Sunday, August 30, 2009

Farewell to Ted Kennedy

Special post from Arlington Cemetery by Steve Zurier

The day after Ted Kennedy's burial, I just felt that I wanted to be there today to say goodbye to the last Kennedy brother. If I were a history or civics teacher, I would have all my students research and write a report on how Senator Kennedy's work touched their lives.

For me:

In the 1970s, Ted Kennedy fought against S-1, the draconian set of laws that would have put harsh restrictions on the press. I can remember those of us who wanted to pursue press careers being very grateful for Ted Kennedy's outspoken critique of the legislation.

In the 1980s Ted Kennedy fought the union busting that went on during the Reagan era. The owners of the newspaper I worked for would have fired all of us and hired stringers if they could, but I was able to hang on a couple of years for some much-needed experience because I was protected by the union.

In the early 90s, my wife Stephanie lobbied hard for the Family Medical Leave Act, which allows young mothers to leave work for 12 weeks of unpaid leave after the birth of a child. While our family did not take advantage of the law, others were helped because of Sen. Kennedy's efforts.

During the recession of 2001, I collected unemployment after being laid off. Sen Kennedy always supported unemployment insurance and any time a vote came up for extending benefits or raising the minimum wage, Sen. Kennedy could be counted on to support it.

One note about the shot with the flag at half-mast. In the background is Arlington House, which was originally owned by George Washington Parke Custis, the grandson of Martha Washington and step-son of George Washington. Custis inherited the land and between 1802 and 1818, and built Arlington House. It was the nation's first memorial to George Washington and a home for the Custis family.

In 1831, Custis' only surviving child, Mary Anna Randolph Custis married Lt. Robert E. Lee (the Robert E Lee) in the front parlor of Arlington House. For over 30 years Arlington House became the home of the Lee family. In 1861 when the Civil War broke out, the Lees vacated the property and federal troops occupied the estate, using Arlington House as headquarters. In 1863 Freedman's Village was established on the estate to assist refugee slaves in the transition from slavery to freedom. Later on during the Civil War, the property became a burial ground for the war dead. By the end of the Civil War there were nearly 16,000 dead buried on the old 1,100-acre plantation.

Anyway, the point is that the Kennedy brothers are all together again. Despite their foibles there's no question that the Kennedy family's story is tightly woven into our nation's history.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

The Voice of Ted Kennedy

I've always cherished the memory of my work on George McGovern's 1972 presidential cempaign, in part because it gave me a chance to hear the voice of a great liberal orator--Ted Kennedy.

The scene was a rally at the county courthouse in Hackensack, NJ. I was a young McGovern organizer working with other high school students. McGovern was, of course the main speaker of the evening. But what I remember most is the voice of Kennedy.

In strong, bold tones, he sized up President Nixon and offered him mock sympathy: it must be difficult, he said, to be stuck with your hand in the till, your foot in your mouth, and your eye on the polls. We went home laughing and talked about it for days.

Two other Kennedy speeches will always stay with me. I am haunted by his eulogy for his brother Robert ("Some men see things as they are and say why, I dream things that never were and say why not.") And his concession speech in 1980, when he summoned a Democratic Party drifting right to remain true to its liberal heritage, is still inspiring in its conclusion: "For all those whose cares have been our concern, the work goes on, the cause endures, the hope still lives, and the dream shall never die."

Kennedy was a great legislator, a great speaker, and a great steward of the best in the Democratic Party. I'll miss him.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009


I was going to blog on something else, but I suppose I have to blog on Teddy. I was born in 1954, and I have been trying to remember recently when I first gained an awareness of the news and world events. I clearly remember sitting in a barbershop in the Bronx with my friend Bruce and several disappointed Italian gentlemen on the afternoon of October 13th, 1960, watching Bill Maskeroski’s, home run clear the vines at Forbes Field, as the Yankees lost the 7th game of the 1960 World Series. A few weeks I remember watching, entranced, the coverage of the 1960 presidential elections, as the numbers were changed, and predictions were made.

