I've kept the Robin caged so long that I am afraid his wings are in danger of becoming crippled from inaction.
The fact is, I lacked leisure, first, to enjoy the many absorbing messages that he brought - and there is so much to learn from your many deep and varied experiences - and, secondly, there was so little time to sit down quietly and think out a little outline of my own life in the past six years.
The book came to me just at vacation time when people on newspapers work just twice as hard as during the rest of the year - that is, those who are 'on deck' must make up for those who are away. In addition, my sister Elsa and I were keeping house. That little statement, perhaps, will not impress the housekeepers of the class since there were only two of us at home. But let me remind you, Claire and Mollie, that we did our housekeeping 'before' and 'after' a day spent downtown in the hot city. We prepared our dinner in the morning before breakfast, stowed it away in the electric fireless cooker and at night we set the table and served it.
Right here, I feel that I owe it to all of you to sing the praises of electric fireless cookers, electric washing machines, and gas-heated houses. We did not, of course, do the washing and ironing, or the cleaning this summer. Our efficient little maid attended to that. But, in addition to our cooking and our regular jobs, we did considerable gardening and kept my mother and two sisters who were traveling in Europe reasonably well informed of what was going on, our side of the Atlantic. So you see, the Robin's long stay wasn't intentional on my part. It simply couldn't be helped.
And since I mentioned our labor-saving devices, I can't help putting in a word of praise, intended for those of you who are housekeepers, for our gas-heating system. It costs more to heat a house that way, but when I think of the labor saved, the cleanliness, the comfort and convenience, I can't help hoping that the time will come when all houses will be heated with gas. It is even more convenient than oil, because you have to store the oil, whereas the gas is always there, ready to be turned on or off whenever you please. Dr. Thomas, I am sure, would thoroughly approve and, if some of you are smiling that a spinster should become so loquacious in regard to matters that are purely domestic, please remember that the mere fact of not having a man about the house makes it all the more necessary to have the machinery running as smoothly and easily as possible.
So much for present problems. Now for a little ancient history. In 1923, I had the temerity to run for the City Council, but I wasn't so lucky as Mary Reynolds. Although I did lead my party- Independent - which the politicians tell me is better than being an 'also ran'. I emerged from the combat as the 'first Baltimore woman who ran for the City Council', instead, as I had fondly hoped, being the first to 'sit' in it. Still, someone had to make the break and, even if you fail, it serves notice on the political powers-that-be that women are emerging from their old indifference and that they mean to have their share in the running of the government.
The experience itself was wonderful. Of course, you all know that I was an ardent suffragist and was one of the Rosalie Jones 'martyrs' who marched from New York to Washington in the dead of winter to bring about the conversion of President-elect Wilson. Officially, I was a 'war correspondent', but the News didn't ask me to walk every step of the way. I did that because I wanted to. And I ran for the City Council because I wanted to.
As an Independent, of course, I had to engage in a campaign that was more hectic than if I had been a candidate of either of the two regular parties. It mean the intensest kind of campaigning - going from door to door to get votes. Even before my name could be put upon the ballot, I had to obtain several hundred signatures to a petition which the law requires every Independent candidate to file. I could never have done it without the support and co-operation given my by my sisters and friends, and I wish I could give you a picture of how we set out in our 'flivver' every Saturday afternoon, in good weather and bad, and interviewed and argued and cajoled the natives.
It was hard work, but I can't begin to tell you how interesting and human it was. The 'washer lady' assistant to the Chinese laundryman said she 'didn't think ladies ought to vote'. The cullod folk, in one little suburban section said they would pray with us first and vote for me afterwards. The little old lady who acts as Cereberus at the entrance to the Home for the Aged could not have been more scandalized if I had offered her a cigarette, and so thoroughly disapproved of me that she blocked every effort I made to see the matron. The police captain's wife whom I interviewed standing on the front step while she leaned out of the second-story window said she 'never signed anything unless Mr. Flanigan told her to'. And so it went on.
But one of the most gratifying things about taking part in a political campaign is that it shows you how many good friends you have including sisters. They almost worked themselves sick on my account.
Another interesting point: As an Independent without a big party organization behind me, I had no recourse to party funds. Some of my friends, groups and individuals, sent checks, but I sent them back with thanks. As a woman I decided to show I was independent through and through by paying all my own expenses. They came to about $117, so I established a record for thrift as well.
I hope, if any of the rest of you have a chance to run for public office, that you won't be scared, but will jump right in. Women are needed in politics, and college women in that respect have bigger responsibilities than others. And whatever the outcome, the experience is worth-while.
That ought to be enough for the present., only I can't help telling you that this summer I have had the great pleasure of helping the Baltimore teachers in their campaign for better salaries. The end is not yet. The School Board has recommended increases of $200 for elementary and junior high school teachers and advances of $300 for senior high school teachers and principals. Now the Board of Estimates must either confirm or reject, and of course, they are showing their usual solicitousness for the poor old taxpayer, because the taxpayer is the man who decides whether or not they are to go back into office. Our business, as campaigners, is to prove to the politicians that the taxpayer, like Barkis, is 'willin' that our teachers should be decently paid, and at this moment we are right in the thick of it.
I am not going to say much about our re-union in June at Charlotte Jones' house in Roland Park, because Charlotte will probably want to write you about that - except to tell you that Charlotte and May Jones, her sister and ex-'03, were the most delightful hostesses, that their lovely house and its porch on a level with the tree-tops glowed with hospitality, that the long table with its white roses and fern and green candle-sticks made us all feel that we were back at Junior banquet, and that a marvelous time was 'had by all", including four small daughters whose mothers already are planning to initiate them at Goucher.
Good-bye until the Robin alights here again,
Last Updated 8/26/99.