Here is a certain young lass as she appeared 55 years ago:
Would you ever guess she would grow up to be a rebel? Look at that starched organza dress! That sweetly upturned fringe! Perhaps I am using that ball as a memo recorder, reminding myself to inflict damage on the person or persons responsible for the stiff dress and stupid hairdo.
This sweet child, in the next 21 years, would grow up to:
~ run away from home at the ages of three and sixteen.
~ write a letter at the age of nine to Jack Ruby protesting the murder of Lee Harvey Oswald.
~ have her first run-in with the law at age eleven for throwing rocks over a freeway bridge.
~ smoke, drink, and take drugs from the age of fourteen through adulthood and become a member in good standing of Alcoholics Anonymous.
~ organize a sit-in on the high-school administration steps to protest the Vietnam War.
~ threaten “legal action” against a high-school teacher for throwing me out of geometry because I talked in class. That one got me to the principal’s office, where I lost the battle and was sentenced to the library with a geometry book for the semester. I failed geometry and never enjoyed math again.
~ engage in a heated argument with my senior-year history teacher about the efficacy of war and was ejected from class. That one also got me to the principal’s office, where I won the battle for free speech and was sent back to class.
~ stage a walk-out during an Explorer Scout meeting when the local police chief came to address the scouts about the field of law enforcement (it was that kind of era).
~ threaten PG&E with a formal complaint to the state utilities commission for wanting to charge me a new-account fee when I was simply changing addresses in college. (They rescinded the charge.)
~ threaten J.C. Penney with a complaint to the Better Business Bureau for their shoddy vacuum cleaner (I was just out of college and it was my first vacuum cleaner; the store gave me a refund).
That sweet little girl has grown up to believe in her right to free speech, to protest infringement of her rights, and to be heard by the powers that be.
My legal projects and research on behalf of my infirm mother, concerning the violation of her civil rights and state laws perpetrated by a local hospital recently (here’s a brief of the gory story), have taken away my blogging time. I’m sorry, my blogging friends.
I’ve written protest letters to the U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary, the California Attorney General, the California Department of Public Health, the county district attorney, the county ombudsman’s office, and many patients’ rights organizations and attorneys. The wheels of justice turn slowly, and so far no one has emerged to champion my mother, except me.
Now I’ve written a lengthy letter to the American Civil Liberties Union, asking them to take on my mother’s case on behalf of elderly people across America whose Advance Directives are routinely ignored by medical institutions.
Over my lifetime, my protests have about a 50/50 success rate. That’s not too shabby. Ballplayers who bat .500 get beaucoup bucks.
Wish me luck?
This is a Sepia Saturday post. For more personal glimpses of history, visit the Sepia Saturday blog here.