However, I did not really start to follow the news at age 6, and only bits and pieces filtered into my awareness. I have no memory of the Bay of Pigs, though I remember Moise Tsombe and the breakaway province of Katanga (though I have no memory of Patrice Lumumba, or the death of Daj Hammarskjold) and I remember the Indian takeover of Goa in December 1961, (and Roger Maris hitting his 59th homerun a few months earlier.)
But 1962 is the year when my memory and knowledge of the world really started. I remember the Cuban Missile Crisis clearly. And I remember, at the beginnings of my horizon as someone who cared about the world I lived in, the controversies over the election of Ted Kennedy to the senate in the fall of 1962. As long as I have around or cared to notice, Ted Kennedy has been a senator, and for many decades he has been the standard bearer of the ideals of liberalism. I don’t have much to add to what has been and will be said. Granted a longevity denied his brothers, he is probably the most important of the three Kennedy’s in terms of his accomplishments (the Cuban Missile Crisis and Bay of Pigs aside.)

There has been much talk about the revival of liberalism under Obama, though the jury is still out on whether Obamism will be vigorous in its pursuit of needed change as Democrats accomplished in the Kennedy-Johnson years or under FDR. All that is clear is that the Democrats will have to accomplish without Teddy Kennedy.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Up Close, They Don't Look Strong

Up close, the opposition to Obama's health care plan doesn't look all that strong, as I learned at a forum in Rhode Island last night.

Over the last few weeks, the assaults on the Obama plan have started to feel like a replay of the Swift Boat attacks of 2004. So when I heard that there was going to be a meeting on health care in Warwick, RI, near where I'm on vacation, I had to attend. I recruited my teenage son Max, dusted off a quote from John F. Kennedy about the importance of defending freedom when it is in danger, and drove an hour north to Warwick City Hall. There, Rep. James Langevin, a Democrat, was holding a town meeting.

The state chairman of the Rhode Island Republicans, Giovanni Cicione, had called for massive protests, so I expected to encounter only a few Obama supporters, cowed into silence. In fact, Obama supporters narrowly outnumbered opponents inside and outside the meeting. The opponents used volume to make up for what they lacked in numbers: in the meeting they shouted often, and outside they used a bullhorn.

There were some 200 people outside, where Max and I carried signs in support of health care reform. Our allies included union members, lab-coated medical students from the American Medical Student Association, and a broad range of liberal activists. All were in solid form and didn't seem to be intimidated by the opposition.

The opposition seemed weaker in person than I had anticipated. For all the lies about death panels and the reports of gun-toting conservatives, we were confronted by a motley crew of LaRouchites, opponents of immigration, disciples of Ayn Rand, conservative libertarians, anti-abortion protesters, anti-government activists and loudmouths.

Despite claims that this is an "astroturf" movement, the people I saw appeared to be fairly comfortable with political action. All of them seemed to have been doing this for some time. (In contrast, the tea party that I saw in Manhattan back in the spring contained a large percentage of uncomfortable-looking demonstrators.)

Yet for all the volume of the Obama opponents, their message didn't add up to much: lies about death panels, cheers at the mention of the name of Sarah Palin, chants of "no free lunch," and signs encouraging us to read the works of Ayn Rand.

For the opponents of Obama last night, the president's health plan is the focus of a wide range of emotions and ideas. That helps make them effective in opposition, but it is hard to imagine them getting together to propose anything constructive of their own.

Nevertheless, the Obama opponents effectively manipulate the media. Television news thrives on displays of strong emotion, and the shouting opponents of the health plan exploit that to win air time.

They also make great use of reporters' ignorance. Last night, the local news showed Barney Frank dismissing one woman's claim that the Obama plan is a Nazi plan. The woman appears to be a LaRouche supporter. And the news last night also panned over the LaRouchites' despicable poster that depicts Obama with a Hitler-type mustache.

At the very least, reporters have an obligation to identify the people who make absurd claims. If the wildest arguments against the Obama plan come from folks as utterly dishonest as the LaRouchites, people need to know that. "Consider the source," as the saying goes.

As for me, I carried a sign, moved through the crowd listening to people, and mostly kept mum. I lack my son's admirable ability to listen to despicable arguments without losing my temper.

I did get in one good exchange, though. A man who saw me carrying a sign in support of health care reform asked me if I was a fascist. No, I replied, I'm the son of a proud veteran of World War II. They guy gulped with incomprehension--he didn't know what to say.

