Great Americans #8 AMELIA EARHART

On the 20th of May, 1932, 34 year old Amelia Earhart left Newfoundland to successfully attempt the world’s first female pilot solo nonstop flight across the Atlantic Ocean. She landed in Ireland the next day, after surviving strong northerly winds, icy conditions and mechanical problems.

When President Hoover presented the Gold Medal of the National Geographic Society to Earhart, her modesty looked to me like An Epitome Of Cool.

Hoover: “The whole of America is proud of you and your performance.”

Earhart: “I do thank you sincerely. I fear my exploit was not worth so great an honour.”

When Canadian Joni Mitchell wrote the song, “Amelia”, which might be considered a homage to Earhart, Mitchell wrote during years when what was called liberation had in some ways dampened women’s self-confidence.

Compare the song’s wonderfully sad poetic flights of words with the real flying heroine’s more grounded thoughts:

Earhart’s: “Mostly, my flying has been solo, but the preparation for it wasn’t. Without my husband’s help and encouragement, I could not have attempted what I have. Ours has been a contented and reasonable partnership, he with his solo jobs and I with mine. But always with work and play together, conducted under a satisfactory system of dual control.”

Mitchell: “A ghost of aviation
She was swallowed by the sky
Or by the sea like me she had a dream to fly
Like Icarus ascending
On beautiful foolish arms
Amelia, it was just a false alarm”

Earhart: “Adventure is worthwhile in itself.”

Mitchell: “I’ve spent my whole life in clouds at icy altitudes
And looking down on everything
I crashed into his arms
Amelia, it was just a false alarm.”

Earhart: “The most difficult thing is the decision to act, the rest is merely tenacity. The fears are paper tigers. ……… You can act to change and control your life; and the procedure, the process is its own reward ……… The most effective way to do it, is to do it.

Mitchell: “The drone of flying engines
Is a song so wild and blue
It scrambles time and seasons if it gets through to you
Then your life becomes a travelogue
Full of picture post card charms
Amelia, it was just a false alarm.”

Earhart: “Women, like men, should try to do the impossible. And when they fail, their failure should be a challenge to others.”

Mitchell: “So this is how I hide the hurt
As the road leads cursed and charmed
I tell Amelia it was just a false alarm.”

Mitchell’s flights in the sixties and seventies were defined by grappling with loneliness. Earhart’s solo efforts were built on collaboration and modest acceptance of even presidential recognition.

Times change.

Geoff Fox, 20th May, 2023, Down Under

Being A Mum #1 Cate Blanchett Month #2

Men, women and children need to live with love; this is an indispensable foundation of human society. – my words from August, 2018.

The glorious gaze of Cate Blanchett reasserts Faith in Being A Mum.

Today, the 14th of May, is Mother’s Day in Australia and the 54th birthday of mother-of-four, and dual Oscar winning Australian born actress Cate Blanchett.

Here are some of her thoughts on being a mum:

“Children are spirited, passionate, political, demanding. They are also heartbreaking. They constantly extend parents and so parents are constantly confronted with their failures, don’t you think? I’d rather presently live life this way than not.”

“My husband and I worry about our generation trying to be friends with their children rather than parents of their children. If you’re going to try and make your children like you, you’re in dangerous waters I think.”

“I always tell my boys that my situation ― having the ability to work or not to work as I choose ― is not the case for all women ……….. I hope that one of the good things about the more modern way ……….. is that we are all able to see that there is a lot more that unites us than divides us.”

God Bless Family

Geoff Fox, 14th May, 2023, Down Under (I was a registered midwife for three decades.)

(The above picture by of Cate Blanchett with words added by Geoff Fox is published under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic licence.)

Great Americans #5 Doris Eaton Travis

Doris Eaton Travis made her Broadway debut at the age of 13 and one year later was the youngest ever cast member of the Ziegfeld Follies.

