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My Favourite Russian

When I was a child all we ever heard was the Russians were going to get us.  The teacher taught us how to get under our desks in case they attacked.  When I was thirteen, Sputnik was launched and we were all doomed!  My friend Bobby Gibson named his bike Sputnik and started smoking Players Navy Cut  cigarettes.  He said we were all going to die anyway so why not enjoy ourselves!  I never bought into the notion that smoking was having a good time. I was too worried about how I looked and smelled to smoke.

My mother did a stellar job of convincing me only very bad street walking girls and wayward movie stars smoked. She told me they all smell like cigarettes and had bad breath, not to mention yellow teeth and stinky hair. I got the picture. Why wear fancy perfume if you smoke?

It was the Russians I never understood.  Daddy who fought in WW2 and spent two years in York England talked about “The Bear to the North” and said Churchill said never to trust them.  We all knew about Churchill and the Royal Family and how the little British Children were sent on trains to the countryside during the wicked German Blitzes.  We loved and respected the Royal family and we all liked IKE!

We were worldly, Informed and happy!

Yes, I grew up in a marvellous time. We were kids, no video games but hero’s like The Lone Ranger, The Cisco Kid and Snow White!  It was those Russians that stumped me.

Our neighbourhood was very ethnic,  Italians, Irish, Poles and a few Germans but they were all  Catholic, no sense in fighting with people you go to Church with.  They all had stories to tell and that’s what I loved the most.  Far away places, I never dreamed that I would see any of them, growing up in Canada we thought the USA was foreign and very mysterious.

It was those damn Russians.  Didn’t they learn anything from the War? And if they were so bad, why did we go to Madam Fenia’s for dinner every other Sunday and eat Perogi?  She was a Russian and my mother’s best friend!  The Papa was named Conrad and they told stories about how they escaped Russia by travelling to Japan during the Revolution.  I loved reading about Anastasia and all the KIngs and Queens and especially the Fabrege eggs. I was a most peculiar kid!

I learned to give everybody a chance, trust but verify and I have been that way all my life.  Putin is a very bad actor, but he hasn’t jostled with Mr. Trump yet, he just might have a few lessons to learn. My money is on Trump!