Interview by Claire Townsend
Filmed by David Mueller
Helene: Children were not ever in her lifestyle. Uh, she uh, we always
said she took after Aunt Lizzy and her Aunt Lizzy was not a child type
person. She didn’t relate also. Uh, and uh… Peace Pilgrim
never had dolls when she was growing up. She didn’t have mother
instincts I think that most women have. I was just the opposite. I had
so many dolls and all. But she did not and when I would come home with
children… I was always baby sitting and I would come home with
children. She never had any desire to hold a baby or to uh, to having
anything to do with them. And children loved her. I mean uh, ...because
she had a strong personality. She would have made an excellent teacher.
It was... children really would have filed along uh... with her. But
she was only interested in them when they had reached the age of reason.
And then she could talk to them reasonably. But as far as talking baby
talk and training a child up to that point, it wasn’t her style.
Claire: Along this time your father died.
Helene: Yes, he died after she was uh, married and I was 26 and uh,
at that time I know we were all there. So I don’t know was she
living with us at that time or not. Uh..
Claire: I think you told us that she and Stanley stayed in the barn.
Helene: Yes they stayed in what we call the colony house. It was an
unused chicken coop and… they slept there because you might say
there was no room in the inn you know. She just… we had the night
my father died we had nurses and doctors there and uh, it just you know…
I think too probably they wanted to get away from it. I don’t
know just where they stayed.
Claire: Do you think Mildred was especially upset.
Helene: Well I’m sure she was because she and my father were very
close. They uh… did a lot of things together. They were involved
in the Grange together. And uh… she would bring her friends down
to the boat house and the fishing parties with him… and then they
would dance together. They had uh, a lot of (*) and I’m sure that
she felt…uh…very bad about it and also because perhaps (sound
of train whistle) she felt that he didn’t approve of her marriage.
So she did, I do recall that she was emotionally upset very much. Of
course we all were. But it wasn’t our family style to show emotion.
We would not cry for one another. It was uh… it was sort of a
private thing to show emotion or grief itself. She would bury her head
in a pillow or something but you wouldn’t… you didn’t
… you didn’t emote in the presence of others.
Claire: How could you tell that she was very upset?
Helene: Well, uh at the funeral I could see the way she reacted and
so forth that she was upset. I mean… pretty much our family tried
to keep from crying. If people wanted to discuss with me about my father,
I wouldn’t talk to them. I just wouldn’t talk at all. I
can remember going to bed after he died and I didn’t want to wake
up. I just slept and slept and slept until you got control of yourself.
You just had to get control of your emotions instead of letting them
out for people to see. So that was why it was difficult to tell just
how anyone in our family felt because they didn’t show their emotions.
And I think that’s sort of a German characteristic. I mean the
Italian and the Irish people are very emotional and you know how they
feel where some of the northern people are more… they just don’t
show their feelings.
Claire: It did set in motion a time, a kind of troublesome time for
Helene: Very, yes. We had a very difficult time because my father being
the sole support of the family... in fact my mother was destitute because
we had no insurance. And the home was mortgaged for a business that
we had entered that failed. I mean uh, insurance, fire insurance business
which uh... at that time uh… people were taking advantage of.
They were burning down their houses to collect insurance because they
had no money to pay taxes. And… so it left us homeless. I mean
we had to move out of our home and rent an apartment and uh, in Egg
Claire: And who all was still living together at that time?
Helene: Well we were all out on our complex really. I mean we had the
two houses, my father’s home and the auntie’s home. But
we mostly all lived together in my father’s home most of the time.
But there was a time when the auntie’s moved out.
Claire: In Egg Harbor City, who all was… tell me about that apartment.
Helene: Well the first apartment, we were in several… but the
first apartment uh, uh… Mildred and Stanley had the front bedroom
and uh, a sun parlor with many windows. And uh we lived in the back
of the house, the rest of us. And she uh... she uh lived there until
we moved into the next apartment. And they moved with us to the next
apartment which was closer to our place of business where we worked…
the winery. And there they had a front room too. Uh, so uh, they were
with us through that time, both of them.
Claire: Were they getting along well then?
