• Mickey Mantle’s father worked in the zinc mines of Commerce, Oklahoma, and he wanted Mickey to escape that fate by playing baseball. When Mickey was one day old, his father put a baseball in his hand. When Mickey was four years old, his father put a bat in his hands. When Mickey was five years old, his father began to pitch curve balls to him. Mickey escaped the zinc mines and made a career out of playing for the New York Yankees.
• Ed Charles played professional baseball, and he and his Miracle Mets won the World Series in 1969. After retiring from baseball, he worked as liaison with the board of education in New York City’s juvenile justice system. Sometimes, one of the troubled kids he worked with asked him why he was working there. He replied, “I’m here because you’re here.”
• As head of Beech Aircraft Corporation, Olive Ann Beach used to fly flags outside her office door to let her employees know her mood. If she was in a very bad mood, she flew a black flag marked with the word “Woe.” If she was in a very good mood, she flew a royal blue flag decorated with a golden sun and the words “OH HAPPY DAY.”
• As a young man, Bob Denver, who played Gilligan on Gilligan’s Island, worked at Yellowstone National Park in the grocery near Old Faithful. Every day, several tourists asked Mr. Denver when the geyser was due to go off. He stood it as long as he could, and then finally he told the tourists, “I’ll go and ask the park ranger when he’s going to turn it on.”
• Richard Reynolds, author of On Guerrilla Gardening: A Handbook for Gardening Without Boundaries, is a guerrilla gardener. He and other guerrilla gardeners do their best to make dull and dreary neighborhoods beautiful by planting flowers on public land and other people’s land without first obtaining permission. This leads to much midnight gardening and to seedbombing land that could benefit from flowers. In 1973, in New York City, a painter named Liz Christy coined the term “guerrilla gardening” after she noticed tomato plants sprouting in heaps of trash in derelict lots near where she lived. She figured that if tomato plants could grow there, then she could and should plant flowers and shrubs there. She and her friends made a garden on the corner of Bowery and Houston streets; the garden has weeping birch trees and flowering perennials, as well as grapes, turtles, and bees. Some guerrilla gardeners scatter seeds from their cars, while others engage in seed bombing, a method of delivering seeds along with compost and water to help the seed germinate. Some guerrilla gardeners create their seedbombs from empty chicken eggs, which they fill with seeds, compost, and water, and then throw where flowers are needed. Such a seedbomb is 100 percent biodegradable. Most people support the guerrilla gardeners, once they know that they are not vandals or terrorists. Sometimes, police officers are quite friendly to guerrilla gardeners.
• Folksinger Joan Baez avoids doing what she thinks is nonsensical or wrong. As a child attending school in California, she declined to go outside during a bomb drill. She figured that if someone were to drop a nuclear bomb on the school, going outside wouldn’t help her or anyone else. During the Vietnam War, she declined to pay taxes that she knew would support the war effort, so she went to jail.
• Feminists are often good activists. Several women, including Robin Morgan, Carol Hanisch, Alix Kates Schulman, and Kathie Sarachild, protested the Miss America Pageant in Atlantic City in 1968 by crowning their own winner — a sheep! They also filled a garbage can with “instruments of torture to women”: issues of Playboy, girdles and bras, high-heeled shoes, etc.
• One of the early women mountain climbers was Annie Peck, who at age 44 climbed the Matterhorn. After climbing a mountain in Peru, she left behind a flag that bore this message: “Votes for Women.”
Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved
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