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Monday, July 31, 2006

"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.


At 9/03/2007 9:11 AM, Anonymous Ingrid said...

My name is Ingrid Kalvelage Owen. Angie and Birgit are my sisters and Lisa is my mother. I am the third of the five Kalvelage daughters. You must have lived across the street from us in Phoenix.

My mother is curious as to who you are. Please respond to my e-mail address if you receive this.


At 5/19/2008 1:48 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ingrid, My name is Kari Kalvelage and I just came accross your mother's story today while google-ing my last name. It is an amazing story and was curious to know if I might be related somehow. You are probably tired of hearing from random people, but the Kalvelage name isn't too common here in California- I think there are some in San Jose and 1 in Sacramento (I am in San Diego) and I am very curious about my ancestry.
My dad is the son of Clemens Henry Kalvelage from San Francisco and Clem is one of 5 siblings born of Henry Francis Kalvelage and Anne Marie Kemper.
I am fascinated with my ancestry and don't know much as my grandfather, Clem, died when my dad was only 8 years old. My aunt has been doing some research and if I was able to give her some more information it would be great.
If you have any information you think might be relevent, please email me at kari_kalvelage@hotmail.com

At 4/29/2009 6:40 PM, Anonymous Dave S. said...

Okay, so you're Lisa K. What does that have to do with the ACS? (And by the way, you may want to take a peek at the Venona Project. EVERY individual Sen. Joseph McCarthy claimed was a Soviet spy, was, actually. Sen. McCarthy should be remembered as the American hero he was; one who would walk into a prison cell before filling out an ACS!)


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