Feb
08
    
Diane Garand Video Interview Transcript with Peter Kellman and Renny Cusing

Diane Garand Interview

By Peter Kellman and Renny Cushing (transcribed from the video by Nelia Sargent)

 Renny- What’s the date? According to this… it’s not on the film.

Peter- It’s the 18th of September 2004. I am here with Diann Garand formerly of Salem, New Hampshire.

Renny- And you’re formerly from Salem, New Hampshire, too. Right Peter?

Peter- Formerly I lived in Salem. We were and currently. When Diann lived there too unless she lived there a lot longer than I did.

(Renny)- And you two met at Rockingham, no?

Peter- No, no. We actually passed each other in high school several times and I was in the junior high school at the great (many?) high in Woodbury and also during the football games and stuff like that.

Diann- I think I might have a picture of him.

Peter- In the band. In the band.

Diann- Yep.

Renny- But you wouldn’t talk to him, Diann, because he was an underclassman?

Peter- No, because I was from out of state.

Diann- No way.

Peter- But years and years later we met here in Seabrook and

Diann- At the center of the universe

Peter- Diann was one of the leaders of the Clamshell Alliance. Many meetings at the house here on Walton Road.

Renny- Diann, why did you get involved with all of these crazy people? How did it happen, do you remember?

Diann- I can actually remember the exact moment. All of this stuff was going on. It was the first demonstration. About 18 came onto the site. I had been following it through the news and stuff. It was just like a metamorphosis. I couldn’t stand it anymore. And, you know, I told my husband and my father-in-law, I said, ‘I’m goin’.’ And my husband said ‘If you get arrested, I’m not bailin’ you out.’ And my father-in-law said ‘But I will.’ And so we drove up Route 1 and we parked outside by the old Zares store. And watched people march in from all the different directions and my father-in-law sat there with tears in his eyes. I said watch the faces that’s all you need to do. And he was sold and immediately I just started participating. I’d gone to a couple of meetings in Kensington and I liked the people and I liked what I felt.

Renny- What was the meeting in Kensington?

Diann- It was Clamshell.

Renny- I know. But you told me something that was going on at that meeting. I can’t remember exactly what you said.

Diann- I can remember what I said. Growing up in the ‘50’s in a very republican family with alien thoughts of my own and I didn’t fit in that republican family. Being at the first Clamshell meeting was the first time I think in my entire life that I felt surrounded by kindred spirits. With people who felt exactly like I did. I never had that before. It was always the what if’s and just the questioning always of people’s methods, people’s thoughts and where they were coming from never felt really sincere till up there in Kensington Town Hall. And I was totally comfortable, I think for the first time in my life. It was just a wonderful feeling and the feeling has never left. I get a little angry sometimes like at the current administration but the feeling that there were people out there that do believe a certain way is very comforting. My big metamorphosis came when I saw a bumper sticker that said “Question Authority,” which is something I had never done. With my mother, it was always the experts know best. This is what they believe this is what you do and it was the very first time it was like opening a can of worms and there I was. It was just a great feeling.

Renny- what was it like around here when they had the voting in town. Would you just tell us a bit about that?

Diann- It was almost dark and dismal. Ya know to have the vote and doors were shut and it was very strange feeling because we have a vote against the vote and they would always carry it and all of a sudden an opinion vote didn’t count. Well it just people could only put up with that for so long it makes you start questioning the government it makes you start questioning the electoral process people’s motives. You get a little cynical. You think they’re gonna do what they’re gonna do whether it’s legal or illegal. They’re just gonna do it. It’s coming to pass that a lot of things are happening that aren’t particularly right but I guess money and political power talk.

Peter- If the Clamshell and the people that opposed the nuke all had something each that they did all added up to something bigger, so what we’re asking people is to talk about, like, it’s a lot to put on anybody to try to explain what happened but if we all tell one story no matter how small it might seem to somebody else looking in but something that meant something to you is there another one you’d want to tell like we’re putting a mosaic together and this would be like something that struck you.

