Hear the History

First time out of the box in 30 years... radio ads used in the unratified states during the final push towards the 6/30/82 ERA ratification deadline to inspire mainstream America to back the amendment by reaching out to homemakers, fathers, adult sons, and military wives. First of a series/more to come... includes the ERA song and ERA America commentary talking to potential donors to pay for more air time. Did you know these existed? These ads were developed by members of the Advertising Women of New York under the aegis of the National Business Council for ERA. The Business Council was a campaign initiative developed and managed by the League of Women Voters of the US.

Our daughters and the Equal Rights Amendment.

Charlotte Central High School, 1953

I was a Senior. My counselor advised me to start making my plans for what I would do after Graduation.
"You have done things.
You have good grades.
You have options.
You could go to college to be a teacher or a librarian.
You could go to secretarial school
You could be a nurse."

This was 1953.
I was a girl.
I understood that underneath what she said she was telling me to find something to keep me busy until I got married.

And that is how I started out on my journey to find my fortune.

We can laugh about that narrow list of choices today as we watch our daughters and grand-daughters choose from a much wider field for the career they will follow.

Things have changed for women in many ways - - except they are still not protected by an Equal Rights Amendment in the US Constitution. They may not be paid equal pay for equal work. They may not be treated fairly.

A young woman told me recently that she thought the ERA was already passed.

What are we telling our daughters?

30 years ago - June 30, 1982 - the last active campaign to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment ended.
The ERA has been re-introduced in Congress every year - with little to no fanfare - - - and no action.

What are we thinking?

Yes, in the past 30 years there have been changes.
By passing individual laws.
have we taught our daughters that those changes can be un-done - -

Think about it!


Happy Fathers Day - redux

Jim is with us "in spirit" this Father's Day. You can be sure we are all thinking about him.

This picture was taken last year at Grace's - the deli at 2141 K Street - the downtown office building where Jim often received his chemo treatments. 2141 K Street is also the building where Jim worked in his first Washington, DC position upon leaving the Air Force in 1968. He often ate lunch in this very deli - Life has a strange way of drawing connections across the years - especially if you stay in the same place.

Making connections is something Jim and I enjoyed  - and so
does our family. The best gifts are often the gifts of memories.

A re-post of Father's Day 2009

1.Robin called from CA to wish Jim Happy Father's Day. She read him a letter he wrote to her in 1982 when she was living in New York City. He was writing to console her when she was going through a rough patch. Keeping the letter then reminding him he had been there for her.
A touching gift.

2. Inspired by Robin we gave Jimmy a letter he wrote to us in 1987 when he was living in Germany. There is material for several stories in the letter - the more so because we all know what happened several weeks after he wrote it and mailed it to us. He was delighted. "Hey, I forgot I had that Casio battery powered mini typewriter. " After reading it aloud he pronounced. "This is a keeper." Yes, we know. We have kept it for 22 years.

2. Even older letters:
A grandfather writes to his grand-daughter.
There was so much to love about a letter I found at the DAR library 20 years ago when I first began my genealogy searches that I have kept it safe. There is advice and inspiration for stories. I use it often in storytelling workshops.
In 1893 Mr. James Parks answers his grand-daughter about their family history who has written asking about their family. Excerpt -
He ends the letter with this statement:
" You will see that there were no great ones among our ancestors. They were all in the common walks of life, no blue-blooded aristocracy, but just upright, high-minded honorable men and women. If there were no"great ones" among them, there were none of who we were ashamed.
September 9, 1893 (signed) James Parks

Jim was a great hugger. Here he gives grand-daughter Juliana a big bear hug at her Graduation from Washington College in 2009.

We are missing those hugs today.


ERA - It is that simple

June 30, 1982 - The last campaign to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment came to an end. That's 30 years ago this month. I still wonder - what was the problem


If not California - then Venice

Happy Birthday, Jim

June 13 is the Feast Day of Saint Anthony of Padua - and its Jim's birthday - and the reason his name is James Anthony Schoettler.

In 2003 when we had our long vacation in Venice we took a day for a trip to Padua  - a pilgrimmage to visit the Cathedral , St. Anthony's tomb and to see the Giotto frescos in the Arena Chapel, also in Padua. It was a marvelous sunny day filled with wonders. 
Last March we went to visit Jim's brother Harold in Huntington Harbor, CA when we were out for the Rogue Festival. Here Jim is standing on the front deck on a perfect Southern California morning.

One of the things Jim hoped to do in February this year was "go to California" his home state. His time ran out before we could make the trip.

For his birthday - I choose to think of him there -

And, maybe also in Venice - our special heart-place.

"How's it going" people ask. "About like you'd expect" I answer. I have good days and bad days when its raining inside and outside - I do cry often. But that's not all bad you know. It is sometimes hard but it is also sweet - as I think of Jim and appreciate the days and years we shared.

I keep busy. Because that's what I do. And I pretend sometimes that things are better for me than they really are - because that is also what I do.

Yes, I am telling stories again - with Better Said than Done. And preparing for five performances at the Capital Fringe. I thought bringing back Pushing Boundaries would be "easier" than anything else - but that's not right. Jim is so much a part of the story that I cannot tell it without crying. Now that's not going to work. So I am rewriting the program. It is still strong and on target - if a bit different.

