Growing up in my house was quite an adventure. My father told us our phone was wiretapped so we had to be careful what we said. Once, when we came back from vacation he said the RCMP had broken into our house to watch our home movies. He also said that my best friend's grandfather was writing weekly reports to Ottawa about all the neighbors, and that our teachers were recording anything interesting anyone said in their classrooms. Once I was assigned to debate that the monarchy was no longer necessary in Canada and my father saw it as a trap. We were told not to trust anyone ever with anything because sooner or later it would get back to Ottawa. This was in Canada in the 60's mind you.
So what was he so afraid they'd find? My father was a bookkeeper for a flour company- hardly sinister stuff. Our home videos consisted mainly of us walking around the garden sniffing flowers. We were so poor I was wearing all the neighbors' hand-me-downs, so if my father WAS moonlighting as a spy he sure wasn't being paid for it. So why was he saying such scary things?
I'm guessing he was just giving us the same advice his parents gave him when he was a child. Only their his case it was understandable because they were in real danger from the government. Their best friend was taken away during wartime solely because of his religion. They felt it was a real injustice- here was a man who had fought bravely for his country, and even gotten war medals for it and THIS was his reward? My grandparents were angry, and everyone in their small town knew it. So yes,they had to watch what they said. Their lives depended on it.
But this was hardly the case in Canada in the 60's! Years later I asked my parents if they still thought they were under observation and they said “No”. They felt embarrassed about ever having thought that, but in the mean time the damage had been done. We'd been raised in fear and sometimes I do worry that some day what my grandparents feared will happen to me if I become too conspicuous.
Another example of the things war can do to the next generation.