Diann- There are so many things. I think at that time in my life that this was all so completely new as far as politics and just being the whole most meaningful thing that the people that were with the clamshell alliance all the affinity groups all these likeminded it was just a feeling that just poured over everything. I don’t think there are words to explain it as far as I’m concerned. It was just different from anything I’d ever experienced but it was probably one of the most wonderful things that had ever happened in my entire life. It was just a spiritual thing. I mean, it was political but it was spiritual I mean it was a feeling that emanated from everybody even when you got the Dave Schlessenger’s of the group who in many ways were opposite thought wise but spiritually they were all coming from the same place. Each one had something to contribute. Didn’t always agree but usually did which is something that blew my mind is to see hundreds and hundreds of people from all over the world who felt the same way. Now I don’t know if I’ll ever get to see that again as far as the world is right now it’s so fractured but at that point in time it was a wonderful, wonderful thing.

Renny- Now how did you feel when your father-in-law donated the old barn which was a chicken coop to the Clamshell Alliance for an office for demonstration?

Diann- I can’t even explain that feeling. I don’t know that I ever loved anybody more in one given moment than I did him. Knowing where he came from who he was to see him take that step it was so out of character for the time but it was so much him. He thoroughly believed. And it didn’t take a lot of demonstrating to have his true feelings come out that he knew what had to be done and he did it and it was probably the boldest step he’d ever taken.

Renny- What was it like for other landowners here in Seabrook to let people who had openly committed to breaking the law and defying corporate authority to use their property as a staging ground?

Diann- I think it was exhilarating to most people. I think a lot of people were like I was. You’re scared because you know the powers that be had a lot of control. We took the step as far as making it a legal demonstration which I think was one of the smartest moves of the whole movement could have made for that point in time because it definitely brought in people who definitely wouldn’t have made a commitment before. It was like a double-edged sword really. You wanted to involve all these people and you knew where their hearts and their heads were but to make them make a commitment was alien to a lot of people it was a very big step and a hard step for a lot of people to take. On the other hand you kind of wanted the groups to come and take the damn site over. It was mixed emotions. It was for me and I think it was for a lot of people. The original people that took the stand were older and it was something that was something that was against what they were raised with. And it ended up working out pretty well as far as politics and people’s commitment was concerned. It was something that the establishment didn’t expect and I think that was one of the best things. When we took a grant proposal the looks on the faces were very interesting. Like “What the hell are they up to now?” Which I think is what had to be done but there were a lot of mixed emotions.

Renny- Well we should say for the record that the demonstration that you’re referring to that became a legal demonstration it wasn’t until the end that we knew it was going to be legal. People came.

Diann- Right.

Peter- Originally it was going to be “So this meeting thing?”

Diann- But we met for hours and hours and hours in the house, backyard, in the woods, everywhere.

Peter- Well I just wanted to say for the record that your father-in-law’s barn was the nerve center of the local operation for that big demonstration and that your backyard I don’t know how many people were camped out here. I know we had our—

Diann- A few hundred.

Peter- Affinity groups in the back yard here. And at that point it was still planning on doing (syllabus?) meetings. In fact, one of the things I remember was a certain demonstration outhouse we built out here.

Diann- Yeah.

Peter- We had a name for it.

Diann- The Avon Hotel!

Peter- The Avon Hotel.

Diann- Which used to be a very popular hotel on Sea Street at Hampton Beach. Because both of my grandmothers belonged to it was called Camp Oneto which was a camp that went through the Rockingham County it was like homemakers and people like that and they had this camp for a couple weeks every summer and I can remember being 5 or 6 years old and bringing both grandmothers down to this camp and there were all these women sitting out in the big porches and that’s how far back that went. It was at that hotel Avon. And we ended up with a little sign I think from the Avon Hotel that was nailed to the outhouse. It was still out there a year or so ago. I think it finally rotted.

Renny- Oh no I think you’ve gotta save it. We’ll have to dig that out. It’ll have to go to UNH for the archives. It was funny, I remember when Paul was rehabbing the chicken coop and his apartment a few years ago and coming by here and as you went through town he tore off, had some walls exposed and it was covering up these things it had all these Clamshell Alliance things painted on the wall. It was really hysterical.

