The circular, marble staircase brought one to the second floor of the Soviet Embassy in Washington, D.C. Here, in a large mirrored anteroom the media awaited the arrival of the three gentlemen that were the principal players at this press conference - Vladimir A. Nacharov, Director General of Aeroflot, the Soviet Union airline; J. Willard Marriott Jr., Chairman and President of Marriott Corp., and Jon M. Huntsman, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Huntsman Chemical Corp.
Press kits were being handed out to the representatives of the various news organizations by members of the Marriott corporate relations department. I asked if I might have one such kit. The young lady distributing them examined my face closely to see if I was anyone important. Her bland expression told me that she did not subscribe to the Deseret News. When I told her I was a relatively unknown regional writer from out West, she was moved to compassion and extended to me the privilege of possessing a Marriott Corporation Official Press Kit.A rather spontaneous photo opportunity quickly developed when Mr. Nacharov, Mr. Marriott and Mr. Huntsman came up the stairs. The television camera lights went on and spools of film were rapidly advanced through the cameras of the media. The principals warmly shook hands and smiled among themselves for the benefit of the photographers and cameramen.
A large stocky man with square shoulders and an innocent face, Mr. Nacharov appeared to be somewhat bewildered by the lights, the attention and the demands of the photographers. Huntsman and Marriott were more at ease. They had the look of accomplishment and success about them. It was a rather remarkable joining of dissimilars - two capitalists and a socialist in need of each other.
After several minutes everyone moved from the anteroom into a small, gilded ballroom where the actual press conference was to take place. The decorator of this room had, unfortunately, chosen to garishly and unnecessarily adorn the ceiling and walls of this beautiful ballroom with a high-gloss gold paint.
The metal chairs were arranged in classroom style with a podium and microphone at the front. To the right of the podium was a table displaying a model of an Aeroflot Ilusian-62 aircraft. Backed up against the fuselage of the airplane was a small model of a Marriott food catering truck. I assumed inside the truck were tiny Huntsman plastic trays and eating utensils.
The press officer of the Soviet Embassy came to the podium, lightly tapped the sensitive microphone and welcomed everyone to the press conference. He appeared to be Slavonic. Despite his perfect English, his dark suit, white shirt and unobtrusive tie, he looked as if he would have been equally if not more at home riding with the horde of Batu Khan and sacking Kiev.
He introduced the Soviet Ambassador to the United States, Mr. Anatoly Dobrynin. Ambassador Dobrynin again welcomed everyone and commented that press conferences announcing joint ventures between the Soviets and American companies were becoming more and more common. This, obviously, pleased him. He added that he hoped to see a continuation of such efforts at cooperation between his country and America.
The ambassador was a simpatico kind of gentleman. His manner immediately put everyone at ease. He was medium height with a full head of thick, graying hair. He smiled as he spoke and his English skills were obviously acquired while abroad because they were faultless.
The ambassador concluded his remarks by introducing Bill Marriott. Mr. Marriott read from a prepared text. He commented that the recent economic changes in the Soviet Union would launch a vigorous expansion program within the USSR. "Marriott Corporation looks forward to being a part of the growth. We consider this a milestone to be able to now provide in-flight food services for Aeroflot in the U.S. as well as abroad."
(To be continued)
-Jim Kimball is a Salt Lake City travel consultant.