Today in the Frye Diaries, 13 September


1942: Frye has a dream about living in war-ravaged Stalingrad; reflects on “racial stereotype thinking” and the “Gestapo” of Moncton, New Brunswick.

[110] … Last night I dreamed I was living in Stalingrad with a Russian family: the wife a beautiful slim girl copied from some picture of a ballerina. They asked me how I got there & I said quite simple, B.C.-Pacific-Siberia, the Russian transportation system is wonderful east of Stalingrad – you’d hardly know there was a war on. An old woman came & knocked on the door: she was an evil malicious gossip, inquisitive & interfering, & well known to be a German spy. The girl said, “No, you can’t come in: go away, you old tart.” Yet we all had the feeling that sooner or later she would come in, & would order us around as she liked. The I suddenly heard cannonading, which I’d been only vaguely conscious of before, & I knew the Russians had retreated another ten miles. Gradually the old hag forced her way into the vestibule, soldiers (German) starting pouring in, & I woke up.

[111] I often wonder about intuitive racial-stereotype thinking: a lot of it is balls. For instance, there’s a big good-natured German in Moncton called Lichtenberg who had been a peaceful, thrifty, industrious contractor there for thirty years. For two wars the local Gestapo have cut their teeth on him: when the new is bad or they get tired of reading spy stories they’d go up and practice on him. Recently the Gestapo combed his whole house over, in response to some silly anonymous “tip,” & one of them found two large knobs in a dark closet. “Aha!” he said, stepped into the closet & gave one a twist, thinking of course it was a private transmitter set. It was an extra shower he’d installed. Incidentally, he’s a naturalized Canadian citizen, but married before that, so his wife, who belongs to one of the oldest Maritime families, is an enemy alien. Well, Dad’s friendship for Lichtenberg has come in for much unfavorable comment in that stinking little kraal Moncton, & the stinkers point out gleefully that “Frye” is really a German name, & that I look just like a German. It’s a beautiful theory, only it just happens to be wrong.

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