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FREEZE WARNING remains in effect until 9 am PDT this Morning.
COLD SUNDAY MORNING temperatures will be followed by generally pleasant conditions this afternoon. Thereafter, dry and seasonable weather will quickly become unsettled by late Monday morning as a storm system approaches from the west. Periods of widespread rain, gusty south winds, and high elevation snow will occur Monday afternoon through Tuesday, and again Wednesday and Thursday. (NWS)
GAYLE BOWMAN, 1927-2022
Gayle Bowman, a lifelong resident of Fort Bragg, passed away peacefully in her sleep with loved ones nearby on March 30, 2022 at her home at the age of 94. Gayle was born in Fort Bragg, CA at the Redwood Coast Hospital on November 25, 1927 to Dr. Paul Jay Bowman and Ruby Bowman. Gayle was preceded in death by her parents and her son Jeffrey (Gevaux) Gevas. Gayle is survived by her daughters Jennifer Carlson (John Ciro) and Jay McMartin-Rosenquist (Lars Rosenquist); grandchildren Robert and Anna-Kristina Rosenquist; Scott Mayberry (Brenda), who was like a son to her; and, countless other family and dear friends.
Gayle graduated from Fort Bragg High School in 1945. She worked on the switchboard at the Redwood Coast Hospital during high school. She attended Stephens College for two years and Bennington College for a semester before graduating from the University of the Pacific with a B.A. in Economics. After college, she returned to Fort Bragg and worked at the Redwood Coast Hospital as the administrator for her father. In 1970, Gayle established the Well House Needlepoint store, later known as Well House West on the corner of Redwood and Franklin Street, where the shop still remains to this day. Gayle was a talented seamstress, collector and had a passion for rhododendrons, just as her parents did. She was a lifelong animal lover and cared deeply for both the cats she raised and the ones who would come to find shelter, food, and company on her deck. She served on the boards of the Mendocino Coast Historical Society, American Rhododendron Society, Community Concert, Campfire Girls Council, the Jobs Daughters Council and the Cancer Society. Gayle was a member of the Native Daughters of the Golden West, among other organizations. In addition, she was an active community member in Fort Bragg politics, attending many city council meetings. Gayle loved to travel and made a trip around the world in 1975. She enjoyed spending summers at the family camp on the Noyo River as well as spending much time in Orleans and Redway, where she had vacation homes. In her later years, she was an avid fan of the San Francisco Giants. Gayle will be greatly missed by those who were blessed enough to know her. She will be laid to rest at the Ocean View Cemetery and Mausoleum in Eureka, joining her parents and son. In lieu of flowers, please make donations to the Mendocino Coast Historical Society, the Rhododendron Society, the Cancer Resource Center of Mendocino County, the Vern Piver Memorial Scholarship Fund or any local non-profit organization of your choice.
STAND WITH UKRAINE
Calling out for volunteers and Silent Auction Donations: restaurants and wineries, artists and all who want to "Build a Ukrainian Field of Dreams" with me to get in touch...we will build it and they will come. Sure, it can't end this atrocity but we can do our part and doing nothing is unthinkable. I need help organizing/coordinating the food donations and trying to wrap my head around how: packaging, labeling, serving, re-supplying (how would that happen?). Should we have one size fits all plating and pricing OR? Who will attend the tables? Etc.
Ukraine Benefit; Rotary Park; MAY 1st: Rise Up to Stand with Ukraine!
JEANNE JACKSON: Before dusk yesterday, the Gualala River was full nearly to the brim. It looked like it could open at any time. This morning the river was open and Rozanne Rapozo photographed it. Notice the Bald Eagle on the north side of the sandbar.
FOLLOWING UP ON OUR NOTES YESTERDAY about the County’s high vacancy rate across all departments engineered by former CEO Carmel Angelo (and still in place today) we looked back at our archive to find the moment when CEO Angelo went off on Supervisor McCowen on the subject.
FORMER SUPERVISOR JOHN MCCOWEN got along with CEO Angelo more or less for much of his tenure, going back to about 2010. But by the time McCowen retired at the end of 2020 McCowen had lost what was left of his respect for the County’s former long-serving CEO when the CEO, assisted by County Counsel and Supervisor Ted Williams accused McCowen of theft of county property soon after McCowen was out of office. The accusation was entirely unfounded and false, it had to do with McCowen being allowed into the covid-closed offices to wrap up his papers and equipment.
We suspect that the relationship soured back in June of 2018 when McCowen proposed that the supervisors simply “discuss” the hiring freeze that CEO Angelo had unilaterally imposed on all County departments. CEO Angelo, usually able to contain her angry outburts during board meetings, snapped in a way that County insiders had previous reported she regularly did outside of the public view.
Angelo angily replied to McCowen’s simple suggestion: “If this board takes away my ability to do a hiring freeze, it is taking away my ability to balance the budget. You are impeding my ability to do the job you have asked me to do. So I'm really surprised at Supervisor McCowen’s comment and request and I would say again that I don't know why you would do that. Again, I don't know why you would do that comment and request. And I would say again that I don't know why you would do that. I mean, first of all we had a 5% and then we had a 10%. If you take away my ability to tell a department head that they can either hire or not hire you are absolutely taking away my ability to balance this budget. It will be a free-for-all!”
McCowen calmly replied: “With all due respect I do think that the decision to declare a hiring freeze is really a policy matter and as I stated I think with or without it we will have a balanced budget. But I am concerned about other aspects of the message that it sends. We struggle to recruit and we still have 134 vacant positions today. So I don't know about the reference to a free-for-all. I think we can try as diligently as possible to hire and maintain staff and we are still going to have a significant vacancy factor. And again I do request this be an agenda item. It shouldn't be a total surprise. We have had the discussion previously including today. So if it does become an agenda item it will be a board decision as to what we do.”
None of McCowen’s colleagues supported McCowen’s proposal that the hiring freeze even be discussed as a Board agenda item. And to this day the CEO remains the sole decider of whether any department can hire staff, budgeted or not. The result of this dubious arrangement is that some departments are so understaffed that staff burns out and some of them quit while in other departments work gets backlogged or postponed or ignored. The County and the Supervisors have never questioned what the impact of the CEO’s hiring freeze is and seem nonchalantly unconcerned about how much work is not getting done.
LOCAL LADIES ENJOY SPRING TIME IN PARIS
CANCER RESOURCE CENTER CAMPAIGN
The Cancer Resource Centers of Mendocino County (CRC) is a local, grassroots nonprofit that provides vital services to anyone facing cancer in Mendocino County. All of our services are free of charge. We have an office in Fort Bragg on Cypress Street, and in Ukiah on W. Gobbi.
