The following is Mary Jane Gibsons’ account of her trips to Uvolde, Texas to register voters in 2015. It was first posted on a blog maintained by her dear friend Jeff Swope.
Posted on October 17, 2015
The road from San Antonio (remember the Alamo!) to Uvolde is about 80 miles west on Highway 83 which goes right through the town square and is lined on the way in by a dozen fast food places, Walmart and at least another dozen establishments, which, unless you make a personal appeal, I will skip over. Our home here has been Motel 6 which Mark tells me, the late night comedians poke fun at mercilessly. Well, let them! Where else can two respectable old women stay with hot water, air conditioning, awfully kind women cleaners for $53.00/day? I ask you. While it is true that we are home to incredible numbers of crickets who race in when the door is opened and the towels replenished only when requested, and that one of the two is shockingly unschooled in the use of contemporary equipment such as the common cell phone and the everybody-from-third-grade-up-is-adept-at iPad.
Both of us have been awarded the highest praise by the Gibson family, and can now be called ” a trooper” without reservation. Actually, the one thing you should know is that last week was opening day for the long awaited HUNTING SEASON!!! That is why local merchants are smiling and on weekends the motels are full and restaurants are humming. The front page of a local paper has a commanding photo of a magnificent buck, announcing the much anticipated season,
not so much by the buck, one presumes. Gun sales everywhere: “GUNS, Buy, Trade, Sale! Bargains!”
Today I broke out my baggy t-shirt with, across the back, ” Grandmothers Against Gun Violence ” just to be daring. Actually, the hunters are polite an gone all day. One thing: the man next door allowed his truck to recklessly drop manure in the parking area, which was more crowded than usual because management chose this time to have the roof repaired and whereever the roof repair men work, the parking spaces are roped off. I know so little about motel management!
I meant to mention that, in the front page picture of the magnificent buck he stood boldly (it seemed to me) against an amber sky. At first I didn’t want to use that description because the motel across the street from ours is named exactly that: the Amber Sky Motel and I worried that it could have some tasteless meaning that might offend you.
Here’s a vignette I like to remember, but it will justify for some (for a couple of my devoted offspring) how dangerous it could be to leave me alone in an unfamiliar city.
Several afternoons ago I stopped by my favorite restaurant, “Gringo’s” (honest) for a terrific supper: fried catfish, absolutely delicious, lightly breaded, fried in who knows what. There are two very small round tables with high chairs facing the street. Perfect. In the next table was a friendly old (look who’s talking) Mexican fellow in all denim, very well worn (the denim and the face). We struck up a pleasant conversation with his story of his mother, a widow with six children who before going to work every morning exacted excellent behavior (all beds made, everything clean) from all six. His story was sprinkled, Uvolde fashion, with plentiful religious references.
He professed to seeing miracles, many, every day. (Now I wonder why I didn’t ask for me to find my missing credit card — I could have used a small miracle that day.) I can’t describe well enough how dear he was and sincere. Midway through a pile of catfish I asked him if he could possibly help me with this way too much catfish. He looked stunned and accepted the offer. As it turned out he wanted the cole slaw more than I did. He just muttered, “sometimes you just have to be at the right place at the right time.” I think he was giving God the credit for my impulse to share and that’s OK with me.
I can’t forget a little dark haired, dark eyed boy about three years old at the Headstart facility last week. He and seven others were downing a hearty breakfast in two bright, lovely rooms well supervised by two patient women. He seemed to like me which was heart melting and I certainly did like him.
These are young children of migrant laborers who live in abject poverty. They pick the brussel sprouts, spinach and corn that healthily feed the rest of us. The temperature daily since i have been here is in the mid-nineties. We should try back bending work in 96 degree heat for just one hour. Just once.
Before the Headstart station was there, children like these were left in cars and trucks while their parents worked..
THERE IS SOMETHING WRONG WITH THIS PICTURE.
