At 10 o’clock Helen & I with 18 others with food baskets, hand luggage and all plied into the Iutil car, and sat 5 ½ hours in the train, before it pulled out for Samara.
The first days we passed thru country very much like the Dakotas. With friendly little villages with their picturesque church domes and Dutch windmills. Occasionally we went thru tall forests of fir and birch. The second day it snowed most of the time, hills were visible in the distance On Sunday we saw many more villages with straw thatched roofs and paint-less houses. All seemed squalid, dirty, drab and unattractive. We played catch and games at long stops. At night the train was held up 7 hours while the soldiers looted the wine storehouse which they did after a big fight. On Monday at 1:30 we arrived at Samara where we created a great stir. The inhabitants were sure that Moscow and Petrograd had been taken by the Germans.
We had a thrilling ride up to the hotel where the other Americans were living.
Samara is a city of about 350,00 composed of 7,000 Polish refugees and 10,000 Jews. The town is exceedingly dirty and ill kept, stores unattractive but having an interesting market. It is the terminus of a Campbell caravan from China. Its situation on the Volga is very wonderful. Here as elsewhere, the Bolshevicks are ruthlessly in control and people are suffering much from both having property confiscated or fear that it will be taken.
Great many Austrian prisoners are daily seen on the streets and eating in the same restaurant as ourselves.
The days have been full questionings as to what would follow the Peace signing or refusal to sign. Everything in Moscow is very tense. Bolshevicks have taken the National and Metropole Hotels and mounted machine guns are everywhere. Those who wish war have gone to Petrograd and those for Peace to Moscow. Airplanes have sailed low over Moscow and trouble is expected hourly.
Today we saw a rumpess in the hotel court. The Bolshevicks arrested, tied the man’s hands behind him and shoved him around roughly. We attended church. An open white casket stood near up the funeral to take place after the morning service.
Just outside the Church was a big thieve’s market which commanded the interest of several hundred.
3,000 Serbian soldiers arrived in Samara a few days ago. Three thousand Serbian refugees. Mostly women and children living in box cars and been moving from pillar to post for 3 years are in cars on a siding. 800 children are with them, many of whom have been born since they fled from Serbia.
March 17 Samara
In the morning we attended a church service at which a white casket stood open with huge candles burning at the head. Outside the Church was a thieve’s market with attracted big crowds. Things stolen from the homes are sold there. In the afternoon we had tea at the consulate where Mr. Anderson of the Intl. Harvester Co. talked to us on our responsibility as Am. Citizens and informed us that our presence here was carefully watched and questioned.
As we came home we say the great promenade of people walking up and down on the main streets. The Isvoschecks and Trockas were dashing up and down the street in great speed and gayety. This has closed the three days of blunes which precedes lent. We have had them twice and enjoyed them hugely.