No chocolates or roses. Equal living-wage pay, please.

No roses, chocolates or congratulations, please!  Do you know these women? Guess why not!

Who was Anita Whitney?

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Leader and early founder of the American Communist Party, she was an ardent suffragist and working women’s rights advocate who went to jail for her beliefs.

Who was Valeska Bary?

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Working within the government, she advocated zealously for the minimum wage for women with the Department of Social Welfare in California, and went on to an appointment to the Federal War Labor Policies Board in 1918.

Women’s Day was designed to commemorate the women who led the Labor Movement in 1900-1920 and it began as a socialist “holiday”. No roses, chocolates or congratulations please. Just an equal right to work, to fair and living-wage pay, to benefits and to success on our own merits, thank you. ‪#‎WomensHistoryMonth‬ ‪#‎InternationalWomensDay‬

the harlots pen

Read more in The Harlot’s Pen, the story of women in the labor movement in 1920, as told by a woman journalist, through the eyes of a prostitute. And no chocolates, thanks.

Impermanence, and the more things change

It’s not surprising, at the end of the High Holidays, that my thoughts turn to change. Return again, we sang, return to the land of your soul. So I mused last night as I picked the last of the tomatoes from my drought-stricken garden, sharp, intense tomatoes that had survived weekly waterings with water collected from the shower as it warmed up. We plant our gardens in the spring with the optimism that they will grow and thrive and that we will be here in the fall to harvest them. And so it was again for me this year. I am blessed.

I am entering the autumn of my life as I approach the milestone birthday of 60. I am still producing the sharp, intense, drought-farmed tomatoes of life, to slaughter a metaphor, and I am content. Autumn has a whiff of ending, of sorrow to it, but it also has the intensity of harvest and celebration. Nothing, no one is permanent, so today I am entering the harvest, the Sukkot (Succoth) festival time of my life with joy.

This past weekend, while I attended the wine-harvest festival of Amador Big Crush, my newest book, The Duel for Consuelo, sold over 1000 copies. Sure, it was on sale, and on #bookbub, but for any and every reason, it sold madly. It hit #1 on the paid Kindle Jewish American books (it’s about Mexico in 1711, but there is a Jewish theme) and #17 in the enormous category of Kindle Historical Romance (there’s a love story in there too.) Whatever the category, it was up on top. Now, as the rankings ease down, as they must now that the sale and bookbub are over, I feel a loss, an acknowledgment of impermanence. The book is still wonderful, and costs less than a latte…

But I must return to the harvest. Enjoy the bounty of last weekend. Feel the joy of the grand sale, and return to the quiet of my life. I have such blessings–seven books, a great job, a fabulous husband, two terrific kids, my sister, her boys, my house, my garden, and yes, the next book is writing itself. But I see an easing of ambition. I have achieved what I strove for. It’s time to celebrate my harvest, impermanent as it is. Impermanent as we all are.

Living By Ear

I am delighted to present a book by the mighty fine author, Mary Rowen!

Launching on September 16—LIVING BY EAR

Living by Ear, a women’s novel by Booktrope author Mary Rowen, is being released on September 16, 2014.

Living by Ear is the story of a forty-six year old Boston musician named Christine Daley, who took a “short” break from music sixteen years ago, in order to marry and raise a family. Now, however, she’s rethinking everything. Chris adores her two teenage children, but her marriage has become a sham, and she longs to perform again.

So after filing for divorce, she does her best to reestablish her own rhythms—both in music and love—but quickly discovers she’s up against much more than she’d anticipated. Her kids seem to need her more than ever, and her soon-to-be-ex-husband is throwing every obstacle he can find into her way. Adding to the dilemma is the astounding progress in technology, which has made huge changes in both the music industry and the dating world. Is there room in the mix for Chris?

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Living By EarMary Rowen is a Boston area mom with a wonderful family that allows her time to write almost every day. She grew up in the Massachusetts Merrimack Valley and is a graduate of Providence College. She has worked as a teacher, writer, salesperson, and political canvasser. Her two music-inspired novels, Leaving the Beach and Living by Ear, are both available on Amazon, BarnesAndNoble.com, and other places where books are sold.

Please visit Mary online at: http://www.maryrowen.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Mary-Rowen-Author/128709923953918

Twitter: @maryjrowen

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6925267.Mary_Rowen

 

 

 

 

 

The amazing Helen Valeska Bary

Never heard of Helen Valeska Bary? Of course not. Nor, probably, of Maud Younger, Sara Bard Field, Alice Paul, or Anita Whitney! All these remarkable women are invisible in our history books, but they did much to shape our country and our laws. Helen Valeska Bary 1888-1973, worked for the Labor Commission, the department of Social Security, negotiated labor strikes across California. She toiled for the minimum wage for women at a time when employers had “girls” sign a statement upon application for work stating that they were not using the funds for support of a family, so as to get around the need to pay a living wage.

Post World War 1 San Francisco saw the progress women had made in the work-force diminish as concerns that they were “stealing” work from men drove public opinion against them. At the same time, a wave of puritanism, the same wave that brought us prohibition, fueled the closure of brothels. Women who had made their living on their backs now made it on their feet, but any hope of a living wage was dashed by public resistance. Valeska Bary rose through the ranks of government during the War, but managed to remain not only employed but with a growing sphere of influence, after the men returned home.

Sara Bard Field

An amazing oral history of Valeska Bary, along with other feminists of bygone times, can be found at the Bancroft Library. Here’s a quote from her interview:

“Also, I saw something that annoyed me very much. That was that an application for employment at Nathan Dohrmann’s contained a statement just above the signature that the applicant was living at home and not dependent on her wages….
When you talked about low wages with many people, they would tell you that these women were living at home and whatever they earned was just pin money. Every girl, in applying for a job, had to say that it was just pin money….She did not need it. You may say that cleared their skirts from the idea that they were grinding the faces of the poor, it was just a pin money occupation.”
See more, and more and more, at: http://bancroft.berkeley.edu/ROHO/projects/suffragist/