I was 19, a waterfront counselor unable to work because the waterfront had been smashed by a hurricane. I was restless. The campers were restless. Five 9-year-old boys were causing so much trouble the director asked if I could help. “They need an adventure,” I told him.
“You’re right,” he readily agreed. Why don’t you take them out of camp and keep them busy for a couple of days.” He took my silence as a yes. It was blueberry season. I remembered how my mother and I had picked buckets of wild blueberries and made pancakes, jam, cakes, and muffins. Maybe I could do some of this with the boys.
When the director told them they were going on a 2-day camping trip with me, and if they were having a good time, they could stay out for 3 days, Max told the director, “Camping with a woman isn’t going to be much fun.”
I was 13, ignored by the girls in my bunk, unable to play sports with the boys who wanted nothing to do with me. Lonely and frustrated I walked to the camp bulletin board and wrote: This camp is chauvinistic because it doesn’t allow girls to play on the boys’ softball team.” I didn’t sign my name.
A few hours later, two counselors found me in the dining room and said they saw me writing. I’d looked and didn’t see anyone, which is why I wrote what I did. The male counselor said, “You’re right. Girls need to be able to play with the boys.”
The female counselor said, “We’ve talked with the boys and told them you have to be allowed to play, that it’s wrong not to let girls on their team.” I instantly regretted what I’d written, even if it was true. With a sinking heart, knowing how much the boys didn’t want me to play with them, I agreed to join the boys at afternoon practice.
In 1964 my husband took a new job, which meant moving from Rhode Island to Delaware. I was teaching dance at Mary C. Wheeler, a private girls’ high school, and subbing at Pembroke College. I hoped to find similar work in Delaware and applied for the position of dance instructor in the Physical Education Department at the University of Delaware. When I was granted an interview, I was excited to think I might have a job in our new location.
Arrangements were made. About a week before I was scheduled to leave, my son was diagnosed with mumps. Three days later, my husband was diagnosed with mumps. No way could I leave. I called the faculty liaison and explained the situation. He was polite but clear. “I’m sorry your family members are ill but we do not postpone interviews. We will cancel the classes you were scheduled to teach. Good luck.”
I tried to tell myself that even if I’d gone, I might not have gotten the job, but this was no consolation. Getting sick wasn’t their fault, but I was angry and frustrated and worried. It had taken a lot of work to find teaching positions in Providence. How would I find work in a city where I didn’t know anyone?
Life tales from a woman different living in The City Different.