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Carrie Kline: 00:00:01 Today is the eleventh of May, 2015, and we're in the beautiful Trustees Room at the library. I'm Carrie Kline here with my partner, Michael Kline. And would you say "my name is" and introduce yourself?
Peggy Brace: My name is Peggy Brace, and I live here in Concord.
Carrie Kline: Okay. And your date of birth for some perspective?
Peggy Brace: December 28, 1933.
Carrie Kline: Okay. Great. Boy, well—preserved, beautiful woman here.
Peggy Brace: (laughs) It was a long time ago.
Carrie Kline: Tell us about your people and where you were raised.
Peggy Brace: Where I was raised? Well, I come from the Maritime Provinces of Canada. And I came down here to go to college, and I married a local. And I'm still here, sixty—five—sixty years later.
Carrie Kline: And you said you came down here—
Peggy Brace: I came down to go to Radcliffe College. And I married an MIT fellow. And we settled down here.
Carrie Kline: How did that come to be? How did you wind up in Concord?
Peggy Brace: Well, we lived for a while in Cambridge, and then we came out in 1978 to Concord, so I'm a newcomer here. A lot of the people have been here for generations.
Carrie Kline: Can you talk about what brought you here?
Peggy Brace: To Concord itself?
Carrie Kline: Yes.
Peggy Brace: Well, we were looking around for some sort of bucolic spot, and somebody said, "There's a house down by the river for sale." We came out the winter of 1978 when there was a huge snowstorm here. It stopped the whole town of Boston. And at the back of the house at Eastertime, there were big snowdrifts here on this house that we were looking at. We thought, wow, they've got really good winter here. So we bought the house and moved out in 1978 from Cambridge.
Carrie Kline: 00:02:07 So you like winter?
Peggy Brace: Yes, enough to buy a house that had—that still had snow in April. And this year we had so much snow, I was skiing on Good Friday, just before Easter. By Easter it had sort of melted into the fields. But we were skiing right out behind the house. It was corn snow. You could move it around. But it was wonderful out there. We went out—oh, for about forty—five—an hour—all through the winter. It was terrific.
Carrie Kline: So this Easter you're talking about?
Peggy Brace: Yeah, this Easter we skied on Good Friday.
Carrie Kline: With corn snow.
Peggy Brace: Yeah, corn snow, that's right. You can move it around, and you can ski easily on it. That's right.
Carrie Kline: Like corn?
Peggy Brace: Oh, well, it's—it means that it's not packed, and it's—it's very easy to turn in it. And it's great—great snow.
Carrie Kline: So 1978, why were you looking for a home in Concord when you'd already been in—?
Peggy Brace: Well, we had—I don't know—we just thought it—we had some friends who lived here, so we sort of followed them out from Cambridge.
Carrie Kline: What kind of a place did you find when you—?
Peggy Brace: Oh, here?
Carrie Kline: Yeah. I mean, what was this community like?
Peggy Brace: Oh, this community. Oh, it was a very low—key community in 1978. The houses were much less pretentious. And this house had been on the market from October until June. It still hadn't sold. It was kind of shabby, wallpaper peeling and the plaster was sort of springing on the ceilings. But it was 1846, and it really was kind of primitive—primitive kitchen. Nobody at that point wanted it. All the Route 128 ladies wanted a more glamorous house than this was. It has two and a half acres. It's right down along the river, built in 1846, gingerbread with—it's a Victorian Gothic, very steep roofs. People kept saying to me, "Are you worried about the snow this winter?" And I said, "Well, this house has been here for 175 years. It knows how to take care of winter."
Carrie Kline: 00:04:36 And you say this was a low—key town.
Peggy Brace: Oh, yes. There were still people growing asparagus, and people had—there was the egg farm up on Lowell Road. There were real farmers here then, when we came, and there were cows down at Nine Acre Corner. And it had—all the fields hadn't turned into planned residential communities, the way they are now. You buy a big field, and you put twenty houses up on it. And it's very grand. (laughs) It's very different from when we first came.
Carrie Kline: It must be something to weather—to weather a change like that.
Peggy Brace: Oh, yeah. And there was real—there was food on the main street and a grocery store, and there was a Woolworth's right in the center of town where you could go get your—where you get balloons and things for your birthday parties. And there was a paint shop right in the main street here and a shoe shop. There were real working things that you could use, not just elegant clothes or real estate offices or banks. That's what's there now.
Carrie Kline: Wow. How did all that transform?
Peggy Brace: Well, I think the prices—for the people who owned the buildings and rented them to these merchants, the prices went up so high that they couldn't pay them anymore. And the change on the main street was gradual, but it was certainly very—there used to be two drugstores right in the center of town, right there where the toy shop is and across the street. And there was one up here where the Starbucks is. They were real merchants that you needed, rather than elegant clothes and endless banks.
Carrie Kline: Were you involved in local affairs?
Peggy Brace: No. No, I really wasn't. A lot of people were on committees for this or that. No, I wasn't into politics. At all.
Carrie Kline: You sort of watched it transition.
Peggy Brace: Yeah. Um—hm.
Carrie Kline: What about socially? Were there shifts in the social scene as well then?
Peggy Brace: Oh, yes. I think perhaps a new clientele came in, people who were golfers. And oddly enough in—this is Thoreau country, but I think he was sort of—kind of a hair—shirt of a man, Henry David Thoreau. And I think it sort of embarrassed a lot of people who were well—to—do, and here's this man living in his little hut—simplicity, simplicity, simplicity—didn't really appeal to a lot of the new people moving in to town.
Carrie Kline: Why would they want to move in then if this was known as Thoreau's community?
Peggy Brace: Yeah, well, they sort of filled up Lexington, and then they moved on further out. Lexington built on every field they had there right after the war. They didn't save much land. So we've been heavy into trying to save some of the fields and the forests and the meadows. There's something called the Concord Land Trust, which is trying to be proactive, buy the land before it's sold to a developer.
Carrie Kline: 00:08:36 Makes sense. What do they do with it then?
Peggy Brace: Oh, developers develop it.
Carrie Kline: And the Land Trust?
Peggy Brace: Oh, the Land Trust keeps it for walking or—dog walking or just landscape, just forests. There's trails through it. The Land Trust has a series of trails through all those. It's very impressive what they've saved, the land along the river that could be easily developed into grand houses.
Carrie Kline: So what you're seeing here is a different sentiment between the people who moved in and the people who were here before and maybe embodied Thoreau's sense of simplicity more?
Peggy Brace: Well, people—people are very busy with their lives. So Thoreau doesn't—for a lot of people—doesn't really mean much to them, because there was something called the Thoreau Lyceum, which I used to work at when I first came. I must confess, when I moved out of Cambridge, I had a couple of paperbacks. One was Machiavelli, The Prince, and the other was Walden. And that was all turned yellow, and the spine broke. And I said, "I'm never going to read these books." I chucked them out. And when I came to Concord, I thought, wow, this is where this fellow lived. And when I was working at the Lyceum, which is on Belknap Street sort of behind the train tracks—the depot.
