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November 29, 2006


Thank you. Your narrative is magnificent, and evokes of a wave of nostalgia. Things have changed since those days, haven't they? And what a pity.

Who says the personal is not political? Thank you for the wonderful story and for all your work for a better world. When I get depressed that we are not making progress, a story like this turns up and gets me back up again. Forward, one step at a time, and gratitude for the internet that connects me!
Yes, I am encouraged by the election, and was excited to be part of the Carol Shea Porter miracle in NH, but there are days when the road looks pretty scary.

Great post, Sara, thanks for sharing.

Amazing, inspirational reminiscence.

Thank you Sara. In the rush of life it is so heartwarming to be reminded that life should always be multidimensional and always personal.

Per everyone else, a riveting narrative Sara, thank you so much.

Now you've got me thinking. By keeping a man out of the vietnam war back then you were able to get a microwave today which is going to lead to WW3 when you misprogram it next week? Oh, dear.

Terrific post, thank you sara. Now I'll have to go look up your Bishop Shannon reference.

Enjoy your new Five Star. As a kitchen and bath designer, I have sold many of these over the years and consider the Five Star to be the best range, period. Five Star is still privately owned by Brown Stove Works, a TN company that has been in existence since the 1930s, as I recall. Although some of the parts are made offshore, this is a product of which it can still be said "Made in America". Should you ever need to call the company, you will be pleasantly surprised to find that real people answer the phones--no voice mail. Need parts? They will arrive in a matter of days. Need technical advice? A real person will competently walk you through whatever you need to know. The range should easily last as long as your kitchen has lasted, and I know you will love it.

A great read, Sara, which made me nostalgic, even though I was only a toddler when much of it happened. But I later dated a guy (considerably older than me) who was a post-induction conscientious objector. He was "given a year" for refusing to go to Vietnam, sentenced by a jury which heard nothing of his years of peace activism.

Over the course of living with this man, I got to know a lot about what that era was like -- lived it vicariously, of course, but still lived it -- and can say I'm proud to have dated a felon (at least this one). The prison experience gave him an extraordinary strength of character, and great human insight. I'd like to think a little rubbed off.

I love all the queens arguing over the venison, then finally getting the recipe right. I can just see that!

And FYI, it wasn't enough to say you were gay, apparently, at least before some induction boards. My ex- didn't even try to claim that. (I think he had been married, too, by that point.)

I love this. Thank you, Sara.

thanks Sara. very touching.

Count me in as another thank you.

It took me very far back, I worked, as the only woman press foreman in Boston at the time, for a co that published "underground newspapers" during the Vietman protests. We used to have the editors on one end of the press and the FBI at the other hauling the papers away.
Earlier in the day the editors, still covered in fine glass from a earlier protest where windows were for some reason were always getting broken, would sit on the floor going over the final proofs while the FBI guys would share coffee with the typists.

I had a similar experience with my father and the wonders of microwaves, he had been a very remote man who had a very difficult time being close to anyone after my brother died, and arguing about micorwaves and their inferior prossessing of whole potatos gave us a safe common ground.

Thank you again, and my next stove will be a Five Star to keep the memories you made for me today! Peace.

Count me in as another thank you.

It took me very far back, I worked, as the only woman foreman in Boston at the time, at a co that published a number of "underground newspapers" during the Vietman protests. At the end of most days we would have the various editors on one end of the press and the FBI at the other hauling the papers away.

Earlier in the day, editors, often covered in fine glass from a earlier protest somewhere where windows, for some reason, were always getting broken would sit on the floor going over the final proofs while the FBI guys would share coffee and chat with the typists.

And lastly I had a similar experience with my father and the wonders of microwaves, he had became a very remote man and had a very difficult time being close to anyone after my brother died. Arguing about micorwaves and their inferior processing of whole potatos gave us safe and common ground to establish some modicum of family.

Thank you again, and because of you my next stove will be a Five Star to safeguard the memories you made and recalled for me today! Peace.

Humm, just realized that I posted my first draft too, oh well, god's will, peace to all.

Wonders of microwaves and DOE Q and L clearances. I looked it up and it's pretty interesting. What people found out in 93' was that most NOCs, whether they're CIA, DEA, or DIA; usually have that clearance. It has followed up in Plame and the WMD thing, which is really that, but including bio weapons. So, maybe they figured out all the Universities that trained all the OOs as required based on Rice's degree and her 'close' relationship to Bush or maybe the Russians just knew about Plame&Aimes and got the 'new' program figured right away......................

Anyhow, nice story but I wonder if someone is Irish and maybe poor? You'll find alot of the sons and daughters of persons involved in intelligence are and that's because of people like Plame.

