It was a scene lifted whole from the 1940s: A quartet of quiet, dignified young women, smartly dressed in vintage clothes, occupied the window seats at the Chapel Hill Starbucks. On the table before each, a manual typewriter of roughly the same vintage: a Remington, a Royal, two Smith-Coronas--one in turquoise. When a typist finished a page, she removed the paper, placed it in a wire basket, and tapped a little silver service bell. The other three briefly paused to applaud.
All in a day's work for "Keys of Resistance," an imaginative, anti-war typing and dictation brigade. Last Saturday, the group set up temporary "offices" in every coffeehouse in Carrboro and Chapel Hill, where they proceeded to solicit--and then type--letters from patrons to elected officials about the war in Iraq.
By day's end they'd finished 55 letters to an assortment of politicians, including President Bush, Sen. John Edwards and Chapel Hill Mayor Kevin Foy.
According to "secretary" Sara Daily, the four planned the event well before the U.S. invasion, but decided to continue with it once war began. "Right now it's even more important that people oppose violence and express their opinions," she said.
"We were interested in doing something on the side of civil disobedience, but not anything that wasn't peaceful," noted member Kim Korinek. The group's clothes and machinery "also harken back to the 1940s and the last great war," she says.
"We think what we are doing is patriotic. My brother is over in Iraq," Korinek said.
Despite glares from a beefy barista behind the counter, there was no shortage of clients at Starbucks. UNC student Chase Foster submitted his communique and said, "I think the anti-war movement now needs to take more of a creative stance, to try to find ways to reach people's minds."
Meanwhile, just outside the coffeehouse, a father helped two young boys draft a letter to the president. "Now that the war has started," he said, "it's very frustrating to figure out an effective way to protest the war. It doesn't seem very effective to just march up and down with a sign anymore."
Here's what they came up with:
Dear President Bush:
We don't think it was very smart of you to make war with Iraq. We think that you shouldn't be bombing. You said that this is not against the Iraqi people. When you bomb, you hurt the Iraqis. If we do head into nuclear war, it will lead to the end of the world. Please stop the war now.
Arthur Mayer, age 9
Peter Mayer, age 12
Alex Mayer, age 43
The Keys of Resistance's next "office hours" come March 27, outside Carrboro's Weaver Street Market from 6-7:15 p.m., and at Chapel Hill's West End Wine Bar from 7:30-9 p.m. On April 3, the group revisits Chapel Hill coffeehouses between 6-9 p.m.