Monday, March 18, 2013

Betty Luckey

Here are my sister and I at some sort of celebration involving a decorated tree and gifts. This picture was taken some years ago and, as you can see, she was bigger than me.

I was still in high school when my sister appeared in local newspaper articles because she was organizing protests concerning a variety of causes, including the war. The old papers crumble as I turn the pages.

"Betty Luckey: The Making of a 'Kook'" was on the front page (above the fold) of the May 18-24, 1972 WeekDay. The paper quotes her story of how she became an activist:

"I think I was about 13. There was quite a drought in Okeechobee. I asked neighbors and friends for clothes and food for the Seminole Indians. Our church helped out. We collected stuff at the city hall in Lake Park, and my father made several trips with carloads to the Indian Reservation."
"Gary, coincidentally, was doing the same thing I was doing, at the same time, at Palm Beach High. He was collecting, too. We both loved the Seminoles. He was a church member, and we made the trips together with my father."
"There I was, 13, and I told people I was going to marry Gary Luckey. They laughed and said, Oh, no, you won't. You'll meet so many boys, just you wait. But when I was 17, I married Gary Luckey!"

Betty and Gary celebrated their 50th anniversary a couple of years ago. Now she works in the office at the Seminole's Baptist church on Brighton Reservation. Since they built a casino the tribe has been wealthy enough to share their wealth with tribes that are in need, like the Lakota at Pine Ridge, site of Wounded Knee. Betty and Gary took a load of clothes and gifts donated by the Seminoles on Christmas, 2007.

Also in May '72 she told the Palm Beach Post how she became a "placard-carrying demonstrator:"

"For Betty, the metamorphosis began when she and others tried to open a coffee house -- a gathering place for youth -- in their church, First Baptist of Palm Beach Gardens. Betty's father, the Rev. S. W. Swan, is the minister there.
However, some members of the congregation opposed the idea. So, instead, Betty and her parents each opened their homes to young people who needed a place to rap. They offered food and listening ears and the kids came."

Last week I reconnected with some of these kids on Facebook, after I posted a photo of them:

Here we are with Mom. I'm the sweet-face longhair with the guitar and long sleeves. Tim, Dave, Terry, and Scotty look like they have just been to the beach. Mom and I had probably just been to church, and Dad took the photo. Scotty and Dave were in a band that practiced at the church, and then at our house, after the coffeehouse was moved. Tim Staffell is an artist, singer/songwriter, and was a sort of refugee from the British music scene, whose influence we didn't really know at the time, and I don't think he did either. He had told us a little about the band he'd been in, called "Smile," and played some songs he wrote. He stayed with us until he made enough money for the trip back home. Scotty is in Nashville, where he worked in the music industry until he retired. Dave went into psychology and counseling in West Palm Beach. I haven't tracked down Terry. I'd like to know what he's up to.

Scotty wrote, "It has just been wild how your pictures have blown my memory open. I had all but forgotten a lot of my activities from that time. Tim and I spent some time reviewing that era last night. We both fondly remember the kindness and respect your family showed us all while we wandered through our respective spiritual journeys. The tolerance and love found by us in your home was a rare treat in those days."

Tim: "This little episode has stirred up my mind - short though that episode was, it had a seminal effect on I say, when I got back to England I was a very different person than the one who had left four months before."

Dave: "It's amazing just to think back to those days when we all were together and trying to change the world."


Blogger Elizabeth Korvick said...

Seeing the last photo reminded us of a great story that Betty tells about: "My name is Betty Luckey and I'm here for the Haitians."

10:48 PM  

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