Chapter one of the book The Journal of Judith Beck Stein
The Columbia Journal, Inc. - 1973
Front cover (photo)
Back cover (photo)
Although 1972 was the year in which my personal and the nation's Watergates came to a head, a web of politics had been woven around my family and me long before.
In addition to people and events involved in the rat races which have been politics and business and too many other areas of human endeavor, there appeared a technical advance that drew the cords to a total stranglehold around me. That advance was electronics, the technology by which America seems to have lost its real politicians and policymakers behind the Madison Avenue and Hollywood creations who appear on television and radio and in the print media as our elected officials.
Some time in the early sixties, Keith Wheeler, prize-winning novelist, reporter for the Chicago Sun-Times and senior writer for the late Life magazine, had written an in-depth, comprehensive article for the latter on the newly recognized finer arts of electronic voyeurism and surveillance.
It is my belief that Keith, a close friend of mine and my former husband Dave during the partying years immediately following our marriage in 1948, may have picked up the idea for the article indirectly from us. I also believe that as key figures in the scheme of so many political, social and business matters, we had been bugged to the hilt from the moment we installed ourselves in our first apartment on Chicago's near north side soon after our marraige.
In his article Keith pointed out just a few of the sophisticated snooping devices which were available during the late fifties or early sixties. Among these were the famed sender and/or receiver sets in the martini olive, the different telephone listening devices, etc.
It was during the early sixties that a Vassar classmate, Sally Plank, told me about the bug she said that her husband Raymond had found on his office telephone. She said that this resulted in his purchase of the phone company which he deemed responsible for the installation.
Neither Keith nor Sally had much effect on me regarding the danger or abuses of this new technology, or, for that matter, the possible benefits from its legal use. I have always been a wide open frank and honest person, and if anybody wanted to hear what I had to say about anything, my attitude has always been that they might as well be my guest.
It was not until Sally's memorable lesson to me about my place in politics that I began to have even the slightest misgivings about my phone or home being wired for sound; even those slight misgivings were frankly tempered by my open nature.
Sally's lesson, which she admitted was largely taught to her by Walter Judd, former senator and representative from Minnesota, concerned the concept of the "key person," the power behind the person in the officethe man or woman whose voice, whose ideas, whose words, whose views were often spoken by the glamorized and saleable products we have been thinking of as our elected officials.
By virtue of our income, our residence, our education, our hobbies, our tastes, our religion, our relationship to Standard Oil, and so on, Dave and I, together with our two children Dave, Jr. and Philip made up "key people" insofar as the winning of elections was concerned, Sally had in effect told me.
If she knew, as I contend, that it was also by virtue of our words and ideas listened to over a period of time by electronic snooping devices, she didn't say so. I do know that during the early sixties I would find myself a little surprised and not a little flattered to note that those very special phrases and nuances of the spoken word for which Dave and I were rather well known had begun to emerge from the mouths of public people. It wasn't until 1972, unfortunately, that I understood how serious that was and what the implications are of electronic eavesdropping and surveillance.
During the late fifties and early sixties, however, caught up in my home, children, sports interests and recovery from two cancer operations, I thought little about electronic communications and the issues relevant to them.
Though Sally and I had joked about being the real presidents of the United States because of the interest which the politicians appeared to take in our ideas, bugging had little real meaning for me.
It was during the Cuban missile crisis that I first began to wonder just how far reaching and how important my views on political issues were. The day after the crisis had peaked, I expressed to Dave the view that we had to stand up to the Soviet Union if it had nuclear weapons pointed at our heads in Cuba. Within a few hours, the New Frontier came out with words and phrases which, in my view, made little effort to disguise what I began to feel might be my words.
When I began to understand the gravity of the crisis, and following relief at its terminationpartially thanks to Adiai Stevenson's television confrontation with the Soviet UnionI began to feel apprehensive about the extent of possible electronic surveillance of my home and/or telephone.
I realized, in other words, that I was a person whose views were listened to, possibly, and as such, my life-long social conscience caused me to wonder whether I was qualified for the role of ghost politician. After all, I told myself, a degree in political science was an asset in politics but hardly sufficient credentials to help make life and death decisions regarding nuclear war! Lately I have had rather a drastic change of mind as to my credentials and politics.
I saw myself during those years, however, as basically a housewife, a mother, a lover of life, and as community-minded to boot, but hardly as an adviser to the White House on gravest issues of nuclear war.
What I failed to understand, in my admittedly too offhand view of electronic snooping, was that I, and probably hundredsperhaps thousandsof others, were being listened to regarding their views on key issues, and treated accordingly by the forerunners of the Watergate gang.
