Saturday, March 15, 2008

Scotty - 1914 to 2000 - Carnival of Genealogy

Photo: Washington, D.C., 1940's

Carnival of Genealogy: In keeping with the month of March being National Women's History Month, and March 8th being International Women's Day, the topic for the next edition of the Carnival of Genealogy will once again be: A Tribute to Women. Write a tribute to a woman on your family tree, a friend, a neighbor, or a historical female figure who has done something to impact your life.. For extra credit, sum up her life in a six-word biography (thanks to Lisa Alzo for the suggestion!).

Scotty: Country girl; city woman. Adventurous, questioning.

That’s my mum’s six word biography. (She’d have wanted more words than that though!)

It is indeed Women’s History Month in the United States of America, and since my mother, as a member of the Canadian Women’s Army Corps, worked in Washington, D.C., during World War II, and this was an important time in her life (and even in mine), it seems appropriate to say something about her.

She was born in Newdale, Manitoba, Canada and lived there till in her last years of high school when she went to Winnipeg to attend the United Church’s Riverbend School for Girls. My mother remembered Newdale as a thriving town, but knowing my mum, I feel sure that she was eager to move to the ‘big city’.

After Grade 12, she went on to business school and soon had a job with Eaton’s, then Canada’s largest department store chain, working for a fabrics and notions buyer. Her memories of Eaton’s were happy, but she told me that when the war began, purchasing had to be curtailed; she had little to do. One of Eaton’s former employees was involved in the Reserve Army; he persuaded her to join up. Her mother wasn’t happy about her choosing to be a CWAC – being in the Women’s Royal Canadian Air Service or Naval Service would have been more acceptable. Mum never ever seemed to have regrets about her decision - though she always told me how much more money the men made and how different the standards sometimes were for women, even for officers like herself.

She was posted several places in Canada, but eventually was sent to Washington, D.C., to work. While in the U.S., she made good friends and travelled around the east coast to see the country and to visit family.

Soon she met a young man from Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, also working in D.C. in the Canadian Army. In 1946, Captain Scott and Major Rogers married in Washington, and in 1947, after leaving the Army, they made their home in Vancouver, B.C, and soon they had two children. Although she didn’t work outside the home when we were little, by the mid 1950’s, she and my father had a business together which they ran till I was out of high school.

My mother had a lifelong interest in many different subjects, for example, Northwest Coast native art, and she read widely. My own lifelong interests in women’s history and in art come from her.

While I was in university in the 60’s, I tried to interest her in attending classes, since my university welcomed ‘adults’, but she said she thought she was too old. Years later, she changed her mind, and at age 70, she was granted a degree from that same university. In later years, she was also able to travel overseas too, often by herself, to see the places she’d read about all her life, like Egypt and China.

She never stopped learning about the world, and she never lost interest in the future.

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