Helene: Well they had their arguments because, of course at that time
Stanley was a truck driver. He had his trucking business. And he was
away a lot and uh, they would argue about finances I think, no doubt.
And uh… other things that they didn’t see eye to eye on.
So they …uh you know they got along but like a lot of people they
just had uh arguments.
Claire: Well they eventually separated.
Helene: Yes, they separated. But that was after they were in Philadelphia.
And I can’t tell you too much about their life up there because
at that time I was involved in my own family life. I was married and
raising children. And I really don’t know exactly by date and
so forth when they separated. But when Stanley was in Philadelphia he
was inducted into the service. And she didn’t want to go with
him. Because she had been working with Quakers before working for peace
and she was against war and she did not approve of his going to war.
Claire: So at that time during the separation, she came to live where?
Helene: Well that’s I guess when she came to live, at that time,
after she had moved to Philadelphia and I got married uh… the
auntie’s moved out to their little house because they had intended
to move there uh….eventually but they were staying in town because
we were both working there and we were helping to support and pay the
rent. So they decided to stay there to make it more convenient for us.
But then after we were gone they moved out to their little cottage and
uh…then….uh Mildred came to live with them after…
(*) I can’t tell exactly the sequence or when and where it happened.
Claire: Well that might have been one of the times when she did a lot
of deep thinking.
Helene: Right, that’s when she had her little flower stand and
all. And that’s when she knew she wasn’t going to be selling
flowers the rest of her days. She was thinking about how she was going
to spend the rest of her life. And she had been working with these people
in Philadelphia for peace. She had been working with Scott Nearing and
his paper, his publication. And she had also belonged to a hiking club
over there. And so this all tied together. Uh…
Claire: Tell me about her hiking the Appalachian Trail. Did you know
she was doing that?
Helene: Yes, we knew she was doing it but uh, uh just exactly how and
when it happened I don’t know. All I know is that she did…
she started in Georgia. I think somebody mentioned something about her
starting in the north. But I think she really started in Georgia and
wound up in the north, in the (*). And after her hike we heard her on
the radio. They presented her on some radio station in Philadelphia.
They presented her with a, a uh… with a … they thought that
she was lighting a camp fire, but she never did, so they gave her a
cigarette lighter which she gave to Eugene.
Claire: Getting back to Stanley, they finally divorced. Did you think
that was a good thing?
Helene: Well yes, I mean I really did yes, because I could see that
they weren’t compatible and I… that she uh, that she uh…
he wanted a family and she didn’t. And uh… what was the
point in their marriage? And she, I felt, I really felt she had this
capability to do something with her life. I mean I looked up to her
because I… I mean I really felt that she was capable of, of doing
something like that. If fact we discussed it at one point. She, at one
time she mentioned something about doing something like that. And I
thought it was an excellent idea because it was a way to draw people’s
attention to this cause. And I really approved of what she did.
Claire: Were you aware that after the divorce with Stanley that she
was, you know, searching for what to do?
Helene: Well uh… she didn’t uh… we really didn’t
discuss it exactly on that basis. But I know that she must have been.
I mean uh…uh
Claire: Eugene remembered that she did a lot of traveling during those
years and sometimes she even went to Mexico. She went to California.
Helene: Well this was during her years as Peace Pilgrim that she went
Claire: No, this was like the grape fast.
Helene: Oh yes, yes, you’re right, you’re right. I mean
that’s when she went to where they were giving the grape cure.
Claire: Tell me about that.
Helene: Yes, oh yes and that’s when she did the fast and all.
Uh, she was doing that, right, before she, I suppose… I’m
not clear about dates. And as I say I was so involved in my own family
life. Children and family were all important to me. And I was working
a full time job. So I really wasn’t paying that much attention
to uh… what she was doing. But I do know, of course she was always
a (*). She always was and uh… she was get where the (*). And I
was aware that she was on a fast. And I was aware that she was where
they were giving the grape cure. But just the time sequence, I can’t
really put it in. I mean….
