Video Tours > Tour 3. Apartment 30 > 4. Nina Vasilievna
expand/collapse this text box Summary
The oldest tenant in the apartment shows her photo album and talks about her life.
expand/collapse this text box Translation of the Russian Transcript
Anna Matveevna: Nina, you have visitors!

Nina Vasilievna: I'm getting up.

Anna Matveevna: Please put on something warm.

Nina Vasilievna: It's so cold.

Anna Matveevna: It's cold, that's right, it's certainly not hot. Please come in. She's... in there.

Ilya: You and Anna Matveevna are the oldest people...

Nina Vasilievna: The oldest...

Ilya: ... in this apartment...

Nina Vasilievna: ... yes, we're very old.

Ilya: ...and maybe in this whole building. What year were you born in?

Nina Vasilievna: 1924.

Ilya: I see, and you were born here?

Nina Vasilievna: Yes. And we've lived here all this time.

Ilya: But this wasn't a communal apartment yet, was it?

Nina Vasilievna: No, it was communal.

Ilya: It was already communal?

Nina Vasilievna: Already communal. These people the Boitintsevs were living her. The Boitintsevs. And those people, Sonya's family, not her father, but her grandfather.

Ilya: Oh?

Nina Vasilievna: Her grandfather. Ivan Nikolayevich Markov, his name was. So. He lived across the hall. Well, where they live now, that's where he lived. And on that side now... over there where they have their rooms now, other people are living there now, those Druzhinins were living there. A husband and wife, that is, their, that is, his mother, Domna Efimovna, and she had a son, Konstantin Nikolayevich. And then the couple, her son Pavel Nikolayevich and his wife Sara Abramovna. And their little girl Irochka, who was my age. We were friends, me and that Irochka. But they were from Astrakhan, and during the war Domna Efimovna died of hunger, and the men died, Pavel and Konstantin, but Sara Abramovna and Irochka were evacuated to Astrakhan. She was Armenian, this Sara Abramovna. Then after the war, some people had died, and some moved. And we had that, that Maria Ioganna, also an educated woman. Well, my parents also. My mother was also a teacher.

Ilya: Who was the apartment steward?

Nina Vasilievna: Oh, that was Feodosy Grigorich Latatuev. A very respectable man. I don't know what he did for a living, but he was a respectable man, that Feodosy Grigorich Latatuev. So.

Ilya: Did he have to settle conflicts?

Nina Vasilievna: Well, I was little, I don't really remember, probably he did. How else. People obeyed him. He had presence.

Ilya: There were more people then...

Nina Vasilievna: There were.

Ilya: ... and were there lines to use the bathroom?

Nina Vasilievna: I don't remember about... I know that later on the bathroom couldn't be used. First you could use it, there was a wood stove. And then the chimney got stuck and that was it. That was the end.

Ilya: Nina Vasilievna, have people suggested breaking the apartment up?

Nina Vasilievna: I'm sick of hearing about it.

Ilya: So agents have come to talk?

Nina Vasilievna: All the time, all the time.

Ilya: What do you tell them?

Nina Vasilievna: Well I can't say no, I'm afraid of the others, they'll get angry at me. Everyone else wants to break it up. But we don't. Anna Matveevna and I.

Ilya: Why not?

Nina Vasilievna: Why should we? I like it here, I do. For somebody who's old and by themselves it's hard to live in a private apartment. Very hard. Here people will at least help out, and whatever you say, somebody's around. And in a private apartment, go sit there all by yourself. And those private apartments get robbed, and people get killed, and all kinds of things. And if you get sick, it's over. By the time my relatives figure out what's going on. I don't have, you know, anybody close, anybody who would come right away.

Ilya: Do you have any old photographs?

Nina Vasilievna: Oh, lots.

Ilya: Have you been together with Anna Matveevna all this time?

Nina Vasilievna: Yes. She came to live with us when I was 6.

Ilya: So it was like, when you were a little girl... Nina Vasilievna: Yes.

Ilya: ...she was helping your parents...

Nina Vasilievna: Yes.

Ilya: ... like a nanny?

Nina Vasilievna: Yes, exactly, she was a nanny, that's right..

Ilya: So she took you on walks and fed you... Nina Vasilievna: Well it's not as though... But she helped, of course.

Nina Vasilievna: Well, I'm showing you whatever turns up. Here are all sorts of different things. Everything's different. Not just one kind, but here's something, here's something. These were all sent to me, all sorts of people I knew sent me these cards, I don't know, I'm just showing you what's in this album. This is from Yugoslavia, I have a cousin in Yugoslavia. And here, you see, are photographs. Religious ones. All of these are religious. And now these are regular photographs. This is the famous dancer Yura Soloviev, have you heard of him?

Ilya: Uh, yes.

Nina Vasilievna: He had a sad fate. Nobody ever found out if he was killed or if he did it to himself, to this day nobody knows. He did ballet, you see here. So. He's buried in the Serafimovsky Cemetery, we went there to see his grave, we went. My aunt was good friends with him.

Ilya: You were friends with him?

Nina Vasilievna: Not me. My aunt. My aunt was his friend. All of these are him; this is him. And this is me. This is in a resort. A resort. I don't remember which one. If it's not written on the back...