Uvolde town square
One aspect of Uvolde that is new to me is the assortment of colors on the buildings. Two commercial enterprises on one of the main streets leading out of the dignified town square are pink. One, you might say, is hot pink. Another is turquoise and still others, yellow and one, purple. The town square is very old, some of its surrounding buildings are stately; one is the oldest opera house in Texas (more about that one later). The front of the court house has Greek columns. In the center of the square are lovely palm trees and the familiar pecan trees where old ladies (look who’s talking) collect the pecans that are on the ground.
A couple of blocks down the main thoroughfare are the colorful, brash, in your face buildings advertising “NAILS!” for instance and a lively eating/sports bar restaurant, shockingly named “Gringo’s” where this world’s best fried catfish is served for about $3.00 a plate including (if you can stand it) waffle fries? . . .
I am sentimental and love the old square. It is a reminder of a half dozen other Texas towns where I grew up. But there is life and a “wake-up call” in the unexpected colors. I can appreciate someone’s wanting to make a splash in Uvolde.
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Today I met with the Catholic priest, shepherd to 600-800 families in Uvolde, according to the receptionist. That’s relaxed bookkeeping! I earlier met with the friendly Methodist pastor who appears to be coasting to retirement, but was in general agreement. Delno hit a home run, so to speak, in her visit with the Episcopal priest (having been married to one for 50 years, I think she had a distinct advantage). He was helpful and we will be in touch with him as we go along. Anyway, Father (I didn’t get his name) allowed me a long interview when I tried to make the case that his flock would benefit if they moved into the ranks of registered voters. He seemed to agree.
Whether he mentions that to the flock remains to be seen. ( I have spies and plan to write to all my contacts.) I think he might take the risk of mentioning this to some of his members over dealing with me again. Any way, to illustrate his ecumenical generosity, he showed me an outdoor stations of the cross garden around a magnificent 500 year old live oak. He is inviting all the local clergy to a prayer service there. As I left I told him how much I appreciated Pope Francis’s open arms. He grinned. I do what I can and sometimes it isn’t much.
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The feminist movement has not visibly seeped down to Uvolde. Macho men push ahead of their wives going through the doors of restaurants. I asked Rachel if one of our friends here could speak to her brother for me respectfully asking for a 15 minute conversation with him. (He had not responded to my phone calls.) He is a prominent lawyer, former D.A. and chair of the town’s Democratic Committee. Rachel’s response was “I will try, but, you know she can ask but she cannot tell him what to do; he’s her BROTHER.” Meaning, he is a man.
Maria Elena is a member of the school committee, runs a gorgeous home, active, smart, “take charge” sort of person…….but to her brother, not so much. Rachel: “remember, they are Mexicans.”
At the splendid high school where I had a chance to speak to eight classes and bring them voter registration forms, an amazing opportunity, I was aware that it was because Maria Elena’ had called and spoken to a department head. Twice. To tell the truth, I didn’t feel that I had reached the girls in most of the classes. I just couldn’t get the spark that I sometimes see in the boys, Anglo and Hispanic. They were far less responsive about voting, politics, government, running for office. In several classes, pretty as they are, they seemed lifeless. Already! I wished that they were interested, ambitious, hopeful, argumentative or inquisitive.
It could be that they are extremely shy and the failure to get a spark of interest was mine. I hope so. I know very well that change takes time and I don’t have much time here.
And, O.K., I am not Gloria Steinman either.
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Delno and I met in Waterbury, Connecticut (if you haven’t been there, don’t go now) where her husband, Philip, was a beginning curate at the large Episcopal Church in town and I worked with young people at the large Congregational Church across the Main Street.
Jerry was at Yale working on a graduate degree. They had a gorgeous two year old, Cathy, and were expecting a baby who is now practicing medicine in Philadelphia. We were leaving to go to Cambridge and I (who hadn’t seen a baby) blithely assured Delno that I would happily come back to help her with the new baby (an early precursor and instance of “fools rushing in”).
