Bluff Dale has always had a strong tribe of women. Here's how they influenced me.
By CATHEY HARTMANN
In an edition of “O: The Oprah Magazine” several years ago Lisa Kogan wrote a column that really hit home with me especially around Mother‘s Day.
She mentioned the “fantastic tribe of women who taught her everything she knows about girl power.”
She is referring to her mother’s friends who evidently had a huge impact on her life and helped mold her into the person she is today.
A strong community of women such as those who influenced Lisa was certainly alive and well in Bluff Dale, Texas during my formative years.
When then First Lady Hillary Clinton used the phrase “It takes a village to raise a child,” I knew exactly what she meant.
Growing up in Bluff Dale in the 1940s and ‘50s, you had a passel of mothers involved in your rearing.
As a child and teenager, this was not always a good thing since your real mother seemed to know everything you had done before you got home!
A phone system consisting of party lines didn’t help much either. There were no secrets!
I was grown before I really began to appreciate all the love and caring that being “raised” by so many “mamas” had brought to my life.
I remember one instance when I had a severe congestion and Miss Mae (Glenn) came over and made the worst looking mess I have ever seen called a mustard plaster.
She slapped it on my chest and I was not a happy camper, but knew better than to complain and wore that nasty contraption for days.
One note of explanation; Bluff Dale was settled by Southerners who brought their culture and traditions with them which were passed down.
One of these traditions resulted in children calling women of their parent’s generation “Miss” and their given name because calling them by their last name was too formal, but calling them by their first would be disrespectful.
In those days, we didn’t talk about “girl power” or a woman’s “identity,” but looking back, I see how these women were influencing me by just being intelligent, accomplished, and independent.
I remember Miss Nan Keahey who first introduced me to the art of John James Audubon and made me aware of the beauty in nature.
Miss Lois Deaver was the postmistress for Bluff Dale for over 50 years in a time when women were not normally seen in the workplace.
Miss Lois was also a Sunday School teacher, the Methodist Youth Fellowship leader, and played the piano and organ at the Methodist Church for many years.
She didn’t learn to drive a car until she was in her 60s, and raised four children without owning an automobile.
There was the story of Vi Keahey who drove the tractor to church several miles on a dirt road when Wendell needed the car.
Emma Kate Jackson, my best friend’s mother, was widowed in her 30s, but took classes at night and in the summer to get her master’s degree so she could teach English.
I think my love of literature began in her class.
Children of the community attended Vacation Bible School and revivals at both the Baptist and Methodist churches, so this society of motherhood had no denomination!
During an era when girls were not encouraged to be whatever they wanted to be, I don‘t ever remember thinking that doors would be closed to me because I was a female.
I think these women deserve a lot of credit for the confidence and security that enabled me to go to college, be a flight attendant, a teacher or all of the other roles I have chosen for myself.
How fortunate I was to have so many loving, kind and caring folks around to give me that security.
During my tenure at Happy Hill Academy, I saw that many young people do not have this factor in their early years and it made me even more grateful that I grew up in a community like Bluff Dale.
So this May as in every May, I want to acknowledge the “tribe of women” and of course, my real mom, Mary Kathryn Yarbrough, for what they brought to my life.
Cathey Sims Hartmann is a Bluff Dale resident and regular contributor to Beneaththesurfacenews.com.