Diann- All the little logos and little signs such and such affinity group with the arrows. It was just kinda neat ya know going through all of that brought so much back. I think for a lot of us not so much you guys who started this whole thing but for the ones who came a few months afterwards to have this whole thing laid out there it was a unique astounding experience in fact I tell my grandchildren about it ya know. And Sebastian, the 13-year-old, is very interested in politics. He is interested in the historical aspect of it and the whole political procedure. I don’t quite know where he’s gonna go. He’s expressed a great interest in it. He kinda makes me proud because he asks questions and I believe at the time he was 11 years old and he was asking questions about what went on why did you do this? It was just something that had to be done. You get to the point where you don’t question it anymore it just has to be done. And he kinda liked that. And of course it made me really proud when he had to write an essay for this youth leadership conference in Washington and his heroine ended up being his grandmother because she made up her mind and she took a stand and that was that. I’ll tell ya it kinda popped my buttons because I didn’t know that’s where he was coming from and that’s what he submitted was his essay to this program. It was kind of a nice feeling to spark that little bit to make them think because it took something to spark it for me. The feeling was always there, from the time I was little. I mean it goes back. We traveled all over the country when I was a kid and being about 5 or 6 years old being out in the Black Hills the feeling and the anger I had as to what we had done to the American Indian in different places in the country, different things that happened and always wondering where this strong feeling came from. It was something that had always been there and I think the Clamshell brought it out. I mean the big demonstration with all the Native Americans with all the spiritual things that came with that I mean it was awe-inspiring to have so many different nations political beliefs and ethnic backgrounds and everything there. It was great. It was just everybody should get the chance to go through something like that. It was just so eye-opening and awe-inspiring. And the people I can’t even explain. The ones who were all together they were just so wonderful. Everybody should get a chance to get that feeling.

Renny- And what about the crew that used to hang around here afterwards like Frank. Who else?

Diann- The Kramers. They were, as far as age-wise, older than I was but kindred spirits still. There were a lot, young ones, old ones. Some of the most wonderful memories. I can remember my garden was in and there were state cops everywhere, helicopters everywhere blowin’ stuff around and I go out ‘cause people were still camped out back. I go out in the morning and I look and I can’t explain the feeling. My garden was out there. I had Roy Morrison who didn’t know a carrot from a parakeet and the other was someone blind with little seedlings an inch tall but her fingers could differentiate between weeds and vegetables. I just stood there chuckling because it was the funniest thing okay, how do we explain this? Just funny little things that happened. It was kinda nice.

Renny- What do you remember about being on the stage at the big demonstration?

Diann- Everything. The thing that strikes me the most was I mean there were those of us who were back stage or on stage who saw everything ‘cause you have this vantage point you were up above because the stage was relatively tall. I can remember when they made the parade coming in with totems and they had gossamer wings the spiritual flowing fabric and stuff that came on the poles with all the Native Americans and all the Affinity groups marching in and there was the gravel where they had dumped piles covered in seagulls and it was the strangest, most awe-inspiring was coming in and there was this giant whirl-wind that went across and all the seagulls lifted and all the fabric and stuff moved and the whirl-wind where Reactor 1 was gonna go and all the seagulls lifted and there was total silence. Everybody there, the hundreds and hundreds of people and you could have heard a pin drop because it was, it was spiritual. There was this message that we were doing the right thing but people came in and you just got to watch and I remember having a stiff neck for 2 weeks because Dick Gregory gave me a bear hug. Foolish things that you remember.

Peter– You gave me the— you went and got a building permit for the stage, a windmill, and a bridge. I still have the permit.

Diann- Well that was a big step for me. I had to sign my name to the grant proposal and I’m going ‘you are out of your mind.’

Peter- It was great for you to be able to walk down and get a building permit to erect the Bridge over Troubled Waters. You wanted it done legally.

Diann- Yeah but I mean it was just the neatest thing I mean and I think my courage started building. It was one of those “I’ve gotta do this.” And little incidents like how many thousand people on the site, you’ve got the state police, the attorney general, everybody. And the guy with the worm farm wouldn’t leave. He was gonna stay.

Renny- Wasn’t he the assistant attorney general there?

