In continuation from yesterday, here is the second story I promised Cynical Dad, the FBI Bugging Story.
As you may have gathered from past posts, and in direct contrast to my conservative grandparents, my parents were hippies. They even belonged to a “commune” at one point. Commune is in parentheses because I have to preface this story with a few notes first. My parents were hippies but they weren’t such extremists that they never washed, walked around barefoot singing kum ba yah, and made their living weaving hand-crafted hemp baskets that they bartered out of the back of their VW bus*. My dad had a job (in, ironically, high tech even though for years he was a complete technophobe) and my parents owned a house. The commune they were part of was actually a local church (Episcopalian), where a number of the congregation all lived together in an adjoining house. The church ran a number of outreach services, such as a Crisis Hotline and counseling services, out of the house. Except for all living together and adhering to hippie aesthetics and principles the church never sounded to me like it was all that extreme or different from other churches. But in our (then) small town most of the townspeople apparently referred to our church as “those damn hippies” and eventually the city council succeeded in getting the house condemned so they all had to stop living together.
Alright, back to the story. So a good friend of my parents and one of the members of this church/commune was a priest named Brother John. It was a really tight community and they were close enough that he was even my older brother’s godfather. This was also still during Vietnam and everyone in the commune was very opposed to the war and were pretty active about protesting, but it had always been peaceful protest. Well, one day Brother John walked into a local government building and set fire to the room containing all the draft records. He then helped several ladies out of the building and waiting calmly outside to be arrested, giving himself up to the police. It was a very strong, though not very passive, anti-war statement. He went to prison and served time. I don’t know how much the other church members knew or not about what he was planning to do, but it has always been my impression from the stories that Brother John acted alone. This was before I was born so I never got to meet him. I think my parents also lost track of where he ended up over the years (I’ll have to ask them).
The fallout of Brother John’s torching of the draft was that most of the church/commune was under heavy surveillance for quite some time by local authorities. Most of the group assumed that they were also being bugged by the FBI and federal forces as well. I always thought it was kind of funny how both entirely convinced and nonchalant they all were about their “government files”.
I don’t know if my family was really bugged, but that’s the story I heard. I do know it was the 60s and “herbs” were freely available.
I’m sure some would say that the government is probably still keeping tabs on us “radicals” (and children thereof) today. And if that’s true I kinda feel sorry for the poor agents bugging my house… ‘cause that’s gotta be the most boring tapes EVER!
Agent 1: Wait, it sounds like she’s got a “package.” I can’t get a clear signal… can you confirm, Sparrow? Over.
Agent 2: Yes, she has something… hold on, I’m getting audio… it’s poops in the pants. I repeat, poops in the pants. Sounds like 2:00 diaper duty. Over.
You know an agent really screwed up somewhere if he/she got stuck doing home surveillance.
What kind of crazy stories did you all inherit? – the weirdgirl
(*My parents did own a VW bus, though. They had to use it once to drive everyone at the commune to the hospital when they all got food poisoning. My parents were the only ones who owned a car. And we did sing kum ba yah, but only at church… and sit-ins… and sometimes camping. OK, and my mom did weave but that’s only because she’s really into textile crafts. And she never used hemp.)