JULY 2018

JULY 2018
One Hundred Years Later, Same Message. 1916 - 2017


Tuesday, July 17, 2018


I suppose it seemed like a good idea in the beginning. There were three serious contestants, and a $50,000 first place prize.  But in retrospect, it should have been obvious that nobody was going to collect a dime of that money.  It was 1911; flying was still brand new and the world’s first two pilots were still flying - Wilbur and Orville Wright - and still learning to fly.  The world's third pilot was Lieutenant Thomas Selfridge, and he had died on 17 September, 1908, in a crash that also badly injured Orville. The second pilot to die was Charles Rolls (of Rolls-Royce fame), in a 1910 crash. Considering there were only about 100 men (and one woman) with flying licenses in America in 1911, two percent was an appalling death  rate, bad enough to make you wonder why anybody would have wanted to even try flying, let alone try it from coast to coast.
The world’s 49th licensed pilot was a shy, cocky, 6’4” thirty-something, cigar smoking, playboy and adrenaline junkie with a hearing loss and a speech impediment named Calbraith Perry Rogers (above -right). He was a romantic who favored action over words, as proven by the way he met his wife, 20 something Mabel Groves (above, left).  He saw her slip off a dock and fall into the water.  So assuming she was drowning,  he jumped in and pulled her to safety. Within a few months he married her, despite the hat.   He approached flying with the same spontaneity, but it was a passion which quickly developed into a mission..
Having seen his first airplane on a visit to Dayton, Ohio, in June of 1911,  Cal took the full Wright Brother’s flight course (above),  all 90 minutes of it.  Mabel explained that flying filled the hole in his life left by his deafness which had excluded a military career.  It was, she said "the last piece of a jigsaw puzzle". 
Then Cal talked his mother, Maria, into loaning him $5,000 so he could buy a Wright Model B Flyer “E-X”. The "X" was for experimental – which was a joke because every “airplane” was experimental in 1911.  But Cal may also have been the origin of the phrase to “take a flyer”,  because just two months later, in August, he entered his new Wright Flyer in an air show in Chicago and took home third prize, worth $11, 285.   Not bad: Cal had been a pilot for 60 days and already he had made six grand profit.  He suspected there might be money in this flying thing.
And this was confirmed in October of 1910 when the Hearst newspaper chain had offered $50,000 to the first pilot to make it across the continent in 30 days or less.  The offer was set to expire on 10 October.  So with his self supplied confidence,  Cal decided to go for it. Orville Wright tried to warn him. "There isn't a machine in existence that can be relied upon for 1,000 miles,  and here you want to go over 4,000.  It will vibrate itself to death before you get to Chicago."   But Cal refused to give up the idea.  He explained, "It's important because everything else I've done was unimportant."  Faced with that level of stubbornness,  Orville tried to look at the bright side. At least the Wright B Flyer was so light, said Orville "six good men could carry it across the country."
 What Cal needed, as any NASCAR driver can tell you, was a sponsor.  He found his ‘sticker sucker’ in  Mr. J. Odgen Armour, owner of Armour Meat Packing Company, and his new soft drink called “VIN FIZ”.   Allegedly it was grape favored soda water, but one critic thought it tasted more like  “a fine blend of river sludge and horse slop”   With a product like that Mr. Amour was going to need a heck of an advertising campaign. Enter Cal and his flying bill board.
With a guarantee of $23,000 from Amour, and a bonus of $5 per mile east of the Mississippi River, and $4 per mile to the west of the "big muddy",  and a corporate three rail car support train complete with a reservoir of spare parts, fuel and mechanics, and sleeping car accommodations for Mable, Cal’s mother Maria,  his cousin, his head mechanic Charlie Taylor, two other mechanics, two general assistants and assorted reporters from the Hearst news service, the flight was starting to look possible..
Armour even threw in an automobile (above) to track down Cal whenever he crash landed . With that much corporate funding behind him, Cal figured he had it all figured out. The first problem was that, before Cal even got airborne, his "Vin Fiz" was already in third place.
First off, from Golden Gate Park in San Francisco, was motorcycle racer Bob Fowler (above). There were 10,000 cheering people there at 1:35 P.M., on Monday, 11 September,  1911 to see Bob takeoff.  Like Cal, Bob was piloting a Wright “B” Flyer, except his sponsor was Joseph J. Cole, founder and owner of the Cole Motor Company, of Indianapolis, Indiana.  Cole supplied Bob with one of their engines and $7,500.  The Cole engine was more powerful than the Wright engine, but it was also 200 lbs heavier. J.J. also gave Bob a support train, with spare parts and his own mother.  But "The Cole Flyer" lacked the publicity support that accompanied the "Vin Fizz  Flyer..
