The 1975 Year in Review started out with a statement saying that some people think the movement in general and LEPOCO in particular is not doing much anymore, but we knew better and gave a pretty impressive list of activities for the year.
Sometime in 1974/75 seven people moved into a collective living situation in West Bethlehem on Westminster Street. They chose to call it Westminster Abbey. The initial seven were all LEPOCO members and they included Tim Laidman, Gail Meyer, Nancy Tate, Tom Stinnett, Al Fladd, Tom Hill and Charlene Krueger. Later Charlene left and was replaced by Tory Rhodin. After two years of renting they decided to buy a house in Freemansburg. The house was purchased by six individuals with Tory and Al leaving and replaced by Joe DeRaymond. They chose to call themselves “The Quite Early Morning Collective” (QEMC) after a song by Pete Seeger. The house continued to be a hub of many LEPOCO activities until the early 80’s. It was sold to the Joe DeRaymond family after Joe’s sudden death.
We leafleted in Allentown on the second anniversary of the Vietnam Peace Accords. Sixteen LEPOCO members participated in the assembly to save the peace agreement in D.C, On April 30th of 1975, the Thieu regime was overthrown in Vietnam. We had a Vietnamese dinner and discussion with Elaine Fuller. We participated in a panel on Vietnamese refugees at the Easton YWCA. We leafleted for amnesty for resisters, not just Ford’s amnesty of Nixon.
We held a 10th anniversary dinner (which ultimately became an annual event) with William Sloane Coffin as the speaker.
We elected Clarke Chapman as our Chairman in 1975. We had programs on the Middle East, India, China (with William Hinton) and Nuclear War (with Bill Davidon).
We sent Ursula Wuerth as a LEPOCO delegate to the Women’s Disarmament Conference in New York City. Nancy Tate represented LEPOCO at the SAVE Conference in New York City on the Arms Race and the Economic Crisis.
We became more involved in the Farm Workers movement. Gail Meyer started working for the Farm Workers Union and attended their convention in California. Five LEPOCO members were arrested in Dorneyville leafleting at a Laneco. These arrests were thrown out by the local Justice of the Peace because he determined that ruling in favor of the charges would mean he could not pass out his election brochures when he had to run for election again.
1976 being the Bicentennial year for the U.S. brought about many activities including joining the Continental Walk for Disarmament and Social Justice. We had a mini-walk in the Lehigh Valley, a feeder walk to Philadelphia, and extensive participation in the final activities in D.C.
We created a Peace Conversion Fair in September which was held on the Bethlehem City Plaza between the Library and City Hall. It involved a large “machine” into which you could load war making items in one side and out of the other end would come more peaceful items. We also assembled a Peace Conversion Coloring Book and the Utopia Game.
On March 27th, FBI Chief Clarence Kelley came to Muhlenberg College to speak at a symposium on crime. Several LEPOCO members passed out leaflets, and when we were ordered off the campus five members decided to stay. They were eventually arrested by the Allentown Police and became known as the “Muhlenberg Five”. This arrest was eventually appealed all the way to the State Supreme Court by Don Miles (their attorney) and was finally ruled on in their favor in 1981. Much activity happened over the five years it took to settle this case.
LEPOCO started the Peace Library in 1976. We also had programs with various speakers on various topics throughout the year.
Mike Schlosser and Debbie White were elected as Co-Chairs in 1977. LEPOCO began to actively oppose Nuclear Power and produced a statement in opposition. During these years LEPOCO held four weekend retreats to work on what we wanted to concentrate on, and we formed many Working Groups to work on Food Issues, Socialism, Nuclear Issues, Counter-Recruitment, South Africa and Military Spending.
Activities included a major fight locally to stop the proposed Trexler Dam. Member Jeff Vitelli composed the fine tune, “The Ballad of Trexler Dam”. In 1977 LEPOCO testified at Trexler Dam hearings and later Lehigh County Council voted it down 3:1. Nine members went to New Hampshire to support the Seabrook Campaign and two joined the occupiers.
The second ten years of LEPOCO’s existence involved an annual fundraiser at the Bethlehem City Fair and our lemonade sales became a major fundraiser until ArtsQuest took over the fair and later stopped it. We placed several ads in the newspaper against the B-1 Bomber, Berwick Nuke, and for the Mobilization for Survival goals with people’s names listed. During these years we started passing out leaflets at post offices on Tax Day, which continues to current times.
In 1978 LEPOCO held a general meeting in March featuring Dave Cortright of SANE as the speaker. This became the first of our Annual Dinners in March with special speakers which has continued throughout the years.
In January “The Spectre of Death” (Reggie Regrut) was harassed and arrested in Easton and subsequently vindicated. Later “The Spectre of Death” got national attention at Barnwell, South Carolina. During 1978 we sent four people to the nuclear processing facility in Barnwell, 50+ people to a rally for disarmament in NYC, six people to a sit-in for survival at the US Mission to the U.N., 10 people to a rally and action against the Limerick Nuke, five people to a rally at Seabrook, N.H. nuclear power site, various numbers of people to action at NRC in D.C., an ERA rally in D.C., the “Longest Walk”, Mobilization for Survival National Conference in Iowa (and lots of regional MfS meetings regionally), Anti-Spying Conference in Michigan, Arms Expo Demonstration in D.C., Year of the Child activities at the Pentagon.
