Thursday, April 22, 2010

More ranch pictures--and a bit about aviation

I promise these are the last of our wonderful day at the ranch, but they are, top to bottom: the headwaters of the Star Hollow Creek (I called it Shady Hollow in yesterday's post, knowing all along that didn't sound quite right); my brother pouring wine--nothing like a bit of wine in a shady grove by a stock tank--the guineas and some of the calves wandered down to visit us; the pony, Pony Romo--so named by my two-year-old great-niece who when asked what the pony's name was said, "Pony Romo. You know, the baseball player!"; a field of Indian paintbrush that Jeannie simply could not drive by without taking a picture as we headed home in the late afternoon.
Tonight I went to hear a talk on young adult books about women in aviation, given by Fred Erisman who was my mentor in graduate school, has remained my friend all these years, and I guess I could now call a colleague (though I'm still a bit intimidated by that equality). TCU Press has published two of his books--Boys Books, Boys Dreams, and the Mystique of Flight about the young-adult books for boys, and now From Birdwomen to Skygirls: American Girls' Aviation Stories, in which I'm proud to say I'm one of the women to whom it's dedicated as "female role models par excellence." Fred was witty tonight, as he always is, but he made fascinating points: in the first decade of the 20th Century, women in aviation were hailed as exemplars of all that women could do, the possibilities open to them; it began to change as we moved into the '20s and '30s, and one series book about an R.N. who was a pilot, a field nurse in the army, and a public health nurse, ended with the heroine marrying her hero and saying contentedly, "This is what I was meant for" or something similar. By the 1940s, women in aviation had been consigned to the role of stewardesses--when the program began, much earlier, they were all R.N.s but increasingly they were hired for their appearance and social skills--although I know, from Jeannie, they also had lots of training in crisis management. But significantly, the young-adult books about women in aviation stopped in the 1940s. Joyce Roach and I found parallels to cowgirls in his talk--where Fred said women pilots introduced pants for women, we looked at each other and said "Cowgirls." Of course, as Joyce pointed out and Fred confirmed, women were in all kinds of professions, and respected, in the early 20th century. It was the 1940s, post-war era that confined women to the kitchen and the nursery, which Betty Freidan railed against in The Feminine Mystique. It was also in the 1940s that rodeo cowboys edged women out of the arena and confined them to barrel racing. Interesting parallels, and an interesting evening.

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