I am presenting some of then here.
It’s the middle of the 1950’s. The first years at the Radio-technical Department of MAI. College break.
A bicycle trip to Lake Seliger. There were no maps back then; we found our way by asking the locals. A considerable part of the road from Torzhok to Ostashkovo simply wasn’t there; starting from, I think, Kuvshinovo, there were boardwalks built over the swamp.
This “road” was laid down during the war by sappers, and now was almost sunken and passable only in dry weather. A part of this swamp way we drove by truck, at a speed not much higher than that of a hiker.
All around us were marshes and isolated impoverished villages.
In Ostashkovo the locals knew that on the island across the lake lived (or used to live, I don’t remember now) some “secret German scientists.” Recently, the alleged use of captive German rocket scientists, who had developed the FAU-2, to help design the Anti-Missile System around Moscow was confirmed in the press.
We remember Borya as a wonderful, kind man. His achievements in learning outshone the lackluster academic performance of the rest of the guys from the front. We stayed friends throughout college.
After graduation from college we lost track of each other, but suddenly, sometime in the end of the 1980’s, beginning of the 1990’s he called me and Geliy Zemtsov, and invited us over for a good-bye – he was emigrating to Israel.
There was a bottle of vodka on the table, black bread and, I think, onions. He wouldn’t talk about the reasons for his departure, and we didn’t ask. We don’t know where he is now, or what has happened to him since.
We were on the headwaters of the Volga river.
For some reason, I haven’t been back to Seliger since, but hope to. Do they have a five, or at least a 4-star hotel there?
This is the following summer: it must be 1954, second year of college. We are on almost 2 month-long trip in a sloop, a six-oar yawl, down the route: Moscow (Khimki) – canal – Rybinsk Reservoir – down the Volga to Gorki – up the Oka – the Moscow River (past the Kremlin!) – Khimki.
I only have a few pictures from this trip, for some reason.
The beating heart of this trip was a motor boat, LMR-6, which we procured in the last moment at the DOSAAF committee of MAI. The formal name of our trip was “Young Communist and Youth Rowing Agitprop Trip.” At first we planned on rowing all the way through, which was totally insane.
I couldn’t find a brochure for the boat’s 6-horsepower motor then, and I can’t now. Apparently, a small batch of them was manufactured for the Army. The cylinder head was adorned with a red star. The cylinder itself was reconfigured for a water-cooling system, taken from the popular motorcycle IZH-350, which was a boon during endless repairs, changes of ball bearings, washers and rings. Ignition was by magneto, which also gave us plenty of trouble. It is truly amazing how this wreck could withstand such a long trip. One thing sticks in mind: the dissonance between the small motor and the huge ocean 6 oar yawl: in neutral, the combination of the high stern of the boat and the short shaft of the motor meant the propeller and the cooling tube couldn’t reach into the water. So, the motor was started every time as follows: first there was the command: “All astern!,” and everybody would huddle in the back of the boat, which would naturally tip it and the propeller into the water. If the motor did start – which occurred far from every time – the boat gained some speed, and its nose would go up and the stern – down, so that the crew could distribute around the deck again. And so went our trip.
We had scores of adventures, but no photographs survived.