Document 14: Testimony of Mrs. Sarah Eldredge
Washington State Joint Legislative Fact-Finding Committee on Un-American Activities,
Second Report: Un-American Activities in Washington State (Olympia, 1948), 207-17.
MR. HOUSTON: Mrs. Eldredge, . . . we will take this easy, now, we know you are ill, but we will just proceed slow and easy.
Will you please state your name?
MRS. ELDREDGE: Sarah N. Eldredge. . . .
MR. HOUSTON: I will ask you, Mrs. Eldredge, have you ever been a member of the Communist Party?
MRS. ELDREDGE: Yes, for approximately two years, for the last half of 1937, for all of 1938, and about half of 1939 . . .
MR. HOUSTON: Now, during this period of time you devoted a great deal of your time in working in the Party program, did you not?
MRS. ELDREDGE: I did. I did. . . .
MR. HOUSTON: Now, I will ask you if you know a man by the name of Melvin Rader?
MRS. ELDREDGE: Yes. . . .
MR. HOUSTON: Now, did you call upon Professor Rader to perform services for you [in the Communist Party]?
MRS. ELDREDGE: Yes, he spoke, I think, twice . . . [to the] the League Against War and Fascism [an organization dominated by communists].
MR. HOUSTON: So he was an instrument that could be used?
MRS. ELDREDGE: He was a powerful instrument.
MR. HOUSTON: Now, did you ever sit in any Party meetings with Mr. Rader?
MRS. ELDREDGE: No closed Party unit meetings.
MR. HOUSTON: In other words, you have no evidence and you are not making the charge that Mr. Rader was a Communist.
MRS. ELDREDGE: I'm not making the statement that Mr. Rader was an actual member of the Party.
MR. HOUSTON: But he did their bidding and—
MRS. ELDREDGE: But he did their business, and other work, and as Walter Winchell says, "When you see a bird that looks like a duck, walks like a duck, and quacks like a duck, it's a duck." . . .
MR. HOUSTON: Now, Mrs. Eldredge, you—did you testify in a loyalty hearing held by the Federal Public Housing Administration on Jesse Epstein [director of federal public housing in Seattle]?
MRS. ELDREDGE: .Yes, I did. . . . I was called to—a couple of days before that a man called me up in the evening and said he represented the Loyalty Commission, I believe it was, and he said we were interested in the testimony you gave concerning the alleged membership of Jesse Epstein in the Communist Party. He said, "We are here for a hearing, a closed hearing and we wondered if you would be willing to make a statement." I said, "Yes," I would make such a statement. . . .
So, I [went to the meeting and] I went into the room, and there were—there was this long table here, and along this side of the table sat the committee; over here, Jesse Epstein; and here his attorney; . . . and I gave the committee my testimony, but first, before I gave my testimony, the attorney for Mr. Epstein says, "I would like to ask this witness a question before the testimony is given."
So, they conferred—the committee conferred a little, and they said, "Well, it's a little out of order, but you may ask the witness the question," and he said, "Did you ever see me before?" I said, "No, as far as I know, I don't think I met you before." He says, "You're sure you never met me before?" I said, "No," oh, I—I thought that he might have been an F.B.I. man who had called on me, that he might have been a former Communist who was just asking me this to puzzle me; and he said, "You're sure you never met me?" I said, "Well, years bring changes, and I might have met you some years ago and have forgotten what you looked like, but I don't think I met you before," and he said, "Do you mean to say you never met me before, and yet you accuse me, Jesse Epstein, of being a member of the Communist Party?" I said, "Oh, no, that's Jesse Epstein." So—
MR. HOUSTON: Now, this entrapment occurred at an official board meeting?
MRS. ELDREDGE: It did. . . .
MR. HOUSTON: But now, your testimony is today that Jesse Epstein was a member of the Communist Party.
MRS. ELDREDGE: Jesse Epstein was certainly a member of the Communist Party.