Wonderful, wonderful story, Sara. You should tell some more. As someone who DID go to prison - prison camp, that is - for refusing the draft, I also knew more than a few folks like your cabinetmaker, who chose to avoid the war as well as prison. But I never knew any who took an apprenticeship while they were in hiding.

we all bounce around our favorite blogs and gather in all the info and are warmed by hearts who view the world in a kindly manner.

i would need a page to decribe my trip
to avoid viet nam.

a great piece that obviously stirred a large amount of bittersweet reflection in us all.

thank you, sara

Poignant story. I hope you are collecting your blog stuff, and publish some day.

I wonder what the 16-26 generation today is learning about war and politics.

I remember how the 60s registered on a generation.

I wonder how the Bush years are registering.

Maybe you have some ideas.

Bishop Shannon was a very bright native St. Paul priest who became in the late 1950's President of St. Thomas College. He was also a Historian, his research for his PhD concerned the relationship between Bishop Ireland -- first Bishop in St. Paul -- and James Hill who built the Great Northern Railroad. Hill had vast land grants across Minnesota, the Dakotas and on to the West Coast -- and he worked with the Bishop to help the Irish migrate and fill in the empty spaces on the great Plains. Part of the idea was to establish a Catholic Electorate in these places, as well as make Hill's railroad profitable because there would be people and markets along the route. It is a fascinating bit of American History not much told.

Jim Shannon was made Bishop by John XXIII during Vatican II. But he disagreed with the conservative turn Paul took, and more and more was odd man out. I worked with him originally on Civil Rights, but beginning about 1965 I started doing volunteer work in a store front draft counseling thing that was mostly paid for by the American Friends Service Committee. As some may know, in 1966 the Supreme Court ruled in a CO case and vastly enlarged the universe of young men who could claim CO status. Up till 1966 most draft boards limited CO status to members of the historic peace churches -- the Quakers, the Mennonites, etc., and the review of an application came down to deciding whether one was really religious in that way. The case turned on whether a public agency, a draft board, could be a judge of the quality of one's religious belief. Court said no, none of the Draft Board's damn business -- and that opened up the CO claim to any religion or indeed any well thought out philosophy of life.

What that meant to Shannon (who strongly opposed the war in Nam) was that Catholics could now claim the status, and that priests and other teachers needed to be prepared to help young men who made the claim. So as someone who rather knew the field, but from a quaker viewpoint, I got the job of introducing Shannon to the literature, and the people in the area who had relevant experience, particularly the corps of lawyers who did this kind of work. Eventually he found a trained a number of priests, a few nuns and quite a number of teachers to conduct classes and group discussions for young Catholic guys who were interested (and they were very interested) -- and then when the Episcopalians voted to require the teaching of a CO theology to high school boys -- then the effort became rather joint. Eventually the Lutherans (or most of them) also joined Shannon's effort. But the Archbishop in St. Paul did not at all approve, and this then became one of the reasons Shannon quit the church completely. He left in early 1969.

He then moved to New Mexico and became President of St. John's College (Not RC -- it is the Great Books College) -- and then he got married. He was there perhaps 10 years, and then retired, returned to Mpls, and headed the General Mills Foundation. He died a couple of years ago.

Shannon was very helpful for lots of RC boys in that period who had to deal with World War II dads who just could not comprehend what their sons were about. He was, afterall, a Bishop with a gold chain around his neck, he did confirmations, and he had an open line to Rome. He could walk Dads through the theology, pass out the relevant Vatican II documents, and he made them feel special for having raised a son with a burning conscience. He really didn't care whether the kid was just protesting, or planning a long trip to Canada, or doing the CO status thing, going to jail, playing the student deferrment game, or even eventually following the demands of Uncle Sam -- he found the work profound. And it certainly changed his life, as did that war change virtually all it touched.

MB is absolutely right on this -- the realistic side of that period has not been well told. How it happened that the opposition to Vietnam, on whatever grounds got essentially given up as "turf" I don't really know -- I suppose it is because the objectors went on to other things, the environment, perhaps Watergate and what it revealed, Gay and Womens rights, and much else -- but we really need to examine why this happened, because it could so easily happen again as the Bush Target fades. Bush and all he represents is not just a mistake, he is a national disaster on many levels -- and while we still have to complete the resistance, we really need a comprehensive understanding of how and why it all happened. I don't think we are anywhere near that yet.

Oh yea, I love my new stove even though it was a minor disaster getting the old one out and the new one properly installed. I am still reading the instruction book on the micro however...it seems to do what I tell it to do, but it is like a computer, you have to figure out how to speak to it in the proper language. At least the five star stove is pre-digital -- and what fantastic control it has over the gas flame. That is what I wanted.

Oh yea, on the Clearance and Classification thing...

