blog description

Old women talk about old things: history, myth, magic and their
checkered pasts, about what changes and what does not.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017


I cannot believe that this vandalism of an actual treasure -- drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge -- is even being contemplated. It's time to ask where the souls of the people now proposing this atrocity are, and in what black hole of greed they dwell. 

This is the only planet we have, and so much of what our grandkids' future will look like depends upon our generation's changing our attitude toward Mother Earth. She's not Ours. We're Hers. We're part of a system, a part that's taken to acting like a virus. here, at the bottom of the sky, we are goldfish in a small bowl, where no one's going to come and change the water.  The way we're being taken by our corporate leaders can only end with the human race dying in it's own excrement. 

There has to be a major mental shift inside the heads of a lot of people if we are to protect such places from the "take paradise and put in...." an oil rig tendency of the guys who have made themselves our masters. 

The sad facts are that's it's just another shell game. The money from drilling is pie in the sky. Someone among our complicit legislator needs to feel the stirring of conscience and put unbiased eyes on the numbers. These show that drilling in the Refuge is the usual corporate scam, which ends with one rich guy (Think The Baron Harkonnen,) a lot of busted folks--and with the bill for the clean-up for the toxic ruin left behind-- as well as for the many "subsidies" the industry will require--all the responsibility of the taxpayer. 

If the peasants stopped staring into the daily electronic Circus Maximus and looked around them, they'd see the shackles being locked onto to their ankles--once again--by the thugs who seem to always-- in this and every other human civilization to date -- eventually rig/bully/steal/murder their way to the top. 

From The Audubon Society:
"The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge supports millions of birds that migrate through our state and all 50 states to raise their chicks in its pristine habitat. Birds like the Tundra Swan and Northern Pintail return year after year to nest on its coastal plain, while caribou undertake one the world's longest land migrations to reach the coastal plain and give birth to their young.

The Arctic Refuge does not belong in a tax bill. Yet the Senate tax bill, which could soon receive a vote in the House, opens the Refuge to drilling while avoiding regular order and real debate. The numbers don't add up. Leasing is unlikely to meet the $1 billion instructions--more realistic estimates suggest it would only raise $37.5M.  U.S. oil production and exports are at record levels while oil prices are near record lows. Further, the bill makes oil drilling the primary purpose for the Refuge's coastal plain, limiting environmental review in a precedent that puts all of our federally protected lands at risk. The Arctic Refuge is one of our last truly wild places and an iconic American landscape." 

The Arctic Refuge is even more--it's a living, breathing World Heritage site, a vital part of the heart-beat of our planet. 

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Judy Chicago's DINNER PARTY

During 1974-79, Judy Chicago, along with collaborators both male and female in what are patronizingly called “decorative arts,” (embroidery, weaving, painting on ceramic) created a work called The Dinner Party. This was a triangular table with an exquisitely embroidered runner and 39 hand-painted and decorated ceramic plates. Each was made in the shape of a vulva, and decorated in a way which was meant to express the spiritual, artistic and esthetic contribution to society made by a famous woman. 

The Dinner Party Wolstonecraft Plate may be seen, along with the rest, 
at the Brooklyn Museum: 

The work has plenty of critics, some, the usual suspects, powerful old men in high places who loudly declared that it was “pornographic,” but also quite a few feminists. Some criticism has to do with the way certain famous women are represented—for instance, frilly 50's petticoat frills might not have been the best choice for the solitary lady in white Emily Dickinson. Perhaps the inclusion of Georgia O’Keeffe, who declared that her flower paintings had nothing to do with the vaginal, showed a disregard for her often stated opinion. Perhaps Virginia Woolf, a writer who despised the public’s obsession with the gender of authors, is another who should not have been included.  Other female critics have said that The Dinner Party is not only vulgar, a tune with one note, but demeaning to women, reducing these brave and brilliant fore-mothers to a bad-joke common denominator.

I’m not a visual artist, but it seems to me that while you might find fault with a part of the whole, The Dinner Party accomplishes its purpose, both as a work of art and as a powerful, provocative feminist statement.  It is estimated that 15 million people on three continents have seen it, pondered it, and argued about it.

The installation has been a taking off place for women to think about their obscured history and about their accomplishments, about their historical and mythical power, their works of art and their creativity.  It's a shout-out for the central fact of the feminine. 

