Dad’s family was one of the lucky families in Leningrad since they possessed “hard currency” (foreign currency), which allowed them to shop at some of the state-run stores, known as Torgsin, where they could buy food and luxuries in exchange for their US dollars. The foreign currency from these stories helped the government finance Stalin’s plan to rapidly industrialize the Soviet Union. My grandfather still had American dollars remaining from the sale of the house in New Jersey.
One item purchased there was my grandfather’s favorite treasure- his gramophone. He loved to sit and listen to its beautiful music, and he would let Dad and his siblings take turns cranking it to make the records play. His favorite music was jazz, but he enjoyed the classics as well.
That gramophone was the subject of one of my father’s favorite stories regarding his alleged presence at a meeting attended by the assassin of Sergei Kirov.