My Dad was an accountant. He went with the War Department pre-World War II, and was just above the age for the draft. He worked in the field of creating the bookkeeping systems for the USArmy at four of the five Rubber Companies in Akron. Because he had previously worked for Goodyear, he was not authorized to have anything to do with his former employer for five years after he left, (odd rules in those times). After then selling off all the factories that had been built for the War (War Assets Administration) he went with the Air Force, and eventually became deputy chief of procurement of Research and Development. Then the Chief's job opened up in the Navy Department, and he did that for a few years. Then he retired and along with a good friend, created a Consultant firm in DC that serviced what people here would call the Military Industrial Complex. Essentially he was a master of DOD's rules and regs on Procurement, and he could advise his clients on how to negotiate the best deal when they contracted for DOD R&D programs. Two years after he left DOD in the early 60's he could also negotiate for them, which he did. He had to have the high clearances because of the nature of some of the R & D. I know or have learned some of the things he dealt with -- he had something to do with the R&D on Stealth technology -- He negotiated some parts of the Global Explorer with the CIA (the recovery of the Russian Sub off Hawaii) -- the client was Howard Hughes Inc. -- and much of the R & D had to do with missle firing systems, (several clients) and late in his career, whether missle firing systems could be adapted to automate railroads and commuter trains. I still find things in the press about various kinds of equiptment DOD uses that jog my memory -- oh yea, I remember that R&D idea. He never dealt with the technology -- just the accounting and contracts.

Of course many of his friends were DOD officers -- pretty high up in the services. I don't think one of them really supported the Vietnam War, and many of them made sure their sons avoided it like the plague. In fact, many of the wives joined my mom at the big protests in the mid 1960's. This is another aspect of those times not well told. But if you look at the films you will see lots of blue haired ladies at the events -- guess who these women were? People would go to a demo in the afternoon, go home, change clothes, and do dinner at the Army-Navy Club or one of the officers clubs, and if the company was right, re-hash the demo earlier in the day. This is an element of the "resistance" that has hardly been recorded, but it was very much part of the huge mix. Perhaps the retired officers who spoke up last year are the heirs to this from the Vietnam era.

since we're talking about stoves, I'm gonna confess that I was 14 years old before I knew you could cook with onions

my mother has a gastro-intestinal condition that precludes eating onions or garlic in any form

we were allowed to put onions on hamburgers and such, but I had never eaten any cooked food with onions in the mix

I am happy to report that my onio dysfunction has been fully cured, and I can make a mean pasta sauce with onions and garlic (so nobody should shed a tear about my culinaryly deprived childhood

on other topics, the New York Times reports that the Iraq Study Group has decided on the "CUT AND RUN" option

8 months of study and they couldn't find a better answer

I can't wait for the next TNH post (so hurry up you guys)


What a great story! About a time before my time. I hope you will share many more memories. When the history books are written, the times are told in time-honored facts and stilted prose. Too bad there isn't more verse. History is taught as a patchwork quilt of events and times and names, losing the moral consciousness of the times and the everyday bravery of the many everyday people who inhabit those times. Events happen but it is the reaction to those events by the common man that gives substance and direction to the history. Oh the lessons that are lost in history because we dared not examine the actions of the everyday man. The mysteries of life are seldom revealed by the stories of the rich and powerful or the high and mighty. Underneath it all lies the underpinning richness of everyday man doing extraordinary things.

Wonderful story, Sara. And what a inspiring life you've lived. Thank you.


Thanks Sara. That is wonderful.

I have a story, not as involved or as great as yours, but it too concerns a stove.

My grandmom worked hard, sometimes day and night, and did without many things to send her sons to college. My dad went to medical school, and my uncle went and got (who knows?) maybe 9 degrees. Anyway, when dad got his medical degree and went into the service just after we got out of Vietnam, and was making some money rather than just spending it, he thought it was high time for his mom to move out of the old apartment building he had been raised in and into her own house. (He told me when he was a child, maybe as young as 10 or 12, in the winter, he would go down into this building's dingy grimy dark dirt basement with 1 hanging light bulb, and manipulate some valves to put water into the oil fired boiler/system, and push some kind of electical restarter button with a broom straw, so that steam would be generated for the steam radiators to work in the building for sometimes they would quit working efficiently and it got cold, and about how he discovered that putting pieces of rubber innertubes from bicycles in the bottom of his holey shoes worked better than just the newspaper from the route.) He carried, and on, and on,like daddys like to do when talking about the "old days" and how hard it was.

Dad and mom were very involved in the choosing of grandmom's house and the purchase and were actually there in the house with grandmom when the details were set down on paper of what would remain in the 25 year old house and what would be removed. The old gas stove would stay because the man was moving his wife into a brand new home with built in everythings just like yours, Sara, and the stove would be the best new electric available. Grandmom couldn't bring her gas stove from the apartment for some reason, so that would be fine because she had cooked on gas, and maybe she would change it later.

