Monday, August 10, 2009

Susan C from Pittsburg

August 10
Letter from Susan C. heard about book from Penny owner of Norwich Book Store.
Dear Judith,
Your book was fantastic, not only for the history you write of so well, but the memories it provoked in me. I graduated from college in 1965 and applied and was admitted to SAIS. My father, who was looking at my two brothers who were on their way to Dartmouth, could not see any possibility, much less a reason, to pay to send me off to graduate school. So in the fall of 1965, I was off to Washington for a job with the CIA. I ended up marrying in the summer of 1966, leaving Washington in 1967 and bouncing around while my husband was a naval officer, having just barely escaped the draft the moment he graduated from law school. His draft board had been waiting.
I have two children who periodically have asked why I seemed to have been so boring during the sixties. I tell my daughter that in the summer of 1968, I was pregnant with her and she should be quite thankful I wasn't into sex, drugs and rock 'n roll! We moved to Pittsburgh in 1969 and I did my consciousness-raising through the League of Women Voters and the local NOW. Didn't work until both children were in elementary school and ultimately went to law school, graduated in 1983 when I was 40 and now am an administrative law judge.
Your book offered a wonderful opportunity to look back and remember how everything came to be. I had forgotten that it was a big deal for a woman to have a credit card in her own name and can't remember when that changed. In recent years, until the financial crash, credit card offers were in the mail on a daily basis, even for my cat it seemed. And I remember the one woman in my husband's law school class of 1964 who had a very isolated, unpleasant existence. When I graduated from law school in 1983, women made up one-third of the class and the top three graduates that year were women over thirty -- all without children. One thing I learned that I see women today struggling with is that you really can't have it all, all at the same time unless you are in the Madeline Albright class with the nanny. How to find some balance in life seems to be today's struggle for women. The women's movement, the League of Women Voters and so many community organizations are shadows of what they were in our day because women do have so many opportunities and no time for all the volunteer work we did. Right now I sit at a desk writing you in a room that my grown children still call "the League room" because this is where I was editing newsletters, writing papers, organizing voter registrations, all those activities that kept me going in the 70s.
Thank you so much for bringing this all back and providing the historical context for why things were as they were and how they changed. And you made me rather happy that I couldn't go to SAIS. It didn't sound like an environment I would have liked. Interestingly I have a nephew there now. I must have his Quaker mother read your book to learn more about her son's school.

Best wishes, Susan Cercone from Pittsburg

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