Hindu Temple, Goddess gives birth

If the penis has been celebrated as the ejaculator of ideas, why can’t the vulva, too, be celebrated and honored as it once was in pagan times? Let's reclaim that old time pride in our bodies and what they can do. Woman is the portal through which all creation emerges.

Judy Chicago's artwork is ongoing:

Birth Tear, from the Birth Project, by Judy Chicago

Senior curator David Revere McFadden wrote about The Creation tapestry:
“...Casting this archetypal story as that of female fecundity flies in the face of visual, cultural, and religious history. It becomes a metanarrative by implication, reflecting Chicago’s determination to challenge the status quo and to question received knowledge”.

~~~Juliet Waldron

See all my historical novels and many bookstores where these are available @

Sunday, July 23, 2017

A Visit to the Fey

I was recently privileged to join in a procession of the Fey--behind no less a personage than the Queen of Fairies, as a part of her entourage. This doesn't happen to a human very often, and certainly not often to elder humans. 

Old people remind the Queen of decay and death, things she does not allow within her realm, her realm which is eternal--ever-green--as they say. She and her subjects do not age; they are forever young and fair. Therefore, to sing to her and walk beside her people was a great honor for this old woman, definitely a bucket list item.

(Not to say I've never danced with the Fey. I, in the days of my youth--back in the now legendary and generally misunderstood sixties, back when I was young and fair, I participated in her rites--rites which raise energy, and all that naturally follows after, those encounters in the dark scented forest, where all celebrants channeled Venus and Mars. Never mind, it's all back of me now.)

Bay Laurel

The Fairy Queen is a lover of high fashion, of flashing sequined quirks, tinkling bells, supple bare flesh, bejeweled dresses woven with spider's web. She even loves kinky boots, so her devotees wore them too.

Her entourage was more than ready to indulge her every whim, and upon this high magical occasion, they certainly pulled it off. I wore the best dress I had, long sleeves, flowing in mauve, in blue and green. A generous member of Her court gilded my cheek with a star. I braided my long white hair and carried a wand taken from the Holy Laurel. At first I held an inspirational leaf between my lips, like the Delphic Priestess.

  The Queen of Elphame, by Fuseli

Oh, how these fairies shone as they walked, fairy lights and fairy dust around them, making music with their sweet voices, a procession through twilight, following the glorious Queen and her tasty Year King! Beguiled, I followed after. When they began to sing, I took the laurel leaf from between my lips, lifted my laurel wand and had the pleasure of joining my still true voice with theirs.

And what did we sing in our ecstasy--again and again in an endless spiral--but one of the songs which captivate mortals and carry them into a realm that is fickle, cruel, and totally enthralling, a song which the fairies will sing even as the silver flash of a sacrificial knife pierces their own cool fairy hearts:

We shall be free
We shall be free
To sing 
And dance 
And make love--
Won't you come with me?

~~ Walker

Saturday, December 31, 2016

Packaging Problems :( By J. Olmstead

Ok !  Hey this is great.. Saves on finding a container to store your unused portions away until your stomach demands a bit of ham.. Or frozen meatballs...
I seemed to have uncovered a small problem with this wonder technology .
And that to get them unsealed to start with.
Dispite little arrows, dotted lines , clearly visible zippers ,  little  printed tiny fingers pointing  to how to get the package opened.  I seem to fail miserably on achieving a clean open.
My packages often end up stabbed, scissored , shredded . Cursed at.. And occasionally thrown hard on the counter with.. I didn't want to eat you anyways...
 Others are left with Ragged plastic edges that defy any form of closing at all.
So, into another container to store... This one with easy snap on lids..another brilliant invention .

If, one can find the right one in a drawer stuffed with containers...and lids...
All seemingly divorced. Or at least.. In a heavy argument.
There are a few places in the mexican market where I shop.. Mainly on the street.. Where life is very simple.
A round of homemade cheese is wrapped in plastic.. No seals.. And placed in a small clear plastic bag. Freshly made this morning .
Fruits and vegetables.. Fresh fish filleted before your eyes. Shrimp.. Similar .
Eggs.. Fresh baked rolls..  All slipped into an open ended plastic bag. Also  Drinks served in a bag with a straw poking out.
I am more and more enjoying that loose, no nonsense way of bringing things home.
While I may on occasion break an egg.. Or want to put my drink down for a moment...
