By Kathryn Reed
No one knew South Lake Tahoe pioneer Charlie Parker was a woman until the undertaker went to dress her.
Retired Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor could only get a job as a secretary out of law school.
Thirty years ago local interior designer Joyce Blackstone was denied a loan from a Tahoe banker because of her gender.
“The bank manager said you have to be a manager to get a loan and you are a woman and you will never get a loan,” Blackstone said. She proved him wrong on so many levels.
Women – here and elsewhere – have been making a name for themselves for years. But, still, it wasn’t until 1920 that the 19th Amendment gave women the right to vote in the United States. It took another 52 years before equality in school athletics was approved.
Women still don’t get paid the same wage as men for doing the same job. “Honey” has not vanquished from men’s vocabulary when talking to women other than their wives.
March marked the annual Women’s History Month. Some say with how far women have come that it is no longer necessary to celebrate. Others say not so fast.
“I think it’s still important because so many still don’t recognize what women are doing, especially kids,” Alice Wells, president of Soroptomists International of the Americas, said.
She was in the area last month to speak to the two local Soroptimists groups and South Tahoe High’s S Club.
Wells’ presentation on March 18 touched on the lives of women whose experiences show their strength.
“If you don’t experience failure, you are probably not taking enough risks,” Wells told the audience.
She believes women’s groups like Soroptimists (they do accept men) are important. What Wells believes in most is the group’s mission – “to make a better world for women and girls.”
A week later, Soroptimists International of South Lake Tahoe had three well-known women from their group speak. Historian Betty Mitchell rattled off stories about Tahoe’s foremothers. Del Laine, the first woman mayor of South Lake, talked women and politics. Longtime and now retired Tahoe Daily Tribune Community Editor Nancy Hayden tackled professional women.
Another organization Hayden is in, the Lake Tahoe branch of the National League of American Pen Women, started in 1897 to counter the all-male Press Club.
She was the charter president in 1995 and is still active. Suzanne Stone and Karen Ostrow are the other two original members in today’s group.
They usually meet once a month “to foster creativity for women engaged in letters, arts and music to come together in a social atmosphere to share their talent, frustrations and professional goals,” Hayden said.
This month’s meeting is being skipped in lieu of having author Jennifer Basye Sander, who has a second home in South Lake, talk about how to get published. The event is free (wine is not) at Picchetti Winery from 6-7:30pm April 23.
Not just anybody can join Pen Women. Applicants must have accomplished something in their specialty to be accepted.
Locally, Alice Grulich-Jones qualified because of her photography. Gloria Hildinger for her pottery, though more recently she been painting portraits and working on a wire sculpture. Stone, Hayden and Barbara Smith are all former Tribune writers. Dawn Armstrong was a published writer and photographer before moving to Tahoe, though her pet of the week blurbs are good reads each week. Pam Shaw-Miller joined as a journalist, but is now an artist.
Go to www.nlapw.org for more information.