FACTUAL CORRECTION MADE TO THIS CHAPTER AFTER FIRST PRECURSORY PUBLICATION ONLINE
[This is the continuing story of Genie Baskir and how she became the second member of 'The Trio'. Commentary is by 'Caroline Brooks', narrator and textual editor. This version of the text is identified as the 'Precursory Edition' because this Online partwork is the precursor to publication in print. The text will endure further modifications and additions such as illustrations and references, before it appears in print. Consequently, some of the text in this chapter which has been prompted by recall, belongs in the timeline of the previous chapter. This is one example of where and why the final version of this story will be modified before appearing in print.
Genie now continues with her own recital of events:
My story relating to the 'Voice of Peace' broadcasts mostly relates to the year 1977. I knew guys on the ship, and so I stayed on land because the idea of living at sea with a host of male companions did not appeal to me, especially when I didn't have to. Israel was not always a safe place for females. It seemed to me back then, that everyone wanted to marry me - so they could come to the USA!
On land I was a genius with a razor blade and Scotch tape and so I stayed busy.
My introduction to Abie Nathan came through the Polish woman who picked me up in the coffee shop on Dizengoff. She told me Abie was Tunisian and I had no reason not to believe her. She had a number tattooed on her arm like everyone else, and she did not embrace socialism. But she did embrace Israel after she survived the Holocaust. Her name is Miriam, and she was both an archivist and a family reunification specialist. She knew where everyone was from.
I was born in the Bronx, New York; then raised in Boston, Massachusetts and finished growing up in upstate New York before living abroad, and then moving to Texas where I met Grey Pierson through whom I met Don Pierson, Mervyn and Eric. Now, having lived for so many years in Virginia I have difficulty in defining exactly where I am from.
But back to 1977 for a moment. I would see the various people who were on board the ship when they returned to land took their leave on the island of Cyprus. I had many friends doing stuff in Cyprus that they couldn't do in Israel because the rabbis wouldn't let them. Since I could prove to the rabbis that I was truly Jewish according to their standard, I could get anything legally accomplished in Israel itself.
I do not know what the shipboard occupants did about their own medical care, or even what they did when they came ashore in Israel. In those days Israel was very open to anyone coming into the country and the 'VoP' guys would land at Haifa. The authorities probably knew who they were, but this did not seem to be a problem as no one violated Israel's laws concerning monetary transactions. That is a completely separate issue that I will get into later.
The reason that everyone was so interested in my attitude to life back then, is because Americans were not looking over their shoulders. Americans were living. Freedom means waking up in the morning and deciding what to eat, where to go, what to do, whether to work or not. Bodily integrity meant wearing what one wanted to wear, no matter what the rabbis said a female could wear. Those individuals I encountered who did not know how Americans viewed life, could understand the American way of approaching life, because as Americans we do what we do because we can do what we chose to do. On the other hand I found Israelis to be very lazy and lackadaisical, versus workaholic Americans.
So that was my first brush with offshore radio, and several years would then pass by before I arrived in the Lone Star State of Texas and settled in 'Big D'. If I recall correctly, I believe I answered an advert in the 'Dallas Morning News' during March of 1981 which advertised a job in Arlington. It is was a city about thirty miles due west of Dallas, and a slightly less distance from Fort Worth which claims to be "Where the West Begins".
I remember speaking to a lady who answered the phone for a law office. I was puzzled about that when I arrived in Arlington for the first time and met Kay, secretary to attorney Grey Pierson. He interviewed me for the job I applied for. Grey seemed at the time to be very pleasant and he was most interested in talking about Israel and my work in the Holocaust museum at Kibbutz Lohamei Hagetaot. However, he did not seem particularly interested in my broadcasting career to that point in time. Funny, after all I learned.
A few days later, after the first interview, I was called in again and found myself in the waiting room with a man who turned out to be the printer of a magazine. If I recall correctly, both Grey Pierson and Mervyn Hagger came out of the office with Lawrence West to congratulate me on being hired. They also awarded the man in the waiting room with a magazine printing contract. After that, Grey, Mervyn and Larry whisked me off to a celebratory lunch at the Tiburon, a restaurant that was very close to where Grey Pierson lived at that time.
After settling in at 'City Digest' I was sent to work in the larger building next to the law office. The small office was a sublet from another law office next door. That lawyer was a large huffing, puffing, farting and wrenching man who could be heard through the thin walls. Lawrence West used to come over and talk to me about being Jewish. He thought that pretending to be a Gentile and asking me questions would mask his own Jewish characteristics. However, I had him pegged from ten feet at our first meeting.
Grey Pierson turned out to be a very abusive and impossible to please employer. I needed the job and the salary, and I found myself in a depression about reporting for work. I knew stuff was up at 'City Digest' and I was afraid about what I had involved myself with.
There was a decision to hire an Art Director. An applicant [female identity masked] applied. She was American but had returned from abroad just like me. She was beautiful, sophisticated, fashionable and a talented photographer. What she couldn't do was spell, and Grey Pierson savaged her. He was cruel and spiteful towards her, and he set out to destroy this young lady. After one particularly [horrendous day in which I personally experienced such behavior by] Grey I Pierson, I was at home in my Dallas apartment [when this young lady stopped by.] We commiserated and then she simply disappeared. I don't recall why or where she went to. But I think she figured she couldn't help me if I wouldn't help myself by punching Grey Pierson in the nose and quitting my job.
Sometime after that Mervyn Hagger called me into his office. It was after 5:00 p.m. when I should have been leaving. I thought I was about to be fired. Instead, Mervyn told me about his own hopes and dreams. He told me about his own youth and listening to 'pirate radio'. I understood what he was talking about, but at the time he feigned annoyance when I mentioned the Voice of Peace', because there was no mention of this subject on my resume.
[Mervyn Hagger recalls the meeting in this way:] Because Grey Pierson had seized managerial control of 'City Digest'; hired Genie and was redirecting her to undermine the recently signed Wichita Falls franchise, without Genie or the franchisee Gayle Backstrom being aware that they were now pawns in a game of 'takeover', I decided to have a private meeting with Genie since I was not the one who had employed her, but given a short list of candidates to approve or disapprove of. With Larry West on the side of Grey Pierson, and with Grey Pierson exerting family pressure on his own relatives who were now financing 'City Digest', paying my salary and for my company car, I was powerless to stop the replacement of the original business plan based upon the sales of fine art as an investment, with Grey Pierson's alternative plan which made no financial sense because it was based upon his own vanity. This was the situation when Mervyn Hagger decided to find out who Genie Baskir is and to let her know about the looming company disaster that was fast approaching all concerned.
Tomorrow: Endings and Beginnings ....
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