Happier Days - Ladies who Lunch: Ardele is pictured above with Dina Kalra (center); with Noel Cat in stroller & Dino
Today I had planned to only write a tribute to Ardele Murphy, activist extraordinaire, but this morning I got the most incredible news that the BIG CIRCUS was shutting down after 146 years. Ardele would approve its inclusion. While many things contributed to it -- animal advocates played a huge part. YOU - all of you who participated in demos, wrote letters and shared information on social media about animal cruelty - YOU helped make this happen. (we hope the remaining animals do not get sold to other circuses and get the kind of sanctuary they deserve.)
The times continue to change and average people are evolving and becoming more sensitized to animal suffering. All these cruelties will eventually come to an end -- that includes the frivolous and unnecessary hack line horse-drawn carriage businesses we see in cities like NYC, Charleston, Atlanta and many others. It is only a matter of time. Count on it. And just remember this -- abolition of slavery took more than one hundred years -- getting the vote for women also took a long time. But once these ideas get into the main stream, there is no stopping what is right. The owners can collude with the media; sue activists, call us terrorists all while continuing to exploit their horses - but we know they are on the wrong side of history. The truth will out. The most important thing for all of us is to not give up and to keep fighting the good fight.
This is why we are still here, biding our time. Since we do this for "free" - it is not a paid job - we are able to continue as we choose on our own time.
Ardele Murphy, friend, dear, kind person and NYC animal activist, died this past week (January 10th) at the age of 82. Ardele and I began advocating for animals about the same time at Trans Species Unlimited (TSU) in the 1980s, but we did not become friends until some years later. She was a dear person and those who knew her will miss her greatly. Ardele had heart problems for many years and was hospitalized several times. In recent years, she also began to have painful spinal issues and at times could not walk. Although I always will remember her coming to demos, she had not been to one for about four years. Ardele was someone you could count on. If she could make it to a demo or City Council hearing, she was there. She was also very kind and never had a bad word for anyone except for animal abusers.
I witnessed Ardele's failing health this past year and although it was obvious she was not doing well, it was still a shock to hear she passed on. A few of us used to celebrate our birthdays together and she came to mine in November. She was in pain and did not look good but she came anyway. When it came time for Dina's birthday in December, Ardele was just too sick. We ended up going to her apartment where she was in bed - not able to do much -- but happy to be with her two beautiful cats, Jaime and Callie - and happy for the company -- still with her dry sense of humor.
Ardele had been named "Outstanding Activist" by Farm Sanctuary in 2007. This is the blurb from their newsletter:
Outstanding Activist: Ardele Murphy
Ardele Murphy has called New York City's Greenwich Village "home" for the past 43 years and it is here, amidst the hustle and bustle of city life, that she began advocating for all critters big and small. A guardian to five rescued felines, Ardele knows that all animals are deserving of humane treatment, love and compassion, so she has made it her life's mission to advocate for each and every one of them.
I asked a few of her friends to write something about her - and I include them here in the order in which I received them. I hope this provides a better glimpse into Ardele. She will be sorely missed.
Ardele and I started out in animal rights around the same time in 1988 when we tabled for a few years for TSU. During that time we were also arrested several times for civil disobedience at anti-fur demos, so she jokingly referred to herself and me as "jailbirds." Ardele continued to be a selfless, committed warrior for animals. This was evidenced most recently in her regular attendance at the NYC carriage horse demos and vigils, despite the vile ageist verbal abuse aimed at her by the carriage drivers. * Ardele also cared about people. She was very sociable. I remember her July 4th vegetarian cookouts on her terrace. There was always a crowd. Ardele was a good friend to me despite my quirks and I will miss her dearly.
* My note: One crass memory that is seared into my mind was the carriage drivers taunting her as Sheila referred to above for being "old." Ardele still came to demos when she was obviously very thin and frail. One said to her "aren't you dead yet?" I felt so bad for her that she had to hear these vicious, mean spirited comments. But these are the carriage drivers - maybe not all - but certainly some. Hateful, cruel people.
Ardele was the consummate animal rights activist. She and I spent many years tabling to end the fur industry. There were times that she endured discomfort due to health problems, but she never complained and always stayed til the end - even in bitter cold or steamy summer days. Her dry sense of humor is well known, and her funny and to the point one-liners will be remembered. She was one of a kind!
Ardele and I were great friends -- she would listen to a lot of personal issues without judgment and always with humor. Humor is always a great healer. One of my favorite things: When I would tell her something and ask her not to repeat it she would say...no problem -- I won’t remember it anyway. We often went to lunch and a movie -- sometimes twice a week for years.
Ardele could listen with great interest to a personal animal story repeatedly with a big smile as if hearing it for the first time. This was until the end when I reminded her about the ice cream sodas (soy) that she, Noel (pussycat) and I drank when my mother passed away as we cleaned out the freezer. We laughed as Noel wanted seconds. Noel was my mother's cat who then came to live with me.
Toward the end, Anita and I were often taking her from doctor to doctor and procedure to procedure. She was stoic about all of this and tried to see it as a "get together." She was always there and I will surely miss her forever and feel her presence. I will think-- what would Ardele say. Goodbye Dear Friend, Till we meet again!
Ardele and I were dedicated ant-fur activists. In 1990, a NYC newspaper (might have been Daily News) printed an article, "Fur Haters Hit Streets." Ardele's and my name were quoted as to the cruelty of fur. Not long after that, my supervisor at the EPA, made me the Fur Treaters Non-notifier Initiative Co-ordinator, for egregious hazardous waste violations by fur processing companies. I think of Ardele and me as comrades in animal rights, especially because of the timing of our being quoted in the newspaper article.
Ardele entrusted me with the care of her adorable cats, Jamie and Callie. These lovely animals will be with me "until death do us part." Jamie seems sad. He must miss Ardele.
Ardele's traveling "over the rainbow bridge" is a loss for all who loved her, but is also a celebration of her beautiful life.
Kiley Blackman / Animal Defenders of Westchester
Ardele Murphy was a friend to animals and people alike. She was an incredibly dedicated animal advocate and always had a big smile and giving spirit for friends. She took me 'under her wing' when I was a novice advocate, made me feel welcome after the unusual experience of rallying at the Big Apple Circus. When I later established my own AR group, Ardele came up to Westchester many times: For fur and puppy mill demos, a gardening shop that used a baby 'roo in a cage as a draw (They turned the sprinklers on us - but they never did it again, thank you Ardele!). Her advice: "Make time to do enjoyable things, otherwise you'll start hating everything." Truth: AR becomes 24/7, so many horrible issues...we have to remember to take a breather, stay healthy.
Proud that she was my friend; the animals mourn
Thanks for this - i appreciate your comments. Ardele - you are missed. RIP.
Ardele pictured below at carriage horse demos along with other activists: from left to right - Ardele, Rina, Ardele, Carol, Dina, Mary, Brian, Dimitria, Mickey, Claudia Naomi. Ardele, Anita, Mary