Then came the film Circus came to the theatre up the street. It stared Lyubov Orlova playing Marion Dixon. The film opens with the following headline of Sunnyville Courier: “Marion Dixon, Human Bombshell, is Center of Sensational Scandal” with a large photo, captioned: “Marion Dixon, perpetrator of the history’s sinister crime!”.
The next scene opens with a tiny women running from an angry crowd bent on harming her clutching a small bundle close to her body. She manages to reach a moving train and somehow climbs on board as the crowd still chasing her gives up and she makes it out of town before being harmed. The bundle starts to cry and the baby inside is obviously half black hence the American crowds fury. A man from Germany helps her on the train as she faints.
The woman is Marion Dixon, an American circus artist who, after giving birth to a black baby, immediately becomes a victim of racism in the United States. The German on the train turns out to be a theatrical agent who recruits her to his concert program across the Soviet Union.
Marion leaves the United States on a circus tour across the USSR. At first Marion is home sick but meets a Russian national and falls in love. With her new Russian husband she finds love and happiness in the Russian circus and her son is treated with loving kindness by all. One of the more touching scenes is when people from all parts of the Soviet Union sing versions of their ethnic lullabies to the little boy.
I immediately fell in love with Lyuba. So much so that she was responsible for my sexual awakening. Shortly after seeing the film I exploded all over my bed clothes while having a dream about kissing and touching Lyuba. It was a mess and I had no idea what it was until my Grandfather thankfully told me what my body was telling me. He has just the right way of putting things and my mission in life was now clear. It was to explode into as many pretty women as I could find. I’m sure that is not what he meant but that is what I thought I was supposed to do and it got me into some trouble along the way…and some very interesting times as well.
Along with all of this individual reward also came responsibility. The age for which a child could be charged with a major crime was dropped to 12 years old and there were consequences for bad grades as well. Parents once again regained control over their children but also became vilified if they failed. All very mind turning events that made me glad I had never confronted my Grandfather.
Then pictures of Stalin holding and protecting children starting appearing all over the schools and Pioneer Palaces and above doors the phrase “Thank You Comrade Stalin for a Happy Childhood” became ubiquitous. Children were left no doubt that they had to earn the protection of Stalin but that it would be absolute if they were good enough.
Foreigners were used to frighten children and stories of evil spies trying to harm your family and the motherland started to become the norm. Some of my poems were censored before they were published much to my dismay. Fear started to become an everyday piece of life with poison gas drills held at regular intervals. I of course was an instructor in the use of gas masks and was much in demand as a teacher.
Once again a shift in responsibilities with the parents, teachers, and leaders were blamed when a particular child misbehaved. That’s how many a spanking and beating was avoided by some of my more errant friends. Their parents were blamed for their misdeeds and their teachers were blamed for their bad grades. An interesting twist to watch as an 11 year old boy of high spirits. It worked in my family as I loved my mother and grandparents and would do nothing to bring shame on their heads. But for others things were different. Eventually the parents caught up with the misdeeds of their children and matters were rectified in time honored ways.
I lived and breathed for the Young Pioneer Summer Camps and eventually became a staff member of the most prestigious of them all was Artek. This camp started in 1925 and was situated on the Black Sea expanded every year and grew to be the largest and most prestigious camp of all. Because of the climate it became an all year round facility as well.
When I first went there in 1933 it was a series of 10 smaller camps divided into age groups and interest groups. I attended them all at one time or another and was a staff member at many. My favorite activity was the counselor hunt where the counselors and staff would hide all around camp. The campers where then let loose from a gathering area such as the dining facility and spread out to capture as many staff as possible. When a staff member was caught he was sentenced to getting pushed off the dock and into the water by the camper who caught them. It was great fun for all.
In one instance my friend and I were hiding near the shore under a big tree. Another staff member decided to climb the tree and hide up there. He crawled out on a limb that over hung the water and proceeded to get comfortable as the campers where rampaging all over camp looking for the staff. The night before he has snuck out of his quarters and had raided the kitchen for some sweets. He therefore was very sleepy. Just as a large group of staff seeking campers came up to our area, the counselor in the tree predictably fell asleep and lost his grip and fell about 20 feet into the cold water.
The large pack of campers where on him in a flash and he was caught as per the rules. Not only did he get wet from falling out of the tree but had to then shiver in the cold night air until his fate of walking the plank was carried out and once again he was subjected to the cold clear water. I never did ask him how he liked his sweets; just deserts and all that.
Camp was my home away from home and eventually my home as I joined the year around staff in 1939. In two short years I learned to love and became a man when one of the nurses assigned to the camp took pity on my moans in the night and showed me the act of making love and it was love for me. I love that nurse and still do to this day. She however was shipped off and joined the war against Poland and I heard she was killed in Leningrad later in the war. I can’t remember her face but I do remember her body and the way she smelled. Not at all like the hospital my father recuperated from. Not at all like that.
I was caught up in the fervor of war and lied about my age and joined the navy. Something about my aptitude and schooling at the time placed me in a bomber squadron and in flight school with the Baltic fleet. I was groomed to become a pilot and excelled at the task. I will not bore you with tales and the horrors of training and discipline as I’m sure you are all familiar with the concept of breaking a man down before building him up again in your image. Well that’s what the military does.
There was not much for a bomber squadron to do in the early days of the war but to avoid getting killed by the vastly superior Luftwaffe. Quite frankly not much was accomplished by or squadron but we did survive quite intact.
From what I understand on July 28, People's Commissar of the Navy recommended to Stalin that nocturnal raids against the German capital Berlin be launched from Saaremaa Island, off the coast of Estonia. This was unknown to us we were ourselves planning such a raid and had done all the calculations and necessary routes and maps all prepared when the Commissar come to us with the proposal . Without hesitation our Colonel produced the necessary information. It was a case of planning happening from both the bottom and the top.
On the night of August 7, 13 aircraft took off, led by Lt. Col. Evgeny Preobrazhensky, with Major Pyotr Ilich Khokhlov as his navigator. I was the pilot in IL-4 number 284 and number three in the squadron. All went as planned. The German anti-aircraft defenses were taken completely by surprise, and although we did only minor damage, all of us returned safely. The following night we were joined by others and a flight of 15 IL-4s once again bombed Berlin for the second time. The flight was a total distance of 1240 miles to and from Berlin. On both attacks we dropped both bombs and leaflets which I’m sure only added to Goring’s embarrassment.
The IL-4 was a good airplane and I flew it throughout the war on a variety of missions and it always brought me home. It was a good medium bomber similar to the American B25 but a little slower but with longer range and a higher service ceiling. That is why I am sitting at the controls of a B25J Lend Lease bomber as this very moment.