WFMU radio’s Beware of the Blog has a very cool post today. An unearthed reel of tape turns out to contain strange bedfellows indeed. The tape starts out with two pretty cool rockabilly recordings by an unknown rockabilly outfit. As they listened far enough–past the rockabilly–it turns out that the songs had been recorded on an already-used reel of tape. The material that was recorded over turned out to be interviews with Harry P. Cain, a senator from Washington who went to on to serve on the US government’s Subversive Activities Control Board, which was set up to investigate Communist infiltration of American society during the 1950s.
However, unlike the most infamous of all Red Scare communist witch hunters Senator Joseph McCarthy, Cain began to question what was happening to American freedoms in the name of protecting the country from communism. For this he was eventually removed from the board before finishing out his three-year appointment.
Check it out for both a couple of great anonymous rockabilly performances and a wonderful piece of radio history that evokes the feel of a time that wasn’t so sweet and innocent as the brush of history would often paint it.
For further proof of some of the tensions of the era, here also is a video of a panel interviewing Harry Cain when he served as US senator (before his time on the Subversive Activities Control Board) regarding his views on the Korean conflict that America was embroiled in at the time.
It certainly was a different time. Check out Senator Cain strategically lighting up a lunger just as he’s being introduced as a “distinguished guest.” Back from a time when smoking cigarettes was not only perfectly acceptable on American TV, but actually made the guest look distinguished!
Wouldn’t you just love to smack that smug smile off of his face as–at about 7:11–he suggests that an atomic bombing of Korea should definitely be considered as one of the tools that the supreme commander should have at his disposal to win the war. Yikes.