In the 1980s, working people, the Soviet Union spent an average of a quarter of free time to visit the shops and queues. Waiting in queues was the most important part of life. But even if a Soviet citizen had enough money to goods occasionally and always suddenly appeared on store shelves, even if he was willing to defend the incredibly long queue, it is far not each time been able to buy necessary.
Theft and nepotism, corruption, which has affected the entire system of porters and housekeepers to Directors of shops, negate any attempt to live a better life. Consumer goods could “get it”, they were saved by the fact that they are not spoiled.
The products have been much worse, because they are not enough, and those that were available and were edible, got to party workers (and not all), shop staff and their families. Ordinary people often have received some rotten leftovers. Before the Soviet citizen was not a choice, whether to buy him a nice expensive cheese or bad cheap cheese. He could either buy bad cheese, which is unexpectedly “dumped” in a dairy in a neighboring district, or be left with nothing.
Thanks to the archive of diaries of the website “Lived” we had experience of Soviet citizens and the meager assortment in stores. Most of the memoirs written by writers, but they referred to the words of people of other professions. They saw with their own eyes, not in the photos, as is customary in social networks. Not in childhood, but in the age of reason.
Consider the period which is now considered prosperous – 1970s and the first half of the 1980s – the legendary era of Brezhnev’s stability. Eyewitnesses tell about how people spent their lives and died in the queues, went to Moscow for shopping and hated for it Muscovites, bought the post of loader and carried in stores anti-Soviet conversations.
Vladimir Lakshin, literary critic, Moscow resident:
02.07.1971. We are talking, talking that the village recovered, the peasants became a nice place to live, etc. And in the Kursk region this spring, cows were dying from lack of food, and again after the war, fed them the straw from the roof. “Lit. newspaper” (approx. — “Literary newspaper”) discusses how more convenient to organize food delivery to the house, “orders”, etc. But this is a problem for 10, well 100 thousand. And the problem of millions — how to procure, even in a fight, turn the meat or the sausage. In Kuibyshev, said Z., the largest working town, meat in the shops there for twenty years — used to not even ask. And from Tula, Yaroslavl travel to Moscow for the sausage: cooperate 4 families and each week send someone to buy at all.
05.11.1971. A worker from the Kolomna machine-building plant, accidentally razgovorilis in line, admired, as well in Moscow — and the meat and sausage in the stores, “and we have nothing.” But then he added: “But I live well, what to say. The butter, the cheese is. Only here the beets, cabbage and carrots now under the snow lay. To remove was not in time — and rotted. Well, that would take us from two plants to send — would have worked a day or two, and everything was removed. And then plant two or three shifts you can always work. Live well. Sunday with the wife to buy 1 ½ bottles of red… you can Live.”
Igor Dedkov, literary critic, a resident of Kostroma:
20.02.1981. On the streets hung red flags to Congress. In the editorial today declared that the days of the Congress will be “doubled protection”, i.e. will be on duty two of the doorman. In stores closer to the evening is the oil — to “give” two hundred grams. Sell liverwurst (sixty cents) and blood sausage; take, but without the queues. But long queues for oil. The Bureau of the Kostroma regional Committee of the party called for vigilance: burned truck where he did some cows… Shpanchenko with the words of his friend, a member of the Bureau, talked about this as acts of “sabotage.”
31.03.1981. On Wednesday, at noon, we with Nikita went for a walk. The day was warm, Sunny, melting, flowing, dripping, drizzling, sparkled. We decided to walk down to the Volga river and near the cinema “Eaglet” turned into the street Tchaikovsky (). On the opposite side of the street the store was a line; I have flashed the usual thought: why? But Nikita about something asked, I turned to him, and then came the noise of the crash, the cry, I looked around and saw that all crushed and scattered on the sidewalk by a landslide of snow and ice from the roof of this three storey house.
We can say that it happened in front of us. In the confusion, the crowd, running to pay phones people. I left Nikita to stand in the place that he went there. Who could stand up, he stood. The three women lay still, two of them were supported them. Lay a block of ice. Then one after another began to drive cars “ambulance”. To date, the result is that two women died (one was from Galicia, arrived on a business trip), three in serious condition. The next day was held the asset throughout the city began to clean roofs, sidewalks entangled red flags… And all was the mayonnaise. Another woman was lying and sat on the ground, another horror was on the faces crowded around the crowd, and the turn of the mayonnaise stood again just in case clinging to the wall of the house, and the sight of misfortune it does not scare. These women in turn have grown accustomed to those still lying in strange and even ugly poses in dead indifference to all earthly appearances… did Not disperse, were… As they were eating then the mayonnaise?
