Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Soviet-era Photos: St Basils, Babyshkas

A couple of black and white photos from the Soviet era when life was itself was monochrome. Photos courtesy of English Russia: Life in Soviet Russia.

A grandmother sweeping snow from Red Square in Moscow, using a broom made of twigs. St Basil's Cathedral looms in the distance.

A gaggle of babyshkas, the Russian grandmothers. These ladies look sweet and huggable and they are, in a certain context. But I've heard it said that the babyshkas run the country. In a war of words, the babyshka will come out on top. Heaven help the young security guard, for instance, who messes with a babyhska. Or even a grandchild or neighbor child. She will let the offender have a tongue-lashing -- loud, shrill and non-stop. Every adult today has memories of his own babyshka who tried to teach him the right way to be. That's the nature of the Russian babyshka.

I myself am occasionally on the receiving end of a babyshka and her rhetorical questions about my clothing choices. Why aren't you wearing a hat? Why aren't you wearing a heavier coat? In general, I say thank the good Lord for the babyshka patrol. On the one hand they help teach the young. On the other hand, seems to me that for many men, their only escape is alcohol. Because to a babyshka, everyone is a child. Mercy me, have we digressed here or what?

Anyway, the picture above is rich with content. I'm still trying to determine the occasion although the mood is pleasant enough. Everybody's waiting but yet there doesn't seem to be a line. All are sensibly attired in wool coats, scarves tied around their heads. But have you noticed the one person who is very different. Spot him? And then in the upper left corner are a couple of younger women, wearing furs. I like the babyshka, lower right, with her war medals and cane. Some are looking this direction, yet they don't seem to be aware of the camera.


Kyle & Svet Keeton said...

Hi, Eileen!

Thank you for very good and sweet article! :)

Best wishes,
Svet and Kyle

Jeanette M said...

Yes! A very pleasant mood indeed. The grannys in the foreground even seem to be laughing at something--something embarrassing even (see the one who is covering her eyes?) My guess for the occasion is something at the church - Easter even. The heads all seem extra-carefully covered. Not a hair is showing.

The street sweepers with their branch brooms are a rather common sight in Samara. I have a particular favorite in my collection that was taken in late June or early July - when the vendors were selling wild (forest) strawberries on the street. This sweeping granny was dressed as if it were -10C. I love the grannies! This year when I go, I hope to visit several. They make great borsch. :)