Viewing page 7 of 41

This transcription has been completed. Contact us with corrections.

[[newspaper clipping]] 

[[image - Photograph of Leonard Lyons]]
The Lyons Den 
by Leonard Lyons

(Three columns filed from Russia by Leonard Lyons already have appeared. This one was written en route.)

Show-Train to Russia

Aboard The Soviet Blue Train: The first streaks of dawn had not as yet touched the skies of Poland when our train pulled in at Warsaw. Through the windows we could see the shawled women, the padding thick around their legs against the winter cold and bleakness. Their heads were bowed by the wind and by the ropes from which dangled the full straw baskets fore and aft.

It was so cold my ball-point pen froze. The porter thought it was still too early to start the fire under the samovar. I indicated that I wanted the hot water only for a shave. He glanced at his watch, then led me under the light and rubbed his hand across the stubble of my face. "Not yet," he indicated. I shaved with cold water, then curled up in my berth with a copy of the Communist Manifesto.

We recrossed the Vistula River and drove on to Siedlce, past the flat, snow-clad marshes and the forlorn windmills. Herman Sartorious, the banker, joined us on the railroad platform-where I photographed a steel-toothed man working near five husky females on the railroad bed. "I suppose," sighed the banker, "we mustn't ask about the latest stock-market quotations when we get to Moscow."

When we get to Moscow there'll be a wedding in the "Porgy & Bess" troupe: Helen Thigpen, who plays Serena, will marry "Sportin' Life" Earl Jackson. He made his debut with the show in Athens, met Miss Thigpen in Milan, and they were engaged in Sao Paolo. Of course, Betty Eubanks will wish them a fruitful marriage. The more children on tour, the higher the income for Mrs. Eubanks—a former schoolteacher who now coaches the children of the company in every subject except, naturally, geography.

The porter noticed a bottle of bourbon, and asked "Vodka?" I poured him a stiff slug. He sniffed it first, and frowned, then gulped it all and grimaced—as, I suppose, he was expected to do—and I returned to the Manifesto and read that "the mode of production of material life determines the social, political and intellectual life process in general." See?
The dawn was high by now, but Eston Mignott, the trumpeter, resisted the urge to blow a bop reveille for all the Iron Curtained folk along the way, as the show train raced to the Soviet border. Children on home-made sleds waved back from the hills beside the 

[[remainder of text covered]]

[[/newspaper clipping]]

[[newspaper clipping]] 

[[image - Photograph of Leonard Lyons]]
The Lyons Den 
by Leonard Lyons

Rahd Paznakawmeetsa 

Leningrad: I'd been dreaming of a White Christmas- but this is ridiculous. Snow and ice, like on big frozen sea, all the way from Brest-Litovsk—oops! A representative from the Ministry [[text covered]] suggested that we refer to it simply as "Brest"—from [[text covered]] of Moscow and the train swings north to [[text covered]] no doubt, who—like the song says—[[text covered]] you must dig, cats; you had seen before [[text covered]] the way from Brest ... he just stared out the window [[text covered]] snow.  "Man," he said, "the whole world [[text covered]] snowball.
[[/newspaper clipping]]

[[newspaper clipping]]
[[text folded upside down]]
course. During the war Sir Walter Monckton, head of the Ministry of Information, told us of his visit to Moscow and of his meeting with Propaganda Minister Lazovsky.  The Russian declined to reveal his propaganda plans, and explained:  "A secret shared between friends is friendly—but a secret no longer."

Monckton also mentioned that he'd noticed four men following him wherever he went.  He asked Lazovsky:  "Do they follow me because of an interest in my safety, or to find out what I'm doing?"  Mr. Lazovsky replied:  "Both."  But our blue-shirted, black-tied accompanists are truly with the Ministry of Culture, and I suppose they really could impart some Soviet culture to me—if I knew a word or two of Russian.

