Adele Elliott: Lukewarm war


Adele Elliott



Every decade has its iconic images. When thinking of the 1920s, flappers come to mind. The ''30s evoke long, gloomy lines snaking out of soup kitchens. Each period has a descriptive name, as well: "The Roaring Twenties" or "The Depression." 


Of course, no generation is defined by one item only. Surely, the ''20s had some sad people who did not do the Charleston, the ''30s, some who were well-fed and cheerful. Over time, our perception of these years developed a sort of shorthand, which keeps things nice and tidy. Well, in our memory, anyway. 


However, "time marches on," and thankfully so. Few really want to relive the past. We can romanticize history. Just remember, though, once upon a time, there was no caller ID, wrinkle-free fabric or "the pill." 


Recent news has made me feel as if I were being dragged backward into the 1950''s, dredging up some of that era''s fears. Russian spies in the U.S.! (Didn''t you really think that was over?) 


It seems that they were using invisible ink, encoded radio transmissions, and switching bags in train stations. Radio transmissions and train stations? Now, everyone, please remind me, what decade (or do I mean century) is this? 


Those of us who were children in the 1950s remember crouching in a state of panic under our desks. Who can forget bomb shelters, or our tremendous terror of Russians? In retrospect, I suppose our fright was intensely overwrought. Now, it is apparent that our cold war enemy has not made much progress in over half a century. Invisible ink? Come on, school kids knew how to do that 60 years ago. (Hint: it involves lemon juice and holding the paper over a candle.) 


Anyway, The Russians are here! The Russians are here! They have been arrested in several states across the northeast. I can''t help but wonder, what if they had settled in Columbus? 


In this scenario, Columbus natives would have marked them immediately. First, the accent is a dead giveaway. Then, on a more subtle level, we would have realized that they had no grasp of the nuances of the phrase, "Well, bless your hea-a-art." 


Spreading surreptitious messages through Facebook is hardly necessary. We know everyone''s business, anyway. No coded clues required. 


Evidently, one spy-couple was angry because a house purchased for them was not in their name. That alone would have blown their cover. Not only does everyone in this town know where you live. They also know who were the previous owners -- for about the last 40 years. Don''t think your house note and property value are any secret, either. 


It appears that agents were all provided with fake careers. Unfortunately, some knew nothing about their "profession." In Columbus, you are not necessarily required to have credentials in your field. However, a lengthy history of family connections is essential. Newcomers are excluded from positions that don''t involve the phrase, "Do you want fries with that?" 


They posted Internet pages with patriotic images, pro-American slogans, and posed in front of the Statue of Liberty. Alright, we would have missed that one. Anything nationalistic triggers a knee-jerk response. (Cue, "God Bless America," and unfurl a giant flag.) 


For the most part, I doubt if they could have maintained their cover for very long in Mississippi. And, truthfully, I am happy that these moles were discovered, and quite ready to return to the year 2010. 


But wait, what''s that in the sky? Could that be sputnik flying over the Golden Triangle? Calling all hunters -- shoot that thing down, boys! 



Adele Elliott, a New Orleans native, moved to Columbus after Hurricane Katrina.


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