Now 59 fun-packed years later, I was talking with an old colleague and friend, Phil Johnston who told me that there are enough immigrants on the Texas border who, if they were registered and voted as they usually do, could turn Texas blue. And that, I did a quick assessment, would be the ball game. I said, “I want to be a part of that.” Phil offered that he has a good friend in southwest Texas who would help me and when I started making plans, Delno decided to come for two weeks in the middle of my month.
So that’s how two elderly widows came to be in a Motel 6 in Uvalde, 90 miles west of San Antonio in 96 degree heat in October.
Delno is 86, often leans over a walker, with a face crinkled in the Florida sun and she is dynamite at speaking to Hispanic immigrants. She said at first that she had come to take care of me (a needed and worthwhile project if I ever saw one) but after a few successful days she became a zealot! After she went home, she called me every night to see exactly how many I had registered that day. If you have a friend like that, keep her.
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Some Doris Kearns Goodwin-like writer will some day write Phil Johnston’s story. I want to write a less memorable, perhaps, but no less devoted short version. What young man wants to grow up with four sisters? Phil got through it and with a life-long pride in his family …. He noted that his father had a Ph.D. and worked proudly for state government in the Department of Mental Health his entire career.
It is not advisable for a person to speak in disparaging language about state workers in front of Phil. In the legislature Phil in a major bi-partisan move teamed up with Andy Card (later to become George W.Bush’s chief of staff) to sponsor rules reform in the House of Representatives. The House then was in the fifth term of an old school speaker,
Tom McGee. a good guy who had been there over twenty years and despite the promise to leave after ten years as speaker, had decided he would stay a while longer. The Boston Globe championed the new rules proposal and the need for a different speaker. I was still a candidate for the House when Phil wrote and asked for my help with this issue, adding a little flattery about how I would surely be a breath of fresh air when I got there. O.K., I was very young then ….
Phil left a great run in the House to be the Commonwealth’s longest-serving Secretary of Human Services and then Bill Clinton’s Northeast Regional Director of Human services. From there a stolen election to the Congress which broke some hearts (the Gibson family’s) which he has transformed into a stint of lobbying Washington for the organization for homeless shelters, and remembering Ted Kennedy’s bill which supports health centers in areas of significant poverty.
This is a bare bones sketch of a life so generous, so focused on the poorest among us, so important to the Democratic Party and its highest moral values. He is the friend who took Jerry out in his boat on the Cove and who came to our happy family celebration of Jerry’s life in May 2015. He is the friend of Nuestro Castro Salud in Uvalde, Texas, who is beloved in that little town teeming with Hispanic citizens who, when they can finally vote in enough numbers, may help to turn Texas (of all places!) BLUE.
Headstart — Part II
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After more than two weeks in Uvolde, I think of vignettes of some of the people who already seem unforgettable, part of the background music of life who turn up and help me to see the world a little differently, with a bit more depth, more clarity and sometimes more pain.
I can’t forget a little dark haired, dark eyed boy of three or four at a Headstart facility last week. He and several tables of others were downing a hearty breakfast in two bright rooms well supervised by two patient adult women. He seemed to like me. I am easily flattered and can’t get him out of my mind. I certainly did like him and his companions and the entire setup. These are young offspring of migrant laborers who live in abject poverty. They pick the brussel sprouts, spinach and corn under 90-plus degree heat. THERE IS SOMETHING WRONG WITH THIS PICTURE!
It makes me angry that Ronald Reagan encouraged Americans to think that government is the problem. Headstart provides, at least partially in this Headstart program, a humane solution to part of this problem. Who could deny it? When government is wasteful or serves the rich and not the abysmally poor, it needs reform, not removal from injustice of these proportions.
Before Headstart children like these were left in their parents trucks or cars while the parents worked the fields. I won’t forget that little boy.