Diann- He was as pompous as he could be. But it was just the different comical things but I don’t know if you remember Jerry Miller from Channel 11 who was built like Humpty Dumpty? It was 95 in the shade and we were closing the whole demonstration down and here comes Jerry Miller up over the sand pile dressed in a wool jacket, a tweed cap, sweating like a stuck hog, trying to get that last little bit of a demonstration in. it was kinda like, what planet is he from? Who in their right mind would be out here in this heat in all those clothes he was just a strange duck. He was stranger than all the other people they thought were strange. He was the epitome of strange. He needs help. Some neat things happened.

Peter- It got to the point politically where the Clamshell had the power to force the state of New Hampshire to force Public Service to allow the Clamshell to use 3 acres for demonstration and part of that deal was that we could get on the property at a certain time but we couldn’t come through the gate until later that day so we prefabbed a bridge that went from Seabrook dock onto Public Service property and we got permits for that and we built it and after the demonstrations we had a ceremony at the Bridge over Troubled Waters. We donated the Bridge to the town of Seabrook and the selectman who received it at the time made a speech of acceptance in which Seabrook accepted the bridge and he said that was the first time in his memory that anything had been donated to the town of Seabrook.

Diann- The irony that some things can happen. They were just kinda bizarre at the time. Strange little things that just all of a sudden there they were and you look back on them and you wonder. I can remember we were supposed to leave and the state police were pacing back and forth. Jackson Brown was still singing Stay and we were staying and staying and staying and we just kinda mellowed out like “Why bother?” These guys won’t harm us. Just let them do their thing. I think that’s what it boiled down to. Everybody wondering what the outcome was gonna be, what was gonna happen, would there be violence? But it ended up being the nicest, mellowest congregation of people and still la lot of my neighbors here who are retired and live part-time in Florida still remember the demonstrations when they finally got a chance to participate which I think meant an awful lot to a lot of people because being right here in Seabrook it was so astounding because the Seabrook people, and I think this is what kept me going as far as having demonstrations and getting permits and writing stuff up to get a vote on something is what gave me the backbone to do it is because I knew in my heart that the bulk of the people where they were coming from. They were just so intimidated politically that they couldn’t do this on their own until they had the privacy of a ballot then they felt they could do it. The demonstration went from being an occupation to being a legal demonstration. It was just an occurrence that I don’t think anyone thought was gonna happen. It brought everybody together. You’ve always got a handful of turkeys who after all these years are still turkeys but ya know.

Renny- You’ve said a lot about the legacy

Diann- I think that back in the beginning, even as far back as the protests against the Vietnam War, there’s been an undercurrent sort of that people believed a certain way but were afraid to speak out and it was a process of courage. I think that was probably the biggest part of it was doing something that you hadn’t done before and being able to do it and feel good about it and stand by it and I think that’s what happened with this whole anti-nuke movement is the core of it was who the hell gave them the right to build a nuke plant in the middle of our marsh. There’s estuary and that means a lot to a lot of people and it has for hundreds of years. And I think the people were shell-shocked with what was going on. You always had a handful that politically let them do anything and not think about the consequences and I think locally was the consequences they saw first-hand that what went from being a marsh and estuary and life that went with it to bulldozers and craters and heavy machines and signs that said you couldn’t go on the property and guys with guns and fences and all the big signs and everything and I think that totally undid a lot of people and it took awhile for that to sink in that this is what was actually happening and it was a big deal for al ot of people because of the whole concept of this sizable project and it started out with this little bit, a shovelful, and ended up pushing 1000 acres. It was a big thing for a lot of people.

Renny- and how far is your house from the plant?

Diann- as the crow flies, we figured it was just under a mile. As far as the perimeter of their property. They kept inching their way out a little stepping on people’s toes and heir dignity. It could have been two feet, I don’t think it would have made much difference but I think it took a lot for people to realizes what was going on and there were always those who didn’t give a damn. I guess that’s what part we heard. It hurt a lot of people that people didn’t care because we had a couple of town officials who said if you don’t like it move. It wasn’t a case of picking up and moving and I think that’s what polarized a lot of people to making a stand. “I’m not gonna move so I guess I’ve gotta do something else.”

Renny- I think a lot of people don’t know that Seabrook wasn’t exactly a middle-class town, that people couldn’t just pick up and move.

