The important building where we lived

The important building where we lived

Kiev, Friendship of Peoples Blvd., 14. Bena Shklyanaya with Emily. Emily's grandmother looks out of the window (2nd floor, center). Door on the left: manager's office. Door on the right: entrance leading to our apartment. May 1969.

My Kiev Street Not Renamed

This is the only picture I have that shows the building where I’d lived in Kiev. My late husband took when our older daughter was a baby. And it even caught my mother-in-law at our kitchen window.

The address is Bulvar Druzhby Narodov (Friendship of Peoples Blvd.), 14. Many streets were renamed since then but mine was not. Looking at the pictures I received recently, the name is the only thing that hasn’t changed        (

The music-records store on the first floor disappeared. The box-like garages are no more—the famous athletes living in the building needed special permission to build them. Cars are not a rarity and parking in the street, not in garages, is allowed. Satellite dishes and window air conditioners are yet another sign of progress.

And so is (on the right, in the picture) the modern garbage container. It stands in front of what used to be the trash disposal shed, the janitor’s home-away-from-home.

Kiev, Friendship of Peoples Blvd., 14. Low structure on the right is building garbage collection area. March 2016.

My mind’s eye sees our janitor, a stocky middle-aged woman in a kerchief and padded jacket known as bodywarmer, glued to a low stool, her hands sunk to the elbows in the piles dumped from the pails. Every pail had a potential to add a feather to her cap if she found evidence of subversive papers, correspondence with foreigners, or remnants of food that was beyond the means of regular families.

Nowadays, trash is not collected in pails, plastic bags are available, and are not even a valuable commodity. So, is this windowless shed still in use? Or abandoned like the first-floor music-records store?

Famous For Toilet Paper

The people of Kiev knew this building not only as the “the building with the music-records store.” The pre-approved labels interested them not nearly as much as the toilet paper that appeared at the end of some months to let the store meet, and exceed, its monthly targets.

Invariably, the limit was one roll per person but in the spirit of camaraderie neighbors lent their children to each other, thus ensuring that each adult walked away with as many rolls as there were children available (Read Babinsky. Family (1967-1975). 5: Non-Food Shopping..)

Ours was an important building.

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