The electronics aspect, however, was only one of several factors which made me a political powerhouse, according to Sally and her political instructors.
With the electoral process as it is, merely having a voting residence in Cook County, Illinois, is important. That county was the one which, by virtue of 8,000 votes over the Republicans, gave Illinois' crucial electoral votes to John F. Kennedy in 1960. This in turn helped swing.the national election to Kennedy.
Conceivably Dave and I had the power to influence at least some of these 8,000 votes merely by being open in our support of one candidate over the other. We were considered the kind of couple that people followed; not unattractive, youthful, well educated, community minded, articulate, well-heeled, successful and involved in two rather glamorous pastimes with sailing yachts and thoroughbred horses.
In addition, I suppose that by virtue of our family structure and our connections with Standard Oil, we were square enough to be safe to the conservatives and round enough to be interesting to the others.
Being Jewish probably helped too, since it was doubtless assumed that other minorities might take the cue from us and follow us into the Kennedy camp.
Aside from feeling that I was a kind of ghost adviser to the President of the United States during the missile crisis, a feeling that had just begun to frighten me, I believe that I may have helped unwittingly to set up some of the psychological attitudes of some of the Watergate crowd because of my view of electronic eavesdropping.
And, like most Americans, though I comprehended my role, I did not understand the real nature of political power until political people started trying to involve us in the late fifties and early sixties.
It was then that I came to understand that the power centers of the political, economic and social life were not so much in Washington and the state capitals as in the board rooms, hunt, yacht, country, university and college clubs of the five percent of those Americans who are reputed to control 95 per cent of our wealth and productive resources.
These were the folks who were paying for the campaigns of major officeholders, these giant corporate conglomerates which are interlocked not only by virtue of directorships and stockholding arrangements, but of familial, social, racial and academic allegiances as well.
As thick as the blood which flowed between them was the cement of the wealth they shared, their tastes, their clubs and hobbies, their prep schools and their Ivy League backgrounds.
They were Newport, Grosse Pointe, Wayzata and Lake Forest, these hidden kings and queens of America, reigning with quiet, determined splendor over realms of land, money, farms, factories, forests and refineries.
It was they who decided which key political people were those who would be the most likely to help them keep their kingdoms intact.
Just as the giant munitions, drug and optic cartels of Europe found ideal generals in Hitler, Goebbels and Goering, men psychologically, emotionally, even physically, suited to the task or preserving the economic status quo abroad, so their American and American-European counterparts searched here.
With the help of new technology, psychology for example, and electronics, the group was easily able to determine the whos, whats, whys, wheres and whens of politics and the "right" kind of political candidates.
Those they felt would aid them in keeping their wealth hidden from public scrutiny and intact were often chosen for elective office and service to the cause of the five per cent. Their campaigns were paid for, their life-styles outlined to them, their words before the voting public chosen by the psychologists and other strategists for the candidates in advance.
Often, I suspect, the hold on the candidates was tightened by virtue of the kind of enticement gift which brought Richard Nixon the expensive land in San Clemente, or the special treatment in the courts and government regulatory agencies that has been enjoyed by some of our industrial giants over the years.
Because of the servant-master relationship between some of the political candidates and their owners in high finance and industry, there was until recently relatively little effort expended by most of the politicians towards giving us an America that is for all of us.
Anti-trust laws, some, as the Sherman Act (1890), on the books since before Theodore Roosevelt's days, implemented over the years with the Clayton (1916), Robinson-Patman (1930's), and other acts designed to offer us a healthy economy, were seldom enforced.
Tax laws were seemingly designed to make the rich richer and the poor and middle classes more overwhelmed by the burden that the business giants should have shared.
And those politicians who did not go along with all of this were quietly and, during the past ten years, openly done in.
Unlike most of the world's population, I suspect, those underground royal families shuddered at the death of Hitler and the end of World War II. The failure of fascism and the collective revulsion that most human beings felt at its coldly, scientifically murderous (and ultimately self-destructive) thrust should have spelled the end for the kind of European-American economic and political power wielded by the Krupps, the Farbens, the ITTs, the drug cartels, General Motors and its brother general giants at home and abroad.
That it did not should be clear to all by now in the light not only of the Watergate cases, but of those involving corporate giants like ITT, American Airlines, the oil, cattle, agricultural monopolies, and others who are at last beginning to answer to Congress, the courts and government regulatory agencies for their unbridled excesses over the years.
