Working on Pushing Boundaries: An ERA Memoir, my one-woman show that I will be performing during the Washington, DC, Capital Fringe Festival in July, I am going through many old photos and papers to refresh the memories of that period. It’s a sentimental journey that is fun and sometimes surprising.
For instance, my husband took this photo in my home art studio in Chevy Chase in the 1970s. It reminds me of those days when I was perfecting my multi-tasking skills by juggling family, career and political activities. Women gathered in our home to talk about art and women's issues and consciousness-raising meetings took place in our living room. I wonder if my neighbors had any idea of the organizing going on in their own backyards.
Recently, my daughter Robin discovered a cache of letters I wrote to her when she was out-of-state in college, while I was here in Chevy Chase working hands-on for women’s issues. I am so grateful to her for keeping them. Each letter is spiced with moments worth remembering.
For instance: This is a snippet in a 1980s letter I typed on an old portable:
Last week-end, we had the WCA/CWAO conference at the Corcoran School of Art. It was small and I think successful. A kick for me was taking Harriet Lyons and myself to the airport to pick up Bella Abzug, having lunch and then bringing her in for the occasion. I almost did not recognize her because she was wearing a small hat.
I love this paragraph about a meeting with Bella Abzug when she came to DC to the Women's Caucus for Art conference in 1980, at which she was receiving an award for her work for women and the arts. WCA was holding an alternative meeting in DC rather than attending the major conference, which was being held in Louisiana, an unratified state, as part of the BOYCOTT strategy to support the ERA campaign.
Bella was warm, interesting and entertaining—very approachable. I was surprised she was wearing a small hat since her signature was large hats. Do you recall all the photos of her once she was elected to Congress—always with a distinctive large hat to give her a presence in that crowd of men?
Sharing space with the Honorable Bella Abzug, a feminist ICON of the 20th century, was something I wanted to tell my daughter about.