Women in the Workforce in the mid 1960s

The Revolution of the American Workplace

It was the beginning of a revolution in America and in the workforce. A changing face. Dominated for decades by white, male faces, it was slowly but surely changing. Now the faces of women, of minorities, of many colors. "Tradition" was changing. As with any huge change there was huge resistance.

A Woman of the 1960s

I became a woman in the 1960s. By the age of 25 I was one of the rarities for the time in that I was divorced and had two young sons to raise.

Divorce was very much frowned upon. Women were supposed to marry and stay married, no matter what. No excuse. No reason was valid enough for society to excuse her extreme failure. She was to stay married.

By then the art of shunning undesirables was fading a bit. Just ten or twenty years prior, however, the practice for communities to shun a person who acted out of the norm of society was practiced. The person who broke the societal rule had no choice but to face and endure the community shunning. It could be and often was brutal. But, in those times, one was forced to stay put; there were no options then to move into another community. At least few if any options.

Men were seldom shunned for any action. Women were more often the target as were her children. An ugly tradition one might say.

When I divorced my husband in 1965 there were still some who would practice the tradition of shunning, turn their backs to you as though you did not exist.

My husband was ordered by a court order to pay $100 per month child support for our two sons. Fifty dollars per month for each son. He decided that since I divorced him, he would not pay this support money. He never paid and the courts were not an option in getting him to pay.

Undaunted, I swore that my sons would not suffer for my mistakes and my marital status. I entered the workplace in order to support my sons and myself in 1965. Thus, as an unmarried woman, and more specifically, a divorced woman, I entered an environment in which I had no "protection" -- no husband.

Actually, I began working in a public arena in the mid 1950s, I worked as a waitress, at a DQ type place, a department store or two, and for my father who owned an electrical contracting business devoted to industrial motors.

I was hired in 1965 by a public municipality which employed some 300 people. Supervision was heavy at this time, with little if any, latitude for the workers. Time clocks were the norm. Permission was needed to utilize the bathrooms and we were timed as to how long it took to go to the bathroom and, how often we went. After all most of us were paid by the hour and they wanted to be certain that we gave them every single minute due. Our work lives were governed "by the book."

We were regimented by bells. At exactly the same time daily, a bell rang to tell us it was break time. We all filed down the stairs to the cafeteria for our 15 minute morning and afternoon breaks, mandatory by federal and state legislation. All 100 of us office workers as well as any of the outdoor workers, such as linemen, meter readers, etc, who were near or in the office.

The cafeteria was a nice touch since we could purchase snacks and a full, hot lunch for less than we could at a restaurant. However, the cafeteria was put in place as a means to keep us on time and back to work within our allotted 30 minute lunch break.

When the bell rang again, exactly at noon, we once again all filed down the stairs to the cafeteria like lemmings marching to the edge of the cliff. Or, Pavlov's dogs.

Within the times allotted, we also were to take our bathroom breaks and conduct any personal business that may need to be tended to. Under no circumstance could we utilize the utility telephone for personal business.

Friendship within the utility was another thing that was taken care of during breaks and lunch; never during working hours.

My work area was a very large room on the first floor with desks filed in various rows by different departments. My department consisted of 4 rows of desks, 3 desks wide. Located in a wide open area in front of glass fronted offices on the side for middle and upper management. Supervisors were seated in the last row of each department, so that they could observe their charges to insure we were all working.

Nonetheless, this environment, as stifling as it appeared, was a fun, often a loving one. We watched out for one another and there were lots of jokes, teasing and stifled laughter. Most employees were honored to be working for the utility and believed that the utility took care of them For the most part they did.

The biggest tension in the office was having no air conditioning in those days. It often was hot. I had a place near a window and would open the window a crack or more to gain some fresh air or a breeze. The older women would set up a cry and not relent until the window was closed. They were cold, they said.

I was 25 years old and still pretty unsophisticated. As I observed the happenings and interactions of people around me, I was struck by a bit of panic. I didn't want to end up this way. Many of the women with whom I worked had been with the Utility for 30 and 40 years!