15.07.1981. In Khosta and Sochi became crowded by the day; it seems by the hour. Food was good. There has gathered on the sea coast provincial Russia at least a month a year to live like human beings: not to stand in line for a beer, to take for lunch, kebab for Breakfast is the cottage cheese you buy in the store for dinner, sausages and sausage. But Muscovites should live in the usual mode, still thinking that they are something to live sweeter all the people God ordered — on the right of residence, on the right of the police notes in the passport.
02.01.1982. In Moscow — everywhere crowds, queues, boiling. Was the last week of December, and the Russian province was taking its toll. At one of the shops saw the crowd, before the crowd stood the truck, and a man from the truck shouted something to the crowd, vigorously shaking hands. “Revolution” — fun I thought, but came closer. The man shouted out the numbers in order: three hundred sixty-four, three hundred and sixty-five, etc. the Store was called “Carpets.” If the scene to remove the camera and hide shop accessory buildings, all this can sound like a street rally. So much passion and noble enthusiasm in the man on the truck!
16.12.1982. In the queue for sausages heard the conversation of older women that the village go to Moscow for groceries because they don’t want to work to keep cows, sheep, pigs, and so are in the capital for the picking. You would think, listening to such speech that Moscow prepares butter, milk, sausage, and those dependants are Unforgiven. On the Volgograd prospectus at the “Grocery store” I saw ten buses from the province; the Muscovites in this store is nothing to do. Nothing, let them suffer.
Yuri Nagibin, writer, journalist, resident of Moscow:
28.06.1982. Anna S. (approx. — librarian) low opinion of Kalyazin, where she was born and lived all his life. It looks like a city of beggars, she said, and live here entirely Gorgol. Besides carpets, gold and crystal, they do not care. Is in the shop anything to receive, the jobs are empty, the whole town lining up. According to official statistics Kalyazin ranked first in the country in terms of crime and alcoholism. This nest of greedy, evil, thieving, drunks and shady people. The number of library visitors has decreased in recent years, doubled from one hundred twenty up to sixty a day. Of these sixty-90% take only a detective story. Teachers do not read, there is not a single subscriber among the local teachers. What are they doing? — I asked. Gardens, flowers for sale, some rabbits, pigs fed, the chickens are bred, of course, watching TV — all the color — well and drink plug. Other residents do the same, but also to steal: at the factory in the first place, and all the other local companies, everywhere there is something to steal.
Anatoly Chernyaev, an employee of the International Department of the CPSU Central Committee, Moscow resident:
25.04.1976. Yesterday morning went to the dairy and bakery. People!.. Grunts-the Symphony of a random crowd, saying, behold, there is no order, are unable to organize the business, two women on so many people and are not traded, and drag the boxes, but the box is opened. A day off, and then wait in the queue and there are no products. about the cheese already forgotten what it smells like, etc. etc. And all of a sudden over all the rough voice of a man about 40 years.
— What do you want! We have such a system. These women (saleswomen) are not to blame. Blame those who are behind the green fence devour caviar. They have a cottage there. And in our country there is no host. The owner only does that about the bright future of communism acts, with each year getting worse and worse. So be it, until the owner of this no. Etc.
No one was surprised, not outraged. This, apparently, usual business — like speech in the stores. The crowd is mainly assented to and favorably commented on, including a young policeman, standing in line for milk. And, I’m sorry, member of the auditing Commission of the CPSU stood in amazement and was silent. And what could he say, when all the other “facts on the shelves”. In the bakery the women fighting over the cakes, and when in the doorway of the shelves came a voice: “no More, everything! And never will be!”, was such a ruckus that I was ready headlong out the door.
13.07.1980. I read here a regular Bulletin published by osgparticle of the Central Committee and the CPC. Murmansk and Arkhangelsk region — speculation in the sale and resale of “Zhiguli”, “Volga”, “Muscovites” has reached immense sizes. And, doing this, the employees of district committees, Executive committees, city committees, heads of all sorts of trusts and associations, i.e. those who have the ability to put themselves and their relatives in the first queue number to buy the car of quotas allotted region, city, etc. make a lot of money on it. A “conclusions”: as a rule, a reprimand, a severe reprimand. Only one (the Deputy head. propaganda Department of Murmansk) was expelled from the party — too famously “worked” in the eyes of the public.
06.07.1985. In the morning I played tennis for two hours. On the way home went to the store to buy vegetables. There from the Director to sellers all drunk. They act alcoholism does not apply. Try, fire. You will find someone in return? The next day went into a vegetable store on the street Herzen. Half an hour stood in a queue. Goods, but from the garden, is terrifying. Baba scandal with Director, the finger in your mouth not baggage, besides drunk too.