Carrie Kline: Belknap?
Peggy Brace: Belknap Street, yes. And somebody—somebody said, "What shall I get to think about Thoreau?" So I picked up his journals, and I opened up to a page. And it said, "I was surveying behind Simon Brown's house one day"—and that's my house where I live now. And here was Thoreau out there with his survey equipment walking all over my land. And he also found an arrowhead in Simon Brown's fields behind the house. And so I thought, wow. So I went out, and I found an arrowhead—a white arrowhead—in the field right there, because it's right at the confluence of these two rivers, the Sudbury and the Assabet, and forms the Concord River right in front of our house. And it just sort of blew me away.
Carrie Kline: Connected, huh?
Peggy Brace: Yeah.
Michael Kline: And all this came from Thoreau's diary?
Peggy Brace: Yes, his journals, his extensive journals. Yes. And there were—five generations of the same family lived in our house before we bought it, the Keyes family here in Concord.
Michael Kline: Spell that.
Peggy Brace: 00:11:43 K—E—Y—E—S. And—yeah.
Michael Kline: Pronounced Kise?
Peggy Brace: Kise, yeah. And the Simon Brown that lived at our house, his daughter could put a candle in the window and look right across to the Colonial Inn, right across the river. Now it's all grown up with trees, but it was just meadows. Musketaquid means grassy river. There were no trees at all right across the whole area. And so Simon Brown's daughter married George Keyes who lived near the Colonial Inn, and he moved into the house with his in—laws. And that was the four generations of Keyes who lived there. But Simon Brown, he was the editor of the New England Farmer from 1850 to 1875. And there's these wonderful little—I think they were seasonal little magazines that came out: what's the newest plow and what seeds should you buy that would really work? And Simon Brown used to bring sludge off the river bed and put it on his field, sort of organic farming in 1850. That's sort of interesting.
Carrie Kline: I'm trying to picture how he even procured it back then.
Peggy Brace: Yeah, well, it's—you could dredge it out with your horse, put some—put some plows in there and pull it out of the river and slosh it all over your fields. Yeah.
Michael Kline: Would you give the name of that magazine that you said—?
Peggy Brace: The New England Journal of Farming.
Carrie Kline: So there were five families you say associated with this house?
Peggy Brace: Oh, just the generations of them, yes.
Carrie Kline: Five generations.
Peggy Brace: Yeah.
Carrie Kline: Can you take us through that?
Peggy Brace: No. I can't really. I've got a book about it, but I've sort of gotten a little faded. And when we bought the house, the last owner was Henry Keyes. And his son lived in the farmer's cottage behind us. His sister lived in the big brick Buttrick house. Another sister lived around the corner. And then another brother lived up in the—off the road. And I'm sure they were all saying, "What are these people going to do to our old wonderful house?"—peering at us from across the fields. But we tried to keep it as it was and sort of take the shabbiness away. The wallpaper was peeling, and the plaster was all kind of falling down. So we fixed it up, but we tried to keep the tone of an 1846 house. That's even before Oregon was discovered—that house was built—you know? It's amazing. It's amazing.
Carrie Kline: And you found arrowheads going back to then?
Peggy Brace: 00:15:00 Yeah, that's right. Yeah.
Carrie Kline: Connecting you much more deeply.
Peggy Brace: I know. Imagine.
Carrie Kline: Does it make you wonder about those native settlers?
Peggy Brace: Oh, yeah. I mean, they were all around, right there where the confluence of the rivers are. Egg Rock is where the rivers meet, and there's a little carving on the rock, saying, "This is where the—" to give credit to the people who lived there before the white people came. It's kind of nice. It isn't just newly developed by white people. They'd been living here for a long, long time—the Indians. And this was the first town built in Massachusetts away from the tidal river, because Cambridge and Boston, they're all connected to the ocean through the tides. But this was the first one inland that wasn't on a river.
Carrie Kline: That wasn't on—?
Peggy Brace: On a tidal river. Isn't that interesting?
Carrie Kline: Yes. What would that have meant for them?
Peggy Brace: Yeah, that's 1636. Yeah.
Carrie Kline: You mentioned working at the lyceum.
Peggy Brace: Yeah.
Carrie Kline: What is that?
Peggy Brace: The lyceum—it was a word for speakers associations. And in lieu of television programs, you went out to hear somebody speak about some issue. And Emerson often spoke at lyceums around New England. And you gave lectures. And people said about Emerson, "I can't understand a thing he said, but I love his speaking voice."
Carrie Kline: And so you connected yourself with this organization?
Peggy Brace: Yeah, because I thought—after having thrown out my copy of Walden—I thought, wow, this fellow has something to say. I'm really interested in this, maybe because he was so multifaceted. He was a philosopher and a writer, but he was a cracker—jack naturalist. He did all these observations of nature all through the seasons. And he had a wonderful collection of plants, which he sent in to Asa Gray at Harvard University. To this day, they refer to it—and now that they talk about climate change—these collections of Thoreau are really way back—1840s and 1850s. And then there was another naturalist, William Brewster, who moved up and who made great calculations and wrote books about what he found. So it's the one town in the whole country that has this natural history—history—going right up to modern times. And so when you're talking about climate change, they know what was here then as compared to 140 years later.
Carrie Kline: 00:18:23 What are we seeing by comparison? Do you have any sense of that?
Peggy Brace: What's that again?
Carrie Kline: What are we seeing now?
Peggy Brace: Well, things that are coming up from Virginia. There's a wonderful fellow who does drawings for the Mass. Audubon Society, and he has a—he has a wonderful drawing of things moving north. And he has spoonbills and he has alligators in the Concord River. I kind of love that, the fact that they're all coming up from your way. Is that a wonderful thought to having alligators in the Concord River?
Carrie Kline: From our way, huh?
Peggy Brace: Yeah. Coming up from your way. That sort of intrigues me, if it gets that much warmer—and a lot of creatures that we've never seen. I remember being in Pennsylvania and hearing this bird singing—chirp, chirp, chirp—and it was ten minutes to try and figure out what it was. It was a cardinal. I'd never seen one up here at all. And now—this was down at Swarthmore. I'd never seen one. And now of course they spend the winter here—cardinals do. It's just amazing what's already moved north.
Carrie Kline: Wow. This past week, people have been commenting too about the weather and—
Peggy Brace: Oh, yeah. The other day—yesterday—on my barn door with a thermometer on it, and the sun coming in, it was ninety—eight degrees. When I looked at that, I went back on the hammock and had another mint julep. I mean, ninety—eight—it was just awful. I was just, "Oh!" And you can't do anything about it. You can't put another—in winter, you put the muffler on, and you're okay.
Carrie Kline: This is the tenth of May we're talking about.