Anyway the deal was done, and grandmom moved in and was very happy with her house, and yard, and neighbors, and everything.

Then the former owner came to call one day about a month or so later, very, very serious and upset.

He said that his wife had always cooked on that old gas stove since the day they were married, and took great pride and joy in her cooking, but since she had moved into her splendid new house, with her great new stove with the vent above it, and everything else, she couldn't cook a lick. She was depressed about it, and crying when her cooking for a very big family event just really turned out awful.

Anyway, he wanted to buy that stove and move it to his new home, and had already arranged for the gas line to be put into his house for it. Grandmom accepted his offer, which was a lot of money for a stove, and she and mom went to the big department store (probably Sears) and bought the finest electric stove they had, and had money left over. (I think that the man didn't want to be turned down.)

Anyway, Chrismas came in a week or two. The man called and said that his wife was elated for everything had turned out perfect, and grandmom bought some curtains with the money she had made on the deal.

Dad never went to Vietnam. He finished a little too late for that, but over the years he cared for many of the veterans of that war, just like this one.

``James Hill who built the Great Northern Railroad. Hill had vast land grants across Minnesota, the Dakotas and on to the West Coast -- and he worked with the Bishop to help the Irish migrate and fill in the empty spaces on the great Plains.''

Hill, of course, did not build the RR, the workers he hired did that. From your point about his collaboration with the Bishop, it is clear that he did rather more than an investor/entreprenuer usually does. It was also Hill who lost the only successful strike called by the nascent American Railway Union. (This was in the Spring of 1894). The union doubled in membership in a matter of months, but then ran afoul of the Feds in the Pullman strike, and was more or less destroyed by blacklisting after the strike was broken by Federal troops sent in by President Cleveland (the Bill Clinton of his day :-).

Hill is one of those Golden Age characters it is so hard to precisely classify. He had his ruthless side, buying and selling legislators being only a small part of it. But his operation for moving the starving Irish from Ireland to Minnesota and the Dakotas was, for its time, almost a model NGO operation, even though the rational for it (a Catholic Electorate and a building a market for Railroad transportables) was the kind of deal making that usually makes me quake. There was also a third party to this relationship I didn't mention, the Mayo Brothers of Rochester. Hill was fast friends with their father, and then both sons, and as much as anyone he was responsible for building Mayo Clinic -- and following the Mayo Brothers lead, putting his political assets to work to reform medical education, liscensure, and setting standards for practice. The relationship was developed after a bad accident on one of Hill's branch lines, and in seeing to the treatment of the injured, he discovered the best little surgery and clinic was in the little town of Rochester. Result, he decided to build out a world class medical facility -- in the middle of nowhere. Of course he made a pile of money delivering the patients to Mayo in the days of Train Travel. It is fascinating how the Humanitarian instinct both worked with and against the drive to become the richest guy around.

what a life, sara.


been doing a little remodeling myself for several weeks. i come back to "next hurrah" and the first thing i see is this great story.

send it off to "fine homebuilding" (taunton press) for the back-page story they do every issue.

Wow Sara, thanks for the background on Bishop Shannon.

My dad was born in 1943. I asked him how it was that he never went to Vietnam.

"I was in the Air Force from 1960 to 1962," he told me. "They technically started sending us while I was still enlisted, but since I had less than 6 months in my tour, they didn't send me because I would have been out too soon to be worth the bother."

"That's pretty lucky," I said. He laughed at me.

"I wasn't the brightest kid," he said, "but it wasn't luck that got me into the branch with the shortest tours."

Sara, then you know Jim Shannon's wife, Ruth who is a dear friend of mine. We both worked for Senator Keating in Washington, DC. Ruth came to see me to tell me she was marrying Jim and it was really a new and very uncertain chapter in both their lives. They were married over 30 years when Jim died. It has been very difficult for Ruth. She still is in Mancato. Thanks for your moving tribute to Bishop Shannon.

Margarete, no, I did not know Ruth. I believe I was introduced at a Funeral and at a celebration we held for Gene McCarty on the anniversary of his 68 Presidential Run -- but I don't know her.

Essentially, I write about the many people who got involved in both Civil Rights and anti-Vietnam War efforts because it angers me that the media so focuses on the relatively few in those movements who were "Hippies" -- and used that in recent years to suggest opposition to the Iraqi adventure were all Born Again Hippies -- and watch out, the pot-smokin' Hippies are returning. We have to find ways to capture the truth about this history, pass it along as culture, and make certain it is not a weapon against the next generation needing a resistance movement.

Well, you are right! Jim Shannon was as establishment as they come! He said in his book that Ruth helped him so much relate to people -- they were acquaintances long before they were married and I believe she had a great impact on his thinking.

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