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Love and Rockets and Politics

Here I am back earlier than I’d imagined.  Shopping done and a lot of money spent, probably more than I should have spent.  I was considering going out for lunch but I think I’ll keep it indoors for today and relax and catch a nap.  But I will get all my writing in today.  And some tomorrow.  But I will get it in.  After that nap ’cause I can feel yawning coming on.

Yesterday Kerry was going on about the defenses that used to be around San Francisco, and while he touched on the big guns there he left off one thing that Annie remembers to bring up:

 

(The following excerpts from The Foundation Chronicles, Book Three: C For Continuing, copyright 2016 by Cassidy Frazee)

 

“And what is this Nike base you mentioned?”

“Oh, that.” He once more pointed off to his right. “They had missiles there from the 1950s until the mid 1970s.” Kerry moved so he now faced Annie. “They were supposed to shoot down missiles that were coming in to bomb the city.”

Annie searched her memory for she was certain she knew the event that Kerry was describing. “That was during the Cold War, wasn’t it?”

“Yeah. Back when Russia was our—the U.S.’s—enemy. As was any country that was aligned with them.” A broad smile appeared as he leaned closer to his dream girl. “Which means your family was the enemy—Comrade Kirilova.”

“Oh, please.” She broke into laughter as she spent a few seconds rolling her eyes. “No one has ever called me comrade, nor have I ever heard someone being called comrade. You must have gotten that from a movie.”

“Not really.” Kerry couldn’t keep the smile off his face. “I’m just imagining what it’s like having a girlfriend whose parents were communists.”

Part of Annie knew he was being silly, part of her admired the fact that Kerry knew the history of her country. Bulgaria was four months away from celebrating twenty-four years since leaving the Warsaw Pack and she imagined that the only people who actually gave any thought of the condition of those countries were people like Alex and her and a few others at school who were from those countries. “My parents were never communists: they were too young. They were several months into their B Levels when Bulgaria gained independence from Russia and the Warsaw Pack.” She gave him a smirk that considered of a great deal of side eye. “So you needn’t worry about having communists in-laws.”

“Fair enough.” He stared straight ahead for a few seconds before speaking in a low voice. “What about your grandparents?”

 

Before we get into Annie’s history, let’s look at this other history:

San Francisco is the last place in the U.S. to have a relatively intact Nike Launch Facility, SF 88.  The control center is on top of a hill called Wolf Ridge, but you have to hike up there as it appears the road that used to lead to the center has washed out.  The launch facility looks pretty much as it did when it was decommissioned in the 1970s–

Pretty nice, huh?

Pretty nice, huh?

–save for the fact that it no longer has any nuclear missiles.  That’s right:  SF 88 was one of the sites in the Strategic Defense Network of Nike launch centers where the Nike Hercules missiles, which was armed with either a 2 kiloton or 20 kiloton warhead, were located.

This must be the nucwewer missel.

This must be the nucwewer missel.  Someone tell Chekhov.

While there may be a missile or two still there, they are not active, nor do they have warheads.  And Kerry was wrong:  they weren’t designed to knock down missiles–at least not at first–but were instead shot at incoming bomber with the intention of blowing them out of the sky with nuclear fire.  None of that ever happened, which is good ’cause if it had happened I probably wouldn’t be writing this now.

And, as we see in the picture below, the base is close to the gun batteries Kerry described that were actually set inside a hill, Battery Wallace #1 and #2:

Needless to say there has been a lot of money spent on defending of San Francisco.

Needless to say there has been a lot of money spent on defending of San Francisco.

For the record one home I owned in Indiana was close to Nike launch site C-47, which was actually the first site to deploy the nuclear-armed Nike Hercules missiles, and I drove past the site many times.  Going back even further, when I was a kid, I can remember my parents driving past launch site C-46 in Munster, IN, and seeing the missiles out there ever so often, ready to go just in case war broke out.  Which if it had–

 

With this history out of the way, let’s move on to this new discussion of Kerry’s soul mate and–dirty little commie?

For those who don’t remember, from 1945 until 1989 Bulgaria was a communist country, being a member of the Soviet Union-controlled Warsaw Pack known as the People’s Republic of Bulgaria.  This means they sat behind the other side of the Iron Curtain, and were considered by many in the west to be nothing more than a puppet of the USSR, aka The Evil Empire as Ronnie Raygun once told us.

Now, from Annie’s point of view, the last of this happened ten years before she was born, but given that her parents were both born in 1977, they spent twelve years of their lives under communist rule.  (And a note of trivia:  Annie’s mother Pavlina was born on 28 August, which means she turned eleven while waiting to report to school, which happened on 1 September, 1988, exactly twenty-three years before her lovely daughter did the same.  Talk about just hitting the cut-off for admission.)

But as Annie points out, neither of her parents were ever old enough to join the Communist Party, though who knows if they had to do Communist Youth stuff as they were growing up.  Probably not, as the party in Bulgaria was falling apart in the 1980s, and maybe there was some witchy stuff that kept her folks from having to do anything party-wise.

But what about her grandparents?  This is probably the first time in her life Annie’s been grilled about her family’s political affiliations:

"Communists?  No one in my family is, or ever has been, a communist.  Wait, what story is this?"

“Communists? No one in my family is, or ever has been, a communist. Wait, what story is this?”

However, when it comes to Annie’s family–

 

She didn’t lie because she was certain Kerry had likely figured everything out. “Both my paternal and maternal grandparents were in the Communist Party, and I think their parents as well. My father’s parents worked in national energy production and were required to travel to Russia a couple of times a year for meetings and training, and my mother’s parents were involved with a state organization that imported goods from Western Europe. Because of what they did, it was almost mandatory that they be party members.”

Kerry eventually nodded in agreement. “I can see that. They’d need to be connected politically to get ahead.”

“Exactly.” Annie learned towards Kerry, a whimsical smile upon her face. “My grandparents were in the Communist Party, but they weren’t communists.”

He nodded a couple of times fast. “I didn’t mean to imply they were: I was just joking.”

“I know.” She wrapped her arms around his. “I can’t wait until you finally meet my grandparents; they’ll probably love it that you know these things and will happy to answer your questions.”

 

There you have it:  while all the grandparents were in the party, they weren’t communists.  The same probably goes for Alex’s parents and grandparents–being from the Ukraine her family were actually considered living Soviet Russia for a while–and for another girl in their level, Dariga Dulatuli, who is from Kazakhstan and had parents and grandparents who were considered living in Russia for a good part of their lives.

There is probably a part of Kerry’s mind that has slipped back and imagined what it might have been like for them if Annie and he had been born twenty years earlier and they were trying to meet each other over the Iron Curtain–

What am I saying?  You know he has done just that…

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5 thoughts on “Love and Rockets and Politics

  1. There was nothing the grandparents could do about the system of their government. People had to go with the flow. I don’t know though if thaeir government that time was very repressive ( and brutal, like Romania ). Most communist countries were, unfortunately. Well, that’s history. Can you imagine if Annie’s grandparents were Germans?

    • We could as Anna about her grandparents. Bulgaria wasn’t as bad as Romania, but they did send people after the Pope. I think it’s interesting and makes Annie’s family stand out a little more.

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