Rider on the Storm
Expanded and updated from the 1-14-07 Daily Sparks (Nev.) Tribune
Northern Nevada Freedom Riders Remembered
rider Erma Arvilla Rupp Fritchen dies
Memorial service Saturday 25 July 2015, Sparks United Methodist Church, 1231 Pyramid Way
Reno Gazette-Journal 7-23-2015
There's nothing left but to take it to the people.
Sen. Eugene McCarthy, D-Minn., in announcing his presidential candidacy in 1967
"'How is the Senator this morning?' someone asked McCarthy's daughter, Mary, in 1968. 'Oh! Alienated as usual,' she replied.
"But McCarthy's willingness to stick his neck out, and to oppose the Vietnam War, in defiance of both the Democratic Party machine and of the notoriously vindictive President Johnson, bestowed a powerful romantic aura," the UK Telegraph reported at McCarthy's death in 2005.
"His stand was in contrast to that of Senator George McGovern of South Dakota, who felt that it would be unwise to oppose the President in a year when he himself was up for re-election as Senator. Likewise, Senator Robert Kennedy refused at first to prejudice his presidential ambitions by striking at the crown too early. For McCarthy the die was cast when the Attorney-General declared that the President need not necessarily obtain the consent of Congress before declaring war.
"'There's nothing left but to take it to the people,' he declared, in announcing his candidacy."
Where exists a leader with such courage today?
Right now, we have none. All we can do is search for role models to embolden the flaccid opposition.
In the United States Senate
Congressional Record 7-30-2015
REMEMBERING ERMA ARVILLA
Mr. REID. Mr. President, I rise today
to recognize the life of Erma Arvilla
Rupp Fritchen. Ms. Fritchen devoted
her life to justice, notably as a Freedom
Rider in the summer of 1963.
Ms. Fritchen was born and raised in
Reno, NV. She strove to be the first in
her family to graduate from high
school, but nothing was handed to her.
Erma worked to pay the rent and still
managed to graduate from Reno High
School in 1948. Following high school,
she pursued adult education classes in
psychology before moving to Fort
Benning, GA, as a military wife. When
she arrived in Fort Benning, she was
shocked by the racial disparities in her
After moving back to Nevada, Erma
began attending college while also raising
her two children on her own. Education
and family were important to
her, but she was never too busy to take
a stand for the principles she believed
in. When she had the opportunity to
make a difference by joining a civil
rights caravan headed for Washington,
DC, in 1963, she jumped at the opportunity
and added her voice to the Freedom
Rider demonstrations that were
taking place throughout the country.
Through her years of fighting for justice
and equality, Ms. Fritchen proved
that everyone can do their part if they
work and fight hard enough. I appreciate
her dedication to her five sons
and contributions to making our country
a better place.
I nominate Erma Fritchen.
Never heard of her? If you live in these parts, she has impacted your life in some manner every day. Babies have been able to eat and grow, people have been able to find work and the community is a bit less harsh because Erma's been here for most of the past century.
Today, she lives quietly in an immaculate apartment about two blocks northeast of Shelly's Hardware in the Greenbrae Shopping Center. Now 76, she's a one-person history book of the progression of the community and the nation. Her life provides both achievements and admonitions.
First and foremost, the mother of five fears for a grandson scheduled to soon risk his life on the bloody oil sands of Araby.
"He sold his soul or his life for a $30,000 signing bonus," she sighs.
In many ways, it's as hard to secure an education today as it was when Erma Arvilla Rupp struggled toward that goal.
Erma's letter on sex ed
Mother of Five Favors Sex Education for Young
The argument over where there should be sex education in the schools is as tedious as whether Gov. Laxalt should have flown to Washington in Howard Hughes' airplane or should we have a red line.
However, it is quite well recognized that those who favor abolition of any reference in school to how in the world we all got here are the most vocal, and get the most "mileage" because they are the loudest.
