This little guy has sat on my Christmas tree branches for 46 years. Before that, he was part of the decor that I and other secretaries at The Pillsbury Company were encouraged (aka required) to place on office doorways and desks. (This was in the late ’60s. Yes, things were different.)
I rarely think about my time as a secretary at Pillsbury, first in the New Products Marketing, then Engineering, and finally Public Affairs departments where I got to meet some awe-inspiring people: Fran Tarkenton and Alan Page; Wally Schirra and John Glen; Ralph Nader and Hubert Humphrey. I learned a lot…mostly about how much I still had to learn about pro football, science, and politics.
And I got to work with some equally awe-inspiring people. Again, I learned lot…lessons involving organizational skills, time management, but mostly about how naive I was.
The first issue of “MS Magazine” would not hit the stands for another four years. And although I was an enthusiastic reader, I don’t think I came across the words “women’s liberation” for at least another five years.
My duties as a Pillsbury secretary were what you’d expect them to have been: take dictation, handle phone calls, set up meets and travel itineraries, etc. But I also recall being required to do my boss’ banking for him and to clean my his philodendron with a Q-Tip dipped in milk.
Bella Abzug, Gloria Steinem, and a lot of other women who came both before and after them and who had the courage to fight for equal rights for women will never know how much I appreciate the work they did on the behalf of women everywhere.
I’m glad I have this little guy to remind me that we women have flown so much further and higher than I as a naive 23 year old ever dreamed possible, and that, like a migrating bird, we still have a long way to go.