Protest against Rosenburgs' Execution, New York, 1953
My mother told me we were going to join the march to protest the execution of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg. I was terrified. I’d heard about the violence perpetrated by angry bystanders against people protesting outside of Sing Sing Prison. If I could have figured out a way to say no, I would have, but my mother framed it as a moral obligation and I knew, despite my fear, she was right.
In 1952 I was a junior counselor whose primary job was to take care of the girls in my bunk, inner city girls, around 12 years old, from poor neighborhoods. Although they were tough in some ways, dealing with rats, cockroaches, marginal housing, uncertain meals, and human predators, they’d never spent time in nature, used a latrine, hiked in woods, or seen raccoons enter their bunk to eat food they weren’t supposed to have. What they complained of most, was being told what to do by me, their counselor, only a few years older than them.
Pete Seeger, Photograph by Bruce Davidson / Magnum
In 1955, I’d been hired at a camp in Massachusetts as the associate waterfront director but a hurricane wiped out the waterfront leaving me with nothing to do. The camp director, knowing how much I loved the arts, suggested I go to a Pete Seeger concert in a venue near Jacob’s Pillow, about 20 miles from camp. He thought my depression was about the destruction of the waterfront. I didn’t disabuse him. I didn’t want anyone to know I was feeling bad about not hearing from my boyfriend, worrying that he was probably seeing other women. I hated the teacher’s college I was attending—I chose to go because I didn’t think I was smart enough to apply to liberal arts colleges. I hated what I was studying. I had no friends. At 19 my world felt filled with misery and disappointment, a lot of which I didn’t know how to fix or change.
Life tales from a woman different living in The City Different.