Peggy Brace: Yeah, I know. So we've had no spring. We just had nice cold skiing weather up until Easter, and now we're just—the flowers are just wilting. Primroses—they can't take this heat. They're just lying there prostrate. Yeah.
Michael Kline: And blooms that in normal—so—called normal years are staggered—
Peggy Brace: Yes, that's right. Now they're all out to—
Michael Kline: And you'd get the forsythia before the dogwood. Now the forsythia and the dogwood are all blooming at the same time.
Peggy Brace: 00:20:44 And then lilacs and the apple blossoms.
Michael Kline: Yes. It's all coming at once. I've never seen that.
Peggy Brace: Yeah, the lilacs and the apple blossoms. Yeah, it's—it's all together.
Carrie Kline: Is this something you involved yourself in, the fight against climate change or the fight for survival in the face of climate change?
Peggy Brace: Well, climate change is one thing, but I have my own little campaign that I started when—when was Al Gore's film?
Michael Kline: Inconvenient Truth?
Peggy Brace: Inconvenient Truth. That was about 2007 or something.
Michael Kline: Something like that.
Peggy Brace: Something like that. So I went to see that film. And I came out and said to a friend, "What can we do to make a difference for heaven's sake?" There's so many huge projects. And then I said, "What about clotheslines instead of dryers?" So the next year, I went down to Concord's town meeting, and I had an article that said we should all have the right to dry, because if you live in a condo or one of these planned residential communities, you're not allowed to hang out your clothes. Yeah. In Concord itself, which is what?—you got eighteen thousand people?—there's one thousand household units that are forbidden to hang out the laundry. That's all the little condos that are along these big fields with the grand houses. Well, there's your red dress. It looks fine on you, but if you put it out on the clothesline, it looks unsightly. It's kind of tacky, flowing away from your house. So all those places, you never see clotheslines around them. One of the fields that's been developed here has about twenty—five big houses—no basketball hoops allowed. So they're sort of just for show—and—tell, you know? You don't—and of course you can't wash your car in the front. You can't leave your garage door open. You can't plant any petunias in the front because it doesn't go with the landscaping. So this is— (laughs)
Carrie Kline: Let alone tomatoes.
Peggy Brace: Oh, yeah. Oh, I've never seen vegetables growing in anybody's front yard. Oh, yeah. So this is what I've been working on. So I set it up in January at the townhouse that I want to make a presentation on the right to dry. People thought it was the right to die, and they'd look at me and say, "Really?" I'm also for that too. I think that's a great issue, the right to die. But I said, "No, no, this is the right to dry." So they had it listed in January at the townhouse that this was going to be on the agenda for the April meeting. And there was a columnist from the Boston Globe who goes around to the different towns in MetroWest to get some sort of interest that she writes about in the paper. So she saw this and that this lady wants to have the right to dry. So she sent around a Globe photographer, and he took a huge picture of me hanging my clothes on the front of my Victorian house. And then he had two pages of pictures of me and my laundry. And people said, "Oh my goodness." I went to my doctor, and he said that he was reading the newspaper. And he said, "Oh my goodness, that's one of my clients—one of my patients—who's there on the front page of the Globe." And then—
Michael Kline: 00:24:48 That was you?
Peggy Brace: That was me on the Globe with these photographs of me hanging out my laundry. And then at town meeting, I presented it. And somebody else from the Boston Globe picked it up, and I had three editorials on the main page of the Boston Globe about my project—three of them. And then there was a cartoon that appeared in the Boston Globe with me—the lady who's into the water bottles. She's trying to prevent the sale of water bottles in the town of Concord—eight—ounce water bottles. She finally got it passed after three meetings. But I took this down the same year, the right to dry, and it passed at the first town meeting by maybe—about four people, the grumblies, who were against it. And then the Attorney General, Martha Coakley, said, "But this is a private agreement. If I live in your condo, I have to obey by the rules that you make." But one of our local reps at the Boston Statehouse said, "But that means you are forbidding people to save energy. Can't do that—"
Carrie Kline: (siren blaring) Hold on a minute. This is great.
Michael Kline: Oh, this is great.
Carrie Kline: Okay. Yeah, so the attorney general—
Peggy Brace: Yeah, the attorney general, she said, "No, no, you can't have—if you have a private agreement, and you're coming to live in my condo or my planned residential community, I call the shots." And this nice fellow who was a rep in the Statehouse said, "But that forbids you from saving energy." And he took me down to the Statehouse to make a presentation—the Boston Statehouse—about the right to dry. So I made my little spiel. And I think they trashed it. It didn't seem to come up for a vote, like all things that are in Washington never come up for a vote. So then the next year, we got a new senator representative, and he said, "Oh, I think that's great." And he took me down to make another presentation. And one of the things that I say is—to these—mostly men in the Statehouse—"Do you remember when your grandmother's clothes were flapping on the line? Remember when your mother's clothes were flapping on the line? Do your clothes flap on the line?" And everybody kind of hid their head and looked sheepish, because obviously the third generation of people all use the dryer. I mean, it's—if you put your hand in a dryer, you practically burn it off. It's a huge amount of energy. And, when I was looking this up, 50 percent of our energy comes from coal—burning electricity. And it was just at the time that all those poor fellows were underground, and they were trying to save them. Do you remember when there were sixty of them or so who were there in Kentucky or West Virginia for a long time?
Carrie Kline: We lost twenty—nine—
Michael Kline: We lost twenty—nine five years ago—five and a half years ago. But there have been so many.
Carrie Kline: Upper Big Branch, West Virginia.
Michael Kline: 00:28:08 And every day they die.
Peggy Brace: Well, so what I said, "These—if we are saying we have to use our dryers, all those poor people"—and I said Appalachia—"are digging out that coal so we can put our stuff in the dryers. I mean, is that ethical?" And people said, "Oh, but I can't. It looks tacky." And then a couple of people said, "Well, why don't you just put it in your living room then, if you want to admire your clothes?" And then there was another man who came up and said, "It detracts from the housing," and people say, "I'm going to lose the value of our street if I hang out my clothes." But the fellow who came up owns the children's clothing shop—
Carrie Kline: Who what?
Peggy Brace: Who came up and said, "You know, we shouldn't have this." And I said, "Well, there's a man in Concord who has a clothing shop"—I didn't say it was the same guy—"for children and these lovely little girls' dresses and handsome little boys' clothes and really dear little baby clothes. Now, they look great in his shop, but wouldn't they look just as well flapping on the line outside your house?" And then I said, "Furthermore, if you buy a wool sweater for the eldest child, it shrinks when you put it in the dryer. So you already have to go down two or three children in order to give the third child a sweater, because it shrunk down several sizes." So it passed wonderfully at town meeting, but it was the attorney general. So mercifully the attorney general lost the last election. We have a new attorney general. So I'll have to go down and beat on her to get her squared away on the issue of coal—fired energy furnaces—yeah, from Appalachia. It's scandalous, isn't it? Twenty percent of Americans are forbidden to hang out the laundry. That's seventy million people in this country are forbidden to hang out the wash.
