scavenged-clothing deliveries to zuccotti park

#OccupyWallStreet – first visit – 10/8/2011

Dear Joan, Dear Bob,
Thank you ever so much for getting me down to the occupation so
expeditiously! There was an info table up front, where I was told that
the sleeping-bag-and-clothing drop-off site was in the middle, just in
back of the Kitchen. I unloaded the clothes, then went to the kitchen to
drop off the two packages of cookies I had scavenged from Gristedes.
There were bins of fresh food, canned food, etc  While I was trying to
figure out where cookies would go (if anywhere) someone behind me asked
if he could help. I handed over the cookies to him, and then wandered

A whole bunch of signs were spread out on the ground in a display. Quite
a number had to do with the concept of corporate personhood, as well as
corporate greed. My favorite signs were

To ignore this movement would be an OBAMANATION. WHERE ARE YOU?

I got sold the American Dream. I want a refund.

Joes Pizza Hollbrook L.I.
The D’Onofrio family

Love you & support
Occupy Wall Street
Enjoy the pizza!
&  fight hard



Many people were bedding down for the night, curling up communally under
tarps. But many others were still up, conversing, singing, etc.

I ran into only one person I know, Sharon from the Really Really Free

One corner of the plaza was set up as a library–something like 27 bins
of books. Quite a varied selection.

A substantial area of the plaza reeked of a sweet smell–incense, I
guess. Sharon thought it might be serving to cover up the smell of pot.
There was also a lot of tobacco smoking going on. (I mention these
because both were hard for me to take.)

I went back to the sign area and was copying down some of the slogans.
Someone near me commented on a sign mentioning the Rothchilds
[sic–proper spelling is Rothschilds]. The message wasn’t clear, but I
commented that it might be antisemitic. This led me to become embroiled
in a mainly good-natured discussion with a young open-faced man who was
unembarrassed by his lack of knowledge, asking a lot of basic questions
about Jews, history, etc. (a quality which I found admirable–what a
place to get an education!) and a slightly older young man who
identified himself as of Iranian origin, who was pretty much spouting
the Israeli party line (Israel is the only democracy in the Middle East,
Palestinians are treated better than they are anywhere else, etc.). We were joined by a pudgy young black guy who said, “I’m just listening.”
I finally pulled myself away, having lost patience with both the Iranian
and the incense. In my attempt to extricate myself, I said,  “My name is
Vicki.” The Iranian said nothing; Openface said, “I love you.”

I asked at the info table what people did about toilets, and was
directed to McDonald’s, half a block away.  Before I located the women’s
room I was online for the men’s room, along with another women. The
sweet guy in front of me said he had been in Central Park earlier. I
asked what had been going up there. Nothing political, he explained. He
had met a girl at the occupation, and before she caught the train back
to Long Island, they had hung out in Central Park.

Then I went home.

* * * * * * *

#OccupyWallStreet – second visit – 10/25/11

Dear Folks,

On Thursday I made my second visit to #OWS, a quickie, two weeks after
my first trip. Things have changed. Near the Help Desk was a big sign
with about 10 guidelines–no drugs or alcohol, no violence, etc. Perhaps
as a result, there was no smell of incense, so being there was much more
pleasant for me.

I headed into the middle of the park to look for the clothing drop-off
site. This time the only person I knew was the surly American Indian guy
who used to work at the Yippie Cafe on Bleecker St. I said hello, &

asked where the clothing depot was. He pointed me farther on, and
grumbled that the clothes needed to be clean. I refused to take the bait
and forged ahead. Now there are racks and hangers for the clothing–much
more satisfying that just leaving bags of stuff. A tall, gaunt man with
a nose ring grabbed a quilted vest, then held a small flashlight to
shine on the rack I was filling up. When I finished, I said, “I
appreciated the light. I figured you were looking for more clothes, but
it made it easier for me.”

He said, “No, I was doing it to help you.”

