1965 USSR Trip

4 Dec

TRIP TO THE USSR, 1965

1. Getting to Odessa

 

In the summer of 1965 I was invited to be part of a delegation of American Automatic Control Council members for a scientific exchange visit with automatic control systems associates in the Soviet Union and the East European bloc. The agenda for the visit included participation in their 3rd All-Union Conference on Automatic Control, starting in Odessa, followed by visits to various technical institutes and industrial plants in the USSR. The visit was sponsored by the USSR Academy of Sciences.

This was the first attempt at an exchange visit between scientists of the West and the Soviet bloc. The cold war politics of the time made it very difficult to get approval from the US and USSR government agencies for such visits. How the proposal managed to get past the bureaucratic roadblocks this time, I don’t know. I applied to my Bell Labs management for permission and financial support for the trip, and to my surprise, it was granted — even though I had been working on some secret research projects. I guess my technical managers at the Labs had faith in my ability to keep my mouth shut about any secret information. I did get a visit from a CIA agent before I left, but he did not suggest that I try to get secrets from the Russians I would meet; on the contrary, he advised me to avoid anything that might arouse suspicion. What he did want from me was a report on my observations and impressions when I returned  Probably the other delegates got similar requests from the CIA, but as it might embarrass them, I didn’t ask.

As soon as I got approval for the trip, Mary Jean and I discussed whether it was possible for her to come with me. She wanted to come, since we realized it was a unique opportunity to travel around the Soviet Union, but we could think of no one who could stay four weeks with Kristin and Scott; also, her piano students would miss four weeks of lessons. It was a practical decision for her not to come, but we both afterwards regretted that she missed the experience.

I went through all the necessary preparations: application for visa at the USSR legation in New York, getting the required shots and buying things for the trip. I purchased a large leather “Captain’s” bag that opened up like a garment bag, and had large pockets on both sides. (I managed to cram all my stuff into this one bag and a back-pack, but the bag was so wide, so heavy, and awkward to handle, that I regretted not having taken two smaller bags instead.)

The Intourist Agency, which handled all foreign tourist travel in the USSR, had designated the Cosmos Travel Agency in New York as their agent for this exchange visit, and we were required to pay in advance for transportation , lodging and meals, for the entire trip. They issued us a book of vouchers that were to be used to cover all these pre-paid expenses. We were told that we would have to declare all our cash and traveller’s checks on entering and leaving the USSR, and have receipts to account for the difference. Clearly, they didn’t want any of our US dollars to end up in the hands of the Russian people

At 8am on September 16, I took a commuter flight from Morristown airport to JFK. The plane was a high-wing twin-prop aircraft, and as I remember, I was the only passenger that morning. The pilot asked me if I would like to sit in the co-pilot seat, and I happily accepted. It was a clear morning, and the view flying over New Jersey and New York City was spectacular. I was hearing all the air traffic chatter going on, and it seemed very confusing, but the pilot brought our little plane in safely amidst all the heavy traffic of  big jets in and out of JFK. My flight to London was on a British Overseas Airways Company(now British Airways) VC-10, a four-engine English-made jet. It left JFK around 10am, and arrived 6 hours later at London’s Heathrow airport, about 9pm London time. I found out that my night flight to Moscow had been canceled, but that BOAC would pay for my overnight accommodations, and schedule me out on their morning flight.

I rode a small shuttle bus to the Richmond Hill Hotel in the southwest part of London. After getting settled in my room, I decided that although it was after 10pm here, I was still on New Jersey time, where it only a little after five, and that I should see some of London while I had the chance. So I hired a cab and asked the driver to show me the sights of London at night. He drove me along the Chelsea embankment on the north side of the Thames, where bright lights were set up for a movie being filmed, then down past the Parliament and Big Ben, where I walked across Westminster Bridge. After that he drove me to the Tower of London, across Tower Bridge, back across London Bridge, past St. Paul’s, Trafalgar Square, around Picadilly Circle and through the Soho district, then up the Mall to Buckingham Palace, on to Hyde Park, through South Kensington and back to my hotel around midnight. I felt I had gotten a good, first glimpse of London, and I resolved to come back with Mary Jean and spend more time there.

At 7:30am on Friday, Sept. 17,  the airport shuttle picked us up. We drove past many rows of cottages with tidy flower gardens in front, and when we arrived at Heathrow Airport, I met up with two other delegates, Prof. Eliahu Jury of UC Berkeley and Dr. Gary Chien of IBM in San Jose. Our British European Airways flight to Moscow left at 11:30am, over an hour late due to heavy airport traffic, for the 3 1/2 hour flight to Moscow. I had a window seat on the right side looking to the south, but clouds obscured the view of the ground until we were over Poland. As we crossed into Soviet territory, probably over Lithuania, two Soviet MIG fighter jets streaked across our path — I guess in order to get a visual verification that our plane was indeed the scheduled BEA flight to Moscow. I didn’t see any large cities on this flight, just villages and small lakes that became golden mirrors as the setting sun reflected off their surfaces.

Our plane landed at 5pm local time at the airport on the outskirts of Moscow. Russian soldiers with rifles came aboard the the plane, collected our passports and required us to sign a document listing the amount of money we brought into the USSR. I had $300 in travellers cheques and $224 in cash. We were then allowed to leave the plane and were put in a cold, bare, concrete room, waiting for our luggage and our passports. Among the passengers, I recognized the British actor, Albert Finney. I went to him and told him how much I was moved by his performance in “Luther”, that Mary Jean and I had seen in New York. He seemed pleased to talk about the difficulty of playing that role night after night, which included portraying Luther’s epileptic seizures. I asked him ‘How did you manage to go rigid and fall backward onto the stage floor?’ He said, “It took a lot of coaching and practice.”

After about an hour of waiting, we were given our luggage and passports. Prof. Jury had disappeared with some Russian friend, and Gary Chien and I were left waiting around for someone from Intourist to take us to our hotel. It was about 6:30 pm local time and already dark.

Finally, a small fellow who introduced himself as Michael Mishkin from Intourist found us and ushered us to a small van waiting outside. We rode along on one of the main radial avenues into the center of Moscow, and then out along another radial to the Hotel Tourist, where he left us, saying he would see us in the morning. Left by ourselves, we found that no one at this hotel spoke English, and that the pre-paid vouchers we had were not accepted there, nor were our dollars or travellers cheques. This was a hotel for Soviet tourists, not foreign visitors. After a lot of very frustrating attempts to communicate with the hotel matron, a man (who resembled the comedian, Louie Nye) introduced himself in halting English, asked if he could help, and after we explained our situation, got the matron to call the Intourist office. She told him we had to go to the Intourist service bureau at the Hotel Metropole to get proper vouchers to pay for lodging and meals. Our Russian Good Samaritan found us a cab, and back we went into the center of Moscow to the Metropole. We left the cabbie waiting for his fare, while we searched out the Intourist service bureau. There a woman who spoke good English took our vouchers, gave us some lodging and meal tickets for our hotel, but said we would have to come back in the morning to get new vouchers for our flight to Odessa, and to change some of our money to rubles at the exchange bank. When we told her we needed to pay for the taxi that brought us there and for the ride back to our hotel, she actually took pity on us and loaned us  each 4 rubles for the taxi fares, which we promised to repay in the morning.

She said that there would be no place to eat out near our hotel at that time of night, so we paid our cab driver, and had dinner in the Hotel Metropole restaurant. It was an elegant place, with white linen tablecloths and napkins and gleaming silverware on tables surrounding a dance floor, in the middle of which was a flowing fountain. A band was playing Glenn Miller-type music from the 40’s and many of the diners were dancing. Then the band swiched to a more lively beat, and the younger people there started doing the ‘Twist’. With our meal tickets, we were only able to get a meat and vegetable soup, some beer and bread. After our meal Gary and I walked up to Red Square, past the Kremlin walls and around the amazing St. Basil cathedral, illuminated by spotlights. In back of the cathedral a young man approached us, and in broken English, asked for chewing gum, and when we said we had none, pleaded with us to sell him any clothing we could spare. The whole experience so far had left us feeling abandoned in a strange and alien world.

It was difficult to get a taxi back to our hotel. When we showed the drivers its name and address, they would shake their heads and drive off, not wanting to go out to the edge of Moscow late at night, I guess. After many tries, we finally found a cabbie who agreed — perhaps he lived out that way. It was well after midnight when we got back to our Hotel Tourist, which after the elegant Metropole, looked like a run-down YMCA. Our new lodging vouchers were accepted, and we were led to a small room with a bunk-bed, a wardrobe, and a small table with a radio. The public washroom down the hall resembled those I had used in old Navy barracks. We were physically and emotionally exhausted, and fell asleep quickly, Gary in the top bunk, me in the bottom.

