In college I wrote a major research paper on market-style exchanges on the factory floors of Eastern Europe, with the underlying point that you can never really purge all market forces, that "capitalism" is more descriptive than normative.
When I think back on it, well, I'm mostly ashamed for talking out of my ass about what other people actually experienced. It'd be great to hear more of your thoughts on it.
From my point, it was never communism - ahem the simple - produce as much as you can, take as much as you need
There was one difference - central planning - all prices were fixed and you can't find much variety in the store (2-3 types of bread, 2-3 types of feta cheese, etc.)
Another thing was the foreign currency - read about it here - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Corecom
As a kid one of the best things were getting bananas/oranges for New Year, or getting some real dollars so you can buy kinder eggs/pezz/tobleron/etc from the Corecom stores (above). Although you might afford the money, there was no easy way to exchange them.
It was a 'meh' moment for me, when democracy came, and my favourite store (selling cake, soda drinks) start also selling kinder eggs - It was impossible for me to think that I can go and buy as much as I want with ... levas (our currency).
And as such they were no longer interesting :)
I had a happy childhood, maybe because I did not know anyone too rich, or too poor, and the choice was limited... okay maybe that was not the case... But looking at all old bulgarian kid movies, one can see kids roaming the streets without any danger (and it was so - It was normal for me to stroll around while I was 5 or 6 years old). This gets old, a a bit reddit-ish, and it's purely my experience and surely for other people it could've been totally different story.