Aug 1980 v.p. Whats Happening p. 3
Cordaro, VP, Vol. 4, No 4, Aug-Sept 1980, What’s Happening
By Frank Cordaro
After over two weeks of 90 degree weather, we have our first 100 degree day. The guest flow has not let up since our record high of 98 in the month of June. This issue of the Via Pacis will be a humble effort. We are sorely missing Tim Brennan who edited it the past few months. Tim has returned to Milwaukee to finish his Masters of Theology at Marquette. Steve Marsden, his heir apparent, has not been with us long enough at any given time to put an issue together. It looks like this issue will be created by many rookies, including myself. It goes to show you that if you stay long enough at any CW, there is nothing your will not have to do at one time or another. Though our publication efforts have suffered this summer, our energy has not. I often get the distinct feeling that we are a three-ring circus at the corner of 8th and Indiana.
Around supper-time this place is humming. Our hospitality efforts have never been more lively. Our guests gather for the evening meal with a few odds and ends, such as Carl. Carl lives across the street and is an old WWII veteran whose alcoholism will surely bring him to an early grave. He is only allowed to eat if he comes in on time and is not so obviously drunk that he disturbs the rest the house. Nearly every night 20 or more folks have gathered around the dinner table. Across the street at the Ligutti Community Garden there is almost always an Asian family who is watering or weeding their plot after the regular work day.
Our water bill should hit the roof next month. The Justice and Peace Center has been put to use nearly every night of the week. Our friends in the Socialist Party have used the Center for their regional meetings and as headquarters for Kalonji Sadiqu congressional campaign, and there has been a Des Moines area international faith group planning the August 9th observance for the City, as well as visits from the Diocesan Disarmament Task Force. All this and our own efforts to organize events in conjunction with registration for the draft. The Justice and Peace Center has been a busy place. The high point of all comes on Tuesday afternoon at 5:15 when Fr. Bert is on hand to say a community Eucharist. I can really sense the wholeness of the CW program of cult, culture, and cultivation. And buying another house I feel like we are exploding! PRAISE THE LORD! This great effort is now a group endeavor and there are many people who make it happen both inside and outside the houses. THANK YOU ALL!!!
There are some folks that need to be mentioned for their ongoing work for the houses. Fr. Dave Polich has taken a more legal approach to his work. I often questioned the wisdom of being the only individual holding title. With my persuasion, we have changed the title to the houses so Dave and I are both named as titleholders. This should leave the community free to continue with the work if anything happens to me. Dave has been one to give of himself and his resources whenever we have a need of them.
We must make special mention of the group of women from Circle 7 of the Holy Trinity Altar and Rosary Society. These valiant women have been doing the laundry for nearly three years! Their numbers have dwindled during the summer months and we would like to mention them individually as the ‘Clean Team.’ They are: Jan Ramsey, Maureen Lyons, Mary Keck, Cathy Chebuhar, and Barb Hans. These folks pick up all the bedding and towels that the houses use. During the summer months this load increases significantly. We salute you good people! Anyone interest in joining the ‘Clean Team’ should contact Barb Hans at 255-8174. They can surely use some more help.
We also want to thank Cy Engler for his contributive services toward our new house. Cy has been our real estate person since we began and has not charged us a cent. As a matter of fact, he and his family have contributed generously to our efforts.
Finally, I would like to mention two grand women who have been with us from the beginning: Helen Tichy and Mother Cordaro. Both of these good women are weekly visitors to the houses. Helen can always be counted on to cover the house when we are in a pinch, and my mother is our most faithful attendant to the Eucharist. There are others who should be mentioned, and I hope in the future to make the Thank You Box a regular feature.
There has been a steady flow of folks visiting us over the past few months. Sr. Diane Drufenbrock was on hand for a Friday night discussion. Sr. Drufenbrock is the vice presidential candidate for the Socialist Party. Her warm and gentle ‘school teacher’ appearance with her issue-oriented campaign give a person something to think about in the year of non-choices. Bob Renfro dropped by briefly to give us a few dollars for the houses and to say hello. Bob spent some time with us after he got out of the army as a C.O. I will never forget the time Bob had to wrestle a woman guest to the ground as she was attempting to stab her husband with a kitchen knife after the man smashed her in the mouth. It goes to show you that being a C.O. does not mean being passive in the face of violence! One guest of note was a 77-year-old woman by the name of Elsa from Dubuque. She came to Des Moines on the bus to set the US Government straight in regards to her son’s pension. She came to our city not knowing a soul, and was sent to our house for the night. A real joy to have around the house with a lot of fight left in her. The Sorterbergs decided to drop off their donation to the house personally and took home with them Survivor, the last of a five-kitten litter of the house cat, Boots. We called the kitten Survivor because it was the the only one that did not die for one reason or another. For the past month Leighton Berryhill has been residing in the first floor office if the Ligutti House. It served as her sleeping quarters and campaign headquarters for Kalonji Sadiqui. Thanks to Leighton’s efforts, Kalonji’s name will appear on the ballot this fall. Gary Severin is back from his African trip and is spending a couple of weeks in Des Moines before he returns to California. It was good to hear about his travels and to visit with him again. We hope that he will be able to fix the electrical shorts in our VW before he leaves.