Making an average speed of about 55 miles an hour, Bob reached Sacramento in just under 2 hours, and after schmoozing with California Governor Hiram Johnson, Bob flew on to the foothill town of Auburn, for a total distance on the first day of 126 miles. Impressive. And on a Monday.  On Tuesday, 12 September,  he reached Alta, California, where he crashed into some trees.  Bob was now out of the race until repairs could be made.
Second to start was James J. (Jimmy) Ward (above),  pilot's license #52, and previously a jockey.  He was flying a Curtis Model D,  with floats, so he could land on any lakes and or rivers he happened to cross.  Jimmy took off from Governor’s Island in New York harbor on Wednesday, 13 September, 1911. He immediately got lost over New Jersey, and made only twenty miles before crash landing. Then he too had to wait for repairs. The basic tempo of the race had thus been set right from the start; take off, crash, wait for repairs, take off, crash, wait for repairs, and repeat as necessary for 4,000 miles. It was going to be very hard to finish this race, let alone win it.
Before starting himself, Cal Rogers tied a bottle Vin Fiz to one of his wing struts (white circle on the left), “for luck”.  For reality, he tied a pair of crutches to another strut, in case he needed them later. He would.
Before a paying crowd of 2,000, a chorus girl poured a bottle of grape soda over the landing skids and proclaimed, “I dub thee “Vin Fiz Flyer””. Cal actually called his plane “Betsy” but he recognized the value of naming fees even back then.
Cal took off from the race course at Sheepshead Bay, Long Island at 4:30 p.m. on Sunday, 17 September. And if anybody noticed that it was the third anniversary of the crash that had killed Lieutenant Selfridge, they were polite enough to keep it to themselves.
After take off, Cal buzzed Coney Island and dropped coupons for free Vin Fiz soda (above). Then he flew across Manhattan as the breathless reporters breathlessly reported, “…with its death-trap of tall buildings, ragged roofs and narrow streets”.  Cal landed safely in Middleton, New York that night to a cheering crowd reported as 10,000 – not to be bettered by San Francisco. He had made all of 84 miles that first day. His plan was to average 250 miles a day.
That night the reporters wrote that Cal claimed he would be in Chicago in four days. But Cal  rarely talked to reporters because he barely heard their questions, the byproduct of a scarlet fever attack in his childhood.  And he spoke in the clumsy monotone of someone who never heard a human voice, clearly.   So it was easier if the the reporters just made up heroic quotes for Cal. They invented more heroic quotes for him the next morning when, on take off,  the "Vin Fiz" hit a tree and ended up in a chicken coop.  The bottle of Vin Fiz was "miraculously" undamaged, as proved because it would have been impossible to find another bottle of Vin Fizz aboard a train car named "The Vin Fiz Special".   But now it was Cal’s turn to wait for repairs.  The race was on!  It just wasn't going anywhere very quickly.
- 30 -

Monday, July 16, 2018


I believe Matt Welsh when he insisted years later he thought the "whole thing was a tempest in a teapot..." But honestly, that might be just the way he remembered January of 1964, not the way he lived it.  Because when the letter from the small town of Frankfurt, promoting a conspiracy theory, landed on the desk of the 41st Governor of Indiana, Matt Welsh wasted no time in spreading it as far and as fast as possible. That's what most politicians do. They spread panic.  It's almost their job description.
Frankfurt (above), a town of 15,000 exclusively white citizens, 45 miles due north of Indianapolis, was very much in the news that January because of the Hoosier obsession with high school basketball. 
 On Saturday, 28 December, 1963, Frankfort High School (above) had hosted a holiday invitational tournament in their new $4.5 million building and basketball arena (above right). The Frankfort "Hot Dogs" were eliminated in the afternoon game. That evening the team from Anderson, Indiana, met the reigning state champs, the Muncie Central High School Bearcats in what Indianapolis News sports writer, Corwin "Corky" Lamm,  described as "A Basketbrawl".
During the final seconds of Anderson's upset win, a frustrated Muncie player slammed the ball into his opponent's face. The sight of blood emptied the bleachers. Players and fans went at each other with their fists. Somebody even punched an Anderson cheerleader into the bleachers. Frankfort police quickly got things under control, but according to Lamm, the principle causality was  "... one black eye for basketball". At the core of the hysteria which followed, but which was barely mentioned in the press, was that while the entire Anderson team was white, 3 of the 5 starters for Muncie Central (below) were African-Americans.
