"My Name is Lisa Kalvelage"
Pete Seeger wrote the song "My Name is Lisa Kalvelage"— in 1972, about four housewives who in 1966 non-violently protested a shipment of napalm headed for Vietnam. It was early in the War Protest and the local police were dumbfounded to see such well-dressed, polite women involved in a rather unseemly activity. Lisa Kalvelage spoke up then and protested the Iraq War a few years ago
I've always been a Seeger fan, but didn't know about this song until Bruce Springsteen's "The Seeger Sessions" came out. Always been a Springsteen fan too and I was thrilled to hear Seeger's material in raucous, rambunctious. Hootenanny Style.
Pete Seeger's name is synonymous with protest, and I enjoyed reading (and reliving to some extent) about his many activities and accomplishments. He was accused of being a Communist during the McCarthy hearings and was sentenced to 2 years in prison for "contempt". He fought that conviction until 1972 when he finally was exonerated. The transcript of his testimony is on the website and may seem implausible in today's world. The McCarthy hearings are a history lesson with hindsight, applicable to now. The Power of those in Power has no boundaries and there is no such thing as confidentiality. I know if Pete were still writing songs, he would write a song about The American Community Survey. I can hear a chorus of lilting disdain about "more nosey than necessary census.gov" or "where does all the info go..."
The name Lisa Kalvelage was familiar from childhood memories. The Kalvelages lived across the street and the Mom's name was Lisa and she came from Germany. Her daughters, Angela and Birgit were my friends. As a child, I remember liking "Mrs. Kalvelage" because she was interesting and different. Sometimes she wore a white nurse's uniform which seemed important somehow.
Adding today's words to my childhood admiration, Lisa Kalvelage had focus, efficiency, and determination. Her dining room table was full of boxes packed for Overseas. As kids, we helped by putting American cigarettes inside Jello boxes. I remember her explanation and my feeling of indignation— "That's not fair!" Lisa had family in Germany— was it East Germany?
That was the 50s, I was 8 or 10, and I don't remember when they moved away. Kalvelage and Lime Jello boxes are burned in my memory.
Within the same few weeks, I received my American Community Survey, went to the Springsteen concert, found the song "My Name is Lisa Kalvelage", read what she did and felt so proud. Seeds of involvement and protest are sown early on— might be in Lime Jello boxes right across the street.
Pete wrote a song about Lisa Kalvelage and I know if the Feds get pushy, Bruce will write a song about me.