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146 27 ~ Emily I grew up with protests and demonstrations. Every time our president bombed a small country that we had to search for in our family atlas, we marched. Every time the state legislature tried to pass a law cutting welfare benefits or limiting gay rights, we picketed. But never in thirty-two years had I found myself in this position. Between me and the front door of the Hall of Justice marched four dozen people carrying hand-printed signs: An Eye for an Eye. Justice for the Frozen Babies. Protect Springfield from Satan-Worshippers. My father’s voice thundered in my head: never cross a picket line. What would Arnie Klein say about neo-Nazis demonstrating against a cult in the neighborhood? Would he honor their picket line, engage them in political discussion about their message of hate? Who were these people, bundled up against the December cold? It was hard to identify anything about them, even their ages. They didn’t look like skinheads, though how could you tell with bulky coats and ski hats and scarves? Would they mutilate a family pet to prove how much they hated people who worshipped strange gods, a deity living in a forest instead of a church? My immediate concern was getting into the courtroom for Pippa’s hearing. I stepped closer to the sidewalk. An older guy with white hair poking out around his down hood stepped out of the line of walkers to stand in front of me. His sign read Avenge the Frozen Babies. “Will you join us?” he asked. “We want the judge to know that Springfield citizens will not sanction the sacrifice of innocents in our city.” Wearing puffy mittens, he fumbled with the stack of bright green papers under his arm and handed me a flyer with the words of the message forming a cross. My father spoke up again: never cross a picket line. Mumbling thank you to the picketer, I folded the flyer into perfect quarters, and shoved it down into my jacket pocket. Ellen Meeropol ~ 147 Stick to unions and antiwar protests, I told my father. You don’t know anything about this kind of demonstration. My father would have welcomed an argument about the correct response to a racist picket line. Growing up, every Sunday morning was a verbal brawl between Arnie and the editorial page of the Times. His exuberant gestures slopped his coffee over the cup rim, stamping overlapping tan rings on the newsprint pages. Momma and I would egg him on, nudging our chairs to face him across the breakfast table like an audience, clapping at his most lucid and persuasive arguments. Arnie’s eloquence shone at the table, although sometimes I wished he was like other dads. My friend Marta from next door came over for dinner one time. My father started talking about college days in Ann Arbor, when his history classes and Momma’s music studies were secondary to their anti-war activism. “We majored in revolution,” he shouted. Marta didn’t come again. Some of our best conversations developed as we crisscrossed the gravel trails of the city park near our Portland apartment. When I was frustrated about not being able to balance my birthday two-wheeler without training wheels, or unable to decide between the soccer team and ballet lessons, he would offer a long walk to talk it out. I had to scamper beside him, my legs pumping to keep up with his loping stride and the dipping, soaring kites of his sentences. His words wove pros and cons, reasonable possibilities and unexpected consequences. In my memory, those walks and talks were always on sunny May afternoons or glorious October mornings. Never the gloom of winter. I stamped my feet, willing blood to flow into my toes. I could use his incisive and wise brain right now. Everyone else was telling me what to do. Gina warning me to protect the career I had worked so hard to establish. Anna observing me like I was a suitcase abandoned under a seat in an airport, ready to explode. I wished my father were walking alongside me now, his sentences somehow somersaulting my opinions into place. But he was dead. I wrapped my scarf tighter around my tingling ears and crossed the picket line to enter the Hall of Justice. ...


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