Frankly My Dear….Put on Your Bloomers and Get to Work

Stuff you can live without, but might buy anyway. (Photo by Sebastian Dooris)Speaking of change…(which I do often),  a couple times a month I work at an adventure clothing store. Mostly I chitter-chat,  and listen to others’ tales.  It’s a writer’s haven for character studies.

But every now and then, there are days that I’d rather be in the sunshine than caged in a store. In other words. I don’t want to work that day. Last Tuesday  as I trudged and groused to work, I passed a poster of Rosie the Riveter and blamed her. After all, it was the stalwart women of WWII  who changed the workforce of America.

EXCEPT…THEY WEREN’T THE FIRST

What??? This is like discovering the earth isn’t flat, or objects aren’t made out of particles. (They’re made out of wave packets).

Frances Clayton fought as Frances Clalin (Library of Congress)

Well…it turns out … it was the women of the Civil War who were the first adapters of getting off the ol’ plantation and into the workforce. Because both North and the South thought the skirmish would end quickly, men signed up in droves. If they didn’t, young ladies in Texas handed out hoopskirts and bonnets to men who didn’t enlist.

And women did their duty, too.  It’s estimated that around 400 women disguised themselves and signed up to fight. Some enlisted so they could stay with their husbands. Others worked as spies and nurses.

That left the rest of the women  to keep the farm/plantation and home fires running.

AND THEN REALITY SET IN

Arlington by Mike Boswell

Arlington by Mike Boswell

Homes were shelled. Farms and foods were taken over by the military. Over 200,000 women and children were forced to move as the Union worked their way south. The early Rah-Rah-Rah of patriotism stuttered to a halt. Attitudes CHANGED! Many Southern women now felt the war was a betrayal by the men who’d left them.

Eventually, these gals did what  steel magnolia do…went to work. Goodbye hoopskirts and fancy hair. (Because there were no slaves to yank corsets tight and pin up tresses.)

Hello …

  • Wearing Bloomers
  • Wearing Shorter hair
  • Doing Field work (plowing, planting, milking, cooking)
  • Running what was left of the company business (if there was one) (Go get ‘em Scarlett!)
  • Working in Government clerical jobs.
  • Doing piecework for the Confederate Clothing Bureau (Shirts $1 each, Coats $4)
  • Packing cartridges at the arsenal ($1 a day)

And their misery didn’t end with Robert E. Lee’s surrender. A quarter of the men had been killed, a quarter had been wounded and broken.

ATTITUDES CHANGED AGAIN

Now cultural pressures urged Southern women to do their duty by marrying veterans, especially a man who had a missing arm or amputated leg.

North or South, many women found they must now work. Their way of life in which someone took care of them was broken.

 THE WORLD HAD CHANGED.

3806547748_36c13a0c22_m

And if you don’t have the chicken fried and the ironin’ done by the time I get home from work, Rhett, I’m breaking every bottle of your boot-legged beer.

So next time you’re grousing about work, thank the fictional Scarlett O’Hara for putting on  her big-girl bloomers and doing what needed to be done.

(That’s what women have been doing for centuries.)

Resources: America’s Women: 400 Years of Dolls, Drudges, Helpmates, and Heroines by Gail Collins.

Advertisements

About Barb

I escaped from a hardscrabble farm in Oklahoma. I'm not sure why people think I have an accent. I miss the sunshine, but not the fried foods.
This entry was posted in Appreciation, Change, Humor, Women, Writing and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

32 Responses to Frankly My Dear….Put on Your Bloomers and Get to Work

  1. Pingback: Save Your Breath | Spirit Lights The Way

  2. Recie says:

    Full Circle. And we keep on going.

    Like

  3. Elyse says:

    This pretty much sums up what women have always done — what needs to be done. And frankly, especially in the old days, staying home didn’t mean a life of leisure for most women. Laundry alone would have made me suicidal!

    Like

  4. Helen Wand says:

    Well by golly, now we know who to blame! Very interesting…I didn’t know that! Love the story! Thanks!

    Like

    • Barb says:

      Well, if we’re going to blame anybody, let’s blame the Kardashians because they’re the only ones I know who get paid to work for not working at anything but being famous. I think ol’ Rosiet the Riveter would rivet someone’s butt for that laziness.

      Like

  5. I betcha there were many other times that women took the reins even before the Civil War. In the Revolutionary War, maybe? Turns out, the so-called weaker sex has often proven itself to be made of iron wills, steely spirits, and hearts of gold that give them the ability to suck it up and get ‘er done. Cool post, Barb!

    Like

    • Barb says:

      Thanks, Susan. I suppose we could go all the way back to Eve. She was doing all the apple picking and making apple salad for Adam. Maybe if he’d done some of the cooking, things would’ve turned out differently?