Carrie Kline: We really have to be retrained to understand that it's a good thing once the laws are changed.
Peggy Brace: Well, there are other people working on it. I think that Ontario—I think maybe Toronto—I think maybe Ontario has outlawed that—to put bans on having clotheslines. It's sort of moving slowly around. It'll be like the tobacco bill. That took twenty or thirty years to pass, didn't it?
Carrie Kline: Interesting. And is there a way to actually encourage people to use clotheslines or clothes racks?
Peggy Brace: Oh, sure, yeah. I mean, it's pretty obvious. But the other thing is that, as I walk through town, the first thing people say to me is, "It's a great day for laundry, don't you think?" or "Is your laundry out on the line?" And then people just do say it lowers the value of the neighborhood with the clothes flapping. And so when I did the presentation at the town meeting—
Michael Kline: And when was that, please?
Peggy Brace: 00:31:28 It was 2010 and April town meeting. And I had pictures of summer cottages up in Maine with the laundry. And they'd say, "Oh, I do it when I'm in my country house, my estate at the Maine coast or somewhere, I hang it. But I don't do it in town," which I think is always interesting. Then I showed pictures of an Italian street scene where you go down the street and you bring these pictures home to show the locals. So with the clothes across the streets, you say, "Hey, Pedro, let me have a hook on your wall, and I'll hang up the laundry." And then Pedro gives another hook on the other side. And they have pulleys going back and forth. "Oh, how quaint that is, but if we did that in our world, tacky beyond belief." Now, I don't hang it out on Sunday, never on Sunday. I sort of—I'm home reading the scriptures. And I figure that wash day is Monday or so. So Sunday's a free day because I'm too busy reading the Bible.
Michael Kline: Did you tell them that at the town meeting?
Peggy Brace: (laughs) The other interesting thing about the publicity for this was that the original girl who came in prowling through the articles that were going to appear at the next town meeting were women with children—preschoolers—at home, little kids. And obviously the thoughts of laundry were at the top of her list really of survival. And the editorial lady who phoned up and had these essays, three of them on the editorial page of the Boston Globe, talking about this crazy lady out in Concord, she had preschoolers at home too. So when you think of an editor of the Boston Globe, you think of a fellow in a pinstripe sitting around a big table, and laundry sort of isn't in their realm of interest. But here's this little—is this lady with the small children at home—both of them. Laundry kind of rang a bell with them.
Carrie Kline: And so did saving money maybe.
Peggy Brace: Well, it's the fact that they had to cope with the laundry. I mean, how often have you put your children's diapers in the washing machine? Not very many times. The women are responsible for that really. And it hits home. What are you going to do with all this stuff? Are you going to hang it up? Are you going to put it in a dryer? So they were very positive, very positive, especially the editorial lady with her three editorials about the laundry.
Carrie Kline: All positive?
Peggy Brace: Yes. Oh, very. Very. (laughs) Yeah. But it's funny that people send me pictures from abroad of laundry. And then I get little things of—little pieces of ceramic with the laundry. Somebody the other day came in with a coffee cup with laundry scenes all around it and a piece of wash at the bottom of the cup. She said, "Oh, I saw it in a catalog, and I had to get it for you." That's all the kind of presents I ever get is laundry presents. Oh, another big mug with laundry on the outside of it, I have.
Carrie Kline: Clothespins too?
Peggy Brace: No.
Carrie Kline: You never get clothespins?
Peggy Brace: 00:35:20 No, I don't get—well, yes I do. Somebody moved into a condo and gave me a whole batch of their clothespins—that's right—because they couldn't use them.
Carrie Kline: They still can't?
Peggy Brace: Yeah, that's right, because—yeah, because the attorney general knocked it down.
Michael Kline: One of our great joys of heating with wood is that we have a clothes rack behind the wood stove all winter.
Peggy Brace: When you were young?
Carrie Kline: No, now.
Michael Kline: Oh, no, now.
Carrie Kline: We have clotheslines too.
Peggy Brace: Yeah, I know. In our house, I remember, it was sort of a rack that you could—you pulled up. And then you'd lower it, and it would be right over the kitchen stove. And it would dry everything—sooner or later.
Michael Kline: That's what we've got now.
Carrie Kline: Plus clotheslines. We love them.
Michael Kline: Plus the clothesline.
Carrie Kline: And we're selling our house. And we were telling the new owners about the low utility bills. And it occurred to me that it will be different if they choose to use the dryer, very different.
Peggy Brace: Well, yeah, it's—everybody has enough money to pay for their clotheslines. I mean, they really do. And the other thing about a clothesline is that—"The husband, he can't afford to buy you a dryer? Really? Are you that stricken?" Or the other thing is that many husbands—New Yorkers especially—"Oh, I don't want my wife to hang the clothes out. We just didn't do that in New York"—in Staten Island or the fancy places where they lived. And this is right in Concord center. "We don't want a clothesline because it's really tacky"—the men making these decisions, which I always think is interesting, yeah. Yeah.
Carrie Kline: So you're going to go back now to the new attorney general?
Peggy Brace: Yes, I'll have—well, I didn't—this winter I didn't think it was the time to talk about clotheslines. I couldn't even get out to mine, the snowdrifts were so big. It's hard to get enthusiastic when the temperature's twenty below zero. I must say, I don't put stuff out below zero. It just really turns into a board. But the other thing about a clothesline is the winter winds are drier than the summer winds, you know? The humidity? But the winter air is much drier, and it's the wind that blows them dry too, a nice stiff breeze. You don't have to have the sun. The other thing—the reflection I think from the snow dries the clothes better. You get these big storms, and then you get the west wind. It brings in the sunlight, and it looks so wonderful. And the stuff dries very quickly. (laughs) I didn't mean to get involved in this, but I guess it's my—yeah.
Carrie Kline: 00:38:18 This is great.
Michael Kline: You didn't mean to get involved. (laughs)
Peggy Brace: No, I thought—do you really want to hear about my clotheslines?
Carrie Kline: Yeah, we do, and anything else about your place. Rumor has it that you have sort of an unofficial B&B?
Peggy Brace: Oh my word, where did you get that?
Carrie Kline: It was a little note from Leslie.