I am not reduced to a blithering idiot trying to get at the product. Stabbing. Cursing frustrated.
Ok, thank you for reading my lament...
On purpose, I did not put it in a sealed bag for you!

~~ Joy Olmstead

Friday, November 11, 2016

An Ancient Fable

Now, dear readers, after the events of the last week, it is time for a retelling of a very old story, first written down in Aesop's Fables. This, I fear, is a prophecy.

Once upon a time there was a lovely pond full of frogs, all happy and fat and singing. Things were  largely good. The pond always stayed full; it didn't dry up like other ponds and leave them stranded in mud. There were lots of bugs and many large green lily pads to sit upon. Still, the frogs were not happy because they were bored. Things were dull here, always the same. They thought they might like to have a king so that he could devise things for them to do. Kings, they knew, paraded about in pomp and splendor, which would be entertaining. So they petitioned Jupiter, Father of Gods and Men, to send them a king.

Jupiter, understanding the true nature of kings, thought the little frogs were foolish, but decided that, as they weren't very bright either, he'd send them a king who would neither hurt them nor take advantage. He dropped a huge log into the pool. This fell with a tremendous splash, and the frogs, naturally, were terrified. They all hid, some down deep in the water, others under the lily pads and behind rocks. Trembling, they waited to see what this new king would do. Of course, the log did nothing.

After a while, the frogs recovered from their initial fright. They approached the log and swam around it. Nothing happened. After a little while, the young frogs jumped up on the log and took turns diving into the pond. Growing braver, they began to sit on the log and take in the sun and hunt for flies. The log was excellent for these purposes.

This was entertaining for a time, but pretty soon the frogs were again sitting around complaining about how boring things were in their lovely green pond. This king that Jupiter had sent, they said, was "a milk and water king," nothing to be afraid of. This king made no great displays of his power or courage; he didn't go to war. This king held no ceremonies filled where they all had to bow and salute. Eventually, the elder frogs made the log their meet-up place and here they sat around for hours upon hours, complaining endlessly about the state of the government. Near the end of summer, the log grew sodden and sank.

Once again the frogs petitioned Jupiter, Father of Gods and Men, saying that this king he'd sent hadn't added up to much. In fact, he hadn't been a king at all, hadn't done a single kingly thing during his rule. Now, he'd sunk, leaving them in the same state as before,
without a king.  "This time," they said, "Oh great God, send us a REAL KING."

Jupiter had pretty much had it by now. After all, he'd been listening to them gripe all summer, so, this time he sent a large crane to be king over frog land. The crane was different right from the start. As soon as he landed, big feet entering the shallow water with a splosh, he began to gobble up frogs as fast as he could choke them down his long skinny neck. He ate and ate and ate while the frogs scattered, hopping and swimming in utter terror. The crane used his long bill to probe the mud where they tried to hide; he turned over rocks. When he found them, he skewered them like shish-kabobs.

The frogs who survived the first onslaught
cried out pitifully, once again calling upon Jupiter, Father of Gods and Men. "Oh, please, no! This is not the king we wanted! Save us! Take the crane away! He's cruel; he's a tyrant! His belly is a bottomless pit! His appetite is insatiable! If this continues, he will soon devour every single one of us!" 

"How now!" Jupiter said. "Are you not yet content? You have what you asked for and so you have only yourselves to blame for your misfortunes."

Aesop for Children (translator not identified), 1919. Illustrations by Milo Winter (1886-1956). Available online at Project Gutenberg


Sunday, August 21, 2016


Elizabeth w/violets and dandelions


A not very encouraging beginning,
Here.  We cain’t keep’er no more.
Lucky you.  Lucky my best friend.
Lucky me.

I was your wuffler, your
Trained human,
And you never got enough,
Elizabeth Rex.

You, of glittery eye,
Barely veiled contempt,
Going comatose in my hands,
Drooling on my jeans.

You and I
Understood each other.
Evil spirits separated
At birth.

You were.
You are.

Radiant bows to a fellow cat person, one who truly gets it.
Juliet W.

Kimi in the wuffle seat.
Now that the old Queen is dead, it'll be the new Queen's turn all the time!

Monday, July 18, 2016

Element of Fire

I wait for sunrise
Beneath the white oak.

Dew bejewels young corn,
Static pillars of fog arise
In the valley.

Morning stars fade.
Birds wake in the prescient glow.
Twilight sublimates into blue,
Ending the unfixed time.

For years I have come to bear witness,
