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KHERSON - ASKANIA-NOVA (part 3)

Functioning now in the town are 4 stadiums, 25 sports grounds, 47 gymnasiums, 19 water-sport stations, etc. Naturally, the Khersonites prefer water sports, with so much water around. For 12 years running the sportsmen of Kherson are the Republic's best in rowing. The titles of champions and prize-winners of the Soviet Union and of international masters of sports have been won by Vladimir Zemlyakov, Lubov Sinichkina, Georgy Karyukhin. The pride of the Khersonites is Larisa Latynina who more than once won the U.S.S.R., European and world championships in gymnastics.

In the cultural life of the town there are also considerable achievements. The centre of cultural life here is the Musical-Dramatic Theatre. Working there are such masters of the stage as Honoured artists of the Ukrainian S.S.R. F. E. Krasovskaya, N. N. Litvinenko, and the chief producer of the theatre, N. P. Ravitsky. The following plays have been staged in the theatre: "Kremlin Chimes", "Break-Up", "When the Dead Come to Life", "At Dawn", "Scions of the Dnieper Cossacks", and a number of others which have invariably been a great success.

The theatrical art began to develop in Kherson at the end of the last century. But what was the theatre like?

In the story "Feather-Grass Steppes" about the life and creative work of M. L. Kropivnitsky we find the following description: "The theatre was situated beyond the landing stage, not far from the Dnieper, in a former gendarme stable. There were no decorations, to say nothing of costumes".

In 1887—1889 the inhabitants raised funds to build a theatre in Kherson. On its stage appeared such outstanding masters of Ukrainian art as the brothers Tobilevich, Kapren-ko-Kary, Nikolai Sadovsky, Panas Saksagansky, and Maria Sadovskaya.

It was at the Kherson Theatre that the famous producer Vsevolod Meyerhold made his first steps.

In 1917 the talented Ukrainian actor Yury Shumsky organised a national theatre in Kherson.

Besides the Musical-Dramatic Theatre, there are also a Philharmonic Society, and Youth Song and Dance Company "Vesnyanka" which is far-famed both at home and abroad.

The songs and dances of the "Vesnyanka" fascinate everyone by their freshness, original staging, and artistic performance.

In Kherson there are dozens of clubs, palaces and other cultural-educational establishments, such as the regional library containing over half a million volumes, and the Museum of Local Lore, the halls of which accommodate 70 thousand exhibits. They tell us of the nature, history, culture and economics of the region.

Speaking about the cultural development of the town one cannot help remembering the writers, musicians and other cultural workers who visited Kherson at different times and left their impress on its cultural life.

In a small house in the Ushakov Avenue is the historical department of the Museum of Local Lore. But it is not only this that the house is notable for. It was built by the Aska-nia-Nova landlords Falz-Feins as a doss-house, and it was here that the great writer Maxim Gorky lived (as the memorial plaque says) when he was in Kherson in 1891. Gorky's impressions of Kherson were used by him in such works as: "On Salt", "Vengeance", "The Lower Depths", and others.

In the same avenue not far from Gorky's house there is another "writer's" building. Born and spent his youth in it was the outstanding Soviet writer Boris Lavrenev, the author of "Break-Up", "For Those Who Went to Sea", and "The 41st".

The great poet Pushkin was twice in Kherson, stopping here on his way from the Crimea to Kishinev. Lev Tolstoi also visited the town. Kherson occupies some pages in the life of the famous Ossetic revolutionary poet Kosta Kheta-gurov. The poet Aleksei Gmyryov languished in the Kherson political prison. In confinement he continued his struggle using the weapon of poetry and created a number of poems full of high revolutionary passion.

Our ship passes by the sandy beaches. Whoever comes to Kherson agrees that there are no better beaches in the whole Ukraine. No wonder that in summer there are almost as many guests as there are inhabitants in the town.

Now the wide estuary of the Dnieper opens to the eye. Left behind is sunny Kherson — the town of textile workers, ship-builders, canners and wine-makers. To the right, in the dense verdure of acacias and poplars are the summer cottages of the working people. Now the motor-ship is sailing past Kindiyka and Antonovka — the suburbs of Kherson.

Ahead of us lies the town of youth — Novaya Kakhovka. But before we reach it, we should like to tell you something about the places we'll pass on the way there.

The first is Tsuryupinsk. An outstanding Communist and statesman, one of the comrades of Lenin, A. D. Tsuryupa was born here. The house in which he was born and where he spent his school days is now a memorial museum. Not far from the landing stage is a monument to the distinguished revolutionary. Tsuryupa studied at the agricultural school in Kherson. Now it is an agricultural institute named after him. Nearby, a monument to Tsuryupa has been recently erected. This sculpture is by an Honoured Worker of the Ukrainian S.S.R. V. I. Znoba.

Maxim Gorky wrote about Tsuryupinsk, former Alyoshki, in his story "Vengeance":

"To Alyoshki! To Alyoshki!" cry the boatmen carrying loads from Kherson to Alyoshki — eight miles up the Dnieper and its winding, reed-grown tributary Konka. The boatmen kept calling for passengers; now and then boats full of folk and baskets would leave the bank... With the coming darkness a kind of weariness was setting upon everything".

