Friday, August 27, 2021

HeRSToRy 017 Barbara Reale

   Barbara was hired in the spring of 1983 to coordinate public relations for the peace camp. She was one of the first women to live on the land in the months before it opened.

CLIP 1: I had no idea how to set about doing that

CLIP 2: That was born in me at Seneca


Interview: Barbara Reale
Date: December 8, 2006
Location: Philadelphia, PA
Present: Estelle Crone, hershe Michele Kramer
Barbara (above far left) with her "Chain Gang" affinity group prior to their action, and (below far right) chained to the Seneca Army Depot main gate, August 1983. Photos by Nancy Clover.

June 27, 1983 New York Times article with Barbara and Kris.
Women Plan Arms Protest Upstate
by Suzanne Dale   
Caption: Barbara Reale, standing, and Kristin Eberlein on  a 52-acre farm in Romulus, N.Y. The farm was bought by a group of women who hope to use it as an assembly are for antinuclear demonstrations at the Seneca Army Depot, which adjoins property. Raymound [sic] Zajac, Town Supervisor, fears the problems those demonstrations might bring.
Romulus, N.Y. - Beside a small farm on Route 96 here in the Finger Lakes Regions, a svn says: “Women’s Encampment for a Future of Peace and Justice.” The sign, leaning in the shade of a tall tree, is strikingly neat and glossy, in contrast with a nearby house where the shutters droop on their hinges, the porch railing is broken and only a hint of paint remains.
   A group of women bought the 52-acre farm in May and hopes to attract hundreds of women here this summer to use the farm’s fields as a camping ground and assembly area for antinuclear demonstrations.
   Adjoining the land is the target of the protests - the Seneca Army Depot, an 11,000-acre amunitions storage site that is widely assumed to contain nuclear weapons. The Army will not comment on this.
   The encampment is scheduled to open on the Fourth of July and to run at least until Labor Day. During that time, the women expect to conduct a variety of peaceful demonstrations, including symbolic burials of model missiles, passing out leaflets, marching and at least one day of civil disobedience.
   The prospect of such protests has set the Army to building fences, hiring extra civilian guards and holding meetings to ease the concerns of workers. It has also caused a great deal of anxiety in this town of about 2,600 residents [sic], two bard, a delicatessen, a hotel, a barber shop and a beauty salon.
2 Big Employers in the Area
   Romulus is southeast of Rochester, between Cayuga and Seneca Lakes. The largest employers in town are the Army depot and a state psychiatric center.
   Here the roads cut straight through fields and pastures. The only traffic tie-ups are caused by slow moving tractors. the nearest supermarket is 15 miles away.
   “If this thing gets to any proportion at all, what are we going to do?” asked Raymond Zajac, Town Supervisor. He recalled that several years ago, 200 strikers demonstrating at the Willard Psychiatric Center surrounded the sheriff’s office in nearby Waterloo and ‘brought the county to a standstill.”
   Mr. Zajac, who thinks the women “have a beautiful dream but have bitten of [sic] than they can chew,” says he has many concerns. They range from the town’s limited water supply to its lack of a police force to having only one judge. The judge usually holds court on Tuesdays between 7 P.M. and 10 P.M.
Friendly Outcome Is Doubted
   “We aren’t equipped to deal with this,” Mr. Zajac went on. “the women say: ‘We’re not trying to bother you. Our beef is with the Federal Government.’ But they’ve already caused  a hardship with all the worrying. They say that by the end of the summer we’ll all be great friends but if that happens, I’ll sit in this office and eat my hat.”
   Like the commander of the Army depot and the sheriff, Mr. Zajac says he is particularly frustrated because the women maintain they have no leader, and they are sometimes vague in describing what they plan to do.
   “Nothing is clear,” said Mr. Zajac, “They don’t know, so we don’t know how many people will show up. We aren’t so much worried about them, although I want to tell you that the prospect of breaking up 300 mothers is awesome - but what about the others who will be attracted to this sort of thing. Maybe motorcycle gangs - who knows?
   Rumors are proliferating on both sides with lightning speed. Perhaps the most tenacious is a rumor that several battalions of troops from New jersey will arrive to guard the post. This last one, the depot commander, Col. John C. Wilson, said was “the wildest rumor” he had ever heard.
   Colonel Wilson did say that besides more than 40 extra people hired to guard the base this summer, the Army had other contingency plans to protect the depot if needed. However, he would not elaborate.
   Organizers said that the exact nature of demonstrations would be decided by the women who show up. so far, one day, Aug. 1, has been designated for civil disobedience.
   One of the three paid workers at the farm, Barbara Reale, 23 years old, who studied economics at Cornell University and has since worked for several peace organizations, said the farm would have camp sites ready to accommodate about 350 people. Some fields will be kept available to handle any overflow attendance.
   Men, she said, will not be allowed to participate nor will they be allowed to enter most areas of the camp.
   The group has published a brochure about why it has chosen to exclude men. In it, about a dozen women present arguments, most of them expressing the view that women working together can create a special environment not possible when men are around.
   Since May, several women have been living at the farm, which is furnished with an assortment of mismatched used furniture and has no running water. One room is set up as an office, where phone calls are received and work schedules are loosely organized.
   On the walls are lists of chores. There are also lists of chores already accomplished - such as cleaning out the barn - that are punctuated with exclamations of encouragement such as “Go, girls!”
More Facilities Still Needed
   But there is a great deal left to be done. Ways to provide more water are still being worked out. Lean-tos, a pavilion and toilets have yet to be installed.
   The encampment, said Miss Reale, is being sponsored by a large assortment of individual women and women’s groups. Contributors, she said, include such groups as the American Friends Service Committee, a Quaker pacifist group; the New England War Tax Resistance, Church Women United, Nuclear Weapons Facilities Network, the Rochester Peace and Justice Education Center and the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom.
   Romulus is policed by the County Sheriff’s office, which has 18 deputies and 3 patrol cars for the 36,000 residents in the county. The jail, a picturesque red brick building, has 24 cells. The Sheriff, Kenneth J. Greer, has tentatively canceled all vacations and leaves this summer.
   “So far, the women have been very peaceful, very cordial and very eager to cooperate with us and the military,” Sheriff Greer said, “We aren’t expecting any trouble but there is always the factor of the unknown.”
   Several of the women on the farm cite instance of people who have been friendly to them - a bar down the road gave a refrigerator, some local women have brought pies or homemade bread.But there are people in town who are angry that their way of life may be changed this summer.

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