Monday, May 8, 2017

Immigrant Stories

The annual Worcester Women's Oral History Project will be held on Tuesday, December 5, 2017 at 5:30 pm at the Worcester Public Library.  It will feature the stories of Worcester women who have immigrated to the United States from countries such as Burma, Columbia, Ghana, Brazil, Algeria, and China. This is a community collaboration with Literacy Volunteers of Greater Worcester, Refugee Artisans of Worcester, Worcester Clemente  Courses, Notre Dame du Lac Bridge Program, and Worcester Refugee Assistance Project.

Friday, March 10, 2017

Finding Her Own Path: Leaving the Farm

Because in essence what happened was that I have lived several different lives.  One of them is my farm life, in North Dakota.  And I wouldn’t trade that for anything.  Being able to grow up in the wide-open space, it does something for you.  Everyone was poor, but nobody knew it because everybody was the same, because that was just the way it was. It was just assumed [on the farm] that everybody worked.  The only reason you didn’t work is if you were too ill to do so, or if you didn’t have enough knowledge, and even then, those kids still had their chores to do too.  All of my life, work was just something that you did.  There’s a joy in doing a job and doing it well; and having challenges thrown at you and being able to respond to them—and do a damn good job at it. 

If I can get through Clark [University] for crying out loud, if I can get through an MBA over there I can do goddamned anything!  Get your education.  That, to me, is the most important thing.  After that, think about getting married.  Because you might still get married for the wrong reason, you’re trying to get away from home, you know you have some physiological needs or something, but at least you don’t have to marry somebody because you’ve got to have someone support you.  Why do you think I tell you that I got all that education I had?  I was divorced by the time that I started my master’s degree, but I divorced twice anyhow.  And I finally came to the conclusion that there was nobody out there who was going to take care of me.  Try to do things that build your self-esteem, and education can do that, so that you have strength as an individual, so that you don’t have to lean on somebody else.  Do the hard work because you want to learn.  And the more you learn, the better you are. 

Laurel Sanderson
from In Her Shoes

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Passion Project: Being Abby

One woman who I portray, Abby Kelley Foster, the 19th century abolitionist and women’s rights activist, is certainly an inspiration.  How she tirelessly did what she did on the road, lecturing at a time when women were supposed to be submissive, and not have minds of their own, and certainly not speaking to mixed audiences [of males and females].  She just did it, she just did it.  She was committed to human rights.  She was born on the same day as Martin Luther King, Jr.  She was born 118 years earlier.  And they had the exact same message, human rights.  Equality and justice for all.  I would have to say she’s one of my biggest heroes.  And then you say to yourself, “I’m complaining about laundry, the house being a mess, and other people don’t have a house.”  Those are the day-to-day inspirations, the people that keep on.  And I know several feminist activists who have spent years [working] for reproductive rights and are still working 30, 40—well they were working before Roe v Wade so 40, 50 years involved with reproductive freedom, and they keep on going.  They’re inspirational.
Lynne McKenney Lydick
excerpt from In Her Shoes

Monday, November 21, 2016

Balancing Act: Cupcakes and Happiness

          I own [The Queen’s Cups.]  So I do all the baking and everything else here.  For me it’s a lot more than the cupcakes.  I think it’s awesome that I believed in myself and went for something because a lot of people get scared.  I was definitely scared, and I had no idea what I was doing.  And even now, two years later, I sometimes feel like I don’t know what I’m doing.  But to be 25 and work for myself, and run a successful business, that means the world to me.  And it’s also awesome because I have young girls who work for me.  And I coach basketball, so I’m connected to these younger girls who want a role model to look up to.  I have a lot of people who come in and say, “I read your story, I follow your story, I see your Instagram and it’s so cool, but I love to bake at home.  And I really want to do what you do.  And you just went for it.”  So that’s meaningful, too. 

It’s definitely difficult [to balance priorities] because when you own a business, that’s obviously your first concern always.  I work 75 hours a week, sometimes more, especially with the holidays coming up.  So it’s difficult and, especially in the beginning, I just tried to do everything myself.  And you can’t do that; you’re only one person.  And I just was unhealthy.  I wouldn’t eat or just eat really late at night.  And I wasn’t taking care of myself and I was miserable.  Now I just try to really make sure that I find something for myself every day.  Whether it’s yoga, or Pilates, or something, just to clear my mind.  Because it can be consuming, you know, people are always contacting you, or you’re working.  And there’s not a lot of time for yourself.  I think as time has gone on, I definitely have tried to focus on having some time for myself, and making sure every day I do something that I enjoy.  You can work all you want, but if you’re not happy as a person you’re not going to do well at your job. 

  Renee King, Owner of The Queen's Cup bakery
excerpt from In Her Shoes

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

I've Never Missed an Election

I’ve never missed an election in my entire life. I vote in presidential primaries, I vote in all primaries. I’m a member of the Democratic Party and I go to the caucuses. I’ve been to Democratic Conventions. [My husband] was an American History professor at Holy Cross for many years. He was also in politics. He was a member of the Worcester City Council for 22 years and the mayor of the city of Worcester. So I’ve always been involved in politics and my uncle was the mayor of Worcester. [James O’Brien] I’ve always thought one advantage I had is that I grew up in a very feisty political family. So, I tend to think politically, and I think that can be helpful.
Mary Lou Anderson
in Voices of Worcester Women

Friday, August 12, 2016


After we qualified [for the 1952 Olympics], the team all got together and they issued us uniforms, and things like what you see them wearing in the opening ceremonies. And then we got on a plane and went to New York, and then we flew from New York to Helsinki, Finland, and the training out there in Finland with the pool, 50 meters was really great, kind of scary [laughs]. It was fun, when you come out of your dormitory there would be little kids hanging around... [whisper], “Can we have your autograph?” Then we got transported every place, and went and got taken to the embassy, and but I think the most goose pimple part of the whole thing was the opening ceremony when you all march in and because they do it alphabetically, the United States was the last one to go in. And by then the whole stadium was roaring and that was really goose pimply [laughs].
Coralie May O'Connor,
Olympian and gold medal winner of the 1955 Pan American Games in Mexico City
Interviewed November 2015 for Worcester Women's Oral History Project

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Finding Her Own Path: Entrepreneur in a New Country

I never thought I would stay here [in America].  It just happened.  I am from a Communist country.  We are not allowed to go anywhere, so you have no comparison.  You cannot talk with other people.  You are not allowed to go to other capitalist countries.  If you don’t know, you don’t miss stuff.  [A hard transition] for me [was] the language.  First immigrants face always the worst [laughs].  It’s easy for my children.  They have the houses, they [are] educated, they think differently.  That was my goal and it was solved.

Urszula Wierbik
Excerpt from In Her Shoes