Rt363 (046)Retirement and Getting Involved in Politics
“A sandwich board? You spent the weekend as a sandwich board?” Roy Ingham told me he had been walking on the sidewalk along a busy street in Sarasota, Florida. The board proclaimed his support for “Pro Choice”. Roy earned a BA from Harvard and a PHD from the University of Chicago. Now he’s a sandwich board.
This is Retirement Talk. I’m Del Lowery. The following podcast was first aired in 2007. It has been updated just a bit. Roy is celebrating his 89th birthday this month.
Retirement brings lots of opportunities. One of them is to spend more time going to meetings, going to demonstrations, writing letters, canvassing neighborhoods; sitting at a computer and signing petitions. It might appeal to you? Roy does all of the above – on a regular basis.
Roy is 82. He moved to Florida a few years ago to be with his daughter as she battled cancer. He got to be with her for a few years before she died. Now he remains in Florida most of the year. He stays with us every summer for a few weeks. He gets cold up here in the Pacific Northwest. A couple of days ago we walked to the local coffee shop around 4 in the afternoon. The temperature must have been in the low 70s. His hands turned blue. I am not kidding you. Blue. He doesn’t like the cold.
Roy is a political activist – in the best sense of the word. I first met Roy when I ran for public office – my only attempt – and an unsuccessful one at that. He called and asked me a couple of questions. One thing led to another and soon he knocked on my front door. He was already working for another candidate running for the same office. When he left my house he said that he was going to quite working for the other guy and come over to help me with my campaign. He said, “I just know in my heart, or gut, that I am more aligned with your views than the other guy.” He switched. He was 70 years old.
Fascism is his latest concern - Fascism in America. One morning he laid a manila folder in front of me and asked me to look at it and tell him if the titles of each article would make me want to read the article. All of the articles were on the Bush/Cheney fascistic approach to governing. Roy has sent a packet like mine to Ralph Nader, Bill Moyer, Dennis Kucinich, and a bunch of other people whom I did not recognize.
Twelve years ago Roy traveled to Canada to be with the First Nations people as they protested the logging of their ancestral and old growth forest grounds around Clayoquot Sound. He volunteered to be among the arrested but at the last moment found out that if he were arrested he would never be able to return to Canada. He opted to stay out of jail. Truth be told – he didn’t want to give up his yearly pilgrimage to the Vancouver Folk Festival.
Roy helped organize the Green Party in Sarasota eight years ago. He helped organize a protest to Kathryn Harris and her questionable handling of the Gore victory over George Bush in Florida.
On a local level, Roy led a move to organize the local Cornwall Park Neighborhood Association. He served on the Mayor’s Greenway Advisory Committee. And he filled charges against a local county council member to the state ethics committee. It resulted in a change in the county ethics laws. This while learning how to throw pots in college art classes and swimming daily on the master’s swim team.
Roy did all of this after the age of 65. Retirement gave him time to put his values into practice. Political issues are a place where rubber meets the road. Our society organizes itself through governmental actions. This is especially true through the expenditure of massive sums of money. It is where we make our laws and to a large extent decide the nature of our society. We can’t leave that to others all the time. We could end up with a fascist government.
Political candidates and issues can always use a helping hand. It might be just exactly what you're looking for.
This is Retirement Talk. I’m Del Lowery
PS. I just got an email from Roy. He had to be rescued from a tree limb on the Methow River in Central Washington. Seems he was kayaking and missed the last pull out before the river becomes impossible to kayak. He grabbed a tree branch that raked low over the water. He hung on until help arrived: eighty two and still taking risks.