Dennis Jackson’s family rented an Old Mill home in the summer of 1950. They moved here that fall, and in 1956 moved to “the middle of nowhere”: North Avenue.
Dennis’s brothers and friends camped out in the large woods across the street, until it was cleared to build “a fancy new high school.”
Dennis was in the first graduating class — 1958 — at nearby Burr Farms Elementary. Three years later he joined a young Gordon Joseloff and others in forming an AM radio station called WWPT.
Mentored in radio by a friendly Staples High physics teacher named Nick Georgis, Dennis designed and built a small AM/FM transmitter. He still has it.
He graduated from Staples in 1964, and went to RPI. In 1967 “the allure of Westport life and Westport girls proved irresistible,” so Dennis came back.
He worked at Norden; helped start the new WWPT-FM at Staples; got an MBA at UConn; did a morning show on WMMM/WDJF, and from 1974-76 rented a beach house with his girlfriend Maureen (Staples ’67).
They moved to Wilton, Vermont, the Berkshires, then back to Wilton in 1982.
The other day, Dennis visited the Occupy Wall Street site in lower Manhattan. He reports:
There has been much criticism from conservatives that the occupiers have no proposed solutions. However, in the tradition of American patriots who have assembled peacefully throughout our history, this is a protest against injustices for which Wall Street has become the focal point.
Much dialogue takes place among the occupiers and day visitors like us, and a regular schedule of “think tanks” in which anyone may participate. Especially when compared to the relatively unfocused anger and deconstructionism of the tea partiers, these dialogues seem to offer very constructive ways to resolve feelings of frustration into refined thinking. and move toward consensus.
In addition to high unemployment, record levels of home foreclosures, and the expense and difficulty of obtaining health coverage, it seemed clear that a number of prominent financial absurdities that are highly unfair to the average American underly the protest.
One example is the ever-increasing income and wealth disparity between Americans in the top brackets relative to what we used to refer to as the “middle class,” and the disadvantaged, as exacerbated by the Reagan revolution and Bush tax cuts.
Another is the bailout of banks when people had to default on mortgage payments, when far less bailout money could have been applied to the write-down of mortgages so those homeowners wouldn’t have had to default in the first place. Perhaps then, banks might not have been in the position they were to hand out bonuses that many homeowners and ordinary Americans consider obscene.
As in the ’60s, there was a current of peace and anti-war sentiment at the expense of more humanistic applications of the trillions of dollars invested in our military adventurism and warmaking, particularly in Iraq. A good number of veterans were represented while we were there.
From the tone of many conversations, it’s probably fair to say that the occupiers, although not universally “liberal,” are progressive thinkers. They seem mostly opposed to the Republican national agenda, which they perceive as favoring the already rich and powerful, seeking to increase corporate influence, hegemony and control, and to undermine and blockade programs intended to help the average American.
Comments overheard suggest that Fox News, the only network not in evidence, and Channel 5, the only local TV absent, were generally held in low regard.
Liberty Square was populated by everyone from college students to octogenarians. All races were well represented.
A code of conduct was posted in several places. There was no violence, discourtesy, scatology, drug use, “free love,” or unsanitariness in evidence. Directions were posted to several nearby rest room facilities. Volunteers circulated constantly, sweeping and cleaning up.
Bags of coats and bedding were free to anyone who got cold or wanted to “occupy” overnight. A “free kitchen,” manned by what we understood to be 5-star chefs prepared food, and would not accept a donation for the delicious piece of chocolate cake I had. I offered, but the reply was, “No thank you. We’d like to contribute the cake to you.”
In spite of all the vitriol directed at the OWS movement by the right-wing media, it would be hard to imagine a more thoughtful, courteous, productive gathering of like-minded people opposed to financial injustice.