Peggy Brace: Oh, yeah. Oh, yeah. Well, the fellow who is the authority on—well, on Henry David Thoreau—is a fellow called Harding, Walter Harding. And he was from SUNY somewhere. And he came every summer and gave lectures for six weeks to high school teachers of Thoreau and the Concord authors. It was part of many of their curriculums. So I put up Walter Harding. And then I took some of the other students who came because it was—I have a five—bedroom house, and the children were gone. So I put them up—the National Endowment for the Arts—basically they all came with these—what am I trying to say?—they came with these things from—they were paid this stipend to come, so I thought I'd horn in on all that good money and house these people. And once—I got the people coming from abroad as guests, and one fellow came from Santiago, Chile, another from Iceland. And my husband was a tour guide around for MIT alumni people. We ended up in Santiago, so we went to see him. It was kind of fun to be taken around Santiago by a private guide. And when we were going up to Iceland—which we went on about fifteen tours—Iceland—the nice lady that—we had the house. She moved out of her one—bedroom apartment and stayed with a friend. And we stayed in Reykjavik, right in the center. And then she took us all around to visit her uncles out on the islands. And it was just a wonderful way to see—from this connection with Thoreau's NEH grants—people that stayed with us. Sort of a reciprocity treaty here, yeah. One American lady came, and she said, "Well, I'll just take my towels now so I'll have them," and I said, "What towels?" "Well, for the week." I said, "This is Thoreau country. You get one towel on Monday morning, and that's going to last you the whole week. You don't need a fresh towel every night." (laughs) So it was a good alibi to have Thoreau as your guide. One towel—every time you wash yourself, a new towel.
Carrie Kline: Not in clothesline country.
Peggy Brace: No.
Michael Kline: Were you wearing a little button that said, "What would Thoreau do?"
Peggy Brace: 00:41:23 What would Jesus do? That's right. Well, yeah. Yeah. We should have one like that. The only thing I do have is on my car—I had them made—I have a bumper sticker that says, "Question growth." And some people stop me. So I have them in the car, and I give them away to other people because bigger house, bigger corporation, bigger town—everything has to be bigger. You can't just have something that just sort of putters along on its own steam. Concord—talking about bigger houses—there are a lot of small houses built after the war for the soldiers coming home and what have you, kind of bungalow—type houses. And every day another one is torn down. So there was a horrendous noise the other morning. It was at seven o'clock in the morning. It was a house being just demolished with a huge noise. And they put up these enormous things. I call them nursing homes. They have turrets and extensions and Palladian windows and five—car garages. And they just go on forever.
Carrie Kline: What windows did you say?
Peggy Brace: Palladian windows, those great big ones with the double set of them up.
Carrie Kline: Go on forever, huh?
Peggy Brace: Nursing homes. (laughs) Everywhere. You just drive around town, and it's horrendous.
Carrie Kline: Are you meeting with people who live in these places?
Peggy Brace: No. Some of them are locals that have developed. No, I don't really. No. (laughs)
Carrie Kline: You go where the clotheslines are?
Peggy Brace: Yeah.
Carrie Kline: Is there a Thoreau Society?
Peggy Brace: Yeah. Yeah.
Carrie Kline: Tell us about—
Peggy Brace: Well, the Thoreau Society—there again, it's—very few people from Concord belong to it. We used to have speakers' nights at Belknap Street, and the same ten or dozen people showed up. Nobody else was added to it. It's—I suppose if you're a successful banker or golfer or something—it doesn't appeal to many people, Thoreau's world. It just doesn't. And at the Thoreau Society meetings, there's the same half a dozen people who show up at the July—his birthday is July 12, Thoreau's is—and we have these yearly meetings since 1941 of his birth year. But the same half a dozen people from Concord show up. And the rest of them come from Japan—we've had people stay with us from Japan and Russia and—Japan especially because now that they're so successful, the Japanese, and they're beginning to think of all their material gatherings and the materialistic world that they've developed in Japan, they're saying, "Oh, what about that Thoreau guy?" And they're very keen on him. And also when the armies of occupation were in Japan, many of them were given Walden to read. And so they got into it, oddly enough. And the Russians come. I remember a lady from Bulgaria who comes every—I mean, it's really amazing. But the locals are off at the summer estate, putting their clothes in a dryer and playing golf. So Leslie must have said that I was into this world, yeah. What else did she say about me?
Carrie Kline: 00:45:31 First Parish. She mentioned First Parish.
Peggy Brace: Oh, did she really? (laughs) Yeah. Yeah, when I came to Concord and the church bell rang, I went up to the Episcopal Church, where I'm supposed to be. Where do you go to church? You don't go to church.
Michael Kline: Lots of them.
Peggy Brace: What?
Michael Kline: We go to lots of churches.
Peggy Brace: Meaning what?
Michael Kline: We do a lot of documentary work, a lot of religious folk life.
Peggy Brace: Oh.
Carrie Kline: And sometimes we're in the woods and celebrate that way.
Michael Kline: We've probably been to everything from snake handling churches to old regular Baptist singing—
Peggy Brace: Oh, how interesting. Yeah.
Michael Kline: So we go to lots of churches.
Carrie Kline: Let's talk about her.
Michael Kline: Yeah, I know. I just wanted to make a point.
Peggy Brace: Yeah, because when I had a new hip one year, I didn't want to go to choir practice—I had to stand up through choir practice—and I thought, I don't need to do this. So I went around to all the churches in town, thinking, what gets somebody out of bed on a Sunday morning and trundle off to church? Because it's really interesting to think of all these different—these are just protestant outfits too, and they're all so different. And it's sort of fun, the way you were doing—no snake charmers, but a lot of variety of people. But the Episcopal Church, it's—I remember taking my mother to the Episcopal Church here. And she was in her eighties, and she'd get down and say, "My sins weigh heavily upon me. The burden of them is intolerable." I said, "Mom, what have you been doing at eighty—four that's so sinful?" And she said, "Oh, you just say it." You may not believe it, but you just rattle it off. I thought, I don't like that. So I went to the Unitarian Church. And they're not into sin. They don't believe in sin much, you know? Everybody is, "Hey, you're all right, Jack"—that British film. And I thought, oh, this is good. And then the other thing is that when you leave most churches—may the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost be with you—who the hell is the Holy Ghost?—and be with you forevermore. And in this Unitarian church, they say, "Go out into the world in peace. Have courage. Hold on to what is good. Return no person evil for evil. Strengthen the faint—hearted. Support the weak. Honor all beings." It used to be honor all people. They changed it into beings, so it includes mice and ants and stuff. But it's such a positive thing. Hold your head up and do something important. And so I thought, oh, this is good. So I've been singing in the choir for thirty years or so. And it's a great—I kind of like to be with like—minded people. And there was a very interesting guy from Washington who was a Kennedy scholar, and he did all sorts of things. And his wife had died. And I used to do the flowers for twenty years at this church. And he came over and said, "I'd like to have some flowers for my wife." And I said, "I haven't seen her here before. When did you join?" He said, "I joined 9—12. I joined the day after 9—11, because I needed to be with people who could sort of mull through this and figure out what it was all about." Here's this high—powered scientist from Washington—showed up just so he would be with like—minded people. I thought that was a good ad for togetherness, of what it means to go to a community church.
Carrie Kline: 00:49:23 Yeah.
