Archive for March, 2012

Time out for a Girl Scout

March 13, 2012

A 100th birthday party is pretty special, and yesterday my 83-year-old mother, June Rodgers, was a participant in Austin’s observance of the Girl Scouts’ centennial celebration. I’m sharing her email to her daughters and granddaughters about the event here, in honor of the gracious and welcoming way she was treated by her sister Scouts, and just because I’m completely thrilled that she was feted for her lifetime of service to the Girl Scouts — as a Brownie and beyond, all the way to troop leader, camp counselor, trainer and volunteer.

June attended 25th Anniversary

Who knew when little June became a Brownie, just as Scouting celebrated its 25th anniversary, that she would proudly attend their 100th birthday?

Here’s her version of Austin’s 100th celebration

Today I wish I was a blogger, because I really have something to blog about. I got late publicity by email about the celebration being held on the Austin capitol steps today. I was afraid the publicity was inadequate, but even if it was a flop, I wanted to be there. I had no one to go with and I didn’t expect to know anyone, but for my personal interest, I decided to brave the downtown traffic and find a parking space and go alone.

I wore green slacks (what else?) and my old badge sash over a white blouse. As soon as I walked in the back door of the capitol, I was swarmed by two senior Scouts who wanted to know about my badges. When I told them I came because I had gone to the 25th birthday as a Brownie, they pulled out cell phones and took me to meet the dignitaries.

Introduced to 3,000 Girl Scouts

I was placed in the front row and introduced to the crowd of 3,000 Girl Scouts. We sang Girl Scout songs and after a huge closing friendship circle that covered the acres in front of the capitol, I had dozens of girls who wanted to have their picture taken with me! I felt like a real celebrity. I wish I hadn’t forgotten my camera.

I was totally surprised and was so glad I had taken time to wash my hair the night before and wear my Girl Scout earrings. What fun!

Your ultimate Girl Scout Mother, Grandmother and Girl Scout Brownie buddy!

June Rodgers

Local video of the 100th Observance

Austin’s KXAN covered the event. You can see the video here.

Who will cover the 125th birthday party?

The disappointing post script to this story is that – despite their presence at the event – Mom’s local newspaper didn’t have coverage of the event this morning. She saw a glimpse of her white hair on the TV news last night, and was hopeful that some notice of the gathering would run in The Austin American-Statesman.

It was not to be. After 30 years as a journalist, I know all the reasons why there was no coverage of the 100th anniversary of the Girl Scouts of the USA, especially in this era of downsizing. How many times did I personally deliver my stock response to readers asking why we didn’t print more “good news”?

Mom and I are looking toward 2037

Yes. I know the reasons, but it doesn’t make it any easier.

And I have to wonder, with newspapers slipping away, who will cover the Girl Scouts’ 125th birthday party?

With or without the media, I’m planning to attend any festivities the Girl Scouts see fit to arrange come 2037. I’ll be 82 that year, just one year shy of Mom’s current age.

She’ll be 108 then and I’m sure she’ll insist on accompanying me to pay her respects once again to the organization she’s loved all her life.

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Yep. The 50s were fabulous

March 9, 2012

So. Despite a couple of cancellations and some rescheduling, I have now wrapped up the 10 in-depth interviews for women in their 50s.

I suppose it was completely predictable that I would feel connected to these women. They’re my contemporaries and I feel a kinship with each, sharing as we do a list of common points of reference. I find delight in talking to women of all ages, but it’s lovely to note that extra little spark that kicks in when someone identifies with all your childhood memories and markers.

As a prelude to writing, I’m compiling a cheat sheet, a helpful habit I developed four or five chapters ago. It’s a crude chart that simply includes name, age, pseudonym, number of marriages, number of kids, number of sexual partners, frequency of sex … basically just a few quick details so I can do comparisons and know at a glance what percentages I’m dealing with. It helps to jump-start the process of identifying trends within the decades.

One thing I immediately noticed this time was the effect of birth control pills. Not a single woman in her 50s married due to pregnancy, while 33 percent of the 60-something interviewees did just that. Another 33 percent of the 60s women got pregnant on their honeymoons, proving that although The Pill was technically available to that older decade of women, its cultural and practical assimilation took years.

Another difference — which may or may not be connected to the elapsed decade — is the number of women who identified themselves as bi-sexual or lesbian. When possible, we strove to include a lesbian woman in each decade’s interviewees, wanting their voices included. A gay woman in her 60s and one in her 50s were therefore part of our sampling. But two additional 50-somethings told me they were bi-sexual during our interviews.

Their stories were very different but equally fascinating: Christina dated women exclusively during her 20s, but has since returned to a heterosexual lifestyle; Alexa began having sex with women only after she and her husband entered the swinger lifestyle when she was in her late 30s.

Christina lost her virginity to her first boyfriend at age 16 and dated him for 4 years. She had another male lover as well, but then as a freshman in college, began a lesbian relationship, and dated women exclusively for a decade.

“In my 20s and into my early 30s, I considered myself bi-sexual,” she says, “but in the past decade, when I think about making love to another woman, I find it unappealing. So I would not consider myself to be bi-sexual anymore. However, when I was younger, I was open to not only sex with either gender, but a relationship.”

At age 30, Christina started dating a man.

“It wasn’t a gender issue,” she clarifies, “it was a relationship issue. I happened to be attracted to him as a person. At that time in my life, the circumstances were right. I didn’t just wake up one day and say, ‘I’m gonna go back to men.'”

After that relationship, Christina dated one more woman, and that was the last time. She says she stopped being interested in women around the age of 31.

“I think women have much more in common with other women,” she says. “I have a hard time understanding men, I truly do. I understand women much better, but there’s not that physical attraction any longer. There’s still an emotional attraction, but not a physical one.”

Alexa, on the other hand, is attracted to women physically, but has had no exclusive, long-term relationship with one. She considers herself bi-sexual, having engaged in multiple encounters with women in groups through the years (sometimes with one other couple, sometimes with several other couples).

Though she’s now a widow, during the 16 years when she and her husband Greg were swingers, Alexa says she looked forward to sex with the women: “Women know women’s bodies a lot better than most men, I would say.”

However, she never had sex without Greg’s presence.

“He loved to watch two women getting it on,” she recalls. “For guys, it’s like their favorite fantasy.”

There’s more to Alexa’s story (she became involved with a bi-sexual man after Greg died), but it’s all rather involved as you can imagine, so full disclosure will have to wait.

Meanwhile, have you visited the website we set up for Kiss and Tell ? If you share your email with us, we’ll notify you when the book is published.

Yes, that’s still a ways off, but it’s getting closer all the time!