Americana: No Thanks, Tovarishchi

For two years, residents of Vulcan (pop. 200), W. Va., pleaded with state and federal officials for money to rebuild a 70-year-old bridge across the Big Sandy River that had collapsed from old age. Finally, to shame the bureaucrats into action, John Robinette, honorary mayor of the isolated mountain town, melodramatically applied to the Soviet Union for foreign aid.

Horrors! The stunt worked all too well. A Manhattan-based representative of Moscow's Literaturnaya Gazeta hopped on a plane for Vulcan. A Russian charity committee said it was willing to consider a donation to help reopen the Big Sandy. Said Robinette, aghast at what...

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