Yep, that is right; I am three-quarters of a century old, 75 years old. Changing worlds I have seen and watched. Things have happened my great grandmother described have been surpassed many times over, but I am not sure she would be overjoyed at some of the things that have happened. I grew up with her telling me stories of when she was growing up in Illinois before the Civil War, describing how it was watching Lincoln's funeral train returning to Springfield on a rainy day, and all the black umbrellas were up as people stood there silently. I marveled at her stories of 'riding astride a horse, wearing her older brother's pants', since her long skirt was in the way. She told stories of riding in large steamers going to Cuba. My mother said Granny Kate was a 'storyteller', and was making much up. Turns out Granny Kate went with Clara Barton into Cuba during the Spanish American War, helped set up hospitals, and then helped set up an orphanage in Matanzas Province. A census report tells of her being a 'carnival promoter'; well, she was, kind of. Seems she went into countries around the world setting up trade expositions to introduce countries, including South Africa, to US manufactured goods. She sent two sons into World War I; both returned and their stories of war were not romanticized. She did many other things, but most of all I remember her talking about electricity and how it changed things. She loved to travel and when airplanes came along, she was right there and flew! She saw countries come together and then fall apart. She loved the radio, and she really loved TV and she owned one as soon as she could get a station in Illinois. She watched this country enter the Atomic Age, and I can remember her saying that she had lived through 4 wars and that was quite enough for anyone, and that war should be ended. She talked about getting the right to vote, and vote she did. But what I remember most of all is that she taught me some life long things: women can do what they want, war is bad, people all over the world are good. She watched developments in medicine that saved her daughter as insulin was developed, she saw vaccines come along that kept children alive, and she talked about things to come for my world. She was always optimistic about the future for me, for my children and my grandchildren.
Today, looking back to Granny Kate, who died in 1947, at age about 96, I wonder how she would look at what is going on. I am not sure she would be pleased; she would also be kicking my backside for not speaking out. I was 9 when she died, and she expected me to speak out even then. I did speak out for years. In college, I was told, "that is not for a female" and I said, "Why?". The answer was 'because females can't really do it". So, I did it. I was an NCAA sailing SKIPPER; I was told courses that were not for me, except I was a History major, and my fields were military and Russian history. I got a job teaching, and Granny Kate kicked my backside when a school board decided the men would get higher wages than we women, because they had families to support. I put up my 25 year old hand, and said, "I have two children and am the main breadwinner as we are a farming family. I have most of a Master's degree, have more students than the men, and do the same duties. WHY should I take less pay?" When the smoke cleared, I was kept off tenure for making waves, BUT, we all got insurance paid and our wages were the same.
Granny Kate talked about the country and how things were changing for the better. Improved medical care, education was stronger, there were new inventions and new ideas. She had great hopes for this country.
Today I look at the disasters over the last twenty years, and even before. We haven't learned our lessons about war and its casualties, not just those in battle. We have courts who have said that corporations are more important that people, yet it was people who built this country. We have Congressment who cannot talk out things like civilized human beings, striving to do what is the best for all. They throw temper tantrums like spoiled 4 year olds. Racism which was alive and well when Granny Kate was alive has returned with a vengeance. She lived in Oklahoma when it was a territory, and after it became a state. She would not expect people to go around brandishing guns. She expected people to act like civilized human beings. She looked at America as a center of hope for all people to look up to.
At age 75, I am not sure what this country is going to have to offer to my grandchildren and great grandchildren. The name calling if you don't have the 'correct political view', if you don't believe the 'correct religious view', these are NOT behaviors I want my descendants to have. We are a mixture of many cultures and nationalities; there is good in all of them. I looked forward to a day of no wars, no religious conflicts over 'whose God is better', a day when women are respected and where people of all colors are accepted. That is one of the reasons so many came to this country for several centuries. The hope of a nation like this that my Granny Kate passed to me---I am not sure it is there to pass on to my great grandchildren.
Sat Feb 07, 2015 at 5:14 PM PT: Almost a year and a half later, I look at the world, and wonder how things could have deteriorated so much in such a short time. Full out attacks on women's rights, more and more children being killed by guns in their own families, protest marches, rise of measles..a disease which was virtually ended in this country because of vaccines. Polio is again active in the world, and it will hit here eventually. I am a polio survivor; I want to see NO OTHER CHILD TO HAVE POLIO or to be blinded by measles. We have seen another epidemic..Ebola.. But, pharma doesn't make much money finding a cure, or a vaccine so they won't work hard until it hits Europe and the US.
We have a Congress whose goals are to drive us back long before Granny Kate was born, before medical care was available to most, before women had any rights. There are many in this country who forget where their roots are from and they turn on those who want to come here for the same reasons their families did. We have so many who ignore what is going on in the world, and say 'It is all God's will'. For some reason, I don't think God, for those who believe in God, would be very pleased with those who destroy deliberately his planet.
I guess the last few months have made me pretty cynical about the conditions of this country and a number of others. We are NOT good example for the rest of the world and there was a day that we were.