Sunday, October 16, 2011

Old Hippies Never Die.....

......I'll admit that my memories of that first march on Washington in the late '60's have become somewhat jumbled up in my head with other memories of DC, where I spent lots of time and lived for the summer between my junior and senior years of college. What I do remember is the sincerity with which my buddies and I drove to Falls Church that spring where we were to all camp out, girls upstairs, guys in the basement, at the home of one of my college chums. Her dad was a colonel, having served in Viet Nam and recently returned to the U.S. We were there to march in hopes of ending this deadly, unpopular war that was threatening to take our brothers, lovers, and friends.

We were terrified of Col. Hamblen - he seemed so formidable - but I think often of what an intuitive and sensible dad he was. His daughter was pretty headstrong - why tell her and her crew what they can't do? In stead he welcomed us to take his hospitality and to join the march - perhaps a little part of him agreed with us? On another visit he invited us to the Pentagon for lunch - obviously pre-Homeland Security. I found his impressive obituary the other day and understood a lot.

We thought we were being careful, sensing that we were a part of something so much greater than ourselves, a turning point. Until the tear gas began to roll over us from  up ahead. I can tell you that it only takes a second for panic to set in and chaos to reign.

Over the years I've been so fortunate to be able to travel to various dream destinations - dreams to me anyway - and it never seems to fail that I arrive just as something momentous is happening and I'm thrown back to the '60's and that pride that one feels for taking a stand. In Florence, in the middle of an anti-Bush rally, our tour company asked us to forgo the city as it wouldn't be safe for Americans. Andiamo, we replied, voting for Florence and maybe even to take up a banner!

In Paris a few years ago Don and I were out strolling one evening, drawn to the glorious sight of the illuminated tour Eiffel . As we neared we could hear low singing, chanting almost, and closer still, we saw hundreds of people with candles lit and swaying. You got it, a peace rally. C'est magnifique!

Athens? We arrived only a month after the worst rioting in years to see bank windows boarded up or taped, paint stains that had splattered the sidewalks. We spoke with locals who explained their anger to us and, as we generally do, we empathized with these people. The advent of the euro had not been the panacea the government had hoped for. The gap between the wealthy and the working poor was growing all too quickly.

So I wasn't even remotely surprised when we arrived in the Mpumalanga delta outside Nelspruit, South Africa, for our week long stay at a lovely lodge on acres of land basically in the middle of nowhere, to find that there would be no housekeeping service or food service that week as there was to be a strike! Yes! Right up my alley. I didn't need to ask why, (but of course Don did) you have to know how underpaid these workers are - I worked as a housekeeper myself back in the hard days. They were asking for a 50 rand per month increase, about $6.00. We wished them all the luck in the world.

Panorama Tour 1 054.JPG

All this was brought home to me the other day when I began to read about the movement Occupy Wall Street which is spreading across the country. My faith in Americans has been revitalized! I'm so happy that FINALLY someone is mad as hell and doesn't want to take it any more. I was working this past Saturday and will be for the next few but kudos to my buddies, my old hippies, who were in downtown Ft. Myers this weekend walking to Bank of America. I'll join you as soon as I can.


Linda said...

Maybe you can take my place this coming Saturday, when I have to work! Working on nights and weekends seems to be the curse of the 99%!

Sallyb said...

Ha, Ha! I'm working the next three weekends. Penance for taking a vacation.