By the late 1950's I began to sense that Dave and I were among those who were fingered by both parties as effective talent of one kind or another. The aim of both parties seemed to be at the very least to secure our verbal support and enthusiasm for the presidentail candidate of each side respectively in the hopes as I said earlier, that we would be followed by key populations in key areas.
As the campaigns of Richard Nixon and John F. Kennedy came to a close in 1960, the pressure to support one or the other increased.
On the GOP side, Sally was made an alternate delegate from Minnesota to the convention which nominated Nixon in 1960, and to which she practically bodily dragged me. I must admit that despite my reservations about Nixon, I went to the convention, held in Chicago, enjoyed myself thoroughly, and wound uphow I shall never knowas a delegate from Iowa! I can only guess that it was arranged for me, and whatever misgivings I might have had as to the honesty of this move were drowned in my enthusiasm for the hooplas and hurrahs that are part of any political convention.
On the Democratic side I began to notice feedback from the Kennedy campaign which made it obvious to me that they were also trying to attract our support.
If I would ride my horse, for example, I could count on a news story that same evening concerning Jackie's affection for horses.
If Dave were in a sailboat race, the air would be filled at the same time with stories of Jack's great love for and abilities in sailing.
And if I attended aL Vassar Club meeting, or an oil jobbers' affair, there would be, on exactly the same day, a reference to Jackie's Vassar background or to the Kennedys' business acumen.
Most touching, and quite effective, was an undoctored photograph of a sign in a Boston window years ago, stating "Help WantedIrish need not apply," for a job that had been available.
That, of course, touched my Jewish soul, and the combination of my identification with Irish-Catholic, or American ethnic, background along with John F. Kennedy's hands-down win over Richard Nixon in their first television debate put both Dave and me wholeheartedly in the Democratic party camp.
Although I understood the importance of our open support for one or the other of the presidential candidates, I failed to comprehend the whole issue until 1963.
By then I had guessed, both by virtue of Keith Wheeler's Life magazine article and Sally's comments on bugging, that I was indeed being listened to.
If anything, I said to myself that if my words bear any weight in the affairs of other human beings, the world might hear them. I had never broken any laws, nor did I intend to do so. I had some acceptances as a writer and conversationalist, and if by speaking out on issues where I was qualified I could somehow help, why not?
I did, however begin to be aware that I was being terribly exploited as a creative writer by those who wanted to keep their electronic surveillance of me secret, and that sick games of peekaboo, I see and hear you, were starting to become a large part of the American way of life.
After Kennedy's election in 1960, I believe that the incipient hate and fear felt by the economic, political and social royalty of the United States or elsewhere toward this American ethnic president began to swell and to seep out.
I was often asked by some of those who saw JFK's Catholicism as a threat to the status quo how I, a Vassar graduate and a Jew, could have supported this coarse whiskey buyer's son? I was always confused by these attacks, having, like most Jews, identified with this Irishman who had "made it" to the Presidency of the United States, but I said little other than to express wonder why they hated someone who seemed to be doing such a good job.
What I didn't realize those early years of the sixties was that JFK's election to the Presidency of the United States was to some of our rich business and sporting associates a sharp crack in the top of the American power structure.
In brief, an Irish Catholic ethnic's ascendancy to the highest office in the country meant that no longer would the Anglo-American life style, ethic, and political-economic stranglehold necessarily prevail.
If a Catholic of Irish origin could be elected, indeed the possibility that a Jew, a black, an Indian, an Italian, a Chicano, a woman, a poet, a musician, a journalist, or any one of the myriad other American have-nots who had been victimized by the economic, racial, religious and social prejudices of the five per cent at the "top" might make it too.
And these would be far less likely than a candidate of Anglo-American background, those self-styled elitists, to countenance the terrible economic and political and social injustices of which so many had been such victims over the years.
The hidden kings and queens quite rightly saw what was coming, so they began a campaign of enlightened self interest geared toward slowing down the flood to a trickle.
It was mainly for that reason that their choice for the presidency in 1964 was Barry Goldwater, a political conservative whose half Jewishness, it was hoped, would appeal to the minorities. Because of his Jewishness, I feel, even a rock-ribbed Republican like Goldwater was suspect in the eyes of his would-be owners.
Thus they appear to have "monitored" him too with their sophisticated and costly snooping equipment. The Arizona Senator tells us he found a camera beamed on him in the early sixties, long before Watergate must have told him the truth about who his sponsors were.
During 1961 and 1962, however, Dave and I were preoccupied mainly with our family, his business, and the two activities we enjoyed so muchhorses and boats.