For about 20 years, CRC has received a grant from the Safeway Foundation. The money for this grant is donated by our generous community, a dollar or two at a time, at the checkout when shopping at Safeway stores. This collection is happening now, during the month of April, at all Safeway stores in Northern California.
If you shop at Safeway and can spare a few dollars, your support of the campaign will increase the chances that grant funding will be available to CRC, your local cancer support nonprofit. We are grateful to the Safeway Foundation and to the local people who support their efforts by donating at the checkout.
Finally, if there are people in your life who are coping with cancer, be sure they know we are here to help: go to crcmendocino.org or call our Ukiah office at (707) 467-3828, or our Fort Bragg Office at (707) 937-3833.
Karen Oslund, Executive Director, Cancer Resource Centers of Mendocino County
Showing BUENA VISTA SOCIAL CLUB at Arena Theater on Monday night @ 7pm, April 18. A remarkable documentary by German filmmaker Wim Wenders follows Ry Cooder & his son, Joachim, as they travel to Cuba and assemble a group of the country's finest musicians to record a phenomenal album. Music on Film Night is back!
ARTISTS of ANDERSON VALLEY brings together local professional artists to increase awareness of the fine arts in this area and to create opportunities to promote their work. Two decades ago, the Anderson Valley Art Guild, artists in Boonville, Philo, Navarro, and Yorkville organized an annual, open studio tour to showcase the quality and diversity of the artists living here. We proudly continue that signature twenty year tradition, along with special group exhibitions, and community networking.
- Bill Allen
- Deanna Apfel
- Nadia Berrigan
- Saoirse Byrne
- Martha Crawford
- Rebecca Goldie
- Toby Hill
- Jimmy Humble
- Doug Johnson
- Rebecca Johnson
- Xenia King
- Yoriko Kishimoto
FREE FOOD PHILO, an initiative of Love to Table, a 501(c)3 nonprofit, is distributing meals in town to those in need. We cook nourishing meals using produce from our farm and others, and would love to offer you a warm lunch on Monday April 18. If you could use a home cooked meal, or have a friend in mind who does, please call or text Arline Bloom (415) 308-3575.
We have a special easter menu this week, featuring Janelle Weaver and The Bewildered Pig. You are in for a treat! This week’s menu: Egg Custard, Spring Salad, Red Velvet Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting.
Thank you for letting us be of service. For more information on Free Food Philo / Love to Table, check out: https://unconditionalfreedom.org/free-food/
RANDOM BLIPS from a failing mind. Seriously, does it matter who controls twitter and all these social media platforms? Don't most of us auto-pilot our way through what we read, approving and rejecting according to what's stored in our hobgoblin brains, the conscientious among us taking into account our biases in our attempts to sort out truth from untruth, the cruel and the stupid abdicating all responsibility and voting Republican?
ISN'T IT OBVIOUS why millions of people in every part of the globe are on the move, these many millions born into murderous kleptocracies? Wouldn't you light out for more or less stable territory if you were a Honduran, a Somali? A Mexican? You fascists out there would enjoy "The Camp of the Saints" by Jean Raspal. This quote resonate with you? “The West has not yet understood that whites, in a world become too small for its inhabitants, are now a minority and that the proliferation of other races dooms our race, my race, irretrievably to extinction in the century to come, if we hold fast to our present moral principles.”
RUMOR wafting over the hill from Ukiah is that wedding bells are ringing for our redoubtable District Attorney, David Eyster, presently about to celebrate his 4th term as Mendo's top cop. The lucky girl? Lisa Welsh McCurley, a nurse practitioner at Baechtol Clinic in Willits. The pair were old college sweethearts, broke up, and went their own ways. Divorces intervened, and they reconnected several years ago via the Net. Lisa moved to Ukiah from the Pacific Northwest where she maintains her own home in Ukiah, but has often pulled the night shift at the DA's house where she helps him guard his politically suspect lawn against dandelions. Ms. McCurley's professionally calming demeanor and her separate address herald a lasting relationship.
MAYBE A STORY with a happy ending if the kid wanted to be found. An autistic teenager who vanished nearly three years ago from his Lake County home has been found alive in Utah. Sheriff’s deputies in Summit County found Connerjack Oswalt rumpled and asleep inside a convenience store last Saturday. After taking him in and running his fingerprints, the police managed to identify him as a person reported missing from Clearlake in 2019. The boy was 17 at the time of his disappearance his mother, Suzanne Flint, said. “I never stopped looking for him. There wasn’t a day I wasn’t searching for him, in some form or fashion." When police called the family to say their son had been found, his father Gerald Flint left work and drove four hours to meet him in person. “We didn’t treat him [Oswalt] as a criminal. We treated him as somebody that has something deeper that we needed to dig into,” explained Summit County Sheriff Justin Martinez. “That intuition is what really reunited this family.”
FORMERLY OF BOONVILLE
On Sunday, April 3, 2022 at 11:23 P.M. Mendocino County Sheriff's Deputies were on routine patrol when they observed a vehicle traveling westbound on Highway 20 near Road A in Redwood Valley.
The Deputies observed a lighting violation on the vehicle and conducted a traffic stop. They contacted the driver, subsequently identified as Glenn Jenkins, 47, of Ukiah.
The Deputies learned that Jenkins was on active Post Release Community Supervision (PRCS) with terms including “Do Not Possess Dangerous Weapons Including Knives” and “Fourth Amendment Waiver.”
The Deputies searched Jenkins and his vehicle, per his PRCS terms. The Deputies located a knife in violation of Jenkins' PRCS terms. Jenkins was arrested and booked into the Mendocino County Jail where he was to be held on a No Bail status.
YEAH YOU, MUNOZ
On Tuesday, April 5, 2022 at 11:23 P.M., Mendocino County Sheriff's Deputies were on routine patrol in the 2100 block of South State Street in Ukiah.
The Deputies observed Orlando Munoz, 27, of Ukiah in a public place. The Deputies knew Munoz was wanted for a Post Release Community Supervision (PRCS) pick up order.
The Deputies verbally ordered Munoz to stop. Munoz fled on foot and the Deputies pursued him for a short distance before he stopped and complied with their verbal commands.
The Deputies arrested Munoz and learned he was also on active felony probation as well as PRCS.
The Deputies arrested Munoz for Felony Violation County Parole, Felony Violation of Probation and Misdemeanor Resisting Obstructing Peace Officer. Munoz was booked into the Mendocino County Jail where he was to be held on a No Bail status.