Interestingly, this seismic headline and editorial producing event was not mentioned in the perfidy letter to Governor Welsh, even though the letter was written less than 3 weeks later, and the author attended Frankfort High School, infamous scene of the "basketbrawl". Rather the writer of the letter postmarked 17 January, 1964 professed to be concerned only with an immoral musical machination which began 8 months earlier, and 1,500 miles away.
At about 10:00 a.m., on Saturday, 6 April, 1963, the 5 members of the rock and roll group The Kingsmen gathered in a recording studio at 411 Southwest 13th Street in Portland, Oregon. 
The local group had been playing together for about 2 years, with 18 year old Jack Ely  (above left) singing through his new dental braces and playing rhythm guitar. Mike Mitchel (above right front) played lead guitar, Dan Gallucci was on the organ, Bob Norby (above right rear) was on bass guitar and the group's founder, Lynn Easton, reluctantly played the drums. They had pooled their funds to pay the $36 fee for a 1 hour use of the equipment and a recording technician, because they were proud of their rock-and-roll rendition of a calypso song written by a Los Angles musician named Richard Barry - who no longer owned the song, having sold all rights 3 years earlier for $750.
Backstage during a show in 1957, Barry had quickly scribbled the lyrics to a easy going R&B love ballad he called "Louie Louie" - no comma between the names - on a roll of toilet paper. Seriously. The song told the story in Jamaican English of a young man forced to leave home to find work. "A fine little girl, she waits for me, catch a ship across the sea, Sail that ship about, all alone, Never know if I make it home...3 nights and days I sail the sea, Think of girl, all constantly....See, see Jamaica, the moon above, It won't be long, me see me love, Take her in my arms again, I'll tell her I'll never leave again"
The Portland studio mostly recorded voice-overs for commercials and documentaries. and had never recorded a rock band before. The Kingsmen formed a circle around Jack Ely, one microphone for each instrument's amplifier and a single mic suspended from the ceiling for the vocal - this was before multi-track recording. 
After playing "10 or 12 bars" to set sound levels the technician and studio owner Robert Lindahl (above), moved Jack "about 10 feet back" and then they "laid down" a single 2 minute 40 second version of the song. The band thought they were still rehearsing. Ely was yelling to be heard above the amplifiers and drums, and he started the last verse too early. Half way through the song, Easton dropped a stick. But at the end Lindahl announced, "Great! Wonderful! What do you want to put on the B side?"

According to Ely, "We pressed 1,000 copies. The five of us got 20 each to pass out at school...The rest went into distribution, and nothing happened for months." But the slowly growing sales so impressed New York based "Wand Records" they signed on to distribute it. But Wand, as part of the racist division in American music, handled almost exclusively African-American artists. And as guitarist Mike Mitchel explained, "They had no idea we were white. By the time they found out...the song was climbing up the Billboard chart." In fact the Kingsmen's one take version of "Louie Louie" sold 12 million copies. When they later released it as part of an album, the cover did not include a photo of the band.  For obvious reasons.
What the recording had was energy and spontaneity. What it did not have was enunciation. Teenage musicians across the country listened to the popular record over and over, copying the music, but the more they listened, the more versions of the lyrics they came up with. According to Mitchel, "Some students at Tulane University called Lynn's house one afternoon and said, 'We've heard the record and these are the words we hear. Is it true?' And then they sang some dirty lyrics. That was the first time we learned that some people thought the lyrics were obscene because, in the northwest, it was a well-known song that had been played by many groups."
But nobody in Frankfort, Indiana (above) had ever heard the song before, lest of all the student who signed the letter to Governor Welsh. But he or she was certain what they were hearing was "so filthy that I cannot enclose them in this letter. ” However, students at Miami University in Athens, Ohio produced an obscene version of the lyrics, which compelled Jack New, Governor Welsh's executive secretary, to obtain a copy of the record - thus increasing sales by one more. According to Welsh "We slowed it down and we thought we could hear the words." At the time Welsh had no doubts, saying the supposed lyrics made his ears tingle. The Governor's Press Secretary, James McManus, assured the Indianapolis Star, the obscenities were "indistinct, but plain if you listen carefully."
But Governor Welsh did not bother to contact anyone at Wand Records, or even the band members in Portland, Oregon - whose families were available by dialing directory assistance. Instead Governor Welsh sent a letter off to his "friend", President of the Indiana Broadcasters Association, Ried Chapman (below).
