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Shop owner celebrates 25 years since Cold War ended

Sunday, Nov. 9, will be the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, a very important day in history for Oregon City resident Sandra Gillman.

She has never had a storewide sale, but feeling that this anniversary deserves some attention, Gillman is offering 11.9 percent off that day throughout her entire shop, You Can Leave Your Hat On, 212 Seventh St., Oregon City.

Many customers of You Can Leave Your Hat On comment on the picture of Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev that has long hung in Gillman’s shop and talk about the wall coming down.

“With all the troubles in the world now, I think it is good to remember that these two brave, strong men could work together,” Gillman said.

President Reagan’s “Tear Down This Wall” speech in 1987 received little attention before the Berlin Wall fell in 1989. Gillman acknowledges that she’s “not into politics,” but she strongly believes it’s a very moving speech, especially since she can remember practicing for a bombing by getting under desks at school.

“What I do know is that when I was a child, I can remember going to bed at night afraid that the Russians were going to bomb us,” she said. “When Reagan and Gorbachev got together and were able to end the Cold War, it was as if that scary monster I knew as a child had died.”

Gillman is surprised that Americans do not talk about this very important day in history, given that many remember going to sleep wondering if this was the night the bombs would hit U.S. soil. Since the fall of Communism, she was fortunate enough to go to Russia and take a cruise with 80 passengers to the North Pole, with many Russian people on board. She became friends with some of them and was even invited to eat at the “Russian table.”

As she spoke with them about their lives, one of the first questions they asked was, “How do you feel eating dinner with Russians?” When she told them about her fear as a child, a man told her of his mother’s fears as a child that the Americans were going to bomb them. He went on to tell her how he felt that our nations controlled us with fear.

“We don’t have men like Reagan and Gorbachev anymore,” Gillman said. “Men who can actually put their ego aside and do what is best for their country and even attempt world peace.”

When Gillman shook Gorbachev’s hand in 2001, she’s wished that she had known then how to say “thank you” in Russian. She could only tell him “thank you” in English.

She has since learned some basic Russian phrases and thinks that this anniversary deserves to be celebrated.

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