They looked tired, worn out, washed out and seemed mundane. Lives with little variety, learning, experience, love or laughter. They were what we called "Old Maids." Women who had never married. Had they married they wouldn't have been in the work place.

This image was so profound to me -- certainly it impacted my own career path in the future.

I spent 7 years at the utility. The longest place of employment in my 30 year career. I still refer to those 7 years as my apprenticeship.

There were lots of women working alongside me. Many were married, but just as many had never married. A newer demographic were women like me - divorced.

On the hierarchy of females,in the office, the married women were the highest esteemed with the divorced women, the lowest regarded. Reputations were vital in those days, not only for the individual but for the family name. One simply did not risk losing a "good" reputation by doing something to hinder one's name or the family name and livelihood. Divorcees were considered sexually "loose" women, a threat to good wholesome values because they did not have a man in the home to keep them home. Since divorce signified that the woman had not only had sex she knew about sex; now there was no one giving her sex. They were considered a threat since they could lure another woman's husband into an affair eventually leading to the breakup of his family. After all, once a woman experienced sex she would be hungry for sex and hunting for someone to provide her with it.

Certainly this created an obstacle for a divorced female since many of the men had no respect for her. Sexual harassment was frequent.

A neighbor who lived across the street from me and my sons, married with three children, had made it possible for me to get an interview at the utility and thus get the job there. I'd known Pat since he was a teenager. He and his family lived in the house behind us. He knew my family, my husband and our neighbors.

One morning around 3 a.m., I awoke hearing a funny scratching noise on my bedroom window. I got up to see what it was. Here was Pat standing at the window and now he wanted me to open them and let him come in. I was disgusted with him, he was obviously drunk and sent him home.

Pat continued this attempt at seduction, I guess it was seduction, for years until I finally told him there was no way. Then he became somewhat ugly.

Then, I realized that Pat was quiet and didn't bother me anymore. I didn't give it another thought until years later.

I for some reason, had a guardian. Norm, the Personnel Manager or Administrative manager, a Stanford MBA, took a liking to me. He began watching over me and made it clear that I was off limits. Because of this, few men bothered with me. I wasn't open game.

Norman, often called "Stormen Norman," behind his back by the office and other subordinate workers, became my "professor" mentor and career counselor for the next seven years. He was never my lover.

Sex was never involved between us. It was intellectual only. By our 6th year together as a team in the office, in his mind, our relationship was far more. He claimed me as his. Jealousy and other "husband' type behaviors began to emerge. I had to be very, very careful in everything that I said and did. He owned me, he thought.

Norm would also come to my desk and begin talking. He was known for his very large, complicated and impressive vocabulary. Many of his secretaries would come from his office in tears, along with their steno pads, saying that he had just dictated a letter or a document and many of the words he used were unfamiliar to them. They had to seek out someone to interpret so that they could type what he dictated.

So began a "game" between Norm and I. He would very carefully create a verbal sentence in which he used a word that he felt certain that I wouldn't know. Each time I responded appropriately to his carefully phrased question. He would stand there a minute looking at me puzzled. Than he would turn and walk off to later return with yet another, what he hoped would be baffling, word put into a sentence that demanded a response.

When he saw that he had finally stumped me he was gleeful. I, however, would respond with, "I need to get to work, Norm, but I'll get back to you." I then raced to a dictionary to learn the meaning of his word.

He approached me one day and asked if I'd like to come work with him as a secretary. I was delighted and didn't give it any thought. I hated the accounting work that I was doing. Yes. I'd love to.

The next day I was moved to a desk outside his office joining three other secretaries.

Thus began my education in Personnel Management. I was being "groomed" and I knew it and loved it. Norm was an incredible "professor" and mentor for the next 6 years. I never knew that had I refused, I'd have been fired. Jack the accounting supervisor was as unhappy with my work in his accounting department as was I with the accounting work. He had never said a word to me nor given me any indication of his unhappiness.

Revolutions -- Evolutions

How fortunate I've been. For I've witnessed and experienced not one but two major workplace revolutions which brought about global change.

First, in the 1960s the Revolution of Civil Rights and second, in the 1980s the Information Revolution in Silicon Valley,

Both brought joy, excitement, pain and major global change. What a fantastic experience to have been a part of these revolutions.