At about 5am, I was awakened by loud snoring coming from the bunk above. I managed to cover my ears and doze for a few more hours. When I got up and looked out the window, I saw an expanse of farm land with a few small houses and barns. We were at the edge of Moscow, and there was no transition to suburbs, just large buildings changing abruptly into farmland! When I got to the washroom, it was crowded with visitors busily getting ready for their day in the city, some speaking Russian, which I recognized by its sound, and some in other strange sounding languages. We got our passports back from the hotel Service Bureau. There were no cabs available outside the hotel, but fortunately, we saw our ‘Louie Nye’ man from the night before. He showed us a building nearby where he said we could get some breakfast, and showed us the stop for trolley #48 that would take us back to the Metropole hotel. When we got to the nearby restaurant, they would not seat us because we were not part of an organized tourist group with proper meal vouchers, so we left and caught trolley #48. The day was clear and crisp, and it was interesting to observe the other passengers, who probably caught this trolley to work every morning. They seemed to accept me as a normal trolley passenger, but directed hostile stares at Gary Chien, I guess because relations with China were very tense at that time. I noticed several locations along the route where long lines of people waited outside of building entrances. (It reminded me of my time on Navy bases, where the rule was “If you see a line, get in it. You’ll either get fed, see a movie, or, if you’re lucky, get a pass to go on leave.”) At one of these line-ups I saw people coming out carrying unpainted chairs — I presumed that was what all the people still in line were hoping to buy.

At the Metropole restaurant, Gary and I, not yet part of an organized tourist group, were fortunately allowed to order breakfast. We both felt so  isolated, and longed to have a competant and friendly Intourist guide taking care of us. The dining room was nearly deserted, but near us was a neatly dressed gentleman enjoying a breakfast of caviar, white bread, and a large glass of cognac. At least we seemed to be in a civilized place. After breakfast we found the exchange bank in the hotel, and I converted $22 dollars into 19.8 rubles (I learned later that on the black market, our $22 would get us 220 rubles!). Then we found the same Intourist service bureau woman and repaid her the 4 rubles she had loaned us. She said that Moscow was extremely crowded with thousands of visitors and exhibitors at a big Chemical Exhibition. This had apparently overtaxed the resources of Intourist. We asked her how we could get our travel vouchers converted to tickets for our flight to Odessa. She sent us to the main Intourist office in the National Hotel, across the square, past the Bolshoi Theater.

When we got there, we found a large group of foreign tourists waiting to be helped, most of them wearing the same tired, anxious look that must have been on Gary’s face and mine, since several of them greeted us and said, “And where are you trying to get to?”  We told them our plight, and they nodded sympathetically and showed us which line to get in. When we finally got to the window, we showed the woman our itinerary and our vouchers; and without comment she wrote our names in a book and gave us a slip with a number on it, and told us to take a seat and someone would call our number. We found a seat next to a young woman who smiled and said “I’m Shirley Deane, from the US. Where are you trying to get to?” We introduced ourselves and repeated our story. She wished us luck, and said she had been here two days now, trying to get a train to Poland before her Russian visa expired. After two hours of waiting, we got to see Michael Mishkin, the Intourist agent from the night before, who was supposed to be handling all the arrangements for our scientific exchange-visit delegation.  He said he would get us into a better hotel, and straighten out our travel arrangements to Odessa, and that we should check back with him in a few hours. We left him and went back to the Metropole where the woman corrected our hotel vouchers. Then we walked through Red Square and into the Kremlin, taking many pictures. There was a very long line of people waiting to file through Lenin’s Tomb by the Kremlin wall. We crossed the square to the huge GUM department store, which was very ornate, with long arcades on two levels, illuminated by domed, glass ceilings.

We got back to the Intourist office in the National Hotel several hours later, and again after a long wait talked to Mishkin, who said he was trying to get us on a train to Odessa, on Sunday, or possibly a plane on Monday. We urged plane over train, and went with Shirley Deane (whose travel problems were even worse than ours) for dinner in the National Hotel dining room, where she told us her amazing tale: she had hitch-hiked the entire length of Africa, from Capetown to Cairo, getting food and lodging in villages along the way by entertaining the people by singing and playing her accordion. From Cairo she went to London, where she bought a Land Rover and drove alone across Europe and Asia to India and then to Nepal, where she worked for 5 years in the Red Cross service for Tibetan refugees. She was clearly a very self-sufficient type! She then sold her Land Rover and travelled into the USSR by train, hoping to get back to the US via Warsaw and Rome. But in a week of trying to get a Polish visa to travel to Warsaw before her Russian visa expired, the USSR bureaucracy had ground this indomitable women down to a state of near helplessness. We advised her to go to the US Embassy and let them handle it.

After dinner we went back to the Intourist Headquarters, but no Mishkin there. I had a terrible time trying to call the service bureau at our Hotel Tourist to see if  Mishkin had left a message for us. Since no one spoke English there, this fruitless effort was leading us toward hysterics. Finally, Shirley took the phone and spoke German, and got through to a woman who said she would check and we should call her back in 15 minutes. Then I called the American Embassy and arranged to take Shirley there, and also to get advice on Gary’s and my troubles getting to Odessa.  I got a cab, and, speaking in my halting German, talked the driver to wait until Shirley got back from the Hotel Moskva with her bags. When she arrived, we asked her to make the call back to the service bureau at our Hotel Tourist. She came running out saying Mishkin was waiting at our hotel, and we had a plane to Odessa leaving in one hour!  With me shouting “Mach schnell!”  to the cabbie, we raced to our hotel. The cabbie spoke in German with Shirley, and told her that he had served five years in the Red Army in East Germany. We got to our hotel, met Mishkin, rushed in to pack our bags and check out, sent Shirley on to the American Embassy in the cab, and then left in a car with Mishkin. On the way we learned that we were going not to the airport, but to the Kiev station for the night train to Odessa, via Kiev. Our car drove into the station and right up on the platform beside our train. We rushed onto the train, were shown to our compartment by Mishkin who assured us that everything was prepared for us to have a pleasant 24-hour journey to Odessa. He left, and the train pulled out at 10:35 pm.

Gary and I were not alone in our compartment — with us was a stocky, middle-aged woman named Nadia, looking startled at the sudden occupation of her compartment by two male foreigners, one of whom looked Chinese, both of whom looked frazzled and exhausted, who were to be her sleeping companions for the night. I heaved a sigh of relief that our ordeal was apparently over, and we were on our way to Odessa. Then our door was opened by a husky woman in uniform, who said “Billeta pashalsta”. Nadia handed her ticket to the conductor, who then turned to Gary and me and repeated, “Billeta pashalsta”.Our assumption had been that Mishkin had already given her our tickets. I tried to convey this to her by saying “Americans”, “Intourist”, “Mishkin”, and “Billeta”, pointing to Gary and me, and then vaguely backward to the departed Mishkin. She did not understand my charade and sternly repeated her demand for tickets. Soon a crowd of interested passengers assembled outside our compartment, all voicing in Russian their interpretations of our predicament. Someone must have understood that we were hapless Americans, victims of an incompetant Intourist agent, and explained it to the conductor, who finally left us. Some minutes later, the train stopped at a small station. I saw the conductor get off and go into the station office. No one else got on or off the train. Gary and I were afraid she would appear with police and evict us from the train, but after what seemed like a long time, she got back aboard and the train continued on. A few minutes later, she appeared at our door with a tray with 3 cups of hot tea and some cookies. Then a man came in and lowered our sleeping berths, two on one side for Gary and me, and one on the other side for Nadia, who left with a small bag and soon reappeared dressed in nightgown and robe. We smiled and nodded to her and tried to convey that we were respectable and well-behaved fellow travelers. There was a curtain between the berths, which she drew for privacy.

Gary and I left her to get ourselves ready for bed in the lavatory at the end of our car. Remembering his snoring that woke me the night before, I tactfully suggested that if either of us should start snoring, the other would poke him, so as not to disturb Nadia. We returned to our compartment, and Nadia already seemed to be asleep. Gary climbed in the upper berth and I climbed in the lower. It was about midnight, and I felt a great relief that the long, long day and all its problems were finally over, and soon fell asleep. In the early morning hours I was again awakened by loud snoring. I poked Gary until he awoke and looked over his bunk at me. We both then realized that the snoring was continuing. All we could do was smile, pull our pillows around our ears, and try to get back to sleep.

When I again awoke, Nadia was up and gone. Gary and I got dressed and found our way to the dining car, where we saw Nadia already having her breakfast. She did not seem to welcome our presence, so we took a table by ourselves. The menu was in Russian, of course, and when we tried to ask the waiter for bacon and eggs in English, he left us, and some minutes later a young woman appeared from the kitchen, introduced herself in English as Olga, and told us that she was studying English, and would be happy to take care of us. She served us a very pleasant breakfast of hot oatmeal and then eggs and toast and coffee, and asked us where we were from in America, and why we were going to Odessa. When we told her it was a scientific conference to which the USSR had invited participants from the United States and Western Europe, she treated us like royalty. It was such a pleasure to be able to communicate with her, to enjoy the food, and to look out at at the Russian (by now maybe Ukrainian) landscape passing by. I felt myself relaxing for the first time since I arrived there, two long days ago.

There was a map of the train’s route in the corridor outside our compartment, and each time the train stopped or passed a station, I would spot the name, and locate it on the map. Our room-mate, Nadia, had enured herself to our presence, and began to show friendly gestures, like speaking the names of the towns, and pointing to them on the map. The vast steppes of the Ukraine were passing before us. Along the railroad right-of-way there were small orchards and vegetable gardens, and also a pathway that seemed to be the route people took to the nearest town. Beyond that were the large collective farms, with harvesters reaping the fields of wheat and other crops. Each time the train stopped at a small station, besides the omnipresent statues or posters of Lenin, there were many local people offering fruits and vegetables from their own private plots. The travellers got off the train and bargained for the produce — a little private enterprise midst the large collective farms.

