Back in the years before people started sending white powder through the mail (and I’m not talking about coke addicts), Alger Hiss used to get regular hate mail, all of which he opened with great amusement. As a WASP who enjoyed his yiddishisms, he was especially fond of those letters that accused him of being an evil Jew.Â He even had a regular hate correspondent, some guy who used to write so often that he became almost like family. It reminded me of a great Kurt Vonnegut story set in Hyannisport during the Kennedy administration where the retired, arch-conservative Admiral who lived in the compound across the way from the Kennedys hated them so much, he erected a huge, illuminated portrait of Barry Goldwater atop his house. Then one night when he failed to light it (I can’t remember why), there was a knock on his door. It was JFK himself, asking the Admiral if he could turn it back on, since it was the only way he could find his way home along the dark road.
Much the same way, if Alger’s special hater had stopped writing him, we would have been equally disappointed. In fact, I could see Alger writing him a note, making sure he was ok.
Anyway, I wish I had saved his letters, they were that wonderful, but I did save a few others. Here is one of my favorites. Pay special attention to the note on the envelope. (Click on images to enlarge them, and if you want to see the program that inspired such an outpouring of love, click here.)