The Way it Was

Hard to imagine today, a work environment like a grade school. Needing permission to leave your desk. Every move, every second governed by bells that rang when it was time to take a break, time to end the break, time to take lunch, time to end lunch. Finally, time to go home.

Like a small town, every one knew everyone or at least of everyone, and every-one's business. There were no secrets. Gossip was rampart. Cliques were the norm, people were torn apart, discussed, lives were shattered, secrets were spilled. Just like in grade school.

Workers were watched and monitored closely.

To be a woman in the 1960s workforce and especially a divorced woman, there were more mine fields to be attentive to.

Women were in the office. At the switchboard and in the computer rooms as data entry clerks.

Switchboard. If you were born after 1970 you wouldn't know what a switchboard was. Telephones were not cordless in the 1960s; there was no voicemail. All calls came from the telephone company into the Utilities telephone system via a switchboard and were answered by a live person.

One woman, sometimes two, manned the board for 100 office telephones. She would answer the ringing telephone and ask the caller whose desk or phone they wanted then determine where to direct the call.

The switchboard operator sat in front of a five foot long "board" with switches, plugs and microphone. She had actual cords for each telephone in the office that she "plugged" into a circuit board which directed the outside or inside call to a specific telephone number.

She and the switchboard were located in the front of the building by the front entrance so that she could also act as receptionist to the public. The gatekeeper.

By office culture, this woman was all powerful. She knew everything there was to know about the office and its people. Yet, she was one of the lowest paid employees.

This is someone that you wanted as your friend, never your enemy.

Pay and the kind of job that a woman could hold in the 1960s was very regimented by the norms of society. Women shouldn't have a man's job. Trouble was that almost all of the jobs were "man's" jobs.

Women were definitely not to earn the same amount of money as did men.

Pay was very low for women since it was held that the women were married to men who made decent money; women just worked for the "extras" in life. We were virtually slave laborers.

In the accoounting position that I first held at the utility, I sat next to Scotty, a sweet man of about my age with a wife and children. Scotty earned $800 per month doing essentially what I did, and I received $300 per month.

Long known for my questioning things, I could not fathom why there was such a desperity. I remember as early as junior high school (now referred to as middle school) fellow students wrote in my year book that I "would still be asking 'why?' in my old age.

Not having fully accepted the office hiearchy of management, seldom was I cowered by somebody's rank. True to my nature, I visited Mr. Bistol's office one day. Mr. Bistol was the Assistant General Manager of the Utility. I sat down and began a conversation about pay with him. I explained that it was very difficult for me to support my sons on such little pay and I needed more. I asked him how I could earn more money.

He was pleasant but looked agast at me saying: "But, Scotty is married and supporting a family, of course he makes more than you. You should be married."

End of subject.

Okay. I went back to my work area and begin planning on how I could earn $800 like Scotty working at the utility.

It took me 7 years with cost of living raises and merit raises to earn $600 per month.

The Secretary in the office of 1960

The Perks for Male Clients

Norm had a small "harem" of women working for him. There was Wendy, also a divorcee with a child. Very beautiful and a bit exotic looking with very long, silky, black hair and lavender eyes with a 20 something knockout figure, very sexy. There was me whom all referred to lovingly as "Chatty Kathy, " after a popular talking blond doll of the time. Blond, blue eyed, five foot - two inches weighing 105 pounds. I was the cute, sweet, young thing.

Nicki was a rather sexy, voluptuous, platinum blond whose husband owned a dance studio. While Rosemary didn't work for Norm, she was included in his band of females. She was the personal secretary to the general manager. The "Queen Bee" in the office hierarchy. Rosemary was divorced with three children. A red head of five foot - eight inches tall and about 130 pounds. She was also involved in a long standing affair with a married man. He kept her. She was a kept woman. A Jewish business man well known in the community with some questionable connections that he wasn't in the least bit bashful in utilizing.

We were the "front door" women for the utilities. It wasn't unusual for men from Washington DC government officials or State officials or other dignitaries to visit the utility. Much was going on in the energy arena throughout the US at this time. One was the beginning of nuclear power.