Nadia bought some carrots, grapes, and apples, and in a gesture of friendship, offered some to Gary and me. I had picked up enough Russian to say ‘spaceba’ (thanks) and ‘ochen kharasho’ (very good), and she would nod and smile. I discovered she spoke a little German, so I learned that she was a teacher in Kiev, returning from visiting her family in Moscow. As the afternoon progressed, the scenery changed from rural farmland to industrial areas as we neared Kiev. After Kiev, Gary and I enjoyed a nice dinner in the diner car with our attentive Olga, who thanked us for giving her a chance to practice her English. We tried to tip her with the rubles we had left, but she emphatically refused.

It became dark as we travelled across the southern Ukraine, amd Gary and I busied ourselves packing our bags for our arrival in Odessa. It was about 10:30 when we arrived, just 24 hours after our hectic departure from Moscow. I had the name of our hotel on an itinerary Michael Miskin had given me, and I fervently hoped he had got it right this time. The cab driver took us to the hotel, and as soon as we got into the lobby, we spotted several members of our delegation, including Lotfi Zadeh, a professor at Berkeley, who had been my thesis advisor at Columbia. We were finally linked up with our group. We had made it to Odessa!

Before I went to bed, I walked outside the hotel to get the feel of this city — this much longed-for destination. The night air was warm, and there were palm trees along the street outside the hotel. I felt I was in a Mediterranean country, not in the USSR. All the people I passed seemed happy and were colorfully dressed, unlike the dour, drably dressed people I saw in Moscow. In bed that night, I drifted off to sleep hearing people singing to the accompaniment of an accordion.

 

2. Conference on the Black Sea

US Delegates:

Harold Chestnut, General Electric, and wife Irma Ruth

Gary Chien, IBM

Nathan Cohn, Leeds & Northrup

Charles Draper, MIT

Herbert Galernter, IBM

Eliahu (Eli) Jury, UC Berkeley

Joseph LaSalle, Brown Univ., and wife Eleanor

Sidney Lees, Dartmouth

John McCarthy, Stanford Univ.

William Miller, General Electric, and wife Freda

Fred Mobley, Johns Hopkins Univ., and wife Betty

Winston Nelson, Bell Labs

Lucien Neustadt, U. Southern Cal. and wife Helmi

James Reswick, Case Inst. of Tech.

Herbert Storm,  General Electric

Lotfi Zadeh,  UC Berkeley, and wife Faye

 

Russian Hosts:

Academician Vladimir A.Trapeznokoff, USSR Acad. of Science

Dr. Alexander Letov, Prof., Inst. of Automation & Telemechanics (IAT)

Dr. Eric Nappelbaum, IAT

Irina, Intourist agent

 

Monday, Sept. 20: I met the Chestnuts and Millers on my way down to breakfast, where our whole group soon arrived. Oleg Aven, Academician Trapeznokoff’s assistant, assured us that all will be properly taken care of from now on. At 10am we toured Odessa, saw our cruise ship in the harbor, the Potemkin steps, Opera House, University.  Gary Chien and I took pictures of each other standing in front of various statues, and on Potamkin steps, took pictures of girls and soldiers with harbor in background. Very beautiful and relaxed city. Had lunch at Hotel Odessa, then walked to Opera House (magnificent, in the class with those in La Scala and Vienna) for opening session of the conference. First many dignitaries gave greetings. Lady official from Odessa was very impressive, wearing a suit with many medals on the left side. Harold Chestnut spoke for IFAC (Int’l Federation of Automatic Control) and wished everyone well. Then the two opening talks were given: Trapeznikoff spoke on “Automatic Control and Economics” — automation and computer control has been uneconomical in many cases in the USSR. More consideration must be made of its economic effect. When payoff of one technique ceases to be good with increased information input, better to switch to a new approach. Then Prof. Tsipkin discussed the theory of self-adaptive systems in his talk, “Adaptation, Teaching, and Self-teaching Systems.”

After this (about 5pm) there was an hour of musical entertainment — vaudeville and comic opera type stuff. At 6pm we went back to hotels, packed our bags and got our passports. A bus picked us up and we went to our conference ship, the “Admiral Nakimov”. I shared a deluxe cabin with Prof. Eduardo Caianello from Italy. The cabin had two large portholes looking out the starboard side, twin beds, table and settee, small refrigerator and private bath. We had a late supper at assigned tables in the ship’s dining room, and seated at my table was Leonid Rozenoer

and his colleagues M. Aizerman and E. Braverman. Unfortunately, neither he nor his colleagues at our table spoke much English, yet I was able to convey to him, with help from Eli Jury, that his papers on Pontryagin’s maximum principle had been very useful to me in my doctoral thesis at Columbia. He and his colleagues seemed to understand, and nodded appreciatively. Back in our cabin, I talked until 1am with Eduardo about his recent visits to Red China and India.

 

Tuesday, Sept. 21: Up at 7am for breakfast. Beautiful weather, calm sea, warm sun. Attended some of the technical sessions. Russian scientist volunteers tried to translate to us the speaker’s words, but were not trained in simultaineous translation, so it was difficult to follow the talks. One of them, A. N. Petrovski, just sucked his finger. Ship is passing along the south coast of the Crimea — cliffs and mountains and some large villas. Arrived in Yalta about 4pm. At 5:00 we left by bus with pretty red-haired guide for a tour of greater Yalta area. Rode west along coast to Alupka and then back to Yalta. Stopped at the summer palace of Tsar Nicholas II where the Yalta Conference with Churchill, Roosevelt and Stalin was held. All the old palaces and villas of imperial Russia are now either sanitoriums or vacation hotels for Russian workers. Also many new sanitoriums for tuberculosis patients have been built, according to our guide.

After we got back to shipside, the Chestnuts, Chien, Galernter, and I walked along the Yalta harbor prominade. It was very crowded with people strolling — very pleasant except for a few men with excess intake of vodka. I bought a bottle of a Yalta wine, ‘Masandra’, which is a sweet dessert wine. We got back on board at 9pm which was sailing time. Very gay time with people crowding the dock, waving; a man on board waving a bouquet he was given. Little band playing. After the ship got underway, we had a short party in our stateroom with my wine, some vodka, and many toasts; the group included Eric Nappelbaum, who spoke excellent English and served as interpreter for many of the meetings, two Intourist agents, Chien, Galernter, Caianello and me.

 

Wednesday, Sept. 22: In mid-morning, I attended a very crowded discussion session titled  “The Gap between Theory and Practice” on the aft pool deck, led by Prof. Letov & others. Eric was translating for the benefit of the English-speaking delegates. Some quotes from my notes:

Kogan: “Practice solves much more complex problems than theory can.”

Hoshhovitz(Prague): “There is not very good similarity between between mathematical models and real systems. Some religious remains have fostered the gap– since religious theories are far from practise but produce excellent results.”

[unknown]: “Engineers search for own optimum which differs from scientists. Engineers must be very risky to solve new problem, and payoff for risk is not good. We must give them a good prize.” (It was very sunny and hot on the open deck, and he spoke without a shirt — said ancient Greeks used to meet this way)

[A man from Far East Acad.of Science-Vladivostok]: “I do not think education is reason for the gap. Theoretical activities are not stimulated by practical use; we must make some economical stimulus to apply theory to practice”

The ship docked at Sochi about 5pm and we (the foreign delegates) went ashore for a tour of the area. Saw many more sanitoriums in yellow sandstone, neo-classic style; also fancy Parthenon-style Opera House. A boy wanted to buy clothes from me, which upset our Intourist guide when I mentioned it. It got quite dark while we rode in bus up narrow road to Mt. Akhun, 700 meters high, for view of Sochi harbor, Russian hosts sang songs, including “Moscow Nights” on the way. At the top we climbed a 30 meter tower in the dark and could see only a few stars above and some lights far below. Came back to gift shop on the shore about 8:30, where I bought an amber necklace for Mary Jean. Many natives were gaping in the shop windows at the sight of foreigners and their money. After supper an informal seminar on pattern recognition formed in our cabin . It was a very international group: Naguchi(Japan), Caianello(Italy), Braverman(Russia), myself(US), and Janos Barat(Hungary), who was our Russian-English translator. Very interesting exchange on mathematical-abstract vs. bio-physical points of view toward pattern recognition & artificial intelligence. It was about 1:30am when it finally broke up.

 

Thursday, Sept. 23: Woke up at 7am in time for breakfast. Then met Eric Nappelbaum who guided me to the ship’s laundry to leave some shirts and other washing. Paid 1.40 rubles and can get it tomorrow morning. Attended morning session on Application of Optimal Control to Resource Allocation, Prof. Lerner, Chairman. 1st paper by grad. Student was attempt to solve resource allocation…..Then Bill Miller described the G.E. computer automation of steel rolling mills. Russians very interested — he was describing real things and could give facts and numbers.

