For our whole lives we will all remember yet another pedagogues by the grace of God, our math teacher, Ivan Vasilyevich Morozkin.
We were afraid of him during our school years, and fell in love with him after we graduated. His trademark expressions were memorable: “Wipe out this abomination, write another one.” Or, in urging us to remember the formulas of trigonometry: “To miss or lose the 2 in this formula is impossible, for it’ll immediately reappear on your report card.” (Soviet schools used a 5 point grading system).
And here in this photo is a group of classmates right after graduation: we are in the school yard, the year is 1951.
The campaign against “rootless cosmopolitans” is in full swing. We don’t yet know that some of our friends, upon entering college, will be exposed to ignoble and humiliating discrimination because of their ethnicity. The case against “doctors-poisoners” is in the works. In these last school photos I am the one with a cigarette butt. Since there was no one to whip me, I started smoking in 7th grade during all-night chess battles, poetry readings and our first drinking parties. I smoked for more than 50 years – a lot and with pleasure. It’s been almost two years since I quit – sort of.
A year after graduation we found ourselves in our classroom once again – not for long, only for one night in 1952, attended only by a half of us.