Archive for Sunday, September 22, 1991


September 22, 1991


Erdice Court says her 23-year-old, Russian-speaking daughter, Kerry, is too young to be scared, even while in Moscow surrounded by tanks.

"I think she was more excited than anything else," Court said of her daughter. "Of course I was worried, but she told me that everything was fine."

Court, a 53-year-old Kansas University graduate student, eventually wants to travel to Russia to be with Kerry, who has been working in Moscow since June and was a witness to the chilling events surrounding the failed attempt to oust Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev from power.

Kerry received a master's degree from KU this year. She recently sent a detailed letter to her mother outlining her accounts of last month's failed coup.

"I got up to close the window and there they were huge green Soviet army tanks," Kerry wrote. "The street was lined with them as they slowly crept down the street to the Kremlin, which is only a couple of blocks from here. It occurred to me at this point that maybe I should be scared, but I wasn't it was just exciting."

COURT SAID that when the coup began to unfold, she could not reach her daughter by telephone.

However, she was able to send a telex to the Swiss-based company her daugher works for in Moscow, Industrial Projects and Technology Consortium.

"When she got the message she called home and said, `Everything's fine here,'" Court said. "She felt like she was there while history was in the making."

Court, who is working for her master's degree in teaching English as a second language, taught grade school for several years in Kentucky before coming to KU.

She has used rock 'n' roll music as a teaching tool in her classes.

"When I teach people, I want to teach them the culture, not just the language," she said.

WHEN WORD of her unorthodox grade-school teaching methods got around, she was able to meet members of several dozen popular music groups.

She said she and Kerry even toured for several months with Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band on their "Born in the U.S.A." tour.

In addition, Court lived in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, for a few years.

"Kerry and I are used to traveling to different places," Court said. "We like to see what it's like in different parts."

During the Soviet coup, Kerry wrote that she was surprised by the attitude of many Muscovites.

"Why don't they do something, say something, anything just acknowledge the fact that their country is in chaos and tanks are rolling into the center from all directions and streets are being blocked off and there are rows of military people on every street!!!" Kerry wrote, explaining her Russian co-workers' attitudes during the first day of the coup.

BUT LATER, Kerry wrote, many people began talking about the events and were waiting for further news.

On Thursday, Aug. 22, the fourth day of the coup, Kerry wrote, "Just now, I looked out my (office) window and saw people throwing paper out of their windows onto the streets. I thought that they were pamphlets at first, but they're not, they were little Russian flags," she wrote. "They are the flag of Russia before the revolution. I ran down and picked up several. Everyone up here in the office was so excited to have one."

She also described blocked streets, "bored-looking" soldiers and crowded metros during the coup.

"About a block from my apartment there had been about 20 buses blocking the road. One of them caught fire and some people were killed," she wrote. "They are now having memorials all along the road in memory of those who were killed. Everyone is bringing flowers and piling them up along the road and traffic is still blocked."

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