Claire: The time sequence…
Helene: she must have done it. She must have done this before the Appalachian
Trail, I imagine. I don’t know. I don’t know which came
Claire: Yeah, that’s not so much important as what you…
I mean, do you remember when Aunt Mildred during this time when she
would come and visit, oftentimes she would have these really strange
people with her. Like maybe she was trying to help them out or something.
Helene: Oh, she had… there were people that she helped in these
health… in these health… she went to some… the way
I understood it… where people went for their health. And some
of them maybe needed help handling you know, so she… she was active
in that sort of thing for a while. And she did have a few followers.
I mean there was one man in particular I remember, Eddie Ard his name
was… in Philadelphia when she was living in Philadelphia who she
helped. And I can remember… there I can give you some time sequence
because when our son Dale was born in 1949, Peace gave me a gift, a
little set of booties and sweater and so forth. Peace sent down with
her as a gift. So because he had been at our house I guess she was…
he had visited and I guess that’s how I remember his coming. But
I just don’t remember if he stayed with us or not. I don’t
remember that. But Jeanne was then nine years old and she has a better
memory than I have. She maybe remembers more about it. But I know he
was born that came because I remember him giving this gift at this particular
time. That’s how I can tie it in.
Claire: Well she just remembereds that Aunt Mildred was sort of the
strange one, you know she was?
Helene: Well, she wore a tunic when she was the Peace Pilgrim.
Claire: Before Peace Pilgrim when she would be like joining a nudist
Helene: Oh yes, that’s right. You jogged my memory. She did. She
didn’t join the nudist colony. But she appeared at one. And I
think she was clothed there (laughter). But she did, she did go to a
nudist colony. Yes I remember her telling me that and I think it was
published in a magazine. Good thing she didn’t run for a public
office because they would have blown that I’m sure. (laughter)
Claire: Well how about her trying to get the ultimate sun bathe nude
on your lawn?
Helene: Oh, I don’t know about that. She wouldn’t have gotten
very far with that because people in our vicinity weren’t into
nudism. Although they did have a nudist colony in Mays Landing. There
was a nudist colony there. But I don’t know where she went. I
don’t think it was Mays Landing. It was somewhere else.
Claire: Well did you think that she was strange? You know did you see
a change occur in her?
Helene: Well you know we just accepted her the way she was, you know.
So maybe she was a little strange. But our family was considered strange
anyway in a lot of ways because we had a lot of radical beliefs and
things and we weren’t members of the local church and all. So
we were used to being that way. And we were taught that it wasn’t
a crime to be strange. I mean you should be your own person and speak
your own thoughts and not be one of the sheep. And so we didn’t
think anything of being strange. Uh, you know different. (Laughter)
Claire: So how did you hear about the pilgrimage? Are you looking at
Helene: “Stop looking at David. Start looking at me.”
Claire: So how did you hear about the pilgrimage? How did she tell you
that she was doing it?
Helene: Well she would discuss it with me. I can remember one time.
And as I said before, she was discussing uh, doing this. So she must
have come to our house at some time when she visited and uh… and
spoke of it then. But I can remember that we spoke about it. We were
walking out in the woods too.
Claire: Tell me about that.
Helene: It was uh, in the woods back of the house where we are living
Claire: And did she say, “Come for a walk, I want to tell you
Helene: Well we were just out walking and we just started talking. She
didn’t make a particular issue of it. We were discussing it and
uh… I just recall that I approved, I approved of what she was
planning to do. I told her it was an excellent idea.
Claire: Do you remember how she described it to you? What did she say
she was going to do?
Helene: Well, she was going to walk, to do this walk. She had already
done the Appalachian Trail and she thought that she could, she would
walk (*). And as to how she was going to accomplish it, she evidently
hadn’t formulated the plan yet, you know. I mean it just sort
of developed like I guess and grew.
Claire: And then did she like, do you know how she got to California?
Helene: I don’t really know how she got to California. Did she
hitchhike? (Pause) That’s a possibility.
Claire: And then did you know that she was going to begin in January
Helene: Well she was in touch with us possibly. I mean we knew, we knew
where she would be and all… because right from the very beginning
I was forwarding her mail. I mean not as Peace Pilgrim but you know…
it wasn’t on a regular basis or she didn’t have a program
established or anything… but periodically she would want her mail
and uh, uh ….so you know it just gradually developed.
