Almost all houses in the village have telephone and I made my appointments with my first interview partners by suggestion of the director of the Museum via telephone. Aleksandra Ivanovna was sceptical at first. “What can I tell you about history?”
When I met her, I was amazed by the wonderful stories she told. She used to live in the now abandoned village of “Tri Bugry”, an old Russian fisherman’s settlement, that became the centre of a Nenets fishing and reindeer herding Kolkhoz in the 30ies. In the 50ies the inhabitants were resettled to Nelmin Nos, were she used to work as a school teacher.
Aleksandra Ivanovna remembered the old settlement of Tri Bugry, which means three small hills. The name derives probably from three fishermen’s buildings that were covered with earth. As small children they once even managed to crawl into one that was still intact.
She also remembered a big wooden cross that was erected before the revolution to commemorate an extraordinary catch. Aleksandra often went to this cross to hug it in her childhood. When she returned to the place of her childhood several years ago, she discovered that the cross was replaced by a new one. “It’s not the same as the old one.”, she said, “The new one I cannot hug anymore.” I got the impression that this wooden pre-soviet monument became something like a symbol for the lost place of her childhood.
She also told me about her grandfather who was imprisoned during the 30ies and send to Siberia. Her grandfather returned, but two of his cousins stayed there afterwards and married. Aleksandra remembered that in the 50ies members of the Laptander family from Nelmin Nos travelled over the Ural mountains to search and visit their relatives that had stayed in Siberia.
Later her niece Ekaterina Nikolaevna Ardeeva dropped by who I also interviewed. Aleksandra took her old Nenets fur coat “panitsa” and the two women posed in it for a photo.
And of course she presented her old photographs from the teachers course in Leningrad, where teachers from the indigenous people of the Russian North were trained in the Herzen-Insitute of the people of the North.