NO BOOZE FOR YOU, MISS
On Tuesday, April 12, 2022 at 9:35 P.M., Mendocino County Sheriff's Deputies were on routine patrol when they observed Ivy Bodwin, 50, of Ukiah, exit a store carrying a paper bag in the 7700 block of North State Street in Redwood Valley.
The Deputies were familiar with Bodwin and knew she was on active felony probation with terms to include a "No alcohol" term. The Deputies contacted the Mendocino County Sheriff's Office Dispatch Center who confirmed Bodwin's active probation status.
The Deputies contacted Bodwin and learned she was in possession of alcohol; which was in violation of her probation terms.
The Deputies arrested Bodwin for Felony Violation of Probation and she was booked into the Mendocino County Jail to be held on a No Bail status.
CATCH OF THE DAY, April 16, 2022
JOELLE BURGESS, Ukiah. Conspiracy, protective order violation.
MERNIE DEMEZES, Ukiah. Domestic battery.
SEAN FLINTON, Fort Bragg. Disorderly conduct-alcohol. (Frequent flyer.)
POLICARPIO GALAVIZ-RODRIGUEZ, Fort Bragg. Failure to appear.
VINCENT GALVAN, Fort Bragg. Parole violation.
RUSSELL HARMON, Willits. Failure to appear.
ADAM KESTER, Willits. Burglary, conspiracy, probation revocation.
RILEY MORGAN, Ukiah. DUI.
ADAM PARKINSON, Leggett. DUI.
DONAVAN PARRISH, Ukiah. Burglary, conspiracy, probation revocation.
JUST IN: Russia is willing to use nuclear weapons to bring a catastrophic end to its invasion of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelensky warned Saturday night - as he urged the world to “prepare” for the worst by stocking up on anti-radiation medicine and building air raid shelters. Zelensky issued the doomsday warning during an interview with national media, before sharing the clip via his Telegram channel. He made a similar announcement on Friday, when he said it could not be ruled out that desperate Russian dictator Vladimir Putin would use tactical nukes, as his war against Ukraine continues to stall. But the Russian strongman ramped up his offensive Saturday, taking revenge on Ukraine for the downing of his Moskva warship by mercilessly shelling eight towns including Kyiv, Kharkiv and Lviv. It comes after Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told CNN in a recent interview that Moscow would use a nuclear weapon on Ukraine in the case of an “existential threat,” while Russian military doctrine includes the “escalate to de-escalate” principle of launching a small nuke to regain the initiative in war. Zelensky said tonight: “We shouldn't wait for the moment when Russia decides to use nuclear weapons... We must prepare for that.” (Daily Mail)
DAY 52, UKRAINE
The captain of the Russian warship Moskva has been killed during the attack that sank it, Ukraine has claimed. Anton Gerashchenko, an adviser to Kyiv’s ministry of internal affairs, said Anton Kuprin died during an explosion and fire onboard the ship.
Ukraine is now bracing for revenge attacks for its hand in sinking the Moskva. Western intelligence has corroborated Ukraine’s account that two of its missiles sunk the warship, though Russia has provided an alternative explanation. Russian strikes targeted the factory near Kyiv where the Ukrainian missiles used to sink the flagship are made.
More than 900 civilian bodies have been discovered in the region surrounding Kyiv after the withdrawal of Russian forces, local police said. Almost all of them were shot dead, indicating execution during the Russian occupation, it was claimed. Their number was far greater than previously thought. In Kharkiv, officials also said that 10 people, including a baby, were killed and 35 wounded following Russian air strikes.
The Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, recently made a direct appeal to his US counterpart, Joe Biden, for Washington to designate Russia a “state sponsor of terrorism”. The Washington Post first reported the news. It would be a rare and radical sanction. But Zelenskiy has been firm in putting pressure on the west to assist in Ukraine’s resistance to Russia’s invasion.
In his latest address, Zelenskiy once again pushed for more weapons, and more sanctions – so the war could end sooner. Zelenskiy also spoke about a return to “normal life” in some parts of the country – or efforts to regain normality amid the tragedy. In parts of Ukraine, Zelenskiy noted that four-fifths of Ukranian enterprises have returned to work in safe areas.
Sweden and Finland say they are deliberating Nato membership. Tytti Tuppurainen, Finland’s minister for European affairs, said: “The people of Finland seem to have already made up their mind”. She added the decision was “highly likely” but “not made yet” pending discussions in parliament.
Outgunned, outnumbered and surrounded by Russian forces, one of Europe’s biggest metallurgical plants has become Mariupol’s redoubt. The factory is “an enormous space” in which the Russians “simply can’t find” Ukrainian forces, Oleh Zhdanov – a military analyst based in Kyiv – told Reuters.
Russia threatened to intensify its attacks on Kyiv if Ukrainian forces carry out any operations on Russian territory. A spokesperson for Moscow’s defence ministry said: “The number and scale of missile strikes against targets in Kyiv will increase in response to the Kyiv nationalist regime committing any attacks of a terrorist nature or sabotage on Russian territory.”
Russia has designated journalist and YouTuber Yury Dud and political analyst Ekaterina Schulmann as “foreign agents”, a continuation of Moscow’s crackdown on those critical of the government within the country. Dud and Schulmann have both been publicly critical of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) announces California recreational ocean salmon fishing season dates are now set for the remainder of 2022 and offer about the same number of open days as last year. Sport fisheries opened south of Point Arena on April 2 and the remainder of the coast will open May 1. Although anglers can enjoy an earlier start to the season than last year, there will be intermittent breaks in fishing opportunity in management areas north of Pigeon Point.
This week, the Pacific Fishery Management Council (PFMC) met in Seattle, Washington to finalize and adopt recommended ocean salmon seasons occurring between mid-May and October. These seasons are the outcome of a months-long public process and reflect efforts to maximize recreational angling opportunity while also achieving the stock conservation objectives prescribed by the PFMC and the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) for 2022.
Efforts to increase adult returns of California Coastal Chinook, Sacramento River Fall Chinook, and Klamath River Fall Chinook this fall and winter resulted in ocean salmon seasons that allow for more fishing opportunity in southern management areas and slightly less time on the water in northern management areas.
The 2022 recreational ocean salmon season dates for the California coast are as follows:
In the Klamath Management Zone, which is the area between the Oregon/California state line and 40°10’00” N. latitude (near Cape Mendocino), the season will be open May 1-31 and Aug. 1-Sept. 5.
The Fort Bragg Management Area, which extends from 40°10’00” N. latitude to Point Arena (38°57’30” N. latitude), will be open May 1-July 4 and July 22-Sept. 5.
