The Eleanor Roosevelt Papers, Digital Edition > My Day
My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt

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MOSCOW, Sept. 27—We started our morning at Tashkent in Central Asia at a collective farm, and now I can tell you the basic difference between a state farm and a collective farm.

The collective farm is owned by an organization of farmers. Seven percent is taken from the collective income for land and seven percent is in taxes and goes to the state. Thirteen percent goes to the organization running the collective for all services, and there are many. The remaining cash is divided among members of the collective.

We calculated that this meant every man got about 8,100 rubles a year in cash, besides shelter, services and food, which means that, on the whole, he is pretty well off.

Of course, he takes the risk of a bad year that all farmers take. On the state farm, this risk is borne by the state.

This farm was the only place in Tashkent where we were able to visit any homes. It was possible to see newly-constructed houses and an older house that had been freshly stuccoed on the outside but left unchanged on the inside.

All these houses have electricity, and you'll often see a one burner electric stove on top of an old range. The water is carried, but not from too far away. Toilet and bathing facilities are old-fashioned—usually a privy and a bathhouse used by a collective group.

One nice feature is a house for recreation with a garden in which there are big wooden benches where men come to rest, if they feel like it, during lunch hours.

In the middle of the area there is a pond with greenish, stagnant-looking water which they told me was used for bathing. There also are showers inside of the house.

This is a diversified farming operation, but cotton is the paying crop. They have pigs, sheep, cows, horses, orchards, vegetables and a variety of crops. There is no pasturage for cows, however, so food is grown for them.

Every inch of land seems to be in use. Where small fruit trees are planted, there are crops all around them. Even when the trees are big enough to bear fruit, there's still something growing under them.

There is a maternity hospital and a healthy baby clinic, but for serious illness the farm people go to hospitals in town or the doctor visits their homes. There is a nursery, kindergarten and school. Nursing mothers can leave their work and go to the nursery at stated hours when feedings are given (the same applies to factory workers).

In the farm manager's office there are pictures showing the increase in production on his farm. The output is going up steadily, but at the same time land has been added which, of course, increases production on his farm.

Just before leaving we were, as usual, plied with fruit, bread, tea and shashlik. Our hotel had packed for us an enormous number of sandwiches and fruit, but we should have learned by then that there is never any need for taking food with us if we are stopping anywhere.

From the collective farm we drove to one of the biggest textile factories in that part of the country. It makes chiefly women's cotton dress goods and white cotton for household use. It was one of the biggest factories I have ever seen, and it seemed to have an efficient system for controlling the purification of air.

I am not familiar enough with the latest factory machinery at home to know how the Soviet machinery compares with ours, but I didn't think there seemed to be any more need for women to operate these machines than I have seen in American factories.

They say the incidence of tuberculosis is low. They also have a nursery and school, but the school is only for their own workers. Everyone must attend four hours daily for the first four months, then take courses after work as they desire. There is a public bathhouse and a really large medical establishment. The head doctor told us it takes care of 40,000 patients and has 6,700 doctors.

We saw the part of the hospital that deals primarily with accidents, both to workers and their children. We had hoped to go in the afternoon with a visiting nurse to see some of the workers' families, but that proved impossible.

In the afternoon we called on the head of a Moslem group in Tashkent who told us that the majority of people in that area were Moslems and have 20-odd large mosques and a hundred small ones.

As usual we were taken to a room where tables were laden with fruit. And after we had asked the necessary questions and had eaten what seemed to be a polite amount of the delicious fruit, I rose to go but was told dinner had been prepared for us and the Moslem custom required us to partake of the food.

I was told that the host always expects his guests to eat well to show appreciation of his hospitality and that there is an Arab saying that if you ate well, you lived long.

I responded that in my country, when you reach my age you are warned against overeating and are told you are digging your grave with your teeth every day of your life. So I promised to taste these generous dishes but couldn't promise to "eat well."

The Moslems there have a school for preachers and a fine library where we saw some interesting books written by hand many years ago, with translations into Persian and other languages written in the margin.

Then we visited a hall where gatherings are held when visitors come and finally the office of the head of the church, who presented each of us with a characteristic embroidered Uzbek cap and gave me two pieces of silk made nearby. He told me he hoped to come to the United States where I hope to have the opportunity to return his hospitality.


Names and Terms Mentioned or Referenced

  • Moscow (Russia) [ index ]

About this document

My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt, September 27, 1957

Roosevelt, Eleanor, 1884-1962
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Nevada State Journal, , SEPTEMBER 28, 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, SEPTEMBER 28, 1957, page 4