Bottom line: the fight for health care reform isn't over. After a bad start, Obama is starting to act. We can beat these guys.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

My Mom, Sarah Palin, and Death Panels

I want to write about health care, and there will be a post on one of my favorite subjects, cooperatives, coming along soon, but first I wanted to write on the subject of the week, death panels, the Republican contention that comprehensive health care reform, by offering end of life planning, is the first step towards euthanasia. As far as I can tell, this campaign, as mendacious and meretricious as any Republican endeavor at dissembling in the recent past, is having a positive short term effect in slowing down the progress of Obama’s health care bill, though it was likely to find itself in the fillibusterable bog and muck of the US Senate anyway. So the death panel campaign has I guess it has been politically useful in the short term. But I cannot but think that it will be, in the end, a tremendous benefit for the democrats.

This debate has been unfolding over the past few weeks, since Jane and myself have moved my extremely physically and mentally debilitated mother (she doesn’t recognize me) into our house. Most people have said we were crazy to do this. The truth is, there really weren’t any other options, and without going into a very, very long story, nursing homes were too expensive, putting her into an apartment would be too much work, so it seemed easiest to follow the time honored expedient of placing an elderly and sick person under the roof of a relative.

And though I think that I and my surviving brother are reasonably smart (between me and wife and my brother and his wife there are two Ph.Ds and two law degrees) we badly screwed up end of life planning, in part because of the inability of my increasingly mentally burdened mom to cooperate with us, and in the end the government has given us little or no assistance, financially or otherwise.

Jane and I are doing our best to keep my mom comfortable and out of pain, and I think we are doing a good job, and it has its compensations. Jane has been a nurse for thirty years, but its only in the past month that I have discovered my inner Florence Nightingale.

But there are problems and tensions. We are frightened that unless we have all of our papers in order, if something happens, the government might force us to keep my mom alive on a vent or life support, against our will. In short, I think the Republicans have misjudged the public mood as badly as during the Terri Schiavo hoo-hah.

The worry is not that the government will intervene to end the life of a loved one, but that the government will intervene to keep someone alive against the wishes of their closest relatives. The fear is not that the government will officiously and ham-fistedly intervene to tell people how to live their declining years, but that the government, will, as it now does, do absolutely nothing at all, other than to say, as they have in effect to us—“okay, life is a goddamn bitch, and we’re sorry about your mom, but you know, it just ain’t our problem. You figure it out, and be sure to keep good records so we can make sure you didn’t do anything wrong.”

All of us will die, and most of us will need help in dying good deaths, and most of us don’t have the spiritual, intellectual, or financial resources to do this adequately without some sort of government assistance. Every time I put on a new pair of gloves to change my mom’s diaper, I think of Sarah Palin.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Down to the Sea in Kayaks

I've always loved landscapes where ecosystems meet, and none more than the seacoast of southern New England, where forests tumble down to salt marshes and the sea. Like many northeasterners, I've glimpsed such terrain from Amtrak trains running between New York and Boston. But in southern Rhode Island, you can get close to this beauty in a kayak.

Thanks to Narrow River Kayaks, in Narragansett, RI, you can paddle down the Narrow River to Rhode Island Sound at the end of Narragansett Town Beach.

Along the way you'll pass long stretches of marsh grass and the nesting places of birds. At the mouth of the river, you can beach your boat, paddle out into the Sound, or surf your kayak in the waves. I've enjoyed all three.

Most paddlers who rent from Narrow River Kayaks head downstream on the route I've just described. But you can also paddle upstream from Narrow River's base, past more residential river banks, to the birthplace of the painter Gilbert Stuart, who is best known for his unfinished portrait of George Washington. That makes the Narrow River one place where a kayak trip can combine natural history and art history.

I haven't yet made the upstream trip, but I've rented from Narrow River Kayaks several times and I've always enjoyed the experience. Their staff is knowledgeable and friendly.

I've paddled down the Narrow River with my wife and children and it has something for everyone--from bird watchers to bathers to kids and former kids who like to mix it up in the surf.

I can't think of a better way to enjoy the coastal landscapes of southern New England.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

At Sea in Queens

Today's Times reports an extravaganza staged by New York City museums that seems like the ideal solution to dwindling museum attendance: a maritime battle in the reflecting pool at Flushing Meadows-Corona Park. In the best spirit of contemporary museum practice, the event was public, participatory and historical.