Ship docked in Batumi; nice and warm here in southern part of Soviet Union (about 10 miles from Turkey). We had lunch and then disembarked in small boats with Russian hosts for trip to Green Cape and Botanical Gardens. Cape beautiful point of rock cliffs with rock & black sand beach below(walked along beach with young Russian scientist, Vadim Utkin, who spoke English English, rather than American English — told me he learned it from clandestine listenings to BBC radio). We went swimming — water easy to go into and most refreshing. Then Eric Nappelbaum, Michael Bermont, myself, and others walked through the Botanical Gardens, which were alright, up to a lookout point where we could see the coastline to the north, grapevine-covered trees, and a tea plantation. After boat ride back to Batumi, a group of us — Prof. Aizerman, Eric, Michael, Tzipkin, Janos Barat, Jury, Fred & Betty Mobley, Carmer (Turkish mustache), Naguchi and I –went to Intourist Hotel and had a nice meal (except the shash-lik was bad) with excellent red dinner wine, delicious Georgian pan bread, cheese, and a demitasse of Turkish coffee. Prof. Tzipkin said he knew of my pulse-width control work, and was interested in my present work (which I had to be somewhat vague about). Then we walked along sea-side promenade. Eric and I talked of writing and music we liked. He likes Salinger, Bellow; in music, he loves Glenn Gould playing Bach; he heard him in Moscow on 1st night, before he was known. The next two concerts were completely sold out. Eric’s mother-in-law was Richter’s secretary. Eric: “Richter very hard to get along with, but fairy[sic] good pianist. His wife, a professional singer, is lesbian ; they get along well that way. He was trained in Odessa and Moscow, but lives in Leningrad.”  Eric also said that while we were in Moscow he could show me place to get fur hats and $1 Richter records. Back on ship, had supper, described Bell Labs computers to Naguchi, and strolled around the ship. Dance on one of the aft decks again tonight. Ship pulled out of Batumi about 11:30pm. I visited around ship with various colleagues, came back and washed out shirt and socks, took bath and then the impromptu bull-sessions continued in our stateroom, so I didn’t get to bed until about 1am.

 

Friday, Sept. 24: Seemed to be able to wake up right at 7am. Breakfast was cold cuts, cole slaw, something like buttermilk in a glass, some heavy fried cakes and tea. Rozonoer and his colleagues presented me with box containing a small wooden dish, carved with a bird’s head at one side, and a tail at the other, painted in red with gold and black trim. I thanked them as best I could –”ochen charosho, spaceba, spaceba”. Then Eric kindly went with me to reclaim my laundry — my shirts were nicely pressed, and the woman there had somehow kept track of all my socks and underclothes. Attended morning session on analysis of nonlinear variable systems. Then to multi-loop systems session, where a paper given by older engineer, I.I. Galperin, proposed a new mechanics for automatic control — he was not treated kindly. During noon hours the fantail is a popular place for sunning, swimming in the small pool, and impromptu technical discussions by small groups. One such group was around Neustadt and LaSalle. Afternoon session on nonlinear systems was a fiasco due to sound system failure & interference noise. Too bad, since papers by Vadim Utkin and Michael Bermont deserved a good hearing. Michael will describe it later tonight. Wrote cards to sisters Donna and Elaine. Ship docked at 5pm in Sochi. Janos Barak, Michael Bermont, Victor Varshavsky, the Mobleys, and I walked around the town. Intourist guide, Irena, joined us. Walked back along the sea wall. There were still some people swimming in the Black Sea, which after dark is truly black. Listened to Irena tell of trips as guide and of her family in Odessa. After supper (fish & potatoes) we had a “press conference” (more like an im-press conference) which was very long, with each foreign and Soviet bloc group making remarks.The conference started 9:30 and ended at midnight. After the conference, Eduardo and I visited with Michael and Victor in our room until about 1:30am, telling stories and some Russian, Italian and American jokes. Sample Russian joke: “What is the difference between capitalism and communism? Answer: With capitalism you have man exploiting man; with communism it is the other way around.”  Before bed I walked on the open deck looking at the bright, starry sky above and the dark sea below, and nodded a few other late strollers.

 

Saturday, Sept. 25: This morning I slept through breakfast. Sat in on Applications of Optimal and Self-Adaptive Systems session.– poor translation. — topics on power plant control. Left the session, had coffee with Eli Jury. Later heard some of special session “Learning Systems”. Talked with Prof. Letov, who asked me to present a talk on my work. We agreed on 3:30pm. Had lunch; then after lunch there was a picture-taking session of the American group. Then I heard Fred Mobley’s talk on passive attitude-control systems. Visited Fred & Betty’s cabin afterward for some brandy with Michael & Victor. Then Prof. Letov brought a group to hear my talk on the trade-off advantages of near-optimal control — including Eric as my translator, and Troitsky and a woman mathematician named Kirillova (who looks like my sister Donna, except blond) and several others. Talk went well; they admitted that no such research had been done in the USSR. Eric was the most interested of all because of its relation to his work on the performance of stochastic systems; we talked for several hours afterward. Then took in our last supper, which was good — caviar, beer, good meal. Great spirit at our table. Jury told me the closing party would be in my cabin, because his cabin-mate was Prof. Draper, who was in his late 70s, and went to bed early. I talked with Prof. Boris Kogan about my satellite attitude control work and his predictive control solution to 3-axis attitude control. Academician Trapeznikoff had his own party, which took some of our guests. Jonas and I talked long time after Eli and Herb Galernter left. He was in Moscow at time of Hungarian revolt, engaged to Russian girl, whom he later married. He got back to Budapest after Red Army took over. Had hard decision, but stayed. Later I went out and met Gamkrelidze and Irina. The farewell dance was still going on the stern deck; Trapeznikoff still dancing. I had two dances with Irina, then went with the Neustadts, Gamkrelidze and Irina to their cabin for brandy. Mrs. Neustadt (from Estonia) has pet alligator 5 feet long at home, which she raised from a baby and now sleeps with. (Where does Mr. Neustadt sleep??)  Gamkrelidze talked about Georgian customs and language. Didn’t get to bed until 3:30am. Went out on deck and saw Orion and Taurus overhead. Spirit at the conference was marvelous; the intellectual interchange was both stimulating and exhausting.

 

3. Tour of Technical Institutes and Plants

 

Sunday, Sept. 26: Slept till 8am, no breakfast. Ship docked in Odessa at 10am. We disembarked and were taken by bus to Hotel Odessa. The Intourist office was swamped. We paid for tickets to Kiev, and our hosts postponed the rest of trip details until Monday in Kiev. Had a good lunch in hotel. I felt so tired from accumulated lack of sleep. Said farewells to Michael Bermont and my cabin-mate Eduardo Caianello and others who were not part of the post-conference tour. Then managed a walk with the Millers, Mobleys, and Jonas Barak up the main street of Odessa to an old monastery (now an observatory) and then back on Pushkin Street (about 2 miles total). Many people out strolling and shopping on Sunday.

3.00pm: Rode to airport, and after 1 hour wait, got on plane (Tupelev-2 jet). Short flight to Kiev (50 min) Our taxi driver was a wild driver – 100 K/hr, passing everything. Many billboards and banners with slogans and idealistic worker pictures along the way to Hotel Dniepr, Kiev finest. Had a nice supper: chicken soup and chicken Kiev — a fried, breaded chicken breast stuffed with butter in the center, which squirted out when I cut into it. My room was modern – on seventh of twelve floors. At 11pm, I heard group in the street singing and shouting.

 

Monday, Sept. 27: Woke at 7am. Lovely view of a park down to Dniepr river from my picture windows. In the park was a large ampitheater, a Ferris wheel, and many trees. Across the river, a large industrial area. On the street below the hotel, people going to work were lined up at the bus stop. I joined our delegation for breakfast, and then at 10am we were taken by bus to the Kiev Institute of Automation. We were ushered into a large, high-ceilinged room with a long table. At each place at the table were a note pad and pencils, and a glass; along the center of the table were several vases of flowers, bottles of fruit-flavored soda water, and pitchers of water. The director of the Institute, B. B. Timofiev, was seated at the head of the table, a large portrait of Lenin on the wall behind him. He gave a welcoming speech and introduced the staff engineers present. Bill Miller made a short speech thanking them for having us. Then the staff engineers talked about their work on multi-level control of industrial processes and the computers they use: “Dniepr” for process control, “Rezden 3” for general research. Eric Nappelbaum was kept very busy translating Russian to English and English to Russian.

Then we visited Ukrainian Academy of Sciences. Same ‘boardroom’ setup with introductions and welcomes by Academician Glushkoff and Prof. Ivanenko, and talks on various aspects of computer control. They develop basic computer software and hardware. Thery use analog computer for transport problems in linear programming. Also do PERT-type programming for industrial production scheduling, sometimes working closely with industry. Develop I/O devices such as print readers. Their practical work is preceded by theoretical work — optimization theory, hybrid system design. They developed the “Dniepr” computer for process control; it is also used in research with analog computer, MU-2. Research in economic and management control; bionics work is in medical diagnosis by computer. The mathematics and biological sections collaborate on problems in artificial intelligence. They simulate on computer the learning process for learning the meaning of a sentence. Can prove by finite automata theory that it is possible to translate from one language to another; have program for translation from Ukrainian to Russian. They are mostly interested in small-scale computers for process control. When Chien asked if he could visit plant where Dniepr computer in made, Acad. Glushkoff said it was not possible, since Russians visiting U.S. for IFIP meeting last year had not been allowed to visit an IBM plant. The session ended about 5:30. I spoke to Ivanenko about seeing him tomorrow at the Institute.

