For Friendly Summer Reading: Two New Books — Quaker Stories & Friendly FAQs
#1– So you know I’ve been interested in Quakers and Quakerism for decades. I began exploring this interest by writing stories about Friends in 1977. Beginning in 1989, I was asked to read my Quaker and other stories to campers and adults at Friends Music Camp, at the Olney Friends School in Ohio, where Friend Peg Champney was the founding Director. I’ve been invited back to read more of these stories every summer since. Now I’ve collected nineteen of these stories in a new book, “Posies for Peg.”
I wasn’t having a good night. And I hadn’t had a good day. Needleman in the Washington office had called just after lunch. He said they wanted me there, right away. I had to help the boss get ready for a big hearing before the Defense Systems Commission tomorrow. I told him I’d promised to take the kids to a ballgame.
Needleman wasn’t impressed. “They play ballgames in Pittsburgh every night, Nelson,” he said. “We get a chance at a hundred million dollar contract once every ten years, if we’re lucky. This hearing could win it for us. The boss needs your data, and he needs you here to explain it to him. Tonight.”
On February 1, 1965, I was arrested in Selma, Alabama with Dr. Martin Luther King and 250 others. Here’s what happened that day, and how I ended up eating Dr. King’s dinner.
I – Blocking the View, Blocking the Road
That morning, I was too tense to eat. Keyed up and ready, my thoughts were full of armies marching to battle.
It was February 1, 1965. I was part of a nonviolent “army” – or at least a battalion – set to march in Selma, Alabama that day. Our objective, the territory we hoped to occupy, was downtown, the Dallas County jail; we planned to capture it by getting arrested.
I was still feeling a bit weak that first Day morning, after several days in bed with a bilious fever. But I was now better, and the weather in New York was fair.
My good wife agreed. “Jacob, a walk to Meeting would likely do thee good. It is only four blocks to Rose Street, after all.”
Several men Friends were milling around near the broad meetinghouse steps, on their way into the building. But one lingered, not going in. His tall figure was unmistakable even though his grey coat and broadbrim hat were like all the others.
A Story by Chuck Fager Copyright (c) All rights reserved
PART ONE: Four Days Into Lockdown
It was hot. The summer of 1970 was burning scorched-looking brown spots in the green Pennsylvania hills, and made the wide cornfields around us crackle, as if their just-forming ears were going to swell up and start popping any minute now.
Inside the wall, humidity condensed and trickled down the walls of our cells, and the smells of mildew and old sweat were everywhere. It occurred to me that it must be something like this in the rice paddies of Vietnam. That was an irony for you: I had refused to join the army and go the rice paddies, so rice paddy weather had come to me.
Kate was racing the Muni bus toward the stop at the corner. She was wet and out of breath. It was bad enough, she thought as the bus slowed, that the skinheads had ripped up her peace poster. But why did they have to drench her with ice water?
The bus stopped and the doors flapped open. Kate leaped onto it, flashing her bus pass and shivering her way toward the back. A sudden San Francisco fog had rolled over the peace rally just as it was breaking up, quickly turning a sunny afternoon chill and dreary. The skinheads had jumped her when she rounded a corner, away from the others, headed for the bus and home.
March 10 — how could I forget? How dare I fail to remember.
Four years and four months ago, John Stephens and I began a blog site called freethecaptivesnow.org , as both a personal vigil and a community service, compiling and posting nightly updates of reports — or mostly the lack of reports — about the fate of four… peaceworkers kidnapped in Iraq. They had been taken in Baghdad, and one of them, Tom Fox, was a Quaker and a friend of both John and me.