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Lately, I’ve been wandering through memory lane. This is a trip I don’t often make, due to my way of living. I truly subscribe to the advice of Satchel Paige, the great African-American baseball pitcher. When asked if he ever dwelt upon the horrible treatment he had received from baseball’s establishment, he said he never did because his motto was, “Don’t look back, they could be gaining on you.”
You can’t spend time looking back. It’s like rereading a book instead of reading, or writing a new one. What fun is there in reading something when you know the ending?
My past has popped up in my face, thanks to my granddaughter, Laura. She is in college, majoring in journalism. Her first assignment was to interview someone and write a biographical piece about the subject. She chose me, and wanted to know my life’s story. I was forced to relive my trip down the yellow brick road.
I told her truth – the whole truth, and, in the process, found myself remembering bits and pieces I hadn’t thought about in years, including some interesting people and places worth remembering.
For a previous assignment, part of her course on women’s affairs, she was asked to interview an older female relative or friend. The subject that time was personal experiences with discrimination against women. Again, I was the chosen subject. Laura rightly figured that my life span was long enough that I should have witnessed quite a bit of both the problems and any progress made in the right direction.
This was another time where I had to deliberately look back and remember much that I had forgotten. It’s amazing how much was taken for granted and how few were the options for fighting and righting the wrongs.
Sexual harassment was a term never used much less as the subject of a law suit. Having to cite personal episodes made me release suppressed indignation. Realizing how short a way we’ve come, baby, made me angry. Laura got a good article and an “A”. I wanted to call every boss I ever had, except two, and vent my spleen. Since they were all older than I, they’re probably all dead and gone, so it’s a bit late for righteous indignation.
I’m not sure which of her instructors asked for a copy of an article I might have written about a prominent woman. This was easy. I had to search for, and find an interview I had with Margaret Chase Smith, a remarkable example of a lady who stood up to be counted when this chips were down and her male counterparts were all hiding under their desks.
In order to find a copy of the article I had to tackle my file cabinet. This is an ugly, dark brown, two drawer metal object I’ve had in my various bedrooms for years. I faced opening it and diving into it with trepidation. It is like a closet jammed full of paraphernalia with no place else to go.
The sight, when the top drawer was finally opened was horrible. Like a Scotsman’s purse, I half expected moths to fly out. No moths, but dozens of beaten up looking file folders met my eyes. Getting the first one out was not easy.
Over half the space was dedicated to copies of every article and column I’ve ever written, that I’d clipped from the papers in which they appeared. If you’ve ever dealt with newspaper articles you know how flimsy and flighty they can be. My filing method left much to be desired.
Worse than pulling the files out of the cabinet, was the process of going through them trying to find something specific. Things kept falling out of the folders and had to be picked up and be replaced. By some miracle I happened to come across the wanted interview. I also found an interview I did with Laura when she was two and a half. It was great fun and she happily took a copy home.
I finally had to stop before I lost what little mind I have left. Now, I have to summon up some courage and do something about the cabinet. There’s a multitude of files I can toss out. For example, there are user’s manuals for every appliance I ever bought. Do you have any idea how many vacuum cleaners, toasters, and TV’s you have bought over the years? I can make a bonfire out of manuals and guarantees to go with them. Once I do, I can then transfer bank statements, receipts, and copies of columns I have stored in cardboard boxes under my desk. At least, everything in the boxes is stored surprisingly neatly. Wonder how that happened?
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