I awoke early the morning of my third day of my trip to the National Archives, anxious to learn the contents of the file I had found the previous day. Now an expert as an archives researcher, I knew the drill: I placed my belongings on the airport-style conveyor belt, showed my researcher id card to the guard, and walked through the metal detector. I then proceeded to the lockers downstairs, secured my valuables and laptop case inside, and then went upstairs to the room where the consular records were stored, eager to see my name on the white board indicating that my file had been pulled.
The archives provide pencils and paper, so it was unnecessary to bring any note-taking supplies from home. With my computer and phone plugged in to insure that both were always fully charged, I waited, jealous as other researchers returned to their tables with their trophies. Finally it was my turn. I hurried back to my cubicle ready to work.
Before I began taking pictures of each document, I leafed through the pile. Most appeared to be typewritten memos and letters, but one letter stopped me dead in my tracks, because it was unlike all the others. I immediately recognized the handwriting as Dad’s. It didn’t matter what it said. The fact that a letter written by my father, who by my quick calculation, was just twenty-seven at the time, brought tears to my eyes. I hoped no one at the nearby tables was looking, but if anyone noticed, I truthfully didn’t care. Since he was always bumping into history, Dad would have been so happy to have known that a letter he had written was now stored at the National Archives.
That particular letter was short, and at the time, I did not understand its purpose. The short correspondence to the State Department, which was then transmitted to the embassy in Moscow, stated that five hundred dollars had been deposited at the Chase Manhattan Bank in New York City “according to your directions.” What could that possibly mean? Why was Dad depositing so much money into an account in New York City, and what did that have to do with the State Department and Moscow? A quick check on the value of $500 in today’s dollars translated into a sum of almost $6000. Wow!