      Like

  6. dorannrule says:

    What a fabulous look at women’s roles in the Civil War! I believe their contributions and travails have been overlooked and under reported through time. Thanks for sharing.

    Like

    • Barb says:

      Can you believe it? I keep wondering how a female disguised as a male would even use the bathroom out on the field? That would be a lot of subterfuge just to stay with your husband.

      Like

  7. Margie says:

    Your interesting story reminded me of another War Story by Fannie Flagg – ‘The All-Girl Filling Station’s Last Reunion’. It is a fictional story based on real world women – The Women’s Airforce Service Pilots (WASP) – who ferried over 50% of the combat aircraft within the United States during WWII.

    Like

  8. Women have always worked. Usually unpaid, often unappreciated.
    And now we still work. Often unpaid or underpaid. And that so necessary unpaid work is STILL unappreciated.
    Hiss and spit.

    Like

  9. Moma Escriva says:

    All hail to the brave women throughout history who rolled up their sleeves and dug in. It certainly took a while for them to be respected. And men are still on the learning curve.

    Like

    • Barb says:

      There are so many brave women who weren’t afraid to do what had to be done. That includes those mothers who figure out how to keep kids fed and get them through school.

      Like

  10. Great stories. Thanks so much for sharing.
    Interesting that the women who have responded didn’t need to show how smart they are!! We just keep on keeping on.

    Like

    • Barb says:

      Isn’t it great to be among women who simply want to keep making everything and everyone around them better while they are growing, too? However…it makes me wonder how long it takes to get to that point in life. How many dues do we have to pay as young women to climb a few rungs on the wisdom ladder? Too many.

      Like

  11. Mary Jean Rivera says:

    Women have always worked, wherever they are. Now they get a little more credit for it. Thank goodness!

    Like

  12. Roxie says:

    I’m thinking about those post-war spinsters, north and south. Half the eligible men had been killed or had run off west to find gold. What matriarchal societies must have formed. Decent single ladies lived with their fathers, their brothers, their widowed mothers or sisters or aunts. What estrogen-laden drama must have gone on! Mail-order brides left the relative ease and comforts of the cities to spend endless solitary days keeping house in some primitive shack on the God-forsaken prairie while the husband/stranger chased cattle all day long, then came home stinking, hungry, and too exhausted to do more than eat and fall asleep. Dear God, thank you for my EASY life!

    Like

  13. nrhatch says:

    Some/Most of the stuff people piss and moan about “today” pales in comparison to the hardships endured by people trekking across the plains in covered wagons while gnawing on buffalo jerky or the men and women you’ve described here who endured the Civil War and its aftermath.

    And, yet, they persist . . .

    Someone invited me over for a glass of wine with the “promise” that she would regale me with all the gritty details of the tale of her “flight from hell.” What kind of promise is that? She made it home, with her luggage, and a $1000 flight credit. She did NOT crash land in the Rockies or get cannibalized by the flight crew. Instead of wanting to share the good stuff about her cruise through New England, her stay in Bar Harbor, and her visit to Quebec, she wants to gripe and grouse about an airline snaffu.

    Umm . . . NO. There isn’t a big enough glass of wine in the world.

    Like

    • You were to provide free therapy! You need more than wine for that.

      Like

      • nrhatch says:

        Exactly!

        We’re going to an India Fest today. I invited her to go with us so she can tell me all about “it” while I focus on the singing and dancing and wonderful Indian costumes and food.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Smart idea! No one really cares about airport snafus. These days they are too frequent and almost expected.

          Like

        • Barb says:

          I have to say that you’re very charitable. At night, I think about refugees on the road, who are hoping to find a place to sleep that’s safe. What about their children? What if I lived in a country without medical resources, or if girls couldn’t go to school? I try to remind myself that whatever we’re going through is the biggest thing on our minds, but I do get tired of people whining and crabbing about silly things. I’m so glad that Kate C. spoke up and pointed out that you were therapy. My hope is that you were able to help your friend center on problems beside her own. Good on you. Along with your joyful blog, thanks for shining a light in your corner of the world.

          Like

        • nrhatch says:

          Thanks, Barb. I let her vent about her L~O~N~G L~O~N~G day of airline delay and then steered the conversation in another direction ~> probably to food. Samosa?

          Like

      • Barb says:

        Amen, Kate. (and maybe chocolate)

        Liked by 1 person

  14. Al says:

    Fascinating history….I had seen that picture before.

    As for wave packets, here is a more helpful definition:”Position space probability density of an initially Gaussian state trapped in an infinite potential well experiencing periodic Quantum Tunneling in a centered potential wall.”

    Got it?

    Like

Tell Me All About It.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s