Libby Nelson's delightful report captures the full lunacy of this event, which was organized by the artist Duke Riley and staged under the name of "Those Who Are About to Die Salute You." Conceived in the tradition of the sea battles staged in the Coliseum in Ancient Rome, the evening's event took the form of combat between "ships" cobbled together by the Queens Museum of Art, the Brooklyn Museum, the Bronx Museum of the Arts, and El Museo del Barrio.

The melee had everything going for it: guests in togas and armor, a rock band, and tomatoes microwaved for maximum splat when participants hurled them at each other. And participants they were, because this was one exhibition where people didn't stay on the sidelines.

The microwaved tomatoes, piled in boxes by the pool, were meant to be thrown during the mock battle, but they proved too much of a temptation. Soon people were flinging them across the pool at one another. A few unfurled umbrellas to protect themselves.

Then the audience began jumping into the thigh-deep pool as the first boat, the one from the Queens Museum of Art, emerged. An announcer grabbed the microphone: “Let’s get it started!” he said.

But that ship, as they say, had sailed.

“Get out of the pool!” the announcer yelled, trying to restore order and using several expletives. “Get out of the water! We’re not starting till you’re out of the pool!”

The audience complied, and the ensuing battle resulted in the disintegration of most of the boats within 20 minutes. Audience members refused to stay corralled and jumped back into the water and climbed onto the boats. The Queens boat collapsed, as did the Brooklyn one, meant to be a battleship. Only a giant pig-shaped boat made of wood, representing Manhattan, emerged mostly unscathed.

Eventually the combat ended, but the excitement stayed with people.

Afterward the spectators appeared exhilarated but slightly shell shocked. Some praised the participatory nature of the art; others were still recovering.

“It was radical, super radical,” said Catherine Harine Connell of Brooklyn. “The fact that it was in a public park in Queens.

“It was free form, but still organized,” she added.

Ms. Connell was euphoric; others were alarmed.

“That was wilder than I ever would have expected,” said Dorothy Trojanowski, who described the event as “out of control.”

“The danger factor was —— ” she paused. “Stimulating.”

I'm having a great time on vacation, but this sounds like something worth going home for. I hope this is one sea battle that is repeated next year

Friday, August 14, 2009

Woodstock Nation

A few cultural notes. I was saddened to hear of the death of Les Paul the other day, an inventive musician in more than one sense, and hearing him gig at Sweet Basil’s or the Iridium was for many years one of life’s little pleasures available only to New Yorkers. And a few days before that was the death of Merce Cunningham, and with his passing, the era of high modernism in New York artistic culture, dating back to Alfred Stieglitz and the 1911 Armory Show, has finally run its century long course. Cunningham’s modernism (along with that of his life partner, John Cage) was so high and elevated that it encompassed and anticipated every type of post-modernism and post-post modernism that has or will yet be invented. But the cultural event of the week is, certainly, memories of the 40th anniversary of the Woodstock Festival, and I might as well share mine.

As frequent readers of this blog know, in the summer of 1969 I was at a socialist-Zionist summer camp in the Catskills, where, on July 20th, I listened to the moon landing. Well, about a month later, camp was about to wind up and we were to head back on Route 17 to NYC, but we kept hearing stories of this gigantic music festival about five miles away, that was attracting hundreds of thousands of ardent acolytes, and some of us figured, on the last night of camp, when staying up all night was more or less mandatory, that we would endeavor to check things out. So we tried, but we got no further than the far edge of the soggy mass of humanity that was Woodstock, and I don’t think we heard a single note of music.

The following day, the last day of camp and the last day of Woodstock, there was a monumental traffic jam, with all sorts of cool dudes sort of hanging out on the utterly congested highways, with the spirit of Woodstock pervading all, so that rather than road rage there was road joy, all of these people in and out of their cars. I guess Dylan’s song, “You Ain’t Going Nowhere” hadn’t been released, but if it had been, it would have been what everyone was singing. I think a trip that usually took two and half hours was at least twice as long, and we loved every minute, vicariously absorbing some of the last lingering vibes of Woodstock.

But, what, as cultural commentators asked insistently at the time, and really haven’t stopped asking since, what did it all mean? Was it a rock concert, or was it a harbinger of a new way of life, the dawn of a new form of culture, or whatever? It is easy, I suppose, to mock the pretensions of the Woodstock nation, and in many ways, Woodstock was, as Debussy once said of Wagner’s Parsifal, the dusk that thought itself a dawn. Was it a utopian moment, one that passed in the very act of perceiving it?