Later Welsh insisted, "At no time did I ever pressure anybody to take the song off the air. I suggested...it might be simpler all around if it wasn't played." Eager to help his friend, Chapman dispatched telegrams to stations statewide "asking" them to not play the record. 
Overnight "Louie Louie" by The Kingsmen (above)went from the 4th most played song on Indianapolis radio, to zero. A few days later the Indianapolis Star called Portland and reported,"Young Singers Dismiss As Hooey Obscenity Charge in 'Louie Louie.'" Lynn Easton was quoted as saying, "We took the words from the original version by Richard Berry and recorded them faithfully. There was no clowning around. " 
But the editorial board of The Star refused to let go of the conspiracy, denouncing "...some stations" which have "decided to fill their programs with a cacophony of noise, and a collection of musical garbage. Call it what you like--folk music, rock 'n' roll, bop, hip or what-not." The paper offered no suggestion as to who should decide what was music and what was garbage, but the implication was clear.
Two Marion County prosecutors were assigned to investigate the dirty record. They played it at the standard 45 revolutions per minute, sped it up to 78 and slowed it down to 33 and a third. Their assessment was "the record is an abomination of out-of-tune guitars, an overbearing jungle rhythm and clanging cymbals."  Jungle rhythm sort of says it all, doesn't it? But it was not obscene. Surprisingly the 1 February edition of "Billboard, The International Music - Record Newsweekly", endorsed their own cabal - "...some shrewd press agent may also be playing an important role in this teapot tempest. Exactly whose agent is hard to pin down at this point."
That January the United States Attorney General, Robert Kennedy got an almost identical letter, originating from the parent of a student attending Sarasota High School in Florida. "...My daughter brought home a record of "LOUIE LOUIE"... The lyrics are so filthy that I cannot enclose them in this letter." Fifty years later it is reasonable to suspect an organized movement to suppress the "jungle rhythm". 
But in January of 1964, Kennedy did what Governor Welsh should have done first. RFK ordered the F.B.I to investigate. At the same time the U.S. Post Office and the Federal Communications Commission also launched investigations. 
As the Associated Press reported, "All three agencies dropped their investigations because they were unable to determine what the lyrics were even after listening to the recordings played at speeds of 16 rpm to 78 rpm."
The foolishness of the entire matter was made plain when on 1 February -  the same day as the Billboard article about the supposed "Louie Louis" conspiracy - announced that the  song "I Want To Hold Your Hand" by The Beatles hit number one on the charts. It would stay there  for 7 weeks. 
The "45 "single record sold 10,000 copies an hour in New York city alone. Nationwide it sold 5 million copies that spring. And it was replaced for another 2 weeks at the top of the Billboard chart by "She Loves You", also by the Beatles. It was the beginning of the British invasion, and the reign of the "Fab Four".  The Kingsman's "Louie Louie" was the last American record to top the charts for months.
Frankfort, Indiana won no advantage in being the source de main for the "Louie Louie" conspiracy theory.  Nor did it gain any advantage from the press coverage of the "Basketbrawl"  These events, which seemed so important to community leaders in 1964,  gained the town nothing. In the forty plus years since the 15,000 residents of "Gem City" -  so called because of its early investment in electrical lighting, - grew to a town of about 16,000 people. 
There are still almost no African-Americans in Frankfort. But the population is now only 72% white, with Hispanics making up 27%.  And 11% of all of them live in poverty. Winning the Culture Wars in Frankfort may not be the cause of its failure to grow and prosper,  but clearly racism and fear has not helped the town. As the clearly enunciated clearly not obscene lyrics to the Frankfort High School fight song say, "All hail to dear old Frankfort, to the blue and the white that floats upon the breeze....may her glory never, never die."  But there are times when it looks like the town just might.  And that truly would be obscene.
- 30 -

Sunday, July 15, 2018

A MOB HIT Part Three

I believe the best evidence is that Joseph Stalin did not kill his own father. But he ordered him murdered, and watched it done. The cobbler Besarion Vanovis was a known violent drunk who for years beat both his wife and son, before abandoning them. And when, in March of 1906, he was found dead on a back street in Tifil, Georgia, there were few tears shed for his demise, and police wrote it down to just another drunken brawl.  But his wound, a huge hole smashed into his skull, was just the sort of injury Stalin now insisted on inflicting on his other old enemy, Leon Trotsky.  Stalin was very specific about the method.  In fact, contemplating such acts of terror were Stalin's favorite pastime, as the drunken ruler shared with comrades in 1923: “To choose the victim,” he told them, “to prepare the blow with care, to slake an implacable vengeance, and then to go to bed....there is nothing sweeter in life.”.
