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PCIntern

(25,716 posts)
Wed Feb 21, 2024, 03:30 PM Feb 2024

So I was 3 years of age in 1956,

And my brother had visited the United Nations as a member of his high school class in Lower Bucks County, PA. It was a beautiful Spring day and all these people on our block had these flagpoles upon which the (48) Stars and Stripes flew. I wanted to have a flag myself so I went into my brother’s room and took one of the twenty or so small, desk-size flags that he had purchased on his trip and put it on the front lawn. I chose a bright pretty one.

An hour later, the first police car arrived with two officers and my mother answered the door scared to death. “What’s the matter?” Was her question. They led her towards the curb and there, planted in the ground for all to see, was a pretty red flag…with a yellow hammer and sickle.

I confessed to doing it on the spot and the officers let my mom off with a stern warning that I needed to be controlled because apparently I almost caused an international incident from the way they were talking to her. She was appropriately contrite, picked up the flag, hollered at me in front of them and dragged me back to the house. The show satisfied the officers and they left.

Once inside, my mother explained why she had to pretend that she was so mad at me and told me that in America you cannot show any respect for the Russians or the USSR. She told me that in fact I had done nothing wrong morally or illegal but it’s something one cannot do and be part of the community at large. She utilized kid-words but I got the point. What amazed everyone in the family was that I had managed to pick the only controversial flag he had purchased -he bought it because we have Russian heritage.

So when I see these Republican creeps kowtowing to Putin and doing his bidding, I think back to the days of the Cold War and what the ramifications would have been if they had acted this way. I would think the term “firing squad” might be included in any sentence. And that’s not hyperbole.

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So I was 3 years of age in 1956, (Original Post) PCIntern Feb 2024 OP
That's quite a story, PC!!! elleng Feb 2024 #1
"Better Dead Than Red" czarjak Feb 2024 #2
K&R betsuni Feb 2024 #3
PC, you're a great story teller. Keep 'em coming. n/t SheilaAnn Feb 2024 #4
Hey, I used to live in Lower Bucks County Ohioboy Feb 2024 #5
Great story - thanks for sharing with the DU community. n/t iluvtennis Feb 2024 #6
Good memory of the 1950s, they were regimented and awful. Warpy Feb 2024 #7
I was three for about the last week of 1956. I remember it well. chowmama Feb 2024 #11
You were most likely factory set as an introvert. Warpy Feb 2024 #12
Republicans get the white man pass BaronChocula Feb 2024 #8
Your story brought to mind my flag story, one much more recent and more "domestic" Bumbles Feb 2024 #9
I was close. bluescribbler Feb 2024 #10

czarjak

(11,399 posts)
2. "Better Dead Than Red"
Wed Feb 21, 2024, 03:57 PM
Feb 2024

I remember when those Godless Ruskies were the enemy. Goldwater and Reagan would have drilled a tunnel to China by now.

Warpy

(111,559 posts)
7. Good memory of the 1950s, they were regimented and awful.
Wed Feb 21, 2024, 05:24 PM
Feb 2024

We had the first TV on the block so my mother could watch the HUAC hearings on the old Dumont network, white knuckled, terrified, and furious. She'd been to meetings in the 30s because the Communists were the only ones doing anything about the building crisis in Europe, getting Jews out of Germany, Russia, Poland, and a few other countries and clothing and feeding them and trying to find places that would accept them as immigrants. The US largely would not, although my paternal grandfather got a few out of France.

She was waiting for that knock on the door. I guess we were lucky it never came, but she wasn't a Hollywood figure or in government or any sort of high profile person. They only went after people who were talented and competent so "conservatives" would get a shot.

I was a little kid, not much older than you were. I remember the terror, everybody worried that some vicious gossip with a grudge would drop a dime on them and ruin their lives with a phone call. At the very least, men could lose their jobs if the cops showed up.

The right wing, led by TFG, wants to bring this back and try to bludgeon Democrats into fear and compliance with dictatorship. The rich fund it all. It's going to take a hell of a lot of effort to resist this. We do outnumber them. We need to exercise this reality, along with the reality that they need us a hell of a lot more than we need them.

ETA: The real irony in all of this is that it has never been illegal to be a full fledged member of the US Communist Party.

chowmama

(418 posts)
11. I was three for about the last week of 1956. I remember it well.
Thu Feb 22, 2024, 12:01 AM
Feb 2024

Well, not that week. But this was Wisconsin in the heart of McCarthy territory. My dad had come out of the army and straight into the McCarthy era. Not that he was on board. But he was deeply paranoid about being turned in for anything.

He was total white-bread, Miracle Whip, standard America. Mildly progressive leanings, but scared to death to say anything to anybody. Later, at a neighborhood bbq, the host commented on JFK's assassination by saying "One down, two to go". He kept his mouth shut. Mom even had to walk around with an alcoholic drink and was occasionally forced to drink some of it. You had to fit in, no matter what.

Listened to Belafonte, but we weren't allowed to admit it. Showed us tv coverage of civil rights demonstrators being hit by fire hoses and bit by dogs, making it plain he thought it was awful. We weren't allowed to admit that outside of the house either. When I learned The Click Song by Miriam Makeba off a Belafonte album, both parents smiled awkwardly and said "That's nice, dear. Please Don't Do It For The Neighbors". (I can still do it. No idea what I'm singing, but it's lots of fun.)

The one I remember most was being told to stay away from a particular neighbor. They were pro-union out loud. We were told word for word that if we went over there, people would think Dad agreed with them, he'd lose his job and we'd all starve.

Fear the neighbors. Pretend you like them, be social (for God's sake, be social). Go to all the functions, and hold your fair share of them. Drink with them. But don't ever get close enough to reveal any true feelings. Or any feelings. Just be social. This was a surrealistic way to live. Crazy stuff.

We were never 'turned in'. Nobody we knew and nobody in our town that we ever heard of was turned in. The pro-union guy had some work problems, but wasn't charged with Communism. It all happened in much more important areas to much more important people. But everybody was so scared.

I wonder why I'm an introvert.

Warpy

(111,559 posts)
12. You were most likely factory set as an introvert.
Thu Feb 22, 2024, 03:19 AM
Feb 2024

I think the regimented, segregated, repressed 1950s are why we all turned to drugs in the 1960s. It was also why we left home like we'd been shot out of cannons.

BaronChocula

(1,669 posts)
8. Republicans get the white man pass
Wed Feb 21, 2024, 05:32 PM
Feb 2024

They're white so cozying up to Putin must not be so bad in the eyes of many Americans.

Bumbles

(49 posts)
9. Your story brought to mind my flag story, one much more recent and more "domestic"
Wed Feb 21, 2024, 06:40 PM
Feb 2024

I had put the American flag on a flag holder on a tree at the top of our long driveway to celebrate the Fourth of July. Several days later an acquaintance said to me, "I didn't know you were a Republican." I immediately corrected her very false impression. Sadly, the Republicans have co-opted our nation's flag.

bluescribbler

(2,135 posts)
10. I was close.
Wed Feb 21, 2024, 07:56 PM
Feb 2024

In 1956, I was five. A new family had bought a house in the neighborhood. He had a PhD in physics and worked for a firm which had contracts with DoD and NASA. She had an MS in Biology and a Teaching certificate. Just the kind of neighbors you'd want, right? Apparently, one family didn't think so. They began to circulate a petition to prevent the sale. My parents, thankfully, refused to sign. Soon after, my sisters and I knocked on the door, and when the woman came to the door, we asked, "Mrs K***, can your daughter come out and play?" The daughter began 2nd grade in my younger sister's class. The families have been lifelong friends ever since.

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