But, hey, everything is different for me.


NEW VIDEO: Elizabeth Wallace

 Elizabeth Wallace, Maryland storyteller, organizer and producer focuses on Starrytelling
to connect astronomy and storytelling.

Listen to her recent interview on Stories in Focus using the link below.

Elizabeth F. Wallace




Toe River Storytelling Festival
NC  - Last summer
July 2011
A lovely week-end and nice memories of the people, my storytelling, and our time together.

June 6 - three months ago today Jim died. It won't surprise anybody that there were a few rough moments for me during the day.

I taped a story for my TV show and found that I had to edit a couple of things - - or it was too close for comfort. That wise woman storyteller Elizabeth Ellis warned me a couple of months ago that I should watch out because there were probably traps in some of my storie. She's absolutely right.  But you can't stay home because there are black clouds over-head. So I try to plan ahead and circle my wagons when I feel threatened.

Right now I am into count down mode for the Capital Fringe. June 16 tickets go on sale and my first show is July 14. Right now my full focus is on rehearsing and planning the advertising and marketing. Along with all the other things you have on the list to keep life going. Not whining really just saying some days are packed.
For me right now, that's good.

My daughter  Robin is helping me, especially with developing strategies for using social media and I am mighty grateful to have her working with me on the marketing.

Going through files and files of pictures looking for materials to use as we develop material about Pushing Boundaries is an emotional trip down memory lane. Grief seems to be sharpening my memort recall. I am remembering vivid details and I can feel myself going deeper into the stories which makes for a very personal journey. More will be revealed.


A Tale of Sisterhood

This large beautiful Japanese wood-cut by Maryland artist Aline Feldman hangs in the lobby of 3000 Connecticut Ave. Seeing it a few weeks ago brought back a flood of memories of the 1970s womens artists movement.

Aline and I were in the same consciousness raising group of women artists who met weekly in the mid-1970s to talk about our hopes and dreams as artists and how we could make those dreams come true in a male-favoring art world. That was a time of Sisterhood. We gave each other suport and strength to move to achieve our goals.

My first consciousness raising (CR) group had nothing to do with being an artist. It was a group of women from many walks of life from homemakers to a well-placed government employee. We met weekly in each other’s homes in Montgomery County where we talked about  issues of fairness and women’s equality issues like equal pay, child care and discrimination as they effected out lives.

That was more than 30 years ago and regrettably the issues are very similar to the ones we discuss today – except that today they touch my grand-daughters as well as they do me.

Sisterhood was empowering.

Were you in a CR group?

If you are interested in the 1970s from the woman’s point of view
check out www.facebook.com/secondwavealbum.


On Granny's Birthday - I wish I had asked her more questions.

Granny’s Birthday  Today

Ellie Hall Keasler Baer

Granny was born in Mint Hill, NC of parents who both had a deep North Carolina tap root. Ellie went to work for Ivey’s Department store when she was 16. She was smart and loved her job in retail sales. Soon she was promoted to the position of buyer for the Notions Department at Ivey's. Twice a year she went with the other buyers to New York City to select and purchase the goods for her department.

 Granny loved working at Ivey's until she was 28 and Gus Keasler, a handsome South Carolina college footballer, swept her off her feet and she fell deeply in love with him. After a proper courtship they were married and moved to Georgia for his job as manager of a cotton oil manufacturing plant. Their first child, my mother, was born a year later.

Sadly Gus,at 32, died suddenly when my mother was 18 months old. Ellie was heartbroken. She grieved hard for eight years. Then she me and married Jack Baer who had moved to Charlotte from Baltimore. It was a loving marriage which lasted the rest of their lives.

 Granny was a loving grandmother. She was a key figure in my life.

I look back now and regret that I did not ask Granny about what it was like to live through those early years when the US faced WWI and women struggled to “get the vote.” Was she a feminist? She never said so but looking at her history I have to think she was.

She went to work as a young woman, loved working at Ivey’s and relished the annual exciting trips to New York City. She liked having the money she earned and the independence that came with it although she did contribute to her widowed mother's care. Later, after Gus died, she was single mother back at work to support herself and her young daughter. Although she was surrounded by a large and supportive family she knew what it was like to have to take care of yourself.

 “Always have your own money, Ellouise.” I accepted the wisdom of that advice without asking “why” which might have opened the door to stories about “why” she was so clear on that score. I wish I had asked her if she had marched for THE VOTE. I know she had strong opinions about what was right and wrong in the world and that she always voted.

Most importantly for me, I know she believed that women should be able to have a voice in the world and that they could BE whatever they wanted to be. “You’re smart. You can do that.” She taught me to believe in myself. Maybe that’s all I really need to know - - and thank her for.

Thinking of Granny and the questions I wish I had asked is a good thing to do as I begin rehearsals for telling my 1970s women's history program at the DC Capital Fringe next month. Sure, I want to tell my story for my family but I also want Pushing Boundaries to prompt other women to tell their story - and to prompt younger women to ask the women in their families - so that they will not be wondering
as I am about Granny and Suffrage - about the stories of the women in their families.