Our house has also been graced by the visit of Walter Gormley from Mt. Vernon, IA. He was a draft resister from WWII and spent three years in federal prison. Walter spoke at the town meeting on registration. It was a real treat to have him here with us. We asked a couple of the guys who made the retreat on registration resistance to come over for dinner to meet Walter. Though nearly three generations separated the older resister from the younger ones, they had no difficulty communicating with each other.
Events and Issues:\
Kalonji Lambuma Sadiqu announced his candidacy for the Des Moines area congressional seat on the Socialist ticket. The CW does not endorse any candidate for two reasons. It is our belief that involvement within is a moral question, and secondly, as personalists, we do not advocate any centralist government that does not encourage direct, individual responsibility or which does not grant the power to individuals to determine what is and what is not, done in the name of government. The present US government is obviously not that type of government. However, the Justice and Peace Center, which is housed in the Ligutti CW, allows for a broader variety of ideas and philosophies than does the Catholic Worker Movement. There is one norm that both the Justice and Peace Center and the CW demand: that is to strict adherence to active non-violence as the only acceptable form of social change. Our Socialist brothers and sisters in Iowa have shared with us in many demonstrations such as: union busting, nuclear power, nuclear weapons, prisons, and the arms race. We have become friends, sharing many of the same ideals and hopes for the future. This is why we permit the Socialists to use our Justice and Peace Center for their meetings and public gatherings. We are not in favor of one political party over another. As soon as the Republican or Democratic parties advocate strict adherence to non-violence, they also will be welcome to use our Justice and Peace Center.
The Gay March brought together about 100 people on a hot Saturday afternoon. The route took the group through the downtown area and ended at Nollen Plaza for speeches and music. I was one of the speakers and read one of the very fine gay civil rights statements put out by the New Ways Ministry/3312 Buchanan St. #302/Mt. Ranier, MD 20822 or drop by the J & P Center.
Registration is upon us and there has been a lot of activity around the CW concerning registration. Rusty Martin, who is with us this summer, has gone public with his intent not to register. Rusty’s decision not to register was made some time ago, but he really began to attract attention when he helped organize a retreat for young people considering resistance to registration. Rusty put his name as the local contact for the retreat and noted that he was a registration age resister. The news media picked up on this. The Des Moines Register ran a front page story on Rusty, and the houses have been hopping ever since. Five young men attended the retreat. It as a full day and a half of life-sharing, film strips, and information sharing. All five intend to resist registration. Registration has also attracted the attention of non-draft age individuals. On the Thursday before registration, the Task Force Against Conscription had a ‘Town Meeting’ at the Wilke House. About 100 folks showed up to hear speeches against registration and in favor of registration. A guest of ours, Walter Gormley, was a speaker and Le Genovse, a Viet Nam Vet Against the War, added a couple of songs. As the registration day approached, the constitutionality issue flip-flopped through the courts. But just as the government went ahead with the registration of America’s young men, four young Iowans announced publicly their intent not to register.
The Black Hills
Survival Summer is upon us. We are sending four from the staff: Randy, Walter, Norman, and Fr. Bert. Brent Vanderlin has been in charge of transportation for the Des Moines area. Rusty, Donna, and I look forward to their return with tales of the Wild West, as well as their help around the houses! May the good Lord bring them home to us – entirely better for their effort.
Lydia Caros has finally settled into her regular patter at the hospital. What a schedule! She is on-call every other night, so is spending many of her nights sleeping at the hospital. We have also been continually blessed with the presence of Fr. Bert Wilwerding. Bert has been temporarily assigned to Elkhart, IA about 20 miles north of Des Moines. He lives with us during the week and on weekends he is in Elkhart. Bert has also taken on the task of making the ‘new’ home habitable as his special project. We have learned quickly that Bert is not afraid to jump in with both feet. He is primarily responsible for clearing out the five years of human excrement that had accumulated in the basement of the ‘new’ house since the main sewage line had collapsed. An old summer hand who is with us for a repeat performance is Donna Henderson. Donna will be in her 2nd year of law school at St. Louis University come this fall. That means we now have a doctor, a priest, and a law school student living with us right now. We must be doing something right. Donna is working for Ray Conley during the days combining babysitting and legal research. Ray is a longtime friend of the house who has done legal work for us when it was desperately needed. The new folks who have joined the effort are Randy Gieseke, Walter Clark, Sarah, and Rusty Martin. Randy moved into the houses when Peter, Tim, and Gary left.