A Message from the Editorial Board
In this crazy political season of seismic ruptures in the fabric of society—“law and order” vying with “revolution,” “traditional values” with the need for “social change,” and debates raging all around us as to whether “black lives,” “blue lives,” or “all lives” matter—labels threaten to tear us apart. The issues of social justice and race are hardly new to American society. In this third issue of Vistas & Byways, we remind ourselves that the political is inseparable from our most personal stories.
Chillicothe, Ohio – 1954
- In the rainforest of the Amazon lurks the Creature from the Black Lagoon. The web-footed monster is emerging out of murky waters to kidnap the human woman he loves. All the kids in the Royal Theater at the corner of Fourth and Paint Streets—the black children segregated on the left and the white kids filling up the middle and right side—are screaming in unison. Margaret Ann—seated on the left—has paid her ten cent admission price, but can barely bring herself to peek out between her fingers at the unfolding horror. What chance does the young and beautiful Julie Adams have against the inexorable approach of the Gill Man?
Chicago, Illinois – August 1968
- In the aftermath of the assassinations of Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert Kennedy and with growing protests against the Vietnam War, the City of Chicago is under siege. In sweltering summer heat, tempers are flaring both inside and outside the Democratic National Convention. Chicago police, army regulars and Illinois National Guardsmen are in a pitched battle with Hippies, Yippies and SDSers. “We worry about them putting acid in the water,” confides one Chicago police officer. Meanwhile, far from the Convention Hall, in a relatively quiet open courtyard area dubbed “Little Prague,” a young woman’s friends are checking out “Little Prague” and “Roast the Pigs” T-shirts. Charlene leaves her friends in search of food. As she descends some steps “into a bunker designed to protect against some encroaching battle,” her “acid-eyes” are confronted with base and terrifying emotions. How will she respond?
Chicago, Illinois – Early 1970s
- On a bitterly cold late March morning on the Westside of the same city, a newly minted Ph.D., Judy Goddess, has been invited by the Reverend Earnest Jones to speak at a Sunday Service as an advocate for the poor and neglected of Chicago’s Public Schools. The all-black church, I Am That I Am, is located between two dilapidated homes without windows or front doors on a street of burnt-out buildings. The parishioners of the unheated, one-room church wait expectantly for “Sister Judy, come to lead us to the truth,” as she makes her way to the pulpit. Will she find the power within herself to express the full measure of her righteous indignation at the injustice and evil in the schools?
These stories may be found in the Table of Contents, respectively, as “Creature from the Black Lagoon” by Margaret Liddell; “Another Side of the Convention (Chicago, August 1968)” by Charlene Anderson; and “Oatmeal and Contact Paper: My Educational Journey” by Judy Goddess.
The first part of Judy’s piece, “Adventures in School Breakfastland,” relates her efforts while she served as Education Director of the Midwest Regional Office of the American Friends Service Committee to address the estimated 250,000 children who came to school hungry each day. Margaret’s poem, “Southern School: An Object Poem,” is another object lesson in just how deeply humiliating systemic racism can be. In “Immigration, a Fable,” Charlene offers us an offbeat and whimsical tale on perhaps the most divisive issue of the current political season. Finally, in “Siege at City Hall,” Mary Hunt, one of eleven new contributors to our magazine, investigates a political battle closer to home: the Stoneson Brothers versus San Francisco State in 1947.
In case you’ve had your fill of politics, our third issue offers a wide variety of poetry, fiction and nonfiction by authors new and old; we continue our regular features, V&B Forum, Inside OLLI and Bay Area Stew; and our Visual Arts section. We encourage your comments to authors and artists in the space provided after each selection.
If we may be permitted a brief peek behind the curtain, we confess our enterprise is kept afloat by a small group of volunteers putting in long hours. You will better understand our motivation as you encounter the quality of what we are offering. But if we are to keep publishing, we need help from our local OLLI community, especially on our Web and Publicity teams. Please click on the provided link to see how you can join us.
We’re looking forward to continuing to offer Vistas & Byways as a vehicle of expression for your creativity.