Memories Like The Corners Of Our Minds…
“Take a look at this Rebecca,” she said to her 18-year-old granddaughter, “This was my first published article. I was the first woman to make the front page at that newspaper.”
Ginny leaned back, her old arthritic hands ached as she clutched the treasured items that she was pulling out of her old chest. They were sitting in her dusty and very hot attic. Rebecca was heading off to college in a few weeks to pursue journalism. She had listened to her grandmother Ginny tell her hundreds of stories from her experiences as she paved her way into the field. Though the way she described it, Rebecca suspected she more like plowed her way in unapologetically.
Rebecca looked over the article with her grandmother’s maiden name in the byline. She brushed her hand over the name gently and thought about how different life was for her. Her grandmother had basically forced her editor to let her work there and was talented enough to not be ignored. Rebecca prayed she had half of her grandmother’s writing ability.
Women Helping Women – A Time-Honoured Tradition
“Grandma, you were so brave to keep pushing like you did. I feel a little silly being so nervous about college,” Rebecca trailed off.
Ginny shifted her weight forward and lifted her granddaughter’s chin. “Rebecca, do you know who you were named after?” Rebecca looked surprised.
“I didn’t know I was named after anyone,” she said as she furrowed her brow.
“Well you were. Ms. Rebecca Dalton. She was my best friend there for a long time. I met her when I started at the paper. She was a secretary and the sharpest person there. Honestly, she had everybody’s number. Even after I got Mr. Watson to publish my stuff, I still had so many difficult times when I wanted to give up.”
“There were threats made shortly after I started working there. I had people boycott the paper because of me, I had a lot of men follow me home after work. At times it was crazy. Then there were the times where I wrote truly spectacular pieces but I was rejected for awards purely because I was a woman. I was called doll face, sweet gams and sugar more than my real name. But you know how I got through it?”
“Rebecca?” her granddaughter asked quietly. Ginny nodded.
“You bet your sweet bottom. She was tough, way tougher than me. She didn’t take anything from anyone without dishing it right back. I’ll tell ya, she scared the pants off the men of that town. Not only would she outwit any of their remarks, she was an incredibly intelligent and well-read woman.”
The Man of Her Dreams
“She could talk to you about anything ad of course, she had an opinion on everything. She was my role model, muse, best friend and support. She was also the one who encouraged me to go after your grandfather.”
“Really? How?” Rebecca asked.
“William was charming and moved a mile a minute, which at the time, was exactly how I was. I could tell you stories about us that would make you dizzy. The only problem with him was he was a slow mover. He asked me out a couple of times but he wouldn’t kiss me.”
Ginny giggled and Rebecca joined in.
“I remember telling Rebecca how annoyed I was that this fella seemed to be smooth in every area except the one that counts.”
They both erupted in laughter.
“Rebecca looked me right in the eye and said, ‘you of all people should know how stupid men can be. If you want something, you gotta go after it!’ and I thought that was pretty good advice,” Ginny said as she thought back to the butterflies she felt that day.
“So what did you do?” Rebecca asked.
“I did exactly what you are going to do. I went after what I wanted and didn’t give up until I had it. Your mother named you after Rebecca because she wanted you to have the same spirit. So when you are sitting in those classes, remember whose blood runs through your veins and who you share a name with. And don’t ever let anyone call you Becky,” Ginny said with a wink.
The Tradition Lives On
Rebecca watched as her grandmother pulled out more trinkets from her chest. She had been the first woman reporter at the city paper. She quickly moved on to writing for the largest newspaper in the state. She was nominated for over 20 awards over her career and helped shape the opinion columns. She traveled the country and even made a couple of trips during WWII and the first Iraq war. She was one of the only women who jumped into the foxholes and her paper proudly displayed a picture of her in fatigues sitting on the top of a tank.
The most incredible part of all of it was that she had a loving husband and raised two children at the same time. She was the embodiment of the power of women.
Rebecca stayed with her the rest of the day and when she left for college, she brought along a framed picture of Ginny and her best friend Rebecca from 1942. Their smiles were coy. They knew they had the world was open to them and they had every intention of taking it on.
Alexis Ali is a freelance writer who lives in New York. She will continue to contribute for your reading pleasure with an upcoming 2-part series on Children & Discipline next week. Do Subscribe and receive updates of Alexis’ articles and that of the other Contributors.