After the raid of 24 May, the American Socialist Workers Party tried to raise funds to improve the defenses at 19 Avenida Viena (above), but were only able collect $2,250. Trotsky had previously been approached by Harvard University to donate his papers. And he now had two reasons to close the deal quickly, to protect his own life, and to move his papers to where Stalin could not destroy them. In exchange for his communications and notes between 1917 and 1937, Trotsky was to be paid $6,000 cash.
The money already collected was used to make certain that all windows facing Morelos Street (above) were bricked up, as were the doors in the portico which opened on Viena Street. The windows that remained were now guarded by iron bars. Wooden interior doors, which had proved easily smashed, were replaced with steel.
On 18 June, 1940,  the Mexican Police charged two dozen members of the Mexican Communist Party with taking part in the raid. The leader, artist David Alaro Siqueiros (above), escaped at first, releasing editorials insisting he was innocent and being framed.  But as more and more members of the raid confessed and named him as the leader, the tone of his press releases changed. Now he claimed he was not trying to kill Trotsky, but just to get him expelled from Mexico. Four months later Sisqueiros was finally captured in Jalisco. A judge was bribed to release the painter on bail, unheard of in an attempted murder case. And within 24 hours Siqueiros was in first Ecuador, and then Cuba, and then disappeared into "central America".  Most of the other members of the raid were not so lucky, and ended up serving years in jail.
It was during the confusion and trauma immediately following the 24 May attack that a old friend appeared at the Viena Streeet villa, a young blond woman named Slyvia Ageloff (above).  Her sister, Ruth, had once worked for Trotsky as a typist, and both sisters had met the Old Man and Natalia during his Paris exile.  Trotsky had taken an interest in the young socialists because he was,   in the words of a close family friend,  an “experienced philanderer”.  But Natalia also found the girls a pleasant diversion, and now Slyvia was doubly so.
Sylvia  (above left) explained she had come to Mexico to visit her mysterious Canadian boyfriend, Frank Jackson (above right), who had recently started a new job in Mexico. She was welcomed to tea with the Trotskies,  Although Frank's schedule prevented him from joining them, his absence only added to his mystery.  At first the only time members of the household saw him  was when his Buick sedan pulled to the curb to pick up Sylvia. Eventually Frank became familiar with the guards, and even agreeing to drive the house-bound Leon and Natalia on an outing to Vera Cruz.  That kindness, and a gift of chocolates for Natalia,  made it easier when Sylvia asked if Trotsky could offer some advice on a political article Frank was writing
The article which Jackson wanted Trotsky to read was titled “The Third Camp and the Popular Front”, referring to Trotsky's argument that workers must reject both capitalism and the gangster state Stalin had created. It should be noted that had their positions been reversed, Trotsky would have been as ruthless as Stalin.  But as he read Jackson's words in his study,  Trotsky grew uneasy.  Frank Jackson was sitting too close,  right behind him,  on the edge of his desk, with his coat folded across his lap.  Since the 24 May attack, Trotsky kept a .25 caliber pistol, still within reach on the desk top. But his reach to an alarm switch was blocked by Jackson. Besides, Trotsky found the article obvious and dull.  And after he had made comments and sent Jackson on his way, The Old Man told Natalia he did not want to see the Canadian again.
But Sylvia begged, and Trotsky agreed to read the rewrites Jackson had made.  So about 5:20, on Tuesday afternoon, 20 August, 1940,  Jackson pulled up again in front of the villa. It would be his 10th visit.  Getting out of his Buick he called up to the guard shack above the foray (above),  asking if Sylvia had arrived yet.  The guards answered no, but opened the front door without question.  Again they noted he carried a raincoat. Trotsky was in the garden, feeding his rabbits, so Jackson stepped back to the kitchen, to tell Natalia that he and Sylvia would be leaving Mexico the next day.  But Trotsky's wife had grown suspicious of the Canadian, and asked him why he was wearing a hat and coat on such a hot day.  Jackson answered, “It might rain.”  Abruptly, Trotsky appeared and invited Jackson back to his study to read the rewrites. Sylvia let them go, despite her uneasiness.
Once in the study Jackson waited only a few moments, before drawing a cut-down climbers pick ax hanging off the rear of his belt, hidden beneath his jacket.  Nervously, he wrapped his raincoat around it, and raising it over his head, drove it with all his might into the very top of Leon Trotsky's head. 
