Monday, November 26, 2012

The Way it Was

Eye roll, this is the way it was, I walked six miles through the snow to get to school each day . . . no, not really.  But that is the "way it was" stories I was brought up with, even though I grew up in California.  

For me the way it was, is that I took a bus to school and it took about an hour.  This was not bussing for integration bussing - this was bussing for an education bussing.  I lived in a semi-rural area and if you wanted an education, you got on a bus that went all around the area picking up kids.  

When bussing for integration happened, I was in high school and I remember reading the stories in Time magazine.  I really couldn't understand "what's the big deal" with bussing.  The stories always emphasized how long the kids would need to be on the bus.  It usually was much shorter than I was on the bus.  To me it seemed a one way issue - want an education - get on the bus.

Women had three main career paths, when I was young - teacher, secretary, nurse.  If you didn't find these attractive, you could work at becoming a wife and mother, although no one described this as a career.  That is the way it was.  

My Dad was a great proponent of "using your brain."  Since I happened to have one, he expected me to use it - he never told me about the problems women had trying to break out of the expected.  I did well in school and thought that was the key to being able to succeed.  I didn't know about glass ceilings or that women could only do three things.  

My first clue should have been when I was offered a scholarship at the Coast Guard Academy.  I sent the application back and was rejected - at the time they were only taking men.  My scholarship was because they liked my brains and thought Cydneys were men.  I didn't know to fight injustices like this.  Actually, truth be told, the brochures they sent me extolled the great tradition at the Coast Guard Academy of jumping off a cliff into the Atlantic Ocean.  Growing up in California, I believed all oceans were very VERY cold!!  I did want to go to college for free - I didn't want to jump into a cold ocean.  That is the way it was.

Writing has always been like painting to me.  In high school I was on the newspaper and really enjoyed writing to deadline.  I liked finding new hooks.  I liked investigating stories.  My aunt was a former journalist and journalism instructor at San Francisco City College.  I felt like I was following in her footsteps.  I wanted to be editor of the Hoofbeats.  I worked really hard.  I was crushed when our instructor/advisor called me into her office and told me that I couldn't be editor because I was a girl.  That is the way it was.

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