The Ladies Page

COUNTRY ECHO

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BRANDON WISCONSIN R.R-2 ZIP-539I9

Today my husband picked up the daily paper. 'Humph,' he commented tersely. 'I guess it's a good thing I am going away tomorrow. By the looks of things I wouldn't have a cook anyway.'

I laid my spatula down uncertainly. 'What are you talking about?' I asked. 'Don't I usually cook?'

For answer he handed me the paper and pointed out a front-page story: FIX YOUR OWN MEALS WEDNESDAY, DAD: GIRLS GOING OUT ON STRIKE. This was the headline. There was to be a national woman's strike against menial jobs and kitchen work, it said.

It was now my turn to say 'Humph' and 'Humph' again. 'Not me,' I went on. 'I like it from where I stand.' I slipped the still warm applesauce and freshly-baked rolls onto the table. 'Nobody but me is going to mess around in my kitchen as long as I can hold out,' I said to myself. 'I may not be the world's best cook, but, so help me, I'm no slouch either.'

Mr. B. chuckled his nose further into the newspaper as he waited a moment for his cup of hot coffee. I think he has me where he wants me, in the kitchen, and I surely won't argue about it.

The last thing I want to be is one of these bewigged, painted witches we see on our city streets and many other places. And as far as the other extreme goes the long, straight hair hanging to the waist, mixed in with love beads and dirt is hardly my dish either. It must be I am out of step with this generation. Somehow, when a chunky woman packs her fat fanny into a pair of stretch pants and then ties an apron over this insult, I about faint.

Last week I tried my hand at being a Hippie only for an hour or two, mind you, but as I combed my hair back into order, and put it up again I felt somewhat normal, really. The fact that I had to do this in a cut-over grain field, with the wind blowing briskly, and our outside rear view mirror my only aid to reflection, wasn't too helpful. But I got myself together even under such handicaps.

Back in early summer Mr. and Mrs. B were appointed chairman and chairlady of a neighborhood committee for building of a Farm Bureau float for a local community fair. We chose the theme WHAT KIND OF NEIGHBOR ARE YOU? One family owns a jeep. They painted it red, (it needed painting, they said) and the sides and roof white. On this went our theme in neat black letters with the emphasis on YOU. This jeep ably pulled our float.

The fourteen-foot flat-bed wagon we divided into two neighboring yards, one neat and attractive, the other a shameful mess. We had no trouble getting neat people. Our neighbor, Arnold, and his wife, Leona, were seated on lawn chairs in a snug enclosure of white picket fence (cut out of cardboard and painted) and embellished with a box of blossoming marigolds and patriotic trimmings. Arnold was melodiously playing his accordion.

But you just should have seen what was on the other side of that wagon tires, junk, a rusty tail pipe, an old car seat, bottles, pails, a beat-up bathtub, and two Hippies. They were Milton, a life-long neighbor, and myself. Snow fence, wreck and sawed in half, was our enclosure, and as we rode the parade route we tossed garbage on our neighbor's yard. They were marvelously forgiving people and kept picking it up as fast as we messed up their place. Of course, they deposited it in a nicely painted rubbish can. I believe they did give us some not-so-friendly looks. I was really too busy to notice. All taken into accord we had a heap of fun, and we hope we taught a lesson.

Indeed, we hope we taught a lesson! To me, this being so utterly casual in our dress has gone a bit too far. And so have the demands of our sex for equal rights. I shall always be delighted when a man opens a door for me, shields me from some of the rougher tasks of life. I love being a lady, even if I have to work hard at being one.

How do you ladies respond to that one cigarette commercial indicating that we really have it made? Baby? BABY, INDEED! We are not all silly little chicks nor are we all stickers where kitchen work is concerned. This ad makes me ill to the core. We women, who are Homemakers at heart are sick, sick, sick of being portrayed as slinky sex symbols, and I want to speak out for these Women, Mothers, Homemakers, who draw their families to them with love, concern, and good cooking. There are still millions of us, and believe you me, We Are Not On Strike.

During August we had the joy of having our whole family, and their offspring back under the home roof. As we counted noses there were anywhere from nine to nineteen for meals for thirteen days. I about ran out of ideas but they never lost their appetites. It was three years since we had all been together and it was a heap of work.

One boy baby fell into the cactus plants and we had kitchen counter removal of spines from his body. A toad got away from one of the little boys and hopped under the clothes dryer. He later showed up in the basement then when brought up for inspection into the living room lost all his fluid on our nice new carpeting. It was work again, the constant cleaning up.

But Strike? Strike because we have a labor of love to perform? How unthinkable! Mother love is a gift God gave us and with mother love go pots and pans, scrub pails and mops, and a perennial dust cloth.

Yesterday we moved our last chick into her own apartment near where she will teach this year. What a look of happiness was on her face as she settled down. Her own home for the first time! As I watched her I thanked God that all women are not the rebellious self-seeking kind, and that many young women will take their needed roll as keepers of their homes. In these true women lie the very seeds of our survival. May God bless them richly.