Headstart — Part III
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The little boy at Headstart goes with me, in memory at least. every where. He prompts me to remember the now exalted Ronald Reagan’s charge that government is the problem, which so many Republicans think came from the Bible. REALLY? It isn’t the problem at Headstart! It wouldn’t be a problem if it denied the kind of exploitation from which the migrant population suffers and not only here, but in Florida, even Wisconsin and in enough states to call it a silent national problem. Can’t the country now exploring outer space help us right here in Uvolde?
Rachel A. Gonzoles-Hanson — Part I
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[Note from Jeff: Mary Jane is now back in Eastham, and has better electronic access, so is sending me blogs she wrote during the course of her stay in Uvolde. They are not in chronological order, and because originally written on different days overlap somewhat, but I am posting them as she sends them to me, without trying to organize them. They are a treasure nevertheless, from a remarkable woman, and I trust you will keep following her blog in that spirit. Now, back to Mary Jane:]
Rachel Gonzoles-Hanson certainly gets a vignette but deserves a book ; I hope she gets one some day. She and I have one thing in common: we are friends of Phil Johnston.
I started working with Phil on one of his several major initiatives, reforming he rules of the Mass. House of Representatives, before I was in the House myself and we have been friends ever since. Phil’s partner in that was Andy Card who later served as .chief of staff to George W. Bush. Phil served Massachusetts as Secretary of Human Services, the longest to serve in that capacity ever.
Later … I helped him get a house near us on the cove (and I never let him forget it; I have so few cards to play!) with an expansive view of the Atlantic. He and Beverly were wonderful neighbors to us. One day recently Phil was telling me about the enormous number of immigrants along the Texas border with Mexico who are not registered to vote. Normally immigrants in large numbers vote for Democrats who support a path to citizenship in the congress. He said that IF THEY DID, it could turn Texas blue!
Now I was born in Texas and grew up in a series of small towns there; I have some measure of what that means and I said , “I want to be part of that.” Phil, no surprise, has a friend in Uvolde and it is Rachel. He lobbies in Washington for health clinics that serve poor communities and he helped her build the remarkable facility where for several weeks Delno and I sat in the lobby afternoons and registered voters. When government wasn’t enough, he went to the Kresge Foundation for her and all in all helped her with something like $1 million.
I wish everyone working for the poor wherever they are had a friend like Phil. But that is just my long-winded introduction to Rachel. Tonight I will be at her house (again) for a cookout and I will know more tomorrow. For now I can say that she is the most respected person in Uvolde. She has built a splendid health complex, complete with weight loss clinic to combat the large number of people suffering from obesity with a fitness facility and one of the most efficiently designed buildings to serve every other health need. She recently was able to add five dentists to this complex.
Flag of Heroes
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Two major themes pop up all over the place here in southwest Texas: super religiosity and super-duper patriotism. Take the Sunshine Cafe where I had breakfast several mornings. The name alone might give it away; it is Anglo, all Anglo. The waitresses, of course, are Hispanic. Delno and I ate regularly at the “Main Street Restaurant” where I got into a lively word fight with a tea party Anglo, but the restaurant manager, staff and most customers are Hispanic. That’s another story.
All the customers at the “Sunshine” are Anglo but that doesn’t mean they don’t wear the large cowboy hats and boots of western lore. It might have been quite some time since one of them roped a steer or tamed a frisky pony, but the gear gives a manly appearance dear to the hearts of westerners. Here the patriotic theme is most evident. Completely covering one wall of this small cafe is a giant American flag with hundreds of names. The text (in case the three or four relatives who read this blog never get to Uvalde) goes like this:
“THE FLAG OF HEROES. This flag contains the names of the emergency services personnel who gave their lives to save others in the terrorist attacks of 9/11. Now and forever it will represent their immortality. We shall never forget them.”
