Driving Natalia Trotsky - 1940-11-14

This would be funny if it were not tragic, less than 3 months after the murder of her husband, and 2 years after the murder of their son, and her other son and all her other family lost as well. After Aug 1940, most of the other guards return to the states, and Henry is called on to drive Natalia "into town." Henry was raised on a farm in Indiana. Farm boys learn to drive early, but he probably had little big city driving experience. He gets into it with Natalia, is afraid he might be fired, and proactively writes this defense. They get over it. He had great respect for Natalia Trotsky. When she grew sick near the end of her life, Henry flew to Paris to pay his respects in 1962.

That I may not later be charged with fabricating a story to justify myself I'll record the events now while they're still fresh in mind.

I drove Natalia and Sara to town this morning. I let Sara off at the Zocalo (off of Madero) and drove on. Natalia wanted to go to San Juan Market. At the Zocalo, corner of 16 de Sept. and 5 de Oct. are two stop lights and a policeman regulating traffic. The light for 5th of Oct was on red when I arrived, the one for 16 Sept was just turning red. The policeman at the right side of the street raised his hand for traffic to stop, in fact he raised it on my account because I had moved forward across the line of metal markers indicating pedestrian crossing zone.

Natalia in the back seat in very insistent manner repeated in her hybrid Spanish and German "drive on, what are you waiting for, all the others are going, I told you go to Lopez" and more in that strain. The reason was the busses were going ahead but they are in a separate traffic lane.

I didn't try to reason with her because she can't understand, she became angry and semi-hysterical because it takes several minutes for the light to change and she was evidently unaware of it. I answered that it was impossible to go on until the signal changed. She became very insistent, almost crying until I replied angrily and evidently much louder than necessary to make her hear - that I would not go until permitted. I pointed out the facts whereupon she was very highly offended, declared others were crossing, said there was no need for my shouting; that Melquiades and Walter never shouted at her; that she knew how to drive; that others drove as she directed, why didn't I? That she would take a taxi if I shouted etc.

All this transpired while we were waiting for the light to change. When we started moving again she said "go to Lopez." We were on the 16 de Sept. I drove to the Belles Artes and turned left onto Juarez. When we got to Lopez she said "turn left." I told her that it was impossible. No left turn is permitted off of Juarez until you come to the corner of the Alameda near the Regis Hotel. I drove on pointing to the big markers in the street labeled "Vuelte a la esquierda prohibida" or something to that effect. She became quite angry again. We drove to the proper corner, turned and went back to Lopez. About three blocks down, the street is closed for repair. The cross street is a one way street and at this time of day was so crowded as to make crossing almost impossible. She said "derecha! derecha! derecha!" very irritated like, because of the delay (sometimes a moment's delay causes her to become terribly angry). I told her it was impossible to turn right , the street being for one way traffic only. She insisted, "I'll take the responsibility for that." When I got the opportunity I turned left and followed the traffic to San Juan. This disobedience of mine she resented all the more.

I don't want to draw any conclusions from this experience except to point out that following her orders are impossible and for her own sake someone should instruct her in traffic regulations.