Episode 15 – Childhood [Not for Children]

Greetings, Comrades!

In this episode we take a look at how childhood looked like in the USSR. A fair warning, as this episode might not be suitable to children. Not because it’s explicit – but because they might get some ideas about misbehaving. Then again, that’s the Soviet way.

Soviet Pioneers, giving the traditional salute, in a ceremony.
Today’s picture – Soviet Pioneers, giving the traditional salute, in a ceremony.

And don’t forget to check out Dark Myths – especially Twilight Histories and Rumor Flies, which are the recommendations for this week! Oh, and please fill our survey!

Do Svidaniya, Tovarishci! And enjoy the show.


The Eastern Border
The Eastern Border
Episode 15 - Childhood [Not for Children]
About Curonian 6 Articles
The humble creator of this podcast - living in Riga, Latvia, and trying to give you the best that I can.

17 Comments on Episode 15 – Childhood [Not for Children]

  1. Thanks again for another fascinating show. My wife and I sometimes fantasize about traveling to Prague, Vienna, and St. Petersburg, to see the sights and take in the culture. Now I’ll have to add Riga to our dream list, just to buy you a beer.

    Do the older people of Latvia and the other former Soviet republics talk much about the old days to the kids, or do they just focus more on present day things? My father and mother grew up in 40s and 50s, but never really talked about what it was like living in the US in those days, just about the things that happened to them or did personally; I suspect it’s the same over there.

    This is among the more enjoyable history podcasts I listen to, because you tell the stories of everyday people in a personal way. I wonder how I would have fared in the middle of the 20th century in the Baltics. Thanks again for your podcast.

    • Hello Ed!
      As USSR is still an important subject matter here, people do talk about the life there. And there have been some myths built around it as well – there are those of the older generation who didn’t like the USSR much, but then just couldn’t cope with the changing world, americana and western stuff. Then there are those who buy the pro-russian propaganda that’s aired in the Russian-language media here, stating that the USA and the Western europe with all of their “gay rights” and “liberalism” and “fascism” (yes, used in the same sentence) are the very incarnation of evil, should be nuked, hail Stalin/Putin.

      Baltics are a complex place. And I’m actually REALLY worried about that NATO ex-head guy stating that the Russians will invade.

  2. Yes, making small bombs was a part of childhood here in the 60’s & 70’s, a thing I also look back upon fondly. Sadly, it and other practical education is a lost art among children today. Even sadder is the fact that this would cause much consternation and police activity in today’s world of fear and paranoia.

  3. Mg is Magnesium.

    I’ve heard both of those jokes before. More of the shared cultural heritage, I guess.
    Let me try one, too. This one is very widespread in Hungary.

    The Party Committee is visiting a school, and they ask little Ivan what he has learned.
    “By the end of the Five-year Plan”, he says, “we will have so many potatoes, that if put them together on Red Square, it will reach up all the way to God!”
    “But Ivan, you know very well that there is no God!” – says the teacher, frightened.
    “So? There are no potatoes either.”

    My mother was a pioneer, and she talked about how they had to greet Soviet soldiers by singing the Soviet anthem or the Internationale… But since they never learned Russian properly, the “performance” was a little off, and the soldiers could barely hold back laughter.

    I wish you good luck with your work!

  4. Faņķiki and fišķas is 90s childhood, not soviet childhood. I really liked this episode, a lot of childhood memories. I wish there would be more stuff from childhood in sixties, it must be a little bit different than childhood in nineties. However from older people stories (my parents and even grandparents) I gather the difference between 1960 and 1990 is smaller than difference between 1990 and 210s.

  5. In Eastern Germany, the young pioneers’ slogan actually explained what they should be ready for:
    “Für Frieden und Sozialismus seid bereit!” – “Immer bereit!”
    “For peace and socialism be ready!” – ” Always ready!”


  6. Wow, this episode just convinced me even more that you’d be a good guest on the survival podcast. A lot of that “do it yourself” ethos is what they talk about. And no, I don’t think we in the west are laughing at you al for it, we’re actually wanting to get it back for ourselves, actually.
    On the childhood stuff, we had a lot of similar stuff like that here in America, you were just a generation “behind” us. You and I are close to the same age, that stuff was around but just beginning to be superseded by video games and the Internet. Now a days I can’t get my son interested enough in a slingshot or anything else like that long enough to look away from his IPad for more than two seconds! 🙂

    • Oh and on your condom water bombs: of course in capitalist west we actually had purposes made “water balloons” to do this with, because no one wanted to explain to little Timmy what a condom actually was for (plus they had more fun colors) 🙂

  7. Sveiks Kristaps! Or should I say, greetings Tovarisch! First of all I love the show, especially your sense of humor, unpolished nature of the podcast, Alice’s voice and the magnificent intro song.

