Monday, August 25, 2008

The Velvet Panzer

I first met Emily Polk when, as a SWAP (Small Wilderness Area Preservation) member, I was helping with a fund-raising, community outreach effort. We were gong to put together an exhibition of Emily Polk’s paintings and drawings, so another member and I went to her house to meet her.

As the founder of SWAP in 1970, Emily was a “legend” to SWAPish folk, but was also a much traveled, multi-talented woman of surpassing presence and relentless courtesy – every inch a Lady. Which is why every time I think about her, I have to smile.

In the late 60’s, after stumbling into what is now the Los Osos Oaks Preserve, Emily steamed up to Sacramento and into those dens of cigar-chomping, liquor-swilling iniquity, -- i.e. the offices of our elected representatives, that band of boozing Pols under the whip of the likes of Jessee Unruh. I know those old boys took one look at Emily and smirked that they’d just waltz that little old gal around a bit and they’d soon have her out the door empty handed.

They didn’t know Emily. Under that fa├žade of exquisitely polished manners, beat the heart of a Panzer Division Commander. And when Emily finished with them, those old boys were laying flat on the carpet with tank treads running up their backsides, wondering what the hell had just happened, while Emily walked out the office door, legislation in hand allowing for the formation of SWAP areas, including our own beloved Elfin Forest and the Oaks Reserve, among another other now-public places, saved forever.

Emily Polk passed away Aug 16, reports the Tribune. She was 98. God better look out.

Another Poem Especially Apt for a Work-A-Day Monday Morning

Once again, Kay Ryan from her book “Say Uncle.”


Much of life
is Dutch

in which
legions of
big robust
people crouch

badly cracked
dike systems

by the thumbs

their wide
balloon-pantsed rumps
up-ended to the
northern sun

while, back
in town, little
tulip magnates
stride around.


franc4 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
alabamasue said...

Franc4 - What on earth does your comment have to do with Ann's moving tribute to a friend ?? Go post that crap on your own blog, where it can be ignored. Geez...