After her career in stage and screen ended, she was a dance instructor with Arthur Murray Dance Studios for three decades, rising through the ranks to own & manage nearly twenty dance schools.

Travis retired from the dance studio business in 1968. She moved with her husband to Norman, Oklahoma, and established a ranch. Initially on 220 acres , it grew to 880 acres. Many of the quarter-horses bred and raised there were successful in racing. The ranch operated until 2008.[

In 1992, Travis graduated cum laude  from the University of Oklahoma.

In 1999, she made a film appearance with a small role in the Jim Carry vehicle “Man on the Moon.”

At the age of 100, in 2004, she was awarded an honorary doctorate from Oakland University.

In January 2008, in Miami Beach, at the age of 103, Travis was the Grand Marshal of the opening parade for the Art Deco Weekend festival.

She died on May 11, 2010, one month after her final dancing performance on April 27 the same year at an Easter Bonnet show.

On May 12, the lights of Broadway were dimmed in her honor.

God Bless America, a nation where, just 13 years ago, a 106 year old accomplished, intelligent woman could entertain people dancing 93 years after starting that career on Broadway.

Will that strong free and open culture survive?

Or is it bound to crash?

Sadly, I suspect that we will not see her like again.

Geoff Fox, 11th May, 2023, Down Under

Being A Woman # 3 Joan Crawford

Oscar winning star Joan Crawford died on this date in 1977.

She made a name for herself as a flapper in the 1920’s, then starred in the ’30’s, during The Great Depression, in rags-to-riches stories of hard working young women finding love.

She won the best actress Oscar in 1945 in the film noir classic “Mildred Peirce” for the role of a devoted mother with a brat of a daughter.

Later Crawford said:

“Women’s Lib? Poor little things. They always look so unhappy. Have you noticed how bitter their faces are?” – Joan Crawford

No need to say more.

Geoff Fox, 10 May, 2023, Down Under

Being A Woman #2 Marlene Dietrich

Marlene Dietrich passed away on the 6th of May, 1992, after a life of glamour as a sex symbol and one long marriage.

Dietrich was a genuine humanitarian during World War II, housing German and French exiles, providing financial support and even advocating their American citizenship. 

But she knew how things work between men and women:

“Darling, the legs aren’t so beautiful, I just know what to do with them.

“Without tenderness, a man is uninteresting.”

“In America, sex is an obsession, in other parts of the world it’s a fact.”

“Most women set out to try to change a man, and when they have changed him they do not like him.”

“To be completely woman you need a master, and in him a compass for your life. You need a man you can look up to and respect. If you dethrone him it’s no wonder that you are discontented, and discontented women are not loved for long.”

“Once a woman has forgiven her man, she must not reheat his sins for breakfast.”

“Grumbling is the death of love.”

“I am not a myth.”

She knew that men and women are meant to love each other.

She lived that reality.

One marriage that lasted 53 years.

God Bless Her.

And Marriage.

And Freedom.

Geoff Fox, 6th May, 2023, Down Under

Being A Woman #1 Tammy Wynette

Tammy Wynette’s mother gave her the wonderful gift of birth on the 5th of May, 1942. Tammy went on to become a legendary country music champion who fought like hell to get mothers more respect and articulate their needs.

Wynette channeled the spirit of Hank Williams away from the interests of men towards the deep concerns of women as mothers.

Her first number one hit was “I Don’t Wanna Play House”

“I don’t wanna play house; I know it can’t be fun.

I’ve watched mommy and daddy
And if that’s the way it’s done
I don’t wanna play house; It makes my mommy cry
‘Cause when she played house
My daddy said good-bye.”

In D-I-V-O-R-C-E she also wrote of the pain of family break-up:

“I spell out all the hurtin’ words
And turn my head when I speak
‘Cause I can’t spell away this hurt
That’s drippin’ down my cheek.”
Another number one hit.

In 1968 she graduated to song writing to co-create perhaps the greatest anthem to monogamous heterosexuality ever written: “Stand By Your Man.” (In the same year, Germaine Greer married for the only time for a few weeks.)

