“The Day the F. B. of I. Came to Visit”
From the time I was 8 years old or even younger, I was interested in electricity and specifically electric circuits and radio. Around the age of 9 or so, I built my first shortwave radio, which let me listen to radio stations located around the world. What a mystery, fascination it was for me to hear the views of other countries on world affairs and also their music and local programming: Russia, South America, Africa, the BBC or British Broadcasting Corporation, Chu in Ottawa, Ontario and many, many more.
Now, I am not sure how I learned of it but if you sent a letter to a specific radio station and defined the date, time and frequency that you heard their station, perhaps in a month or several months or in one case even a year later, you would receive a postcard showing the name of the station and a confirmation that you had in fact heard their station. And the point of collecting the cards? Really nothing more than a hobby, to collect as many stations from around the world as possible.
Now, it is easy to forget but from the end of World War II up to the break up of the Soviet Union, the United States and the Soviet Union were in what was called a cold war. I am not sure what historians call the high point or low point of the cold war but certainly for me, it was the Cuban missile crisis. At any rate, about 6 months before the Cuban missile crisis I sent a letter to Radio Moscow requesting a confirmation short wave listening (SWL) card. Hardly in no time at all, not only did I receive a really nice looking card but I also received this thick packet on Soviet life to include a picture of a stadium of students of some age all doing exercises together. Other than the card, all else was junk mail to me, but apparently not to the powers that be.
Within a week of receiving my packet from the Soviet Union, one day there was a knock on our front door and outside stood 2 FBI investigators. Invited in, they wanted to know who was in contact with the Soviet Union and why?
I was called into the room by my father and once the 2 agents saw my age, they really did not need anymore of an explanation but I gave them one anyway and they left satisfied that I was not a communist agent of some kind.
To this day, I do think it interesting that somewhere, somehow, in the United States, mail was being watched and time and energy was expended to investigate any potential Soviet agent. Talk about paranoid. I wonder if a file was started on me at that time and perhaps still exists inside the FBI somewhere?
Luckily, for me, my parents were not upset and my SWL activities continued for many years.