You can catch them on many Tuesdays at rush hour in my town of 60,000. 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 that age. Tall, with wavy grayish white hair that twists with the wind currents, 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 comes down next. He is almost 80, one more year to go. Charlie was a builder in this area for many years. He marched for civil rights for blacks when few white men locally would do so. Charlie lost many building jobs because of this, but he still stood for something more permanent than a house or a check in the mail. His too many surgeries now keep him off his feet and onto a chair as he proudly holds his sign for Peace.
Barbara comes next. She is a hard nosed ‘New Yawk‘ super liberal who worshipped FDR like so many right wingers now canonize Reagan. Barbara got her Ph.D. just recently, in her 80s, and troops onward for many facets of justice. 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 anything. He is 82 and thinks and speaks like someone 30 years of age.
What troubles this writer is ‘why‘? Why is it that four 80 something folks can come and speak up for vital issues, if only for but one hour each week, and 59, 99? cannot? These folks already have better health care (Medicare) than most of us. They do not have to find or keep a job (Social Security) as we all do. Yet, they care! They care that our nation is being led down the tubes by what Mark Twain labeled ‘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 care enough for those of us out there who will have to 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.