Many, many years ago, in then Leningrad, in Baskov Lane, in a large communal apartment, a company of young people often gathered. Most of them were associated with the art world. The Lengostrada artist Mikhail Kuni and the pop pianist Simon Kagan, and many other famous people also visited it. Two of the residents of this apartment met in Germany 64 years later, thanks to MK. One of them – Alexander Merlin – is a Leningrad citizen, blockade, veteran of the Great Patriotic War, author, composer, screenwriter, artist. Brilliant entertainer. His songs were performed by the great K. Shulzhenko, E. Khil, and novice artists of the theaters of Leningrad.
– So, how old is he now? He was born in 1952, one year old with … So, then, he is now sixty-eight. So we haven’t seen him for sixty-four years. Yes … And the culprit of this meeting was you, Duchess.
So, in a friendly, familiar way, we discussed with Alexander Merlin another, interesting for both of us, case. But he touched not only us. At least two more people were also discussing now what happened a few minutes ago.
But the night before, I couldn’t find a place for myself – what should I do? Alexander Merlin is my friend, and not to tell him what awaits him tomorrow? Can I so irresponsibly subject him to no one knows what? But if I inform Alexander Yulievich today what awaits him tomorrow, the whole effect of the surprise will disappear. Again – who knows if he needs such a surprise at all?
I thought for a long time what to do. Finally, the decision came, the only, apparently, correct – I will rely on my intuition. I will carry out, so to speak, “reconnaissance in force.” I dialed the phone number of Alexander Yulievich. Midnight conversation is one of our favorite things to do.
– Alexander Yulievich, are you awake? Good evening.
– Well, you know – as a creative person, at this time I am writing, composing. I’m chatting with you.
– Do you think something can surprise you very unpleasantly? Maybe even scare? I mean, can it happen that some person you don’t like will call you?
– Come on. I have long ceased to be afraid of everything. And how can you scare me?
– Well, maybe you didn’t really like this person, or something connects him with unpleasant memories for you?
– I tell you once again – nothing can frighten Merlin!
Okay, I decided then, so this is a hint to me – everything I did was right. Although all the same worried about what will happen tomorrow?
It all started two days ago. I received a letter. From a stranger named Leo Litz. He wrote that his aunt Faina, (Now she is 94 years old! Good and long years of your life! – E.G.), living in Cologne, in the magazine “MK-Compatriot” # 8 read an article entitled “Life – this is the most important miracle. ” In which I talk about Alexander Merlin, who now lives in Munich. She immediately called her nephew. After all, they – her family, her sister’s family, natives of Leningrad, were closely acquainted at one time with Merlin. But life turned out so that the connection was lost long ago. And now suddenly there was an opportunity to contact each other.
In this letter, written by Leo, there was a request to give the contact phone number of Alexander Yulievich. We signed up, then phoned Leo. He really wanted to surprise Alexander Yulievich.
– You know, Elena, I will not immediately introduce myself to him when I call. I’ll say two keywords and see if he knows who’s calling him. Therefore, I ask you, do not say that I will call tomorrow.
Yeah. Thinking here: to give a phone – not to give? What is a “keyword pair”? The year 2020 brought us few surprises. Everyone’s nerves are not in the best condition … That is why I made that preliminary evening call “for reconnaissance purposes.”
Leo will be calling Merlin at about 11am tomorrow. Okay. Then I will call Alexander Yulievich a little later, find out what and how.
In the morning I could not find a place for myself. I was very worried about something. I didn’t have time to call Merlin – he called first. I saw his name flashed on the phone display, got scared and therefore answered in a too cheerful and cheerful voice.
– How are you, Alexander Yulievich?
– Well, Duchess, you give!
In the few seconds after these words, before he began to speak, a lot of options flashed through my head, one worse than the other.
– Well, Duchess, what an unforgettable surprise you have prepared for me! And it must be the same – after all yesterday evening and not even a hint of talking! You can go on reconnaissance with you!
– So you liked this call?
– What are you! So cute!
– Fuh …! Now tell me! You know – I love it when everything is detailed. Start from the moment the phone rang.
– Okay. So I pick up the phone. I say yes. And in response to me: “Hello. I will not tell you anything yet, Alexander Yulievich, who is calling. Only two words “Daddy the hat” …
– Lyonka? You? Really? Where did it come from?
– I, Alexander Yulievich. I also live in Germany. And Elena gave me your phone number …
So, what is it about.
Many, many years ago, in the beautiful city of Leningrad, in Baskov Lane, in a large communal apartment, a bachelor party of young, cheerful people often gathered. Most of them were associated with the art world. Leo – then four-year-old Lyonka – lived with his family in this apartment. He was from a theatrical family. Alexander Yulievich remembers very well his grandfather Venetian, mother – Augustina Khavkina.
Leo Litz tells: “I can only say that Aleksandr Yulievich and I are“ almost relatives ”: he knows me from the moment of my birth, because his aunt, the wife of Mikhail Kuni, the most famous artist of Lengosestrada at the time (being a student of Wolf Messing, Mikhail Abramovich performed with “Psychological Experiments” (the poster is still standing in front of my eyes …), in the literal sense of the word, held me in her arms …
My grandfather, also an artist of Lengostrada, Venetian Vitz, worked with Mikhail Kuni. And all together we lived in one communal apartment in Leningrad …
So there is a lot to tell about … “
– This house, – continues Alxander Merlin – was very famous for its inhabitants. Cooney lived with his two sons. The head of the choir of the House of Culture named after V.I. Kapranova. And there are many more other creative people, I don’t even remember all of them now. But in the house opposite, in the same Baskov Lane, a real world celebrity lived – pop pianist Simon Kagan. By the way, this does not mean at all that Kagan performed only pop works. He began the morning with a classical performance. Always practiced with open windows. His performance by Bach was heard in our homes. By the way, the famous Svyatoslav Richter, himself the best pianist of the Soviet Union, often came to listen to the play of Simon Kagan. Yes, it was a very interesting courtyard …
So, we very often gathered in this communal apartment for some of our bachelor parties, holidays. It was always very fun, with music and jokes. And then one day, during one such evening, when we gathered at Uncle Cooney’s, the door suddenly opens and little Lenechka comes in. We were all already quiet when he came to us and said: “Look, I put on my dad’s hat!”
Since then, everyone always remembered this phrase, “Daddy’s the hat,” when the conversation turned to meetings in that apartment.
And today, as soon as I heard “Shlyapin’s dad”, I immediately remembered our little Lyonka.
Yes, he and I remembered a lot. They counted – we have not seen each other for more than sixty-four years. We still keep in touch with that company of ours. Although six of her have already died. Four families now live in America, two remained in St. Petersburg. As it turned out now, Lyonya and his aunt live nearby, in Germany. I am very glad that Lenya, who also devoted himself to art, found himself in Germany. He has his own small team, he took place both as a writer and as a director. She writes and performs her songs. He is invited to perform in various cities. In general, it was very interesting for me to communicate with him, learn new things, remember old ones.
From a conversation with Leo Litz: “My aunt is a resident of besieged Leningrad. An amazingly kind, sensitive, truly intelligent person, always ready to help others. I call her the “die-hard optimist”! And I am very glad that we managed to contact Alexander Merlin. These are such pleasant and joyful moments of memory for us.
Surprisingly, as practice shows, the printed word – it really has great power. In all senses!”
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