Experiments with Truth: Analysis

After a fire, legendary activist gets by with help from friends

A well-known East Village pacifist, who burned his draft card in the 1960s, was out running errands last month when a fire erupted in his apartment of more than 50 years and turned it into something resembling a war zone.

David McReynolds, the retired longtime field secretary of the War Resisters League and the first openly gay man to run for president, said he spotted fire trucks outside his block on Feb. 24, and then was stunned to discover a small army of firefighters and police officers in his flooded studio. There was broken glass on his floor and water damage on the walls; his books were charred and his DVDs were ruined. Even his cellphone was destroyed.

Fortunately, however, negatives from photographs that have “historic value” survived, including snapshots that Mr. McReynolds took a half century ago of social-justice luminaries like Martin Luther King, Jr., Bayard Rustin, Norman Thomas, and A.J. Muste. He also learned that a ground floor apartment in his building on East Fourth Street was empty and ready to rent.

“God looks after atheists,” said Mr. McReynolds, 83.

More Follow External Link to Mary Reinholz, The Local NYT