In the San Francisco Management Area, which extends from Point Arena to Pigeon Point (37°11’00” N. latitude), the season is open April 2-May 31 and June 23-Oct. 31.
In the Monterey Management Area, which extends from Pigeon Point to the U.S./Mexico border, the season is open April 2-Oct. 2.
The minimum size limit in all management areas north of Point Arena is 20 inches total length. In the San Francisco and Monterey management areas, the minimum size limit is 24 inches total length through May 15 and will drop to 20 inches total length thereafter. The daily bag limit is two Chinook salmon per day. No more than two daily bag limits may be possessed when on land. On a vessel in ocean waters, no person shall possess or bring ashore more than one daily bag limit. Retention of coho, or silver salmon, is prohibited in all ocean fisheries off California.
Anglers are advised to check for updated information when planning a salmon fishing trip. Season dates, bag/possession limit information and gear restrictions can be found on CDFW’s Ocean Salmon webpage or by calling the CDFW Ocean Salmon Regulations Hotline at (707) 576-3429. Public notification of any in-season change to conform state regulations to federal regulations is made through the NMFS ocean salmon hotline at (800) 662-9825.
(CA Fish & Wildlife Presser)
It was common knowledge when I was a kid that Adolph Hitler was subject to such frenzied rages that he would actually chew on carpets. I was never quite able to picture that, but lots of people said so, and I was too little to question it, too little to know that lotsa people can be wrong.
So I’ve reserved judgment on Vladimir Putin. Maybe he chews rugs, maybe not. Just because a million feet shuffle by me doesn’t mean I have to fall into step with them, and I don’t.
But the accounts of Putin have finally reached the tipping point, for me. I’m now ready to agree that he’s probably one of the worst people alive. I will humbly take every nyah nyah aimed at me, but more important than my foot-dragging is this: Putin being the world’s worst person means what, exactly?
I’m not playing word games. His options, his potential choices, are not just in the realm of strategic considerations. They are also in the realm of psychological considerations—abnormal psychological considerations. What might a rich, powerful, evil man do?
Do we need to watch him in fear of nuclear war? We’d be foolish not to. Is he capable of suicidal-homicidal despair, no longer caring, just getting even with everything and everybody? Maybe. I’m not a trained psychologist. It seems to me, though, that the tendencies of psychopaths, especially narcissists, is to harm others rather than themselves (despite lots of exceptions). Nuclear war, as long as we stay stupid, will forever be a threat, and Putin is hardly the only person we have to worry about. There’s this little country called the United States of America that has actually used nuclear holocaust against living people, and actually has an undeclared, outsized, new-and-old, absurd arsenal of atomic weapons. By any rational measure, the USA is the world’s biggest (potential) nuclear nightmare.
I don’t see how Putin can avoid further, maybe final, humiliation. Seems a damn dangerous and volatile recipe. Still, I favor zero concessions to him of any kind. He started this with imperial dreams and fear of NATO. Now NATO is about to get bigger and closer. Nyah, Vlad!
RODNEY DANGERFIELD: “They told me to cheer up, things could be worse. They were right. I cheered up. Things got worse.”
ON LINE COMMENT OF THE DAY
I’ll tell you who had style: Gangsters, dames and detectives in old Film Noir movies out of Hollywood 1941-1958. Robert Mitchum, Humphrey Bogart, Richard Widmark, James Cagney, Gene Tierney, Yvonne Decarlo (to name just a few out of hundreds of actors of the day) … dressed to the nines while holding up a bank, engaging coppers with a Tommy Gun, making a getaway in a Ford Fodor … and looking good doing it.
by Larry Bensky
With the 2022 major league baseball season barely begun, a starting player on a prominent team lost his job.
Though not in itself unusual – professonal teams make on-field adjustments all the time – the disclosure that Wilmer Flores wouldn’t in the foreseeable future play for the San Francisco Giants was rare, because a cause was cited: mental illness. His manager told reporters, what was wrong with Flores was so damaging that “we couldn’t have him on the field.” Comparing it to a bodily injury. Gabe Kapler (Major League Manager of the Year 2021) said, “These things are equally challenging, whether they’re emotional or mental.”
Perhaps an enterprising (and Spanish speaking – Flores is Venezuelan) reporter will find out more.
Did Flores seek, or have, professional counseling and treatment? Were there background issues – family, financial – troubling him? And what happened to cause Flores to be reinstated in the Giants starting lineup the day, after his manager seemed to say he needed time off for mental health reasons?
Amidst the endless journalism in newspapers, and the torrents of silly, statistics-choked drivel spewed forth on TV and radio, you will search far and wide before you find the answers to these questions.
Had Flores fractured a limb, doctors, trainers, specialists would have been cited. But the words “mental illness” seem to mean there are no experts available.
There was one exception, quite a while ago. A star baseball player, Jimmy Piersall, “went bonkers” in the 1950’s. You could read and hear about it everywhere. A best-selling book and a very popular movie captured the nation’s attention.
“Fear Strikes Out – The Story of Baseball Great Jimmy Piersall” appeared in 1957. I was already a devoted baseball follower, saving pennies from my $5 a week allowance to see the Brooklyn Dodgers. I read a lot of newspapers. Piersall’s antic behavior was in all of them. He’d clowned around on and off the field. He got into fights with opposing players, even with teammates. Eventually he’d been dragged out of his home stadium in Boston by police, and confined to a mental institution.
He was treated with electroshock and gradually became well enough to play again, at an All-Star level, and was a broadcaster and sportswriter for many years after his playing days were over. Given the ubiquity of mental illness in our society, then as now, you know there were other cases among professional athletes. Yet with rare exceptions, like Wilmer Flores, you don’t hear about them.
In retrospect, it’s easy to see why Piersall’s story, both book and movie, had such resonance.
Sports can be a great escape, and a great delight. Or sports can stress your body and mind beyond the bearable. Sports can bring into your life forces and influences which push and pull you in good directions. But sports can also reveal to you that your life is not yours, and whoever “owns” you, financially and psychologically, can frighten you unbearably.
In Piersall’s case, it was his father who had a grip on his soul.
John Piersall was a frustrated man, with a physically powerful body that enabled him to earn a modest living as a house painter and repairman. But his body aged prematurely, due to the hours of hard work he put in, trying to support his family and move from the tiny coldwater flat where they lived in Waterbury, Connecticut.
He had a heart attack in his forties, and had few options about what to do. It was the “Great Depression” and jobs even for the able bodied were scarce. The Piersall family survived on charity food.
His wife was the victim of John Piersall’s frustrated, unpredictable rages. Intermitently she left home, to be cared for in a charitable “rest home” run by nuns. As she got better, he got worse. And young Jimmy grew up exposed to rage, depression, absence, demands, silences, and total control. His father and mother couldn’t control themselves, so they settled on controlling him.
