This afternoon I'm being interviewed at the Oakland Museum for an oral history series being produced this spring on past housing discrimination as experienced by African Americans ... .
So it's back to plain clothes and out of my "Oracle of Port Chicago" role (a growing feeling these days) and back into my own persona and therefore the little black suit that is supposed to guarantee anonymity, though I'm not sure that does the job anymore.
I'm now regularly stopped on the streets by perfect strangers who want to tell me that I've popped up on their televisions screens, and all that goes with that. I suppose that it's a function of aging, but I really do lose sight of what all this public exposure means and of how one begins to be pulled off one's base by outside expectations. Were I younger, I'm fairly certain that the human wish to please would play a powerful role in altering my self-image by creating an inflated ego. But it's too late for those pressures to have much effect at this point since I'm so strongly self-defined after so many years of testing by trial and error and tripping over the cow pies in the road of life!
I'd be less than honest if I didn't admit that it's all very flattering, but it also has a comic edge to it that helps me to remain focused. The entire idea of an 88 year-old park ranger sounds preposterous, doesn't it? Except, that I truly believe that my life experience, my continuing ability to provide the services required of my position; and my day-to-day productivity makes its own statement. That statement being that age may be totally irrelevant in determining the ability of the human animal to contribute to society even in these advanced years. If the belated media attention supports that, then it may be deserved -- not only for me but for my generation of extraordinary ordinary people.
The downside may be that I've lived long enough to be able to view my wrinkles in HD-TV; and what a jarring spectacle that is!
Photo: Top - working with the Careth Bomar Reid/E.F. Joseph photo collection at her home. Bottom- taken at the Mardi Gras celebration at Nevin Park in the Iron Triangle of Richmond, California. It's that time of year -- enjoy!