A Paine Day is just ‘common sense,’ Villager says


By Albert Amateau

Bob Oliver has been trying for two years to make the birthday of Tom Paine, whose pamphlets inspired the American Revolution, declared a statewide day of recognition. Oliver, a longtime Villager, has already had partial success.

In June, state Senator Tom Duane sponsored a Senate resolution declaring Jan. 29, 2011, Tom Paine Day “in honor of his indelible contributions to liberty, democracy and civic engagement.”

Paine, who died in Greenwich Village at the site of 59 Grove St. on June 8, 1809, was a man after Oliver’s heart.

“He was a man before his time, a revolutionary who went to France to support the French Revolution, a man who advanced women’s right to vote and the abolition of slavery,” said Oliver, a member of the Bedford-Barrow-Commerce Block Association, which is a sponsor of Tom Paine Day.

Regarding the state Senate resolution, Oliver said, “It’s only for one day next year, but Tom [Duane] made a commitment to sponsor a resolution for a permanent day the following year, and [Assemblymember] Deborah Glick will sponsor an Assembly resolution.”

Paine, author of “The American Crisis” and “Common Sense,” also spent time at another Village location, in a cottage on Herring St., now known as Bleecker St.

Oliver and others say Paine never received his due because he was a deist who shunned organized religion.

Now retired, Oliver formerly worked in the textile industry. His mother’s family lived in Greenwich Village for generations.