There was much lobbying being done. Impressions were important.

Often meetings in the Board Room included luncheons or dinners. Rosemary was in charge of setting these up, supervising the catering and serving the various dignitaries. Nicki, Wendy and I were also called upon to serve.

When the dinners were held in hotels or other places, we were asked to be present and to accompany the men, acting as a hostess.

As naïve as I was, it didn't take long for me to understand what was really being asked. No one said to any of us, "be nice and give the man what he wants." but it was implied.

I worried that I would lose my job because there was no way that I was going to comply with this. I had no problem eating dinner with them, keeping them entertained with conversation and good looks, or even dancing with them, but that was as far as I was willing to go.

Fortunately, none ever pushed it further and treated me with respect. I don't know about Wendy, Niki, or Rosemary. I do remember that Wendy often had her rent paid for her and was given jewelry.

This was not an uncommon practice in business in America at the time, I learned. There were some women who utilized the practice as a means to support themselves and a line themselves with more powerful men. They did what they felt they had to do in order to gain what they wanted. Some were very successful gaining job security for as long as their talents were needed. This was one way for a woman to gain power. Especially since most of the men were married. A lot of quiet blackmail made more than one woman wealthy.

It seems that in certain circles and circumstances, some divorced women earned the reputation of the "home wrecking" female that so many feared.

Norm very much enjoyed his "harem" and the status therein afforded him by other males within the office and the community. Many wondered how he managed this and kept his wife happy.

Simply, as I learned throughout my seven years working with Norm, he controlled his wife in a not so kindly manner. He psychologically over powered her and controlled her. It seems that she was prone to depression undergoing frequent electric shock treatments. This was his weapon to keep her in line, so to speak. Were she to object to his pleasures he simply threatened her with divorce; something that she was conditioned to believe was the worst possible failure in life.

Sadistically, he often had one of his harem, home for dinner for his wife to cook for and to serve. He very much enjoyed that.

To my knowledge none of the "front" women had ever had an affair with Norm. It seems that his gratification came in fantasy and adoration. We all afforded him respect of an elder professor who held our lives, literally, in his hands. The power to keep us working with raises or to fire us and leave us to the fate of unemployment.

The "front women," were also employed at various home shows to present new ideas and projects for the utility and other public propaganda type affairs.

This is not to say that there was not abuse of women in the workplace in America during this time. I was simply lucky. There were many women forced into unwanted sex and other abuse by the men with whom they worked and/or their bosses. Some were brutalized and then tossed away, some worked slave hours for slave pay. The garment industry was discovered to be guilty of many such employment practices. Banking and insurance industries were later called to task for their business practice of women.

Job Security

In 1960 there still was some modicum of job security. That is to say that if you knew your job and proved yourself to be indispensable to that job, one could assume they would not be replaced.

The advent of the computer shook that concept - hard. New fear was instilled in many as they saw the job that they had been doing for years, could be replaced by THE machine.

It became a common practice for companies to "let go" workers who were within one to five years of their retirement -- and company pension. Companies figured that if they terminated one of these potentially high-end employees, no pension would be granted, saving the company many dollars.

This dumped many workers, of all ranks, in their 60s into poverty.

It wasn't until legislation for age discrimination passed that this practice ended.

After 40 years of loyalty the company repaid them by booting them out just short of their pension maturity.

Loyalty was once a virtue and a two way street -- sort of. As word traveled telling of Joe or Ed or Frank who were just a year shy of earning their company pension being fired or laid off, slow panic set in.

For this to no longer be of value was blasphemy in the eyes of the workers. Confusion abounded. To leave a company was unheard of; one was to stay and work and retire. It was a way of life.

Younger workers watched from the sidelines, and learned.

Ken Kesey

Kenneth Elton Kesey (September 17, 1935 – November 10, 2001) was an American author, best known for his major novels, One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest and Sometimes a Great Notion, and as a counter-cultural figure who, some consider, was a link between the Beat Generation of the 1950s and the hippies of the 1960s. "I was too young to be a beatnik,, and too old to be a hippie," Kesey said in a 1999 interview with Robert K. Elder.