Claire: You also got some calls from reporters in the beginning.
Helene: Well in the very beginning I did, yes. I can remember that at
the office, uh… I got a call from the Newark Star Herald, I think
it was. It was some paper up in north Jersey. And uh, of course they
wanted to know about her private life. And uh so I got in touch with
her. And I asked her what I should do about these people calling. She
said, “Leave it to me. Tell them to” and she would take
care of it and she did.
Claire: And then just a few weeks into her first pilgrimage she made
a decision to drop her given name altogether and just become Peace Pilgrim.
Do you remember that, getting that letter?
Helene: We have it in the scrap book. I don’t remember exactly
when we got it. But I remember, yes. I don’t remember just when
it was, how far into her pilgrimage I’m not sure.
Claire: And now she’s Peace Pilgrim.
Helene: Right and I still as you notice will call her Peace because
she became Peace Pilgrim later. I never… I never called her Mildred
too much as a child anyway because we would always use some slang expression
like kid or you know do and uh, I never was accustomed to calling her
Mildred too much. And uh when she became Peace Pilgrim so I adopted
Claire: Was it a burden to keep up with the correspondence?
Helene: I never thought it was because I just thought that I was doing
her a service. And I believed in her cause. And I believed in her. I
wanted to help her so it just wasn’t a burden. I am the type of
person that will become dedicated as I am now with the March of Dimes.
I become dedicated to something and it’s not a burden. And that’s
the way she was. She devoted her whole life and didn’t consider
it a burden.
Claire: In the beginning she didn’t have her, you know the temperature
thing worked out so she did ask for, you did send her….
Helene: Yes we had to uh, uh… a problem with clothing for a while
because she needed gloves sometimes and she would need a scarf or a
hat or a sweater or something because of the temperature. But later
on she uh, developed uh, I mean she had her good mind working there
again. She uh… she developed this plan of going south in the winter
and north in the summer. And uh, she also adjusted herself, mind over
matter again, to temperatures because in the very hot weather she was
still wearing that tunic. And there probably were times when there were
cold spells unexpectedly, even in warm climates. But she didn’t
seem to find it a problem. She was able to cope with it.
Claire: Did you ever worry about her out there?
Helene: Yes I did. If I read somewhere that there was somebody, a body
found in a trunk somewhere and they didn’t, couldn’t identify
it and all… if it was anywhere near where she was, I did worry.
And she laughed at me for worrying.
Helene: And my mother of course was always worrying about where she
was. But she would write and reassure her, you know. She always wrote
us very cheerful letters and all about all the things that she was doing
which you know from looking through her correspondence. And my mother,
you know, accepted it. She accepted everything. My mother was a very
accepting person. And of course she would wonder where she was. And
we would always reassure her that she was well taken care of.
Claire: You ended up with that great collection of post cards.
Claire: How did that come about?
Helene: Well, she sent me one when she was doing a hundred miles in
each state. She sent me one from each state. And she would always give
me a little write up on what she was doing there and what she saw there.
And uh, I finally got all 48 at that time. But of course she wasn’t,
hadn’t gone to Alaska and Hawaii. So uh, I had Mexico and Canada.
So when she went to Hawaii she wasn’t able to get a card the first
time. But I said, “Oh when she came back I was going to complete
my collection.” So the next time that she went she saw that I
got the card. I got from Alaska.
Claire: Now you must have noticed as the years went by that the correspondence
coming in got more and more.
Helene: Yes I did and uh, lot of names were becoming familiar you know,
the people that wrote to her frequently. But uh, I never really knew
exactly… uh what she was doing, what her connection was with these
people, whether they were providing hospitality or speaking engagements
or what. I mean what other people were doing for her I wasn’t
aware of. And I learned later that she did have people performing other
functions. And uh, she seemed to have the ability to know people well
enough to know what they were capable of doing. And she knew that’s
where I fit in. She knew that she could count on me for something routine.
