Blizzard Warnings And A Sense Of Otherness

A howling blizzard can’t stop the military parade on Red Square in Moscow on Red Army Day, 1941.

A blizzard is blowing down my street this morning as it did in November 1941 when Soviet troops paraded patriotically across Red Square in Moscow. No onion-domed cathedrals here, though. No hope for early crocuses, either.

When I was seven years old, on the eve of the Cuban Missile Crisis, my brother taunted me with a dark family secret. I wasn’t born in Columbus, Ohio. I didn’t really belong to the family. I was adopted. They found me in a trash can on Red Square.

Even at seven, I was a skeptic. “Oh yeah? How’d you get to Red Square?”

Unconcerned with plausibility, he stuck to the taunt. “Trash can,” he said. “Communist.”

My fascination with Russian history, and Western perceptions of it, began then. So did a sense of otherness that came to be nurtured in Russian literature and language.

Front page of the Soviet newspaper Pravda, ca. 1950s. [Source: Wikimedia Commons]

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2 Responses to Blizzard Warnings And A Sense Of Otherness

  1. tomrobertstennessee says:

    My experience with Russian communism in 1960’s America wasn’t so cosmopolitan. I was an avid reader of MAD Magazine, which my mother swore had been infiltrated by the Reds. She believed godless communists were propagandizing America’s youth through the sarcastic wit of Alfred Newman. I was equally skeptical as you were with your brother’s garbage can story.

  2. Mark Willis says:

    Yes, Alfred E. Newman was a direct descendant of Mikhail Bakunin. Those nasty nihilists.

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