Had a hurried supper and walked from our hotel to the Kiev Palace of Culture for a concert of Ukrainian folk-singing and dance. The leader, Maria Ospenskaya, wore a man’s black suit adorned with many medals. It was a marvelous concert, so lively and colorful and beautiful. Afterward went to the top of Hotel Moskva for a panoramic view of the city, which has been rebuilt from the almost complete destruction in WW II. Then joined the Lees and Cohns and Galernter in Hotel Dniepr restaurant for a snack. Later had drinks(Scotch) in the bar with Eric and the Millers.

 

Tuesday, Sept. 28: Got up and packed. Breakfast 8 to 9.Took a short ride with Harold Chestnut and Chien in taxi to the old gate of Kiev and to St. Sofia church (they had no time to look and see, only time to shoot pictures).  Got back just in time for cars to take us to the Institute of Cybernetics. Academician Glushkov came to greet us. Institute is on the edge of town — again a fast, scary taxi ride. Talked with Ivanenko and his group and also with Bionics group. They invited us to submit papers to the journal “Automatika”.  We left about 1pm, and then spent 1:20 till 3pm waiting to get lunch. When it finally came it was chicken Kiev again. Wrote cards to Ira Jacobs, my Dept. Head at Bell Labs, Virginia Hansen in Cornish, Utah, and home. Rode to airport in bus, talked with Eric. The plane, a Tupelov jet, took off for Tbilisi at 5pm. Group of Georgians near us had brought cheese and fruit aboard. Hostess served a snack of an apple, tea, cheese, roll and a raisin cupcake. Eric taught Chestnuts and Chien to play Ga-rook (fools), a very popular card game in Russia. He told me of playing bridge with close friends since very young and being tennis champ in the youth league in Moscow, got married when he was 26, his wife 18. They still live with parents in Moscow apt., but are on three waiting lists for an apartment. He is now 29 and is finishing his candidate dissertation at the Institute.of Automatics & Telemechanics (IAT) in Moscow. He also translates literary works (most recently Salinger’s ‘Catcher in the Rye’) and wrote a book on architecture. His father was an architect of the Corbusier, van der Mies school, but gave it up and became a set designer for movies.

We arrived in Tbilisi after dark. Chichinadze met us; it rained as we rode into the city. We checked into the Hotel Tbilisi, and then had a late supper of shashli (skewered lamb and onions), bread and wine.  Then the Millers, Irina, Nat Cohn, Eric and myself walked the streets of the old town — very narrow with balconies above. Some men dancing in an upstairs room. The smell of fresh baked  bread coming from a basement window. Walked through a lovely park with a lighted statue above on the hill. Found our way back to our hotel at 1am Tbilisi time.

 

Wednesday, Sept. 29: Up at 7:30 local time (6:30 Moscow time). For breakfast had hashi-puri — egg and cheese buns. First visit was at Georgian Institute of Electronics, Radio Eng’g and Automatic Control, starting with the usual general conference. The director, Dr. Eliashvili, a short, dark man with a mustache, was a most charming host. He explained the work of the Institute and then we toured the various departments. The labs seemed ancient, even though the building is quite new, yet had cold, dark halls, drab rooms, but spirited, active people. Pattern recognition demo was most interesting: spoken Russian numbers were identified and displayed. There was also a small robot on the floor that moved around according to spoken commands. After tour we returned to the director’s office, which had a long table decked out with fruit bowls, more hashi-puri, excellent Georgian cognac, and pear-flavored mineral water. Dr. Eliashvili proposed many toasts, including one to all American and Soviet women and to all other woman of the world, who are also beautiful — all represented by his secretary who was present. This was our lunch, after which we travelled to TNIISA, an Institute for instrumentation and automation, where we had introductions, a short tour, and then sat down to a conference table for toasts and eating of delicious grapes, pears, peaches and apples. Again there were many toasts with Georgian cognac, between them and us, them and the IAT representatives, Dr. Letov and Eric Nappelbaum, many toasts to the fine conference on the ship, to our visit to Tbilisi, and to future meetings. They discussed the possibility of an International Conference at a ski resort in the Caucasus with more wives along. We finally left at 5:30 and returned to our hotel. Weather cloudy and drizzly all day, but the warmth of the Georgian hospitality has made it seem sunny here. On return to our hotel, I relaxed awhile and wrote cards to Anne and Mark. At 8:30 we met in the lobby with Eliashvili and Chichinadze for dinner. We had caviar, fried sturgeon, fried cheese, a baked bean dish, and shashli, a light wine and many toasts. I sat with Dr. Yasuo Nazaka, who works in automation of Japanese steel plants. After banquet we walked a bit, then I got to bed about 12:30 am.

Eliashvili has a brusque manner, but also has a real twinkle in his eye and a sharp wit — a Damon Runyan type character.

 

 

Thursday, Sept. 30: Wrote a quick letter to Mary Jean for Irma Ruth Chestnut to mail when she arrives tomorrow in NY (She may also call). Bus took us alongside the Kur river to Rustavi Steel plant, about 15 miles SE of Tbilisi. Our host at the plant was the Chief Engineer, who resembled the bear character in Pogo comic strip. Plant was built in 1945; its main product is steel tubes. He told us about about the town and the mill; Rustavi has a population of about 100,000, and has 18 colleges (!!–perhaps a problem in translation?). The mill runs 4 shifts, 7 hours per shift (with some overlap, obviously). Workers get one month paid vacation per year, and free college courses if they wish. There was quite a contrast between his glowing account and the look of the place — filthy cafeteria and locker rooms, dirty workers in dirty clothes. He then took us on a tour.We stopped at a blast furnace that was being tapped. A white-hot river of molten steel was pouring down into great vats with a shower of molten spray. We walked right up by a river of slag flowing from the tapping operation. Man with asbestos hat was pushing the slag along with a hoe-like tool. Heat was tremendous; the eerie glow in the vast darkness of the mill made it look like Hades. I was amazed they let us be so close to the action, and possible hazard. We then went to a rolling mill where hot ingots were lifted out of heating tanks. Then they were rolled into round bars and cut. At the tube-forming mill we saw the cold bars loaded into merry-go-round type re-heating furnace and taken out of other side red hot and shot down to the piercing press which pushed the hot bars over a guide rod, making the tubes, which were then rolled, stretched, and finished in successive milling machines. Finally the tubes were sent for cutting and storage.

Long ride back to, and then through Tbilisi — along river, cliffs, church on cliffs, an old castle.  After the messy, amazing inferno of the mill, our hosts announced we were going to a champagne factory located north of Tbilisi! The front of the champagne factory had a very elaborate design. Its director was a thin man with small mustache — another Runyan character. He led us through the bottling area and vast store-rooms with several million bottles on shelves being periodically turned to help the fermenting process. Then to a tasting room where we sampled the various kinds, from the cheaper fast-fermentation types to the premium slow-aged types. Since we had had no lunch, we were all a little fuzzy and giddy as we rode back to Tbilisi. Had dinner about 3pm (chicken tabac, not so good), then walked a bit with Eric — weather still drizzly, streets jammed. At 6pm we left hotel. Chichinadze came along with his wife, and presented us with a picture book of Tbilisi. They accompanied us to the airport for our flight to Baku on a 4-engine turbo-prop (IL-18). Were met at 10pm by a large delegation, and the women in our group were presented with bouquets. Hotel Intourist in Baku very nice. My suite had a sitting room, bedroom, bath, and a balcony looking out toward the Caspian Sea. Late supper at 11:30pm.

 

Friday, Oct. 1: Woke at 7:50. Beautiful clear day. Walked out to the harbor of Baku. Large park where there were children practising tennis. After breakfast we travelled by bus a short distance the Azerbaijan Academy of Sciences. We walked first around a few streets seeing some monuments. Then went into the Academy and were ushered into a very ornate room with a long table on which were several bowls of fresh fruit. During the Academy Vice-president’s very long speech (with Eric translating), I watched a small spider crawling on the grapes. We then had some fruit and fruit flavored soda water (very good, naturally sweet — why don’t we have this in the US?). The entrance hall of the Academy very ornate, big marble pillars, curved stairways to a landing with a huge relief map of Azerbaijan on the landing wall. We posed with our hosts on the front steps for a group picture. Then went by bus to high part of the city — had great view of Baku’s crescent harbor. Some very old clay apartment houses next to large newer apartment units. Every city I’ve seen so far has only apartments, even on the outskirts — I haven’t seen one private home, except for small farm houses in the countryside.

We visited the Inst. of Petro-chemical Processes, and sat in Director Nagiyev’s office for the usual greetings and intro. Nagiev wasn’t feeling too well at the start, but seemed to get better as he talked of their work on the automation of chemical processes. Then we were taken on a quick tour of the chemical labs — made lab girls nervous, one of them dropped a big flask. New buildings look old inside, like those in earlier cities, but in Baku there’s less overt Soviet symbols: no Lenin or Stalin statues, signs are in Azerbaijanian, not Russian.