Peggy Brace: Yeah, it's a fun church. We sing a lot of fantastic music. There's seventy of us in the choir—it's almost like a community chorus—seventy in the church choir. I went to a church across town, and they said, "Oh, she's come over." I told them who I was: "I've come over from the First Parish Church in Concord." And I almost turned around and said, "Yeah, there's seventy of us in the choir, and there are only thirty—five in your congregation." But I didn't. I was much more polite than that.
Carrie Kline: What do you sing?
Peggy Brace: Oh, everything. Oh, I sing alto. I've got an alto voice. Yeah.
Carrie Kline: But what kind of—what are some of the great songs you sing there?
Peggy Brace: Oh, we—
Carrie Kline: Do you feel like giving us a verse?
Peggy Brace: Oh, no, we sing a lot of the—Brahm's and Tudor music—and there's actually three volumes of anthems that were collected to be used in that church itself by a local musician in the 1890s. There's a tradition of really good music in the Unitarian Church, unlike the Quakers, which is kind of dead silence. Right? They are. Have you been to a Quaker service? Nothing much happens at all. But the other thing, I did the flowers. And this is where—we were talking about flowers all coming out at once. It was much nicer when you had the forsythia and then the apple blossoms. It was consecutive. But suddenly they're all out together. And then there's none.
Carrie Kline: 00:51:12 None?
Peggy Brace: Well, everything comes at once. You used to rely on having flowers for the church consecutively. We were talking about the spring.
Carrie Kline: How could that—I'm sorry—?
Peggy Brace: Oh, yeah. Well, one of the things was to use natural things that are blossoming. In the wintertime, we use grasses and what have you. But there was one nice lady who was—a Japanese lady—she was a flower arranger. And I said, "What brought you to the Unitarian Church?" She lives in another town. And she said, "I came because of the wonderful flowers, the natural flowers, and the beautiful music." That's what she said. Those are the two things. I thought, wow. Here I am. (laughs) Yeah.
Carrie Kline: How do you conceive a flower arrangement?
Peggy Brace: Oh, well, just—apple—in a big building. Think about the size of the church. You can't put little things. You have to have branches or something big. That's why it's nice to go outside. And I live across from the National Park. And I was in there one day picking something—I've forgotten what—maybe buttercups and stuff. And the National Park ranger came by and said, "You are not to pick in the National Park." I said, "It's for the glory of"—I looked to see what his name is—if he has a Moynihan or—I said, "It's for the Catholic Church." And then I checked on who he is. I said, "It's for the glory of God. I have to pick your flowers." (laughs) So I didn't go to jail. It was just nice flower picking.
Carrie Kline: Yeah. How'd that go over with him? (laughs)
Peggy Brace: But I'm careful to notice what kind of a name he had. Isn't that awful? (laughs)
Carrie Kline: It translated to Catholic for you? (laughs)
Peggy Brace: Yes! I thought, oh, Moynihan. Oh, he must be over at the—Our Lady of Responsibility. (all laugh) Wasn't that Garrison Keillor?
Carrie Kline: Right. Perpetual Responsibility.
Peggy Brace: Perpetual Responsibility. (laughs) I love that man. He's so fun, isn't he?
Carrie Kline: Yeah. That and ketchup.
Peggy Brace: Yeah.
Carrie Kline: So you're a gardener yourself?
Peggy Brace: 00:53:39 Yeah, I've got dirty fingernails. I was out there today doing—yeah.
Carrie Kline: Talk about that?
Peggy Brace: Well, I have—I have flower gardens. When you go up to the—I don't know if you know the geography—you go up to the North Bridge, and you look down from the hillside. There's a show—and—tell building up there, very big brick house.
Michael Kline: An interpretive building.
Peggy Brace: Yeah, for the National Park. Been there?
Carrie Kline: The Manse?
Peggy Brace: Well, no, the Manse is the—is down below in the valley, and that is the—the Manse means a house for the Scottish clergymen. This is just somebody's private house up on the hilltop, which was included in the National Park. There were thoughts of tearing it down because it didn't fit with the—but it's turned out it's a great show—and—tell place for people to run the National Park from that building. But they have books to sell, and they have a diorama that you can look at. And so that's where visitors go. And then they come down this street, and they hit the hemlock tree. And they back up, and their windows wheel down. And they take a picture of my house and the gardens in front of it. And one day, I saw this happening, and the guy came out with his camera. And I said, "That'll be a dollar, please, to take a picture." And he said, "Well, I haven't taken the picture yet. I'm not going to pay you a dollar for photographing"—I mean, he didn't have any sense of humor about taking a picture. I thought that was really—"I haven't taken it yet." But you see English cottage gardens—the calendars—that are just wonderful. The guy who took the picture makes a fortune, but the person who did all the gardening probably didn't get a penny. So I have these gardens that are—they're enough so that you wind down your window and you take a picture of them. Yeah.
Carrie Kline: Well, describe it to us.
Peggy Brace: Oh, it's just in front of the house, but it's right along the road where they go home. You can see them when you go back.
Carrie Kline: What do they look like? What's in there?
Peggy Brace: Well, I try to keep something right from when the crocuses come up to the asters at the end of summer. It's quite tricky to keep it all going. Yeah. And then I have big raspberry patches and food. Yeah. I've got two and a half acres, but it's—yeah, it's kind of fun. There was a lot of trees around the house, and we took a lot down, because they were right in front of the windows. And then I took all the foundation plantings around. In 1846 you didn't have plantation plantings, barberry bushes and all that stuff. So it sits there looking like it probably should in 1846.
Carrie Kline: What does that look like?
Peggy Brace: 00:56:39 Well, it's—there are a lot of these Victorian gingerbreads along the Hudson River I think.
Carrie Kline: But garden—wise, what do you try to—?
Peggy Brace: Oh, make it like an English cottage garden, roses and—those wonderful gardens in England.
Michael Kline: Stone walls and—
Peggy Brace: Yeah.
Carrie Kline: You do that all yourself?
Peggy Brace: Yeah. (laughs) Yeah.
Michael Kline: You build the stone walls yourself.
Peggy Brace: Yeah. Yeah—oh, the stone wall is very handsome at our house. It has enormous pieces of granite that are sort of on top of the whole stone wall, put there in 1846 at the end of the property. It's really quite—our house was sort of a gentleman's farmer house, you know? It looked very grand in its day.
Carrie Kline: I think it still looks pretty grand now if people are taking pictures.
Peggy Brace: Well, yeah. Yeah. What were you going to say?
Michael Kline: Oh, it's just amazing to me that a place at the confluence of these rivers would have sat with a for sale sign on it for many months before you came along.
Carrie Kline: Yeah.
Peggy Brace: The whole winter, yeah.
Michael Kline: You wouldn't see that now, would you?
