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Author Archive: "Steve McQuiddy"

Somebody Should Write about Those Conscientious Objectors

About 20 years ago, I was sitting in the comfortable, cluttered University of Oregon Archives talking with Keith Richard, the university archivist.

I was a freelance writer constantly digging for story ideas, and visits with Keith often turned up good leads. "Somebody should write about those conscientious objectors," he said.

"What conscientious objectors?" I asked.

Keith showed me a set of flat files containing all manner of booklets, broadsides, leaflets, cards, and letters. I picked up a booklet with a plain brown wrapper, and it fell open to a page with a glossy photograph glued to it, showing a snapshot of a man.

He looked like a madman with shoulder-length, matted hair and a thick, dark beard sticking out like an overused whisk broom. He was looking down from the camera with a faraway stare. Not dangerous, perhaps a bit unsettling. He was a poet, and this was his book. His name was Glen Coffield, and I'd never heard of him.

I flipped to the inside jacket leaf, where the publishers wrote their blurb. At the bottom it said, "When asked for a photograph, Mr. Coffield submitted one; we match his ...

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