My interest in the Red Scare began in the early 1960s, when I was a teenager growing up in Yonkers, New York. I was dimly aware that my parents, as New York City schoolteachers, were affected by the McCarthy Era, and my curiosity about their experiences was sharpened on getting to know the children of blacklisted actors, writers, and musicians at summer camp (Buck’s Rock in New Milford, Connecticut). I now had some questions for my parents about the years when their jobs were threatened, and they openly shared their memories of those years.
Curiosity about my parents’ experiences coincided with the blossoming of what turned out to be my lifelong passion for films and film history, and I discovered that studying the Hollywood Blacklist gave me a framework to understand what my parents had lived through. A friend jokingly commented that while my classmates could rattle off the starting lineup of the New York Yankees, I could name all the members of the “Hollywood Ten.”
I had become hooked watching old films on TV at a young age. I went to Columbia College and University of California, Berkeley, where there were many opportunities to catch up on films while putting off writing English Literature papers. I moved to Vermont in 1970 and shortly afterward founded the Lightning Ridge Film Society, which morphed into the Savoy Theater in 1981. I was one of the founders of Montpelier’s Green Mountain Film Festival and was its Programming Director until 2012.
I arrived in Vermont shortly after the end of the Phil Hoff years, when Vermont had finally become a two-party state. The Liberty Union had just been founded by Bernie Sanders, William H. Meyer and others, in response to the Democratic Party’s tepid response to the Vietnam War. It didn’t take me long to start wondering what had transpired here during the late 40s and early 50s. Eventually I met two others who shared my interest: Michael Sherman, who arrived in the mid 1980s to head the Vermont Historical Society, and Richard Hathaway, a history instructor first at Goddard College and then at Vermont College’s Adult Degree Program. The three of us organized the 1988 conference, “Vermont in the McCarthy Era,” which (of course) had a film component: “Point of Order,” “The Front,” and “Hollywood on Trial.” It was this conference that planted the seeds for this book.
My wife Andrea Serota and I sold the Savoy Theater in 2009, and since then, I have been been teaching film at Burlington College, Community College of Vermont (Montpelier), and the Montpelier Senior Activity Center, while speaking on film subjects for the Vermont Humanities Council. Some of my other interests are music (playing traditional music of all kinds on the accordion), constructing twice-monthly “double crostic” puzzles for the Times Argus/Rutland Herald, and the renovation of the Adamant Community Club, a former one-room schoolhouse just down the road from where we live in Calais.
Red Scare in the Green Mountains: Vermont in the McCarthy Era 1946-1960
Publication Date: July 25, 2018
6 X 9 Trade Paperback Format