Thursday, May 14, 2009

Back in the.....U.S.S.R

I had to do it. I made my pilgrimage to the Ithaca Friends of the Library Book Sale.

My "find" was not a book, but rather some old magazines. History Lovers heaven!

If you aren't of a "certain age" you will not remember Life magazine (except maybe in the name "Time-Life"). If you are of a certain age this magazine will bring back memories.

In a corner, I followed the musty smell and found a stack of old Life magazines. Many were heavily damaged but some were not. The persons (the mailing labels were still on these, and they weren't the same person) seemed to have a common interest in the space program - and in the Soviet Union.

They were $1.00 each and - to be honest- reeked, so I didn't want to buy too many.

After some digging I found my little treasure - the March 29, 1943 "Special Issue USSR" with a picture of Joseph Stalin on the cover. Now keep in mind that I grew up during the Cold War, did my share of Duck and Cover, and to this day hearing the sirens calling out the volunteer fire department make me cold and scared for a quick second before I reassure myself that they aren't air raid sirens announcing the atomic end of the world as we know it.

Well, my inner historian reminded me that at this point in time the U.S.S.R was our ally (against Hitler). And sure enough I paged through the magazine and saw this article "Red Leaders. They are Tough, Loyal, Capable Administrators". Not exactly the, er, party line I would hear in my growing up. Other articles praised the accomplishments of the Soviet Union, and even the accomplishments of the Russia of the past 1,000. years.

Remember the U.S.S.R? Remember the Reds? Remember Communism? My 19 year old son doesn't. He wasn't even two years old when the Soviet Union fell on Christmas Day, 1991. As for my generation, the Red Menace dominated our childhoods. What a difference a few years makes.

To my Cold War amazement, there is even an article "The Soviets and the Post-War" subtitled "A Former Ambassador to Moscow Answers Some Perplexing Problems". The author is one Joseph E. Davies, who famously supported the Soviet government even back in the 1930's, before we became allies.

One question asked of Mr. Davies was "Is Russian determined to pursue the cause of world revolution?" His answer began "In my opinion, no."

Seven years later, in the Joseph McCarthy era, this article may have been unprintable. The story of Joseph Davies is quite interesting, if this article is accurate.

I don't want to get political here, so just suffice it to say that this magazine, and the other three I bought, will be a source of much pleasure to me.

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