Mindy Fried’s father was subpoenaed by the House Un-American Activities Committee the first time when she was just four years old. An actor and a union organizer whose politics earned him the nickname Red, Manny Fried refused to testify before HUAC and was blacklisted for many years.
“We were ostracized by neighbors and friends,” Fried said. “I got a very strong message from my dad about the importance of standing up for your beliefs regardless of the kind of obstacles you might face. To me, he was kind of a hero,” she added. “It took me awhile to figure out he was human like anybody else.
In “Caring for Red,” Fried writes about the end of her father’s long life (he died at 97 in 2011). The book stems both from personal experience and her training as a sociologist. “The experience of caring for an elder parent is very isolating,” she said. “In writing the book I wanted to open that conversation, and also I wanted to delve more into the policy issues that underlie aging care and caregiving.”
Tackling a new kind of writing was a challenge, but reinvention is a family trait.
“My experience of my father was watching somebody evolve and continually reinvent himself,” Fried said. In addition to acting and activism, he earned a PhD, started his own press, and taught for years at Buffalo State College.
Red would have an opinion about the times we’re in, she said. “He took the long view,” she said. “He really believed in maintaining your integrity, that somehow integrity would win out in the end. To not be afraid, not let anybody silence you, to stand up for what you believe in.”
Fried will read 7 p.m. Friday at Porter Square Books.
Kate Tuttle, a writer and editor, can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.