June 28, 2011
Issaquah, unlikely Cold War hotspot, thaws history
Berlin or Prague call to mind Cold War intrigue — dead drops in darkened alleyways, encrypted cables sent between continents, double-crossing double agents.
But, Issaquah? The city conjures up, if not Cold War intrigue, then at least intriguing episodes from the bygone era.
Issaquah hosted anti-aircraft missiles designed to counter the nuclear threat from the Soviet Union. Townsfolk served as test subjects — scientist-speak for guinea pigs — in a Cold War psychological operations study. The oddest episode, perhaps, surrounds a decision to import a hulking Vladimir Lenin statue from behind the crumpled Iron Curtain to Issaquah.
For a piece in the summertime Issaquah Living magazine, I set out to recount the statue’s long and meandering journey from the Poprad, Slovakia, scrap heap to suburban Issaquah and, at last, to a Seattle street corner. (Readers can find the magazine tucked amid the sales circulars in the B section.)
The plot is as tangled as a John le Carré espionage novel. Late Issaquah resident Lewis Carpenter chanced upon the discarded statue in a Poprad storage yard.