Diann- There’s a lot of history in the town and that’s one of the things. I moved here in 1960 when I was 19 and one of the outstanding things to me was the people themselves I mean they either liked you or they didn’t like you and if they liked you they’d do anything for you. And the good weather. They were clamming, fishing, lobstering, in the winters they worked in the shoe shops. They had a good living and they didn’t need anybody from the outside. They all come from the outside, much more than anyone ever wanted. You ask anyone now, not the new-comers with the half million-dollar houses but the people from 20-25 years ago I don’t think they ever imagined what was coming. It was like a tidal wave. It changed the face of the whole seacoast actually but it was a big deal and I think if any of us had realized at the onset what a big deal it was going to turn out to be, a lot more people would have taken a stand. It kinda got to the point, “Well it’s too late, we can’t do anything.” And that is demoralizing.

Renny- Is there a slogan or a song that still strikes a chord with you from when you think about the Clamshell?
Diann- One of my heroes from the time I was very young was Pete Segar. I remember asking my mother not too many years ago why I remembered Pete Segar and the Weavers and she had no answer for me and all I can remember is hearing Pete’s voice among every body singing ‘Good night, Irene’ and those songs. And that’s where I was coming from, from the time I was a kid. One of my biggest thrills was having the crew with the clam water come through here to go to the demonstration and there was Pete Segar and I mean that was a thrill for me because I mean he had been my hero for years.

Peter- What year were you born, Diann, if you don’t mind my asking?

Diann- 1941

Peter- So you may have heard Pete Seeger and the Weavers long before they were blockbuster

Diann- Oh yeah. See my father had a 1938 radio that I listened to that had different bands when the war was still going on I was very little so I can remember that radio and that’s one of the first things I remember on that radio was Pete Seeger and the Weavers. Pete and his music got me from the time I can first remember and I think that was probably my first political feeling and I could remember how angry I got listening to them because they had been black listed and of course John McCarthy came along and it was like I had open wounds after listening to him. I was so angry and frustrated so I guess it was something I must have been born with, a genetic thing or something.

Renny- It must be a warm feeling that what Pete Seeger did for you, you’re doing for your grandchildren.

Diann- Yeah, it was kinda that feeling, an exciting, proud, happy feeling that you have grandchildren even to have one of them get that little bug as far as caring what happens to their fellow human beings and what is happening around them just so easy to think it doesn’t concern me and I think that everybody some time in their life has to have something that concerns them besides the almighty dollar, what kind of clothes they wear, that was a big thing for me and I think for my father-in-law was people who had been camping out for who knows how long, walking hundreds of miles and still holding their chins up and doing what they had to do. That was a big thing and to have that commitment I just wish I’d gotten it early. I just like that feeling. I’ve been away from it for awhile. I think the nearest thing so far has been during this last political season with Bobby Kennedy and his political speech rekindled it all over again. I hadn’t felt that feeling so strongly. When he got up and spoke it brought back so much of that feeling. And it isn’t patriotism but it’s just that’s the right way to think and the right way to feel and it isn’t dollars and cents it’s what is in your heart. That feeling of right and wrong. And I listen to the administration now and they kept trying to tell us that all of this stuff is right and I’m having a really hard time swallowing that logic because I see none in it. And I guess I needed Bobby Kennedy Jr. to rekindle that feeling and it goes back to the Clamshell, it goes back to Pete Seeger and all the people at the demonstration. They all had that feeling. It’s just something that people need to grab hold of. I don’t really know how frustrated I would be at this point in time if that whole scenario hadn’t happened. It was great. I met a lot of wonderful people that are kindred spirits. That ‘s the only way you can tell is that they’re kindred spirits. From all different walks of life and all different ages who are all together. Which was wonderful. Some great memories, some goofy ones. We accomplished a lot of things. It’s safer and people became aware of what was around them. Becoming aware is a big step. It’s very easy to muddle along and not care about anything or think about anything and that’s what is happening now politically, a lot of people are just like lambs being lead to slaughter. They don’t think they lived a good life and have no brain cells left. It escapes me how people let what’s happening happen and think it’s good. So I think everybody needs to have whether it be your activities or the nuke, to have something to set that little spark of thought. It’s easy to go along without thought and do nothing but it doesn’t make difference how long it took to get there as long as you get there.

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