By Tyler Morse
Steven Duffy is, in general, a man of few words. If Duffy is asked a quick question he gives a quick answer; if something important should arise, his thoughts are in order and he’s ready to roll. While he’s at work he keeps Olive Kettering Library running smoothly and happily, and when he’s not he spends his free time either exercising at a gym near his home in western Dayton, or perfecting his abilities as an all organic “ghetto gardener.” Before his forty or so years making fines disappear at the library, Duffy spent a decade in and out of Antioch College as a “wild ‘n crazy hippie”/student. After his first three years at the school he moved to the “promised land”, West Hollywood, where he opened a free clinic and supervised 125 volunteers dealing with “V.D. birth control, draft counseling (for Vietnam draftees; Duffy’s own draft lotto number was never pulled), dentistry and psychiatry.” Occasionally the clinic didn’t have enough money to pay the rent. “I’d hang out with the people who wrote All in the Family, and if we couldn’t pay the rent they might have paid the rent for a month or so.” On this “long co-op” he made between 25 and 60 dollars a week if he was paid. After three years of this he returned briefly to Antioch only to leave and return again to finish school. Since then, Duffy has been helping people find books at the library, negotiating several contracts on the Executive Union Board, and sitting several years on the Alumni board hoping to organize an advocacy group for alumni of color. “The college has always done such a piss poor job of dealing with issues of equality.” But Steven is optimistic about the possibilities for the Coretta Scott King Center if the school stays open. “I’d love it to work on the problem of youth violence like in Dayton, ‘cause you know I did have a family member murdered.” Steven and his partner James live “twenty five miles and a world away from Antioch,” in, as Duffy would pronounce it, the geh-tow. One of Duffy’s nephews robbed some car-jackers, and the car-jackers decided to get even. They waited in a stolen car and shot him without opening the window and then burned the car. There were three people in the car. One turned himself in, then walked free, and the other two were disciplined for “tampering with evidence” by burning the car but neither served any time. “I think that guy wound up killing somebody some months after and went to jail anyway,” says Duffy, “When they were tiny they didn’t pay attention to anything except that they wanted to play, so I always took them to a safe place. I knew Yellow Springs was safe for them and me.” Steve is anxious for the school to reach a decision so that normal work can resume and people can move on. “Dana (Patterson) and I are working on a long term project to have a summer youth camp here but you need money and you need people and it’s been to crazy to even work at anything the last year here.” Hopefully for Duffy and the rest of Antioch a decision can be reached, starting some serious work or serious vacation.