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Archive for May, 2014

Maya A

The personification of strength, dignity, perseverance, this great woman has passed from our midst.

I’ve only recently grown to love your words, respect your faith, honor your spirit, strive for your courage.

We mourn your passing and will never forget you.

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Lamberts Election Poster

 

At the risk of boring those who remember this post from Mother’s Day last year, I’m re-posting it again this year, with a few minor revisions.

This post is in honor of my mother, Evangeline Lamberts–my role model for women in a man’s world, my role model for fighting for what is right and just in the world.

In 1961, Evangeline M. Lamberts was elected to the city commission–the first woman in the history of the City of Grand Rapids. She was also the only woman on the County Board of Supervisors along with 87 men.

Those were the days, as the election poster shows, she referred to or addressed not as Evangeline Lamberts, but as Mrs. Austin Lamberts.

Those were the days of the Jackie Kennedy pillbox hats and matching shoes and purses, when we dressed up to fly on airplanes and go to church, and wore only dresses and skirts to school.

I can remember Mom going off to a meeting wearing a pink suit, a little pink hat with a veil, matching shoes and purse, matching pink earrings and necklace.

She used to complain that after every Board of Supervisors’ meeting she would have to have her suit dry-cleaned because all the men there smoked cigars.

When I was older, she told me how men’s wives often shunned her, possibly because they felt threatened by her, because they were afraid she was going to steal their husbands away. Stealing other women’s husbands couldn’t have been further from her mind. She spent time with men because she enjoyed the politics, the excitement, the intellectual stimulation, the experience of working in a man’s world as it was in the early 1960’s.

Mom was unyielding and outspoken about her beliefs which some people found irritating. But that never seemed to bother her. She operated with absolute integrity, always up for a battle, always up for fighting for what she thought was right and honorable and just.

When her daughter’s teacher told his class that women shouldn’t have the right to vote, Mom protested directly to the teacher. He suggested she teach his classes for a day. So she did (much to the teacher’s consternation, I’m sure).

When an exquisite old building in Grand Rapids was slated for demolition in the name of “Urban Renewal,” she fought against it. Years later, the building still stands, now a Grand Rapids Music Center.

I remember her stumping for a friend who was running for Kent County Circuit Court. I remember wearing a pin that read, “I’m for Letts.” I was in 7th Grade. John T. Letts was elected–one of the first elected black judges in Michigan.

Mom stood only 5’3″.

One of my favorite stories about her:

One day a passerby stopped her on the sidewalk of downtown Grand Rapids.

“Are you Mrs. Lamberts?” the man asked.

“Yes,” she answered with some trepidation.

“But you’re so little!”

Little in stature. Great in spirit.

Evangeline M. Lamberts died July 28, 2004. It’s so difficult to believe it’s been almost ten years. I can’t believe how much it feels like yesterday.

And how much I still miss her.

I love you, Mom.

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Bristlecone Pine

Meet Methuselah — At 4,841 years old, this ancient bristlecone pine is the oldest known non-clonal organism on Earth.

(Thanks, Mother Nature Network)

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