Dick Boozer, left, with his Russian friends Nikolson and Elena Shumratova.

Russians in Brookville Feature

BROOKVILLE — Five years ago, a young couple from St. Petersburg, Russia, were on their way from Chicago to New York City, when their car broke down on Interstate 80, near the Brookville exit. Mik Nikolson and Elena Shumratova were visiting the states for their vacation, driving through the midwest and making their way to the east coast where they would eventually end up in New Jersey to visit Nikolson’s mother who lives there. They never intended to stop in Brookville; in fact they had never heard of the place. But, as they made their way through the town, they were pleasantly surprised.

After checking into the Gold Eagle, someone had recommended they visit The Hourglass for dinner and drinks. It was there that they met Dick Boozer, an officer for the Brookville Volunteer Fire Company, who was having dinner there as well.

“There was this couple at the bar and everyone was having a hard time understanding what they were saying and what they wanted,” he recalled. “So, I went over to talk to them.” Despite the fact that the Russian couple spoke little English, Boozer and the travelers struck up a friendship. When their car was repaired, they continued on their way, but kept in touch with Boozer through Facebook.

Last week, history repeated itself for Boozer when he was at The Hourglass and felt a tap on his shoulder. There they were again, the eager faces of Nikolson and Shumratova all the way from St. Petersburg. The couple was visiting the U.S again for their vacation and found themselves in Brookville, but this time on purpose. “They said everyone was so friendly here and they enjoyed it so much that they made it a point to stop again,” Boozer explained. In particular, they wanted to visit their old friend to give him a gift, a special bar of chocolate from their city. “Chocolate in St. Petersburg is very good,” Shumratova said.

While catching up, the Russian couple showed Boozer several photographs of their travels in the state, including a picture of a blues bar in New York City that Shumratova said was her favorite. She says she liked the music. In fact, they both like all kind of music and were enthusiastic about a recent Sting concert they attend together. Although, overall Nikolson seemed to favor heavy metal music, like Metallica.

Shumratova also shared a few pictures taken in and around St. Petersburg. One photograph featured Nikolson relaxing in the woods during a camping trip. He said the terrain is flatter than Northern Pennsylvania, but that around the city there are “many, many, many woods.” While they walked through the woods around Brookville that morning, Shumratova noted how many deer they saw here, and was particularly surprised at the number of feral cats they saw.

Nikolson said that during his time touring the U.S., one thing that made a big impression on him is seeing a Native American festival in Pennsylvania. He says cowboy movies are very popular in Russia and that he always wanted to be a cowboy when he was young. “All children play cowboy and Indian, all children,” he said. “I like the film Good, Bad and the Ugly. Very good film.” Shumratova added it is a “famous film in Russia.”

The couple’s next stop was Harrisburg, a place they wanted to see before going to see Nikolson’s mother. They said they didn’t have a plan yet for where to stay or what to do in the state capitol. They like to figure it out as they go along. Nikolson has a dog-eared copy of a Russian to English dictionary that he relies on as he makes his way through the country.

Shumratova mentioned that she had been looking to buy a postcard depicting Brookville as a souvenir, but wasn’t able to find one. However, Boozer made sure they didn’t leave empty-handed and presented them each with a small gift from Ace Hardware. And, of course, the couple each purchased a t-shirt from The Hourglass to remember the place where they met their American friend.

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