1979 involved support for the Tocks Island squatters and the eventual stopping of the Tocks Island Dam. LEPOCO started to first get involved in Alternative Energy such as Solar Power and Windmills in this year.
In 1979, the Three Mile Island disaster occurred and for several days some members evacuated to travel to Virginia to Nancy Tate’s homeplace. In May we had five buses travel to a “No More Harrisburgs” march on D.C. (100,000 people attended), followed by lobbying our senators to stop Nuclear Power.
Due to a fire in our office at 14 West Broad Street in Bethlehem, we had to move out of the office and for a few months the office furnctioned out of QEMC in Freemansburg. On May 26, 1979 we moved to a new office at 555 Main Street (above Woolworths). The office was much larger than the office on Broad Street. It gave us a separate room to put the printing press, and allowed us to expand the Peace Library. We had a grand opening October 20th.
The Annual Dinner speaker in 1979 was Terry Provance.
On June 3, 1979, a major rally against the Berwick Nuke was held. LEPOCO took several buses there. We had been involved closely with the Susquehanna Alliance Against the Nuke and took on responsibility for training marshals to facilitate parking, disseminate information, keep order, provide first aid, accommodate speakers, etc. We recruited approximately 60 people to do this.
On October 13, 1979, the International Year of the Child Demonstration for Disarmament was held in D.C. and several LEPOCO members attended. In November, we had a Potluck and Politics (P&P) on Iran which became the first of many such program to inform our members on various subjects and they continue until today.
In 1980, we had several P&P’s on issues from China, Political Art, to Nuclear victims. We created a Nuclear Study Group in Allentown and in Easton in addition to the one we already had in Bethlehem. Midway through the year we revamped the newsletter with a new format with the help of Steve Kraft who worked at the time for the Bethlehem GlobeTimes.
In 1980 we travelled to the Pentagon four times: April 28th – Coalition for a Non-Nuclear World, May 5-10 – Election Year Presence, November 17th – Women’s Pentagon Action, and December 28-31 – Year End Presence. We also rallied at the Berwick and Limerick Nuclear sites. We marched against the Draft and Militarism in Allentown and Bethlehem on four occasions and in Harrisburg and D.C. We also protested the participation of Henry Kissinger at Lehigh University’s graduation.
We continued our work against Nuclear Power by attending various events involving PPL and Met-Ed. We continued to sell lots of lemonade at the Bethlehem City Fair. Our Annual Dinner speaker was Dave McReynolds of the War Resisters League and the Socialist Party.
In 1981 when the Reaganites celebrated in January, we did also with a Counter-Inaugural Party (A Celebration of Commitment). While the government reorganized, so did LEPOCO. In order to make our operation more democratic we revised our constitution and our bylaws. We formed working groups on El Salvador and Nuclear Power. 1981 was the year in which the Muhlenberg 5 decision by the PA Supreme Court came down in favor of free speech.
Sold more lemonade at the Bethlehem City Fair. Our Annual Dinner speaker was Dave Dellinger. We held a “Ground Zero” concert in October at Godfrey Daniels featuring Fred Small, a lawyer turned singer from Massachusetts. This was in conjunction with Disarmament Week. We held a candelight march in Allentown on December 2nd to remember the four Maryknoll nuns killed in El Salvador.
In 1982 LEPOCO concentrated on the following issues:
We spent a large portion of the year on activities around the Second Special Session on Disarmament at the U.N. We sponsored several buses and took 300 people to NYC for a huge rally on June 12th and had a Lehigh Valley Affinity Group of 15 people (named MIR) for a civil disobedience action on June 14th. We had a “Bread Not Bombs” walk for Hiroshima/Nagasaki days. We flew the Peace Bird in the Bethlehem and Allentown Halloween Parades.
In March we joined a national march in D.C. We arranged speaking engagements for Father Allbert Reymann and Philip Wheaton. We collected 1,300 signatures on petitions calling for an end to military aid for El Salvador. On December 2nd we remembered the slaughter of four Americans and thousands of Salvadorans with a vigil and commemorative service. Barbara Lloyd returned from a two week visit to a refugee camp of El Salvadorans in Honduras and described how bad the situation was.
Committee Against Registration and the Draft
We counseled young people on the draft. We leafleted area high schools and presented programs on the draft. We held a rally in July to support those resisters who were indicted for their refusal to register. We went to D. C. to support protest activities at the Selective Service Office in October.
We organized around hearings and legal proceedings involving Met-Ed and PPL. A Safe Energy Film Festival was held in March. We worked against PPL’s rate hike to pay for the Berwick Nuke.