The election over, the political pressures seemed to have subsided for a while, and we, with so many others, were caught up in the spirit of youthful hope and enthusiasm generated by the New Frontier. The Kennedys had made it for all of us, we thought, and we all felt secure in the lives we were leading.
In the case of the Steins, in particular, we were pleased that our sons were becoming strong, happy little people, enthused about everything they did, be it the Boy Scouts, boating, school or family life.
I was making new and interesting friends through boating and horses and began to learn to hunt at the instigation of Daphne Dennehy, the very pleasant wife of Charles Dennehy, Jr. who owned the stable and provided the training where I boarded my horse.
Beck Oil was growing by leaps and bounds under Dave's guidance, and we were both involved in helping build that. My father had, for all practical purposes, given over the entire business to Dave the year that my mother died, 1952, and my husband had helped make it grow from a million dollar concern that year to one worth approximately $18,000,000 by the time Standard Oil had forced us to sell out to them.
We were living busy, active and happy lives those first two years of the last decade, in short, blissfully unaware of the planned sabotage that was evidently underway then, sabotage dedicated to our destruction and to the destruction of everything that we valued as being good in life.
My main involvements with political and related issues those years consisted of a little writing, including two letters to John F. Kennedy, a few to Congressmen, and some lighter stuff for newspapers and magazines.
One letter wound up being incorporated into the late President's State of the Union address for 1963, and had the effect of casting me as a New Frontier braintruster.
Like most good politicians, Kennedy often sought the views and ideas of those he considered intelligent or informed, rewriting or editing these into his major addresses.
Another of my letters found its way into the Chicago Tribune in 1962 and was an early and enthusiastic boost for Betty Friedan's book, The Feminine Mystique.
A couple of articles and a letter on horse issues, among them a plea for a slowdown in the world of professional sports in general and for a renewed emphasis on the sportsmanship element in horse shows, found their way into the Chronicle of the Horse magazine, an organ mainly devoted to the hunting and showing aspects of the horse world.
I was also doing a little political and social satire, sending it to anyone I could think of who might be interested in using it in show business routines. Two such efforts, spoofs on image making at the Kremlin and on life at Vassar, appealed to the Second City nightclub crowd enough for them to invite me to read the Vassar monologue at one of the club's performances, for which the Chicago Vassar Club had secured a block of tickets. I declined the offer on the grounds of stage fright, but it was read by someone else at another nightclub, bombed out considerably, and I thought little of the incident until recently.
With all of this relatively productive, happy activity, I don't find it difficult to understand that the first indications of the political and/or business sabotage and espionage which were aimed at us went either unnoticed or unacknowledged.
But little by little they came, the short quick stabs from everywhere until by 1963, some finally began to take their toll. Our marriage began to flounder under the lies, rumors and smears.
Dave would come home, exhausted and angry beyond being able to communicate. It turns out that in addition to the lies which were piped about alleged extra-marital activities, there were those conceived with the aim of destroying his place in the Beck Oil Company. I have recently discovered that two employees of the Standard Oil Company, using my very vulnerable and rather envious stepmother as the unwitting go-between, managed to doctor books and records to the disfavor of Dave with my father.
When I realize that it was the same gang, along with those I feel are the real powers behind the Watergate tragedy and the political assassinations of the past ten or so years, I am no longer shocked at their craven, brutal, planned viciousness.
I believe it was also the same crowd who, in the middle sixties, manipulated a blackmail smear against Dave and myself, which I shall delve into more thoroughly at another point subsequently.
To try better to understand what was going on between us, and thinking it might have been little more than a personality conflict, I began to see a psychiatrist, Dr. Jules Gelperin, who had helped me during my convalescence from my two terrible cancer operations.
This was a mistake simply because it gave those who I now realize were determined to anihilate Dave and me fuel to add to the fires of hate, smear and slander which they were lighting about us.
Those years, however, all that I heard out in the open were political diatribes against those Catholic Kennedys, those nouveaux riches liberals, from die-hard Republicans like the Planks, a few people in Lake Forest, at Mill Creek hunt club of which we were social members, and at Columbia, the yacht club where Dave kept his boat.
It never occurred to me until years later, 1972 and Watergate to be exact, that I was as much, if not more, an object of their hate than were the Kennedys and those who followed them to their graves.
In 1963, our marriage in serious trouble, Dave, I and our children took what we had hoped would be a vacation that might heal our wounds.
We had chosen a lovely resort in the Florida Keys, Cheeca Lodge, reportedly owned by a sister of Huntington Hartford.
