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Incredible Optimism – Soviet Style

I came across the following passage in a book  ‘Psychology As You May Like It’ (1965), it’s a story of hope, courage and love for life. I liked it, so thought of sharing it with you:

Plain Soviet People

AT the beginning of 1960 a storm drove a barge with four soldiers on board away from Kurile Islands. After a forced 49-day drift over the waves of the Pacific, Askhad Ziaganshin, Philip Poplavasky, Anatoly Kryuchkovsky and Ivan Fedotov were rescued and brought to San Francisco. To many Americans these plain Soviet boys became a riddle.

And here is a characteristic interview they gave a foreign journalist:

Journalist: I know that under the circumstances one may become inhuman, lose one’s mind, become a beast. Of course, you must have wrangled, maybe even fought over the last piece of bread, the last mouthful of water.

Ziganshin: In all the 49 days the members of the crew did not say any one rude word to each other. When the drinking water was coming to an end each of us received half a glassful a day. And not one of us drank another drop. Only when we celebrated Anatoly Kryuchkovsky’s birthday we offered him a double portion of water, but he turned it down.

Journalist: In that inferno you remembered your comrade’s birthday? That sounds incredible! And didn’t you think of death, Mr. Ziganshin?

Ziganshin: No, we didn’t . We thought we were too young to give up up easily.

Journalist: How did you while your time away? For example, you, Mr. Poplavsky?

Poplavsky: We sharpened fish-hooks, cut spoon-bait out of tin cans, untwined ropes and made fishing lines. Ashkas Ziganshin repaired the signal lamp. Sometimes I read a book aloud.

Journalist: What book did you read?

Poplavsky: Jack London’s Martin Eden

Journalist: This sounds incredible.

Fedotov: SOmetimes Philip played the accordion and we sang.

Journalist:  Let me see this historical accordion.

Fedotov: Much to our regret, we ate it.

Journalist: What? What do you mean, you ate it?

Fedotov: Just what I said, we ate it. It had leather parts. We ripped the leather off, cut it up and cooked it in sea water. It was sheepskin and we even jested about having two grades of meat: first grade – the accordion leather, and second grade – the leather from our boots.

Journalist: And you could still jest? That’s more than I can understand! Do you yourselves know what sort of people you are?

Ziganshin: Why, we’re just plain Soviet people.