War? Nyet. Come to Camp.
A Manchester, Me., 5th-grader who last week received a letter from the Soviet leader Yuri V. Andropov "feels somewhat safer now," but she does not know whether she will be able to take up Mr. Andropov's offer to attend summer camp in the Soviet Union.
Samantha Smith wrote a letter to Mr. Andropov earlier this year after a conversation with her parents failed to answer her questions about U.S.-Soviet disputes, said the girl's father, Arthur Smith.
Mr. Andropov told Samantha to judge the Soviet Union for herself by attending summer camp in the Crimea. Samantha's parents, however, said they would have to accompany her and have made no arrangements to do so.
Mr. Smith, a lecturer in English at the University of Maine's Augusta campus, said Mr. Andropov "really does attempt to deal with her questions" in the three-page letter. Samantha's concerns about the dangers of nuclear war were allayed by the apparent concern of Mr. Andropov, Mr. Smith said.
The Soviet leader claimed President Reagan was at fault for the lack of progress toward a bilateral agreement on disarmament.
"[W]e do not want this weapon ever to be used," Mr. Andropov said. "That is why the Soviet Union solemnly declared to the world that it will never, but never, be the first to use nuclear weapons against any country."
Mr. Andropov also compared Samantha to Becky Thatcher, the character in Mark Twain's Tom Sawyer. He added: "All kids in our country, boys and girls alike, know and love this book."
Samantha's correspondence with Mr. Andropov has brought the family a "staggering" amount of publicity, Mr. Smith said.
The girl and her parents flew to New York to appear on news programs of all three networks and she and her mother flew to California to appear on "The Tonight Show."
When the Smiths returned home from New York, they were greeted by a large crowd. And the following day, the family played host to Soviet television reporters.
Samantha's father said he first considered the letter no more than "a good exercise in civic awareness."
Vol. 02, Issue 32