After coming to Port Angeles I heard about a group of artists going to Russia on a tour of museums and visiting artists in their studios. Many of the artists were not in the old traditions which only allowed State sponsored art. The group needed one more body to fill the minimum number allowed to go and I had salted away enough money that I could afford to go.
If I remember correctly, we flew to Copenhagen and then by Aeroflot to Moscow. We stayed at a huge hotel in the middle of town, and the first morning there I went down to the desk to ask how I could get a ticket to go to the theatre where the Eugene O'Neill plays were staged. At first I was told that American tourists were allowed to go to the Ballet, and to the Circus, and sporting events, but not to the theatre. Since I did not speak any Russian and the desk clerk was limited in her English, we were not getting anywhere.
A nice looking employee, sitting at an important looking desk in the rear, arose and came to my aid. She said to clerk Nr 1 that she would handle this difficult woman. ( I am guessing ). I showed her the clipping from the Wall Street Journal. She nodded and smiled. I asked how I could get a ticket to the play. She said, I will write a note to the ticket seller, and when you get there you show her this note. You should arrive there at 7.30p. I asked how I would get there. Could I walk? She shook her head and said No. Too far. Take a taxi. Please write a note to the taxi driver and tell him the address of the Theatre. She smiled and said 'Of course.'
Then she asked me if I would come by after seeing the play to tell her how I liked it. I promised to do it.
I arrived on time and sat down in the lobby after getting my ticket. It cost no more than three or four dollars. It was a different crowd who filled the lobby before we were admitted to our seats. Most people came from work. All of them made a trip to the ladie's room or the men's room first. Apparently there were no mirrors where they all headed, for when they came out in the lobby, they all combed hair and put on lipstick and some of the women did a major job on their physiognomy. It was entertaining sitting there. All were friendly looking and no one paid any attention to me.
And then we were admitted to our seats. The seats were single chairs, Victorian, white, upholstered in pink material and if you were short legged very comfortable. They were anchored to the floor. My legs are not short and I thought I would be miserable, for my knees were forced into the chair in front of me. No way you could straddle the seat in front of you. But the acting was so excellent that any discomfort was forgotten when the curtain went up. There was no curtain, when the lights went up, I should have said. I will never forget the emotional tears that ran down my cheeks. I did not understand their words but I think even if I had not learned the play by heart, I would have understood their emotions. I am so glad I did make the effort to go. I felt as though I were one of them, both the people on the stage and the people in the audience and the people Eugene O'Neilll was writing about. When it was over it was embarrassing to go out in the night with red eyes and a sniffling nose.
And so came the problem of how to get back to the hotel. There were a couple of busses on the street waiting for the Russian tourists who had been in the audience. I went up to one of the bus drivers and asked where I could get a cab. He motioned with his shoulders that he did not understand me. I said:Taxi? He said Ah. I motioned to him as I said Taxi again. Do I go right or left. He told me which way. I walked to the corner and there again I asked someone 'right or left saying Taxi and pointing. Eventually someone came along and pointed one way. I wandered several blocks and soon a cab came and picked me up.
Next morning when our group met for breakfast they were all jealous of my adventure. But they had seen the Ballet and I lied and told them, saying I was jealous of their pleasure. I saw the person who had helped me get the ticket to the show and I told her how excellent the evening had been.
It was a wonderful trip and I may tell you about a funny incident in Tiblisi Georgia next time.