Ilya: You must have had a lot of suitors.

Nina Vasilievna: Well, in a resort—you know what they were like—I had one, but he was married. He wasn't all that much of a suitor, he'd ask me to the movies, and that was all. He didn't hide that he was married. But then of course I kept my distance from him.

Ilya: Did you travel with Anna Matveevna?

Nina Vasilievna: No.

Anna Matveevna: I went to sanatoriums. I was in the Crimea. I was in the south. I was everywhere.

Nina Vasilievna: Here I am with other vacationers. Yes, this is also a resort, and I am with my roommates. This is also a resort. I'm with a roommate, you see, we're standing by a car, not ours. This is a resort.

Ilya: Zhenya, who...

Nina Vasilievna: This one. This is Zhenya.

Ilya: I see. Who was she?

Nina Vasilievna: I don't know what ethnic group she was. She came to take some professional courses. I don't remember what kind, maybe even bookkeeping.

Ilya: But she lived in your room?

Nina Vasilievna: Yes. Like a boarder. Yes. She paid me a certain amount of money. And you see, that's the same thing. Only in the winter, in the winter. And in the winter I went away a lot, and in the spring, and all different times. They didn't give me resort tickets in the summer very often, but that did sometimes happen.

expand/collapse this text box Details in Photographs
Apartment II floor plan
Floor plan of the apartment from Tour 3 (all clips), home to Sasha, Yulia, Tatyana, Iraida Yakovlevna, Anna Matveevna, Nina Vasilievna, Sonya, and Savva. 2006.

Television and unplugged refrigerator
Beneath the icon are a television and a refrigerator, both unplugged (room from the clip "Nina Vasilievna," Tour 3). Perhaps the resident does not use these appliances; there is another TV in the room. 2006.

Table with teakettles
A fragment of the interior of the room of Nina Vasilievna, an old woman. 2006.

View onto arched windows
The window of Nina Vasilievna's room (seen in the clip "Nina Vasilievna" from Tour 3) looks onto a courtyard; from her window you can see the enormous arched windows of an indoor garden. 2006.

Teakettle, pot, bowl, thermos
On a table in the room shown in clip "Nina Vasilievna," Tour 3, bread crusts, saved for the birds; Leningraders who lived through the Siege do not throw out bread. 2006.

Teakettle, pot, bowl
Typical Soviet post-war era dishes on the table in Nina Vasilievna's room (see the clip "Nina Vasilievna," from Tour 3, and the photo "Teakettle, pot, bowl, thermos."). 2006.

Nina Vasilievna and her album
Nina Vasilievna (see the clip about her in Tour 3) displays her album, which, along with photos, contains greeting cards she has received over the years. 2006.

Nina Vasilievna
One of the oldest residents of a large apartment in her room, during an interview. This interview is shown in the clip "Nina Vasilievna," Tour 3. 2006.

Nina Vasilievna and Anna Matveevna
These elderly women have lived almost their entire lives in adjacent rooms in a large communal apartment, in daily contact. See the clips "Anna Matveevna" and "Nina Vasilievna" (Tour 3). 2006.

expand/collapse this text box Basic Facts and Background
When: Summer 2006

Where: A room in a communal apartment in a building on Kamennoostrovsky Prospekt, in the prestigious historical center of St. Petersburg. Nina Vasilievna, one of the building's oldest tenants, lives here. The apartment is in the same entryway as the one in which Ilya lived for 30 years. Eleven families now (2006) live in the apartment. There was a time when 16 families lived there.

Who: 1) Ilya Utekhin. 2) Anna Matveevna (born 1914), living in the apartment since 1929, and in this room since 1931; she takes Ilya to see Nina Vasilievna at the beginning of the clip. 3) Nina Vasilievna, living here since she was born in 1924; she has been in this room since 1930. 4) Slawomir, who is filming.

Nina Vasilievna's parents moved into this apartment in the early 1920s. Her father was a school principal and a teacher of mathematics. In the 1920s he was actively involved in renovating the apartment.

What: During World War II, in the course of a bombing, a ceiling fell on Nina Vasilievna (this was in a different apartment), and she got a concussion. After the war, she went through medical testing and got herself a disability certificate. For the rest of her life, she was officially considered to be disabled, getting disability benefits and working only in a special factory, where disabled people could earn a little money doing simple tasks.

The social welfare system enabled Nina Vasilievna to go to sanatoriums and "rest houses" (state-run resorts, whose guests generally had "passes" issued through their workplaces; these guests almost always shared rooms). People who had war-related disabilities were given free passes. In the summer high-season, disabled people seldom got passes because rooms were reserved for other, more privileged segments of the population.

Since the late 1990s, large communal apartments have been periodically visited by real estate agents who propose resettling individual tenants. The tenants themselves respond in different ways. Like many old people living on their own, Nina Vasilievna differs from younger tenants in not wanting to leave her present circumstances either for her own apartment or for a room in a different communal apartment.

In a frame on the wall we see a photograph of Nina Vasilievna's aunt. After the death of her mother, this aunt was her closest relative.

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