I met them in New York for dinner and then drove them to a five bedroom house in Willingboro, New Jersey. It became their home for three months. The use of a home is much better than a hotel, because they can cook their own meals, which allows them to save their pocket money for gifts to take home. The house was next door to mine.
The Soviet group included, Volkov, their metallurgist as the technical leader and the only one who understood what they were buying. He was not a party member. He even refused to read the newspaper Pravda. The word "Pravda" means "truth" in Russian. It is published daily as the official newspaper of the Communist Party.
The group included an inspector who was the chief engineer of a company in Moscow that built the same type of equipment in the Soviet Union. He was a tank commander in support of the North Koreans while I was in South Korea. At times during the early 1950's, we were only a few miles apart, based upon our discussions of the war. Alex Panin was the group's leader was a practical engineer from Kramatorsk. His previous experience included a three year stay in India with his family, constructing a steel factory. He was a member of the Communist Party for his purposes, but was not an idealist.
Shortly after the engineers arrived I took them to see the film version of Pasternak's, Doctor Zhivago, supposedly gives a accurate version of the civil war at the time of the Soviet Revolution that started in 1917. They enjoyed the music and the love story, but told me that the screenwriters had not followed the book and the winter scenes of Russia were laughable. I told them the movie was for Americans in the Cold War.
I had a beautiful idea to heat large ingots for the Watervliet Arsenal so they could set up production for sixteen inch cannons for the battleships. We were completing final tests on their process when the Russian inspectors arrived. The Army inspectors remained but they did not wear their uniforms. In the fall of 2003 I saw this heater in operation on the History channel.
The State Department informed me by telephone that the Russian visa included only the little town where they lived, and the road to the factory that was about four miles from the house. To go outside those limits I was required to call Washington forty-eight hours in advance to give the exact details of any trip, including road numbers and stopping places. Nothing was stamped in their passports and no written document was ever given to me requiring this action. After some time passed we began to ignore the rules as unworkable, because most of the time our contact in Washington was away from his desk.
It was a good period for American-Soviet relations. We were able to visit Special Metals in Utica, New York, Cannon Muskegon in Muskegon, Michigan, Universal Cyclops in Pennsylvania, Certified Alloys in Long Beach, California and several other firms.
The FBI was very busy at this time. Under Hoover's direction the agents were required to obtain even the smallest detail about our Communist guests. I met the agent in charge of this task in his car outside the factory to answer his questions. He also had to make a detailed report on every factory and person they visited. He finally told me that the task was too expensive even for the FBI.
The large welded chambers for the Kramatorsk job were produced at an old shipbuilder's factory in Baltimore. It was from this dock that we loaded the Soviet ship. It was a small freighter that had just arrived from Cuba loaded with bags of raw sugar. The ship's master and his crew were busy at local shops buying tons of cheap polyester cloth that they could sell on the black market.
After the ship was loaded the Russian inspectors visited their embassy in Washington in order to purchase four cases of Russian vodka at less than one dollar per bottle. I told them that crossing state lines with this vodka could cause me to lose my car if we were stopped. It was shortly after this that the group departed Rancocas with their luggage loaded with consumer goods.