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Page Fifteen


Finally a calm, sunny day - a great deal of sun, a very warm day! But I'm disgusted 'cause my microphone is messing up again. Also, I made the dumbest mistake and recorded over one of my most important tapes, the BOMB TEST PROTEST, and erased a good part of it. But I am able to record the border crossing, Colorado into Nebraska. How we love to celebrate these great milestones in our walk: the ritual countdown - CALIFORNIA, NEVEDA, ARIZONA, UTAH, COLORADO, NEBRASKA!!! The big exaggerated step we all take over an imaginary line in the road. Ceremonies, speeches, songs, a tremendous sheet cake. Then more hot walking to our first campground in Nebraska where I post all thirty WQO flyers on the porta-pottie doors. Very tired and to sleep: it was twenty-four miles today.


'Only' nineteen miles today, but in 90 degree weather. Still, Beatrice and I sing all day long. Opera! Jim Walsh from media gives me a microphone that works well. Our little radio station is broadcasting, and in camp I do a shift playing one of my tapes from early in the March: CLAREMONT! The marchers get to hear themselves ecstatic over the treatment we got from the people of Claremont, California on Day Three of the March. Where are we now? - a hundred and twenty-three days and in Nebraska already? Well, that's OK. This thing goes on till November. That's still forever far away.


In the morning we walk through the large town of Ogallala. Hot sultry weather, a five-minute furious cloudburst. At our lunch stop a candidate's forum: an important election is coming up for Board of Directors. And so our political hopefuls campaign in a cornfield; they talk about finances, about drugs, about the outlandish dress of some marchers. They ask why so few are walking and why is not everyone working. The MARCH POTATO is an issue in our election.


A walk from Paxton to Sutherland in still more hot weather. But even worse, the grasses and pollens of Nebraska are making me suffer more than ever I did in the terrible hay fever days of my youth. But the corn! Endless rows of corn grow even as we walk. The corn was knee-high in eastern Colorado; it's already chest-high in western Nebraska. And yet, God, how hot! We find a river into which all the marchers throw themselves for relief. But we must walk. We have to walk twenty miles and more every day. In the heat, in the humidity! We have to endure thick clouds of mosquitoes stinging and sucking our blood. We must be in Omaha on the Fourth of July!


Father's Day. We're up at 4:00 AM and begin walking at 6:10. Must get an early start to beat the sweltering sun, the suffocating heat. And yet nothing helps. With parched tongues we march. Lunch is a peanut butter sandwich that clings to the roof of the mouth.

The farms are pleasing to see: mounds of golden hay, barns of vivid red. Now we approach a city - North Platte, Nebraska. We march into the central park for a rally. But ah, darn it - very few locals here; its mostly our own people. Four more sultry miles we walk to camp on the grounds of a Lutheran church.


Yes, yes, a day of rest! A big delicious brunch as always. A ride downtown with Cindi and Warren. A shower and even a swim at the big municipal pool. Rice Dream at a health food store. I wash clothes, go to the post office, buy batteries for my microphone. At camp, a meeting of the radio staff: great ideas for building our audience. Again I post WQO flyers on all thirty porta-pottie doors. I accomplish a lot today and don't have to walk. A blessed day of rest!


The Peace March leaves North Platte walking through streets full of large houses, enormous lawns, big shady trees. For the moment the heat is not frying our brains and so Beatrice and I get a brainstorm: we will do Shakespeare on the March! We will produce "A Midsummer Night's Dream" in camp. And we'll have it ready in four days to celebrate the summer solstice on the 21st!


Beatrice and I walk twenty miles through a furnace today, the heat of a Nebraska summer. But we work all the way, and in that fire we forge a play. We take Shakespeare's "Dream," condense it wholesale, and relate it entirely to our March. In every scene, with every character, our marchers will see themselves reflected on stage. Every allusion and joke will refer to life on the Great Peace March. How delighted we are with it and with each other! As we enter Lexington we reward ourselves with watermelon and ice cream. In camp a terrific supper of stew and muffins. And then we rehearse. Even in the chaos of camp, in the heat and exhaustion, every member of our cast shows up! The children on the March are the fairies in our "Midsummer Night's Dream."


Twenty miles again today, from Lexington to Elm Creek. But at least not in the broiling sun. It's overcast most of the day for it rained a lot last night. We do a lot more work on the play. Tomas will be Oberon, Frank and Polly will play Demetrius and Helena. Beatrice and I very close artistically and romantically.


Only seventeen miles today, very hot toward the end. Beatrice and I constantly working on the play. Our lunch stop is a park in Kearney, Nebraska, and there we are able to gather our cast together and find time to rehearse. Yes, wonderful! I cry with tears of laughter. We sup tonight in a park on a hill. It's the summer solstice with a luscious full moon: perfect setting for our play. And oh how the marchers love it! Screams of laughter. Standing ovations for our actors. Beatrice and Benedict encircled by marchers munificent in their praise. A sense of wonder all around - a marvel, a miracle! Imagine! A Shakespeare play on the Great Peace March!

But then in camp later in the night a dark, angry storm.

June 22

We roam twenty miles today, but who knows where? Is it hot or did it rain? Beatrice and Benedict stroll in a daze. "Bravo!" and "Viva!" and "Encore!" ring in their ears all day. At a little park for lunch, the Peace March plants a Peace Tree in a ceremony with the mayor of town. Our own mayor, Diane Clark of Peace City, takes the occasion to praise our production. In the evening we camp on a school ground and it does rain - it rains showers of praise for our Shakespeare production! A woman says she never had so much fun on the March. Everyone wants us to do it again. OK, we will! Tomorrow we'll begin work on "Twelfth Night."


Hot, hot, and humid. With sweat dripping on the pages, Beatrice and Benedict read the entire "Twelfth Night" as they trudge 'cross Nebraska. As we enter Grand Island we've finished reading the play and are already cutting it. At the fairgrounds we find our camp and a potluck dinner as large as the racetrack here. Five hundred hot, hungry marchers sit on the grass and devour the food. Yes, Beatrice and Benedict do so too, but oblivious to all the others. Their only companion this evening is William Shakespeare.

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