Peggy Brace: No, we couldn't afford the front door of that house now, I don't think. But it was a very primitive kitchen. Kitchens were where the Irish maid worked. It really didn't matter what it looked like. And some of the floors just had planks so that the Grape Nuts and the Worcestershire sauce and everything was so exposed. There were no closets and a freestanding stove with nowhere to put anything. So it wasn't very user—friendly, let's say. So I think the kitchen was really very—now you have to have the granite counters in order to sell your house.
Michael Kline: Pretty hard to hang them on a clothesline and granite counters.
Peggy Brace: Yeah, I know. I know. (laughs) Yeah, so it was very simplistic, but I liked the shape of it and I liked the size of the rooms, lots of sunlight. So it was kind of fun fixing it up. Yeah, Leslie came over to look at it one day because of the—Simon Brown, he's out—if you go out into the great room and to go up the staircase upstairs—he's right there at the foot of the staircase by stuffed animals, with his bears and stuff, he looks a bit like that. And that's the fellow who lived in our house.
Carrie Kline: 00:59:21 Then you grow lots of food in the back behind in your garden?
Peggy Brace: Yeah. But I'm—yeah. Tomatoes and stuff.
Carrie Kline: What's that?
Peggy Brace: Yeah. Tomatoes and—groceries. But there's a lot of farms now in Concord. It's great. This land's been—there must be—there must be about ten now. When can we quit?
Carrie Kline: We're doing great. But you keep talking about "we." And we started off talking about your husband and you looking. I wonder if you could talk about him a little bit—seems like a partnership—so to hear more about him.
Peggy Brace: Yeah. I still use the editorial "we," which is sort of—yeah.
Carrie Kline: Maybe once we, always we?
Peggy Brace: Yeah. This would be my sixtieth wedding anniversary. That's a long time, a long time.
Carrie Kline: Who was he when you met him, and what did he go on to do?
Peggy Brace: Well, this really isn't so much to do with Concord. What else have we talked about Concord? What else did she say?
Carrie Kline: Well, she mentioned him actually. I was just looking here at his work at MIT—
Peggy Brace: Oh, yeah, yeah.
Carrie Kline: And woodworking. And he was involved here, as you were. That's up to you, though. If you've had enough, that's okay, too, so you're in charge. We've loved this all.
Peggy Brace: What?
Carrie Kline: We've loved this.
Peggy Brace: Oh, yeah. It was my laundry, right? Yeah.
Carrie Kline: All of it. But I imagine someone who wanted to be by your side might have been a special person too.
Peggy Brace: Oh, yeah, we had a lot in common. I mean, we really were—went mountain climbing. He's actually over—he's over in a cairn under the Matterhorn in Switzerland, because he was a mountain person and he did a lot of geology of the Swiss Alps. So this cairn is about—oh, about yay high—when you stand underneath it. And that's where he is. Imagine—
Carrie Kline: 01:01:56 What is his name?
Peggy Brace: It probably says on that little list—Opa, which is a word for grandfather. We all called him Opa. But imagine being—and people said, "Oh, don't you want him in a local graveyard." No, he was an outdoor person. So he's at the feet of the Matterhorn. Ever been to the Matterhorn? Ever been to Zurich? Oh, wonderful, wonderful. Oh, yeah.
Carrie Kline: Fellow skiers were you?
Peggy Brace: Yeah, hikers, Grand Canyon three or four times. Yeah. Yeah, it was fun.
Carrie Kline: Man of the earth and skies.
Peggy Brace: Yeah. He ran the whole world actually at MIT. People would say, "What did he do?" Yeah, he ran the whole world. (laughs)
Carrie Kline: What does that mean? (laughs)
Peggy Brace: Well, earth, planetary, and atmospheric sciences, it says on that thing. So there you have it.
Michael Kline: This is great.
Carrie Kline: Thank you.
Michael Kline: Thank you very much. This was terrific.
Carrie Kline: You're a phenomenon. (laughs) Everybody told us you would be, but we always wait to learn for ourselves. You're really inspiring.
Peggy Brace: Well, yeah, I suppose when I say I'm not political, I'm—I'm interested in the right to die too, though. What do you think about it?
Carrie Kline: Talk about that.
Peggy Brace: Well, this nice girl from California who moved to Oregon so she could die the way she wanted to. I mean, don't you think? I noticed the Pope was very cross at her. The Pope said, "Oh, you can't do that. You're to suffer." But I think—after you've outstayed your welcome, for heaven's sake, why do you want to linger on? Yeah? Are you into that too?
Michael Kline: Yeah. We have a little group at home of people who are like—minded on that issue.
Peggy Brace: Have you brought it up in the state yet? Is it—because we tried to do it here. It lost by a few counts. I think it lost in Maine by a very few counts too. Have you had it on the agenda for West Virginia?
Michael Kline: 01:04:18 No. We have a piece of land for burials.
Carrie Kline: Green burial.
Michael Kline: For green burials.
Carrie Kline: It's a slightly different issue, but the idea of people making advance preparation and thinking about what's right and just for them probably overlaps.
Peggy Brace: But what about the fact that—assisted suicide I suppose, which they call it—and you're checking out. What do you think about checking yourself out?
Michael Kline: Personally?
Peggy Brace: Yeah.
Carrie Kline: Let's talk about us when we're not recording about you.
Peggy Brace: Well, you can turn that thing—
Michael Kline: Yeah, we don't want to confuse this.
Peggy Brace: Well, turn it off if you want to.
Carrie Kline: Yeah. Okay.
Peggy Brace: But, I mean, I think this is a big issue—
Michael Kline: She said she's done, so we can turn it off.
Peggy Brace: Yeah.
Carrie Kline: Okay. Thanks.
Michael Kline: We think it's important.
Carrie Kline: Okay, we'll continue.
Peggy Brace: Okay, the right to dry is similar to the right to die. And I do think that the right to die should be legislated for real, that you can do that without being stigmatized by what the church, the Pope, society—why should you have to suffer endlessly?
Do you know Atul Gawande? He's written these books. Do you know him? He writes for the New Yorker. And he wrote a book called Mortality. It came out recently. And it's the whole thing about—over medications and tests and what have you that are too much. Right to die—yeah. I think it's a very important issue. Yes, I have three children, but two of them live in Seattle with their collectively four grandchildren. And one lives in Amsterdam. And to have them running back and forth every time I have some problem—I mean, it's a long way, three thousand miles to the west and three thousand miles to the east. And they say, "Well, you should have your family around you." Well, that's a long way. And I feel that I've—I've outstayed my welcome—is what I kind of like as a phrase, you know? Hey, pull the plug. Why not? Why not?
Carrie Kline: 00:01:41 So you wouldn't feel welcome anymore? Or say a little more about that.
Peggy Brace: I wouldn't feel welcome—?
Carrie Kline: You wouldn't feel welcome anymore or what—
Peggy Brace: Oh, well, you've outstayed—I mean, you're here, and you've had a good live. And you've outstayed your welcome. Yeah. When you're born, hopefully people are pleased to see you. But, yeah, I think that only recently have this battery of machine and medicines and tests and stuff—it's quite recent really since the Second World War. But, as Atul Gawande says, it's sort of gotten beyond sensible procedures really. I thought his book was very, very profound.
