Jelly Beans, Baseball, And A Long Stemmed Rose

One thing that helps keep Ronald Reagan on my list of fellow human beings is that he has something in common with A.J. Muste: the love of jelly beans. A.J. had a jelly bean jar on his desk.

During the time I worked in that warren of peace offices at 5 Beekman Street, near City Hall in Lower Manhattan, occasionally I made the jelly bean run so the jar wouldn't run dry. At editorial board meetings of Liberation magazine, A.J. would sit on a folding chair looking very bony in his baggy trousers and rolled-up shirt sleeves, regularly reaching into his jelly bean jar while discussing articles under consideration. On occasion he was interrupted in these meetings to take urgent calls. At least two times the caller was Martin Luther King Jr., who had first heard of nonviolence and Gandhi when A.J. came to speak at King's seminary.

A.J. loved baseball. He went to ball games whenever he could and followed baseball news as carefully as he followed world news. I think he was a Yankee fan. During the World Series, he followed every pitch.

He loved poetry, often recited from memory, and was in effect the poetry editor for Liberation. One of the joys of those meetings was hearing him read aloud the submissions he especially liked.

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