Peter and the Soviet university
Early in Peter’s FBI file was a letter that he wrote to his parents (at least it seems to be to his parents), which someone had turned over to the FBI as evidence that Peter was a dangerous radical who needed to be investigated. (My strong impression from various bits of unredacted info in the FBI file is that it was specifically Peter’s father who called in the FBI.) I don’t have the original probably-handwritten letter, but here’s the FBI’s transcription of it.
A few preliminary notes:
- In the below, the word “[REDACTED]” is a standin for the blank white redaction boxes the FBI used.
- I’m guessing that the first redacted word was something like “folks,” and the second was something like “Pop.”
- I mostly kept the FBI’s formatting, including hyphenation, but presumably they didn’t try to closely duplicate the original letter’s formatting, except at the end.
- The typos and misspellings were almost certainly introduced by the FBI; it wouldn’t have been like Peter to make those kinds of mistakes.
- The early paragraphs about Peter’s friend aren’t especially relevant; it’s the rest of the letter that made me want to post this.
- Peter was twenty years old when he wrote this. He had already flunked out of CalTech for drinking too much; he was living in Seattle (his parents were living in Ellensburg), but I’m not sure what he was doing at that point. He hadn’t yet gone to Mexico.
- This isn’t the ten-page letter I mentioned in my first entry about the FBI file; that’s still to come in a future installment. This is the letter before that one.
- Thanks to Kathleen for scanning this document.
Here’s the letter:
This source furnished the following letters which were received by the source from the subject during the Spring of 1960: Hi [REDACTED]- Sorry I didn't make it down to the Y the next morning,[REDACTED]- I fell asleep. Got the suitcase & briefcase though - briefcase is ex- tremely useful. Kind of bad thing happened which you may have read in papers - [REDACTED] who alternates shifts with me, was drinking two or three glasses of beer the other night, and, perhaps in part because of his recent split-up with girl-friend, apparently went temporarily berserk - stole taxi-cab, led police on 70-mph chase through U.-district, rolled the cab, re- sulting in totalling out of both patrol-car and cab. He is in jail now, after having gotten off active (reporting) parole only 1 month ago (from burglary & term at Monroe - age 18). Everyone is really sick about the whole thing - he had been going so straight, doing so well; hadn't missed a day of work, went to school last quarter, was reading a lot, et al. Since I went to hear [REDACTED] I have begun to take a real and increasing interest in politics - am currently entering into Seattle Young Socialist Club activities with much satis- faction, anticipation. Passed out leaflets advertising rally tonight, attended rally, am participating for next four weekends in protest picketings of Woolworth's in connection with segregated lunch-counters in South. Which subject laterally introduces main topic of letter, namely, the Friendship Univer- sity. You see, I have been receiving for about a month, gratis, in order to get propaganda slanted the other way than the American press, the 'Soviet News Bulletin' from the Soviet em- bassy in Toronto, Canada. (By comparing this and Hearst and taking an average, I believe I come out somewhere in the vicinity of what actually happens). At any rate, a recent issue introduced me to the 'Friendship University'. The main fields of study are mathematico-physico-scienti- fix realms, and politico-economic-philosophical areas. Students are accepted regardless of race, nationality, citizenship, religion - i.e. anybody who 1. is a junior or better in high school, in which case he goes to a secondary school for 2 years in Moscow, and then to the University for four years (U. is in Moscow). 2. has a high-school diploma, but no knowledge of Russian, in which case he goes to secondary school 1 year & U. 4 years. (me) 3. has high-school diploma and adequate knowledge of Russian, in which case he goes to the U. 4 years. Now, the next things are: 1. they pay your way over and back (ha-ha) & pay your room, board, tuition, fees, books, and medical expenses while at- tending schools, 2. Russian mathematics occupies quite emminent position in academic ratings at present - i.e., about 1/2 of all math being published today is publ. in Russian, they are supposed to be 12 years ahead of us in linear partial differential equations, etc., etc. Thus I think I could gain a mathematical education without equal anywhere else in world. 3. I have read so much Dostoiavsky, Gogal, Lermoutov, Tolsto: et al., that I would really like to read them in the original language; and, I am extremely desirous of examining at first hand the present day culture of Russia. 4. Travel is br-r-roadening; I would learn fluent, modern, idiomatic Russian; Eurasian colleges are (I believe) much better in general than American; I would get to actually see and live in this bugbear (bugaboo? bughear? bete noir?) economic-political system of Communism; actually see what the people are like; make fast friendships with a few of the students probably.......and on, and on, (I invite comment on 'Friend- ship U.') So, I am anyways going to apply for admittance to these schools (which are brand-new, just starting this Sept.), though I doubt that I would stand much of a chance, since my competition will be world-wide. But, oh well, it won't hurt to try. A A Ay Ay Ah!? fantastic idea - [REDACTED] ought to apply too - take the whole family - live off royalties from magazine articles - 'The Difficulties of Raising American Children in Russia..' ech. oh, well. So anyway, how's everything in E-burg? Hope you aren't patronizing Woolworth's or Kress's...no, just kidding - the only values these protest rallys have are 1. symbolic (in number of senses) 2. a large-scale boycott can sometimes convince a manager that his prejudices are too expensive. Ah, I've shot off mouth enough for one letter - write when anybody gets time - sorry to've missed sending you birthday present,[REDACTED]: will make it up to you. See-what-I-told-you-dept. - I forgot to send in income-tax --- never did find or get W2-forms from Boeing, have forms for $25 from U. math dept. WHAT SHALL I DO? H E have commenced PS. Oh, yeah - L over-ambitious I certainly hope that my P study-program for newly-burgeoning political ! self, really interests (or rather reading a lot, their socialistic tendencies) both lit. & math. are not disturbing to you - - if so, I just become more black-sheep's-skeleton-in-closetey I guess - PETE [REDACTED] never wrote PPS: current debts should arrive to Merit any time I owe people owe me --------------------------------- $20? Tall's $3.60 ) $??? Parents $6.00 ) _________(illegible) $1.45 friend $4.60 ) $2.60 - " $(illegible) total great, huh?