Building A House

In 1957 grandfather was given a piece of land to build a house. His career had advanced by that time, and he was a chief of communications at a big coal mine. He also was friends with many influential people, including the first secretary of the local Communist party organization, the most powerful guy in the city. They would usually load a box of vodka bottles in a trunk of the secretary's car and “have a picnic” somewhere outdoors.


A party. Grandmother is the second from the left. The things on the wall are pieces of cloth with attached photos — not something you can see today.

Grandfather on the right, my mother — the second from the left

I do not know anyone here either except the easily recognizable grandfather and grandmother to the left and lower of him. The thing in the corner is definitely not an icon — a clock, perhaps. What bugs me in all these indoor pictures is that I can not take anything like that with my Canon today, whereas fifty years ago people managed to do it without a flash.

They had finally built a house despite all the vodka trips and other objective dangers. Rather than buying bricks, grandmother was collecting them left and right — they, perhaps, were just lying around, and it was possible to get enough this way to build a house.

Houses in this area are nearly identical. Some are built of wood, some of bricks, but they all have similar construction. 100 square meters of total area, 56 — of living area, three rooms, a kitchen, a storage room.


A public water source. This is how you get water when there is no running water. Grandmother does just that.

There was — and there is — no running water here. That is, in summer they feed cold water to each house, but those pipes freeze well before winter, and then one has to go to one of the public sources on each street that work through winter. With buckets or a barrel.

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