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(Here's a story I wrote 27 years ago about a woman whom I entered onto my short list of heroines.  Now I'm about the age she was when she took on this big journey.  I don't think I could do it today.   But it does sound enticing!)

One thing you don't call Adele Kushner:  A 60-year-old grandma.

"I'm only 59 and a half," she brags.  

And she's got a lot to prove before she finishes her sixth decade.

Adele is marching across the United States and even farther --- to Moscow --- with a group of young men as members of A Walk of the People:  A Pilgrimage for Life.

She became interested in becoming part of this peace march last year when the group's organizer Dale James Outhouse of New York passed through her hometown of Atlanta mapping out his future walk through the southern part of the nation.

The stout and feisty grandmother of two liked Outhouse's message and she had something she want to prove --- something about ageism, sexism and American foreign policy.

"I just thought it was a good thing to show that a 59-year-old grandmother can get out and shake a leg," she summarizes.

In fact, Adele was so sold on participating in the peace walk that she retired six years early from her job as a health program evaluator for Fulton county, GA.

Initially she made a ten-day trial walk in California to make sure she was up to the project.  Results were positive.  Affairs were put in order back home in Georgia before Adele got in step with the peace group in Wichita Falls, TX.

Half a dozen other walkers are making a statement about peace along with Adele --- all nearly 20 to 30 years her junior.

They began their walk last March appropriately at Point Conception, CA.  They plan to reach their Moscow destination in August, 1985 with letters, artwork, poetry and other works showing what Americans feel about their search for peace in a troubled world.

Along with their packet of letters are ones from governors the marchers have met along the way, including those from Arizona, New Mexico and Texas.

Adele and her fellow walkers have no official sponsors.  They survive on the sale of peace t-shirts and buttons, even aluminum cans they turn in at recycling stations along the way.  In addition, they meet with peace groups in communities, whose members give them shelter, a home cooked meal and packed lunches for meals on the road.

The group tries to cover about 20 miles a day, and Adele trudges along with the rest of 'em.

"The others in the walk have been good to me," Adele concedes.  "They let me drive the car more than my share so I won't get too tired.  I put in about three hours a day on foot, though."

Everything the group needs in stored in Outhouse's car, an old Dodge Dart, that looks more battered than the walkers from the trip.  One person drives it ahead and then waits for the others to catch up.

In mid-November they've already made an appointment to meet with officials at the Russian Embassy in Washington, DC.

Then the car goes into retirement as the walkers walk into a plane that will take them to Dublin, with further jaunts (by foot whenever possible) to London, Berlin, Warsaw and finally Moscow.

What in the world do Adele's daughters think of their activist mother?

"They got me started in this," she answers.

"When they were in school they started bringing these leaflets home from school.  They criticized our role in Vietnam and things like that.

"I was shocked.  My country, which was always the good guy, was doing things I couldn't believe.  It changed my life."

Adele has had to make a few sacrifices because of her new lifestyle.  Shortly after she started on her walk, her daughter had a baby, which she had to delay seeing until she reached Atlanta in mid-September.

Once there she took some time off and flew to Denver to catch a glimpse of grand-baby before joining the walkers again along the road to the nation's capital.

This most unusual grandmother, often found under a huge gardener-type straw hat and wearing long sleeves to protect her from Mother Nature's cruel elements, looks at her walk philosophically.

"I figure that what we're doing on this walk is like throwing a rock in the middle of a stream.  It sends out ripples from the center that reach out to the edges of the shore.

"I know that when we speak to people along our way, their enthusiasm is evident," Adele explains  from her tanned face.

"We do feel enthusiasm from them, and that is just so wonderful.  You never know what will come from that.  That's really what keeps me going."

What Adele will do after she delivers Americans' letters to the people of Russia and returns home to the U.S. is the farthest thing from her mind right now.

"I feel there's definitely an urgency to have people work for people," she remarks, however.  "I've found that it's possible if you just get out and do what you can."


For what are you willing to march?

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