More than fifty years ago Michael Fisher came upon a girl breaking into his high school locker in Longview, WA. Turns out Myra had the same locker the year before and was inquisitive about its new occupant. They started dating. She got pregnant. The Catholic Church refused to marry them; said it wouldn’t last. They got married anyway, raised four children, and forty-nine years later, they’re still together.
Since that teenage experience, Myra and Michael have maintained a healthy skepticism of institutions. They’re not exactly radical, but they go it on their own, thank you very much. Michael was a Longview police officer for thirty years. When he patrolled the projects, he handed out condoms. It wasn’t part of any program; he just brought the goods to the need. “These kids weren’t going to buy them in a drug store or go to an agency downtown.”
Michael retired at age 51. He and Myra bought a trailer and spent a year travelling North America. They didn’t plan to leave Longview, but discovered they loved Mexico and liked Yuma. They started frequenting Los Algodones, a town on the far side of the border, and befriended an extended family there. For seventeen years, Myra and Michael have travelled to Mexico most every Wednesday. They bring American necessities and homemade cookies. They’ve helped Jerry’s family rise out of poverty and watched his children grow. In return Jerry chaperones Myra and Michael’s extended family when they visit Mexico. He steers them to good souvenir deals and ensures that they get high quality, inexpensive medical and dental care, services for which the border town is renown.
Myra and Michael’s four children are back in Longview. I wondered why the couple relocated 1200 miles from children and grandchildren. “We moved away from our kids so they wouldn’t rely on us and would be more independent.” It makes sense that a couple so successful in going it on their own wants to pass that on.
How will we live tomorrow?
“Were you a philosophy major?
“On a daily basis it bothers me that our political process hurts the people, the parties, our community, and our position in the world. Last year, Yuma had a $56 million bond issue that passed with 12% of the vote. How is that democracy?
“People tell us that we spend lots of money helping people across the border for no purpose. Myra will get good deals on ground beef and chicken. We don’t need it, so we give it to those families. We don’t do religion. We don’t give to the Red Cross. We don’t buy Girl Scout cookies. We give our money were we can get appreciation. You can give them a dozen roses or a box of chocolate and it means nothing to them. But give them a box of zip-loc bags, something they can use, now that’s good.” – Michael