Born September 17, 1935(1935-09-17)

La Junta, Colorado Died November 10, 2001 (aged 66)

Pleasant Hill, Oregon

Occupation Novelist, short story writer, essayist

Nationality United States

Genres Beat, Postmodernism

Literary Movement

Merry Pranksters Notable work(s) One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest

Vietnam

This was also the time of Vietnam. Peace Rallies and great protests. Living in a University town we witnessed many such protests and rallies. Coffee houses were springing up and THE spot to be to hear radical ideas and speakers; poetry and Bob Dylan type singers as well as intellectuals, writers and such. It was the scene as we said then. "Free" thought and expression. Exciting and alive times for me.

Beatniks, hippies, college students and me. Ken Kesey was from this area -- we were all reading his "One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest" and going to the movie, proud of our local boy and his antics.

Everyone had a story of Ken. My former husband had gone to school with him.

Health foods were emerging as the new cuisine and served in these Coffee Houses.

This, made all the sweeter since it could never be disclosed at the Utility where I worked that I was "one of them."

Rosemary had to make a very difficult decision during this time relative to her 17 year old son, Lance. Being a teenager during such a tumultuous time, he was bordering on trouble. He decided that he wanted to become a Marine.

Can you imagine? Vietnam was a certain for him were he to join. Finally, she garnered from the Marine recruiter that they would not send her 17 year old to Vietnam. They agreed and she signed the consent forms to let him enlist.

One morning, I looked up from my work and saw Norm frantically motioning for me to come into his office.

I entered and he shut the door. He looked upset. Finally, he told me that there were two Marines in the lobby by the switchboard for Rosemary. They were here to tell her that her son had been killed in Vietnam.

There was no way that he could break this news to her and he wanted me to take her into the Board Room as quickly as possible, the back way, so that she didn't see them in passing. He would then direct them into the Board Room. He asked me to stay with her.

My heart broke as I thought of my own two young sons and of my friend Rosemary knowing how difficult it was for her to have made the decision to sign the enlistment consent form for Lannie. Now, less than a year; he was came home in a military coffin.

I did as Norm requested. Rosemary was puzzled as to why I had asked her to join me in the Board Room. I asked her to sit. She did with her back to the door at my request.

The doors opened, she turned -- saw the two Marines. A small cry began to erupt in her throat as recognition dawned, then the small cry became deep weeping and sobbing as her entire body violently shook. I will never forget the look on her face, her mournful cry and incredible sorrow of recognition that she would never again see her son.

Nor the look on the faces of the two young Marines there to deliver the news and the condolences of the United States Government.

I took Rosemary home and stayed with her until evening when her family gathered with her.

The Marines kept their promise and did not send Lannie to Vietnam at age 17. However, on his 18th birthday they did. He had just turned 18 upon his death.

The profound impact this had on my life was far reaching and dramatic. For years, when I spoke of that day and Rosemary my heart broke again and again for her and her incredible loss as I pushed back my tears.

This was Vietnam. This was the late 1960s America.

The Bread Line

Civil Rights Movement

Dr. Martin Luther King was far more reaching than even he knew. Because of the Civil Rights Movement, white women as well as women of color were able to join the workforce ranks affecting incredible change in women's rights along with the rights of minorities. Women became classified as minorities under the Civil Rights Amendment.

For the first time, women were protected from harassment sexual exploitation and other types of harassment, by legislation; the United States of America.

From where I sat, I have no doubts that were it not for Dr. Martin Luther King and the Civil Rights Movement, women would still be treated unfairly and unkindly in the workplace. Her role would still be that of the keeper of the home and family, only.

Together, women AND minorities were a powerful group with which to contend. Change would occur. Equality in the workplace would happen.

It didn't come without a fight. It didn't happen without some loss. I learned the valuable lesson of winning a war instead of just the battle

The Revolution of the American Workplace

It was the beginning of a revolution in America and in the workforce. A changing face. Dominated for centuries by white, male faces, it was slowly but surely changing. Now the faces of women, of minorities, of many colors. "Tradition" was changing. As with any huge change there was huge resistance.

Society, as a whole, was angry. Jobs were being "taken" by women who should be at home taking care of her husband and her children. This is how it is supposed to be. It is written! What kind of woman would go off into a man's workplace and leave her children and husband?