We skipped lunch and went north along the Caspean to the city of Sumgait, which is only 15 years old, but has a population of 100,000 in planned units (micro-cities). Big steel-tube mills for oil wells and pipelines, also many other industries. Went into Sumgait city hall to a reception by the mayor, a young, handsome man who is a university graduate. He had a model of the city on wall, and told us about its growth and planning. He explained 3 meanings of name ‘Sumgait’: one which means “water come back”, for a river that once flowed, but disappeared, another that a boy “Sum” died, leaving his girl crying “Sum gait” — the third meaning I don’t remember. The mayor asked for questions. I asked about small blocks on the city map. He said they were cottages that workers can apply for — 40% paid by the state, the rest by the workers over 10 years. Prof. Letov told me he was glad I asked this. The idea of building private homes is very new, and hard to get into state planning. Apparently now there will be more such units built.

The mayor made a beautiful toast about friendship: “A host asked his guests: ‘what is happiness?’ One said it was money, but the host said that many men were rich but not happy. Another said it was power, but the host said that powerful men were often not happy. A third said it was having a beautiful wife, but the host said a beautiful wife can sometimes be a tragedy for a man. Finally the host said ‘Happiness is like the sun. You can feel its warmth, but you must not try to capture it. The only time you were sure to have it with you is when you sit with loved ones and good friends drinking a toast to happiness’.” Nat Cohn responded that we were not yet accustomed to so many receptions with drinking toasts, and after this one we may give a 4th meaning to “Sumgait”. Mayor responded that he was sorry, but for a while we would have to have champagne. Cohn then told of a picture in our hotel of Lenin and Gorky in a boat with fishermen, happy in the warmth of friendship, but in the back of the boat was a man with a bottle who was also very happy. The mayor did not like this and told Cohn that they were muslims and did not drink, that happiness was not in the bottle, and that they provided us champagne only to toast us. He said that in this country, every home has one room, the best room, which they do not live in; it is kept only for guests, and they drink only tea, and it was only as a special courtesy to us that he provided champagne for us. He also said he was a man of some influence, and he would see to it that from now on there would be only tea — at least for Mr. Cohn. We applauded him, and Nat looked properly subdued.

We left the mayor’s office at 4:15, way behind schedule. The town hall was fairly new, but already under repair — typical of poor construction we saw. We went to the Institute of Oil Technology Automation. It was after hours there, so we went very quickly through labs with the director. Saw briefly their Rasdun computer, which is used in their oil technology research. Then we went to a restaurant for dinner as guests of the Inst. director, Dr. Abdulaev. We started with excellent fresh Caspian caviar and buttered bread. The men at my table ordered more for me — it is common custom here for guests. Then some fried sturgeon and some roasted lamb and some meat rolls. Many, many toasts all around with excellant cognac brandy. I toasted 3 times, once to their coming to the U.S., since I could see their land, their work, their people, and their great hospitality, but they could only see me, so they should come to see our land, our work, our people, and our hospitality. Second toast was to propose that the next American Automatic Control Conf. be held here by the Caspian Sea. Third toast was in effect an apology to Dir. Abdulaev that we had not had time for more technical visits and talks, but that I felt this personal contact and feeling of friendship that we had was the most valuable thing we have had in our visit. Eric translated my toasts very warmly, and the men at our table gave me a private toast to my health. At 8:30 we left with many regrets at our leaving so soon. Long, bumpy bus ride back. We stopped somewhere in Baku to see a movie about the city, their culture, and the harvesting of the huge Caspian sturgeon, and the prized caviar, during which I dozed off. We got back to the hotel about 11:15 pm. Afterward, Eric & I walked down by the seashore — lovely park called “Little Venice” with willows & canals & bridges. Saw a dance in the Exhibition Hall, then some community singing. Strolled along the promenade; there were fires by the seaside, but we couldn’t figure out why. Back at hotel, Eric came to my room to make a call to his wife in Moscow. He didn’t get the call through until about 1:30; I had gone to sleep, after a long, long, but interesting, day.

 

Saturday, Oct 2: Up at7:30am, breakfast, then on bus to ship, “Volgagrad”, at 9:15. Ship left Baku at 9:30, and arrived at Neftyaniye Kamny (“Oil Rocks”) at 1:30pm. Stayed only 1/2 hour riding around on a small bus traversing some of the narrow, rickety causeways connecting the oil pumping platforms. Amazing complex with 160 Km of causeways in the middle of the Caspian Sea. The main platform where the ships dock at this complex has stores, and dormitories for the workers, who spend one week working on the oil platforms, and one week at home around Baku. We had lunch on ship on the way back. Got back around 6:30, walked along seaside prominade about 1 mile to hotel. Many strollers — swan statues in a pool in “Little Venice”, kabob cafes with tables out under the trees. A Swiss man, Federico Luchsinger gave me the name of a special oil that might help Mary Jean’s arthritis pain in her hands. (It turns out that he is not Swiss, but Spanish. He posed as Swiss to get visa into Russia.) Eric and I walked to drug store and got some of the oil(4 kopeks). Drugs very cheap. Had late supper, and then to bed.

 

Sunday, Oct. 3: Woke early (6am) feeling very lonely. Wrote letter to MJ and watched sun rise over Caspian Sea, then walked out in the streets of Baku for a while. Streets quite on this Sunday morning, except for the street sweepers with their dry-weed brooms. I wanted to take funicular to top of the hill behind hotel, but not enough time. After breakfast, we were taken to an oil refinery. Big, yelow, smoky flames from two gas vents. Usual intro in Chief Engineer’s office, then the tour. Even around the dull buildings there were gardens: tall cosmos flowers, and olive trees. The building housing their computer facility was new yet looked old. Outside it there was a three-story octagonal bird house made of sheet metal, with 24 little apartments, in an olive grove. We went next to the control room for the catalyst cracking towers — a long wall full of signal lights & recording meters. More cosmos blooming outside window — a contrast of shabby buildings and beautiful gardens. Back to an office where a large group of engineers asked us many questions about oil industry automation in the U.S — mostly directed at Gary Chien of IBM. Left about 1pm. Were driven to Historical Museum and had a quick tour through the history of Azerbaijan — early graves with remains in them, models of ancient walled town of Baku. Later, we saw displays glorifying deeds of the Soviet revolution, and the defeat of the British forces who tried to occupy the region because of its oil wealth.

Then most of our group went on yet another sightseeing bus tour, but Eric, Sid Lees and myself decided to just walk around. One of the Azerbaiji hosts went with us as a guide (or monitor?). We walked through shopping streets — very pretty streets –many trees., many milling people — Sunday is a shopping day. Then he took us into the old city, into narrow streets like the casbah of Algiers or old Jeruselem. — balconies with fancy shutters almost touching each other overhead. Came to ‘Virgin tower’ which is near the waterfront and was part of the old fort. Group of boys practising soccer, as American boys would toss basketball. Then we walked up narrow street with grape arbors covering street and inner courts. Came to cellar place which he took us in, a small cafe which has its own special kabob — definitely not a tourist restaurant. We sat in back room with arched stone roof, a part of ancient cellar rooms that people used for coolness. We had bread, greens (like watercress), a delicious sausage kabob, and wine. We then walked through even narrower streets, and came upon the scene of a movie shoot, with the street blocked off — three old men waiting for action to start. Two black-veiled women walked by as part of scene, then woman not belonging to scene, but just minding her own business, passed a guard into the scene. The director screamed and she fled back up the street. We walked on, following two small boys who our Baku host had paid to lead us out of the labyrinth of winding, narrow streets. As we were walking out by the ancient wall, we came upon a Muslem funeral prosession — men carrying a black draped open box in which the body lay, since they believe the body should not be enclosed in a coffin. A few veiled women followed at rear. Then we climbed up a hill to where an old mosque and the palace of the Shah still stood. Here we came upon a Muslim wedding!­The relatives wereloading  all their furniture into a truck — things saved for the bride and groom ever since they were born — very important day even for thr poorest families. There were many taxis filled with relatives lining the narrow streets. We could not wait to see the bride and groom, since we had to be back at the Academy of Science by 4pm.

We got there just in time…. it is amazing to step out of the past into the present like that! We met in a crowded room. Bill Miller gave his talk with slides showing steel strip-mill automation in the US. Then some questions­to him and Nat Cohn about power station automation, and to me about my philosophy about practical use of optimal control theory. Everyone seemed to like my statements, especially Miller and Cohn. We again posed on steps of the Academy for pictures. Then rode in a little bus, going briefly into the old city at Nat Cohn’s request, through a Young Pioneer park, and then along the sea boulevard to our hotel. We all rested a bitand packed our bags. I got dressed in my grey suit for the first time, and we went to the banquet room. The president of the Academy presided, with Miller, Cohn, Letov, Eric, and me at the head table. There were toasts to friendship, peace, and progress. I gave one to peace, saying we must spread to others the friendship we have started here between our two countries. Then I gave another toast to our two ‘shepherds’, Prof. Letov and Eric Nappelbaum, and our Intourist agent, Irina. Many other toasts were given. We had delicious caviar and smoked fish. Dinner ended about 10pm. I got right to bed for early rising. –Some day!

