When I was thirty-five, I finally graduated from college. I had an Associate Degree, earned at age nineteen, but then I went on to get married and have children. I was old enough to know what I wanted when I worked on obtaining a Bachelor Degree to finish my last two years of college, while holding down four part-time jobs and raising two young teens.
|Margaret Sanger 1922|
I fought with the administration of the college, and finally won the right to declare an independent major in Women’s Studies. My thesis was on women’s roles in history and sociology (my loosely-based minors to shore up my self-designed major) using, in part, my grandmother’s work with Margaret Sanger in New York City for my final thesis. I can’t remember how old my grandmother was during her time in NYC, but I will guess 20-25, so she would have been doing this work in around 1915-20.
Now many years later, my mind is foggy on the details and I cannot find the tape recording I made as my grandmother related her experiences, nor can I find my thesis (I think they are in a box in the basement somewhere). But one thing I do remember is my grandmother’s interview and her shrugging and stating her experience was no big deal. To me, a feminist and a student of women’s history, it was the biggest deal ever to know my grandmother, Dolly, was a huge part of the women’s movement history in our country.
|My Grandmother "Dolly,"|
Charlotte More Meloney, around 1915-20
My grandmother had attended college as a pre-med student, one of eight women in the course. Four went on to med school. Four married and raised families. My grandmother was in the latter group. She divorced when my mother was twenty-five. My grandfather went on to marry three more times. In Dolly’s mind, and in line with the era in which she lived, she had to make choices.
To me, going back in time and living that one week alongside my grandmother, would be an exhilarating adventure. I can’t imagine the hard work, the stress, the fear of doing work that was considered illegal at the time, all to help give women a choice in what they did with their own bodies. But I know in my heart, I could not stand up to the work and dedication shown by women like Margaret Sanger and my grandmother. Maybe it is my own fear to go out on a limb. Maybe in my younger days, I may have been that brave. I’d like to think so.
Suffragist March, 1913, Washington, DC.
|By Patricia Riddle Gaddis|
Reading this novel, brought back all the memories of my grandmother’s stories. I wish she were still here today, to see that she could have had both—a career she was passionate about that would meld with the chance to include having love and a family.
Here’s to my grandmother and all the women who paved the way. And here is to generations of women who follow my generation, who will continue to work and love hard, as they make this world a better place in which to live. And here’s a salute to Women’s History Month.
P.S. Next time we have this topic, remind me to tell you about my actress aunt turned military pilot during WWII. Another brave and inspiring woman.
Delsora Lowe writes small town sweet romances and contemporary westerns from the mountains of Colorado to the shores of Maine
~ cottages to cabins ~
~ keep the home fires burning ~
Lowe’s family visits to Colorado are the inspiration for an upcoming contemporary western series, Cowboys of Mineral Springs, book one to be released in April 2019. And her daughter’s wedding and her son’s home, both on the coast of Maine, provided plentiful ideas for the Starlight Grille series (released in 2017 and 2018).
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Escape to the Biltmore -Buy on Amazon - https://www.amazon.com/Escape-Biltmore-Patricia-Riddle-Gaddis-book/dp/B07FWDFQHV/
Margaret Sanger 1922: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:MargaretSanger-Underwood.LOC.jpg; Library of Congress Prints and Photographs division, reproduction number LC-USZ62-29808.
Suffragist March in Washington DC 1913, Women suffragists marching on Pennsylvania Avenue led by Mrs. Richard Coke Burleson (center on Horseback) U.S. Capitol in background (Library of Congress)