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Grumpy Old Drug Smugglers (long but great activist story)

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Catt03 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun May-30-04 12:49 PM
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Grumpy Old Drug Smugglers (long but great activist story)
Grummy Old Drug Smugglers

"I can be very frail if I need to be,'' Kate Stahl said recently as she unpeeled the ripe banana she carried in her bag for lunch. Frailty is not normally prized by political activists, but Stahl is an unlikely agitator. A retired medical secretary with nine grandchildren and four great-grandchildren, she is 85 years old, appears to weigh hardly that many pounds and spent much of her adult life in rural seclusion as the sole female resident on Little Dead Horse Lake, a small community about five miles outside Marcell, Minn. -- a town itself so obscure that it once sold T-shirts asking ''Where the hell is Marcell?'' Only in 1995, when her husband's lung disease kept him from chopping wood to heat their home, did Stahl and her husband move to an apartment in St. Paul. She describes her life until her husband's death, five and a half years ago, as the opposite of radical. ''I always had someone half a step in front of me,'' she said. ''My parents, and then my husband, then the children. I wouldn't have said boo to a turtle, literally.''


(the prescription drug issue)like the Vietnam War to so many college students in the 60's and 70's and nuclear proliferation to mothers in the 80's, the issue is so personal, so deeply tied to life, death and a sense of justice, that it is driving otherwise private and conservative citizens into the first activism of their lives.


Following her husband's death, Stahl became an active Minnisota Senior Drug federation member, leading to her two-year stint as president of the federation's metropolitan region. To this day, most mornings she drives her 1993 Chevy Euro from her daughter's house in suburban Shoreview, where she now lives, to the federation's office in downtown St. Paul, to fight for fair pricing on prescription drugs (one of the federation's three main causes, along with ensuring access to health care and affordable housing). She also makes regular bus trips to Winnipeg, amusing her fellow seniors on the way back by yelling out, Come and get me, boys! ''Can't you see the publicity?'' she said, stooping over an imaginary cane. '''Frail old lady put in jail because she couldn't afford her drugs in America and she had to do it in Canada.' I even have an old cane that I got at Goodwill. Can't you see it? 'Gee, Officer, I really can't afford a new one. They're too expensive and I just don't have the money . . . honey.'''
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