 

Monday, Oct. 4: Hotel phone rang at 5:15am, and a man came for my bag at 5:30, and we were off to airport at 6am. We drove passed many oil derricks on flat land like Texas. At airport at 6:30. Found out that Moscow airport was closed due to bad weather. We waited until 10am Moscow time, then finally took off in another turbo-prop IL-18 (looks like a Lockheed Electra, except it has a single, instead of a triple rudder tail). Much noise and vibration. Didn’t sleep much. Arrived in Moscow about 1:45pm. Eric’s wife, Natasha, met him. We rode in cab to Metropole Hotel, passing ancient village right next to big apartment units on outskirt of Moscow. On top of one of the drab, prefab buildings was a big sign proclaiming “Glory to the Communist Party of the USSR!”.  We had a beautiful view of the Kremlin across the Moscow river, with the afternoon sun lighting all the gold domes. A Ford Galaxy parked in front of the Metropole attracted much attention. I walked with Chien to SAS office at the National Hotel to get our flights out arranged. Mr. Nagornoff, the manager, was a shock to me after all these weeks dealing with Intourist — he immediately understood everything I wanted to arrange and said he would, and actually did, take care of it promptly. I left Chien to sight-see by myself around the Kremlin. Walked back to the Metropole through heavy crowds. I bought a sweet bun at a kiosk for 19 kopeks, and got back to the hotel at 3:20pm. Had tea in ‘Kafe’ in hotel. Nat Cohn came in after returning from US Embassy with mimeograph sheets giving some news from the US. Our group left for the airport (same one we arrived at from London, except we were on the domestic side this time). We had a quick dinner, then took off for Minsk in a 4-engine turboprop high-wing AN-10 (Antonov-10). Very spacious inside — must also be used as a military cargo plane. Arrived in Minsk airport about 7:30pm, and were driven in a bus to the Hotel Minsk. I got a room on the top floor (No. 691), that looks out on a broad square with a formal park in the center. We had dinner at the hotel with a dance band accompaniment until about 10pm. Band played a ‘My Fair Lady’ medley. We had been up for 18 hours and were plenty ready for bed.

 

Tuesday, Oct. 5: Went to Minsk computer factory; saw downtown Minsk on the way, typical of post-war rebuilt city — wide streets, many parks, mixed-up, drab architecture, the few remaining pre-war buildings much nicer. Computer factory — cold buildings, many workers, mostly girls, going out to lunch as we arrived. Dark grey halls. Assembly-line room had aisle lined with potted plants! Saw Minsk-22 computer in operation (primitive). At lunch, Prof. Letov had an elaborate creamed filet of sturgeon. The plate slipped off edge of table, covering him with the contents. He ran to the kitchen to clean his clothes. Then told us how he once managed to sit in a bowl of borscht:As he started to sit down, soup bowl slid on tablecloth down to his chair without spilling a drop, so he sat down on the full bowl — fortunately borscht is a cold soup!

In the afternoon, I walked a bit with Eric. Bought two Russian abaci, still used instead of cash registers in many stores, then went back to hotel. About 6:30pm got packed and left for airport to get the 7:20 plane to Leningrad. It was delayed until 9pm, since since Leningrad airport is fogged in — it had been all day (there was a brief episode with the Intourist people where we tried to talk them into getting us a plane to Moscow, then a night train to Leningrad, but they had no concept of such improvisations). We had supper at the airport, then learned that there would be no flight until 7am tomorrow. We wearily sang the Wiffenpoof song (“We are poor little sheep who have gone astray…) to Eric and Irina. After long wait for bus, we went back to Hotel Minsk to our same rooms. Met New York Jewish pair in the elevator, who were in Minsk to visit relatives — thick Bronx/Yiddish accents. Went to bed about 11pm, stomach slightly upset.

 

Wednesday, Oct. 6: Woke up at 5:30, got shaved, repacked, and dressed and then found out that plane would not leave until 9:00. Jury was up too, and we couldn’t go back to sleep, so we walked up the main street of Minsk (Lenin Ave.) looking for a place to eat — without luck. Early morning buses and sweeping women. My stomach still upset — pains and diarrhea. Got back in bed at 7:00 and rested untill 8:00. Went down to breakfast and then got word our plane was leaving about 10am. We all got back in the bus, singing the Wiffenpoof song again. Bus took us right out to the plane (AN-10 again). Had a good window seat. Left Minsk at 10:40am and arrived in Leningrad around noon. Approaching Leningrad, I saw a surface-to-air missile site — long , white missiles with fins fore and aft, sort of like our Nike-Hercules, arranged in a circular pattern in a clearing in the woods. Also saw a suburb with a few private homes! Leningrad airport very crowded because of being closed for more than a day. Weather cold — still have stomach cramps and a bit of a fever. Checked into Hotel Astoria, which is right across fron St. Isaac’s cathedral. — large gold dome. Large square around it with and equestrian statue, big government building on the other side. Below the building was a large pile of trash, on top of which was a  discarded portrait of Krushchev, who was recently replaced by Brezhnev and Kosygin — it appears that only portraits of Lenin have perminent status.

I felt feverish and ill during lunch and decided not to go on the group visit to the Institute of Metrology. I went up to my room, washed out a shirt and slept a bit until about 6pm. Felt somewhat better and had dinner with our group in the elegant dining room of the hotel. There was a wedding group near our table. Bill Miller created a sensation by taking pictures of the bride and groom with his Poleroid camera, giving the instant pictures to them. During the wedding party we heard many cries of “gorka”, which Eric explained meant “bitter”, so the bride and groon had to kiss to sweeten the wine. After dinner I walked with Eric, the Millers, Eli Jury, and Letov to the great square of the Winter Palace (now the Hermitage Museum). It was cold and raining so we hurried back.

 

Thursday, Oct. 7: Woke up with sore throat and start of a cold. At breakfast we resolved to get Irena to change our plane tickets tomorrow to train tickets tonight, so we would be sure to get to Moscow early on Friday. She refused, saying there had been too many changes of plans. Prof. Letov and Eric talked with her. We visited a steel-rolling mill on an island section of Leningrad formed by the Neva river. Saw wire being formed from heated slabs — followed the hot wire all the way to coilers (rather dangerous to workers). Coiled wire hung on conveyers, which zig-zagged outdoors for cooling. Much wire sitting outside rusting. Saw Sendzimer-type strip-rolling mill under automatic control. Miller said it was conventional — used elsewhere since 1960.

After lunch (at which we learned we were going to Moscow by the overnight train!!) we (Eli, Gary, and I) took a car and guide to sightsee instead of visiting the ‘Vibrator’ precision instrument plant. Our very nice woman guide showed us the Hermitage (which is closed on Thursdays!), the sights along the river Neva, with the many government and education buildings. We ended up at the Russian Museum of Art and saw a special exhibit of the Russian painter, Serov, who was almost an impressionist (died about 1920). My cold is getting worse. Our guide told us about the siege of Leningrad (900 days!), when over 100,000 people died. Hitler planned a great victory party at the Hotel Astoria. Captured German officers even had engraved invitations to the dinner. After a small dinner of just our party, we got packed and at 11pm were on our way to the train station. I shared a sleeping compartment with the Millers. We had a small party with Eli Jury’s liquor supply as train got underway. Then tea was served by our car attendant and we slept.

 

Friday, Oct. 8: On approach to Moscow about 7am, I looked out the window and saw a man doing push-ups by the shore of a lake. Arrived Moscow about 8am. We were driven to Metropole Hotel. After check-in and quick breakfast we were driven to the I.A.T.(Inst. of Automation and Telemechanics), the premier control systems institute in the USSR. On entry to the building, we saw a vertical ‘people mover’, which was a 3-foot wide belt moving slowly upward that had platforms at regular intervals with just enough room for one person. We watched as employees casually stepped into the opening as each moving platform appeared, and then disappeared through the ceiling as it moved upward. Most of our group declined to enter this vertical escalator, but I decided to try it. Eric Nappelbaum, who works at I.A.T., said, “When you come even with the 4th floor, step out again. I’ll be right behind you.” So I waited until the next platform appeared and quickly stepped in, turned around, and when the 4th floor came even with my platform, stepped out and waited for Eric to appear, feeling rather proud of my performance. On the opposite side of the building there were openings at each floor where the belt with its hinged platforms were moving downwards.

We spend the rest of the morning in a the usual conference room setting, in general discussions with the research staff, many of whom were at the Black Sea conference with us. Then at noon we had a delicious steak dinner at the Leningradskaya Hotel nearby. Then back to the Institute where we talked with Eric and Lionov about their work in the Dept. of Stochastic Systems, and then with Vadim Utkin about his group’s work on “variable structure” systems. At 3pm Eric and I walked back to the Metropole Hotel, with stop-offs in some of the stores along the way. We talked about his work in the stability of sliding regimes under random disturbance, and the criterion for choice among multiple inputs for control — not a clear criterion even for linear systems. It is cold and drizzly, and I am still cold and sniffly. I left Eric and went to nearby National Hotel SAS office, where I was assured that my tickets to Stockholm, Copenhagen, and New York will be ready tomorrow. Walked back to Metropole through dense crowds. Got dressed for the opera. Walked with Sid, Gary and Irina to the Bolshoi Theater, just across the square from our hotel. We were seated in the orchestra, and behind us were brilliant gold-gilt horseshoe-shaped tiers — five of them. In the center of the 1st tier was the royal box, into which Premier Kosygin and Pres. Kraage of Denmark entered to the accompaniment of both country’s national anthoms, while the audience all stood. The opera was Mozart’s ‘Marriage of Figaro’, which was rather strange to hear sung in Russian. Singers not so good, but it was enjoyable. A woman with southern US accent behind us kept taking pictures all the time and had crude manners. When we got back to hotel, Gary Chien had a call telling him to return home — a reorganization of his division at IBM. Had a late supper in the hotel coffee shop — could see people dancing up above on a mezzanine level.

