Winter 2020


Dear Readers,
Gloria Steinem walked into a Harley-Davidson showroom in New York City to buy the sparkly belt she saw in the window. When she said it was for herself, the salesman did not want to sell it to her. Nevertheless, she persisted – and walked out with a red one and a purple one. She wore the red one when she spoke at Symphony Space about her new book.


Gloria is a great story teller – smart, knowledgeable and funny. She is a devotee of circles: “Talking circles remind us that simple things are useful, useful things are simple, and being together with other human beings is as necessary as air, food, and water.” Even sitting on a stage, in a chair, with her legs crossed, she makes you feel she is part of your circle.

Persimmon Tree can feel like a story circle. Stories, long or short, happy and sad, true and invented, and poems and pictures appear in the submissions inbox. We read them. The circle that is the Editorial Board decides which to accept, then chooses a combination of pieces for the next issue. At their best, the pieces play off each other; a story circle of life for women over 60 emerges.

Whenever anyone asks Gloria what they should do, she says, “don’t worry about what you should do, just do whatever you can.” Well, this issue shows what can be done. There was no way I couldn’t open with Ann Vander Stoep’s “Neighbors.” Talk about doing what you can and more. Then came Hope Nisly reminding me of Base Christian Communities and the work they did in Central and South America before they were crushed, work that inspired me to visit Nicaragua in the eighties.

Their stories came to us and now the Editors invite you into this circle. Perhaps you have more to share with us. Perhaps you will be inspired to “just do whatever you can.”

One more time to quote Gloria before I close: “Voting isn’t the most we can do, but the least. To have a democracy, you have to want one.” 2020 is almost here. This won’t be the last time we will remind you to vote. At least, vow to do the least.

All together now,

Sue Leonard






For 45 years, Sue Leonard taught every variety of history except American mostly at independent high schools for girls — with a brief stint in a poverty program school for pregnant teens in Bedford Stuyvesant. In the mid-nineties she and her late husband John Leonard were co-editors of the Books and Arts section of the Nation Magazine. Since retiring, Sue has filled up her days with reading, needlework, family, friends and long walks.

3 thoughts on “Editor’s Page

  1. Persimmon Tree does feel like a story circle. Being home-bound, it’s as if you all come to my apartment to share your stories with ME.
    I’ll have the tea and crumpets ready for next time. :>)

  2. Thanks,
    Sue! Inspiring words — It’s killing me not to just go ahead and break the bank sending support to DSCC and DCCC candidates, who are needed to deal with whatever happens to the Frump. But the in-coming appeals and despairing messages from Pelosi and others tell me other pocketbooks are tired among my tribe. What will become of us? When Rachel Maddow’s following begins to dwindle while Fox spinners are gaining enthusiasts, I wonder how many of us are simply having Impeachment hearing fatigue –it’s not a great show after a number of days — that number may have passed. My little community at Friends House is solid progressive Demos — aka, Like-minded people…so, what is the “more” I might do? Pray, yes, which I believe can be instrumental, though you surely do not….Meantime, love one another.

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