AAUW Minute

The following presentations were written and performed by Martha Hegner and Jackie Gill at our monthly meetings to celebrate our 80th Anniversary.  Great historical information for new members.

First installment –  September presentation . . . . . .

“And now, the AAUW Minute… the minute that can change your……..mind.”
(Martha and Jackie enter from opposite sides, very glad to see each other..)

Why, Jackie!  Hello!  So glad to see you!
Oh, Martha!  How good to see you too!  (Hollywood kiss)
Do you have time for a cup of tea before the meeting?
Why I believe I do.  Let’s just sit and chat a bit about old times, shall we?
(sit down . . . tea things . . .sip….sip…smile)
You know, it’s hard to believe that our AAUW is in its 80th year.  Goodness!  How did it ever last so long?
Well you know, Jackie, I think it’s because AAUW has always been a mirror of the women of America.  It has been a voice for our local women as well, don’t you think?
For sure for sure, Martha.  Our own branch began in 1930 at the home of Mrs. P.F. Martsolf.  Did you know that?  That’s right.  February 13th.  Dr. Gyla McDowell of Geneva’s English department served as the first president.  There was a NEED to keep alive a woman’s intellectual contacts after graduation.
Not much has changed has it?  AAUW serves the same need, even today in 2010.
Oh, remind me to pay my dues today!
Did you know the dues in 1930 were FIVE dollars?  Five!  And that in 1936 the branch sent the president to the convention and gave her ten dollars for expenses?  I just love that!
Well, in 1957 the president was sent to the convention not with a gift of money but with a gift of perfume!  I’ll bet it was Chanel #5.. you know, we in AAUW are thrifty, but not cheap!  (laughter)
Speaking of MONEY, do you realize how many songs of the 30’s and the Depression were about money?  Such as “Pennies from Heaven?
What about “I found a Million Dollar Baby in a Ten Cent Store”?
Yes!  Even the dues were a hardship back then.  They dropped it to three dollars.  The president suggested disbanding but, even in those hard times, the membership said NO!
And I’m so glad they stayed TOUGH!  That’s why we are here today, 80 years later, still standing up for women everywhere.
Goodness, look at the time.  Let’s do go inside for the meeting.
(Stand up.)
Let’s do this again soon, shall we?  So good to reminisce…
(walk off chatting…..)

Second Installment – October presentation. . . . . ( the 1940s AAUW Minute)

Why helloo again Martha, how very good to see you!  We seem to keep running in to each other on our way into the AAUW meetings, don’t we?
We sure do, Jackie!  But that’s fine by me.  We get a chance to chat for a minute about the good old times.  What a history our AAUW has!
How true, how true.  You know, I found a copy of the first cookbook that AAUW published in 1942called “Culinary Conversations” (holds it up – they look at it)  It is a delight, I tell you!  So many recipes to be made with lard, freshly churned cream, and one with a chicken that you have to wring its neck the night before!  I can just see our ladies now, going out back and calling in the chickens – (They laugh)
(Getting a bit serious) Yes, I agree – but you know, our ladies have always been busy raising money for the Fellowship Committee, and for scholarships and other worthy programs by making cookbooks or doing other projects.
Not only have we raised money, but we’ve also raised some controversy as far back as the 1940’swhen Carol Edgecombe moved to Beaver Falls from New England and was appalled at the smoky conditions in the Beaver Valley.  Do you remember Carol??
Oh, I do remember sweet little Carol Edgecomb – but she was quite a firecracker in her day!  In fact, she urged President Eleanor Morrill to form a Smoke Committee – AAUW held panel discussions on this topic – she enlisted all the women’s clubs in the county – we created a Speaker’s Bureau – she kept everyone busy!
She sure did.  She brought in speakers from Pittsburgh to serve on panel discussions and she put penny postcards at each dinner plate so that each member could write an urgent message to her legislators to clean up the soot!
Why the mayor of St. Louis, Missouri was brought here to speak at a Board of Trade noontime tea!  Legislation was introduced, Carol testified at a joint state governor’s seminar.
All four foot eleven of her!  Now there’s a woman who got things done and never gave up!
We have much to be proud of!  Let’s go in and listen to tonight’s speaker.. Maybe he will fire us up!  HaHa!!!  NO PUN INTENDED!
That’s all right!  I’m still thinking about penny postcards.  Why, did you know the price of stamps is going up yet again?  That’s right . . . .(they put their heads together talking about postage as they walk off stage)

Third Installment – November’s Minute   (1940’ and 1950’s)

During the war years, AAUW struggled but survived. While “Mr. Jones” was in the army, AAUW women did their part, as always, by encouraging women to join the WACS. One of our members, Jane McMillion, was a lieutenant in the Army Corps of Nurses!