But only in this year of heart-break
Does the full glory greet me.

Now, through a door of silence
Steps Sun,
First, a crescent of fire.

Serpentine arms flourish and glitter,
Reaching from  the horizon
To warm my heart.

I am
No longer solitary, but
Among a rejoicing multitude
In an infinite well of space and time.

A billion souls,
And mine...

Past and Present,
Quick and Dead,
All One, incandescent,
On the altar
Of Sunrise.

~~ Juliet Waldron

Wednesday, June 29, 2016


On this, the 29 day of June, 2016, at 12:37 a.m., I hereby declare war on cellular phone service in general, and so-called ‘Smart’ phones in particular.  It has always been my conviction that this monstrous invasion of privacy was perpetrated upon us by the young Millennials, to prove their superiority by their creations of unparalleled stupidity, having no taste, no style, and no integrity.  It is the cesspool of a wireless age.  It is distasteful at best and dangerous at worst. 

It is every minute of every phone owner every day.  Do they ever sleep?  Do they not have jobs?  Is it so difficult for them to understand that driving at 60 miles per hour on a major 6-lane resort highway where EVERYONE is in a hurry with their iPhone or SmartPhone clutched in their crabbed little hands, pecking away between glances up to see what’s going on in traffic, is paramount to murder and maybe suicide, as it if mattered. 

How can the vast majority of car driving, phone wielding citizens who wreak havoc on our highways every single day in every single state be absolutely DUMB on the concept of distracted driving?  What kind of generation have we produced who think that whatever it is that THEY are doing at any given minute is infinitely more important that what the other guy is doing.  And on down the line like dominoes.  And when did everyone become so goddamn important?  

So.  Let me tell you what has brought me to raging at the machine.  First of all, I have never been a fan of cell phones.  It became readily apparent very early on that a large majority of users used them EVERYwhere.  And they especially liked theatres.  I knew, from those boxy little flip phones, that life was going to become very much more difficult for the gomers, the geezers,  the folks who are never considered in the design of these various things to make them more geezer-friendly.  It seems as though the Silicon Valley boys really don’t want any help.  They are managing to make simple life functions as difficult as I imagine getting a passport must be. 

Case in point.  There is an outdoor tiki-styled restaurant on the water near where we live.  Before it was taken over by people who obviously had worked for Disney in Florida, it was a nice neighborhood bar/restaurant, very quaint, and very pleasant.  When grands and great-grands visited a week ago, they wanted to go there for lunch, and so we did.  When I talked to the reservation girl to put our name on the waiting list, she asked me for my phone number.  I gave it to her, and she then told me when our table was ready, I would get a text.  “Hold up,” I said, that’s my home phone.  Oh, she said, very sarcastically, don’t you have a smart phone?  “No, I said, “I have a flip phone in the bottom of my purse somewhere, and the condition of its battery is unknown.  Can’t you just come and find us?” 

By now an old guy (55+) came over and wanted to know what was going on.  Repeat the above paragraph.  The restaurant employees are getting nervous, and obviously have no solution.  Now, I’m angry.  I’m angry because what should be a fairly easy function of any major restaurant, i.e., announcing the availability of “Bashore, Table of 7”, has now evolved into a system that makes owning a Smart Phone a necessity.  I mean, how can one expect to function in a world we never even imagined?  The debacle was solved when someone in our party had their iPhone with them, and was able to get the text.  But what it there hadn’t been?  Were they that indifferent about embarrassing customers for being out of the loop that they are also indifferent as to whether or not those customers walk out.  My bill was $100 for lunch ... 4 adults, 3 children, and everything was a la carte.  And they didn’t care if they seated us or not. 

And then yesterday, since my cell phone contract had expired, I visited the local wireless store (the one that lights up all of the United States in their ad) to find out about hooking up an iPhone 4.0 that was gifted to me.  It did not go well.  First of all, he wrote down $30.00, then under it $20.00.  He pointed to the $30.00 and said, “This is your phone plan cost.”  Then he pointed to the $20.00 and said, “This is the cost of your phone.”  No, uh, wait a minute.  Doesn’t the fact that I OWN the phone make any difference here?  “No, he said, this is what it costs to have your phone on the phone plan.”  So I have to pay them to use the phone I own.  So this kid says, “Well, at $50, it’s only $15 more than you pay now, not a big deal.  And I leaned across the table and said to him quietly, Sonny, I’m on Social Security, and $15 IS a big deal for me.”  And then, of course, with all the taxes and hidden fees they don’t tell you about, I’m looking at probably $70 in the bottom line.  And so I did the only honorable thing I could do.  I cancelled the damn phone.  I lived all my adult life without a little box  running my every waking minute, telling me things I don’t need to know, and lots of other things about which I care little.  The fact that an instrument of convenience mostly for purposes of business, commerce and government has become this interconnected web from which no one knows how, or even wants to escape. 