What is going on? Minorities and women coming into our world. It is written. They are not supposed to be doing these jobs.

This was an incredibly hard time for the "traditional American male" of the 1940s and 1950s. Everything they understood, thought of as their right; a way of life was being challenged and changed.

Not surprisingly, many women joined the ranks of the traditional American male in supporting life as it had always been. Churches jumped on this band wagon as well.

I was in the midst of this great workplace revolution. Equal Opportunity Employment (EEO)had just been legislated. Computers were just gaining huge footholds in business. The way we did business was in huge upheaval. Now, computers, women and minorities were taking over. The fight was on. Especially with the "good ole boys" network.

The concept of women in the workforce, working side by side with men as equals would not have happened were it not for the Civil Rights Amendment and battle being fought in the deep south of America.

Dr. Martin Luther King was far more reaching than even he knew. Because of the Civil Rights Movement, women were able to join the ranks affecting incredible change in women's rights along with the rights of minorities. Women became classified as minorities under the Civil Rights Amendment. For the first time, women were protected from harassment by legislation; the United States of America.

From where I sat, I have no doubts that were it not for Dr. Martin Luther King and the Civil Rights Movement, women would still be treated unfairly and unkindly in the workplace. Her role would still be that of the keeper of the home and family, only.

Together, women AND minorities were a powerful group with which to contend. Change would occur. Equality in the workplace would happen.

It didn't come without a fight. It didn't happen without some loss. I learned the valuable lesson of winning a war instead of just the battle.

Accepting that I would lose many battles in my fight for equality, but I would win the war -- eventually.

I was appointed the EEO officer of the utility. Norm took a bold stand. He had been grooming me for such a position and he was proud of his "student." What an exciting time. What a perilous time.

Taking this seriously, I began a recruitment program for minorities and women placing them in positions typically held by white men only. Meter Readers, linemen, truck drivers, forklift operators.

Never did we not hire a white male who was qualified in order to hire a minority or female. We simply now, were able to hire the most qualified worker.

I chose what I called, path finders from minority and female applicants. People solid in their identities who easily handled the bigotry they would encounter and the ability to win over hostile co workers capable of turning them into allies and friends.

I was promoted and given the title of manager. It lasted one day. Norm called me into his office with a sour, angry face. He was livid.

He told me that the General Manager had called him on the carpet for promoting me, a woman, and told to rescind the title or be fired himself.

He was also told that I was to cease and desist in my minority recruitment or I would not only be fired, but I would be "black balled" and never find another job -- anywhere.

The General Manager had that much power and it stretched from Oregon all the way to Washington DC.

And so it was that my managerial title was stripped.

When I applied for a job with a different company, the local newspaper, I was told by the Editor that he was so very sorry, he would hire me, but ... it seems the general manager had already spread the word.

Like a cat hungry for its next meal and protecting her kits, I went inward planning my defensive and next attack. I would be successful no matter what. But I knew that I had to be careful, very careful so as not to get in the general manager's cross fire.

I was livid. No one is entitled to have this kind of power over my life. No one will! I decided then and there that I would make my career in Human Resources (called Personnel in those days) because I believed that I could affect the most change in this capacity. I knew that I was fair and impartial to gender, age and color, creed, race and religion. I felt this allowed me to hire the most qualified person for the job without prejudice. This position would allow me to assist in a positive manner the Civil Rights Movement.

That is how my career began. It would be 4 more years before I was able to leave the utility and launch my career in management in San Francisco rather than what was then a small town in Oregon.

A long climb from 1965 to 1993.

My Education on Discrimination

It was during this time that Floria came into my life and the office. Floria was a petite African American from Tennessee, of about my age, with a huge personality and winning way. She was also an extremely strong individual with a strong sense of who she was, what she wanted and how to get it. Very savvy woman.

Floria was the first of many African American women that I would have the honor of working with and to know in my career.

Floria and Me

It was during this time that Floria came into my life and the office. Floria was a petite African American from Tennessee, of about my age, with a huge personality and winning way. She was also an extremely strong individual with a strong sense of who she was, what she wanted and how to get it. Very savvy woman.

