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One of the highlights of our Murmansk visit was a party thrown for us at The People's Center. The party was very nice and I was surprised at how many Soviet's spoke and understood English. Capitan Cassidy mentioned to one of the Political Officers that the Southwind had a rock group (I was a guitarist and singer in the group called "The Common People" (photo attached) to which the Political Officer requested we play at the party. And play we did. We were doing OK until one of us in the group (not sure who) suggested we play Back In The USSR" by The Beatles. Probably not the best song pick for as soon as we got to the first chorus, a couple of the Political Officers yanked the plug and rushed us off the stage. We first thought the crowd was booing us but afterwards, everyone was patting us on the back. Seems like even then there were some discontented souls in the USSR. On another evening, some Soviet Sailors invited some of us to their Servicemen's Club. What an amazing experience. Everyone was so nice and there was no language barrier. It was amazing how little (and selective) the Soviets knew of life in the United States (and how little we knew of them). We talked for hours with the Soviet Sailors buying shot after shot of Vodka (the likes of which cars could run off). Laughing, singing, playing games, swapping stories with no sense there was a Cold War. I don't remember returning the Southwind, but I woke up the next morning in my rack. After numerous cups of coffee, a LTJG came up to me on the messdeck and stated, "...boy, you had one hell of a night". I inquired. He stated he was the Officer of the Deck and that about 1AM, two Soviet sailors "assisted" me to the gangplank. Apparently, I was 14 sheets to the wind. The LTJG stated the Soviet's were very nice and waited with me on the dock until a couple of Southwind crew members came down, fetched me, and tossed me in my rack. When I woke up, everything was in tack, nothing missing. I even had a pocket full of Soviet currency (apparently, I did OK at poker). Bottom line was that we found the Soviets we encountered very friendly, curious, and entertaining - not at all what we expected.


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