Overlooking a white, clean sand beach, in lovely rooms and with a few congenial friends, our world brightened considerably again. Among those with whom we became friendly were the Stephen Birminghams and their children. He was the author of such well known books as Our Crowd and The Right People.
Others whom we met were Mrs. Cyrus Eaton and her daughter, the former a Vassar acquaintance and the wife of the Cleveland industrialist who had done so much over the years to ease cold war tensions. The Dan Toppings were there too, looking vaguely bewildered that a kind of covert VIP treatment was extended to us rather than to them, and there was a smattering of bigwigs from medicine and other fields.
All in all, we enjoyed the environment, the lodge, the other guests and the sunning, swimming and fishing that was offered.
One day, about ten days after our arrival, Dave and our sons decided to go bone fishing at another key.
I had arisen early to see them off, planning to spend the day in the sun and to await their arrival around dinner time.
As I sat in the lodge dining room, with the lovely feeling that I had nothing more to do than decide whether I might enjoy cantaloupe or strawberries for breakfast, I was approached by a man who had been sitting with the hotel desk clerk at a nearby table.
This gentleman, after a few rather searching questions, asked me if I might be interested in visiting the Kennedy summer White House, located at the family home in Palm Beach. Should I be interested, he said, a helicopter would be provided by the desk clerk, his sister, he added, and I would be flown down.
I thought for a few moments, then told the man that I wasm waiting for my husband and children to return. I suppose I silently hoped he would ask them, too.
He didn't tune into my silent wish, however, and left promising to convey to the Kennedys my best wishes for their continued success in their efforts.
At that time I was aware of being in the middle of both political parties.
Through Sally and others I knew that the GOP desperately and clearly wanted our support. I had also, a few months earlier in 1963, received static to the effect that I was in a security clearance process for a writing job with either President or Mrs. Kennedy, and was aware that they tried to include on their staffs many of those writers, p.r. people, or others who had gone to Harvard or Vassar.
So I wasn't really terribly surprised at the invitation, assuming that to be part of the security clearance, only disappointed that it hadn't been tendered while my husband and children were there.
When Dave and the boys returned I told them about it. They were duly impressed, a tiny bit envious, and that was the end. Or so we thought.
We returned to Chicago sometime during the first week in
January, 1963, the vacation seemingly have done a lot toward healing our marriage.
I began to pick up the threads of our old life again, trying to ferret out that which I thought might be destructive to our relationship and to retain that which was good.
About three days after my arrival home, I happened to call Genevra M. Birmingham, the master of fox hounds at Mill Creek, to ask her whether she knew her namesake, Steve Birmingham.
No, she said, she didn't, or not other than by reputation and the fact that he hailed from Rye, New York, as did her current husband, Rutledge. That was the first known instance of the psycological ploy, by the way, which for want of a better name, I shall call "parings."
"Parings" is the strategy which both parties seem to have used when they wanted to condition those whose support they needed to react favorably to a key name.
Thus I can only guess that our relationship with the Stephen Birminghams, who appeared to be ardent New Frontiersmen, was manipulated by Democrats for one reason or another. I've no objection to matchmaking. I object only to the dishonesty inherent in strategies and games. This manipulation resulted from our relationship with the Mill Creek Birminghams, Republicans, rather powerful and mutually congenial.
The idea, in brief, was to trick us into a positive reflex reaction by involvirig us with a Democratic couple named Birmingham, since it was clear that we had both reacted favorably to the GOP Birminghams.
The GOP uses the same strategy. For a while it appeared that the only people I was meeting in a later episode in my life were named either Hamilton or Bradshaw.
When I refused to deal with a Riggs National Bank officer named Hamilton during 1972, the punishment directed at me by the GOP involved some unkosher goings-on with CREEP Counsel Kenneth Wells Parkinson and Judge Eugene Hamilton. After that bit of sabotage, of which I shall write more later, I would meet first a black person who would tell me that his name was Hamilton, then a white person who would tell me the same.
If it weren't so much a part of the overall web of lies, deliberately-injected cancer, murder, deceit, blackmail, smear, sabotage and espionage which has been spun around me and people like me for all these years, it would be amusingsomething like the interaction between Hitler and Mussolini in Charlie Chaplin's film "The Great Dictator."
Returning to January, 1963, however, just after I hung up the telephone in the call to Genevra, I decided to phone Sally Plank. She was breathless when she answered the phone, telling me that if I had waited five minutes, she would have phoned me.
"I've just read about you," she said, and went on to tell me of something that I realize now had been leaked through her to me via the Minneapolis Sunday Tribune of January 6, 1963.
