First Day Frostbite

Nadia was born in Russia, before the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution, and she lived to be 101 years old. I was lucky enough to interview Nadia shortly before she died. In this short audio clip, she recalls with delight her first day of kindergarten. “I loved it! I still remember the songs I learned then.”


Unfortunately, while riding by sleigh to school, Nadia got severe frostbite on her toes, and she was never able to return to school after that first day. The song she sings is “Chizhyk-Pyzhik,” a popular Russian nursery rhyme. It refers to a little bird along the banks of the Fontanka River in St. Petersburg.

Here’s an English translation:
Chizhik-Pyzhik, where have you been?
Drank vodka on the Fontanka.
Took a shot, took another –
Got dizzy.

Ask your grandparents or parents what they recall from their school days. You may be amazed at what you can still learn about the people closest to you.

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