Eugene Cordell Vail
Russia, Estonia and Finland
Business Trip Taken in 1985


Moscow, Russia 1985

The famous St. Basil's Cathedral was commissioned by Ivan the Terrible and built on the edge of Red Square between 1555 and 1561. Legend has it that on completion of the church the Tsar ordered the architect, Postnik Yakovlev, to be blinded to prevent him from ever creating anything to rival its beauty again. (He did in fact go on to build another cathedral in Vladimir despite his ocular impediment!) The cathedral was built to commemorate Ivan the Terrible's successful military campaign against the Tartar Mongols in 1552 in the besieged city of Kazan. So I had to have a picture of me there to prove I had been there.

This is David Stapley, our interpreter and me (on the right) in front of the Kremlin in Red Square.

We were going to go into Lennon's tomb but the line was too long so we decided to wait and go on the next trip. Dumb me. Never was a 2nd trip for me. Stalin was no longer there by Lennon still was in 1985. It has been removed now.

This is me and the interpreter and our guide (who did not want his picture taken) on the bridge overlooking the sports stadium in Moscow. They were both very closed mouthed and would not talk about anything with us except official business. But by the end of our 2 week trip she got so she trusted we were not KGB agents and she opened up and started to talk to us about what it was like to live under Communism. It was so interesting to talk to her. She spoke excellent English. I asked why they did not ask America to come and help them overthrow Communism if they did not like it. Then she said something so profound to me for someone from Russia. She asked me if I liked the IRS. I said no. She said, "Well do you want us to come over and help you over throw the IRS?" She said that they did not need our help to overthrow Communism. They would do it themselves. And as we see they did!

We had to be very careful taking pictures (the country was still communist). So we were only allowed to take pictures of certain things. We could not take pictures of bridges (notice I am taking one FROM the bridge) Rail Road Stations, Power Lines, Nuclear Plants, ... well the list read like all the places they were afraid we would come and bomb.

These are people in Red Square. Because it was May Day we were not allowed to go anywhere. Dumb planning on our part. But we got to see a lot of the May Day celebrations in Moscow.

The Moscow Circus is very famous. We got to go there so I just stood up and took a picture of the crowd. Lucky I didn't get arrested. Later the taxi driver told us he could not believe we went down there in that area alone. Said we were very luck we were not mugged. Tough part of town. Wonderful circus however.

We did not see computers any where. Even accounting was still being done by hand. Then one day at a "FUTURISTIC SHOW" where they were showing inventions that were coming "SOME DAY" we actually saw a computer. It looked like a computer from the United States from the 60's not 1985. We had to laugh as we talked to people and they said they saw no need for computers.

The funniest thing I saw in Russia in 1985 was this set of drink machines. There was no such thing as competition of any kind in Russia in those days. One meat store, one bead store, one milk store. If you did not like the dress they were selling in the dress store you could wait until next years version came out. These drink machines had glass glasses on top. For some reason they did not show up in the picture. You took the glass glass, put it in the machine, pushed a button and it washed it. Then you turned it over and pushed the second button and it filled it with orange juice. Then you put the dirty glass back on top of the drink machine for the next person to use. And notice I said orange juice. They did not even have choice of juice flavors. I mean come on, that would be competition. They were fiercely against any form of competition. In a restaurant you did not order what kind of soft drink you wanted. The question was yes or no. They only had Pepsi. Coke missed the boat when Nixon went there so it was only McDonalds and Pepsi that got in. No other choices.

Some of the banners of Lennon in Red Square were huge for May day. That was really a big deal in Russia back then. Still is.

There were lots of May Day parade every where we went. Sort of like the 4th of July in America.

We got to go to this huge amphitheater where they had a big celebration for May day but we were not allowed to go to the celebration.

Leningrad(St .Petersburg), Russia - 1985

We went to Leningrad. It was so obvious when you saw a building that was built by the Russians. The workmanship was very poor, and it showed. This was a brand new apartment house and it looked 40 years old. The facing was all crooked on the front of it. But when there is no competition you don't have to do a good job. Who else are they going to get to do the work. Have it or go with out was their motto. It really made me appreciate capitalism and America.

Here is the Hotel we stayed in in Leningrad. It was built by Swedish Contractors. It was so obvious as soon as we drove up that it had not been build by Russian workers. Things have changed there in Russia now since they took away communism and they have competition just like we do. Marvelous principle in our culture.

This is picture of the peace arch in Leningrad. But I actually took it to get a picture of the people without them suspecting I was taking their picture. Russian people were 99% white. Few Mongolians there but only if they were in the Army. I did not see any ethnic people there in Moscow or Leningrad. the whole time I was there (except the mongolian soldiers in the Army). I am sure that has changed now too.


Tallinn, Estonia 1985

Estonian is very much like Finnish. They are able to understand the Fins just like the Norwegian, Dannish and Swedish people an understand each other. But I could not understand Estonian at all. Too different from Finnish. I was thrilled that we had the opportunity to go to Estonia. This is us having lunch in a very exclusive place in Tallinn. As you can see it is still very simple. Not elegant at all compared to European or American standards.

There in the public square was a very old church from the 1600's. The still had the shackles in the wall where people stood up on a stool about 1 foot off the ground and then they put the shekel around their neck. Then as their punishment they had to sit there all day and as people walked by they laughed at them and spit on them. Notice I didn't need the stool to fit into the shackles. I would have been considered a giant in the 1600's at 6' 3". The average height of people back then was 5' tall. So they needed the stool to stand on to fit into the shackles.



After visiting Russia and Estonia we came back by boat to Helsinki, Finland and stayed there for 3 days. In 1985 they still did not have loading walk ways. Everyone got off the plane on the tarmac just like we did in 1963. And I still knew how to speak some Finnish after 20 years.... AMAZING!!!

Anyone who has served in Hyvinkää in the 60's and 70's knows where Photo Junini's place is. We developed all our film there. But by 1985 he had moved to a new location and when I went there he was gone to Helsinki for the day so I did not get to see him and did not take a picture of the new store.

I was able to find my friends The Lindbergs. They took me to lunch and we had a wonderful time.
She did not speak English at all but because I still could speak Finnish some so we got along just fine. Ingmar speaks beautiful English.

I think this is the Hagga chapel. I don't know which for sure. They all seem to look a like.

I just had to go to Hyvinkää to see the old town and this is the train station. If you look at the 2006 picture on day 7 you will see that the building has not changed at all since 1963 or 1965. Just added more tracks.

I actually found people who still remembered me. This is sister Rajauvori. She still lives in Hyvinkää.

This is one of the very first McDonalds in Finland. People were lined up clear down the street to get a American hamburger.
Notice most the writing on the signs is in English (but most people in Helsinki speak English).

I tried to blow the picture up so you could see the price.
5 Marks was a lot of money for food back then, but they were
lined up for the novelty of it even if it cost them one weeks wages to try one.

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