2007-11-15 / The Walrus Says

The Walrus Says

By Jim Munro

Newporter Jan Shapin, who has written plays and screenplays for over 20 years and has recently turned her attention to fiction, will be at the Jamestown library on Sunday, at 2 p.m. to talk of "Fact and Fiction, Writing an Historical Novel."

She will concentrate her discussion on her new novel, "A Snug Life Somewhere." Shapin said she wanted to write a book that is "easy to read and yet full of information people don't know about, the Red Scare, how the American Commuist Party was financed, and the 1919 Seattle General Strike."

Did the author achieve her goals?

Mim Munro volunteered to review the novel for this column. She wrote:

"The story opens on Nov. 5, 1916, in Seattle when Penny Joe Copper waits for her brother to come back on the ferry from a demonstration supporting a labor strike in Everett. Everyone on the dock knows that the police in Everett fired on the demonstrators but Penny Joe doesn't know that her brother has been killed. She meets Gabe, a radical organizer, whose cousin has also been killed. Penny Joe is in the middle of a love affair that is going nowhere and is extremely vulnerable. She is seduced into the labor movement by Gabe and is put on display at rallies to avenge the Everett martyrs.

Penny Joe lives with Bolsheviks in Mexico, hears first hand about Lenin and Trotsky and the Russian Revolution, becomes a thief, escapes from Gabe, encounters racial segregation and goes to college.

"She marries twice. The first husband leaves her to fight in the Spanish Civil War. The second husband had been an organizer for the auto workers.

"This book is totally intriguing, first, because neither of the major events are very well known. Penny Joe witnesses so much of our history and the reader is there.

"The author writes vividly of the demonstrations, but also of the grubbiness and poverty of the radicals, the constant changing of identities and being on the run. She also shows what happens when a disenchanted person wants to leave the movement. For readers who want to know more, the author provides a list of references.

"I would definitely recommend this book, both as the story of a remarkable young woman but also the underside of the labor movement."

Shapin, 63, has given this talk at a number of libraries and other locations around the country. Light refreshments will be served and the author will sign books.

***

Behind every Jamestown Community Theatre production are the unheralded production crew who make it all happen.

They are more than a list of names in the program, they're the heart of every JCT presentation. Here are the people who placed all the fine actors "Into The Woods:" Julie Andrews, director; Lisa Brown, producer; Iris Bohensky, co-producer and stage manager; Walter Sage, music director; Elizabeth Andrews, choreographer; Dori Bennet and Didi Suydam, costume mistresses; Cindy Wolfe and Patty Vandal, props managers; Kevin Somerville, Maryann England, Eleanor Gravdahl, Fergus O'Farrell and Joe Tiexiera, set design and construction; and Peter Hansen, sound.

Also, Tony Gutierrez, lighting design; Maria Liebhauser, Susan Merriam, Elizabeth Baker, and Bennett Hirsch, lighting; Donna Chellis, Hayden Maclean, Ross Bohensky and Eric Williams, backstage crew; Jeanne Spinosa and Kathy Pazera, house managers; Lisa Kerr, publicity; Barbara Tuthill, Donna Chellis and Lynne DeValerio, tickets; Cynthia Blair, poster design; Cathy Kaiser, program design; Lynne DeValerio, program coordinator; Kellie Toland and Lisa Kerr, refreshments; Melissa Mastrostefano, parent chaperone and Dan and Jane Wright, lobby decorations.

Bravo to all. Additional performances are tomorrow night and Saturday at 7 p.m., and the curtain comes down on "Into The Woods" following the 5 p.m. presentation on Sunday.

***

The Jamestown Emergency Medical Service, JEMS, better known to old timers as the Ambulance Corps, is asking islanders to contribute to its present fundraiser.

The service responds to some 600 calls per year, and has an oncall crew standing by 24/7. If you are a resident of the island there is no out-of-pocket expense for its services.

It's a great investment should you or your family need medical aid at any time. Write your check out to JEMS and send it to 11 Knowles Court, Jamestown 02835.

Questions? Call 423-7276.

***

Stop by the Press office tomorrow and give Donna Drago and Alice Dunn big hugs. It's their birthday, same date, 9 years apart.

***

A week ago Monday on my way home from work I ran over a metal something that promptly blew out my left front tire.

I ended up against the curb on Route 1, with the flashers going, across from the Quonset entrance at the beginning of rush hour. I got out of the truck in case some yo-yo came along talking on his phone and whacked into me. I found the AAA number in my wallet and dialed road service.

After giving the operator all the information she needed, she informed me it would be about 45 minutes before I'd get help.

I stood on the sidewalk eyeing the two lanes of traffic as it slowed down approaching the truck. Four cars stopped and asked if I needed a phone or any other help. Cars in the opposite lanes going north slowed, rolled down their driver's windows, and asked if they could help.

A North Kingstown Police Department cruiser pulled in behind me with his emergency lights on and said he'd stay there for as long as he could.

After 15 minutes or so he got a call and had to leave saying he'd send another car as soon as possible. Another patrol car showed up 10 minutes later. Passing vehicles continued to offer encouragement.

AAA arrived as promised, 45 minutes from my call. The tire was changed quickly even though the driver had to fight through a bit of rust to get to my spare.

With the job done, I thanked the AAA man and the police officer and got into the truck to leave. The AAA truck took off. I turned my ignition on and nothing happened. There I was, right back to where I was an hour ago. Same scenario, different reason.

I asked the officer if he could chase him and send him back and he took off with lights and siren.

Returning to the scene the AAA driver gave the truck a jump start and we were all finally on our way after the officer commented, "You're not having a very good day, are you."

It was quite an experience. My sincere thanks to the North Kingstown Police Department, AAA, and the multitude of good Samaritans who offered their assistance.

In this age of Me, it's so refreshing to find there are still people out there who offer their help to others.

***

Congratulations to the winners of the Town Council and School Board election last week. In all the hype prior to Election Day, two words stood out. They were "common sense" and were in a Bob Sutton ad. We hope the rest of the council members take those words as their motto for the next two years.

***

Do candidates still go door to door as they used to? It always got my vote.

***

The traffic mess on I-95 was so typical Rhode Island it was almost predictable.

***

Anne Marie Deffley - you make great mac and cheese!

***

Bob Kinder continued the lyrics of I've got a lovely bunch of coconuts,

There they are astanding in a row

Big ones, small ones, some as big as your head.

Liz Watson, Mary Murchie and Bob Henrikson all identified the tune correctly and noted it is a Merv Griffin song.

The most unusual response came from Noel Brakenhoff who sang the song to me at Cumby's gas pumps Sunday morning.

***

Bob Kinder also identified The Fighting Lady as the aircraft carrier USS Yorktown in World War II.

*** Who is The Great I Am?

*** Be true!

***

Call in your stuff for this column to 423-0383 or 829-2760. You can send an e-mail to us at jtnwalrus@hotmail.com, or drop your items off at the Jamestown Press office.

Return to top