My mother was in the old Communist Party during the red scare era of the 1950s. She lived with paranoia and she made sure that I did, too, even though I knew nothing about her ongoing activities in the Communist Party. In fact, I believed she had dropped out of the CP some years before I was born.
In my old age, I found out how active and involved in the CP she had been by reading some books, finding my father's file under the Freedom of Information Act and connecting a lot of my personal dots. Many things became clear to me, including the kind of conversation I relate here:
When I was in my teens, my mother would say things like this:
"On Saturday morning at 9:47 AM you were seen walking North on Vine Street half a block above Hollywood Blvd. You were wearing a blue dress and you were [i]laughing.[/i] Why were you laughing?"
I would sometimes ask, "Who saw me?"
My mother would answer, "That doesn't matter. Answer the question!"
I'd stammer, "I...it was three days ago...I can't really re--"
"DON'T SAY YOU DON'T REMEMBER!!! I ASKED YOU A QUESTION. "
"Mom, I'm not sure...I'd have to think about it..."
Then I would. I felt primal fear. Why was she talking to me as if I'd committed a crime? I'd try to remember exactly what happened and exactly what I did on Saturday morning.
"I went to a bookstore. I bought a mystery novel by Agatha Christy. Then I walked out of the bookstore...Oh, now I remember! The bookstore owner, John, told me a joke. And so I was laughing at the joke as I turned the corner and walked up the hill."
At last my mother was appeased. She would end these little interrogation sessions with these words: "Someone is [i]always[/i] watching."
And you can bet your life I believed her. She held death and primal fear in her eyes.