Karabian, Walter: Moscone's humor


Walter Karabian: We are going through the Soviet Union, and we’re on a train from Leningrad to Moscow. The Russian guide had to be a KGB (Komitet Gosudarstvennoy Bezopasnosti) person, and she was just short of being a sergeant in a Nazi concentration camp. No fun, no laughs, nothing. So we’re on the train, and we’re all standing around the teapot. They had one of those big [samovars] in the hallways and we’re having a cup of tea and we’re getting ready to go to bed, and Moscone turns to her – Ella [Gordachenko] was her name – he said “Ella, remember the secret knock is two knocks like this, okay?” And she just about died. She didn’t get the laugh out of it, and we laughed like mad. Then we ended up that trip in Israel, and in Israel after we had free some of the Jewish dissidents – one of them is now a member of the [ ] – George and I and the others were ushered into the Holy Sepulchre. The guide said “This is the most important place in Christianity, and this beautiful church is divided into three sections. The Greek Orthodox, the Roman Catholic, and the Armenians.” And Moscone without breaking stride said “Well I know which section is the Armenians.” And everybody looked at him. He said “It’s the ones with the carpets on the ground.” So we got a big laugh, and we remembered that. He was a wonderful guy to be with, and a friend, and because I was so close with John and Phil Burton, and Willie Brown and so forth, I became a natural member of George’s entourage.


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The Moscone oral history interviews are part of the George Moscone Collection, MSS 328.

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Holt-Atherton Special Collections and Archives, University of the Pacific Library

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