My family brought me to this country for better of for worse in 1973. My mom, my father and eventually my 73 year old grandmother were one of the very fist Soviet Jews that were allowed to leave USSR and come directly to the USA. There is a really creepy and interesting little story that surrounds my very fist encounter with an American.
My Mother was an English teacher in The Soviet Union. Right after my family made this life changing decision to leave USSR she insisted that I take a crash course in English. To everyones surprise I had a real knack for English, and in a few short months became an English speaker with virtually no trace off any accent. For many years my new American friends had no idea I was not born in this country. It was very creepy even to my mom at the time. No one thought anything of it until in a few months my family was in Moscow. We were striped of our citizenship and all our belongings were now in 3 giant wooden boxes waiting to get loaded on to a 747 Pan Am Jet waiting for us. Before we were allowed to leave my folks and I had one final hurdle which was a visit to the American Embassy in Moscow. In 1973 the Cold War was very much felt by all, but especially by 3 Soviet Jews waiting to leave The Motherland. We entered the embassy after 4 fully armed US Marines with loaded M16’s checked our papers and let us into a heavily armed US compound. We were then led to the American Ambassadors Office to have our final exist interview. My father had a huge can of Beluga Caviar in his bag just in case someone needed to get bribed.
Fortunately it never came to that we ate the Caviar, and all seemed OK with our papers. And just as we were about to leave the Ambassador stopped and asked my mother if I was studying English, and then things got interesting. I was 13 years old and I just started talking, I frankly do not remember what I said, but whatever it was it left the Ambassador speechless. He patiently waited for me to rattle of some nonsense in fluid English and then leaned over to my mother and spoke to her very quietly. My mother told me later that he offered her obviously with her approval a full scholarship to any college of my choice once I was of college age. He then said that I should specialize in “Foreign Studies” I think “Foreign Studies” was some kind of code for being a SPY in training. He was impressed with my ability to speak in both Russian and English without a trace of accent on both sides. He said he would follow my progress and stay “in touch” with us. Little did my parents know at the time this weird and unexplained ability to speak fluently in multiple languages was THE key to any successful CIA operative. Russian language used a completely different vocal fingerprint and sometimes would require years to master with no trace of accent. Long story short I was lucky enough to be accepted to Cooper Union in NYC on a full scholarship and never required CIA intervention in my higher education. Lucky for them although I think I eventually became a fairly good artist and designer I would have made possibly the worst CIA agent of all time……lol… More to come on this soon…
Let me hear your balalaika’s ringing out
Come and keep your comrade warm.