That was an article on the origins of the beliefs and superstitions about birthstones, and in it was a reference to the "fact" that ". . . anybody riding to the hounds on horseback should wear a turquoise because it protects both horse and rider against injury."
Now since I wore a one-of-its-kind turquoise wedding band, an unusual stone of itself to use in a wedding ring, and since I am among at most 20,000 fox hunters in the country, it was easy to see that this was beamed to me, and that it was a threat of some kind.
It said, in brief, keep your wedding band on or you and your husband will both be hurt. That seemed to match not only the disturbing rumors I was getting about what Dave and I were allegedly doing outside the scope of marriage, but what others were allegedly doing, among them the entire New Frontier crowd.
I believe now that the leak was started by someone close to Mrs. John F. Kennedy, who was in turn provoked into this act by someone unknown but determined to cause trouble between the Steins and the New Frontier so that we would in no way be an effective part of that tragic group.
I believe also that what was a casual invitation to visit the Kennedy compound in 1963 was blown up into something distorted by the same persons who had the most to gain from undermining, slandering and destroying everything that we stood for.
I believe that they were the same people who planned, engineered and executed the deaths of the Kennedy brothers, Martin Luther King, Medgar Evers, Hale F. Boggs, and every key liberal and/or Democrat who has gone to his or her grave since 1963, to prison, to a so-called "mental hospital," to economic, financial, physical or emotional ruin.
I believe that they were the same people who learned to pit brother against brother, father against son, sister against sister, in the broadest meanings of those terms; that they are professionally trained in the arts of psychological manipulations, maneuverings and deceits and games, and that they have infiltrated such public agencies as the CIA, NIMH, the U.S. Public Health Service, the State Department and God and the Watergate investigative groups only know where else.
I believe that these are the same people who, years before 1960, also saw the end of Wasp economic and social supremacy in sight and with such private, reactionary groups as the American Medical Association, some of the drug companies, both national and international, working with parts of the aforesaid public groups, started to use as human guinea pigs in germ warfare experiments those they considered undesirable members of the human race, either by virtue of their skin color, religion, intelligence quotient or political attitudes.
I believe that I was one such victim, of cancer deliberately injected into me in the form of the drug diethylstilbestrol, a potential carcinogenic which the medical and State Department establishments use in what they call "family planning" and which I call genocide.
I believe that those who selected me for the "experiment" were on the staff at Wesley Hospital, an affiliate of one of the most repressive, reactionary institutions in America, Northwestern University, at Evanston, Illinois, a city very John Birch Society in orientation, and home of the WCTU and other such malignant organizations.
I believe that I was selected because I was a Jew and to them an articulate human being who would brook no sabotage of a melting-pot America for all.
But I understood little of this in 1963, while both parties to me appeared to be in some kind of almost desperate struggle for my support.
Returning to the 1963 phone conversation with Sally, I accepted her invitation to pay a visit to her in Wayzata. Over the years since our graduation from college, we had visited each other at least twice, and more often three or four times, a year.
I asked her to save the newspaper in which she had found the leak, and within a week or ten days after the call went to Wayzata for a visit.
My relationship with the Plank family had begun with Sally when we were freshmen at Vassar in 1942. Sally was a scion of General Mills, Stevens Woolen Mills, Utica Sheets, and Forstman Wools. After her marriage, she became Mrs. Raymond Plank of the Apache Corporation, one of the largest American oil and real estate exploration and development concerns, but at school I related to her as only another midwestern girl and a congenial bridge player.
In addition, I was congenial with Sally because she lived nearby in Main Hall. She was usually among those available to play bridge which we used to while away those wartime years waiting for the men to return from overseas. As a midwesterner, I thought also that she shared some of those pleasant regional characteristics of openness and hospitality which I have always liked.
We were graduated, worked, married and had children and continued our relationship, paying visits back and forth to Wayzata and the Chicago area, talking home, family, political and social issues.
Until 1972 I saw our friendship only as solid, pleasant and meaningful. Up to that time, my Vassar education had led me to think that a relatively naive, somewhat gawky and apprehensive Jewish girl from Chicago might learn something to the effect that the alleged racial, religious, economic and regional barriers of which I had been warned were not so formidable after all.
So when I went to Wayzata to visit the Planks during the winter of 1963, I was really still unaware of how important I later turned out to be in Sally and her family's concept of my place in politics.
It was during that visit that I saw Raymond, too, and we talked at some length about politics and issues. Usually he kept himself scarce, busy with building what is now a major American conglomerate, appearing at most during a dinner or two to say "hi!"
