He spent a year in the Soviet port of Arkhangelsk. Not only was it unimaginably cold, but the Soviet “allies” treated the American personnel almost like adversaries. Even though we were supplying the Soviets with tons of weapons and other war materiel.
My grandfather was in the US Navy during World War II. His service took him to Egypt, Brazil, the United Kingdom, Syria, Cuba and Iraq.
He had at least something good to say about almost all of those countries (even Syria and Iraq).
But there was one place he hated.
Absolutely no one was friendly. There was no allied camaraderie, per his account.
Of course, this was during the Stalin era, when Soviet soldiers could be shot for observing that capitalist America made jeeps that were superior to Soviet vehicles.
My grandfather always referred to Russia as “the asshole of the world”. (The man had a way with words.) And when you consider Putin and recent events, my grandfather may have been onto something.
I can’t say, “My grandfather spent a year in the USSR, and all I got was this lousy tee shirt.” But he did bring back a few Soviet roubles that he later passed on to me.
Needless to say, he never had any desire to go back to Russia and spend them.