— Childhood Memories of the Early 1950s

I have many good and happy memories of when small and now regret not having been eager to learn Russian from my grandmother 🙁

I think my parents didn’t insist I learn the language because they wanted to put the past behind them and they too were not that keen to been known as Russian emigres with the Soviets in power.

However now, 100 years since the Revolution, seeing how Russia has changed and how it seems to be a country I would be proud to admit to having relatives from, I would have loved to have been fluent in both reading and writing the language 🙁

Anyway, these memories are from when I was very young and living in 45 Morrison Hill Road.



Uncle Wai Wai Wai Mai Mai Mai

I remember my father telling me bedtime stories about “Uncle Wai Wai Wai Mai Mai Mai” 🙂

The uncle was a good man and he used to go around helping children with things.  They were very gentle stories and fun to listen to!  No scary wolves or bad animals in these tales to keep me up all night, worrying what was under my bed!  😀


Then there were Russian children’s ditties which my mother used to sing or tell me.

Chizhik-pyzhik, gde ty byl?

Mom used to sing this song to me when I was small ….

Чижик-пыжик, где ты был?
На Фонтанке водку пил.
Выпил рюмку, выпил две —
Зашумело в голове.

Стали чижика ловить,
Чтобы в клетку посадить.
– Чу, чу, улечу,
В клетке жить я не хочу.

Chizhik-pyzhik, gde ty byl?
Na Fontanke vodku pil.
Vypil ryumku, vypil dve —
Zashumelo v golove.

Stali chizhika lovit’,
Chtoby v kletku posadit’.
Chu, chu, ulechu,
V kletke zhit’ ya ne khochu.

Chizhik-Pyzhik, where have you been?
Drank vodka on the Fontanka
Took a shot, took another –
Got dizzy.

Siskin Steel catch,
To put in a cage.
– Chu Chu, fly away,
In the cell, I do not want to live.

The rhyme refers to the students of the Imperial School of Jurisprudence, who frequented a pub belonging to the merchant Nefedov on the Fontanka Quay in Saint Petersburg.

The school was founded by Duke Peter of Oldenburg in the nearby house #6. The students of the college wore uniforms with yellow and green colors, which resembled the colors of the bird called the Siskin (Russian: Чиж; chizhik). Because of that, they were nicknamed Chizhyks-Pyzhiks.

I was looking on YouTube to see if I could find this rhyme being sung but the only one which came close was this quartet playing the song so at least you get to hear what it sounds like 😀



Bayu Bayushki Bayu

Another song which mom used to sing to me when I was small was a beautiful Russian lullaby called «Bayu Bayushki Bayu», which I was stoked to find on YouTube 😀

I still remember drifting off, feeling safe and loved, with my mother’s voice singing softly in my ears 😀

Imagine my surprise when my mother explained to me what this lullaby was all about!

Apparently this old Russian lullaby was sung to teach little children not to sleep on the edge of a bed, or in  inappropriate places, otherwise a hungry grey wolf would come and give them a painful bite 😮

I remember always sleeping in my bed with my back touching the wall for reassurance!  Oy Bozhe moy (Боже мой!)!  I should have not known the words in English and just wallowed in the beautiful song sung in Russian!  Hahahahaha  😀

Well I used to sing it to my children when they were falling asleep and will do that with my grandkids when they come to our house for sleepovers; but I won’t tell them about the grey wolf 😉

Do listen to this clip so that you hear how gorgeous it is!



Tishe tishe kot na kryshe

Both my parents used to say this to me at various times when I was either noisy or misbehaving …

tishe, myshi, kot na kryshe
on ne vidit i ne sliyshit
mysh’, vidi sebya prilichchno
zanimaysya na otlichno

тише, мыши, кот на крыше
он не видит и не слиышит
мышь, види себя приличчно
занимайся на отлично

“Hush, mouse, cat is on the roof,
he doesn’t see and doesn’t hear,
mouse behave yourself,
in doing perfectly” (?)

This was used to calm down noisy children and as I said, mom and dad used it often if I was running around and causing a disturbance, or going wah wah wah in my bed at night.




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