 

Saturday, Oct. 9: Still cold and rainy. Eric and I rode in Michael Bermont‘s car to the Metro control center & then a depot to see automatic driver system for Metro trains.  After that they took me to a drug store to buy some nose powder for my cold, and then to the US Embassy. Michael parked more than a block from the embassy and he and Eric stayed in the car while I went there. In front of the embassy compound there were Russian soldiers, and just inside were the US marine guards. I found out that Shirley Deane had checked into the embassy after Gary and I left her on Sept. 18th, but she did not stay there. One week later she told them she was leaving for the US. I picked up news bulletins and copies of Amerika for Eric and Michael (which they promptly hid away in the car).   Got Michael to stop at the National Hotel where I picked up my SAS tickets — gat a nice SAS travel bag, too. Every time Michael left his car he took off the windshield wipers, padlocked the steering wheel to the gearshift and then locked the doors. We had a late lunch and then got off to the Institute of Complex Automation computation center. Saw their vacuum-tube computers and heard about electric steam-boiler automation (not yet in operation). Took Metro (very fast and clean and smooth) back to the hotel. Then got in cars to go shopping at the ‘dollar store’. Bought prime baluga caviar(six jars for $6!!), a bottle of good scotch for $1.95, and two bottles of the best Georgian cognac for $2.14 each. Got bottle of Beefeater gin for Eric and his wife Natasha for $2.10 — amazing what dollars­can buy!

Final banquet at beautiful new restuarant (Natasha arrived looking like a Paris model with clothes Eric had brought back from trip to France). I sat next to Prof. Lerner, who has visited the US recently. He spoke frankly of how high the US standard of living was compared to theirs. When I spoke of my hope for peace, he solemnly agreed. He told me he had lost 2 daughters and 2 grandparents in Kiev during WW-II (which they call the Great Patriotic War). After the banquet we returned to the Metropole and gathered with some of our Russian hosts in the Miller’s room, and gave Eric the liquor we bought(6 bottles), and some gifts for Irina. Then we went to the dollar bar in the hotel for a nightcap. When Eric left to go home in one of the cars we had asked to outside the hotel, he asked me if I would please go to the car with him, and give the presents to him in front of the driver. I realized that he feared the driver might report him for stealing the liquor if I had not been there, so I made a big show of presenting the gifts, and thanked him again for his friendship and help throughout the long visit. Got to bed at 2:30am.

 

Sunday, Oct. 10: Slept until 8am. Weather a little better, though still cloudy and cold. About noon, the Millers, Sid Lees, Gary, Eric & I took the cars provided us to a fur store. I got fur hats for Mary Jean and Kristin for $8 each. Then we had a sight-seeing tour around Moscow — Moscow University on Lenin heights with a view of the entire city and its six ugly Stalinesque skyscrapers. (Moscow U. has the 7th, and the biggest and tallest one.) We saw ski-jumpers practicing on artificial snow carpet, and a huge circular outdoor swimming pool that stays open all winter. The pool was crowded on this cold day. Then we had lunch at Arazney Restuarant, which Eric said was the best Georgian restuarant in Moscow or Georgia. Eric ordered with relish the best they had to offer — we had hot bread with soft cheese, luscious cold baked beans, and some other delicious hors d’oeuvres, with an excellent brandy, white wine and chicken tobak. We were all stuffed, and paid $10 each, including Eric and Irena’s bill, as they were our guests. Then we went to a record store and I got three Richter LPs.  A small boy followed me, asking for chewing gum.

Going back to the hotel, we passed through the old part of the city that was being torn down for new apartments. Eric remarked casually that we had just passed his house. I looked back — it was on the edge of the demolition area, a small yellow stucco building, housing several families, plus Eric & Natasha and his parents. When we got back to the center of town, it was drizzling with some sleet. I decided not to tour the Kremlin again and went back to the hotel about 5:30pm. I slept for about and hour, then Eric came to my room and presented me some colorful nested Russian dolls. I gave him a blue tie and a Telstar commerative tie-clip. At 8pm, my call home came through — their voices were clear, but chopped. I sat looking out in the Moscow night at the Bolshoi Theater all lit up, as I talked to Mary Jean, Kristin, and Scott far off in noontime NJ. Felt much better, but even more eager to get home. Had late supper with Millers and Lees. Bill Miller said that Prof. Letov called them and said he couldn’t come to our farewell banquet last night because his wife is ill. He also said he would not be included in the return visit to the US by theRussian delegation (apparently he is out of favor with the authorities for some reason). I  said goodbyes and got to bed about 11pm.

 

Monday, Oct. 11: Got up at 5:30am, got dressed, ate my Georgian bread and cheese sandwich and an orange. Left the Metropole for the airport with the Millers at 6am in a clunky Volga taxi. Snow falling in Moscow — outside the city more snow and fog as well. Russian winter has set in. Got through customs easily, except for wait to convert my remaining 4 rubles, 4 kopeks into 4 dollars. The snow was falling more heavily and the planes were all blanketed with snow. My heart sank with the thought of being trapped until the storm passed. I spotted the SAS pilot and asked him when our flight might be able to leave. He smiled and said “Right on time!”. The Millers and I had some coffee and shared another of our leftover Georgian bread sandwiches, then were happy to hear the call for the SAS flight to Stockholm. The SAS Caravelle jet was covered with snow, but husky Russian women were hauling big hoses and spraying it with de-icer, and we took off with a great feeling of relief. As we cleared the cloud cover into a clear, blue sky, everyone on board cheered. The subtle feeling of oppression that had building in me slowly over the past four weeks in the USSR fell away, and for the first time in my life, I had the tangible feeling of freedom — something I had always taken for granted. The weather was clear to the north. We had a delicious breakfast served, and then I saw the lovely islands of Stockholm bay, and then the city and the lovely Swedish countryside in fall colors — very different from any scene I had seen in Russia. After landing, I felt the very air was lighter; everywhere one looked, life was better — only two hours, and one world away from Moscow.

The Continental Hotel in Stockholm is lovely. It was refreshing to see good quality and good workmanship. From room 827, I had beautiful view of the town hall and thr harbor and the city. Took a hot bath and shampooed Russia out of my hair. I took a cab to the Grand Hotel and met Bill Miller. We walked past the Royal Palace and into the old town with narrow streets and many lovely shops. We walked back to the Grand, and I went to the SAS office and changed to an earlier flight to Copenhagen tomorrow, so I will have more hours there. Had lunch with Millers at the Opera House buffet. Very elegant — delicious fried herring in sour cream sauce and Swedish beer, real beer, not Russian ‘pivo’. Then we went to NK (Nordic Company) Dept. store. Freda Miller bought crystal and stainless flatware. I sent mother a lovely crystal vase as gift ($8 incl. shipping). The sweaters I looked at were not very good, mostly Italian. We walked in a new shopping center and an open market with many fruits and flowers, then back to our hotels. After brief rest, I had a lovely walk along the bay with a full moon overhead — flaming torches at the Opera House. Lovely city. Met Millers at 7pm at the Grand Hotel, had cocktails and then dinner in the hotel’s Royal Restaurant. Beautiful Italian courtyard setting. The head waiter remembered the Millers from an earlier visit with Prof. Luoto (a Finn who was at the Conference on the Admiral Nakimov). He enjoyed our telling him about the restuarants in the USSR. Then he brought us a superb onion soup, dry white burgandy, and stuffed filet of sole. The orchestra played beautiful songs — Valse Triste, Ase’s Farewell, then Come Back to Sorrento, and other Italian songs — I danced several with Freda. Ladies at next table were invited to dance by a short, proper-looking English gentleman. Left about 11pm (my share of dinner tab, $10) and walked along the waterfront to the Continental. Washed out a shirt and went to bed.

 

Tues.,Oct. 12: Up at 7am. Shaved, bathed, and had a quick breakfast. Paid hotel bill ($10) and took taxi to SAS Office, then their bus to Stockholm aitport. SAS flight to Copenhagen left on time. Saw lovely lakes of Sweden before going above clouds, flying at 28,000 feet, just  one hour to Copenhagen airport, which is quite close to the center of the city. I found the American Express office and got two letters from MJ., then sat at small table in sidewalk cafe across from City Hall and read her letters and enjoyed a beer and some herring. Walked down shopping street, bought a Danish sweater for Kristin, and a candlestick. Walked to end of street and got a cab to take me on quick tour, past Royal Palace and concert hall, where billboard listed a concert by Sviataslav Richter.  Then back to the airport for the SAS flight leaving at 3pm for New York.

 

 

 

 

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