“When he was nice to me he was as wonderful as any father could be,” Piersall wrote in “Fear Strikes Out.” “He bought me ice cream and put his arm around me and sometimes even kissed me. But when he was angry he terrified me. He would kick me so hard I couldn’t sit down for a week. He would bellow at me in a voice that would make the windows rattle. He would beat me with a strap for not doing what he wanted when he wanted.”
His mother couldn’t bear it. For two years, when Piersall was between seven and nine, she mostly lived in that Catholic retreat.
Jimmy finally found out that his father had been abandoned as a child. In various foster settings John Piersall developed a philosophy that “you have to fight to live.” Jimmy was overwhelmed, as any child would be.
His escape mechanism was to play sports, and he was good at it. But not good enough for his father. Here the “Fear Strikes Out” movie excels, as his father throws baseballs at him with an adult’s strength; Jimmy isn’t even a teenager yet. But John Piersall forces him to run faster, slide harder. And all the time, with his mother “away,” “I had never known a moment when I didn’t worry about her…my apprehension about her was only the beginning. I was worried about everything.”
So how did he become a major leaguer, an all-star, a recognized and revered contemporary of legends like Ted Williams and Joe DiMaggio?
By more or less accidentally being mentored, treated, and cured by experienced athletes, devoted clergy and trained doctors.
It’s worth reading the book and seeing the “Fear Strikes Out” movie to find out the facts and see the story dramatized.
In our time, it’s also worth remembering that there are thousands like the kid Jimmy Piersall, needing help, and not getting it. The collective enterprise known as “government,” then as now, hides mental illness and lets it be seen, seemingly hopelessly, in the streets.
One example. In early April, the State of Michigan, with its progressive, liberal governor, received funding from a Biden era initiative known as the American Rescue Plan. One Michigan county got $60 million. According to the New York Times (4/10/2022) Ingram County will “replace septic systems, hire a nurse and a health provider for a new clinic, renovate a community dental facility and start a harm reduction program to reduce the incidence of H.I.V. and rural hepatitis.” The harm reduction clinic hopes to open by the end of the year and “serve as many as two dozen patients a day to start.”
Ingram County has 300,000 people, including the students, faculty, and staff of Michigan State University. The words “mental” and “health” are not mentioned in its application to the American Rescue Plan. Mental health needs also aren’t mentioned in the legislation that President Biden signed.
But you can be certain that somewhere among the 300,000 people in Ingram County there are children in the thrall of abusive adults. And that many of those kids are scared to open up to anyone. And are contemplating suicide, as Jimmy Piersall did.
It will matter to few of them that Piersall became a highly successful athlete, a great husband, father and grandfather.
As Piersall writes of his life, “Kids when they hear about me will ask, ‘Was he really nuts?’ All I can say is that I started out as a guy without an education, but because of baseball and my ability to work hard I have done all right just the same. I fought my fears, and I was determined to win.”
Starting on a similar positive path for children and families could and should include reading this still widely available book. And watching this still widely accessible movie.
by Judith Auberjonois (1995)
A drizzly Saturday morning. Planned Parenthood, New York City: 380 2nd Avenue between 21st and 22nd, fourth floor. Jammed full, of course, with many, many people, mostly young black women, but not all. It’s a clinic and clinics have their realities. Waits. Lines. Nonchalance. A uniformed guard. My daughter Tessa, her boyfriend, and I have come about Tessa’s unwanted pregnancy. A few other swains are with their girls.
We sit on the floor, umbrellas next to us, hearing the static of a radio barking sotto voce, the honey tones of women talking, an occasional public address message for an individual, traffic sounds lofting up from the street. The place is very decent but heavily used. It’s been “done” in a rose-and-turquoise scheme, understated, utilitarian – not uncheerful, just fine, not small, not huge. There are many windows along the west wall that look over to the windows of other New York buildings.
“Jan-a-net,” calls the receptionist. “I need I.D.”
It seems to get busier.
I study the carpet (nice industrial stuff – gray in expanse, bluish-rose-turquoise on inspection) and I think of my own back-alley experience 30 years ago in Pittsburgh.
My friends Tommy and Kathy were my guardian angels with human hands to hold me, but it was alone that I felt and very isolated as they took me to an address we’d obtained, truly in a back alley. Tommy handled the money part. I found myself lying on a bed in a simple clean bedroom in a black woman’s home with Christ on the wall, feeling trusting but scared, dissociated, observant, alert, alone. She was kindly, the woman. She stuck something up me and jiggled it around. (It looked for all the world like a knitting needle, but it wasn’t.) Then, the catheter, which had to stay in. Thank you and good-bye.
I promptly puked as we traveled out of Pittsburgh to the summer theater where friends from school were working (Peter and Sherry, Frank and Rusty, Tommy and Kathy.) Rusty was a nurse, so she nursed me, and that was lucky. She gave me penicillin, thank God – it probably took the edge off the infection which ultimately came and got the better of me eight weeks later but didn’t get the BEST of me, didn’t get ME.
I waited there in that funny little town that had agreed to have college kids run a summer theater, and nothing much seemed to happen. I remember being one flight up, with a window overlooking Main Street, U.S.A., with all the buildings made of yellow brick. (June it was. 1962. A pretty heart-faced Italian girl was the ingenue at the theatre – it’s of no relevance, I just remember her.)
I slept, I dribbled, I bled. Once I think I made it over to a variety store across the street and looked at lipsticks and bought some M&Ms. After awhile, a day or two or so, the catheter came out; I’d been instructed by the woman in the clean bedroom to remove it. And oh yes, I talked to Rene, my swain. He was in Texas at the Alley Theater. I told him I’d passed the fetus as the woman in the clean bedroom with Christ on the wall had said I would — sure enough, some offal had passed from me and I examined it closely. I could make out a shape within a bloody blob, a vertebrate outline that had some structure and digits, even – minute bones, it looked like to me. I think I was about three months pregnant. I was 18 years old.
That woman didn’t have the means or the ability to completely and hygienically clean out my uterus. She told me I’d bleed for about two weeks, which I did. And then I stained pads and panties for weeks and weeks with this awful persistent brownish stuff. I kept thinking it was tapering off and would soon stop. It was bloody pus from the infection inside, to which I was semi-oblivious, semi-aware.
