Grandma and Her Collections

Cable Car Turntable, San Francisco, California

Grandma Elbertine, who we called “Bertie”, was a fine collector of ordinary things. From clothes to matchbooks, she had boxes and closets full of eras gone by. Each collection gave a different “window to the world” and also showed off a bit of her creativity and sense of nostalgia.

Her bedroom bureaus were full of jewelry sets and her closets stuffed with matching shoes, purses and hats. Everything she wore was completely coordinated, another personal charm.  Growing up I spent many hours looking at her precious fashion collections, some of which dated back to the 1940’s, 50’s and 60’s. She loved to unpack small treasures put away for special occasions.  I would try things on under her careful watch.  I even dared to ask to borrow a fur collar or pillbox hat for a special night out with the strict requirement to return it the next week.  I quickly learned her accessories were a big standout at the discotheque in the late 70’s.

She was her own fashionista and she is still my vintage idol. Beyond her fashions, she had huge collections of middle-America stuff like colored glassware, silver spoons, wall plates, dolls, lace and even buttons. She kept magazines for decades, old toys and drawers of Avon lipstick and perfume samples.  She was a collection pro!

I loved Grandma’s sense of rich style, all which she acquired on department store wages and a little allowance from Grandpa.  From the time when I was a teenager, I have nestled inside me the love for things that remind me of her, from cat eye glasses to broaches.  My soul is stuck in generations past, most of which I only lived through Grandma Bertie and her collectibles.

After she passed, I was given a few of her collectibles by my mom.  I cherish them all.  One of the many Grandma Bertie collections was postcards that spanned travels and vacations across many decades.  They provide another view of the world she experienced. I thought I would share a small sample of them.  It was hard to choose from the hundred postcards I have in a sitting in glass bowl.  Here are a few I thought I would share today.

Postmarked from McClellan AFB, CA October 7 1968 from Lilly & Aunt Lola

Titled: A Little Apache Papoose and His Grandma

Signed from Mother on February 2, 1959

The Beautiful Moana Hotel on the Beach at Waikiki - 50's

Seal Rocks, San Francisco, California, the Cliff House

Chittenden Bridge and Mt. Washburn, Yellowstone National Park - Copyright 1935 by Haynes

Liberace Performing at the Nugget in Reno 1967

Postcard Sent October 4 1967 with 4 cent stamp.

A 21st Century War on Women – Really?

Women Work Women Vote

What next, our right to vote? War on Women is Absurd!

Why? Colleagues, friends and family of both genders and all political persuasions continue to shake our heads in disbelief. The dialogue today is stunning.  Shocking. Are we really going to have a “new” discussion about women’s role in society, reproductive rights and ability to think for ourselves?

It is 2012 and the national conversation has centered on several issues that disrespect, disregard and dismiss women.  It started long before a group of men wanted to discuss the government’s role in paying for birth control.  We have been waging this war for over a century.  Recently, it started surfacing again when several state legislators across the country proposed new rules and regulations that would prevent women from getting access to healthcare. Some have succeeded already (Texas, Virginia) and others are still sadly working to limit access and care. (Arizona).

We’ve seen the debate cycle through various forms, all with a strong movement to limit women’s access to affordable, necessary and reliable healthcare. The subtext of it all that seems to be the most shocking is the derogatory tone of the dialogue.  As a women, it says to me “shut up and sit down”.  Really?  Um, no!

I have the ability and can afford to stand up.  What happens with the poor?  Those that don’t have access to women’s healthcare and family planning?  The new discussions go far beyond just limiting birth control and forcing women to have unnecessary ultrasounds to prevent abortions.  No to mammograms, no to ovarian cancer tests.  Access to preventative care that can SAVE lives.  Where is the logic?  If we limit reproductive healthcare, aren’t we going to force more demand for abortions?  Unwanted pregnancies seem to be the impetus for abortion, so wouldn’t access to affordable family planning help prevent abortions?  Virtually all women (more than 99%) aged 15–44 who have ever had sexual intercourse have used at least one contraceptive method. Vital and Health Statistics, 2010, Series 23, No. 29.

Aside from the discussion of a women’s right to choose, the bigger and broader debate today is how we got back to this discussion 40 years later?  90 years later for equal rights?  What has changed in the country that puts women’s rights at risk – again?

Some may argue that women took for granted that we achieved equality without the need to make it a protected right.  We assumed we are in control of our own health and well-being.  Women’s health should not be up for discussion.  It’s not political.  Saving lives is not political.  If women did “assume” we were in control, was this an assumption of grand illusion?  It appears so.

Women have fought for rights that men have been granted solely by their gender.  Look at the suffrage movement and fight for the right to vote nearly a century ago.  It appears that our rights should not be taken for granted and the fight is not over.  We must press on.  Future generations of women depend on us.  Women need affordable healthcare.  Women need to be in control of their own bodies.  Women need equal pay for equal work.  Women need the same rights as men. It’s not political.

So, in case it needs to be said, we pay taxes.  And, we vote!  The “War on Women” will continue, there is no doubt.  I am reminded of one of my favorite lines from Dirty Dancing, “Nobody puts Baby in a corner.”  "Nobody puts Baby in a corner"We won’t put aspirin between our knees.  We won’t accept zealot misogynists and bigots telling us to shut up and be happy with our diamonds and dinners.  We won’t go back to being submissive house help.  Our nation can’t afford it economically and women want more and have proven our place in society!

We are women in the board room, women in political office, women CEO’s, working moms, we are women in every profession.  We are scientists, technologists, chefs and journalists.  We are single moms, we are married women, independent women and women with a voice.  We are rich.  We are poor.  We are fighters.  We protect and we give birth.  Every one came from a mother!  We all exist because of a woman.  So, why the war?

Most importantly, we are the women that vote.  We won’t fight this war for long.  You see, we just assumed it was over.  Women are equal.  Maybe it is time to pass the Equal Rights Amendment that was first proposed in 1923.  Maybe then, the war would be over!  Maybe.