Satchel Page said it best: “Don’t look back something may be gaining on you.”
So when Tonia Sutherland contacted me last year saying “The Department of Special Collections at Umass Amherst is involved in a long-term project to document the efforts by individuals and groups to effect positive changes in their society, whether politically, economically, spiritually, or socially,” I was deeply honored—but a tad weirded out.
Although she was quick to add: “we understand you are still active in your career.” Hell yeah!
We met for coffee at the Lone Wolf in town center and talked non-stop (not due to caffeine) for over an hour.
I turned over files I considering “inactive”; events that had played out and unlike Halley’s Comet would never return…or so I thought. Six month ago I could have used my ‘Vagina Monologues’ file after an incident in New York where three young women got their 15 minutes of fame over the issue and naturally a washed up Eve Ensler jumped into the limelight for the first time in a while.
I have not yet turned over—and it will be the hardest to part with—my Flag Flap file as that awful anniversary fast approaches (and Amherst shamefully embarrassed itself once again in mid-May). And, of course, the Cherry Hill Golf Course—at twenty years and counting—my oldest, most active and largest file.
And what I love about Blogger is I assume at some point I can easily back up on a hard drive everything I have posted since St. Patty’s Day.
But will having the Special Collections folks peeking over my shoulder create a Hawthorne effect, causing me to act differently? Nahhhhhh…as Popeye would say “I yam what I yam.”
In a message dated 7/20/07 1:05:16 PM, email@example.com writes:
Thanks so much for reviewing this for us so quickly, and for finding the errors you listed below. I'm attaching the file again and I hope you won't mind re-reading those two paragraphs to see if the corrections are accurate.
From: AmherstAC@aol.com [mailto:AmherstAC@aol.com]
Sent: Friday, July 20, 2007 10:26 AM
Subject: Re: Finding Aid (brief corrections)
2’nd Paragraph and final paragraph flag issue:
Included in the Kelley papers are over 100 newspaper clippings, either his editorials, letters to the editor, or guest columns, about issues ranging from the use of town safety services by Amherst College, his objection to the Civil Rights Review Commission's right to subpoena, his fight to fly the American flag on Amherst Town Hall both on the Anniversary of September 11th and on the day Osama bin Laden is captured, to his objection over the Amherst-Pelham Regional High School's production of Eve Ensler's The Vagina Monologues.
Finally, Kelley's papers include material on the Amherst board's decision to limit the number of days the town would fly the American flag. The decision was made on September 10th, 2001 to fly the American flag only on designated holidays, which Kelley felt was insufficient. After the terrorist attack of September 11th, the board agreed unanimously that the flag should be raised, and it flew until November 26th. Kelley took the same flag to Ground Zero a week later, on December 1st, and was able to get a photograph of himself and a police officer flying the flag over a pile of rubble. The flag was then sent to Washington, where it was flown over the Capitol building. The photograph is now autographed by Ted Kennedy, John W. Oliver, Jane Garvey, Jane Swift, and George W. Bush. The flag itself is now in the hands of the Amherst Historical Society.
The issue concerned (and still concerns) the flying of 29 small commemorative flags in the downtown from lightpoles, not the main flag in town center, which does fly 24/7 365 days a week (and I was instrumental in getting the town to illuminate it for night flying about two years ago). The one I took to Ground Zero was one of the original 29, because I felt that outdoor flags only last a few years and then must be destroyed. And I wanted to preserve this one for posterity sake (especially since it was flying THAT day.)
Also: my God given name is Lawrence but I never use it. Everybody on the planet knows me as Larry. Although my Mother tried endlessly to get me to use Lawrence. But since you are a formal institution maybe you wish to agree with my mother (she will be smiling in Heaven for sure.)
In a message dated 7/20/07 3:08:19 PM, firstname.lastname@example.org writes:
Excellent! We'll make these changes and I'll upload on Monday and send you the URL then. We're not that formal, so I'm going to side with you and change the collection title to the Larry Kelley Papers!
Thanks again, and happy weekend,