So my spouse has decided to get a pay as you go phone.  Good.  I’ll use his.


Wednesday, January 27, 2016

The Blizz of 2016

Rough times on the east coast last weekend!

From 70 degrees at Christmas, we descended into an old-fashioned hoot and holler of a snowstorm. I guess in central Pa it did not quite reach blizzard status, although the storm came, as all great blizzards do, from the Northeast, fat with ocean water.

There was wind and snow and snow and more snow. Here, where entire winters can pass without note, it was quite a sight. There was a part of me that found it welcome, after a NY childhood imprinted by stark Lake-Effect White Howlers.

New York State Thruway

For a little, I gazed out the window and sent my consciousness into The Dance of the Snowflakes (Swan Lake) and imagined Dame Helda (the German Calliach) doing her crone dance. It's beautiful when I simply fly on the wind as one of them, but frightening when I'm a human once more, gazing up at the swaying power lines upon which our civilization hangs.

Nearby, from where they'd been sitting, enjoying a grassy golf course, the local "Canadians" squawked. When the sky cleared the next day they flew in circles, bemoaning the loss of the open fields upon which they'd been so steadily grazing.

In the end, it was a local record: 30 inches of the white stuff in a 24 hour period. Briefly, our Hobbit name was "Under-Snow." It took a lot of digging--and some neighborly help--to get both cars out. And it's not so much the "digging" part, either, that's wearying. It's the trudge across the road and the toss up onto a high snow bank that's truly challenging.

Not that there was anywhere to go after we had completed our excavation. For once, most everyone paid heed to the warnings and stayed in. That steady stream of traffic which regularly hurries along "the back way" to the Park and the outlets, for today, anyhow, is silenced. Many neighborhoods in small poor urban areas remained choked with snow; days later, people had not managed to get out to work.

This morning, we chipped ice. As we age, falling becomes not just a concern but a definite possibility, as Gravity's attempts to drag us--once and for all--to the ground, seem to have recently redoubled.
~~Juliet Waldron

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Old Falling People

I hate this falling business that apparently goes with aging. Seems I've fallen more times in the last few years than I've fallen in the rest of my life. And, of course, it gets ever more dangerous to hit the ground as bones age.

My Grandma Liddle, may she RIP, fell and broke her hip at 99, which was the end of her life. The pain after an attempt to pin it became too much for her frail self. Her husband's step-mom also fell, back in the more cavalier 'late 40's. This Grandma Liddle lay in the cold--down the dirt farm road where they'd once farmed dairy cattle--until the postman happened along. Fortunately, the smart collie she owned came to lie against her and kept her from freezing during that long-ago upstate New York winter. She too ended in an old age home, bed-ridden; these were the days before hips were routinely repaired. Here, she too eventually died. These family histories have taught me that there's nothing good about falls after 60!

Now, I clean my house. I go to the gym. I do Zumba; I take weights classes and aerobic classes. I practice my balance in Yoga; I take long fast walks. During clement weather I ride my granny bike around town. I've fallen off that, too, more times than from my road bike that I rode constantly for twenty-five years.  It seriously ticks me off when I find myself, once more, sprawled on the darn ground.

Today I fell in the kitchen. I was vacuuming -- inadvisable for bad backs -- so I was being particularly careful (I thought) about not lunging or twisting. As I vacuumed along the ceiling where the cobwebs of winter have been gathering, I forgot to look down, stepped on a part of the wand I'd discarded a few moments before. When it rolled, I did too and ignominiously ended on the nice yellow linoleum, taking a blow on hip and shoulder as I went down.