Flag of Heroes — Part II
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What I’m calling religiosity is the habit of many Hispanics who credit God orally before and after a welcome event or realization, whether they are the most sophisticated leaders in the community or people at the lowest rung on the economic ladder. What I’m unsure about is whether it is a sign of church-going, religious fervor or just a habit of cultural lingo, not much more serious than the American, “whatever”.
Referring to an unhappy event does not include blaming God, however. She must be out to lunch on those occasions. Or maybe we’re on our own? hmmmmmmm.
Whatever prompts it and sustains it this habit doesn’t affect the pleasant sweetness of the Hispanic women we came to know unless it sustains it. We got to know superficially, at least, several Protestant parishes. It is notable that there is so little crossover visible among them — no Hispanics visible in them on Sundays that we saw. To generalize with so little data would be a mistake, but remembering the three-generation families we saw, it is fair to say that Hispanics who have been here for a long time show few signs of integration. Another way of saying that is that Anglos have encouraged few instances of integration. The clear investment in schools is the most positive sign.
Rachel Gonzales-Hanson – — Part II
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Rachel, as every one calls her, has built a health complex that serves 12,000 people per year in a geographical area that is home to 32,000 people, an astounding percentage. Without a college degree, she is also on the boards of two large companies. On the way back to San Antonio, with Jimmy, her husband, driving, she coached her representative by phone in a negotiation with a dentist who has applied to come to “Our Health”. It was brilliant. She was able to reduce the applicant’s request for a salary by $30,000 and get her agreement to come. That’s negotiation! I believe she must have refused an “opportunity” last year because Jimmy didn’t want to leave Uvalde. That’s a marriage.
She invited me to her “Our Health” board meeting which was impressive. The County Judge sat next to a very young woman who sat next to a business owner. Next came two professors at the local community college and a graphics designer who illustrated in several ways on a screen how the organization was meeting its goals in every conceivable way or not and plans for closing the gaps. I certainly can’t do justice to these reports, but the board seemed to represent a map of the community and a slice of its population that was impressive to me.
There were several young women who just watched. I thought that Rachel was teaching them and that was important to me, too. I invited Rachel and Jimmy for a week in October at one of our cottages next Fall in Eastham. They are very nice cottages, but I can’t show them anything like her accomplishments in Uvalde. She is a kind of genius and OUR HEALTH is a masterful achievement.
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Soon after we arrived, Rachel invited us to a Fiesta, a party, at the oldest opera house in Texas, on the square at the center of town. This is entertainment and a party in which everyone participates. The music is very loud, there is dancing by young and old in the aisles, people in their seats waving to the rhythm. And still I do not describe it.
At one time there is a series of women reading from memoirs, in which often the readers’ mother is venerated (not the worst idea). The mistress of ceremonies was especially charming. Although blonde and Anglo, she went to great lengths to assure her audience that her heart is Mexican. The most interesting aspect of the music to me Is that the two Mariachi bands are from the high school and a younger group, possibly a grade school, both disciplined musically.
The Hispanic heritage is a solid part of the public schools. All the schools I saw are beautiful buildings and look new. There is also a high school marching band for the award-winning football team. Don’t wonder: this IS still Texas and football is the ruling passion. Some things don’t change.
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One morning a sweet little grandmother came into the walk-in clinic where I often spent several hours asking patients if they would like to register to vote. (This is one of the most productive places in town for my wares.) This tiny Hispanic lady speaks English very well and responded, “every time I go they ask me for a driver’s license.” This deliberate roadblock is only one of the Republican efforts to restrict poor and minority citizens from voting. Another is the prohibition of people like Delno and me, that is to say, not TTT (TydTeeeTexas) residents, from assisting anyone to register to vote. (I was born in Texas and lived there for eighteen years, but that doesn’t count.) I will ask a lawyer whether there isn’t something unconstitutional about preventing good citizens from voting. Is owning a car and therefore a driver’s license a test of anything?