Somebody else might have been bored with scratching out addresses. But
uh, it didn’t bother me as long as I knew I was accomplishing
something important to me. And I didn’t care how many hours I
worked at it.
Claire: And your little post office cooperated.
Helene: The Post Office was great. I mean by having a small post office,
it was really a big plus for the Peace Pilgrim movement… because
they were always cooperative. They always saw that her mail was forwarded
and uh, we never had any problems. And later on after she was gone,
they kept on forwarding the mail. So I have the local Post Office personnel
to thank for a lot of the uh, Peace Pilgrim program.
Claire: Now how often did she visit?
Helene: Whenever her pilgrimage brought her here.. which was about as
many years as it took. It varied, whatever it took for her to reach
the East Coast. So whenever she was in this area of course she would
Claire: And what would that be like?
Helene: Well it, it was to me in a way sometimes a little disappointing
because I never really got to talk to her too much. She was always busy
with her mail. And the first thing she would ask for was the typewriter.
And she would uh, either work in our sun room or she would be outside.
And uh… you know she was so busy that even on holidays…
if she happened to be there on a holiday, we could be celebrating a
holiday and she would come have dinner with us. But she would go immediately
back to work. And we just didn’t ever get a chance to discuss
her pilgrimage too much.
Claire: Dale referred to her as Aunt Vegetarian.
Helene: Oh really, I wasn’t aware of that. (laughter)
Claire: But what would you feed her?
Helene: Vegetarian food of course. We saw that she had a vegetarian
diet. If we had meat she just wouldn’t eat it.
Claire: Would she wear her tunic around the house?
Helene: Well in the very beginning she didn’t wear the tunic…
because in the early years when Jeanne was small she was a little sensitive
to her being different… ‘til she got old enough to realize
that she was… to be one of our clan she had to be herself and
not to be concerned about being different. And uh, my mother living
with her sister and brother created a problem there because my uncle,
my mother’s brother, really didn’t approve of her pilgrimage.
He thought that she should be looking after her mother and uh, taking
a job and providing for her mother’s support.
Claire: This was Uncle Louie?
Helene: Uncle Louie.
Claire: Tell me about the trip to Florida.
Helene: Well she and Uncle Louie went on a trip to Florida. Oh, yes,
they got along fine then you know. It was uh, only when she became Peace
Pilgrim that he disapproved. Uh, when they went to Florida… of
course Uncle Louie wasn’t a skeptic but Aunt Lizzie was a little
bit on the superstitious side. She had gone to a fortuneteller because
they were having floods in the south at that time and people were having
difficulties getting through to Florida. So she went to the fortuneteller
and the fortuneteller said that they were not going to be able to reach
their destination. So she was convinced that they were not going to
be able to get to Florida. But they left anyway. Uncle Louie would not
believe that story. Uh, he was not superstitious. So… they went
and when they got to… I believe it was Georgia, somewhere uh,
wherever the flooding occurred they were told the roads were all closed
and there was no way to get through. And so of course Aunt Lizzie was
ready to turn back. The fortuneteller said that was the way it would
be. But Mildred was not going to accept that. She wanted to prove the
fortuneteller wrong more than anything. And she was determined they
were going to get to Florida by hook or by crook. So she booked passage
on a plane, uh on a boat from Savanna, Georgia… that’s right,
it was Georgia. So the boat left from Savanna ,Georgia. So they took
the boat from Savanna and they went to Florida.
Claire: Now who all was on this trip?
Helene: Well it was Uncle Louie and Aunt Lizzie, my mother’s brother
and sister, and Uncle Louie’s friend Bertha (*) was her name,
Claire: And I also forgot to ask you if after your father died, your
mother had some difficulties and then she moved to Atlantic City. Can
you tell me about that?
Helene: Well my mother had, of course, it was a severe shock to her.
And uh, she was completely devastated because it was… naturally
it wasn’t anything that she expected. You know. It was an accident.