As you might imagine, a few moments of quiet contemplation followed, while I checked to see if everything was still okay, the trick back, knees, etc. My husband was no help or comfort. I probably fell, in his mind, to inconvenience him--somehow. Don't ask WTF. Old men, that's a whole other subject.

~ Juliet Waldron

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

~~Science Fiction Madonna~~

Hubble, thank-you! 
Oh Dreamer, green beside
A quiet sea,
Child cradled
Close, flesh to flesh,
Haloed by the infrared
Of your star,
You hug a possible future.
One, together,
Mother and child.
Though shapes, colors,
Genders infinite,
Your essence
On a million worlds,
Out toward

~~ Juliet Waldron

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

On Being Deaf Almost ~~ by Joy Olmstead

I am staying with my daughter , visiting, while I gather my things together to spend my winter in Mexico.

> Since she had moved from my neck of the woods.. To the south, this gives me some family time.
> While it used to be frequent short visits when we lived in the same area, now, it is one long visit twice a year.

> Apparently, I can and do easily stress my daughter out.

> Much as I try to fly under her radar screen, I cause these blips to occur on her screen in the control tower, and she feels the need to pay attention and because otherwise, I'll crash.

> My hearing is not that great  these days. I consider hearing aids, then wonder: Why?

> While I can't understand what someone is mumbling at me in another room... Face to face, paying attention. I can hear just fine. Guess my practical mind is avoiding a few thousand dollars to hear mumbles in another room, when I can walk in and say What? For free!

> So this morning , in the midst of the kitchen breakfast school, work rush. My daughter appears all sleep frozzy and fuzzy robed... And starts putting together her sons lunch.

> She turns to me and says in a very loud clear and slowly spoken manner.
Fine. You?
Ohhhh that's gotta hurt; I am sorry. She asks her son DO YOU WANT TO DRIVE IN WITH US TO TAKE NONNIE TO THE AIRPORT?
Her husband and sons visibly lean away from the loudness. A short discussion ensues...

> I had already planned to be driven in by my son in law , in my car so I could smoke all the way to the airport. I mentioned this to my daughter. Now, I was busy re arranging my plan of action to accommodate everyone.


> I say yes, mentally, I am hearing you say that we are going to leave later than I want, in a rush and my anxiety level will be on high...

> Meanwhile, my grandson says: Why are you talking so loud?
She whispers next to his ear.
Because Nonie can 't hear well. Trying to spare my feelings, I assume. I hear every word. 
> So, back to the car issue.

> I tell her I still,want to be at the airport a few hours before the flight.
> Why, yes, I can , my concern is being at the airport in time.

> I find my voice getting louder and my speech slowing down, perhaps, someone else is being was a natural reaction... I catch myself... Rein it in...
> Alright...

> We are now leaning on the counter chatting. When I bring up my hearing, she mentions that it seems I don't hear what she is saying, so perhaps LOUD and SLOWLY will make it better.

> She and I, although we both use the English language, do talk in a manner which neither of us comprehends.

> I point this out.. And, I can see from the look on her face; she almost wants to agree.

> She tries so hard. I feel bad. Tell her so. I do drive her crazy. She got blessed with a mother who doesn't fit in the peg board no matter which place she tries.

> I am reasonably comfortable with my shape. Mean no harm. And see the torture she goes through.
> Wishing we could both acknowledge the fact the the color blue is two or fourteen different colors in each of our minds, and not struggle with that.

~~Joy Olmstead

Friday, November 6, 2015


In a time when hatred, ignorance, and bigotry are all regularly promoted by major candidates as "patriotic," this letter to the Editor is worth reposting.


              A local paper in my little beach town recently printed a letter from a reader who extolled the virtues of Senator Joseph McCarthy and his extraordinary Americanism, devoted to ridding the free world (or all of it, for that matter) from the Red Peril of Communism.  And since The Donald has also devoted his campaign to ridding the United States of immigrants, legal or not, here’s a story that bears telling.    