I can’t help thinking that as Hispanics are here in the millions, one of these days they will gain the electoral power to make this system fair. Won’t they recall the parents and grandparents who were denied the fundamental right of every citizen to vote? I wish I were smart enough to bring a test case. Delno and I wish that hundreds of elderly widows would go to the state nearest them where this outrage exists and be invigorated by the plain decency of the work and the energy that will come when good people thank them for coming. Americans are better people than to allow new citizens to be insulted and demeaned.
This gentle lady is fixed in my memory with the bright-eyed little guy at the Headstart breakfast table. I will not forget them.
November 16, 2015
If there is anywhere more fun than a day at the Atlanta Airport I haven’t been there. Sensible people used to mutter about O’Hare. Let them come to Atlanta! Of course a country girl like me at first thinks it must be some kind of space ship, shiny and new, with every modern means for moving large numbers of people quickly from one airline to another. Miraculous!
Think again. Of course it does have indoor plumbing and lots of places to shop, but if you have less than an hour to find your next scheduled flight, you better have your running shoes on. That’s because you can’t speed up a tram (the driver of which is simply a woman’s pleasant voice) or a crowded escalator (it’s frowned on) or an elevator for that matter.
You can be reduced to babbling incoherently if a nice looking young woman at the counter cheerily informs you that your flight has been re-scheduled to “C-2” approximately two miles away, requiring every indoor means of travel yet invented. If poor planning causes you to be carrying two sizeable bags and an eight year old knee injury is kicking up and you are breathless from the trip to find the first destination on your ticket, you are at risk of losing composure.
Then, because there is such a thing as luck, a peach of a young man goes by pushing an empty wheelchair, and you now know that C-2 is all Delta and Southwest is prohibited from telling you anything about Delta (it’s one of those inscrutable rules too complex for dummies like me) and your pathetic plea is answered and he will call ahead and plead my case with Delta assuring them – well, just about anything.
All I ask is a quick and easy flight from Atlanta to Logan. I do not regularly use a wheelchair, nor would I likely have displaced someone who does, but it seems likely that I might have evicted someone who looked healthy and less desperate than I was that day.
The Atlanta Airport can make a country girl feel unworthy of all its polish and contraptions until it makes you wild with bad information. Even a country girl knows that.
On to Florida
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My old friend Delno and I had a life-altering time registering Hispanic immigrants to vote in Uvolde Texas in October 2015. She sent me a card that says, “Life begins at the edge of your comfort zone” or something like that. That insight plus the economy of living in Delno’s cushy condo and using her astonishing 16 year old car, led us to target Florida in March.
We weren’t wrong. The women running the Sarasota Democratic campaign office are the kindest, smartest, most competent campaign workers outside Massachusetts.
We can’t lose this county for Democrats, unless you are picky about WHICH Democrats, which I am. Delno is devoted to Hillary and I rarely take off my Bernie shirt (the best political graphic ever), but we are friends of a lifetime. That counts. Her friends here whom I know by now are helping slowly erase my unfortunate prejudice against rich Republicans.
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After an 11-hour trip home, I was cheered by Connor, my next door 8-year-old grandson running to greet me. “GRANDMA! I saw another “BERNIE” sign!” Connor knows what happiness is.
I had left sunny, lush Florida and 2 and l/2 weeks of calling for their primary and registering new voters and was, within minutes, in a rainy deluge with strong winds, followed this morning by a short but energetic snow storm with heavy winds. This is a welcome?
We chose Florida for several persuasive reasons: like many Democrats we harbor a grudge against it for not counting all its ballots when Al Gore should have won. The Supreme Court finished it off by stopping the counting and gave Gore’s victory away. Some people remember travesties like that. One more towering reason is Delno’s beautiful condo, which compares very favorably with Motel 6 in Uvolde, Tx. We’ll never have more fun or make more friends than we did in Uvolde, though. That was unforgettable. Delno turned from timid to zealous there. She will be 87 in a few weeks. I wonder what a difference it would create if half the healthy 87-year-olds in the country volunteered in political campaigns and represented their interests and their values.