By now I was at my own summer theater in Wooster, Ohio amid lush and lazy lawns, white clapboard churches, lightning-bugs, Isalys ice cream, and A&W root beer stands. I was acting in all the plays and we did a show a week. The first show was ‘The Boyfriend’ – I was blessedly absorbed in learning all the music and being swept into its irrepressibility. My condition didn’t improve but I tended to ignore it even while fretting over it. I engaged in magical thinking; it wasn’t so bad so it couldn’t be bad. Jane, my best friend from college, was my roommate that summer in Ohio. And thank God for Stuart, thank God, thank God, for a “bro” to me from New Jersey who ultimately delivered me safe and chastened to Long Island at the end of that strange, suffused and youthful summer. He was my ticket to giggles in the face of fear.
My mother and father drove all the way from New York to visit one weekend, and my daddy did handstands on an Ohio lawn, to my mortification and the amusement of my cronies. I didn’t share my predicament with my parents; they weren’t let in on the situation. It wasn’t so much any castigation I feared about my love affair, any scarlet letters, but rather that I’d screwed up right on the brink of responsibility.
I did see a doctor at one point. A young blonde handsome churchman who saw fit to moralize and pontificate at me in his office: “I’ve had women who’ve sat in that chair that had abortions like you who’ve died…” He scared me, which he’d meant to do. He didn’t comfort or reassure me – he wanted to terrorize me and make me feel fear and guilt. (Of what was I guilty? What had I done wrong? Made love to a boyfriend?) He also failed to treat me at that point.
Occasionally I’d talk to that boyfriend. Once I got to Ohio, he’d already left Texas for yet another summer theater in Fish Creek, Wisconsin, where he was playing Mack the Knife. He was beginning his professional life as an actor, having just graduated university drama school that very June. He cared about me – yet his life and opportunities stretched before him. Same for me.
But because of the way he made sure things were in order by getting the hurry-up dollars for the abortion from his father in London and arranging for Tommy, Kathy, Rusty, etc. to look after me during the ordeal, I never felt abandoned by him, and gained an understanding of HIS morality. I began to love him that summer and he me, despite our being apart. He thought I was very brave.
When we talked on the phone it was almost otherworldly. It was “long-distance,” and in 1962 that carried import, was something extraordinary, at least to me. I’d scarcely ventured over the landscape of the land, and to be in Ohio, which was beyond Pittsburgh, which was “way beyond Long Island,” and to be talking to HIM in Wisconsin, was some sort of amazing grace, some sort of privilege of worldliness and maturity. This, my nineteenth summer, was irrefutably the division between adolescence and adulthood, or so it seemed.
The summer and my bloodied condition continued. We did ‘Harvey,’ and (no puns intended) ‘Rose Tattoo,’ ‘Ladies in Retirement’ … We all lived in a big ole house, and Jane and I shared a carpetless room. I remember how I distrusted the kitchen, my first real experience of a communal one. It decidedly did not resemble the polished Hungarian gleam of my mother’s. The bathroom was blessedly next to our bedroom.
So one night I woke drenched in gore. I couldn’t even walk from the blood instantly soiling my legs and the floor. I crept to that bathroom with sheets of the sullying fluid rushing out at something like four in the morning. I woke Jane with the word “hemorrhage” on my ashen lips. I guess we called that doctor and got to the hospital and informed my parents in shame and after all; they had to be informed in order for me to have a D and C procedure, since they would pay. Antiseptic at last. Had I waited til dawn, I would have been nevermore.
A week or so later my pallor was gone. I was weak but well, and relieved to be traveling east on the turnpikes with Stuart, who was a good egg, a great egg in that situation. Stuart bore the wayward daughter straight to her bewildered but compassionate, loving but critical parents: forever immigrant, forever aching with confusions they couldn’t name.
I married that boyfriend and had five pregnancies, all with him, and two children. One is my daughter – here she is now at Planned Parenthood, New York City. She just went in for consultation a moment ago, and waits inside, after telling me: “If I’m less than six weeks pregnant, I have to have a sonogram and it will be $75.”
It is her CHOICE to not proceed with an unwanted pregnancy. If someone CHOOSES to carry on with an unplanned pregnancy, that is THEIR choice.
My daughter has all the benefits of the Supreme Court, narrowness expunged by enlightenment, and Big Science. Antiseptic is a given here. Margaret Sanger’s picture is on the wall over the guard’s desk: ‘1883-1966,’ it says on the small bronze plate underneath.
I’m anxious for Tessa, of course. It is a “procedure,” and there is still blood, and there are still statistics of 1 in 100,000 and risk factors. At least she’s in company with a lot of others. They aren’t on the FRINGE of society – this is part of life, and we do this at times because we can, because we have the choice. And the future of the human race doesn’t stop here.
(This story first appeared in the May 25, 1995 edition of the Los Angeles, Times.)
ROBERT E. LEE
by Matthew Karp
The historical transfiguration of Lee began soon after his death. In the South itself, it was Lee, not the unloved Jefferson Davis, who became the hero of the Southern war effort. Once postwar Reconstruction was halted, the restored planter class began to write its own history of the war, and it put Lee at the center of the story. At the start of the 20th century, just as Jim Crow segregation took root in the former slave states, Lee’s name and image began to appear in parks and on highways and buildings from Orlando to the Ozarks. Lee represented the virtues of the antebellum South: “He was as gentle as a woman in life,” Benjamin Hill, a Georgia senator, wrote a few years after his death, “modest and pure as a virgin in thought; watchful as a Roman vestal in duty; submissive to law as Socrates, and grand in battle as Achilles.”
More surprising was the growth of the Lee legend beyond the South. He was, after all, a US army officer who had abandoned his country, one of the few rebel leaders indicted for treason and stripped of his citizenship. Yet as memories of the war faded, the image of Lee as a reluctant secessionist, beloved commander and honorable man played an important role in the politics of national reconciliation. Sentimental reminiscences of the “brothers’ war” overshadowed the actual source of the conflict – slavery – with the result that Lee achieved in death what he could never manage in life: a successful conquest of the North. Freeman’s biography was awarded the Pulitzer Prize in 1935. Franklin Roosevelt hailed Lee as “one of our greatest American Christians and one of our greatest American gentlemen.” When the US Navy launched its new fleet of ballistic missile submarines in the 1950s, the USS Robert E. Lee was the third commissioned – after the George Washington and the Patrick Henry, but before the Abraham Lincoln. Adulation came from abroad, too: de Gaulle, touring Gettysburg with Eisenhower, praised Lee as the most brilliant general of the Civil War. Churchill, perhaps the most extravagant in a long line of Tory admirers, wrote a piece of historical fan fiction in which Lee, one of “the noblest men ever born on the American continent,” secured Confederate independence, abolished slavery, conquered Mexico for its own good and paved the way for a global alliance of English-speaking peoples that prevented world war in 1914.