Floria was the first of many African American women that I would have the honor of working with and to know in my career.

Needless to say, being a Path Finder, she caused quite a stir at the Utility. People who had no idea that they were prejudiced were hit smack in the face with this reality. i was one of them.

Everyone adored Floria. She demanded it and earned this respect. No one wanted to offend her or hurt her in any way. However, it was inevitable. So few people of color lived in our community that many of us had never encountered our in-borne prejudices. We were shocked to say the least when they snuck out in expressions, slang and various sayings.

Floria was kind and an incredible teacher and ambassador teaching each of us with respect but firmness. She always called us on our sayings that until then we were totally unaware of being bigoted.

Little Black Sambo was a children's story that each of us knew and read to our children. Eanie, meanie, miney, mo, catch a N---r by his toe -- was a nursery rhyme we all knew and taught our children. We thought harmless and had no real idea of it's meaning; until Floria.

Wow! Were my eyes opened!

To rid ourselves of such idioms, slang and sayings was painful, to say the least. But as each of us became aware of the true demeaning messages held within, we did rid ourselves of them.

While talking were I to say something in ignorance, Floria would simply raise an eyebrow and look at me. My face would turn bright red as I realized what I had said.

God love her, Floria was never offended and knew how ignorant we were, but also how loving and good we were as well. She treated us all with great respect. She was an affective, kind and loving teacher.

We had such wonderful times, Floria and I as we joined forces in our fight for equality. What a team we were.

We loved to laugh and loved to play pranks on folk.

Wigs were the "rage" during the 1960s. Most women of our age had several and loved wearing them. I had short, long, straight, curly, golden blond, platinum blond and a huge red afro that I loved wearing. It was great fun.

Floria had afros, long, short, curly and straight wigs as well.

One morning when we met she wore her black, curly, Afro wig and I my long, golden blond wig with curls.

We had only to look at one another and with a gleam in our eye, not a word spoken, ran into the ladies room before the bell rang. Off came our wigs and we switched. Me with the black Afro and she with the long blond curls.

We looked at one another approvingly and with giggles headed out the door and to our desks.

What fun we had that day as we watched the shock, the confusion and surprise on the faces of the people we encountered. We laughed and laughed.

It was something long remembered at the Utility.

Floria showed me what bigotry and discrimination really was. It's ugly face.

We often went out for lunch together. Again, Floria was a rarity in our town.

We were waiting to be seated at a local restaurant one noon hour when Floria observed that we'd been kept waiting for some time. I hadn't noticed.

She then stated that I should pay attention because she said that we would be seated at a table in an undesirable location away from others.

We were. I was stunned.

I started to say something to the waitress in protest when Floria simply touched my arm and said: "No. This is my battle. I don't need anyone to fight it for me."

In the sweetest, nicest manner she informed the waitress that the table was not satisfactory and that she would like to be seated elsewhere. We were.

She then told me that she really hated the North. Comparred to her native Southern United States, she said that it was far harder living here where rules were not written rather passive aggressive causing her to crash into them without warning. It was fair.

In her native South, it was very clear. The limitations and the consequences. One could choose their actions knowing exactly what the consequences of their actions would be.

Because of Floria, her patience and her teaching, I became a better person no longer ignorant to bigotry.

Floria went on to finish her degree in accounting at the Univiersity and received her CPA. I lost touch with her some years after I moved to San Francisco. I am sorry that I did. I have no doubt that like me, she became a force to be reckoned with in the workplace and became a top executive in a corporation. Unlike me, I'm sure that she crashed through the glass ceiling.

Female Manager c 1973

The Results of the Revolutions of the 1960s - 1970s

Today, as I think back over my career and life, I feel so incredibly fortunate to have lived during this time. To have witnessed not one but several major world revolutions has been a great honor and experience. To have affected change a great honor.

As our world continues to evolve and change dramatically and my world in particular as i age, I appreciate the people who bravely went forth and made it happen.

I bemoan the loss of values I once held -- gone from the lives of our communities and children. The manners and civilities, gone. The depressing music. Body tats and piercings, lack of respect for others, especially the elderly.

