In the late 1920s, my grandfather was imprisoned in Palestine for plotting to overthrow the British regime. Undoubtedly he was plotting to overthrow the British regime, but given the efficacy with which he carried out various anti-capitalist schemes during the time that I knew him, in this case his offense probably consisted of something like handing out leaflets.
In any case, he was held in jail for a year at Akko Prison (also known as Acre). During that time, he occupied himself, among other activities, with carving sandstone with his fingernails. Here is a bronze cast of one of the pieces he carved–it’s been on a farm in Israel for decades but my father finally managed to get ahold of it and have copies made.
I would say “note the Communist iconography,” but since it consists of nothing but Communist iconography, such an admonition would be superfluous.
We went through his papers after he died; they were full of letters that ran to dozens of pages predicting the imminent demise of the capitalist octopus and the imperialist running dog. (At least that’s what the letters in English said; my Yiddish wasn’t really up to the level of rhetoric of which he was capable.)
This was my father’s side of the family. My mother’s side includes my grandmother, who was married nine times, and a great-uncle who was the first serial killer ever to be convicted when authorities matched the hair under his fingernails with his victims’ hair. He’s one of the waxes in the wax museum episode of The Twilight Zone.
I believe this convergence of influences explains much, if not all, of my character.