               In the early 1950s I was a young child, concerned more with learning to ride my first bicycle than with the state of the Nation, or Senator McCarthy’s campaign to eradicate anyone he believed to be “subversive” and more specifically, allied with the Communist Party in America.  My grandfather, Spero Evanoff, was an immigrant from the old Yugoslavia, and his wife Anna, was from the Ukraine.  He came here at a young age, along with his elder brother, and carried all his worldly belongings in a rye market basket.  (I still have that basket to this day.)  He went to barber school in Western Pennsylvania where he met and married Anna, and became a barber for the rest of his life.  He left the Homestead, PA area soon after his graduation and, green card in hand, with his young family (daughter Eleanor, daughter Margaret, son Harry) moved back to Eastern Pennsylvania to the Harrisburg area.  He had, I believe, cousins and fellow immigrants in Steelton, PA, which had a large population of folks from the Balkans in Central Europe.  After the death of Eleanor from a burst appendix at age 10, and the subsequent total mental breakdown of his wife Anna, and her institutionalization in the State Hospital in Harrisburg, he moved with his two remaining children to Palmyra, a small town East of Harrisburg.  He had friends there, a married couple who ran a tailoring business, as they had in Europe.  Life, as it does, moved on.


              When Senator McCarthy began seeing pink things under his bed and began sweeping with his vicious broom, the good people of Palmyra, fundamentalist Christians of Brethren and Mennonite ancestry, decided that they didn’t want a man with a strange accent from an even stranger country cutting their hair.  His business evaporated, and he was virtually driven out of town.  His son, Harry, could not deal with being ostracized and left home.  His daughter Margaret (my mother) married a local boy and began a lifetime of denial regarding her father. To me, he was my grandpa, and I loved him, and he loved me.


              My grandfather relocated further West and closer to Steelton to another small town, Hummelstown, where there was a greater mix of immigrants and where, frankly, people did not care so much about Senator McCarthy.  They just wanted good haircuts and my grandfather, being one of two barbers, was the only other game in town. 


              So, my grandfather had lost his business, his wife, and all three of his children because he was “a foreigner” from a suspected Communist-affiliated country and highly suspect.  But it didn’t stop there.  He saw friends deported for no clear reason other than the Government saw fit to do it.  He saw other friends lose businesses.  He saw other children alienated from their families.  And through it all, he paid his taxes, and pledged allegiance to this country, the same country who would never grant him citizenship because of his “suspicious” colleagues.  The tailor from Austria.  The Italian businessman.  My grandfather died when I was fourteen, on the Fourth of July, freedom for all, fairness to none. 

              When I was 19, I applied for a position at the former Olmsted Air Force Base in nearby Middletown, PA.  The position required a “Secret” clearance, which usually took 4 to 6 weeks to complete.  Eighteen weeks into the clearance process, I was called by an officer of the OSI (Office of Special Investigation) of the Air Force, who told me that a car would be sent for me at 8:00 the following morning and that I would be “interviewed” regarding my job application.  The “interview” was, in fact, an interrogation, and the only people present in that hot, unvented room on that summer day were a stenographer, three men in dark suits, and me.  The “interview” took over 7 hours, and I was given a bathroom break and a drink of water.  The questions were all regarding my grandfather and his suspected affiliation with an organization called the IWO, or International Workers Order, a Communist Party-affiliated insurance, mutual benefit and fraternal organization.  I had no knowledge of whether or not he was a member, but he had apparently taken out an insurance policy to protect me, his only grandchild, from accident and/or illness.  Not only did they not believe my testimony, they caused my clearance to be “suspended” which is, in actuality, worse than a denial.  So I lost the job before I got it.  Some 20 years later, in Dayton, OH, I was a temporary worker in a very large chemical plant with massive government contracts.  When I was offered permanent employment, I was told I would have to have an AEC (Atomic Energy Clearance) check run.  I told the head of security that I would never get the clearance, and told him why.  They proceeded anyway, and for the second time I had a clearance suspended.  I didn’t get that job, either.  I’ve done a lot of waitressing and barmaid jobs, because no one in those industries cared who my grandfather was.  Now I am a very old lady, on borrowed time, and I cannot let Mr. Foertsch’s letter stand without a rebuttal. 

               I would like to address one other matter, that being so-called security risks in higher government. 

Even after McCarthy’s “cleansing,” we were subjected to Richard Nixon, Robert McNamara, George H. W. and George W. Bush, Donald Rumsfeld and perhaps the worst of all, Richard Cheney, who invented a war which bankrupted our nation and killed and maimed our soldiers in order to profit from it.  So much for security risks. 
The defense rests.

~~~ Orb Weaver