And uh she was a basket case. So she was vulnerable to everything. She
got uh, she got the, she got mumps, a childhood disease. She got the
mumps. She was living with us. And of course there was a lot of pro
and con arguments about how they were going to get along you know. And
uh… there was a small, in those days a thousand dollars was a
lot of money. And this was what the employment compensation or something
paid. Uh, and there was a little controversy about who was going to
get that. So my mother was... she was really, I guess this was maybe
how she died because she developed a brain tumor. And uh, so uh…
the local doctors couldn’t diagnose it. They thought that she
had stomach trouble. And uh… so she went down to Atlantic City
to stay with her sister. And uh, she took her to her doctor. And he
immediately had her looked at by various other doctors. And they determined
that she had a brain tumor. And so, of course, that was a (*) thing
but she came out of it.
Claire: And then she went to live with….
Helene: She lived with them. She stayed with her sister.
Claire: Which one?
Helene: Lizzie. Aunt Lizzie.
Claire: But there was another sister.
Helene: Oh well the other sister was in Philadelphia.
Claire: Aunt Lisa.
Helene: Yes she was in Philadelphia. She just visited occasionally.
Claire: All right now, but your mother went on and lived till?
Claire: Tell me about your mother.
Helene: My mother had a very strong constitution. And she was the type
of person who took life easy. I mean she didn’t… she would
say she worried about things and all but she didn’t really get
that uptight about things. She wasn’t an “A” personality.
Claire: Tell me about her 97th birthday. Who all was there?
Helene: Well the 97th birthday fortunately, Peace Pilgrim was near and
came for her 97th birthday and also Alfred who was living in Florida
happened to be visiting. So that we had our family, what was left of
it together. We had our pictures taken then and I was very happy because
it was her last birthday and the last time we saw Peace Pilgrim.
Claire: Tell me how you heard that Peace Pilgrim had died?
Helene: Well I got a phone call from my husband. Uh, at work and he
came to pick me up. And of course it was a shock. I just always felt
that she was going to outlive me. I really never thought that I would
ever survive her. Because to me I didn’t think that anything would
ever happen to her at that point. I’d worried so much about her
through the years and she always seemed to be able to take care of herself
so well that I just felt that she was indestructible I guess you know.
I mean a lot of people felt that way. A lot of people just couldn’t
accept that she was mortal you know. (Laughter)
Claire: Uh, how did you uh, …decide to have her cremated?
Helene: Well we got a phone call from the funeral parlor. And they recommended
it. And we were under the impression that she was so badly hurt that
it wouldn’t be… that she wouldn’t be a good subject
for uh, uh for having a viewing. And then there was the problem of transportation.
And they said that cremation would be the best solution. And they would
send the ashes, because otherwise we would have the expense of bringing
the body home and all. And they didn’t, she had no insurance or
anything, you know…there was no…. And I knew she wouldn’t
object to cremation because uh, because we had thought about having
my father cremated. But my mother didn’t want it but everybody
in the family thought that would be the way to go.
Claire: Hold on just a second. (Cough) (*) All right. We’re on
the home stretch here.
Helene: It’s getting very dark.
David: Yeah, very dark. We’re losing it.
Claire: I’ve just got a few more questions. Tell me when it’s
David: It’s okay now.
Claire: So you made a decision to have a very simple….
Helene: We just had a very simple ceremony here with just our family
and the cousin of Eugene’s who I knew would be interested in coming.
And (*) minister as a matter of fact. And uh, here at the local cemetery
we just got permission to put the ashes over where Aunt Lissette, (*)
for whom her middle name, after whom she was named and that’s
where her ashes are today.
Claire: Now the Rushes were a big help.
Helene: I don’t know what I would have done without Ann and John
Rush. They called when they heard about it. They happened to be in Bloomington
visiting their children up in New Hampshire. And they said they would
come down. And I really… I was a basket case there because I was
so inundated with mail and calls and people coming out of the woodwork
that I had no idea uh… that I didn’t’ know and didn’t
know that she was connected with. You know it was just that I was such
at a loss. I didn’t know what to do. And uh, Eugene decided to
help me. But he didn’t have really too much knowledge of it all.
And so if Ann and John hadn’t taken over, I don’t know what
would have happened to the Peace Pilgrim program. They have really,
they have just taken over where she left off. I just feel like Ann has
stepped right into her shoes.
