Frank Thoms

Ambassador Plenipotentiary of Peace, Love, and Friendship

Jun 25, 2023 by Frank Thoms

It was the time of Gorbachev. The students were at what I saw as a ‘progressive’ Soviet school. They acted free to express their opinions. What these 6th graders did was of their own volition; their teacher may have helped, but I doubt it.

The school’s renowned director of twenty-five years, Elvira Nicholaevna, took advantage of this opening in Soviet society. A Communist herself, her husband KGB, she had a rare latitude in running her domain. She allowed me free rein to be who I was, to teach the ways I wanted to, and to befriend everyone.

But as the major demo, she exerted control whenever needed when she wanted to. And she was vulnerable to rumors (who wasn’t in that society?), one of which relegated me outside her inner circle never to come back. Frankly, I never expected such a sad moment. But my love and respect for Elvira never waned.

But these 6th graders and so many others welcomed the American. I feel their love nearly forty years later.

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