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McCarthyism Goes Postal

         It was still dark one very early morning, too early for work or school, when I awoke to see my mother standing just inside the open door of the bathroom across the hall from the screened in service porch where my brother and I slept. She was standing in front of the mirror, so her back was to me. I don’t know why I didn’t go back to sleep, but instead got out of bed. It was cold, and I could see my breath, so I wrapped myself in a blanket, and stepped barefoot into the bathroom. Mommy was engaged in a morning ritual, which she described as “putting on my face.” I loved watching her do this, but there was something different about it this morning. Her eyes were red-rimmed and her mouth was set in a way I hadn’t seen before

         “What’s wrong?” I asked. She continued putting on her make-up, but answered, “Nothing. Go back to bed.”

          “Why are you going to work so early?” I asked. “Are you crying?”

         “I’m not going to work today, Honey,” she explained. “I have to go to Los Angeles.”

         In those pre-freeway days, Los Angeles was at least a two-hour drive from Ojai, one which we made once or twice a year to see grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins on my father’s side.

Seeing how sad my mother looked that morning brought me close to tears. “Can I go with you?” I asked. “Is Daddy going?”

         “No, Honey,” she said, as gently as she could. “This is something I have to do by myself. Daddy has to go to work, and you have school today. Go back to bed.”

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