Mildred Norman believed that people are good, they just sometimes need a little inspiration to act. She chose her path to give it to them – literally.
New Year’s morning, 1953. The annual Rose Parade had begun in Pasadena. The streets were full of floats decorated with flowers, fairy-tale coaches, luxurious Porsche cars – all of them bearing the not-at-all discreet names of local businesses. American flags the size of bedsheets fluttered in the wind, scantily-clad cheerleaders danced, the jubilant crowd cheered. An archival film shows a gigantic pumpkin with holes for eyes, nose and mouth, through which amused people are waving. The pumpkin marches on, filling the whole frame. It’s like a carnival: an excess of shapes and colours, exaggeration everywhere, spectacular superfluity.
Mildred Norman stood out in the colourful crowd as she watched the parade. Grey hair in a loose ponytail, no make-up or jewellery. Modest, almost severe clothes: blue trousers, trainers, a roomy shirt and a simple tunic with the words ‘Peace Pilgrim’ on the front, and ‘Walking coast to coast for peace’ on the back. As time went by, the slogans chang