Claire: Have you read the book?
Helene: I have read in the book, yes. Every once in a while I pick it
up. It’s right on my library shelf. Every once in a while I pick
it up. I’ll read some here. I’ll read some there. But I’ve
never really… because I am not someone who will sit down and read
a book from cover to cover. Uh, and my eyes give out and I fall asleep
over it… I just can’t read too long. I uh, I have read,
probably have read most of it, but not in (*).
Claire: Did you ever hear her speak?
Helene: Just once. Just once I heard her speak because it happened…we
never at the time that she was Peace Pilgrim… we never would speak
to other people about her because she wanted to be anonymous. She never
appeared in this area too much. But we did mention to friends who knew
her before, who went to school with her and all. And a friend of Eugene’s
was visiting us. And we were talking about the peace issue. And we got
on the subject. And we mentioned what she was doing. And she mentioned
it to her minister at the (*) church who was very interested in the
peace movement. And so he requested that she come to speak.
Claire: What did you think of her?
Helene: Well I had, I, I had heard her speak over television before…
whenever she was on the news before. And I wasn’t, I knew what
uh, her speaking side was. But the only thing that I did feel badly
about was then they asked her to speak to the Sunday School… a
very small church. And there just was no way that she could not relate
to them. How was she going to speak about peace to children who don’t
even know what peace is all about? And uh, she uh , I mean if she had
been a child oriented person she would have spoken to them about living
together peacefully or so forth. But she wasn’t in to that. She
didn’t know how to relate to or speak to small children. So she
spoke on a more adult level which of course went over their heads.
Claire: Just because we are losing light I just need to jump into the
last question. We do have that from your story from before. What does
it feel like to be related to someone who compares to Gandhi?
Helene: Well I tell you that it is a good feeling. I mean I’m
very happy to know that uh, that she had accomplished what she had.
And of course I am very proud to be her sister.
Claire: It’s amazing what the impact after her death.
Helene: That’s right. I mean it amazes me more and more as time
goes on. It really does. I mean at first it left me you know, speechless.
But now (cricket noises drown out words here)
Claire: If you could see Peace Pilgrim and you could say one thing to
her, what would you like to say to her?
Helene: What would I like to say to her? Well I really don’t know
what I would say to her. It would depend on the circumstance under which
Claire: Would you say “Kid” or would you call her “Peace”?
Helene: Oh I would call her Peace now because that’s the name
that I… that she adopted and the name that I referred to her as
later. If you’ll notice in our discourse here every once in a
while I’ll say Peace instead of Mildred because this is what I
had become used to calling her.
Claire: Well just imagine that her spirit is right here with us now.
Is there anything you would like to say to her?
Helene: You sort of putting me on the spot.
Claire: Yes I am (laughter)
Helene: Because I just don’t know what I would say to her.
Claire: I think I’m done. Oh, I have one more question. One more
question. Are we on? I’m sorry. Who in your family is the most…takes
the most after Mildred?
Helene: Well in my immediate family, Jeanne is the most like her.
Claire: How so?
Helene: Well she has a very exuberant personality. And she has a good
mind and uh, she… uh social… very much involved with people
and uh, she uh… is uh I mean she is just uh… I feel she
even looked a little like her when she was a baby. I just feel that
she is intellectually more on her level, you know.
Claire: Well I can’t think of anything more, Gig. Do you have
any questions that you would like to ask?
Gigi: How much light do we have?
Man’s voice: Zip.
Helene: I hope Dale doesn’t hear me say that. I mean because…
Claire: Except we know we need to allow him to bridge into the interview.
Helene: Because I wouldn’t want to hurt my little boy’s
Claire: Well we will make sure that we don’t hurt his feelings.
Helene: Because he’s my baby you know and being a baby and being
a boy… I relate to boys. I (laughter) I just wouldn’t want
to hurt him in any way.
Man’s voice: Did you ever think that she would have the impact
that she had? Did you ever conceive of this, her message going worldwide?
Helene: I would never have thought that, no. I mean I knew she was capable
of doing what she did. But I didn’t realize that she would have
that much impact. No.
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