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CLOSE-UP: An Anti-War Canvasser Reports

By Ronald H. Janis

When I entered the basement of Memorial Church at 8:30 yesterday morning to volunteer my services in canvassing Cambridge to drum up support for the Moratorium, I had all the good intentions of a young rabbi.

When I returned at noon to hand in my evaluation sheet to the canvass committee I had distributed about 50 leaflets explaining why the War should be opposed, I had had three doors slammed in my face. I had been told by a half a dozen people that they were already planning to go to the Cambridge Commons Rally, I had listened to another five people voice a sympathy with the rally but refuse to actively support it, and I found out that most people in Cambridge do not stay at home in the morning. I also felt a little useless, but I had a sense of satisfaction with myself.

The evaluations dropped off by some of the other canvassers repeated my experiences. "Leafleting should be done between 7 and 10 p.m. when people are home," commented one volunteer. Another student who canvassed at storefronts said, "I question the general effectiveness of distributing pamphlets." He suggested that the volunteers "distribute mailable materials which could be signed and sent by the recipient to the President."

Yet most of the volunteers reported favorably on their activities. This attitude was reflected by the coordinator of the canvass project, Doreen Blanc.

Miss Blanc, who resides in Cambridge and works as a consultant at Tufts University, estimated that 1500 volunteers showed up and that only half of those were students, the other half being community people. The good-looking red-haired coordinator called the response "overwhelming".

People were sent out not only to homes and apartment buildings, but to gas stations, shopping centers, and MBTA stops. The Law School had its own canvass project to leaflet commuters which began at 6 a.m. and ran until about 10 a.m. This group involved about 600 volunteers.

Although the canvass stayed in Cambridge this time, Miss Blanc hopes that in November volunteers will go to other working class areas because she feels "Cambridge has reached the saturation point."

Another hopeful development was the involvement of 15 War veterans who canvassed in the factories yesterday morning. The job of the veterans was to convince the workers to join the demonstration, but judging from the working people who waved to the parade after the canvassing but did not join it, more of an effort is needed in this area.

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