Jennifer Cranford

My dearest son,

There are many things a mother wants to tell their child about their life’s history. There are many things that must be passed along that explain the way she acts and why she made decisions. I; however, only have time to name the things that explain why we fled so many times during our life. I know these things may not make you forgive me for pushing you out of your life, but hopefully you can understand.

The first event you will remember occurred on January 1. Do you remember that day? You were in school, and I ran in and pulled you out. You were so upset and hated me. Well, the reason was the Soviet Union ceased to demand war reparations from East Germany. We had to flee the Union because your father secretly worked for them, and Germany was after him. We fled to Austria, but quickly found it was not the place to be. As soon as we hit the ground, we had to flee. I never told you why because I did not want you to be afraid while on the plane. On January 12, there was terrible avalanche. This ended up killing 200 people. I could not let you know this and be afraid. So, I decided to flee

in to
the US.

In the U.S. we faced a different set of challenges. On January 20, we faced the coldest day in history that registered at -100 degrees F. That was why you could not go play with the other kids. I had no clothes for you and it was much to cold! On that same day, the National Negro Network was established with 40 charter member radio station. I could not let you go out then because we are immigrants and the local white neighbors were on a rampage. They could kill both of us if they knew we were there. It was just too dangerous. The next day, when I made you turn the radio channel, it was because the first nuclear-powered submarine, USS Nautilus, was being launched. I wanted to know if was safe to travel again, so I was not being mean. We had to go to Pittsburg. That really painful shot was the first polio vaccine for children.

Another major event I know you will remember will be your birthday, March 1. We were set to return home again on the plane but could not. I know I told you it was because of money, but once again that was a lie. We could not return because there was a hydrogen bomb test in Bikini, Atoll. It was not safe to travel at that time. I knew I could not tell you because you would be afraid the war was starting again. I did not want you to be afraid. Do you remember how I made that up to you though? I know you do. On March 30, we rode the first subway line in Canada! That was so much fun. You thought you were a king with your own transportation ride. It was so cute. We heard some great news while on the subway too. On other days, we heard that April 1 was the opening of South Point School in India. It would grow into the largest school in the world. We also heard that Vladimir Petrov defects from the Soviet Union and asks for political asylum in Australia. We decided it was safe to return home and did so. While on the plane, we watched Eisenhower’s “domino speech” on April 7th. On April 14th, we heard some scary news about Soviet spies in Australia. I remember that day I had to lie about what a spy was because I knew it would scare you. I also remember another big day. The day you fell in love with running. You heard about Roger Bannister’s four minute mile on May 6th. I do not think you stopped running for four days straight because you wanted to be just like him.

Do you remember the month of June? We had returned to America to visit your father. I remember you were very angry with me because I would not allow you to go outside. You had to stay with me, and all the children in the neighborhood were calling you infected because they thought you were ill. Well here is the story. On June 9th, there was a terrible hatred against communists and attacks during a court case. There was also a phrase “under God” added to the U.S. pledge of allegiance. Some people were really happy, but others were not. I did not want you getting hurt during this. Also, on 17th, there was a CIA military coup in Guatemala. When the Americans heard of this, they were outraged! It was very scary! However, this same coup caused a Civil War in that nation that lasted for 35 years! That is why we could never travel to that area.

Do you remember our trip to Arlington on November 10th? I know you did not understand why you had to stand out in the cold for hours, but it was very important. That was when President Eisenhower dedicated that memorial for veterans of the wars. A lot of wonderful people are buried there, and I wanted you to be a part of history. Two days later, we heard that Ellis Island was closed in New York for all immigration. That was huge because we had no way of leaving anymore. That was why I was crying all day. We lost everything back home! The last time you saw me cry was when your father was killed, December 2. It was all because of this stupid “red scare” over communism. I know I never told you about it, but your life was in danger! We had to flee the country. We had no choice. I am so sorry! I hope that these events have helped to explain why our life was so crazy in 1954. One day, you will understand why all this was going on and why we had to act crazy. I love you son!
-your mother