During the first hours in Wayzata I asked Sally if she could track down the newspaper leak. She tried to, through her mother, and appeared a bit shaken after a phone call to the latter. Her mother had apparently told her to get off the subject with me lest I be frightened, a message which Sally conveyed to me in so many words, gestures and signs of evasions.
That evening Raymond came in for dinner and we spoke at great length about the Cheeca Lodge vacation and the invitation to visit at the Palm Beach Summer White House.
I had the distinct impression that Raymond already knew about that incident, and, almost undone by the rages for which he was famous, let loose some pithy expletives in relation to the Kennedys and the "slimey" press with whom he accused them of being in conspiracy.
I tried to reassure both Raymond and Sally that while I appreciated their interest in my affairs, I was happy with the New Frontier, welcomed the invitation and would have accepted it had my husband and children been able to accompany me.
These were the only high points which I can recall in that visit other than a slight awareness that I was in the middle of something sinister and political in a way neither to my liking nor of my making.
Another political event occurred early in February, 1963. I received at that time from Special White House Aide Ralph I Dungan a letter of appreciation of my earlier two letters to the President, indicating that my comments had been incorporated into his State of the Union address for that year. Dungan's letter to me is reproduced herein.
Sometime following the receipt of that letter, which pleased and delighted me and my family, I received a phone call from Sally.
Could she fly in, she wanted to know, for a visit, piloting the small plane she had recently learned to handle and for which she had a license to pilot? Of course, I said, and arranged to meet her at the private airport nearby.
Somewhere during the conversation which followed our arrival at my Glencoe home. Sally interjected political mutterings about my having been "seduced" by the New Frontier. Since I was long used to the Stevens and Plank families' efforts to enlist me and my family in the cause of Republicanism, I mentally just put the comment off as that of a somewhat sore loser in the rough and tumble game of politics.-Nobody has ever done anything which influenced the thinking or attitudes of this independent human being, though it often appears to me that many have spent their lives trying.
The rest of that conversation was limited to the usual talk about home and family. Then, as she had often done before, Sally lead into politics and political issues. I can't remember on just which ones we spoke other than those which concerned race and religious relations.
As I look back over the years I recall that our discussions of these issues always carried an implicit appeal by Sally for me to commit myself to some kind of allegiance to what I can only call, for want of a better term, "whitism."
Specifically, she always seemed to want to know whether I, as a Jew, would identify closely with the then clearly emerging civil rights struggle, or would I, as a relatively well-heeled, well-educated, Waspish type, go along with those who clutched so fearfully to their wealth and social power and react accordingly against "the movement."
I left little doubt in Sally and her family's mind as to what my instincts were and are, adding up to a natural desire to lend a hand to those who are reaching out and upwards, just as I felt that I had in the past been helped out of the many ghettoes to which Jews have been confined over the years.
I believe now that some time prior to this visit Sally and/or her family had determined that my family and I were heart-and-soul for the New Frontier and its implied message of integration and economic justice for all.
So on this occasion she wasted little time with probing preliminaries and, after an indication of total frustration with my continued affection for the New Frontier, finally tossedout what I thought at the time was a guarded effort to flatter me.
"Judy," said Sally, "How would you like to become President of the United States?"
"Sally," I answered, "You're either drunk or crazy." I cut off the conversation with that.
The conversation then returned to the usual niceties. She and her flight instructor left. I thought little of the incident until the shocks of my Watergate case caused me to recall it in 1972.
Between the time of Sally's visit to me in February or March and July, 1963, the exact sequence of events concerning me and politics remains hazy.
Somewhere during those months I began to see arched eyebrows among some of the friends with whom I rode at Mill Creek and at the Dennehy stable, with veiled references, among other things, to my being a "homebreaker." Since Dave and I had been desperately trying to solidify our own deteriorating marriage these innuendos really confused me.
In addition I was told by one of the women with whom I hunted that I had been selected to be President Kennedy's new secretary. That was followed by a call from a woman who said she was a news reporter and wanted to know what truth was there in my appointment as Mrs. Kennedy's press secretary now that Letitia Baldridge had been made social secretary.
I was shocked, said so, and I added that if there were any truth to any of these rumors I would be happy to share it with anyone.
Also, Mrs. Paul R. Fout, a friend of both Jacqueline Kennedy and Daphne Dennehy, arrived in my neck of the woods in what obviously was an investigative venture to check me out for some reason or another.
I heard rumors to the effect that a rather frivolous article on horse shows which I had written for the Chronicle had evidently displeased the First Lady. Perhaps it was for that reason that Eve Fout was sent out my way. Or perhaps it was part of the security clearance I knew I was undergoing.
