[Ca. 1939–1940 Trip to Mexico, including being present at an interview with Leon Trotsky].
Sightseeing, lectures, Leon Trotsky, machine guns. Across seven letters, 29-pages total, Walter B. Wigton writes to his parents from Mexico during the Second World War. Walter, a railway examiner, describes a July tourist trip that was largely filled with academic lectures. As well, a photograph with these letters shows him in military dress.
Walter travels with educators and others: Howard University dean Howard Thurman (noted educator, author, and Civil Rights leader), an assistant director of the Springfield, Mass. Art Museum, a Dr. Hanchett, former Antioch College dean, et al.
Entering Mexico via Laredo, Texas, the train is floodlit as it passes over the International Bridge. Mexican soldiers then perform a very thorough inspection (under berth mattresses, in refrigerator ice compartments) as does a woman “fat and dressed in only a dress and a religious medal”.
Training from Monterrey to Mexico City, Walter is forced to surrender his camera. Soldiers seem to be everywhere. Walter notes the “squalor in which the poorer classes live” and then writes of hearing Dr. Federico Bach lecture on “An Introduction to the Economic Problems of Mexico” and Jorge Acosta’s lecture “Ancient Cultures of Mexico”.
Other lectures follow as do trips to see ancient ruins and significant destinations. Walter observes and learns of Mexican life and culture; all the while checking off lectures (and occasional concerts) heard. Staying in one town, on Election Day, Walter sees the police cleaning their rifles. Shouting and shots lead to the death of a woman and two children. A large boisterous crowd forms, but the shooting is over.
More lectures, more sight-seeing. Then, in the penultimate letter, Walter goes off “for an interview with Trotsky”:
About 100 policemen are kept about his home all the time. We were all looked over carefully and checked off a list as we signed for admission. The interview was held in a small room with but one window, so with the fifty or so of us plus about 15 guards it was pretty close. One fellow fainted.
Walter then describes how in these close quarters the back wall had “several small holes in it through which other guards with machine guns watched” adding “Trotsky himself seemed a milder man than I thought. I can at least admire him for keeping his convictions even through danger…” This American doesn’t agree with Trotsky’s ideology’s in full, but he can see “some possibilities in [Trotsky’s] statements on a new order arising from the present World War.” He adds dryly “Just to be bland we went from Trotsky’s to the home of Franz Meyer, a very wealthy and retired banker…”
More sight-seeing. (The bull-fight “too gory”.) More lectures. Than the conclusion of a trip with a promise to arrive back home to Washington, D.C.
One American’s travel through Mexico, with a bit of Leon Trotsky thrown in, before Trotsky’s August 21, 1940 assassination in Coyoacán, Mexico City, and before Pearl Harbor.
Description: [Ca. 1939–1940 Trip to Mexico, including being present at an interview with Leon Trotsky].
[Various places in Mexico. July 3–July 22nd, ca.1939-before August 21, 1940 (death of Leon Trotsky]. Seven octavo ALsS, 29pp, total. Fine condition.