Our time in Osprey, a small Florida town between Sarasota and Venice, was split between phone calling for participation (“Don’t forget to vote next Tuesday. Your voting place is the Baptist Church on Columbia Blvd. Polls close at 8:00 pm. Let us know if you need a ride. Our number here is …..).
In the most thorough list of options given the voter at the end of the call one finds out how the voter received your call: was he hostile? interested? did you get an answering machine? All this and many more, all to be recorded and organized. It is simply the best all-round organization possible with modern office technology and eye-popping numbers of friendly, fun, smart volunteers. Any campaign would envy an operation like this.
Just getting to know several of the volunteers was interesting. One retiree named Dick manned the front desk while Diane, the permanent employee (I think) was out. Dick had worked for the U.S. Congress and knew something about politics. We became good friends as happens when your interests and values come together. Another volunteer, Stan, was especially interesting to me because before retirement he had been a high-school teacher, whose students included the president’s nominee for the Supreme Court!
Merrick. He is a hero to me, because he has to know that he is likely to be a sacrificial lamb whom the Republicans in the Senate will prevent from being considered. Stan says that he was a terrific kid, president of the high school’s student body, etc. The women in charge: Bernice, Joanne, Diane are extraordinarily competent and personable. We will always be friends whether we meet again or not and that is the payoff for doing the basic work in politics with people who share values.
Dear Blog family:
My trip Logan to Tampa was a walk in the park. The Tampa to Sarasota leg was a small nightmare with windshields missing their de-icers so that we had a 5-hour wait in a packed-to-the-gills plane with no food or drink. The driver to Osprey who has helped Delno dozens of times waited for me for 6 hours. What a friend he is to both of us!
He is my friend by now, aging and I couldn’t help noticing that his driving isn’t what it used to be, but on a cold and rainy night with enough luggage for a round-the-world trip I couldn’t find my voice to backseat coach. I heard the familiar southern friendliness and sometimes flattery quickly followed by the anti-Obama diatribe. In the daylight I can usually come up with a gently toned but probably way too long list of his virtues. On a rainy night and an unfamiliar highway, I would have surprised my next-of-kin with my polite silence. I TOLD THEM I COULD DO IT! Delno greeted us laughing, and although our visits over 60 years consist in part of updates on our deepest woes, we do a lot of laughing here.
First Delno catches me up on some of the year’s best movies at the $2.00 movie theatre in Venice. I can now recommend “Race”” and “Bridge of Sighs” and “Sady in a Van,” which in fact I saw alone in a theatre in Wellfleet to any of you poor souls who might be as far out of it as I am.
Delno is one of this world’s best references for almost everything. She doesn’t miss a concert or live theatre performance either and Sarasota is a booming cultural center. She and several friends took me to Cirque de Voix led by Joseph somebody who directs the “Key Chorale” with whom she sang for years. This famous conductor also goes to a medical center for Parkinson’s patients, takes some of his choir’s singers, spreads them out among the wheelchairs, and they all have a sing-a-long. Many of the participants have years of experience with Parkinson’s, as Delno does. Philip, her late husband, had it for 17 years. I think it’s a disease of the gifted. I think of our amazing Howard Raiffa in Belmont and our beloved Lory Miller in Eastham. That is rare company . . .
I want you to know some of our good friends here who get together about 3 times a week for something they lovingly call “wine-thirty.” Delno hosted it this week and we get to eat at a fancy club where several belong (St.Patrick’s Day and Easter) and let us tag along. They tolerate my sticking to cocacola and iced tea, but not without comment. They put it in a mental box with my liberal politics and shrug it off.
I still marvel at the mental flexibility of kind friends who support Donald Trump! Clearly, I am missing something that is right in front of my nose. I think that Ted Cruz with his reputation for a academic brilliance is willfully endangering us all by promoting antagonizing peaceful American citizens.
