Sunday, July 24, 2011


On July 19th at 5:57 a.m. the shuttle Atlantis touched down for the final time. It’s crew: Christopher Ferguson, Douglas Hurley, Rex Walheim and Sandra Magnus are the last Americans, for a while, to make it into space. Any future visits by Americans to the International Space Station will be as passengers on Russian or private company rockets .

I know things have changed but I find it ironic that over fifty years ago, President John F. Kennedy challenged Americans to beat the Russians in space by putting a man on the moon. And we did it –July 20, 1969. Now almost forty-two years to the day later, we’re stopping and are going to pay the Russians to haul our keesters back and forth. I know we’re “friends” with them but it is another country and anything can and will happen in the future. I guess I just don’t like us being dependent on someone else. But that’s how the world runs nowadays. We’re all intertwined. Maybe my feelings grow from being raised during the “cold war” or maybe it’s American pride in me raising its head. The prospect doesn’t sit too still within me.

I know we haven’t given up on space exploration but NASA’s plans are a bit fuzzy. They say they’re going send Americans deeper into space to possibly explore Mars and asteroids. Maybe I’m being a bit shortsighted. Maybe it’s good we spend the money toward new horizons and let the Russians and others spend theirs doing what we have already conquered.

How do you feel about the changes in our space program?

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Baseball's First Ladies

Last night as I was watching the Antique Roadshow, an attendee had brought in memorabilia of Jackie Mitchell. Not being a baseball fan, much less a sports fan, I was surprised to hear she was the first woman to have a contract with an all male minor league. My curiosity was stirred so much I had to google her. This is what my quick research uncovered.

As a child, Virne (Jackie) Beatrice Mitchell, was taught how to pitch by her neighbor, Dazzy Vance, who later pitched for some major leagues and was inducted in the Baseball Hall of Fame. In 1931, at the age of seventeen, Jackie signed a contract with the Chattanooga Lookouts, a Class AA minor league team.

A few days later on April 2, 1931, the Chattanooga Lookouts played an exhibition game against the New York Yankees. It was suppose to be played on April 1st but postponed because of rain. In front of 4,000 fans, Jackie was brought in during the first inning to pitch against Babe Ruth. (No pressure there, right?) She struck him out in four pitches. Next came Lou Gehrig. She got him out in three. Some said it was a practical joke since the game was originally to be played on April Fool’s Day. Even I have heard of the tremendous egos of Ruth and Gehrig and feel they wouldn’t let a woman beat them even as a joke. I could be wrong but hey, think about it, am I?

A few days later after that game, baseball commissioner, Landis, voided her contract, stating women unfit to play baseball, as the game was “too strenuous”. She continued to play with The House of David, an all male team. She retired in 1937 at the ripe old age of twenty-three and refused to come out of that retirement when the All-American Girls Professional league was formed in 1943. She died in 1987 and is buried in Forrest Hills Cemetery in Chattanooga.

But Virne wasn’t the first to play with a minor all male league, according to the Baseball Hall of Fame website. In 1898, Elizabeth Stroud a.k.a. Lizzie Arlington pitched a game in the Class A Atlantic league. Atlantic League President, Ed Burrow, spotted her when she pitched in an unorganized professional game for the Philadelphia Reserves against Richmond. She also played second base for the rest of the game. “For four or five innings, she had plenty of stuff and control,” said Burrow.

In 1907, the mayor of Vermillion, Ohio arranged a game among the local sandlot teams to watch seventeen-year-old Alta Weiss pitch. She later signed on with a local semi-pro team. After her high school graduation, her father purchased interest in a semi-pro team. She played with them as they barnstormed around northern Ohio, continuing to do so during the summers while she advanced her education attending Starling College of Medicine. She was the only girl in her class to receive a Doctor of Medicine degree.

The first woman to play with big leaguers was Lizzy Murphy. On August 22,1922, she played first base in a charity game of the American League All-Stars versus the Boston Red Sox.

These women had guts to challenge the norms of society and social etiquette of their time. Were you ever in a similar position? Did your actions go against what was socially expected? I was in a slightly comparable situation when I was one of three female mechanics hired for all of Nassau and Suffolk counties by AT&T. I was always in all-male garages. Even though many years had passed between these ladies and myself and those years brought significant changes in thought, it was not always fun because for a few men some things stayed the same – a woman doesn’t belong in certain places.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011


On June 28th I joined 2,100 other romance writers at the RWA National Conference. Can you imagine 2,095 women and, I think, maybe 5 very, secure men converging in one spot? Well I had to go - had to experience it. Was it out of my comfort zone. You betcha. But I'm glad I went.

That's me (above) with Dianna Love and Sherrilyn Kenyon at the Signing for Literacy RWA puts on. Both are lovely women. Sherrilyn, two days later, gave such an inspirational speech about the problems and setbacks she faced before she got published, it moved everyone.

Besides attending some good workshops I was able to get to know and enjoy the company of some of the members of LIRW. That was a big plus for me. I don't get out much and to spend time with these wonderful, crazy ladies was fun.

But not all was fun and games, there were pitching appointments with agents and editors. Like many others I got a request. Have my fingers crossed - we'll see what happens. I wish the best for my fellow members who are in the same boat and to all of you who are trying so hard.

As Sherrilyn said "NEVER GIVE UP".