By the 1960s, however, Lee’s standing was less secure. Reassessments in the wake of the civil rights movement reminded Americans that Lee’s noble character and brilliant generalship were in service of chattel slavery. Over the next 50 years, Lee’s apologists waged a spirited rearguard action for his legacy, doing their best to isolate him from the wider Confederate war effort. There were notable successes. Gerald Ford restored Lee’s American citizenship in 1975; as governor of Arkansas, Bill Clinton joined other Southern politicians in merging the state holidays for Lee and Martin Luther King Jr. In the last five years, however, mass protests against racial injustice have engendered a more critical attitude.
With the Confederacy now more closely identified with slavery and white supremacy than at any time since Reconstruction, public authorities have removed scores of monuments and names from schools and squares across the South. In September, the statue of Lee in Richmond that Freeman used to salute each morning, one of the first great memorials to the Lost Cause, was broken up and carted off.
In response, Donald Trump has emerged as Lee’s most prominent defender. But his support – “If only we had Robert E. Lee to command our troops in Afghanistan, that disaster would have ended in a complete and total victory!” – does more to provoke liberals than to herald a revival of Lee’s legacy on the right. Shortly after Trump’s election as president, Asa Hutchinson, the Republican governor of Arkansas, ended the shared holiday that Clinton had instituted thirty years earlier.
In December 2020, Congressional Republicans overturned Trump’s veto to pass a defense bill that will strip Confederate names from all US military property, including a West Point barracks named after Lee. And last year, Senate Republicans voted unanimously to make Juneteenth a national holiday, celebrating the wartime end of slavery and, in effect, the defeat of the Confederacy. The cultural struggle over the legacy of slavery and the Civil War rages on, but it does so increasingly without the involvement of the handsome, treasonous and defeated Robert E. Lee.
(London Review of Books)
A PASSOVER HAM
Here's the recording of last night's (2022-04-15) Memo of the Air: Good Night Radio show on KNYO-LP Fort Bragg (CA): https://tinyurl.com/KNYO-MOTA-0484
Thanks a lot to Hank Sims for all kinds of tech help over the years, as well as for his fine news site: https://LostCoastOutpost.com
And thanks to the Anderson Valley Advertiser, which provided almost an hour of the above eight-hour show's most locally relevant material, as usual, without asking for anything in return. Though I do pay $25 annually for full access to all articles and features, and you can too. As well as go to KNYO.org, click on the big red heart and give what you can. Also email me your work on any subject and I'll read it on the radio this coming Friday night.
Besides All That, at https://MemoOfTheAir.wordpress.com you'll find a fresh batch of dozens of links to not necessarily radio-useful but nonetheless worthwhile items I set aside for you while gathering the show together. Such as:
One-armed Argentinian card sharp, a cross between Lord Buckley, Salvador Dali and Howard Hughes, declares, "The four of espades!"
"I thought radio was a plaything, but now my eyes are opened, and I am making as much as /$15 a week!/" That's swell, now you can afford to get married; you just have to find a nice girl who likes the smell of a solder pot, linseed oil, hot dusty vacuum tubes. They're a dime a dozen down on the docks anymore. Rosy lips, child-bearing hips... "Hey! Talkin' about radio, here, not goils." He didn't mean nothing by it. He is just jealous of your good fortune.
Film night: Creature from the Haunted Sea. "Posada went all alone into the hidden void... with the killers closing in!"
And /Narcotics: Pit of Despair./ (30 min.)
— Marco McClean, email@example.com, https://MemoOfTheAir.wordpress.com
Mind Absorbed in the Absolute. No Place to Go
Sitting here in the common area of Building Bridges homeless shelter in Ukiah on a good Friday night, quarter past the 9 o'clock hour with a drizzle of rain outside. The mind is silent. Identification is with that which is "prior to consciousness". Playing three state lotteries twice weekly. Going through the mundane motions otherwise, keeping the body-mind complex functioning. My question to postmodern America is this: "Now what?"
Craig Louis Stehr
WHAT, TO THE AMERICAN SLAVE, IS YOUR FOURTH OF JULY? I answer: a day that reveals to him, more than all other days in the year, the gross injustice and cruelty to which he is the constant victim. To him, your celebration is a sham; your boasted liberty, an unholy license; your national greatness, swelling vanity; your sounds of rejoicing are empty and heartless; your denunciations of tyrants, brass fronted impudence; your shouts of liberty and equality, hollow mockery; your prayers and hymns, your sermons and thanksgivings, with all your religious parade, and solemnity, are, to him, mere bombast, fraud, deception, impiety, and hypocrisy — a thin veil to cover up crimes which would disgrace a nation of savages. There is not a nation on the earth guilty of practices, more shocking and bloody, than are the people of these United States, at this very hour.
Go where you may, search where you will, roam through all the monarchies and despotisms of the old world, travel through South America, search out every abuse, and when you have found the last, lay your facts by the side of the everyday practices of this nation, and you will say with me, that, for revolting barbarity and shameless hypocrisy, America reigns without a rival. Take the American slave-trade, which, we are told by the papers, is especially prosperous just now. Ex-Senator Benton tells us that the price of men was never higher than now. He mentions the fact to show that slavery is in no danger. This trade is one of the peculiarities of American institutions. It is carried on in all the large towns and cities in one-half of this confederacy; and millions are pocketed every year, by dealers in this horrid traffic. In several states, this trade is a chief source of wealth. It is called (in contradistinction to the foreign slave-trade) “the internal slave trade.” It is, probably, called so, too, in order to divert from it the horror with which the foreign slave-trade is contemplated. That trade has long since been denounced by this government, as piracy. It has been denounced with burning words, from the high places of the nation, as an execrable traffic. To arrest it, to put an end to it, this nation keeps a squadron, at immense cost, on the coast of Africa. Everywhere, in this country, it is safe to speak of this foreign slave-trade, as a most inhuman traffic, opposed alike to the laws of God and of man. The duty to extirpate and destroy it, is admitted even by our doctors of divinity. In order to put an end to it, some of these last have consented that their colored brethren (nominally free) should leave this country, and establish themselves on the western coast of Africa! It is, however, a notable fact that, while so much execration is poured out by Americans upon those engaged in the foreign slave-trade, the men engaged in the slave-trade between the states pass without condemnation, and their business is deemed honorable.
