When I was a small tyke there wasn’t much thought given to gender equity. I don’t ever remember as a child any reference to this. Gender equity, women’s movement and all that surrounds that didn’t come up until the 60’s really. I mean yes, there was women’s political issues with suffrage in the 19th century. Women needed the right to vote like any other person in this country. I guess this was more or less the beginning stages of women’s rights politics.
One thing women did participate in was the military. There was a strong force of women in the military clear back to the revolutionary war. During the Revolutionary War, women served the U.S. Army in traditional roles as nurses, seamstresses and cooks for troops in camp. Some courageous women served in combat either alongside their husbands or disguised as men, while others operated as spies for the cause. Of course, after that were have always been women in the military.
I don’t know if being in the military gave these women a special place for prowess or not, but I know of a story where one woman accomplished a pretty remarkable feat for the day. If her service in the navy gave her this strength to begin and complete a heavy-duty task or not, but I have always admired her for this.
I remember when I was 8 or 9 years old the big talk of the neighborhood was our neighbor’s Aunty Jane had retired from the navy and was building a house over on her family’s property on Walnut Avenue. At first my dad didn’t believe it. Women didn’t just go around in those days building houses. We listened to the neighborhood gossip and waited a few months and finally the curiosity got the best of my folks. One afternoon we got in the car and drove over to Walnut Avenue to see this infamous house Aunty Jane was supposedly building.
Well, there it was, big as life and looking pretty darn good. When we saw it the first time it was studded and it looked like she was putting the plumbing in the house. We drove by every few weeks just to see how the house was coming. It took Aunty Jane quite a while to build her little house, but when she was finished it was really a nice home. It was the big talk of the neighborhood for a long time, especially among the men, my dad included. He had to eat crow because he didn’t think she could do it.
What I learned from this, never underestimate a woman!