Fred Cody was born in 1916 in West Virginia, and struggled to get an education in the years before the war. After Pearl Harbor, he enlisted in the Army, and was stationed in England, where he worked near London at Bletchley Park, preparing soldiers who were being airdropped behind enemy lines in occupied France. Pat Cody, born in 1923, had gone to Teachers College in Connecticut, but she found herself contributing to the war effort by working as an electrician’s assistant building submarines at the Electric Boat Company. Following the war, they both ended up in New York City, where Pat worked for the United Electrical Workers union, which was controlled by left/communist activists. Fred was active in the campaign to fight the lynching of Blacks. Pat enrolled in Columbia University, and earned a master’s degree in economics..
The House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) kicked into gear in the late 1940s
Fred Cody used his GI Bill education grant to return to London, to study for an advanced degree. After they had been there a year or two, the US government notified them that they had two weeks to return to the US or their passports would be revoked and they would be in big trouble. This was before transatlantic air travel was widely available, so they boarded the next oceanliner for the two week voyage, and made the crossing with not a day to spare. On landing, they were interrogated for several hours, and realized that someone must have named them.
At that point, they had a very difficult set of options to choose from. They could stay and go before HUAC and name names. They could go and refuse to cooperate, which would put them on the blacklist. Or they could flee the country. They loaded a few belongings into an old Plymouth sedan, and drove across the country and across the border. They lived for two years in Mexico City. Pat spoke not a word of Spanish. Fred managed to use his GI Bill education benefits to attend the University of Mexico, and that was their lifeline. They found a lively community of radicals and expatriotes there, and met artists like Diego Rivera, Frida Kahlo and Pablo Neruda.
In about 1954, they moved back to the US, and Fred got a job with a small book club headquartered in Palo Alto, California. Although he had earned his PhD in history, he was unable to pursue an academic career because of the loyalty oaths that professors were required to sign – declaring they had never been active in the Communist Party USA. A few years later, after doing some market research, they moved to Berkeley, and opened a small bookstore on the north side of the UC campus. In the early 1960s, they moved the store to the south side of campus, on Telegraph Avenue, and in 1967, Cody’s Books moved into a new building built for their store.
Pat Cody, helped start a group called Women for Peace, which advocated against nuclear weapons and the Vietnam War. Fred died in 1984. Pat in 2010 — see this post here reflecting on her life.).
Fred, was active in the Telegraph Avenue business community, in trying to respond to the tremendous surge of young people coming to Berkeley. In 1968, the Summer of Love put thousands of young people on the move. Everybody wanted to be where things were happening, and Telegraph Avenue was one of the nation’s epicenters for change. But many of these people came with little money or means of supporting themselves. The Cody's helped create something called the Berkeley Free Clinic, which offered free advice, medical and dental services. In 1968, Fred convinced the Berkeley schools to allow a defunct continuation school just around the corner from the bookstore to be used for a “free university.” Anyone could offer a class, and this gave people a way to channel their energies in creative directions. My father later helped mediate a lasting resolution to the conflict over Peoples Park. Pat published in 1992, entitled Cody’s Books, the Life and Times of a Berkeley Bookstore.
"A call to build an organization for the 1990s and beyond"
Unity, January 28 1991, issued a statement "A call to build an organization for the 1990s and beyond" on pages 4 to 6.