Our Annual Dinner speaker was Leslie Gagan. We had Potluck (or Pretzels) and Politics on Cuba, Three Mile Island, El Salvador, Soviet Union and Lebanon. We had a “State of the Dis-Union” party in January to raise money. We designed, printed and sold t-shirts with LEPOCO’s logo on them. We sold lots of lemonade at the Bethlehem City Fair and at Allentown’s Super Sunday. We held a Labor History Film Festival in March.
We formed the LEPOCO Peace Chorus in 1982 and it continues today. We had another retreat in October to consider where we had been and where we wanted to go. We worked with many other groups in the valley during 1982.
The ERA failed to pass in 1982, Bernie Berg ran for Congress and wars began or continued all over Central America.
LEPOCO members join the Point Pleasant Blockade to “Dump the Pump” construction, and later the “Vote Yes to Dump the Pump” won a victory at the polls in Bucks County where several LEPOCO members helped out. We had another “State of the Dis-Union” party featuring Bob Dorough at Godfrey Daniels. We had a packed house. We began a Foreign Policy Film Series and began with films on East Timor and Korea.
We learned in February that Leslie Cole (who was in the military at the time) had gone to see a film about Gandhi and had then refused an order which got her court-martialed and jailed. LEPOCO CARD (Committee Against Registration and the Draft) members worked hard for her release.
LEPOCO’s Annual Dinner speaker was Paul Mayer. The Central American Working Group sponsored Gould and Sterns play “Life of a Peasant in El Salvador.” LEPOCO convened a local Jobs with Peace meeting attended by 40 peace and labor activists. We held a conference on Feminism and Militarism which drew 80 participants and praise from all who attended. After numerous visits by LEPOCO members, Northampton County Council adopted a LEPOCO supported resolution prohibiting county funds from being used for civil defense planning for nuclear war.
In July, Barbara and Tom Lloyd, Arlene Wallach, and Phyllis Perna joined a peace delegation to Nicaragua and returned with many inspiring stories. We encouraged and helped with WRL’s (War Resisters League) 60th Anniversary Conference at Lafayette College. At the end of July, eight LEPOCO women travelled to the Seneca Falls Encampments to protest the deployment of the Cruise and Pershing II missiles.
For Hiroshima/Nagasaki Days, we held programs on three different days in three cities, and we placed 20,000 door hangers on people’s doors throughout the valley, warning of Euromissiles. LEPOCO took part in a broad coalition and sent six buses to the 20th Anniversary of the Marin Luther King March on Washington.
We held a rally in Allentown to stop the war in Nicaragua, which drew 100 people. We took a bus to Philadelphia for a rally against the Euromissiles. We held Draft Counselor Training, which was attended by 13 people.
Nancy Tate brings a cruise missile to a Peace Parade in Allentown for protection. The Volvo powered cruise had very efficient ground following capabilities but failed to offer more than the illusion of security. The parade was a success, moving from Allentown to Bethlehem and then forming a human Peace Sign at the Bethlehem Fair Grounds.
The U.S. invaded Grenada in late October, and we responded with letters and a speakout in Bethlehem.
On November 1st, Woolworths informed us they were not renewing our lease and as it turned out they were giving the space to the stock broker that already were in part of the building. We once again called on Don Miles to negotiate with Woolworths to get us a couple of months longer to find a new office, and he also helped draft our new lease. In February 1984, LEPOCO moved from Main Street to 313 West Fourth Street on the south side of Bethlehem. This remains our office in 2016 (32 years later).
We sent a bus to a Washington rally against intervention in Central America. We supplied the stage banner and a staff person for this rally.
We held a send-off party for Joe DeRaymond, John August, Barry Lally and Phyllis Perna, who were going to Nicaragua to assist with the coffee bean harvest.
Our finances improved with the starting of the pledge system we have today. Getting regular checks from several individuals on a monthly or quarterly basis helped stabilize our income at this time. It also helped that in the fall of 1984 we received our 501(c)3 approval from the federal government thus allowing for a tax deduction for gifts to LEPOCO. Our Annual Dinner speaker was Grace Paley.
In March during Central America Week, we had a congressional candidate forum moderated by State Senator Henry Messinger. We went to Washington for a rally and then visits to our Senators Heinz and Spector. The Central America Working Group (CAWG) participated in mass civil disobedience in June at the Federal Building in NYC. CAWG members made many calls to Washington to urge them to end the covert war in Nicaragua. The CAWG convenors during this time were Arlene Wallach and Bill Buskirk. During 1984, we activated the Pledge of Resistance and the Pledge of Witness and Support, should the U.S. invade Nicaragua or El Salvador. We ultimately ended up with over 40 folks agreeing to civil disobedience and over 60 others agreeing to offer support. We held seven or eight Potluck and Politics during the year on various subjects. In April we helped out IRPC (Interfaith Peace Resource Center) with a concert with Bright Morning Star, which was held at Foy Concert Hall. In October, we had a concert at Jacobsburg Park featuring Bob Dorough and Marcia Taylor (of Bright Morning Star). Dave Fry was the M.C. Dave and Jeff Vitelli also sang some songs.
What a busy 10 years since the end of the Vietnam War. We were involved in so many activities.