That would be Ron and me. Driving to Philomath, Oregon for dinner on a farm, with extra time before our 7 p.m. reservation, we made a slight detour to visit Corvallis, home of OSU (Oregon State University). Another new Oregon city for us; we noticed a large bookstore still open after five.
Parked the car in front of a beautiful courthouse** and immediately saw a station wagon filled with NO WAR signs. We had chosen the right time--five to six every evening different community members stand tall for a peace vigil.
Every day for the past nine years.
People in cars waved, honked in a friendly way. Were the students at OSU active in anti-war efforts? No, we were told they are a conservative group.
As usual, we fit in age-wise: most of us gray hairs. Except this young engineering grad student from Saudi Arabia. He brought a sign made for the vigilers to show support in another language. Often they are joined by the local Veterans for Peace chapter.
One of the women had moved to Corvallis from Queens, New York, a few years ago. She agreed that nothing like this could take place back east, especially in front of a government building like the Benton County Courthouse. Unlike the Corvallis group who do not have to get police permission for their vigils, in NYC the smallest street gathering with a sign (not to include any holder more rigid than a cardboard tube) requires a permit.
We talked about Grandmothers Against the War HERE and HERE with whom I had vigiled at Rockefeller Center. Recalled with the former-Queens grandmother how each of us had stood on the steps of the 42nd Street Library with Women in Black some time in the 1990s. I told her that their behavior code was too militant for me. Called me out for speaking to my neighbor. Violated their rules: wear black, do not talk. Wearing all black was a stretch for me, not talking even more so. As in the familiar, often misquoted (see link) Emma Goldman sentiment, If I can't dance, I don't want to be part of your revolution.
I hung out with the women, a couple of them knitters who were surprised to learn about the prevalence of HIV in women over 50 and my other blog about the Condom Amulets project. Later I realized that they would have appreciated that there was an OSU amulet in the school's colors that proved too political (?) for a Portland yarn shop.
Ron stayed with the men near the station wagon. He learned about their rocky times as former professors at OSU. We both did sign-hoisting and were grateful to the group for the opportunity to relieve a bit of our current-events-in-America angst on September 10.
** Calvin Beale Senior demographer at USDA photo, one of a series of courthouses around the U.S.