So, even though the sex education debate is one that is beginning to wear on the nerves, it is hard to ignore the opinion of someone who comes, occasionally, to the defense of those who would let our young people in on some of the facts of life.
And, most especially, to someone who, while presenting that defense, does so with a completely different premise to support it than has traditionally been employed.
Thus, then, in a spirit of perversity, we quote from a letter to the editor of a mature woman who is now on the campus of the university.
She writes: "Should we have sex education in schools?
"I wish I would have had sex education in school as a child. I am a 39-year-old student at the University of Nevada, attending school under the Nevada State Vocational Rehabilitation Program.
"I received my first sex education course in college and it came 30 years too late, with five marriages behind me and five sons to raise alone.
"Keep paying your taxes, unbelievers in sex education.
"An ADC (Aid to Families with Dependent Children) welfare recipient."
All of which goes to show that there are usually more things to consider in any public question than meet the eye.
Nevada State Journal
The Sparks-Reno of the 1940's was not kind to young girls of humble means and expanding minds. She was ordered to terminate her education and work. Erma insisted that she wanted to be the first in her family to graduate from high school.
Because she wasn't supporting the household, the teenaged Erma was forced to find a waitress job, rent an apartment and go to school half-days.
She graduated from Reno High in 1948 and continued in adult education classes. She fortunately took a psychology course from legendary educator Bud Beasley.
"He said 'I don't want to see you in adult ed anymore. I'm sending your transcripts to the university,'" Erma recalls.
Love and marriage intervened. As a young military wife at Fort Benning, Georgia, in the early 1950's, Erma was aghast at the treatment of black people.
The apartheid sickened her.
She recalls that it was better back home, but we were not immune. It wasn't until the late 1950's that black people were allowed into Reno casinos and nightclubs.
Erma was soon a single mother, back home with limited prospects.
"I started going to single parent meetings and that's how I decided to go to college and feed my children better," she remembers.
Where racial prejudice may have been less obvious here in the ertswhile Mississippi West, the young mother had witnessed its baldfaced ugliness in the deep south. So her full plate of school and family soon had a heaping helping of civil rights spooned on top.
Nevada activist Eddie Scott was putting together a car caravan to head for Washington, DC, in the summer of 1963 for a mass gathering at the Lincoln Memorial organized by civil rights legends Bayard Rustin and A. Philip Randolph, head of the sleeping car porters union.
Erma joined about 20 locals who slept on the floor of a black church in Selma, Ala., where a local seamstress named Rosa Parks brought food to feed the travelers. Erma took part in freedom rider demonstrations on the way to DC and on the way back in towns large and small.
She and her colleagues met with Nevada's congressional delegation in DC and galvanized action to establish a local food program.
"I felt I should have the opportunity to go to school and support my kids," the mother of five sons recalls.
Erma obtained a student loan and earned bachelor's degree in education and a master's in special education. She taught special ed in Gerlach for more than 20 years until her retirement. She also earned a divinity degree and practiced as a minister.
She worked with civil rights and human rights leaders demonstrating at the Nevada legislature for better treatment of single mothers, even showing up one time in the Sixties with tin cups to dramatize their plight.
The insults and epithets started and never stopped flying against a drop-dead gorgeous white woman (think Sarah Jessica Parker with Bobbie Gentry's hair) advocating for welfare mothers and black people: "You should be ashamed of yourself. Get out of the streets and get a job."
The unkindest cut came when her own family disowned her after the March on Washington. It took until her last year of college for the rift to begin healing.
"They thought I was a bum on welfare going to school and going to Washington with black people," she matter-of-factly states.
Others saw her potential and took up the slack. Fabled Reno restaurateur Miguel Ribera frequently drove her to college classes. Erma and Miguel worked on the overnight construction of Pat Baker Park in northeast Reno, built as a symbol of racial tolerance.
Erma Fritchen proudly displays a 1969 Nevada State Journal editorial quoting her on the need for sex education in schools.