Michael Kline: What was the name?
Peggy Brace: I think it's Atul, A—T—U—L, Gwande, G—W—A—N—D—E (sic).
Carrie Kline: I'm trying to remember the name of the book.
Peggy Brace: Yeah. Oh, Mortality.
Carrie Kline: On Mortality?
Peggy Brace: Yeah.
Carrie Kline: Is there a group around here?
Peggy Brace: No, I don't think. I don't know of one, and I don't belong to one. But you talk about it the way—now that we're all getting older—I mean, I'm eighty—one. I'm eighty—two this winter.
Carrie Kline: You've got to die with your boots on. (laughs)
Peggy Brace: What?
Carrie Kline: You've got to die with your ski boots on or something.
Peggy Brace: 00:03:08 I know. I know. I know. Actually I ski with a friend, because the new ski bindings, you have to be standing up to punch down on the little lever to get your skis off if you fall—if I fall down and can't get up. So we have a little phone service where we talk—this was all winter long. It was so great. But we'd say, "When are you available?" "Well, I won't be around until three o'clock this afternoon." "All right. Let's go to four." And we ski up over the fields and around for maybe about an hour. And sometimes when the sun sets, I love to go out and ski and watch it over the western ski. But if I fall down and she's not there with me, there I'm lying. And then I can hear the coyotes circling around, looking for their evening meal. There's coyotes up there all over the woods. And I thought, oh, do I really want to be out there alone? (laughs) So we ski together, and we ski all over the National Park and what have you. And it's really fun. Many people say, "Oh, I hated the winter. I never got outside." I mean, hey, put on your muffler and go outside. Yeah, it's really great.
Carrie Kline: You're really great. Thank you so much.
Peggy Brace: Oh, I don't know about that. (laughs)
Peggy Brace: —left it on somehow.
Carrie Kline: Sure. Okay, we're running again.
Peggy Brace: When I made the presentation at town meeting, it was—I think it was forty years that they had had this—what was it called?—Earth Day. It was forty years ago when I had presented this. And I said, "You know, we've had forty years, and what have we done? We go to meetings. We go to seminars. We take courses on what's to do. And what have we done? Nothing." Then I said, "What can each of us do which collectively can make an enormous difference in our use of energy? That's the question." Long pause. (singing) "The answer, my friends, is laundry blowing in the wind. The answer is blowing in the wind." And I had a picture of a girl reaching for her laundry out in print. It's just blowing in the sky. She can't reach it. But it's blowing in the wind. And everybody clapped and hooted. And then the monitor said, "Now, you're not supposed to clap at town meeting, and there should be no comments from the audience." He was very cross. Everybody started to laugh. (laughs) And then they always say, "Are you going to come to town meeting? Are you going to sing again?" And I said, "No. No, I don't think so."
Carrie Kline: Thank you. (laughs)
Peggy Brace: Isn't that kind of a fun story?
Carrie Kline: That's great.
Peggy Brace: (singing) The answer, my friends, is laundry blowing it the wind. (laughs)
Carrie Kline: Okay. The other thing?
Peggy Brace: The other thing about the town meeting, it was the fourth night of town meeting—Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday—at 9:30 at night, everybody bored to tears with all the issues and monies and stuff. But people sort of came back. They said, "Oh, I want to hear what she has to say." And one of my friends showed up the last Wednesday. They came Wednesday thinking I was going to do it then. And 9:30 at night, there they all were, listening to my presentation, thinking, what on earth is she going to say? Yeah. I mean, it was amazing. And the other lady made a presentation to forbid the sale of eight—ounce water bottles in town. And it took her three tries to get through that. She didn't have very good presentation. She didn't have any good pictures. And finally last year it went through. And you cannot buy legally an eight—ounce single water bottle. It's the first town in the country to have that in the whole USA—Concord—you can't buy an eight—ounce water bottle in Concord.
Carrie Kline: That's neat. And what did town meeting finally pass on yours?
Peggy Brace: Oh, they passed an ordinance that said that you can't forbid people hanging up the laundry.
Michael Kline: Because of the energy issue?
Peggy Brace: Yeah. Yeah. And everybody—
Michael Kline: Because you're forcing them to use—
Peggy Brace: Yeah, that's right.
Michael Kline: Can you say that again?
Peggy Brace: It passed in town meeting. It passed that you don't—the town—everybody has the right to hang out their laundry in Concord. And you can't forbid them from saving money in doing that—saving energy in doing that, hanging out the laundry. But—so it passed in Concord—but the attorney general said, "No. You can't force the state to horn in on an agreement between two people about living in a condo or whatever. That's a private arrangement, and the state has no business into it."
Carrie Kline: But the state legislature is taking a second look at that.
Peggy Brace: Then—yeah, the local politicians took me in twice—one was the representative, another was a senator—saying, "We really ought to have this withdrawn, that people have the power to forbid you from saving energy."
Carrie Kline: Right.
Peggy Brace: And think of the whole country. Sixty million people are forbidden to hang out the laundry. That's in the Sunbelt, and in the summertime it goes right up to Minnesota. Twenty percent of the population need that Appalachian coal. Got to keep those people digging away.
Michael Kline: Well, what would you expect in a country—in a nation—that does not have an energy policy? We don't have a national energy policy, so why should any state have an energy policy?
Peggy Brace: That's right. And also, why should we have a national EPA that's going to restrict all kinds of things—the birds and the bees and environmental things—when each state has an environmental policy? Forty—eight different or fifty different versions of the EPA, some lax, some stringent, but no national policy.
Michael Kline: No national policy. It's crazy.
Peggy Brace: It's shameful, isn't it? I mean, when you think of a river going through eight states, and yet each little state has control over what's going on in that river. There's a wonderful fellow who teaches landscape architecture planning, and he says, "Think locally, plan regionally—and then globally." So that it's the regions where the mountain ranges and the rivers make a little entity. That's where you—
Michael Kline: Watersheds, yeah.
Peggy Brace: Yeah, that's where you plan. You don't have these artificial town borders—or countries, too. Plan locally. Plan regionally. We don't do that. With the EPA, we don't want—and public television, public radio—I mean, they're dreadful. We've got to get rid of those. (laughs) I was reading—was it in Hoffa?—where was he from?—he doesn't believe in global warming, never has, never is going to. Out with the EPA. Out with public television. No more public—National Public Radio and newscasts at six o'clock—out.
Michael Kline: It ain't what it used to be.
Peggy Brace: It's just so grim, isn't it? Well, what fun to have you guys come up and do this. My goodness.
Carrie Kline: Thank you. It's our pleasure.
Michael Kline: We love what we do.
Peggy Brace: I'll bet you do.
(end of audio)