Sunday, October 18, 2009

My Mother Was A "Pretty Girl" and A Feminist

8 Pretty Girls
But You Can't Marry

That was the headline for the article that included this picture which was published in the Daily Oklahoman on Sunday, April 3, 1938. My mother is the "pretty girl" on the left in the picture.

She was 24 years old and had made the decision to be a self-supporting, unmarried, working woman. In 1938, that was an unusual  and remarkable lifestyle. She and seven other working women lived together  in a large home in an upscale neighborhood. The newspaper article about these independent women was written in a tone that would raise both eyebrows and hackles in today's world. Here are some exerpts:

At 1608 Classen Boulevard is a large Spanish type house. It has the same distinguishing elegance of line that is characteristic of the houses in the block-those of a bone specialist, a city minister, a corporation lawyer, an architecht and some of the city's business and professional leaders.

But this house is a fairy tale palace without a prince charming and royal treasury. Without even a butcher, baker or candelabra maker to provide a monthly paycheck.
But there are eight young girls and fair, who live their lives in peace and harmony. Last winter these eight girls decided that eight hours work for each or the 64 they worked collectively each day was no excuse for a lack of home life. So they banded together and rented the house.

When and if slight differences arise, they are ironed out within the cloistered walls lest someone outside the organization should shake a knowing head. The tradition that two women can not live in the same house is being broken four times over.

About house rules. There aren't many. There's a standing rule against inviting large groups of people in to make noise. It would disturb the neighbors and the clever girls know that there are those who would welcome a chance to critisize a group of batchelor girls living alone.

Not a description that today's feminists would likely appreciate.

My mother did eventually get married and have a family, but at a far later time in her life than was common at the time this article was written.  She continued to be an independent thinker throughout her life and had very feminist views before "feminism" game into being.


  1. That was really interesting Jeanie! I loved reading it and getting to know more about you and your family. I bet you admired your mom for what she represented.

  2. Even today, if 8 women banded together and lived in peace and harmony, there would be a story in there somewhere. Very interesting article.

  3. How come I've never heard that story?!?!!?

  4. Jeanie... what a remarkable story! And thank goodness your mother made the leap into matrimony and motherhood - otherwise my morning would have been very ordinary today indeed.

    Thanks for another wonderful post.

  5. What a neat story! I am going to have to drive by that address and see if there's still a house there. I know there's still some really large old houses up and down Classen.

  6. What a wonderful interesting story about your mama. She sounds like quite a lady in any era. No doubt newsworthy in its time. Thanks for the good read once again.

    Have a wonderful week, girl!!! :o)

  7. Wonderful. Your mother was a trail blazer helping to get things ready for what was to come.

  8. Fascinating! Your mum has had an interesting life!