An American In the USSR 1989

An American In the USSR 1989

American tourists coming to the USSR were often more interested not in places of interest but in Soviet people. That’s why Soviet everyday life was often imprinted on their films.

These photos were taken by one American tourist who travelled to the USSR in 1989.

An American In the USSR 1989

An American In the USSR 1989

An American In the USSR 1989

An American In the USSR 1989

It reads “Caution! 1 m oversteering!”

An American In the USSR 1989

It reads: “Decisions of the XXVII Congress of the SPSU will be complied with.”

An American In the USSR 1989

Rings, brooches and other accessories are sold.

An American In the USSR 1989

An American In the USSR 1989

Welcome to the fair!

An American In the USSR 1989

An American In the USSR 1989

An American In the USSR 1989

The food from the joint Soviet-Finnish company is sold.

An American In the USSR 1989

An American In the USSR 1989

An American In the USSR 1989

An American In the USSR 1989

An American In the USSR 1989

An American In the USSR 1989

An American In the USSR 1989

An American In the USSR 1989

An American In the USSR 1989

An American In the USSR 1989

An American In the USSR 1989

An American In the USSR 1989

People are in the fish department.

An American In the USSR 1989

An American In the USSR 1989

An American In the USSR 1989

An American In the USSR 1989

Men’s knitwear is sold.

An American In the USSR 1989

An American In the USSR 1989

An American In the USSR 1989

People stand at the grocery store.

An American In the USSR 1989

It reads: “Moscow citizens and guests of the city! Read publications of the socialist countries!”

An American In the USSR 1989

An American In the USSR 1989

An American In the USSR 1989

An American In the USSR 1989

An American In the USSR 1989

One could get a one minute photo.

An American In the USSR 1989

An American In the USSR 1989

As if the photos were taken in some other life and other country…

24 thoughts on “An American In the USSR 1989”

  1. “American tourists coming to the USSR were often more interested not in places of interest but in Soviet people.”

    Yes, the USSR was always a mystery to us Americans. With all of the demonizing of it over here, it was a shock to find out that the people were JUST LIKE US!!! Who woulda thunk it?

    • Soviet people were not like Americans. Vast majority of Americans don’t know what it’s like to stand in bread lines, or wait an hour for the bus (because only rich people own cars), or walk two miles to work because said bus isn’t running, or be terrified because your child blurted out something anti-government in public without realizing it… The list goes on and on. I was brought up in that abominable country. I live in America now, and it angers and saddens me that so many Americans today don’t understand what a great country they have, and are now willing to ruin it for the same stupid utopian nonsense that destroyed the great country that Russia once was!!!

  2. Never understood the street vendors with the scales so people can weigh themselves? Din’t anyone buy cheap bathroom scales back then? Surely that wasn’t a luxury?

    Anyway streets needed more advertising, less propaganda. At least you could get a hamburger and Pepsi by then. But Coke would have been better.

    • More than likely personal scales were not available.

      To this day you can see these scales in the park during summer. These days they announce your weight along with a snarky comment for anyone to hear.

      Just what I wanted- to pay 10 rubles to be insulted by an electronic Don Rickles.

      • That’s what i want to know. In the US we had cheap bathroom scales but of course there were always public “precision” coin-op scales in public places too. Even today my local supermarket has a large dial ornate cast metal coin op scale by the exit, but thankfully it doesn’t insult you with old Don Rickles jokes. lol

        I guess the real mystery how they went about it. In the US it was coin-op machines in public places. In Soviet Union it was medical scales on makeshift carts run by peasant street vendors. So different yet the same.

    • Well, bathroom scales can be wildly inaccurate. In the EU it’s fairly standard to have scales in the vet clinics. Not just to check anytime on the weight of an animal patient, but also because they know some scales for the home can be wildly inaccurate.
      When I once asked a family to make a routine note on the daily weight of their terrier, it turned out the scales they just bought after the appointment actually doubled the actual weight of the dog.

      So it might be something about lack of quality for store-bought scales (like here in the EU sometimes), or the fact that people want to weigh how much their stuff is (like suitcases) or their own body weight. That’s just my guess there.

      • It’s more the impromptu makeshift street vendor nature of it then anything else that always puzzled me. One of those Soviet oddities as opposed to precision scales being permanently sited in public places, usually coin-op, as in the west.

    • Advertising and propaganda are the same thing, one for a government and one for a company, and there wasn’t any private business in the USSR…

    • Those pots are called “bedonchik” and you had to bring one with you if you wanted to buy fresh milk or other beverages that were sold directly from the tank. These days they provide you with a plastic container and bedonchiks are a real rarity. I remember having one of those myself))

  3. Great photos, reminded me of my trip to St. Petersburg and Moscow back in 1992. I’m not sure if this is a weird thing to say but I’m glad a still got to see at least a glimpse of Soviet Russia…

  4. Good info. It always amazes me how different some things were in the Soviet Union. Little things like bedonchik. Or vending machines with reusable glasses you wash off before using. Or street vendors with a scale to weigh yourself on.

    In the US we were getting our milk and such in paper cartons and eventually plastic jugs, vending machines used cans or recycled bottles that were sterilized at the bottling plant, and public scales were coin-op machines at supermarket exits and such places. And yeah we were shopping at one stop “supermarkets” for our groceries too. Not that you couldn’t go to a butcher, fish shop, etc. too but most of us didn’t.

    Funny how different yet the same things were. Same services different ways of going about it.

      • In Colorado and Washington State voters voted to legalize and regulate marijuana for recreational use by ballot initiative. The first 2 states to do so. Who says the only winners are the wealthy? You’re a pessimist. 🙂

      • No, the poor are winners too, they experienced everything the wealthy and middle class did just as “America” explained.

  5. In what even the crudest and rudest American would have to have recognized on some level as being a sensitive, culture-crossing opportunity, the sentence he comes up with to describe downtown Moscow scenes (in the presence of Muscovites) is, “should be less propaganda and more advertising.” No, I checked and double checked for irony too… no such luck I’m afraid. It is the most accurate, succinct, yet astonishingly obtuse assessment of the political and cultural divide between the two ever to have been uttered. Has to be…. My Gawd…

    • “It is the most accurate, succinct, yet astonishingly obtuse assessment of the political and cultural divide between the two ever to have been uttered. Has to be…. My Gawd…”

      My Gawd…lol, You’re quite the drama queen aren’t you?

  6. And yet my comment describes modern day Moscow as it is today perfectly. Ironic?

    And what were you expecting to read? A college level dissertation on the cultural differences between the Soviet Union and the west?

    • I grew up in the Soviet Union in the 80s. What do I think? I think it sucked. I think that the tiny bits of happiness we got here and there in the form of ice cream or a trip to the beach will never outweigh all the wretchedness, lies, and brainwashing we were subjected to. There’s nothing in the world I hate more than communism, and I will fight it to my last living breath should it come to America.

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