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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Mary Price Adamson, April 19, 1976. Interview G-0001. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Fallout after Bentley's accusations

After returning to the United States, Adamson discovered that Bentley's accusations continued to haunt her. Every time she found a job, the FBI arrived and spoke with her employer. Shortly thereafter, she would be fired.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Mary Price Adamson, April 19, 1976. Interview G-0001. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) in the Southern Oral History Program Collection, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Full Text of the Excerpt

MARY FREDERICKSON:
Then when you came back to the States, you moved back to Washington?
MARY PRICE ADAMSON:
Yes, because Charlie had a house in Georgetown which he had subleased while he had gone to Europe. I had kept my apartment, I had subleased it and so it was a logical place for us to come back to.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
And then you started working in 1957 for the National Council of Churches?
MARY PRICE ADAMSON:
I had a very uneven work effort. That's the McCarthy era, if you know about that era, it was underway and getting jobs in Washington was not easy for one who had had adverse publicity as I had. The same thing was true of Charlie because he had been very active in picketing the White House to try to keep the United States out of the war. You may remember about that. So, it was just very difficult. So, I fortunately had the skills of a stenographer . . .as I say, I never really properly learned shorthand but by that time I had become confident enough in making out about it. I just went to New York and worked for those temporary places because I didn't have a record that I could very well refer to. The years of working for the Czech Embassy in the McCarthy era, that was not a good recommendation. Working for the Southern Conference for Human Welfare, on the Committee for North Carolina, they were not what you would call sound recommendations.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
How did you react to that? Were you angry?
MARY PRICE ADAMSON:
I was angry and I was scared, because the FBI wouldn't let me keep a job. One calendar year I had fourteen different jobs. They wouldn't let me keep a job at all.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Do you mean that they would go to the place where you were working and . . . .
MARY PRICE ADAMSON:
That's right.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Were they following you all this time?
MARY PRICE ADAMSON:
They must have been. I wasn't aware of it but they must have been because I don't know how else they could have found me.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Your employer would suddenly come in and tell you . . . .
MARY PRICE ADAMSON:
My employer would come in and the usual thing, I remember a couple of them would say, "How long did you work for Lippman?" I would know that this was it. They would ask me something that they had no other way of knowing about it at all.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Did many of your friends have the same experience of losing jobs like that?
MARY PRICE ADAMSON:
I'm sure they did, but I was not in any position to be pursuing my interest in social problems at that time, because I had to have a job and it took all that I was capable of doing to manage.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
So, it turned into an individual experience for you rather than one that you could share with people who were in the same situation? I mean other than the closeness that you had with your husband, who was . . .
MARY PRICE ADAMSON:
Charlie was very loyal and very helpful, although he was running to the end of his financial resources, too.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
It was an experience that was difficult to share with anyone or to get support for?
MARY PRICE ADAMSON:
That's right. There again, my friends didn't have jobs to give me and other people were not able to. I got jobs through personal contacts, but there again, those people, when the FBI would come to see them they were not willing to make an issue.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Were you ever angry enough that you wanted to have the whole thing fought through, to defend yourself?
MARY PRICE ADAMSON:
Yes, I would have liked to, but you fortunately, were not old enough to know about the McCarthy era, but it was . . .a couple of the people whom Bentley named had gone to prison. One of them was killed in prison and another one I happened to know because he lived on the same street that Charlie's sister lived on in New York and I met him through her. But it was not . . .it was a very, very serious matter and I had to have a job.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
There was no network through which you could begin to think about staging any kind of counter offensive?
MARY PRICE ADAMSON:
No, you asked me about it and I had good legal advice and people were very helpful to me, but there just wasn't . . . .
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Did Clifford Durr continue to help you? Had he been involved in defending you earlier?
MARY PRICE ADAMSON:
Well, I didn't ask him about trying to bring charges against Bentley. I guess that perhaps it was a defeatist attitude at that time because McCarthyism was so rampant that it just seemed that what one had to do was figure out a survival scheme.