Sharing stories of special women in history


Somewhere, in a newspaper or magazine, I read something to the effect that March is National Women's Month. What?  

I wondered when that happened, so, of course, it's to the computer and Wikipedia for some answers. Well, it turns out it's National Women's History Month. Oh, okay. It's sponsored by the National Women's History Alliance and their website is a fountain of information. All of it's pretty interesting.

Of course, there is quite a lot devoted to the 19th amendment, which gave us the vote. I, for one, had never studied the suffragette movement in school, and I had only a vague idea of who Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B Anthony were. And I remembered being shocked to learn some of these gals had actually spent time in jail.

It seems there was a theme for the month this year, honoring our healers. I vote for that! Every nurse, aide, dietitian, respiratory therapist (especially respiratory therapists), x-ray technician, and physical therapist deserves our praise for their heroic efforts these past two years. I pray they all receive emotional support as well as some vacation time.  

Of course, that brings me to my personal historical favorite, Florence Nightingale. I portrayed her for a local Nurses Day observance several years ago and read two huge biographies of the lady in preparation. She was a healer, an activist, and a role model for those of us who attended Nightingale training schools.  

Today, there is a group of nurses calling themselves the Nebraska Nurse Honor Guard. They dress in whites, with caps and capes, and carry a Nightingale lamp. They honored Anita Brenneman at her service a few months ago, and folks had no idea the lamps they carried had any significance. Well, it doesn't look like the lamp Florence used, but we all received one of these little white candle holders at our capping ceremony.  

Thinking of strong women in my own life is easy; it starts with my Mom. She was a farm wife to begin with, and she really never stopped gardening and canning and baking. But she worked outside the home for much of my life, and still always kept house, and quilted, and crocheted, and embroidered.  

Her mother was also a toughie... My great-grandmother died after a run-in with a bull. Katie, my grandma, was 12 years old and became responsible for the cooking, laundry, cleaning, and mending for her father and her brothers.  

There is now an organization called FarmHer. It all began when a woman wanted to photograph women on farms, and they weren't just cooking! They drove tractors, herded cattle, put up hay, nursed baby lambs, and still put a meal on the table at noon. 

She soon had a stack of pictures, but she's been telling our stories ever since. Only problem is, most of these stories don't end up being in history books. They are only in our family tales, and it's up to us to pass them down. Some have made it into Successful Farming, but I know for a fact there are lots more of them immortalized in cook books!

And that's okay. I don't even care if we are part of Women's History Month. I just want my kids to hear the stories of wringer washing machines, and new born calves behind the cook stove, and pumping water, and using the two holer. 

And I'll keep telling them, you can count on it. I don't care if they do think that was in the Dark Ages. When you really think about it in the context of history, it was not that long ago.


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