All in all, I became thoroughly confused about just what was going on. I decided to write to Mrs. Kennedy asking, in effect, for a clarification of the rumored job. To my knowledge there was never a written reply.
One evening in the summer of 1963, while I was sitting on my porch at sundown, my husband arrived home rather early from work. In his hands was a bottle of champagne which he said that he had received as a gift and which he wanted to enjoy with me.
Delighted at the prospect of having Dave home at an unusually early hour, I sat down with him to enjoy a glass. Within fifteen minutes or so my sister, Molly Lazar, appeared out of nowhere at our door, telling us she was here on a surprise visit from her home in Middletown, New York.
She was followed a few moments later by my brother-in-law, Laurence Rubenstein, whom we saw very seldom over the years, who said he had come to join the party.
Always one to enjoy this kind of surprise I was totally off guard with this group, with whom I had little reason then to be on any but the most congenial terms.
Within a half hour after Larry's arrival, and after exactly two glasses of champagnenot exactly a lot for one who has always been able to hold her own liquor-wisemy head began to spin and I collapsed. I woke up to find myself in the psychiatric section of Michael Reese Hospital in Chicago.
Someone had spiked the champagne, apparently, and I had been waylaid and kidnapped by my own relatives.
My arrival at Michael Reese caused a great deal of confusion among the staff, too, who didn't seem to know any more about it than I did at the time.
Some of the staff indicated that they had heard I was a Republican worker, while others seemed to be aware that I was all for the New Frontier. Upset as I was, forbidden to communicate with any members of my family, as they with me, I was given large doses of some kind of drug to calm me down.
It was from there that I was sent to Chestnut Lodge, totally unaware of what it was at that time, a victim of what I now believe were the same forces who manipuated my sisters into signing the petitions prepared by Kenneth Wells Parkinson and his associates in 1972.
With the exception of the years 1965-1967, most of which I spent at home in Glencoe, the forces behind Watergate successfully worked with others to spin around me the strategies designed to keep me confined to Chestnut Lodge. This was not only because of my pro-integration views, but because someone way high up at the court of Camelot had mistakenly worked with some of those in the Watergate gang to put me in the psychiatric experimental prison in the first place.
That crowd, in short, had enlisted in support of its goal of silencing me some key members in the Democratic party, particularly the Chicago city hall element, which shared its racist, repressive, hawk-like views on civil rights, Viet Nam, poverty, freedom of speech, assembly and expression.
The gang included members of Ely Aaron's law firm working hand in glove with Kenneth Wells Parkinson and others, using my unwitting, then-blind sisters as tools of their deceits. To these were added the sycophantish, wishy-washy followers of the Kennedy family, some of whom made up a large segment of the Chestnut Lodge population and to whom no Kennedy could do wrong.
They later played upon pro-Wallace, racist sentiment in the State of Maryland, carefully nurtured by the segregationist elements in the mental health establishment, at Chestnut Lodge and the government agencies of which that institution seems to be an integral part, as well as within and without both parties.
When, toward the end of my stay at Chestnut Lodge, somehow the real cause of my incarceration became known and efforts were started toward helping me secure my final release, Chestnut Lodge took more direct action.
In true CIA dirty-trick fashion, it planned my murder, to be disguised as the suicide for which falsified certifying and other "medical" records had already been designed in order to lay the ground-work.
One evening during 1971 or early 1972, the nursing supervisor, accompanied by a doctor, took cold aim at me from the car they were driving and attempted to run me down. I was walking alone from the institution dining room to the Main buildingout of sight of everyone but these twoas they pointed their car at me.
Thanks to my natural instincts to live and to my good physical coordination, I was able to jump out of the way of their deadly weapon. That night when I confronted the woman with the act, she became furious and accused me of being "drunk," a lie so outrageous that even the staff around me at the time of the confrontation blanched in horror.
Had the murder attempt succeeded no one would have known the difference for the falsified records would have stated to police and family that I was "suicidal" and had "jumped" in front of the car. They further secured the planned cover story by making sure that both a Republican and a Democrat were in on the killing so that it would appear totally apolitical. It was true CIA, James Bond stuff at its dirtiest, and had I not been so fast on my feet, it would have been as successfully set up and executed as were the political assassinations which started with Medgar Evers and John F. Kennedy in 1963.
On August 2, 1972, however, I finally did manage to become untangled from the ten-year nightmare thanks to the help of friends who shared my political views and knew the real story of my incarceration at Chestnut Lodge.
It is that date and others relevant to it, especially during 1972, with which the remainder of this book attempts to deal.