cathcart; Lieutenant-Colonel Edward William Pakenham (nephew of Sir Edward Pakenham who fell before New Orleans); Memoirs of some 200 officers killed provide excellent biographical data and relate units men belonged to, family connection, peerage, and more. Also list of officers wounded; chronology of incidents of the war. 148 pp. 8.2 x 12.3 cm. 16mo. Attractive purple moiré silk on board with crest and crossed flags of France and Great Britain, and title. Covers warped, cloth missing from spine, edges frayed, dampstain on end papers. Gilt-edged pages. Fair. (7293) $195.00. History/Biography

Harper:  Speech of Robert Goodloe Harper, Esq. at the Celebration of the Recent Triumphs of the Cause of Mankind, in Germany, delivered at Annapolis (Maryland) January 20th, 1814   By Harper, Robert Goodloe, Esq. 1814 New Haven, CT: Oliver Steele. Harper (1765-1825) was a Congressman from South Carolina, then moved to Baltimore in about 1800, where he practiced law.  He served in the War of 1812, attaining the rank of Major General.  This speech celebrates the Prussian victory over Bonaparte, but then goes into a lengthy discourse about how the debt of southern planters led eventually to the War of 1812 with Britain. He tells about the British attack on the frigate Chesapeake in 1807, looking for deserters, that emboldened the "war party" in the U.S. "The passions of honest zealots; the erroneous theories of visionary, but well-meaning politicians; the cupidity of such as are governed in their political conduct by pecuniary interest; the ambition of demagogues, more desirous of distinction than attached to principle; the weakness of honest party men, and the low prejudices and passions of the vulgar, were all enlisted in the cause." 59 pp. 14 x 23 cm.       Paper booklet, quite browned. Illegible pencil notes on bottom of pp. 32-33. Fair.         (7925) $58.00. History/War of 1812

Hayward's Massachusetts Gazetteer, Containing Descriptions of all the Counties, Towns and Districts in the Commonwealth, and Fashionable Resorts by Hayward, John 1847 Boston, MA: John Hayward.  Descriptions of cities and towns of Massachusetts as they appeared in 1840s.  Description of railroads, colleges, lunatic asylums, hospitals in Commonwealth. Illustrated with engravings, incl. Boston and Bunker Hill from Chelsea, Landing of Pilgrims at Plymouth, 1620. Tables of population, property value, banks, visits by vessels to ports, railroads, lighthouses, latitude and longitude of towns, table of prices of 40 selected articles for fifty years. Viz.: Holland Gin was $1.33 per gallon in 1795, and $1.15 in 1844; Mackerel was $10.00 a barrel in 1795, $10.25 in 1844.  Includes description of "Brook Farm Phalanx" in Roxbury town description. 448 pp. 13 x 19.7 cm. Black cloth on board with black leather spine, spine frayed at heel and toe; gilt design and title on spine, pp. 279-286, one signature, partly detached. Good. (1438) $65.00. History

World War II Sailor's Photo Album, ca. 1945 ~23 pp. 25 x 29 cm. World War II sailor collected photos of girls, Navy blimps, his ship USS Zircon (PY-16), more girls, other sailors. Includes three small handmade sailor cartoons, two large photos of girls, charcoal sketch of young man, group photo of 1945 class at Naval Academy Preparatory School, Camp Peary, VA.  Leatherette photo album with photos inserted in plastic sheets, good. (5686) $50.00. American Originals/World War II/Navy/Ephemera

Het Panama-Kanaal, Proefschrift ter verkrijging van den graad van Doctor in de Staatswetenschap, aan de Rijks-Universiteit te Leiden op gezag van den rector magnificus Dr. H. Oort, hoogleeraar in de faculteit der letteren en wijsbegeerte, voor de faculteit te verdedigen op Vrijdag 23 October 1891, des namiddags te 2 uren, door Nicolaas Charles de Gijselaar, geboren te gorinchem. [in Dutch] by De Gijselaar, Nicolaas Charles; Oort, Dr. H. ca. 1891 Leiden, Holland: P. Somerwil. Very detailed doctoral dissertation on what would someday be the Panama Canal, in Dutch. Het graven van kanalen, die twee zeeën verbinden, behoort voorzeker tot de belangrijkste feiten van de 19e eeuw. 224 pp. 15 x 23 cm. Red cloth on board with gilt lettering, cover lightly soiled, very good. (5430) $28.00. History/Travel

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