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Donna Reed Day and Pershing Plowshares

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Generally speaking, ecological awareness and camp style don't go together. That's why concerned citizens Carolyn Stapleton and Di Silkwood proclaimed April 25 "Donna Reed Day," dolling themselves up in their best Sunday-go-to-Thriftco domestic-goddess finery to lead a group cleanup of local problem sites.

"It seemed like a real oxymoron," says Stapleton, who donned a green sundress and pearls for the occasion.

All that occasion could have used were a few more oxymorons. Sadly, able-bodied Orlando opted to express its environmental concern by pelting the streets with refuse at Earthday Birthday -- i.e., nobody showed up for Stapleton and Silkwood's high-concept play date but us. Shrugging off our suspicion that it had all been a ruse to get journalists to actually work, we happily accompanied the ladies on their rounds, helping them pick up trash near the entrance to the Winter Park Scenic Boat Tour (which was cleaner than they'd been led to expect) and the railroad tracks outside P.R.'s Mexican Restaurant (an utter disaster area, but c'mon; they're train tracks). We even got to ride in the Stink Bug, a VW that Stapleton has covered with cigarette butts as a rolling protest against the habit.

The day ended with a rendezvous with Beth Hollenbeck of ECO-Action, whose group was removing broken glass from the lakefront at the Greenwood Urban Wetland -- their 12th and final Earth Day event of this year. In between, there was time for finger sandwiches, deviled eggs and Jell-O mold at the apparel shop Stapleton manages.

Even at the grungiest points of the day, good humor and gentility reigned. Undeterred by the low turnout, the ladies are planning a second annual Donna Reed Day for next year, which will give Orlando's slow-to-join types another chance to get in on the fun. And if they don't, hey -- more finger sandwiches for us.

In the small hours of April 22, 1984, eight peace activists calling themselves the Pershing Plowshares broke into the Martin Marietta plant (now Lockheed Martin) on Sand Lake Road, bashed Pershing II missile components with hammers and poured baby bottles of their own blood on the weapons. Then they sat down and waited to be arrested.

After a week-long trial, all eight were found guilty of conspiracy to destroy government property, and all received three-year sentences in federal prison. It was the eighth action under the "plowshares" rubric, a pacifist movement that takes its name from Isaiah 2:4: "And they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more."

(If invoking a higher power as justification not to go to war feels strange, then you've lived in George W. Bush's America too long.)

On April 22, 2004, two of the eight -- Patrick O'Neill and Paul Magno -- held a reunion at the Friends Meeting House on Marks Street, the same venue where they planned the action two decades ago. The other six members of the group weren't there, but all are still alive.

O'Neill and Magno are older and wiser, but unrepentant. "Was it worth it? That's like asking Jesus if the crucifixion was worth it," says O'Neill, who now lives in North Carolina, has seven children, operates a pacifist community for women and children in crisis and is still an antiwar activist. "It's a matter of faith. I can say this honestly: I have no regrets."

Magno now runs a homeless shelter in Washington, D.C. Like O'Neill, he's a father, and like O'Neill he isn't ashamed of his past. "If you have to go to jail, so what. That's how you make the world a better place."

By the way, for those who saw the Sentinel's Pershing Plowshares piece April 23, O'Neill would like to set the record straight: Reporter Rich McKay's story was packed with well-worn '60s clichés, but the break-in was 20 years ago, not 30 or 40. And while it's easy (and quick) to dismiss activists as "longhaired peaceniks," as McKay did, it doesn't square with reality. "None of us had long hair in 1984," says O'Neill. "The only person who had long hair was the woman. My hair was very conservative and short."

The story trivialized the commitment and religious convictions of the Pershing Plowshares, says O'Neill. "This wasn't a bunch of wild-eyed kids who came to town. There was a lot of preparation and thoughtfulness."

But why let the facts get in the way when you have stereotypes to perpetrate?

We were quietly befuddled upon receiving the call last week from yippy Julian Bain that the Sunday-morning gay bash Global Brunch, which occupied the Globe for the last six months, had been axed. It's not like that cursed space hasn't seen its share of culture-squeezing in its checkered history; see the untimely exit of the notorious Go Lounge, and the subsequent end to the 24-hour Manic-Panic debauchery of the Globe in New Jersey diner posturing. Everything we touch goes sour; or at least resigns its employees to wearing expressionless faces and all black.

The story goes something like this: On Easter Sunday, Miss Sammie (Singhaus) was spotted wearing a revealing Playboy Bunny get-up by a matronly churchgoer. Complaints were filed, lipstick was smeared and the dynamic duo got the phone call on Friday that their Sunday brunch was to sink into the forgotten realms (like Monday).

"Off the record, though," says Bain, "I think it's a power thing."

We popped by Sunday, April 25, just to see how the Globe was taking it, and could hardly get a sip in between the heterosexual love bugs and tumbleweeds that had taken the place of paying customers. Funny, that.

Unconfirmed reports (and we say that because our follow-up phone calls were not returned, naturally) are that the Brunch has found a new home (and probably a new name) at Lake Ivanhoe transplant Gargi's, starting May 1. And while we aren't expecting any extended ears or puffy tails, we do certainly hope to enjoy our next fruity libation to the tune of Xanadu. Is that too much to ask?


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