Now instead of boatmen there are captains of the swift vessels "Vikhr", "Burun" and "Raketa".

Tsuryupinsk is a wonderful place for rest. The weeping willows pensively droop their delicate boughs over the still water; the mightly maples stand straight in a row; the reeds sway quietly. From the dense growth the cries of wild ducks are heard.

Very picturesque is the Blue Liman, called "Golubka" by the local people. Here, yellow and white water-lilies are motionless on the water. The trees and reeds reflected by the mirror-like surface of the Dnieper make a fine picture to be envied by any artist. And how beautiful are the wild ducks with their white heads and red plumes. Storks and herons may be seen here too.

In the distance you see the Dnieper tributary Ingulets which has two branches, Ingulka and Kaidikha, forming the Ingulets water-meadows covered with luxuriant vegetation: willows, brushes and reeds. Here there is a lot of fowl and fish, which makes the place most attractive for numerous

hunters and anglers.

The lands adjoining Ingulets used to suffer from frequent droughts and arid winds. In spring "black storms" rage — winds reaching enormous speeds that would carry off the top layer of the soil and destroy the crops. In order to irrigate these lands and give them the moisture they need, special irrigation systems have been constructed.

The Upper Ingulets irrigation system begins from the village of Daryevka. If you travelled to Novaya Kakhovka by bus, you would visit that village. There is a powerful pumping station there and a network of drainage channels, and a well-built workmen's settlement.

It is wonderful on the Dnieper in calm, cloudless weather when the vast river sparkles in the sun, all in silvery patches of sunlight.

Indeed, the Dnieper is marvellous on a sunny day, but don't be disappointed if the weather suddenly changes, and the sky becomes clouded, and the wind ruffles the smooth surface of the river. The water becomes darker and darker, and the troubled gulls fly restlessly over the water, swifter and swifter, as if anxious to protect the waters against the storm... In any weather, the Dnieper is beautiful.

The right bank of the river is densely populated. Villages are situated side by side, or at very short distances from one another. And each village is remarkable in a way.

Take, for instance, Tokaryevka. Here in 1921 was founded the first international agricultural commune in the Soviet Union. It was like this.

After the end of the Civil War, V. I. Lenin addressed a letter to the workers of America, in which he disclosed the essence of the Revolution and explained the cause for which the workers of Russia were struggling. The American workers took this letter for an invitation to Russia. At home they bought tractors and the necessary farm implements and came to the Land of Soviets. They settled down here in Tauria and founded a commune which they called "Farming Culture". This commune existed until 1933 when it was reorganised into a collective farm. It is interesting to note that out of the nine communes in the Ukraine three were in the Kherson Region.

In the distance to the right comes in view the village of Kazachy Lagery (Cossacks' Camps). In 1918 guerilla detachments were formed here. But apart from (his, the village is famed for its amber-coloured grapes. Great quantities of vegetables and fruit are delivered from this place to Kherson.

Not far from Kazachy Lagery is the picturesque village of Krynky, a favourite haunt of hunters and anglers. There is also a holiday home here. When reading the "Hunter's Smiles", a collection of humorous stories by Ostap Vysh-nya, who used to rest in these places every year, one feels that they were written during his stay at Krynky.

Out motor-ship sails up to the village Tyaginka which also has an interesting record. As far back as the 15th century in this place was Mingli-girai's castle and a Turkish fortress. In the 18th century it was a cossacks' settlement owned by Engelgardt (Potyomkin's relative). At present it is a rich collective farm named after Kalinin.

The village Lvovo now appears before us. In this place the Dnieper is particularly deep — up to 100 feet. When working a quarry in the vicinity of the village, an ancient settlement was discovered; it is now being investigated by archaeologists.

We pass by the villages of Olgovka and Kamenka with their rich orchards and vineyards, then, on the right, the village of Dnepryany, from which plenty of melons are dispatched to Kherson and elsewhere in summer.

An ancient castle on the steep bank now comes in view. This is the village of Kazatskoye — formerly an estate of Prince Trybetskoy, who was notorious for his "ingenuity" in exploiting his farm labourers. During the vintage periods their mouths were tied up, and even muzzles were put on them. The hard labour conditions in this estate were described in newspaper "Iskra" in 1903.

The village of Kazatskoye is the birthplace of a valiant general Zakhar Petrovich Vydrigan. During World War I he was a scout and was awarded three Georgy Medals and one medal "For Zeal". In the years of the Revolution Vydrigan organised a guerilla detachment in the Kherson Province, later he was a battation commander in the legendary 58th Division. During the Great Patriotic War Colonel Vydrigan fought bravely with the fascist invaders. His divisions marched from Yelnya to Berlin. He is the prototype of Colonel Serbichenko from the books "Spring on Oder" and "Star" by E. Kazakevich.

The grave of Colonel Vydrigan and his son Nikolai — Hero of the Soviet Union — is in the village of Kazatskoye.

The former Trubetskoy estate is the area occupied by the state farm named after Lenin. The wines "Lidia" and "Kakhovskoye" made here have been awarded gold and silver medals at international exhibitions.