    Before I started listening to this podcast, I thought that the Baltics were a boring place, which had nothing to offer but hatred towards Russia and domestic fascist parades. Also potato jokes. Baltics were the part of Europe I least wanted to visit. After listening to the Eastern border, you prompted me to reconsider my stereotypes and prejudices and I intend to visit Latvia (and neighboring countries) in the future and shatter my possible remaining misconceptions. Anyway, just wanted to thank you for this. Also I hope that Russia doesn’t annex you, and that one day, when the wounds heal, relations between your countries normalize.

    Now for my question.
    If I heard correctly, you mentioned that how to fix things around the house, how cars work, how to build your own soap and other cool stuff were written in a book. What is the name of this book and is it available in English? If not can you suggest some reading material in English, because I would like to learn those things?

    p.s Also in my country we call Latvia “Letonija”. I don’t know why is that. Maybe not to confuse you with Lithuania, but that explanation seems rather weak to me. Maybe you now something about this?

  8. I wish I knew why sex is so censored here in the US. I like sex waaaaaaay more than violence.

  9. Just listened to this episode, and the funny thing we had a dinner guest last night, and she grew up in East Germany. A lot of the subjects in the podcast we were discussing. Synchronicity! But the best part of the night was that when our 11 year old son starts asking about the “Birds and the Bees”, we told our Male Pakistani Friend than we will have our son call you for an answers.

  10. I think the reason we’re so hung up about sex here has to do with The Puritans. We’re fascinated by it, talk about it a lot, but we’re just starting to see more nudity because of cable and satellite TV, I guess. As for the violence, I also think that has a lot to do with the people who came here originally. Let’s face it, heading to a new place that’s uncivilized (at least in the way you’re accustomed to) takes guts. It’s going to take people who are aggressive and willing to fight, but apparently have issues with sex!

    And don’t think there aren’t plenty of people here who feel children are oversexualized. That whole baby and young child pageant thing is weird and creepy. It’s about some mom’s fantasy, but they love to tell you their kid wants to do it! Of course they do. Look at all the attention.

    Girls are sexualized starting in grade school. I’m absolutely amazed at some of the things I see very young girls wearing. The makeup, the clothes! They’re too young to even understand what they’re doing.

    • “And don’t think there aren’t plenty of people here who feel children are oversexualized. That whole baby and young child pageant thing is weird and creepy. ”


  11. It’s very good that you take criticisms seriously, but don’t apologize for trying to make a living. If advertisement is the way you sustain yourself while making this great content, then those ads are awesome because they enable you to do this and us to enjoy what you produce. It’s a small price to pay (as a listener) for the content you freely deliver. You should not be ashamed for earning money through your work. As far as I’m concerned you should earn as much as you want from this podcast, as long as you keep it at least as good as what I’ve heard up till now. There’s nothing bad in earning money honestly. To the contrary, it means you’re doing the rest of us a great service for which we are willing to pay in some way or other.

  12. Dear Kristaps,

    It’s 2017 now and I have just discovered your show and started listening from start.
    And even though I’m a bit late I just learned about your grandma and your dumbass boss.
    So first of all, my condolences, and second: It was the right thing to quit. I have experienced something like that shit myself – had a working accident, with severe bones broken. Like, ribs and upper arm.
    Went to work with those injuries, because I’m an idiot, and my boss told me to sit straight and don’t act like I’m not interested in what I’m doing.
    I was on painkillers highly overdosed, told her what a bitch she was and quit the next day.

    So, I feel you. Therefore, though I hope the situation is better in the meantime, I raised my Patreon up to 3€ per episode. Sorry that I can’t afford more at the moment.

    And please, don’t have issues on the sponsoring thing. Whatever helps you is just fine. Keep up the awesome work, and greetings to your wife (BTW, I kind of have a crush on her voice ((don’t beat me up, I’m a woman myself and this is only platonic ^^))

    So anyway, take care and have a nice time.

    Greetings from the former GDR.

  13. What a great episode ! 3 things in particular that struck home.

    1) the soviet version of Boy Scouts (now Scouts), as a long term Scoutmaster here in the US one thing I have to reassure parents of is that we do NOT take orders from National. Scouting here is all volunteer (with a small bit of admin staff) and the Packs/Troops reflect the leanings of the parents running them. To what extent were “scout troops” checked up on by the National government under the Soviets ?

    2) Safety and learning – We have a tradition of having the older scouts teach the younger ones (Cub Scouts) knife safety on their first 2-night campout, the older scouts and their leader then leave the Cub Scouts, and give the Pack leader a box of bandages. This summer I spent much of my time at camp wiping off cuts with alcohol and explaining that fresh air and sunshine is better than bandaids.

    3) Poor deprived Soviet youth – when I was a kid (’60s) we collected signal flares from the train yards and made bigger flares – then realized all we needed was some charcoal and – gunpowder ! – plus we had REAL lawn darts – fun game – throw them over the garage with your friend waiting on the other side.

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