Vladimir Shvets, composer, teacher, resident of Odessa:
07.07.1971. In the morning I stood two hours in line, yet paid for the apartment.
17.07.1980. Went to the record store, hoping that the gig is already sold out and you can go and watch the news. Alas, the entrance was crowded brutal turn. Four times I was pushed out of the queue and cursed the “old sterva”.
Lev Levitsky, literary critic, Moscow resident:
28.10.1978. To buy something for dinner, was forced to hit the road for groceries. In the stores the crowd. To nothing at. Sliding look at the queue, I see that most of its nonresident. Spoiled by relative wealth, Muscovites angry. Only hear the hiss: come in large numbers to God knows where, plaguing them no. I am angry that I do not share. Living outside of Moscow is no worse than us, Muscovites, and it is unlikely syschetsya philosopher who would be able to explain why they need to Hortitsa worse than we are. Rumor has it that we, the members of the joint venture (approx. Writers ‘ Union), attached to the shops in the areas where you live and will provide weekly grocery orders.
01.09.1982. I went to Kaunas, where he saw the light and passed the first 12 years of my life, but I had only to open his mouth and pronounce Russian words as they caught in his unfriendly looks, cowered under them, and he knew that it could not be otherwise. Whatever was done inside me, practically I am an occupier, Moskal, the representative of the Empire. It is in Moscow I’m a bitch. Scary to think what might happen in the future, how much blood will be shed when the nationals will begin to succeed. A riot could happen in the next decade. Our Cicerone Yasha brought us to his “Moskvich” on green mountain, where there is a market. Near the market, hardware store, before the door of which snaked a long queue. Suddenly there was a loud voice shouted something in Lithuanian. Yasha translated: “Well what gave you socialism the paint? Wait, wait, boobies can be, and you will get some paint.”
Boris Vronsky, a geologist, a researcher of the phenomenon of the Tunguska meteorite, resident of Moscow:
16.02.1976. In the morning, went to Sokol, was going to walk with Natasha. On the way we stopped in a store “Seeds” near Novokuznetskaya metro station. Had about an hour to stand in line. I bought almost everything needed for a vegetable garden, except for the dill.
Nikolai Troitsky, a student of GITIS, Moscow resident:
17.12.1982. Today was looking for oil in some of the shops there, others have a salty (shit), in the third — place wild. Irving stone (approx. — American writer), with his master’s opinion, stated in an interview that the queues are less and more products. With what he knows? Him here and there just always enough. Or politeness, or distorted interpreters — the usual batch of lies, or already lying stone, generously fed and adopted (under the control of the KGB — even the way he shits all the time — he was just being polite did not see?).
Dmitry Karalis, the writer, a resident of Gatchina:
23.08.1983. Zelenogorsk. Was in the city. Stood in line for flounder in the shop “Ocean”. Queue for an hour, no less. Conversations, how to cook stuffed pike, perch and other rubbish. Managed to read half of the book. The man approached a woman, asked the sales queue. Sadly showed all of violet’s death certificate.
— We — say — not since the funeral. Flounder is very necessary. And chose a long time, meticulously shifting ice of the Board.
Alfred Sigvald, former inspector of the criminal investigation, a resident of Moscow:
19.04.1984. Monday go to the driving course. I will learn 5 months. Scholarship 47 rubles, but I think that somehow survive. Help took today, then went shopping, looking for sweets, but never found. Cake “bird’s milk” — turn on the recording for a few days in advance. Candy I needed: it is necessary to thank those who helped me to get a job. Funny, even candy can’t get.
Nicholas Rabotnov, a nuclear physicist, a resident of Moscow:
09.04.1977. A song from the queue for meat on Good Friday:
“We succeeded bully
Where to get this b…
To succeed Brezhnev?”
On the same subject. Someone runs by mistake in the shop “Ocean”:
— Meat you have?
— We have no fish! No meat in the store across the street!
I remember a joke attributed to academician N. About Bogolyubov vacuum — pion, electron, etc. — than the absence of pions differs from the lack of electrons: “I water no syrup, please.” — “You no no cherry or raspberry?”
Alexander Chudakov, a philologist, a resident of the Moscow region:
16.05.1972. Before the arrival of L. on Saturday went to the store to buy some food. Stood in a queue for the ham 30 minutes over; for the meat another 30 minutes ran out, too; for milk is also about 20 minutes.
It was a day as a symbol of ruined hours, days, months, queue, obtaining the simplest of food.
No end — only worse. Hell. As L. said Paperny — Us censorship does not prevent self-fulfilling. Prevent queues in shops.
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