We're living in a news vacuum aboard this train—no papers we could read, no news magazines, no radio flashes we could understand.  The show's interpreter, who by some curious coincidence lost the use of his voice as soon as we crossed the Russian border, brought us a copy of a paper he'd bought at the last station stop.  He tried to translate, hoarsely, a front-page story and said it was a rhapsodic interview with Howard Fast, by one of the soviet reporters who recently visited America.

Once at a cultural and scientific conference in N.Y., the head of the Russian delegation invited Fast to visit Russia.  Fast, who was facing sentence for contempt of court, said:  "I'd like to come but I can't. I'll be in jail.' It elicited no sympathy from the old revolutionary, who blandly replied:  So come later."

We stopped at Smolensk long enough to buy Christmas cards on sale at the station.  The members of the cast began to tabulate the number of performances they'd played.  The long run record was set by Todd Duncan, who, before quitting, played Porgy 1,200 times.  Then he handed in his notice with a two-word explanation
[[text covered]]

[[newspaper clipping]]

The Lyons Den by Leonard Lyons 

Leningrad: History and box-office grosses show that the winter weather here is ideal for military defense, and for the breeding of ballerinas and violinists. Of all the art forms, dancing and fiddling involve the most motion—a way of keeping warm. Hence, Russia's supremacy.
It was snowing when our train pulled in. The strummed balalaika music was piped from the loudspeakers in the compartments, as we stepped onto the platform. The reception committee distributed flowers to each of the ladies-bouquets speckled with snowflakes. There were crowds in the station and on the street, waiting to greet the show-folk from America. They stared at first, then applauded and grins were exchanged. Big, black Ziv limousines, resembling Cadillacs, drove us through the broad streets to the Hotel Astoria. 

Across the Neva river we rode, then down the Nevski-Prospect. All the men wore Astrakhan hats. The women, too, wore utilitarian headwear, and some had shawls hugging the lower part of their faces. There were women street cleaners, women snow shovelers, women with construction gangs, women working everywhere. In Russia a woman's place is at her job.

The Ministry of Culture had reserved the entire hotel for the "Porgy and Bess" troupe. Suites were assigned according to the billing. Joe Lewis, the show's accompanist, was delighted with his suite. Lewis bears no resemblance whatsoever—but none—to the ex-heavyweight champ. His ecstasy over his suite indicated that either piano accompanists are most highly regarded in the Soviet Union or else that the intelligence system here is imperfect. 

Once, years ago, I printed a story about the three name changes of this former Czarist capital. It concerned an ancient resident here, who said he used to live in St. Petersburg. And after the revolution he lived in Petrograd. Now, he said, he lives in Leningrad. And when he asked where he'd like to live, he replied: "In St. Petersburg." This was only a joke, and I doubt that there are any still yearning for Czarist days—except for Mike Romanoff, the Hollywood restaurateur, and a few Paris doormen-expatriates.

Oh, yes, and Mrs. John C. Wilson, wife of the producer-director. She was the Princess Natasha. In N.Y. she told a member of our group: "If you see any of my old jewelry, bring it back."

Russian reporters swarmed through the lobby, interviewing busily. One of them spoke with a New York accent, and said he was Joe Adamon, of Radio Moscow. He's weary of being asked if he's a New Yorker. "I lived on Riverside Drive until I was 12," he said, quickly and automatically, as if he'd had to repeat it, like an erring student, over and over again. "I'm an Armenian," he said. "We publish Saroyan now. He's Armenian." I told him Saroyan is now a New Yorker.

We circled St. Isaac's Square, side-stepping the children ice skating and using skis on the icy sidewalks. A milliner's shop displayed some orange, green and red felt hats whose styling was right out of the '20s—or the wardrobe department of "The Boy Friend." The people we passed seemed absorbed and unsmiling, but that's probably because of the cold weather. They all, incidentally, bore facial resemblance to Mickey Rooney.

Once I heard former Ambassador Bedell Smith say: "Don't ever pay attention to rumors, except in Russia—where the rumors are liable to be more accurate than the published facts." But the language barrier, so far, makes it almost impossible to learn not only the rumors but also the published facts. 