I had a few non-clothing items, including a plastic cigar that I had
been saving for a street-theater prop. Next to the clothing racks was a
medical dispensary, with bins for all sorts of drugstore items. The guy
in charge of that said he’d take it.

Then I had a plastic 4-pack of tomatoes that I had encountered sitting
in the middle of the sidewalk on Spring Street, along with a couple of
loose tomatoes, one whole and one squashed, a couple of hours earlier. I
dropped that off at the kitchen.

It was already close to midnight and I didn’t want to linger. Many folks
were burrowed under their blue tarps. Now there are reports of tents; I
didn’t notice any then, but I did see a folding army cot, as well as
many silvery reflective sheets, the kind that are distributed at the

On my way out I passed the Library, which has expanded from part of the
wall area further into the center of the plaza, with several tables
holding more bins of books.

I passed up the chance to pee at the local McDonald’s, but several
blocks later regretted my decision. As I walked up Broadway I hoped to
find another all-night place, but didn’t. Then I came upon a
brightly-lit Duane-Reade drugstore, not open for business but in the
middle of receiving a delivery. I asked the manager if there were a
bathroom I could use. He said it was against policy but he would let me
in. He sent me down the escalator with an escort, who led to me to the
rest room and would have punched in the code except that it was occupied.

When I got back upstairs I thought I should give the manager some
positive reinforcement for his humanitarian gesture, so I said, “That
was WONDERFUL! Thank you!”, which tickled all the women wage slaves
deployed around him.

On the weekend I was at the War Resisters League office to feed the cat, and noticed a
printout from the Mother Jones magazine website on the desk. It was
about how #OperationWallStreet got started, and had a lot of interesting
info I had been unaware of. [By Andy Kroll. Mother Jones 10.2011]
* * * * * * *

In fact, I should have been aware of this whole dynamic, because I had
been hearing about it for months, it seems. An activist named Matt is
around a lot, doing some computer work for EarthMatters, the organic
internet cafe up the block. He’d been talking to me all summer, first
about Bloombergville, then about the downtown organizing meetings,
trying to get me involved. I was really happy to know that all that
stuff was going on, but I’m just off in my own little corner and I
didn’t have the time. But they seem to have done just fine without me!

* * * * * * *

#OccupyWallStreet – third visit – 11/10/11

Dear Folks,

Recently I was struggling home with an unbalanced bag of clothing hung
on the outside of my wheelie suitcase. A young man at my corner asked if
he could help.

“Yes!” I said. “Just hold onto the bag and keep it from listing to one
side or the other.”

The load-steadyer, whose name is Josh, told me he’s studying photography
at ICP (International Center for Photography, I think) and is doing a
project on night workers. Would I participate? Sure!

I decided that if he we got together on Thursday, he could document me
taking another load of clothes to Zuccotti Park before I went on my
scavenging rounds. Turns out it wasn’t his first visit to OWS, but it
worked out fine anyway.

I still have no idea what this place looks like during the daytime. When
we got there, the place was a sea of tents. There were little pathways
at various places, but it was harder to maneuver the wheelie over to the
clothing area. An occupier named Malik wanted me just to give the stuff
to him, but I wanted to give Josh his photo op, so I hung the clothes up
myself. Someone came over looking for a sleeping bag or blankets. but
Malik said they were all out. I pulled out a nifty sleeping bag I had
recently scored on Orchard Street and handed it over.

We made our way out on the north side, through a bicycle-repair area,
and stopped at the McDonald’s across the street to use the restrooms.

* * * * * * *

I made a fourth clothing delivery just a few days before Zuccotti Park was cleared and shut. I didn’t get around to sending out a report, but the high point of it would have been the tall, rectangular tent where the clothes were then stored–donated, I was told, by Patti Smith. For a while after that, I was still storing clothes for Occupy, but couldn’t figure out what to do with them. Eventually I put them out locally, in the free store I run outdoors on my street.


Comments Off on scavenged-clothing deliveries to zuccotti park

Filed under nonfiction