Old timers will recall the days when the McCarthy hearings were on the television every day for what seemed forever. That was back in 1950.
I was a kid then, in high school, interested primarily in hanging out and dancing and all that stuff. But I LOVED the McCarthy hearings. In black and white, on the small screen TV, the congressional hearings presided over by Senator Joseph McCarthy were dramatic, gripping—TRUE drama. Frightening!
Endlessly, it seemed, Senator McCarthy hammered away at hapless people of all walks of life who were accused or suspected of being Communists—spies of the Soviet Union. These people were largely Movie Stars and other Hollywood bigwigs, and all levels of United States Government workers…from the lowliest clerks to people in high positions.
I, being a 16-year-old girl, working at a dry goods/grill/hardware store…making ice-cream sodas and hot-fudge sundaes, and hamburgers. I worked the soda counter, and was forbidden by the owner of the store to wander off into other areas. I stayed in my brightly lit corner, minded my ice-cream soda bar and grill, and chatted with my friends.
Although I was a reasonably good kid, minded my own business and did my work, then went home and did my homework, watched some TV (sometimes,) hung out with my friends… my best friend was the Head Majorette with the high school marching band, which provided me with considerable “reflected glory.”
Also—I watched Senator McCarthy as he brought down his best Inquisitioner techniques on the suspected Communists.
I was scared to death that somehow I could be mistaken for a Communist. Not sure how such a thing could be, I nonetheless watched what I read, who I talked to, and what I said. I was fully aware that if I didn’t toe the mark, it would be ME up against the virtual rack…. the one that the Spanish Inquisition used to great infamy back in the sixteenth century.
It still gives me the shudders, remembering the wild-eyed fury of the Senator…who in his best lawyer-fashion, ranted and raved at his “suspects,” who sat and squirmed with perspiration dripping down their faces under the hot lights of the television studio.