07 April 2007

I met Alger Hiss

some of the kind folks who stop by here from time to time are young. so they may not know the significance of that name.

back in the Cold War era spying was a major industry. a fat gay spy by the name of Whittaker Chambers accusd the State Department's Hiss of passing secrets to the Soviets. it gets complicatd: microfilm hidden in a hollowd-out pumpkin & given to Richard Nixon. plot twists worthy of Hollywood.

I bring all this old history up because Hiss is back in the news. at an NYU sympsoium this week an author offers new information suggesting Hiss wasn't the spy history labels him as being. & at the same event Hiss' stepson sd that Chambers made up the claims because he was in love with Alger but Alger didn't reciprocate. don't you just adore history?

Hiss came to Kent State in 1977 & visitd my department. our "coversation" was brief & centerd on the collections. but for me it was another instance of connecting to history. this theme that runs thru Alex in Movieland began when I was a boy. I was 13 when I saw Woodrow Wilson's widow & even then I realizd the power of occupying the same time & place with those who made history.

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