In the brilliantly titled book I’m reading, Mastering the Art of Soviet Cooking, it turns out the author’s father worked at the Ministry of Health’s Mausoleum Research Lab, where 150 people toiled to keep Lenin looking good in his sarcophagus. They cleaned his outfit–underwear and all. Anya Von Bremzen’s Father Sergei monitored changes in Lenin’s skin hue. And of course, they weren’t allowed near the body itself–that required top security. No, they practiced on “biological structures,” i.e. cadavers, 26 of them. According to Anya, the job was classified as dangerous to employees’ health, so came along with perks like shortened work hours, free daily carton of milk, and a monthly allotment of “purest, high grade spirt (ethyl alcohol).”
Suffice it to say, I’m really enjoying this book, especially now that I have a much longer commute to my new job.