We went in search of caviar and vodka. I mistakenly had advised against bringing any from Berlin, in the belief that these were the Soviet coals to the Soviet Newcastle. The limousine driver took us to the shopping district and into a bustling, attractive shop whose shelves were bursting with all sorts of fish--but no caviar. Vodka? Sure. $8 a bottle, at the murderous dollar-exchange rate. We took the bottles, then drove to another shop in search of caviar. He consulted with the manager in a backroom. No dice and no caviar.

We'd all been invited to the Ballet tonight, and a crisis arose—the matter of baby-sitters for the children whose parents wanted to come along. Baby-sitters finally were found, but they asked 30 rubles—$7.50—for the session. A suggestion was made that guaranty be given against dialectical [[text is covered]]
[[/newspaper clipping]]

[[newspaper clipping]]
[[folded upside down]]

and get out of the race.

But so far no one has been willing to undertake this painfull chore.

Various Harriman friends have been approached, and while all agreed he ought to be told the "harsh facts of life," none would do it.  In each instance, the point was made that it is up to the inner group which several
[[text covered]]
that Harriman's candidacy is getting nowhere.  But they are shying away from telling him that.
Reason for this difference is Harriman's explosive touchiness about his late-blooming Presidential aspirations.  He hotly resents anything savoring of doubts about them, particularly from members of his staff and administration.

Latest blow to the New York Governor is a turndown from former President Truman. 
[[image - black and white photograph of Robert S. Allen]]
[[/newspaper clipping]]

[[newspaper clipping]]

[[note]] 1/11/56 [[/note]]

 36  L 


U. S. Troupe Cheered for 8 Minutes at Final Curtain —Ticket Demand Heavy

Special to the New York Times.

MOSCOW, Jan. 10—A classic American folk opera overcame strange surroundings tonight to find a warm, emotional reception in the hearts of an opening-night Moscow audience. 

"Porgy and Bess" brought high Soviet officials, foreign diplomats and other first-nighters to their feet for more than eight minutes after the final curtain fell on Catfish Row. Some spectators wept; others shouted and stamped their feet, but many were still almost hypnotized by the melodies of George Gershwin. The first American opera to come to this country since the Bolshevik Revolution was intellectually incomprehensible to many Russians present tonight. But emotionally it evoked spontaneous enthusiasm and appreciation from an audience desperately eager to welcome foreign theatre. 

A Soviet engineer said he preferred classic opera and thought "Porgy" was too much a "jazz" composition. Nevertheless, he said, he was very happy to see it. 

Nikolai Vokhlopkov, artistic director of Moscow's Mayakovsky Theatre, was more exuberant in praising the presentation.

"The standard of directing is particularly high," he declared. "What a tempo! What rhythm! It's splendid!"

Thirteen times during the performance in the Stanislavsky Musical Theatre in the heart of Moscow the capacity audience of 1,500 burst into applause. Once, during the picnic scene in the second act, they laughed heartily.

Robert Breen, director, and other officials of the Everyman Opera Company that produced "Porgy," said the reception compared favorably with anything they have received during the company's wanderings through Europe, the Middle East and Latin America.

More than 20,000 persons have sought tickets for the Moscow engagement, which is scheduled to the end of Jan. 17. In addition, thousands of applications have been received from organizations and enterprises in Moscow.

A large crowed assembled outside the theatre tonight in hope of obtaining a spare ticket from someone at the door.  [[They?]] were held at bay by the police.

[[/newspaper clipping]]

[[image - black & white photograph of two women wearing cocktail attire, one of them interacting with a man]]

[[note]] At Lee Gershwins party for cast in their Beverly Hills home
Irene Williams a Bess           
Walter Reiner Stage Manager & policeman [[/note]]

Transcription Notes:
This project has been reopened for a thorough review. Please take time to review each element of the page carefully before submitting. Best practice is to include a double return between each individual clipping and to use double brackets to indicate the type ( [[newspaper clipping]], [[postcard]], [[plane ticket]], etc.) See "About the Project" for more information.