As long as we doing an obituary thing in this post, I don’t think that Greater New York has acknowledged the passing of the great Polish philosopher Leslek Kolakowski, and I have been rereading some of his essays recently. He was a Marxist who became a very fierce one–time Marxist. His essay “the death of utopia reconsidered” is a rather scathing look at utopianism, which he saw as one of the underlying sources of corruption in the entire Marxist tradition. I think he is mistaken, along with many other writers,to view totalitarianism as a part of the utopian tradition, because any real utopianism doesn’t consist of fitting people into a preset procrustean blue print, but has nothing to be with coercion or the state. All true utopias are free standing moments of anarchy, small glimpses of human possibility and transformation.

But I agree with Kolakowski, in what he says is a useful banality. “The idea of human fraternity is disastrous as a political program but is indispensible as a guiding sign.” Like all utopias worthy of the name, what is enduring about Woodstock is its very evanescence.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

To Kill to Kill a Mockingbird

When I was eight, my mom (who in a profoundly physically and mentally debilitated state, moved in with Jane and myself last week), took me and my two brothers to see “To Kill a Mockingbird.” It was one of the first films I ever remember attending, and the first impressions has never left me on repeated viewings; the story of a decent man, a good father, trying to deal with the usual foibles of humanity as well as the evil of racism in the South in Alabama c. 1935. I am not sure why my mom took us to see the film, but she had a way of schlepping us to all of the films of great social significance on the schedule at the local bijous. One reason that I am sure never occurred to her was that, as a caption in this week’s New Yorker put it, “In ‘To Kill a Mockingbird,” Atticus Finch (played by Gregory Peck in the 1962 film version) sought to humanize Jim Crow, not challenge it.”

This was conclusion of a provocative, but wrong-headed article by Malcolm Gladwell “The Courthouse Ring: The Truth About Atticus Finch,” that concluded that all of the praise the Atticus Finch character has received over the years has been misplaced. He was a garden variety southern racial moderate of the interwar years, who wanted to purge southern racial mores of their vulgarity but not their fundamental unfairness, and whose gentility and mild paternalism was enough to keep him from asking the bigger questions about the social system into which he was born.

Now, before proceeding I should acknowledge that I have never (or at least not for many decades) read the 1959 Harper Lee novel on which the 1962 film was based, and this is at least a partial disqualification for what follows, but I have to say that I found Gladwell’s article a rather ham-fisted attempt to deal with a profound question: can one be a moral person in an immoral society. There is no easy answer. And certainly Atticus Finch was not a rebel, not a Gandhi, not a Rosa Parks. He was an insider within white southern society. Gladwell assumes that by the 1950s the Atticus Finches of the south, after making a half-hearted attempt, would have learned to tow the segregationist line. Finch is a fictional character, of course, so there is no way of telling what would happened when push came to shove in the South; some southern moderates strongly supported Brown; many others, especially after the rising tide of “southern resistance” after 1954 learned to tow the line. Atticus Finch can of course can only be judged by what Harper Lee wrote.

But the bigger question raised by Gladwell’s article is how one fights evil. Gladwell criticizes Finch for his localism, his belief that dealing with individuals as individuals, in his own little corner of the world, rather than challenging the system as a whole, was enough of a challenge to Jim Crow. But this cuts two ways; if there is a single central flaw to Marxist-Leninism, is the belief that the only sort of change that matters is a global transformative revolution. Everything else is just busy work for do gooders, petite bourgeois reformism at best. And the record of communism amply indicates the pitfalls of trying to bring about revolutionary change, with an army of unanticipated consequences to what might originally be a noble impulse. And often, we change the little things because there is no clear or obvious way to change the big ones. We honor the righteous gentiles who saved Jews during the Holocaust because they saved individuals, not because they openly challenged Nazism as a whole, which could only be done effectively by Winston Churchill and FDR.

And the key point about Atticus Finch was not his belief in localism, but his belief in the law, and if there was a difference between totalitarian regimes and the Jim Crow South it was there was a possibility of the rule of law, and that the constitutional protection of equality, however traduced and besmirched, would in the end in the rescue the South from its evils, without a revolution, and this is what happened, to radically abbreviate a very long story.

