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Dmitriy A. Zasosov and Vladimir I. Pyzin.

Zasosov, Pyzin

The authors of the book «St. Petersburg life of 1890-1910 years. Memoirs of the eyewitnesses» (Lenizdat publishing house, 1991) share their memoirs about the city, where they spent their children's and youthful years. A fragment of the chapter «The environs of St. Petersburg and the dacha life» is reproduced here.

There was only one line from the Finland railway station - to Vyborg. There were many dacha places here: Lanskaja, Udel’naja, Ozerki («Small Lakes»). Yes, Lanskaja was a dacha place, as well as Lesnoj («Forest»). The family of one of the authors used to live for two years on the summer residence in Lesnoj, near the park of the Forest Institute. It was possible to reach Lesnoj by a small steam engine. Udel'naja, Ozerki, Shuvalovo were cheerful dacha places, with theatres, dancings, driving by boats on the lakes. Lesnoj was a more silent dacha place, though the theatre there was available too. On the Shuvalovo lake, there was a yacht-club. During the summer, several sailing races were carried out here. The dacha people went for walk to Udel'nyj park and the nearest forests - Sosnovka and Piskariovka.

At the entrance into the Shuvalovo park, there was a hill named Parnas. The Shuvaloff's palace was given up, nobody lived there, the park resembled a forest.

The next station was Pargolovo with a settlement on the mountain and with a small lake. The dachas were inexpensive. The other dacha places up to the Finnish border didn't excel with anything. Only near the Levashovo station, there was a good park with a lake; the park now has the deformed name «Osinovaja Roshcha» («Aspen Grove»), though there are no aspens there. Actually, the park was named «Osinaja Roshcha» («Wasp Grove»), because there were many wasps there (In fact, this is a legend too. The old Finnish name of the settlement is Haapakangas, something like «Aspen Meadow». - V. K.). There were no railway to Toksova at that time. The locals and not numerous dacha inhabitants reached this wonderful place on carts, by the road through Lesnoj and Grazhdanka or by the road through the «Wasp Grove» and the village of Jukki. The border of Finland was behind Beloostrov (Valkeasaari), along river Sestra (Rajajoki). After Beloostrov, there were dacha places on the coast of the Finnish gulf: Ollila (Solnechnoje now), Kuokkala (Repino), Terijoki (Zelenogorsk), Tyrisevä (Ushkovo). The villas with huge sites were here. Last decade of 19th century, these places had become fashionable. The buildings were so rich, that the summer residences of Repin («Penates») and of the writer Leonid Andreev looked modestly. (Now in the kept dachas, the holiday centres are placed.)

The dacha owners on the coastal sites had motor and sailing yachts, and in Terijoki there was a yacht-club. Sometimes the dacha people went to Sestroretsk (Systerbäck) on concerts. The border crossing was not noticed, there were no passport control and customs examination. If it became known, that somebody carried much vodka into Finland, they examined more carefully, but, as a rule, found nothing.

All the Finland railway was served by the Finns in blue caps and uniform jackets. In Beloostrov, still were Russian gendarmes, and in Terijoki, at the station, there was a Finnish policeman in black helmet, uniform with light buttons and sabre with white metal furnish. The money were all-Russian, and Finnish marks at the rate of 37 copecks. There were funny things, when the Finnish cabman did not want to carry a dacha inhabitant for 50 copecks, but for one mark he agreed with pleasure. On the both sides of the railway there was a continuous forest, which now grew thin very much. The behaviour of the Finns caused bewilderment quite often. For instance, in the forest, far from any habitation, on a forest road, on a bough, a large jug with milk hangs. Russian dacha inhabitant examines all this in detail, even tries the contents by finger, and at home asks the host-Finn, what does all this mean. The host explains, that in one verst (3500 feet) from the road there is a farm, whence milk is exposed for the postman, who every day passes past and leaves an empty jug. Or one of the authors, on the Saimaa channel, observed the following: in the evening, a small steamship was going among the woods. At the small quay, where wasn't anybody, the sailors had unloaded several bales from the steamship. The steamship whistled and went further. The sailor was asked: why did you drop the bales and have left? The Finn, sucking his pipe, explained, that in 12 kilometers from the quay there was a large settlement. In the morning the people from the settlement will arrive and take away the goods. If you come in a store, nobody watches you, and you take what you need, leave the money, nobody checks you. All the rest on the Finnish dachas was good: the forest, lakes, the sea around, there is a lot of bilberry, red bilberry, mushrooms; but the boredom was terrible, the country was poorly populated. Only in Terijoki there was a summer theatre, but it also did not prosper.

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