Once Upon A Time

Once upon a time a prim and proper housewife stepped out into the wide world to find herself. She went back to college and morphed into a political activist, changed, grew-up, but did not find a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.

That's my story - Pushing Boundaries. I am introducing it this afternoon.

How did it happen? Well, for starters it was all Jim's fault. When he and his colleagues in the residency at the University of North Carolina read The Feminine Mystique by Betty Friedan he brought the book home - and I read it. I GOT it. And - - it started my story.

REPORT ON THE STORY (added February 16)
Today I am grateful to all who came and it was a crowd - family, friends, storytellers, fellow travelers on the road with the women artists' movement and people who enjoy my storytelling. And they came from out-of-town too, Frederick, Baltimore and Fredericksburg, VA. That truly touched me. Thank you, thank you, thank you - because there are no stories without people to listen it out of you! They were there.

Early in the day I was still mentally hashing over how to do this turn in the story or that and I need a little dash of something - about Jim - he is certainly a key player. Then, I got Mary's comment below - PERFECT - a Prince - the missing ingredient for the folktale references. I achieved the woman's goal of the 1950s in 1955 - I got my own Prince. He loved it - and so did everyone else. Thanks, Mary.

I invited three women as special guests to say a few words at the beginning - Fran Abrams, Director of Grants for the Arts and Humanities Council of Montgomery County, MD who awarded the grant which made the story possible by providing incentive and the backing which made it possible for me to work with storyteller Elizabeth Ellis as I developed the story.

State Senator Jennie Forehand(MD)- we go back a long ways - to the second grade at Elizabeth School in Charlotte, NC and I have been proud to watch her career in the MD Legislature which began in 1978. She surprised us all with a bit of connecting history - a staff a relative carried as a marching suffragette.

Josephine Withers, PhD . Josephine, an art historian who fought for and won her tenure at the Univ. of MD in a time when women in academia were "last hired - first fired" connected us to the early days of organizing for women artists and to the Washington Women's Arts Center - where many women in art in the DC area found a like-minded community of women and supported each other as they learned how to survive and succeed in a male-favoring art world.

Josephine and I have crossed paths many times since the 1970s and we team together these days - a Life Coach and A Storyteller - to lead workshops on living your stories.

Then I told Pushing Boundaries - a story which touches on my journey from 1954 to 1982 - the period when women in the United State were actively engaged in political battles to gain equal rights under the law. You know, pass the Equal Rights Amendment.

We lost the campaign by a narrow margin and many still hope to win it one day. Did you know that the ERA has been introduced in Congress - House and Senate every session since 1982? Read about it HERE.

In Pushing Boundaries there are teachers and villains, wins and losses, companions on the journey and Sisters, and of course there is a Prince. Laughter and tears, too. My friend, storyteller Cricket Parmelee wrote - "every time you went for a laugh, you got it."

Laughter helps grieving - and I found out in telling this story that I still grieve the loss of the Equal Rights Amendment. Other women have told me they feel the same.

Section 1. Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex.
Section 2. The Congress shall have the power to enforce, by appropriate legislation, the provisions of this article.
Section 3. This amendment shall take effect two years after the date of ratification.

Simple isn't it? What was all the fuss about?

I want it for my daughters and grand-daughters - how about you?


Granny Sue said...

Oh my gosh, Ellouise! Please do share pics and all about the afternoon. I know it will be splendid. You work so hard on your material and you know how to connect with people.

Wish I could be there to hear you.

Mary Garrett said...

How wonderful that Jim first brought the book to you! He's a true prince! I wish I could be there to hear your story . . .

Kate Dudding said...

Dear, dear Ellouise,

I knew you'd blow their socks off!

Thanks for sharing about your telling. I look forward to hearing you tell it some day.


Anonymous said...

o.comEllouise,( I am responding to an email forwarded from Hal and Noel.) Our prayers for Uncle Jim will be fervent and for you as well. Hang in there, we love you and treasure you in our lives.
a verse to think on that I have read during many trying times: "Let the beloved of the LORD rest secure in him, for he shields him all day long, and the one the LORD loves rests between his shoulders" Deuteronomy 31:11-15

much love, Lynn for all.

Unknown said...

Beautiful work, Ellouise. I am so glad you are keeping feminism alive. Last week I told stories for Women's Week at our local community college and I was the only one all week who raised women's issues. Earlier in the week someone told the organizer that the "glass ceiling" doesn't exist. *sigh* Yes, there are so many women making billions at the top positions in America.

Yes, I miss the ERA. Such a simple thing. So much hatred aroused.

Margaret Meyers

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