[revised and replaced Mar. 16, 2011]
You can catch them Tuesdays at rush hour in my town of Port Orange. One of the four still has the strength and vigor to stand with his protest sign. The other three have had to resort to bringing folding chairs. Still, what a testimonial to our crazy, apathetic times when 80+ year olds dominate the ranks of progressive protest. Walt arrives the earliest. He is 81 and looks like William Holden would have looked at this age: tall, with wavy white hair that twists with the wind. Walt has spent over 55 years as an activist…. For civil rights, against the Vietnam War, as a union organizer, and now for Peace in our time. Charlie arrives next. He is almost 80… One more year to go. Charlie was a home builder in this area for many years. He marched for civil rights in the 1960s when few white men locally would do so. Charlie lost many contracts because of this, yet it never deterred him. Barbara is the third to show up. She is a hard nosed ‘New Yawk ‘progressive who worships FDR the way so many right wingers now canonize Reagan. Barbara, a professor of sociology, recently and finally got her Ph.D. She will give her opinion, anywhere and anytime, to whomever will listen. Finally, John arrives. Being a Gemini, he dances to his own tune and his own time frame. He grabs a sign from my car and walks the line. John was so vehement in his anti war protests during Vietnam that it landed him in the slammer. He never once traded in principles for priorities.
Why is it that four 80 something folks can continually and consistently show up and speak up for vital issues, if only for but one hour each week, while most of their neighbors cannot? These folks already have better health care (Medicare) than most of us. With Social Security, they do not have to find or keep a job as we all do. Yet, they care! They care that our nation is being led down the tubes by, as Mark Twain called them, Crooks and scoundrels. These four seniors will never have to go and fight in phony wars. They will never have to ‘suck it up ‘and take some dead end or hopeless job just to support a family. Yet, they emit so much empathy for those of us out there who bear the heavy weight of American neo feudalism. If only more of my neighbors would follow these great and dedicated souls and join with The 80 Something Club.
Philip A. Farruggio is son and grandson of Brooklyn NYC longshoremen. He is an activist leader and free lance columnist. Since the 2000 elections, he has written over 200 columns, many posted on various sites worldwide. Recently, he is finding a home at www.dandelionsalad.wordpress.com, or at his own blog at www.opensalon.com. Philip can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.