2018-01-19 / Travel

Memories of Ukraine Part 5: A Soviet Flat

By Warner M. Montgomery, Ph.D.


We stayed with Andrew is this Soviet-style apartment building in a settlement area outside of Odessa. We stayed with Andrew is this Soviet-style apartment building in a settlement area outside of Odessa. It had been six years since Linda and Andrew had met in Gorky Park in Moscow. Linda was on a Tour for Peace sponsored by the United Nations Unitarian/Universalists. Andrew was visiting his grandmother. Since then they had corresponded regularly and in 1991 began to make plans for this visit.

Andrew’s wife, Svetlana, and their 10–month– old baby girl, Nastya, lived with her parents 400 kilometers from Odessa. Andrew lived with his father (Lev), mother (Mila), brother, and his brother’s two– year–old daughter, Enna, on the ninth floor of an apartment building in a settlement area built 20 years before.

Their cozy flat is very well kept by his mother who stayed with her grandchild while the three men went off to work each day. The flat consisted of two small bedrooms, a living/ dining room, a very small kitchen, a tiny bathroom with sink and shower, and a water closet (literally, a closet with a toilet).


Enna, Andrew’s niece, loves her doll. Enna, Andrew’s niece, loves her doll. Lev slept on the sealed-in porch. The bedrooms contained wardrobes standing against the wall and wool carpets on the floor and walls. In the kitchen, there was a small refrigerator, kerosene stove, single sink, breakfast table, and two benches.

All housing in the former Soviet Union was owned by the State and supplied to the workers based on their “need.” Since Lev was a loyal member of the Communist Party and a leader in his trade union, they only had to wait ten years for the flat and feel very fortunate to having been there for ten years.

The settlement area was home to over 250,000 people. It contained homes, schools, and government stores. It was connected to Odessa by bus and tram lines. Electricity, water, and maintenance were provided by the then-obsolete Communist bureaucracy. And as Lev said between slugs of vodka at dinner that night, “ The only requirement for job in the bureaucracy is to be able to sit behind a desk and say, ‘No.’”


Andrew’s mother (l) and sister-in-law (r) prepared a wonderful meal of meat, bread, and potatoes. His father supplied the vodka to which I supplied the toasts. Andrew’s mother (l) and sister-in-law (r) prepared a wonderful meal of meat, bread, and potatoes. His father supplied the vodka to which I supplied the toasts. Continued next week



Linda plays with Enna on the sofa which served as our bed for the visit. Linda plays with Enna on the sofa which served as our bed for the visit.

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