While an employee of John Ascuaga's Nugget, she was the centerpiece model in a chamber of commerce photo promoting the 1966 Sparks Fireman's Association Fourth of July event next to the casino.
The newspaper shot shows her in a tug-of war between local officials including chamber manager Bill Johnson, Mayor Chet Christensen, realtor (and future Sertoma International District Governor) Pat Higgins and Sparks firemen.
Recent BARBWIRE Media Hits
and Ego Trips
The Dean of Reno Bloggers could very well be Andrew Barbano, self-described "fighter of public demons," who started putting his "Barbwire" columns online in 1996 and now runs 10 sites.
RENO NEWS & REVIEW, 11-9-2006
BARBANO: Nevada's newly-hiked minimum wage is nowhere near enough
Reno Gazette-Journal, 11-11-2006
She even sang with "Bill Bowman and the Tune Tailors."
Today at 3:00 p.m., Erma will be honored at the annual interfaith community King Day memorial event at the Second Baptist Church, 1265 Montello in Reno a few blocks from where she was born.
The great-grandmother does not choose to remain silent. She deplores the huge expenditures the nation makes on war to the detriment of the educations of people like her endangered grandson.
If ever there existed an example of the rich return society receives from investing in its citizens, look no further than the life of Erma Arvilla Rupp Fritchen.
STOP THE KILLING. Bringing articles of impeachment against Bush and Cheney is the strongest action available against last week's escalation of the Asian War. Conviction may not be possible in a senate where jilted Joe Lieberman rules, but impeachment can serve to distract the empire from full-time warmongering.
Be well. Raise hell.
Johnson, Chalmers; REPUBLIC OR EMPIRE? A National Intelligence Estimate on the United States; Harper's magazine; January, 2007; (not available online for several months, if at all). I love it when heavy hitters validate what I've been saying for years in the tiny Sparks Tribune.
Barlett, Donald L. and Steele, James B.; America: What Went Wrong? (1992); America: Who Really Pays the Taxes? (1994); America: Who Stole the Dream? (1996) ; Andrews & McMeel/Universal Press Syndicate. For additional comments on the work of the two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning team, use the NevadaLabor.com search engine and sweep for "Barlett."
The Orwell Diversion by Alex Carey
Excerpted from the book available below
ORDER Taking the Risk Out of Democracy
Corporate Propaganda versus Freedom and Liberty
By Alex Carey
Edited by Andrew Lohrey
Foreword by Noam Chomsky
University of Illinois Press
SEE ALSO: Lapham, Lewis H.; Tentacles of Rage: The Republican Propaganda Mill, A Brief History; Harper's Magazine cover article; September, 2004, page 32.
By one conservative estimate, the corporate right has spent about $3 billion over the past three decades manufacturing public opinion to suit big business goals. Lapham's number covered the early 1970's to the present day. Alex Carey noted that by 1948, anti- New Deal corporate propaganda expenditures had already reached $100 million per year, not adjusted for inflation, for advertising alone. (Carey, ibid; page 79)
Adjusted for inflation, that 1948 $100 million becomes $801,659,751.04 in 2005 dollars.
Conservatives Help Wal-Mart, and Vice Versa
As Wal-Mart struggles to rebut growing criticism, it has discovered a reliable ally: conservative research groups.
New York Times 9-8-2006; Free registration may be required
BARBWIRE: Labor Day '94: People vs. corporate con job, 9-4-94
Chilling forecasts from Alex Carey
BARBWIRE: The Nevada Republican Party Becomes Communist, 3-30-97
A prescient Plato on the dangers of oligarchy
The sands of time do not cloud the long memories of the sheiks of Araby
Rinfret, Pierre A.; Peace is Bullish; Look magazine, 5-31-1966
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Copyright © 2007 Andrew Barbano
Andrew Barbano is a 38-year Nevadan and editor of NevadaLabor.com. Barbwire by Barbano has originated in the Daily Sparks (Nev.) Tribune since 1988.
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