The Cactus Patch
Volume 15       March 2012      Number 03

From '61 to Shakespeare
A Letter From Bruce
by Bruce Hargreaves

For no reason I can think of, I’ve wandered far astray
And that is how I got to where I find myself today.
-The Indispensable Calvin & Hobbes;
~Bill Watterson

On the 2nd of February we heard Woody in Fresno. He gave a terrific talk on Namibia, although he showed just about every Cyphostemma in the country and ran on a bit too long. It was a different place from the one we visited in 1986 since it was now independent and the diamond Zone was open to tourists. Incidentally, Woody stressed that English was the official language. We visited a school teacher in Xhorixas (formerly Welwitschia) who complained because even her English class had to be taught in Afrikaans even though none of her students spoke it! One of her students told us he was joining SWAPO (the rebel South West Africa Peoples’ Organization) as soon as he graduated. Guess who won? We don’t know if Woody will give this talk or a different one in Bakersfield, but whichever he gives will be good.

On the 4th we went to the Beale Library to hear Claude Liggens, one of the Freedom Riders of 1961. He was fortunate in not being on a bus that was bombed, although he did get arrested. People sure got riled up just about riding a public bus! We also heard Mrs. Janie McKinney who was a 12 year old white girl who took water to the riders on the bombed bus.

1961 was a watershed year for me. I had spent one year at BC when I was sent to the American Baptist Conference Grounds in Greenlake, Wisconsin to serve as a bus boy and dishwasher for the summer. It doesn’t sound like much, but it was the first of many adventures in my life. To start with, it was my first long train ride (not counting Disneyland and the Skunk at Willets). I had a choice of getting up early and going around the Tehachapi Loop or sleeping in and taking a bus over the Grapevine. I’ve always regretted choosing the latter, since the former is no longer used for passenger trains. I was sitting in the dome car in Ogden, Utah when a voice behind me said, “Hi Bruce”. There was Wayne Lee, later my brother-in-law when he married Anne. He had taken the train from San Francisco and the two trains were then joined in Ogden. He was on his way to serve in the Army with the Screaming Eagles.

In addition to work at Greenlake, I played oboe in an orchestra, acted in plays and joined a small singing group called the Monastic Four plus a Fifth. (This was a play on the building in which we worked which was called the Abbey). We also studied passive resistance using Thoreau, Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr. and the Society of Friends text, “Speak Truth to Power”. It was heady stuff. We were taught movement songs by Guy and Candy Carrowan. At the end of the summer I splurged and returned by air-my first plane ride.

Returning to the present, on the 14th we were at the BCSS meeting and heard the talk on Peru once again. We have never been to Peru, but I heard about it from my Uncle George who built dams there while I was still a school kid. I hope his dams did not cause the same problems of the recent ones reported by Mark. I also learned about Peru from my brother Robert who went to a poultry conference there.

On the 16th we went to see “Anonymous,” even though it had been panned. As I suspected, it was quite convoluted and the reviewer did not seem to have the background to unweave it. It rests on the long argued theme that the plays attributed to Shakespeare were not written by him. I took a course at UCSB on “The History of Drama from Greek to Renaissance” and was quite struck by the similarity between the works attributed to Shakespeare and those of Marlow and Johnson. This is not proof of authorship, however, and I think the theory brought out in the film that the Duke of Oxford wrote the plays is probably correct. I have read a recent theory that the Shakespearean plays were written by a Jewish woman and found the argument to be quite convincing, however.

One point to be drawn from all this is the difficulty of proving “historic” facts. This is further emphasized by the play “Richard the III”. Shakespeare wrote quite a nasty version which the film does in some way explain. Josephine Tey wrote a book, “The Daughter of Time” which goes into this in great detail. Another event which is enlightened by the film is the production of the King James version of the Bible. It has been so written as to support the divine right of kings which is quite different from the earlier translation by Tyndale.

Contrary to what I wrote last month, we were at the February meeting. We are still waiting.

Woody @ Fresno

Claude Liggins

Claude Liggens & Janie

Polly & Peace Cake @ BCSS Meeting

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