My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt

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MOSCOW—After watching the changing of the guard at Lenin's tomb, we dined at our hotel, then visited a circus. This circus has only one ring, but the performance is simply remarkable, and since spectators don't have to look three ways at once it gives them an opportunity to watch each thing and appreciate it as it is done.

The animals, trapeze work, clowns—all were delightful, and the tickets, even in the expensive section where we sat, were far cheaper than for any such entertainment in the United States. This perhaps is all a part of the state's effort to make up for other things which cannot be obtained.

The next morning Miss Maureen Corr, my secretary, and I drove to a state farm 28 kilometres away. We found the people there anxious to talk about their efforts on the farm, which was a particularly good one, being devoted to the development of pedigreed stock, both milking cows and farming horses.

I should explain that there are two kinds of farms in the Soviet Union—state farms, where wages are paid to the workers, and collective farms. I haven't yet seen a collective farm, so I cannot tell you the difference—until I have more knowledge of it.

On a state farm, every worker has a small plot of ground which he cultivates for himself. And if he grows more than he can use, he may sell the produce in the free market, where the state does not set the price except in certain limits.

I think I'll have an interesting account for you later, on this state farm and new housing for workers.

I find that, in seeing what is being done in various fields of endeavor in a country like the USSR , it is interesting to keep in mind what one has seen in Japan, India or the Near East. One finds similarities and differences, of course.

For instance, at the state farm we visited the cows are milked three times in 24 hours, while in the United States, I think, cows are milked only in the morning and evening. But I remember that at Kibbutz, in Israel, the cows are milked three times a day, just as is done here and at almost the same hours. This is because the early settlers of Kibbutz came from the Soviet Union when it was still under the regime of the Czars.

From the state farm we went toward Zagorsk. This is a Holy City where there is a shrine, an old Monastery and two churches built in the 15th century. One church is open all the time, with a continuous service carried on by the people. The older women chat and still have unbelievably beautiful voices.

This church, housing a Saint's tomb, has a whole wall covered with beautiful icons, with the famous trinity icon among them. Here also is a seminary and academy run by priests. The director was away, but the dean, who is a layman, invited us to lunch.

The midday meal here is a big one. They made apologies for the fact they didn't know we would be there at noontime and, therefore,had not made extra preparations. But we were somewhat surprised at what they served.

Hors d'oeuvres came first, and there was so much we thought it was our whole lunch! Instead, it was followed by soup and meat , with potatoes and compote of fruit and tea.

The hospitality and kindliness there were great, and they often spoke of my husband's name as being one they revere. The Greek orthodox church is entirely separate from the state and receives no state support. The Patriarch administers funds for churches that need help, though generally each locality supports its own church.

Education is also paid for by the Patriarch, who furnishes the students with shelter, food and clothing while they are in the seminary or academy. The academy is an institution for a type of higher education which prepares them for large city churches, whereas the seminary graduate can serve only small parishes.


Names and Terms Mentioned or Referenced

  • Moscow (Russia) [ index ]

About this document

My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt, September 13, 1957

Roosevelt, Eleanor, 1884-1962
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Nevada State Journal, , Septepber 13, 1957

Digital edition created by The Eleanor Roosevelt Papers Project The George Washington University 312 Academic Building 2100 Foxhall Road, NW Washington, DC 20007

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Transcription created from a published My Day column instance. Nevada State Journal, Septepber 13, 1957, page 4