Other members attended first aid courses in their communities, took refugee children into their homes from the British Isles, and contributed generously to refugee funds.

During those hard times, one of our meetings was cancelled due to sugar rationing. In fact, the national convention was not held at the request of the Office of Defense Transportation.

As women started taking war jobs, AAUW became concerned about the low wages paid to women. Out of 1900 war jobs available, 1460 were filled by women for substandard wages. We have been campaigning for equal pay and equal rights ever since!

We had several firsts during this time:

    • the first newsletter was published on a postcard—we have now come full circle!
    • the branch purchased its gavel which is still being used today—it is 64 years old!
    • our first tea for Geneva students was held
    • one of our branch members, Bedelia Jukkola, was instrumental in organizing the Aliquippa branch of AAUW.

Yes, AAUW has always been about firsts because aware, educated women are always ahead of their times. We are a group of women who have established priorities of education, legislation, and community betterment, and we continue to do so today.

Fourth Installment – December’s AAUW Minute

As you can see our history has been a story of priorities –education-legislation- and community betterment.

The 60’s and 70’s were very active years for AAUW.  The Educational Foundation Committee seemed to be the most active during this time.  Many fund-raising efforts were started such as, selling tickets for plays, selling earrings and scarves, Berea products, baked goods,  calendars and holding book fairs and silent auctions.

Our first book sale was held at the Garden Mart at the News Tribune Square but was discontinued after several years.  Book sales were revived in 1965 and became a yearly event.  In 1973, we had a book stall built for the sales held at the Beaver Valley Mall where we earned $500 a year for several years.

In 1977 the first successful Fashion Show Luncheon was held.  Our members participated by baking bread and making salads for the lunch.

In 1966 the family of Effie Solomon established a memorial scholarship fund, in her name for a worthy female law student from Beaver County.

In keeping with the ideals of AAUW we don’t want to give the impression that it has been only fundraising.

Some other efforts at this time included:

    • Strong support for the Rape Confidentiality Bill and the Family Leave Bill
    • Assisting in a division program of surveying jails and treatment of women prisoners.
    • Volunteering as tutors for high school dropouts
    • Holding international dinners specializing in authentic foods

Our public image was further enhanced during this time as several of our members received community awards.

    • Sallie Hughes was the Beaver County Woman of the Year in 1979.
    • The Upper Valley Jaycees presented their Woman of the Year Award to Mollie Levenson in 1972 and to Dr. Leotta Hawthorne in 1979.
    • Sandy DeChellis was the first and only member of the branch to receive a project renew grant.

Fifth Installment –  FEBRUARY’S AAUW Minute:

Martha and Jackie enter from two different places.  Jackie will look “tired” and will carry a bag of sorts; brightens up when she sees Martha.
Jackie .Why hello, Martha, oh, I’m so glad I dragged myself to this meeting, I was so tired from cleaning.
Martha.  Well, yes, Jackie, this is the time of year to get that done, with the weather and all being so cold. Tell me, what have you been cleaning?
Jackie   . Well, I‘ve been going through all my old files and papers, and look!  (opens bag)  I found these notes and papers from our AAUW days of being president!  Can you believe that was in the 1980’s?  It seems like yesterday!
Martha.    How true. The 1980’s were a very productive time for our branch. What energy!    What projects we had going!  What tenacity! Do you remember?
Jackie    .     Do I?  Why, I brought this along hoping you would be here for a trip down Memory Lane!
Look—( pulls out a file  ) Do you remember “Women Aware”? We co-sponsored it with Community College of Beaver County   as a seminar for women.
Martha . (looking at file)–    I sure do.  It was very well attended and quite well received.  Oh look! (pulls one out)  Here’s the   “Safety Town” folder!  Now THAT   was an undertaking.  (they pause to reflect)  Our branch created Safety Town with the Blackhawk Education Association and received national recognition for it.  Do you remember that hundreds of children   participated?  And that all the little cars and houses and street signs were made by our local carpenters and union workers?
Jackie .  Safety Town won first place in the state Public Information Contest.  AND—we won honorable mention at the national convention that year in Boston!  SO MANY children benefited from Safety Town.
Martha.    Look—(pulls out folder) –“Career Shadowing”—what a hit that was!  Young women shadowed   professionals to explore their careers for a day.       Leo had a young lady shadow him who became a pharmacist.  He was so pleased. We kept that program in place for five years.
Jackie.  We sure did. Many girls wrote to tell us how important Career Shadowing was to their college choices.   Do you remember the Local Author Book Signings that Mary Ann Falcone-Bolland arranged for us at Kaufmann’s Tic Toc Room?  Everyone really enjoyed those!( they pause for a moment of silence for the Tic Toc Room and Kaufmanns_…..  And what about Language Lift—Off ?  Jody Reed-Shugert coupled with  CCBC and we  taught foreign language classes to elementary children for several years!
Martha:  Yes, my children attended that!
Jackie:    Look at this (pulls one out)   1980—our 50th anniversary year—the year thatyou, Barb Dawson, and I became the first AAUW co- presidents in the state.  My, my!    We shared everything—we worked together—we made history!
Martha.    Even   your pregnancy!   (They laugh)
Jackie.  And then   Betty Martin   and   Mary Holt     were honored as Beaver CountyEducators of the Year in 1983!
Martha.     Yes, they were.  Three more of our members were honored as Upper ValleyJaycees Women of the Year—Geri Bass in 1981, Jane McMillion in 1987, and Roberta McFarland in 1989.  That’s really something!
Jackie.      And look (points to something in folder) —let’s not forget our dear Sally Hughes as Beaver County Times Woman of the Year in 1979.  She really started the ball rolling!  And then you, Martha, were honored as the Times Woman of the Year in 1983!
Martha. Yes, thank you.  All of these accomplishments and hard work.  How DID Jane McMillion ever manage to serve three terms as our president?
Jackie.  (sagging a bit  )–  . Martha, it makes me tired just thinking about all we have accomplished and how hard we all have worked for the advancement of women in the Beaver Valley. Why, here’s the coffee mug I still have from the 1983 state convention!  It says, “Only she who attempts the absurd can achieve the impossible.”  That’s us!   Good grief, I’m so exhausted all over again –I have to go in and sit down—won’t you get us a cup of coffee before I fall over…….(they walk in close together and  reminiscing …)

Eighth and final installment

This is your last AAUW MINUTE…The Minute that can change your…..mind!!!

Whew!  Take a deep breath!  Our AAUW branch has never stopped working, moving and shaking, it seems, since its inception eighty years ago.  Proof of that statement has been in the AAUW Minute which has encapsulated for you our activities and accomplishments, each month as we walked through the decades with Martha and Jackie.   I am going to share one last minute with you, the decade of the years 2000 and on.  Are you ready?

The Kitchen Tour has been such fun
We’ve raised fifty-two thousand dollars—thanks, everyone!
Thanks to Kathy Cyphert, Kathie Shewak, then Jean Macaluso—
These ladies made the Kitchen Tour quite the show!

We honored young girls at the YMCA
In a Night Out   event where they came to play;
Which then became a reception, and a panel,   to help them grow;
What it becomes next?  We do not know!

For the Women’s Center we gather holiday gifts,
Anything to give them a needed  lift;
Surprises for Shut-ins  has also  become a hit;
to honor our elderly as we have seen fit.

Our Friendship Ridge Activity Night
is another project  in which we delight;
Then we hosted Start-a-Heart as a helping hand
to assist the American Heart Association  –our members were grand.
Our member-nurses even helped to test;
Our AAUW members sure are the best!

Femmes du Jour invites our members out to dine;
every month you can  go—you can even have some wine !

After seventy-five years, we had our Diamond Jubilee!
Birthday cakes on antique plates,
Dinner and some tea;
Our State President attended;
our commissioners gave  Norma and Bonnie a plaque:
Jackie Heaney performed a skit;
Beaver County AAUW  really IS on track!

The State Convention came to Cranberry
and we  co-hosted the  big event;
Jeannie “Mac”  became a state membership VP—
now isn’t she just heaven sent?

All these triumphs, and so many more
to benefit  women, whether rich or poor;
Yes, our Beaver County branch is one of the best:
Congratulations for the first 80
and blessings for the next!