The steel point smashed through the top of the Old Man's skull, tore through the living soft layer beneath, and was driven three inches into his brain. 
Jackson said in his confession, “I shut my eyes and struck with all my strength ... As long as I live I can never forget his cry ...he screamed very long, infinitely long,” Jackson had expected the man to die instantly. He carried a pistol, and a knife, but had used the axe because the NKVD said a sever blow to the head would bring instant death.  But the sound of the old man's cry terrorized the murderer, and everybody else in the villa.
As Jackson pulled the ax back out, to raise it again, Trotsky stood and turned on his assassin. They struggled over the ax, destroying much of the furniture, and throwing Trotsky's blood all around the room. (above)   The younger man managed to slice Trotsky's cheek, before the 60 year old Russian pulled the ax out of his hands. 
As Natalia and a bodyguard rushed into the room they discovered Trotsky standing over his attacker, the ax in his hand, blood pouring over his eyes. Trotsky said to his wife, “Look what they've done to me!” He told the guard he'd been shot. Then Natalia guided him out to the garden.
The guards fell upon Jackson (above),  beating him while he cried, “They made me do it. They're holding my mother. They have put my mother in jail”  When he tried to pull a pistol out of his pocket, they beat him again. Again he cried out, “They have imprisoned my mother”  Then he added, “Sylvia Ageloff had nothing to do with this.”   Then he insisted “it” was not the NKVD, he had nothing to do with the Soviet secret police.” No one ever believed him.
Trotsky was driven to two miles to Cruz Verde Hospital in Mexico City. A team of neurosurgeons operated to release pressure on his brain. His last words were, “I think Stalin has finished the job he started.” Suffering from shock and blood loss, and severe brain damage, Leon Trotsky never woke up from the surgery, and died half past seven the next evening.  He was buried on the villa's grounds, which have become a museum, dedicated to his memory.
Later, the police, who had arrested Sylvia,  led the bewildered and terrified woman into a hotel room crowded with reporters, where she was surprised to confront Jackson (above). He began yelling, telling her to go away.  
Jackson (above, right)  later re-enacted his crime, and even admitted to being Jacques Mornard. And under that name he was convicted of murder, and sentenced to twenty years in prison. He served every day of it,  if under luxurious conditions, with female companionship, and servants, all paid for by the Soviet NKVD.
We know now that Leonid Ettingon told Ramon Mercader just before his final meeting with Trotsky, that if he failed to murder the Old Man, his mother Caridad Mercader (above) , would be sent to a gulag in Siberia.  After Trotsky was dead, Caridad was ordered back to Moscow, where Stalin himself gave her a medal, the Order of Lenin.  The honor was tainted when she realized she would never be free again. Twelve years after the murder, Mexican police finally pierced Ramon's disguises, and his true identity was finally revealed.  Caridad knew that not only  had she turned her own son into a murderer, she would have been arrested and likely executed by Soviet NKVD if he ever talked. She became a drug addict, her heroin supplied by the NKVD.
Joseph Stalin, perhaps the greatest thug of all time,  died in his own bed on 5 March, 1953,  likely poisoned by the head of his NKVD, Lavrentiy Beria.  Beria was arrested and executed on 23 December, 1953 -  just another gangster rubbed out.  That left only the flotsam floating behind to record the damage the gangster had done.
Ramon was released from prison in May of 1960, and traveled immediately to the Soviet Union where he was honored and rewarded for his loyalty and silence. He would never reconcile with his mother (above), who said she was “only good for destroying capitalism, but no good for building Communism.”   She hated living in the Soviet Union,  and died in Paris in 1975.   Her son, Ramon, died three years later, in Havana, Cuba. His last words were reported as, I hear it always. I hear the scream. I know he’s waiting for me on the other side.”  And Seva, Trotsky's grandson, going by the name Esteban Volkov,  still lives in Mexico City,. As of 2017, he was still Custodian of the Trotsky museum in villa in which the old man died.  Esteban still suffers from occasional nightmare of the attacks, and his grandfather's brutal murder. He recently told a British newspaper, I still remember looking through the open door and seeing my grandfather lying on the floor with his head bathed in blood and hearing him tell somebody to ‘keep the boy away, he shouldn’t see this'. I always thought that was a sign of his humanity. Even in a moment like that he was worried about me.”  And to a point, I'm sure that was true.
- 30 -    

Blog Archive