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Cross stitch ... life ... art

You’ve come a long way, baby
October 21st, 2009

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.

3 Responses to “You’ve come a long way, baby”
  1. From Rifestitch
    10 years, 11 months ago

    Thank god I was a child of the 60s – I think we’ve come a long way in my lifetime, if that was 1959! You know, I would like to have the OPTION to stay home – but I don’t do daytime TV and unless I’m stitching, hanging around the house is not my idea of a good time – and I don’t shop. So even if I didn’t “have” to bring home a check, I’d have to volunteer or something. I could never have been a SAHM – 6 weeks of maternity leave twice was more than enough to prove that out… So to each his or her own, and thank god we have the choices we do today!

    Amen to that! Although being a SAHM was different then — kids weren’t toted around and managed the way they are now. If we needed to go somewhere, we walked or rode bikes, and in the summer, except at meal time, Mom often had no idea where we were. We could have been miles away, and sometimes were. Another thing that pinned most women down in those days was having one car, which naturally the man took to work. “Having the car” involved advance arrangements with a car pool. It’s hard to imagine the dreariness of really being stuck at home with nothing interesting to do, and no one to talk to except women in the same boat.

  2. From Julie Hanavan Olsen
    10 years, 11 months ago

    I did stay home, by choice, with all three of my kids (haven’t had a full time job, that pays money, in over 26 years). My husband is now a cop, but he didn’t get that job until the last baby was already born (and no matter what anyone says, they are NOT paid any where near enough). We had no insurance, he did any and all odd jobs that came along, and my “work” was the kids. No, not a housewife, the house, and it’s tedious chores, were the LAST thing on my to-do list, still are. We decided this was what worked best for us, way before the kids came along. I did volunteer, in the class rooms and at all of the schools. I never watched daytime tv, still don’t watch tv at all. It was never easy, money-wise, but now that they are all adults they have thanked us for what we gave up, and for what they received in the bargain. I am most grateful that parents have all the options they do now.

  3. From mss @ Zanthan Gardens
    10 years, 11 months ago

    Precisely. People who weren’t alive then have absolutely no idea of how different things are now. Even watching old episodes of the Mary Tyler Moore Show on is creepy.

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