Bringing back Russian Hats - Part 1

Now when we traveled to other countries, there was always something better to bring back. From Czechoslovakia you brought back Burberry raincoats, good shoes, and jars of conserves of apples and pears. From East Germany we brought back binoculars and lenses. From Russia we bought either TV’s, or hats – the big Russian fur hats, – you know – they look very Russian.

How did we buy these things? We took Polish ‘garments.’ These garments were pink, sheer nightgowns, like the sheerest negligee or ladies’ lingerie you could find. There really wasn’t much to these garments. I myself took a valise of about 40 garments, and between the 20 of us we had hundreds of these.

So we get to the Russian Hotel, and the babushka comes in to clean our room. Well Musaka spoke Russian, so we asked the babushka cleaning the room if they like the garments. Pretty soon all the babushkas start coming down the hall to our room to buy these garments.
I remember I could buy a Russian hat for about 60 rubles, a TV for about 150 rubles. Or, besides the hat we would buy the Russian fur vests – you know, no sleeves, just the vest.
After swimming for the day, we wandered all over Moscow and went to lots of shops. We compared prices for televisions, hats, vests, and the good Russian stuff we wanted to bring back. I remember one store/sales stall I make conversation with the sales girl, Tatiana. She called us Polaski. We got to talking, and I described our garments, and I asked her if she’d like to buy one or two. She was like sure, sure, and she gave me the number of her house, and wrote out directions. – Henry Zguda

The photo above is taken in fun. Several years ago my son traveled to Russia with the Phoenix Childrens Chorus and bought this Russian style hat for his brother. Since I needed to prop it on something to take the photo – I figured it appropriate to prop it on a bottle of Russian vodka. 🙂  

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