And then I remember how painful the change that I helped affect must have been for my parents and grandparents. We were the first generation of women to wear pants outside of the home. We wore mini skirts. I was often teased by remarks such as: "Hey, nice blouse you have on. Where's your skirt?"

The wigs, the "hippie attire," not to mention the "free love" attitude of the time must have appeared as the tats and body piercing along with black makeup and nail polish of so many different colors appear to me today. Our beloved music must have sounded as RAP sounds to me today.

We broke the rules of etiquette of generations. We addressed people by their first names dropping the Mr. and Mrs. on which we were taught and raised. We ignored the traditions so long ago established and lived. We must have appeared ungrateful, unrespectful, ne'r-do-wells to our elders.

I now understand the discomfort of change for those who were once comfortable in the way things were. I understand the resistance to and the sadness of things changing, not being what once was. It is with empathy that I regard my forefathers and the generations coming up. As well as respect for their courage in facing the incredible changes in their lives.

I fully understand that nothing remains the same forever. There simply is no forever.

I think of my Grandmother and Mother who lived through so much and saw/witnessed incredible change in the Nineteenth Century. For them it was from horse and buggy, lanterns, no indoor plumbing or electricity to man walking on the moon. Incredible!

When I left the Utility Board in Oregon in 1972 to begin my career in personnel management in San Francisco, I was filled with excitement and anticipation. Knowing that I was to be part of an incredible revolution. What I did would make a difference to and for women and people everywhere.

I expected resistance but I was ready. Floria had taught me well. Kindness was the key in affecting change and gaining cooperation. What I didn't expect was the fear instilled within most people who met me. They saw a strong, powerful woman. A feminist. Someone to we weary of and not to cross for fear of strong retribution. Even my bosses were intimidated by me because I knew my law and my rights. They knew I would allow nothing less than fair treatment.

The Civil Rights Movement, Women's Movement and the Feminists of the time gave me incredible power.

Thank goodness, my next mentor was a very wise man who recognized this and taught me to be respectful of my power but to know that I possessed it. To use it wisely.

I spent the next 6 years under his management and tutor-ledge. He was the president of the company and a solid, wise and good leader.

During the next 25 years, I honed my knowledge and expertise in Labor and Employment Law becoming an expert in that field as well as International Labor and Employment Law. Directing US and overseas operations, office location and development, staffing and policy. Developed, wrote and trained Executives in management training, cultural differences and in doing business in various countries.

In addition, I specialized in Employee Benefits, at one time in the early 1980s managing a benefits budget of over fifty million dollars.

In 1980 my income increased from $25,000 per year to $40,000 and jumped quickly to $60,000 within the year. When i retired in 1993 I earned over $100,000 per year plus stock options of close to another $100, 000.

Who would have guessed, that the little unsophisticated girl from Oregon could accomplish anything like this?

I was at the right place at the right time.

Comments 8 comments

janet 6 years ago

thanks really appreciate you, my mom and all the rest of the ladies!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


Astrid 5 years ago

Thank you for a very interesting read. I would like to see your story turned into a tv series


sam 4 years ago

thanks! this really helped with my school project on the 1960s.


romneykat profile image

romneykat 4 years ago from Near San Francisco, CA Author

Thanks Janet, Astrid and Sam; I'm pleased that my hub on the 1960s was helpful to you each; I appreciate your feedback.

: 0 ) Astrid, if you know a producer let me know; but I think the film "9 to 5" with Dolly Parton did a good job. If you haven't seen this film you might enjoy it.

Romneykat


LoraKora 2 years ago

This helped with my novel I am writing. Thanks a million!


romneykat profile image

romneykat 2 years ago from Near San Francisco, CA Author

That's wonderful! Glad to be of help. Good luck on your novel!


Mary 2 years ago

Hi! I really loved that you shared your story. I am working on a project for my writing class about the women workforce. I was wondering if I can feature this in my project, if that would be okay with you?


romneykat profile image

romneykat 19 months ago from Near San Francisco, CA Author

I hope that my story will add value to yours. Do be sure to credit me than yes, I welcome you to utilize my story. Good luck on your project, Mary.

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