Tuesday, February 23, 2010

100 Years of Women's Suffrage in WA

The Highline Historical Society held a program last weekend featuring actress/historian Tames Alan. In her "Soldiers in Petticoats" lecture, Alan dressed in costume as a suffragette and reviewed the long and tortuous history of women's struggle to secure voting rights in the United States. Washington State was the fifth state to allow women to vote -- this was before the passage of the 19th Amendment. In fact, 2010 marks the centennial of women's suffrage in this state.

It was a fascinating program, and when Alan concluded her presentation, she opened it up to audience members. This is when it really hit home that we are living as part of an historic continuum, and that the struggle for women's rights is ongoing. There were at least a couple of audience members who had been born before the passage of the 19th Amendment. But even those born fifty years after women had gained the right to vote spoke of other forms of discrimination they had faced. Women talked about being forced to quit their jobs as flight attendants or school teachers as soon as they became pregnant (even though they were married). One lady recalled being required to get her husband's signature in order to get a credit card. Others recalled inequities in education and sports.

The program was followed by a reception honoring women who hold elected office today. State Senator Karen Keiser (33rd District), SeaTac Mayor Terry Anderson, SeaTac councilmembers Mia Gregerson and Pam Fernald, and former Burien Mayor Kitty Milne were on-hand to talk about their experiences as public servants. Senator Keiser noted that there are fewer women in the state legislature today than when she first went to Olympia. She reiterated the plea made by Tames Alan at the conclusion of the formal presentation: that audience members make sure to share their personal stories with the youngsters in their lives, so that the generation growing up now can appreciate that history is not something merely relegated to history books, but ongoing and consequential.

Submitted by Barbara McMichael, SoCoCulture administrator

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Love Poem Contest Winner

Thanks to all who participated in our first-time-ever poetry contest - we received many wonderful poems celebrating love in South King County. Our judge had a difficult time deciding, but finally picked this entry by Marjorie Rommel as our winning poem. Happy Valentine's Day to all!

FLOWER LOVE - by Marjorie Rommel

She asked for yellow roses,

but roses were too dear,

so I sent white carnations

tied up in a yellow wire.

She stood at Cugini's window,

her disappointment clear

as water drops in the florist's case

on the roses of her desire.

I was moved to console her

--we twined in sheer delight--

and she bloomed yellow roses,

we sent up white carnation fire,

half the night.

Poet's Note: Cugini Florist is a venerable institution in Renton, destination of young men in need of orchid corsages for their girls on prom night, young girls and their mothers intent on the quintessential bridal bouquet, husbands seeking a dozen perfect long-stemmed red roses for their wives on Valentine's Day -- anyone needing anything in the way of flowers for any occasion from Mother's Day to the birth of a new baby. Women longing for their men to remember them are perennially pressing their noses to Cugini's always beautifully decorated windows.