"We Back Our Hack"
A personal recollection
by Rosary Casiello
Saturday morning, April 24, 2004 dawned as an absolutely beautiful day. With all the rain we had been having in this area, this was certainly a welcome sight. (And it rained for two days afterwards!) I guess the gods were smiling down on Mike's Fares after all.
Dilworth Plaza is on City Hall grounds, directly in the middle of Center City, Philadelphia. It is a focal point for rallies of every type. When my sister Bernadette and I got to the site, a few of the supporters and organizers were already there. The wind was blowing but the sun was shining!
I kept checking my watch because I was a wreck, wondering how many people would show up. I had spent considerable time placing flyers in hospitals, supermarkets, newspaper trust boxes, and on the windshields of cabs, as I was concerned that the message wasn't getting out.
Fortunately, I was wrong.
Because my sister uses a cane, I had brought a chair with me for her use. However, she really didn't get to use it, because I gave her the job of handling the petition and there were so many requests to sign the sheets that she had to disregard sitting and resort to standing. I had stapled the petition sheets together, but when Bern saw that the line was getting long, she unstapled the sheets and spread them out for everyone to sign. (By Sunday night after I had added my signature, I counted 207).
Keep in mind that because this area is a focal point, there was a constant stream of people moving back and forth across the Plaza. Some didn't even know about the rally, but when they found out about it, chose to sign the petition.
Thanks to Barbara Hylinski (who also helped organize the rally), we were able to secure the services of four members of the Greater Kensington String Band, known as The Mummers. For those unfamiliar with this, the Mummers are a tradition unique only to Philadelphia. They are not professionals, but their music is definitely professional.
Also present, much to our surprise, was a drum corps that performed for the crowd, although they had to be stopped at one point so the Mummers could continue with their music. Far be it from me to resist doing the Mummers' Strut, so I grabbed my sister's cane and off I went! Sister Barbara Bradley (another rally organizer), God bless her, had so much energy and strutted with a number of on-lookers.
We were certainly pleased that Sharon Pinkenson and her assistant, Kathy Pietrowski, from the Philadelphia Film Office attended. I approached both of them, and was pleasantly surprised when they both recognized me. Kathy said they remembered my name from all of the letters I had written and also from our initial meeting at the Film Office, a few months ago.
Sharon's talk to the crowd was very moving. She informed us of a very important point that just this past season the City of Philadelphia took in over $1 million in city wage taxes because of the show in addition to over $1 million in hotel revenues.
She also read a letter from David Morse, thanking us for our support. No question about it -- when she was reading that letter, I could feel a lump growing in my throat. I could have cried right there. Sharon was most vocal about retaining this show, and the crowd responded in kind.
Also speaking at the rally was Diane Heery who runs Heery Casting Company. Diane was another bright spot and definitely spoke from the heart. Hey, I think both Sharon and Diane could run for public office and get elected. The crowd was really behind them.
In between speakers, we had three chants that we used: "WE BACK OUR HACK", "LES SAY YES" (Barbara's great slogan) and "MORSE, OF COURSE!" I hope we were loud enough to reach Los Angeles and wake Les Moonves out of his slumber!
Additional speakers included some people who were extras on the show, including Barbara Hylinski, David Sitbon, Abe Goodhart, and David Morse's Hack Stand-in, John Richman. Everyone spoke from the heart.
I had brought along about 70 bumper stickers that were quickly gobbled up. My sister told me that people kept asking for them long after there were all gone. I also had T-shirts made for the organizers ("We Back Our Hack"). My sister had to keep telling people that these were not for sale. So many people wanted shirts and bumper stickers that I may have to get into another line of work!
Rudy Di Lorenzo, (one of my co-workers), was given the job of taking pictures. Poor Rudy was sweating as he was dodging people, running back and forth, but I do appreciate his efforts.
Ralph Cerino (Bright Sign Company), one of the fellows who worked on Hack, had created a professional banner for us, which was beautiful. (shown on the home page). You had to see it in person to really appreciate it. You can tell how big it was from the number of people it took to hold it up. We were so pleased.
KYW, which is an all-news radio station here, had one of its reporters on site. He took me aside and started questioning me about the rally. We spoke for about five minutes, I was very animated with my hands (I'm Italian, you know!), and told him point blank that "we will not go quietly into the night." He also pulled me aside about 15 minutes later and wanted information on how people could sign the petition on-line.
Speaking of the petition, when Channel 3 broadcast their rally news, they did offer the comment that "for more information on keeping Hack, please go to...." and they gave out CBS' on-line address.
At around 12:50 PM, there was a drive-by of eight philly cabs, to show their support. They had been expected at 12:30, and were to have circled City Hall and tooted their horns. This didn't work out quite as well as planned, but perhaps better late than never.
At the end of the rally, as we were cleaning up, a woman approached me and asked to sign the petition. She had come late but still wanted to put her $.02 in. She also wanted copies of the flyer that I had prepared. Even though the rally was over for all intents and purposes, people were still willing to sign up and be counted!
In summation, I want to thank George Pellegrino (he of the great cowboy boots!), Barbara Hylinski, Sister Barbara Bradley, Dr. Joe Hylinski and all those who helped make this rally a success. Extra special thanks go out to Teresa Fawber, the Queen of the PC, whose determination to get the word out encompassed who knows how many media outlets. We may have to get Teresa her own signal on the dial! Thanks also to Mary Brown for keeping David Morse Online up and running, for her support, and for her understanding. That is most important.
I'm hoping that what we did on Saturday was not in vain. And I sincerely hope that Les has a baptism, sees the light, and renews Hack.
LES SAY YES!
(Rosary Casiello is the Co-Coordinator of the "We Back Our Hack" Rally.
Click here for a photo of the "We Back Our Hack" Coalition