“Stand by your man, give him two arms to cling to
And something warm to come to
When nights are cold and lonely.
Stand by your man, and show the world you love him
Keep giving all the love you can.
Stand by your man.”

God Bless Families. (Life is getting harder.)

And God Bless Tammy Wynette

Geoff Fox, Informal Midwife, 5th May, 2023, Down Under

IWOTA #6 Audrey Hepburn

Audrey Hepburn was born in Brussels on the 4th of May, 1929, the daughter of a baron and baroness. She was Dutch royalty who became Hollywood’s equivalent: a much loved movie star, one of Bogie’s many great babes.

She was nominated for 6 Oscars and won two. Her other major awards were: 3 BAFTA’s, 1 Emmy, 2 Golden Globes, 1 Grammy, 1 Screen Actors Guild Award and 2 Tony’s.

That’s modern royalty. Not inherited, but earned by hard work and intelligence. So I name her an Indigenous Woman Of The Anglosphere (IWOTA), proved by her Hank Williams-like human-centered mastery of the English language in statements such as:

“I was born with an enormous need for affection, and a terrible need to give it.”

“I believe in kissing, kissing a lot. I believe in being strong when everything seems to be going wrong …….. “

“For me the only things of interest are those linked to the heart.”

“The best thing to hold on to in life is each other.”

 “They say love is the best investment; the more you give, the more you get in return.”

“Nothing is impossible, the word itself says I’m possible.”

 “Life is a party. Dress for it.”

“I don’t need a bedroom to prove my womanliness. I can convey just as much sex appeal picking apples off a tree or standing in the rain.”

“People, even more than things, have to be restored, renewed, revived, reclaimed and redeemed. Never throw out anyone.”

 “Anyone who does not believe in miracles is not a realist.”

“If my world were to cave in tomorrow, I would look back on all the pleasures, excitements and worthwhilenesses I have been lucky enough to have had. Not the sadness, not my miscarriages or my father leaving home, but the joy of everything else. It will have been enough.”

I love these words.

God Bless Audrey Hepburn.

Geoff Fox, 4th May, 2023, Down Under

Ann-Margaret: Elvis’ Co-Star And His Girlfriend In The Sixties And An SVU Emmy 5 Decades Later

Ann-Margaret was born April 28, 1941 in Sweden.

She won her first award from Billboard in 1961 and 50 years later won her sixth Emmy in Law & Order SVU.

Over her career she gathered 2 Oscar nominations, 6 Emmy Awards, 5 Golden Globe Awards and two Grammy’s. That’s talent.

That takes hard work and talent. She was made for that, saying:

“I tried in ’71 to relax. I thought I had made my farewell tour.”

The costar and girlfriend of Elvis. Other girls could only drool.

Geoff Fox, April 28, 2023, Down Under

Women For Freedom # 30 Carolyn Jones

Born April 28, 1930,in Armarillo, Texas, Carolyn Jones played Morticia in The Addams Family.

But I like this quote of hers more than that role:

“I like men. I like the sound of their voices, the way they think. They’re more sensitive than women. With a woman, everything is either this or that, black or white. But a man can see shades of gray. That’s what I call being sensitive.”

Geoff fox, former midwife, 28th April, 2023, Down Under

Barbra Streisand

Born: April 24, 1942 Barbra Streisand

“I arrived in Hollywood without having my nose fixed, my teeth capped, or my name changed. That is very gratifying to me.”  

“Life’s too short. Start with Dessert!”  

“I believe in love and lust and sex and romance. I don’t want everything to add up to some perfect equation. I want mess and chaos. I want someone to go crazy out of his mind for me. I want to feel passion and heat and sweat and madness. I want valentines and cupids and all of that crap. I WANT IT ALL”   

“Why does a woman work ten years to change a man, then complain he’s not the man she married?”

Geoff Fox, 24th April, 2023.