A Red Family: Junius, Gladys, and Barbara Scales
Mickey Friedman
University of Illinois Press
Paperback
216 pages
January 2009
*****

It is impossible to read this book without a sense of sadness. It is the story of a man who paid a high price for his convictions though wrongly accused, the wife who stood by him to the detriment of her own potential and her motherhood, and his daughter, who grew up aware that her father was different but not understanding totally that his difference was something to be proud of.

Junius Scales was the only American ever to be imprisoned simply for being a member of the Communist Party. But when he was caught and brought to “justice” he had already withdrawn, if not formally resigned from, that Party, disillusioned as many were by the revelations about Stalin’s excesses. His wife, Gladys, was forced to live in the shadow of his political activities, always a fugitive, often by command of the Party or because of ceaseless pursuit by the FBI unable to see her husband for long periods of time. His only child, Barbara, grew up able to see her father and interact as a full family only rarely and was enjoined to say nothing about her father’s imprisonment so as to avoid the disapproval of her schoolmates and neighbors.

Documentary filmmaker Mickey Friedman has brought to life the saga of the “red” family and their hounded existence by means of interviews he recorded in the 1970s, interviews that show the three participants in a small-scale human way that makes their story all the more poignant.

Originally published on Curled Up With A Good Book at www.curledup.com. © Barbara Bamberger Scott, 2009

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