Atticus Finch was a man who believed that he could do more good functioning within the system than agitating from outside the system, and while this is always a tough call, many good persons have made similar choices. And he was a man alert to the contradictions that existed within his society, and tried, in his own small way, to change things. May that those of us who have no choice but to live in the deeply flawed and contradiction-ridden America of our time, as Atticus Finch was obliged to live in his, be able to say as much.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Wisdom From A Soldier of the Great War

Harry Patch, the last surviving British soldier of World War I living in the United Kingdom, was buried in England yesterday; John F. Burns covered the funeral with great sensitivity for the Times. The ceremonies for Patch had a New York connection--the singing of "Where Have All the Flowers Gone" by Pete Seeger of Beacon--and even greater resonance for all who are willing to learn about war from a soldier who experienced the slaughter of the trenches.

Patch was past his 100th birthday, Burns reports, when he finally started to speak about his experiences in World War I. Instead of resting on his heroism, he talked about death and the common humanity of soldiers on all sides. The band Radiohead recorded a haunting song based on Patch's that you can hear on the BBC site.

Burns' piece memorably recounts how,

A Belgian diplomat read an excerpt from Mr. Patch’s 2007 autobiography, “The Last Fighting Tommy,” in which he described an offensive during the battle at Passchendaele, the bloodiest chapter in the Ypres fighting, when he came across a fellow soldier “ripped from his shoulder to his waist by shrapnel” during a British assault on German lines.

The episode reinforced in Mr. Patch, a devout Christian, the belief that there is a life after death. “When we got to him, he looked at us and said, ‘Shoot me,’ ” he recalled. “He was beyond all human help, and before we could draw a revolver he was dead. And the final word he uttered was ‘Mother!’ It wasn’t a cry of despair, it was a cry of surprise and joy.”

He added, “I’m positive that when he left this world, wherever he went, his mother was there, and from that day, I’ve always remembered that cry, and that death is not the end.”

Patch's pacifism fits better with World War I than World War II, but it is well worth recalling in the United States today, when military planners talk earnestly about endless war. Those who think along these lines should remember the words of my late friend Irving Weissman, a native New Yorker and a proud veteran of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade in the Spanish Civil War and the US Army in World War II: "war is the ultimate obscenity."

Harry Patch would certainly agree. And if there is a world to come, as Patch deeply believed, I hope he runs into Irving Weissman. I'm sure they'll have plenty to talk about and wisdom to share.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Remembering Billy Lee Riley

Billy Lee Riley, who grew up sharecropping in Arkansas and went on to become an early hero of rock 'n roll at Sun Records in Memphis, died Sunday of cancer. Today's Times obituary, picked up from the Associated Press, gets some of the highlights of his career, including his single "Red Hot," with he memorable line "My gal is red hot/Your gal ain't doodly squat." The Memphis Commercial Appeal ran an even fuller obit.

As the Appeal piece noted,
Riley is perhaps best remembered for his classic 1957 single, "Flying Saucers Rock and Roll" -- a novelty rockabilly rave-up inspired by the era's U.F.O. mania -- which proved a hit and prompted him to rename his band the Little Green Men.

Despite this promising start, Riley's commercial fate was sealed after Sun put its promotional efforts behind Jerry Lee Lewis' "Great Balls of Fire" -- a song Riley played on -- which zoomed up the charts and past his own follow-up single "Red Hot."

For a personal appreciation of Riley, who played despite ill health at a concert in honor of the historian Pete Daniel this summer in Memphis, check this dispatch from Pete.

"I met Billy Lee in 1992 when we interviewed him for the Rock 'n' Soul project, and we interviewed him twice more and collected clothing and instruments for the Rock 'n' Soul museum. Some ten years ago he came to the National Museum of American History for an interview/performance that was incredible. He was one of the finest persons I've ever known."

May we all go out with the courage, energy, and strong voice that Billy Lee Riley showed until the end of his life.

Riley's final years were scarred by numerous health problems, including his battle with cancer. According to the Commercial Appeal, he ran up some serious medical bills.

The Appeal obituary concludes with this note for all who are inclined to generosity: "Memorial services are pending, but arrangements will be handled by the Dillinger Funeral Home in Newport, Ark. Those wishing to send condolences or contributions directly can contact: Joyce Riley, 723 Crest Drive, Jonesboro, Arkansas, 72401."

Photo by Sally Stein. Thanks to Bruce Hunt for forwarding the obituary from the Commercial Appeal.