Great oaks from little acorns grow

My father and his wife settled in a Florida retirement community where the favorite word was “bargain.” When we visited them, we heard it so much that my husband kept repeating it when we got home, just to see if he could light my fuse.

“Bargain” was their favorite word while I was growing up, too. My father and his friends were constantly hunting for bargains. Finding one could be the highlight of their day; missing one could be a crushing blow.

The fifties and sixties was the era that formed the cliché of the Rich Crass American Tourist, and Dad and his pals did their share to form it, I guess. While the United States was at the height of its power and wealth, much of Europe hadn’t fully recovered from World War II; Italy in particular was still relatively poor. Bargain-hunting at the natives’ expense was something of a sport for my father’s crowd.

I doubt that it was precisely February 9, 1964, when Dad’s friend Rose Benjamin bragged about scoring yet another gorgeous bargain, this one from “a little shop outside Naples.” But I heard her, and the rest of the so-called Aristocrats, make similar remarks many times. I put this one into that scene because of its consequences.

That actions have consequences is a central theme of Riding the Cyclone, but for many years, in my self-absorbed obliviousness, I had no idea what great oak grew from this little acorn. Turns out that Rose and Alvin’s daughter, my childhood playmate Susie, changed her name to Medea and went on to found Global Exchange, a non-profit international human rights organization that advocates fair trade alternatives to corporate globalization.

Safe to say I didn’t see that one coming.

For dessert, thanks to YouTube, you can now (again?) watch the original Beatles performance on the Ed Sullivan Show.