These men appeal to the worst that is in us. I have never been as uneasy about the current climate. Some southerners and midwesterners are stuck at the cowboy movie level of problem solving. I understand that Easterners control the Congress via Wall Street – I wear my Bernie T-shirt proudly! Delno loves Hillary and I am grateful to Bernie for his truth-telling, so we never run out of conversation. See Joel Stein in Time magazine for my view spelled out.
Look almost every where else for the Dem. establishment, especially John Regier’s blog! Or tell me where I am wrong: I’ll be back in Eastham April Fool’s Day. Is that timely or what?
Next time will be dedicated to our political work. The first week we were at the Sarasota Dem office calling for their Democratic primary. I haven’t ever seen a better equipped, better organized organization (except when Gloria ran my last campaign from that wonderful place (palatial) in Cushing Square). These women and a few men retirees would have fit right in to our gang — smart, working hard but having fun. A reception desk, lots of phones, and a lavish lunch ( O K, scratch the lavish lunch: this is a bigger district and a bigger budget; so what? Democrats are fun!). They did well, even at two percentage points ahead of the Republicans. The hard work pays off. The dynamic 82-year-old retired teacher who runs this operation took Delno and me to lunch the next day and we shared ideas. She is a star.
If you can picture this, Delno and I will be working the table at the Sarasota Fair where people can register to vote. We will be there until 11:00 pm both nights! And yes, it was Delno who signed us up. She will not allow us to grow old. I will need some recuperating in Eastham after the aforementioned April Fool’s Day return.
Here’s the summary: we are busy, enjoying Delno’s elegant condo before she moves to she moves to Philadelphia in the fall, enjoying her happy, fun-loving friends.
June 16, 2016
Posted on by mjgibson40
[From Jeff: Mary Jane sent another entry to her blog a day or two ago when I was traveling, so I’m a bit late in posting:]
I have spent the past months trying to shake off some post-traumatic stress syndrome signs and I’m back at the same old stand, older, wiser, happy as a clam. Well, older. The circle of friends who “get it” grows wider and is precious. I wish my sister Helen hadn’t been inducted. She did heroic caretaking for months before her husband John died still without a diagnosis last month. It was agony for them and for their family. I have never seen such courage. Strong Catholics, they exchanged this loving tribute: at one excruciating time Helen said, “God is going to reward you for this, John,” and he quickly replied, “I hope He rewards you.”
On another level, another kind of agony: I spent far too much time watching both major parties in their primary’s struggles. I was thrilled at how Bernie’s call to common sense reforms (my view) electrified tens of thousand of college students. He raised nearly $200,000,000 in contributions of less than $30 each. Staggering. (I raised $53,000 once and felt guilty!) It was the most thrilling time.
I had to swallow hard at Obama’s speech today. And then the Republicans bring us Trump. As Phil Johnston always used to say, “I didn’t just fall off the turnip truck” (more about him later). I am aware that there are racists and bigots and crass gizillionaires. But a candidate for president of this country? Abraham Lincoln’s statue must be weeping. I know I am.
An intriguing article, “a letter from the editor” in “Boston Architecture” magazine has wakened me to the realization that among today’s rapid changes there are eye-popping changes in architecture. According to Renee Loth, the editor. a graduate school in Barcelona, Spain, offers a new master’s degree in “Ephemeral Architecture” (!!) and here’s another one: “tiny, mobile domiciles.” Our prehistoric brains remember not to get too comfortable; we may need to flee at any time. High tide lines that existed for centuries are being erased with each new moon.
Renee, an old friend, uses her incisive mind to open my sleepy eyes. The magazine has other eye opening news. I was dazzled by two pictures (one on the magazine’s cover), shots of paint flying through the air. These stunning high speed camera shots provide provocative, imaginative images in glorious colors.