Behold the practical operation of this internal slave-trade, the American slave-trade, sustained by American politics and American religion. Here you will see men and women reared like swine for the market. You know what is a swine-drover? I will show you a man-drover. They inhabit all our Southern States. They perambulate the country, and crowd the highways of the nation, with droves of human stock. You will see one of these human flesh-jobbers, armed with pistol, whip and bowie-knife, driving a company of a hundred men, women, and children, from the Potomac to the slave market at New Orleans. These wretched people are to be sold singly, or in lots, to suit purchasers. They are food for the cotton-field, and the deadly sugar-mill. Mark the sad procession, as it moves wearily along, and the inhuman wretch who drives them. Hear his savage yells and his blood-chilling oaths, as he hurries on his affrighted captives! There, see the old man, with locks thinned and gray. Cast one glance, if you please, upon that young mother, whose shoulders are bare to the scorching sun, her briny tears falling on the brow of the babe in her arms. See, too, that girl of thirteen, weeping, yes! weeping, as she thinks of the mother from whom she has been torn! The drove moves tardily. Heat and sorrow have nearly consumed their strength; suddenly you hear a quick snap, like the discharge of a rifle; the fetters clank, and the chain rattles simultaneously; your ears are saluted with a scream, that seems to have torn its way to the center of your soul! The crack you heard, was the sound of the slave-whip; the scream you heard, was from the woman you saw with the babe. Her speed had faltered under the weight of her child and her chains! that gash on her shoulder tells her to move on. Follow the drove to New Orleans. Attend the auction; see men examined like horses; see the forms of women rudely and brutally exposed to the shocking gaze of American slave-buyers. See this drove sold and separated forever; and never forget the deep, sad sobs that arose from that scattered multitude. Tell me citizens, where, under the sun, you can witness a spectacle more fiendish and shocking. Yet this is but a glance at the American slave-trade, as it exists, at this moment, in the ruling part of the United States.
I was born amid such sights and scenes. To me the American slave-trade is a terrible reality. When a child, my soul was often pierced with a sense of its horrors. I lived on Philpot Street, Fell’s Point, Baltimore, and have watched from the wharves, the slave ships in the Basin, anchored from the shore, with their cargoes of human flesh, waiting for favorable winds to waft them down the Chesapeake. There was, at that time, a grand slave mart kept at the head of Pratt Street, by Austin Woldfolk. His agents were sent into every town and county in Maryland, announcing their arrival, through the papers, and on flaming hand-bills headed “Cash for Negroes.” These men were generally well dressed men, and very captivating in their manners. Ever ready to drink, to treat, and to gamble. The fate of many a slave has depended upon the turn of a single card; and many a child has been snatched from the arms of its mother by bargains arranged in a state of brutal drunkenness.
The flesh-mongers gather up their victims by dozens, and drive them, chained, to the general depot at Baltimore. When a sufficient number have been collected here, a ship is chartered, for the purpose of conveying the forlorn crew to Mobile, or to New Orleans. From the slave prison to the ship, they are usually driven in the darkness of night; for since the antislavery agitation, a certain caution is observed.
In the deep, still darkness of midnight I have been often aroused by the dead heavy footsteps, and the piteous cries of the chained gangs that passed our door. The anguish of my boyish heart was intense; and I was often consoled, when speaking to my mistress in the morning, to hear her say that the custom was very wicked; that she hated to hear the rattle of the chains, and the heart-rending cries. I was glad to find one who sympathized with me in my horror. Fellow-citizens, this murderous traffic is, to-day, in active operation in this boasted republic. In the solitude of my spirit, I see clouds of dust raised on the highways of the South; I see the bleeding footsteps; I hear the doleful wail of fettered humanity, on the way to the slave markets, where the victims are to be sold like horses, sheep and swine, knocked off to the highest bidder. There I see the tenderest ties ruthlessly broken, to gratify the lust, caprice and rapacity of the buyers and sellers of men. My soul sickens at the sight.
Is this the land your Fathers loved, The freedom which they toiled to win? Is this the earth whereon they moved? Are these the graves they slumber in?
But a still more inhuman, disgraceful, and scandalous state of things remains to be presented. By an act of the American Congress, not yet two years old, slavery has been nationalized in its most horrible and revolting form. By that act, Mason & Dixon’s line has been obliterated; New York has become as Virginia; and the power to hold, hunt, and sell men, women, and children as slaves remains no longer a mere state institution, but is now an institution of the whole United States. The power is co-extensive with the Star-Spangled Banner and American Christianity. Where these go, may also go the merciless slave-hunter. Where these are, man is not sacred. He is a bird for the sportsman’s gun. By that most foul and fiendish of all human decrees, the liberty and person of every man are put in peril. Your broad republican domain is hunting ground for men. Not for thieves and robbers, enemies of society, merely, but for men guilty of no crime. Your lawmakers have commanded all good citizens to engage in this hellish sport. Your President, your Secretary of State, your lords, nobles and ecclesiastics enforce, as a duty you owe to your free and glorious country, and to your God, that you do this accursed thing. Not fewer than forty Americans have, within the past two years, been hunted down and, without a moment’s warning, hurried away in chains, and consigned to slavery and excruciating torture. Some of these have had wives and children, dependent on them for bread; but of this, no account was made. The right of the hunter to his prey stands superior to the right of marriage, and to all rights in this republic, the rights of God included! For black men there are neither law, justice, humanity, not religion. The Fugitive Slave Law makes makes mercy to them a crime; and bribes the judge who tries them. An American judge gets ten dollars for every victim he consigns to slavery, and five, when he fails to do so. The oath of any two villains is sufficient, under this hell-black enactment, to send the most pious and exemplary black man into the remorseless jaws of slavery! His own testimony is nothing. He can bring no witnesses for himself. The minister of American justice is bound by the law to hear but one side; and that side, is the side of the oppressor. Let this damning fact be perpetually told. Let it be thundered around the world, that, in tyrant-killing, king-hating, people-loving, democratic, Christian America, the seats of justice are filled with judges, who hold their offices under an open and palpable bribe, and are bound, in deciding in the case of a man’s liberty, to hear only his accusers!
In glaring violation of justice, in shameless disregard of the forms of administering law, in cunning arrangement to entrap the defenseless, and in diabolical intent, this Fugitive Slave Law stands alone in the annals of tyrannical legislation. I doubt if there be another nation on the globe, having the brass and the baseness to put such a law on the statute-book. If any man in this assembly thinks differently from me in this matter, and feels able to disprove my statements, I will gladly confront him at any suitable time and place he may select.
I take this law to be one of the grossest infringements of Christian Liberty, and, if the churches and ministers of our country were not stupidly blind, or most wickedly indifferent, they, too, would so regard it.
— Frederick Douglass, excerpt from a speech delivered July 5, 1852