Posted by: The Amoeba | November 17, 2009

Aging Children

In the center of the Upper Campus of the University of Hawai‘i at Mânoa, there is a green space. A quadrangle of pedestrian walkways canopied by rain trees, known as McCarthy Mall.
Every hour on the hour, when classes are in session, a human tide washes over the footpaths, a tide of students passing from lecture to lecture, of faculty passing from meeting to meeting. For ten, for fifteen minutes, the tide is at the full, then it abates, leaving the mall empty but for its trees, and in peace.

Not even the wrack of the human waves is visible during these ebbs. Not too long ago, as budget cuts threatened to cancel classes and terminate faculty, chalk scrawlings mussed the rigid order of the pavement, calling the partisans to arms. Now, however, though the finances are no better and none of the arguments has been resolved, the chalk is gone, and the only messages on McCarthy Mall advertise the reggae bands performing at the weekend campus concert.

As the noon hour approaches, a solitary woman appears at the Koko Head (east) end of the mall, near the library and the cafeteria, major traffic points. She plants a sandwich board in the middle of the principal walkway, and takes her station next to it. She is short, slender, slightly stooped, very gray, a woman likely nearer 70 years of age than 60.

The papers and posters on her sandwich board proclaim socialism. Socialism as it was when it galvanized entire student bodies on campuses throughout the United States, students who vigorously debated the ills of their own political system and the benefits of systems not their own, and often were sufficiently convinced that they knew better than their elders that they would drop in on the administrators of the universities that they were attending and commandeer their offices for awhile.

Students who were young when this woman was young.

She will speak with you if you show an interest in her or her message. Every once in awhile, a person will stop. An old friend, judging from the clothes and graying baldness, or a first-year student, judging from her clothes and the trapped! expression on her face.

But most of the time she spends alone in the noontime tide. Practically everyone rushes on past, ignoring her melodies or perhaps not hearing them, her folk tunes on vinyl drowned out by the ska and techno-pop on their iPods.

I watch her from the library veranda, and as I watch, I hear songs for aging children.

This is one.


  – O Ceallaigh
Copyright © 2009 Felloffatruck Publications. All wrongs deplored.
All opinions are mine as a private citizen.



  1. Yes’n how many times must the sandwich boards rise, before they get a BLT?

    • The answer, my dawg, is fryin’ in the wind.

  2. I was so moved by this wonderful and poignant post, then came to comment and AAHHH!! Doug!! I fell off my chair laughing, and now –dangit—have Blowin’ in the Wind stuck in my head for the rest of the day.

    God I love blogs.

  3. Susan, you just can’t trust dawgs who are still befuddled from the smoke from the candles on their birthday cake, and still high from the frosting. Earworms are the least of your worries.


  4. LOL! I share Susan’s sentiment! This post brought back some amazing memories! But today my children tell me (and it is true) … Mom, WE are not your generation, and OUR world is not the world you lived in. And so I’m thankful for all MY old cronies who remember things the way I do…

    • Well, Melli, your kids are right. And, um, isn’t that what we told our parents …?

      • Yyyyyyyup!

  5. […] I had escaped my university office/lab for a breath of fresh air, and was walking through McCarthy Mall, when I saw, on the normally-barren walls of a vending kiosk, a small, photocopied poster. Sign the […]

  6. […] reading this, I could only think that here is a baby boomer, one of the aging children who grew up thinking the media is the message and are only now figuring out that media and message […]

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