I was born in Chicago, IL on January 16, 1942. Although my parents were Worcester, Massachusetts natives, and returned there in 1945, My father was doing war-related research in Chicago, so like many of my generation, I was born in a 'foreign' place!
My mother was an only child who was not allowed to get dirty or have pets, so of course I had plenty of siblings and a reasonable number of pets. The postwar housing shortage meant that an affordable house had to be outside Worcester – considerably outside. We ended up, and I spent my childhood, in Barre, Massachusetts, a picturesque New England village about 25 miles north of Worcester, most of whose inhabitants were direct descendants of the original 18th century settlers – one of those towns that time forgot, but mostly in a good way. Until television came along, most of the outside world was seen through a filter.
We were brought up in the local Unitarian tradition of plain living and high thinking, mind your own business and do no harm. But mainly it was a typical 50's childhood with lots of woods to roam in, friends houses to visit, wild animals to watch, church suppers, band concerts in the summer, and fall fairs featuring lots of apples and cider and in winter sledding, ice skating and the occasional Aurora Borealis,.
The nearest thing we had to today's right-wing nuts and conspiracy theorists was a neighbor who probably saw Communists under her bed. My parents opined that she probably would not have recognized a real Communist if one walked up to her and bit her. They were not social activists in any sense of the word, but were of the firm opinion that one can get away with doing wrong to others for only a while, and then things will have to be put right.
I can recall some things that should have incensed me at the time, but didn't move me to do anything about it. One was when I applied for summer work at the local mill (now long gone to South Carolina where there were no pesky unions) I was told that the higher paying night shift was for men only. The convenient day shift was reserved for those with seniority – men of course. This was the way things were. It was only later that the true nature of the beast became clear. If we are ever to succeed in getting our rights, we have to make sure small town women isolated in rural America are aware that the future does not have to be like the past.
Coming to Washington in 1965 with its southern culture more blatantly on display than it is now, really opened my eyes.
A freelance technical writer, I was a National Organization for Women (NOW) activist since 1974 and was a founding member of Capitol Hill NOW. I was also was a member of the DC Commission on Human Rights from 1978-1983, and served as the Vice Chairperson of the Commission for three years, leading the successful elimination of the case backlog (Some cases had been pending for 7 years!).
From 1990 to present I was a member of, and held various offices in, the Alexandria Business and Professional Women (BPW).
Currently, I serve as treasurer of Virginia NOW, and maintain an online collections of VANOW actions in the Washington DC area.
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