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'Granny D' Nears the Century Mark


We failed to mention a noteworthy birthday celebration held back on March 11th. Granny D turned 99 in frigid New Hampshire on January 24th, but a snowstorm forced her big party to be postponed. And it couldn't happen in February, because she was in sunny Arizona, writing a book! When it finally took place in March at the New Hampshire state capitol, the governor and hundreds more people sang "Happy Birthday" to her.

Granny D is Doris Haddock, and here's just some of what she's done since she turned 89, 10 years ago:

She walked, and cross-country skied, 16 kilometers a day, the entire way across the United States - arthritic back, emphysema, hearing aids in both ears and all - on behalf of an issue called campaign finance reform. She and those who walked part-way with her wore support buttons that read, "Go Granny, Go!"

Word soon spread that the old lady in the straw hat with a turkey feather stuck in it was just down the road or over the hill. Well-wishers gave her food and shelter and cheered her on.

At one point, activist Dick Gregory walked beside her. You're planting a seed for change, Gregory told her. That seed is going to grow and grow, and you just stay right on it, girl.

When Granny D finally reached Washington, D.C., on her long trek from the Rose Bowl football stadium in California, she gave a short speech at the Lincoln Memorial, urging Americans to pass laws that would reduce the influence of big money in political campaigns. She joked that she'd like to lead a running of the pigs down K Street, the pigs being the lobbyists who keep offices on that avenue.

Then in 2004, she ran a low-budget campaign of her own for the United States Senate, winning the Democratic nomination but losing the general election by a two-to-one margin to New Hampshire's incumbent U.S. Senator Judd Gregg.

Once what she calls an "office girl," then a shoe designer as a young woman, Doris Haddock is still sharp as a shoe tack, according to her friends. But Granny D won't be walking to the Rose Bowl any time soon.

Read more of Ted's personal reflections and stories from the road on his blog, Ted Landphair's America.


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