By the time I discovered that I was cut out to be a spy, the Cold War was almost over, and I had multiple responsibilities as the wife of an aero bracero and the mother of three teen-aged sons.
Since I was living in the suburbs, my options were limited. But our home was within walking distance of an excellent public university, so I elected to do what I considered the next best thing. I went back to school — the State University of New York at Stony Brook — and picked up an MS in Policy Analysis and Public Management.
A strange choice you might think, for a housewife on the north shore of Long Island, but I had lived in cities for most of my life, and I was a city person at heart.
When my youngest son graduated from high school, I solved the city-suburb problem by taking a job in New York City government that had a residency requirement. My husband was not in a position to argue since I had followed him around the world. First to Guam where we lived in Navy housing for several years, and later to Isfahan, Iran, where he worked on the F-14 Tomcat, a state-of-the-art fighter aircraft purchased for the Iranian Air Force by the Shah of Iran. I had a good job too, though, leading trips and tours all over the country for the American and European expatriate communities. Our family lived through the Iranian Revolution, leaving the country on the last regularly scheduled airliner out.
My life in Manhattan has been almost as exciting, especially after I left my job at the Environmental Control Board and picked up a Ph.D. in Political Science from New York University. My academic life has allowed me to spend a lot of time doing primary research in Cuba, especially in agricultural areas in the countryside and in the very poorest neighborhoods of Old Havana. In turn, my experiences there have spurred a passion for Cuban art and a growing facility as a photograper and video producer.
It’s been a strange journey for a little girl from Mt. Healthy, Ohio. As you might have guessed, my travels to Cuba have satisfied my need for adventure almost as much as Iran did. Not quite, though. Intellectually, I’m fascinated by Cuba’s revolution and its legacy. But in Iran I actually lived one. That revolution was more complex, less understood.
The Iranian Revolution reminds me of danger, of my first Cold War experiences as an elementary school student in southern Ohio. There, I tagged along with my babysitter Rosie to watch for enemy aircraft as part of the Civil Air Patrol, and I participated in classroom drills triggered by blaring air raid sirens. If you haven’t taken part in one of these, I know you’ve heard about them, about how we were taught to cower under our desks until the ‘all clear’ sounded. Later I moved to Atlanta, Georgia, where we actually piled into cars and headed for Stone Mountain.
Now, for most of us, the Cold War is more academic. But the legacy of those years is still with us as we confront the problems of today’s world: the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq; the continuing American embargo and travel restrictions in place regarding Cuba; the nuclear stalemate with Iran; the drain of military expenditures on strained economies; the sway of the defense establishment on public policy decision-making. The Red Scare and fear of ‘commies’ has been replaced by the ‘Green Menace’ of Islam and our fear of Muslim communities — in the United States and abroad.
Cold War Studies is meant to be a space where we can discuss the issues relating to the Cold War and its residuals in a civil and respectful manner. Cold War politics, culture, economics, and style all have a place here. You now know all about me. I look forward to meeting you, and hearing your thoughts and perspectives.