We celebrated 50 years of the Chico Peace Endeavor on Saturday. It would have been Willa Taggart's 105th birthday. She is widely credited with starting the vigil and indeed that moment of creation when she knew she was someone and could do something was and is the spark that still arouses movements.
Whatever beginings things have and whatever substance a life shows there is also the hidden and difficult parts. Frank Ficarra was a brilliant person, a jazz man and teacher of Ulysses. He also fell in love with Nicaragua and worked feverishly to educate people about why our country shouldn't back a proxy war there. Now he can't remember things. He was at the vigil with that wonderful smile of his and his second daughter who is equally lovely.
Barb Castro picked up the mantle of "sign carrier" after Willa could no longer do it. She brought the signs to the corner of Third and Main Sts. until events in her own life swept her elsewhere. I miss seeing her on a regular basis but have faith that she will always be an instrument of peace in the world.
The bronze plaque is hard to read now and homeless people sleep on the bench and the city doesn't maintain the planter box but I really appreciate that our foremothers have their names etched into the history of Chico thanks to my old friend Theresa Kerchner.
Dorothy Parker has always seemed frail but she is a very strong woman who went to jail after crossing onto Fort Benning Military Base at the School of the Americas in Fort Benning, Ga. She wrote a wonderful book and has inspired me for many years. I don't know the other woman but she has been a stalwart at the vigil for the last few years.
Same like the guy holding the Vet For Peace sign. He is very familiar but his name didn't stick with me. Bill Carlson is in the middle. He was our first Peace Center coordinator in 1982 and has stood with the vigil continuously since then. Tom Kinnee is Helen's son and it was wonderful to get to spend time with him over the last week. He has her quiet strength. She and Willa were a dynamic force, complimenting each other and sharing the work of the vigil through many years... Helen was a Christmas birthday and Willa was a Gandhi birthday.