My latest project (like I needed another one) is scanning old photos and memorabilia. Partly this is to make pictures that there’s only one copy of accessible to other family members, and to get our slides out of boxes and onto the net where we can look at them without having a major production (plus usually when we get the projector out, it’s broken), and also to get some electronic copies in case the house burns down.
One of the things I’ve scanned so far was an old copy of the Wooster College (Ohio) alumni bulletin, which ran an article on my grandfather when he was about to retire in 1959. Here’s a snippet from the table of contents:
On the cover we present this month another professor, Roy I. Grady ’16, who will he retiring officially at the end of this year. To hundreds of alumni this picture will bring back memories of the chemistry “lab” — not only to those who took a few courses, but to men who have gone on to vocations where they have used the knowledge they learned here as well as to those who have received in this room the inspiration to continue work in graduate school. There will be memories, too, for women who “worked off the science requirement” here and later, to their surprise found an amazing number of uses for information they acquired, in their own kitchens.
OK, I know it was 1959, my mother didn’t have a paying job, I didn’t know anybody whose mother worked outside the home (aside from school teachers). But still! This is a COLLEGE magazine, remember. Maybe girls weren’t taking chemistry so they could have a career, but the implication that they were too dumb to guess that it might ever be useful irks me. My mother and her friends raised funds and got a swimming pool built in our little town. They got the school playground paved so kids didn’t get covered with mud at recess on rainy days. They organized and ran scout troops and libraries. They were smart and capable and they kicked ass at whatever they did.
I know a number of young women these days who feel that women’s lib did them no favors. They would rather stay home with their babies than go to a job, and wish that their husbands would just support them instead of expecting them to bring home a second paycheck. I understand that being Wonder Woman is exhausting. But yikes! Before we wish the “good old days” were back, let’s remember what they were really like.